How To Feed Fish In The Aquarium Properly

feed fish

You have to feed fish regularly as part of the responsibility of owning an aquarium. Find out how to do it properly.

In principle, feeding is quite simple, but you can do a lot wrong. The wrong food can lead to deficiency symptoms, for example, and too much food can lead to nitrite poisoning or an algae problem.


The following things must be observed when feeding:

  • Frequency of feeding
  • Time of feeding
  • Feed type
  • Feed size
  • Feed amount

The right kind of fish feed

There are 3 types of nutrition that differ fundamentally. It is best to keep fish with similar eating habits together. Each type of diet prefers certain types of food.

1. Carnivores / Carnivores

The carnivorous species include fighting fish and many species of perch. It is very difficult for carnivores to digest plant foods. For feeding carnivores, protein-rich live and frozen food is particularly suitable, and for some species also meat-containing dry food. Normal dry food has a high proportion of vegetable ingredients and is therefore unsuitable.

  • meat-containing, protein-rich dry food
  • Live and frozen food such as Artemia, mosquito larvae and water fleas

2. Herbivores / herbivores

Herbivorous species have longer and more complex digestive tracts than carnivores. In addition to dry food with plant-based ingredients, you can also feed fresh green food such as zucchini, cucumber or lettuce. Herbivores often make use of the algae growth on decorations and plants. Many species of catfish belong to the herbivorous species. Some herbivores now and then also eat meat containing food.

  • fresh green food
  • Live and frozen food such as Artemia, mosquito larvae and water fleas

3. Omnivores / omnivores

Omnivores feed on both plant and animal foods. Often, however, omnivores have a preferred diet. In the case of omnivores, it is particularly important that the feeding is varied and that both vegetable and animal food is offered.

  • mixed dry food with vegetable and animal ingredients
  • fresh green food
  • Live and frozen food
How to feed fish in the aquarium

How much food should I feed my fish?

When it comes to how much food to feed fish, a good rule of thumb is to feed no more than the fish will consume completely in less than five minutes. When in doubt, underfeed fish. You can always give them another small feeding if necessary. However, if you overfeed, the uneaten food will produce wastes that can be harmful to the fish.

The right fish feed size

In addition to the type of feed, a feed size that is appropriate for the mouth is also important. It is self-explanatory that small fish, such as neon tetra, cannot eat huge flakes. Big fish like angelfish, on the other hand, find it too time-consuming if they have to pick up food that is too small. For small fish, granules are suitable as dry food and Artemia as live or frozen food.

For larger fish, flake food is suitable as dry food and live and frozen food, such as mosquito larvae or earthworms. For bottom dwellers with a downward-pointing mouth, such as catfish, food that sinks quickly, such as food tablets, should be used.

How Much & Often You Should You Feed Fish

How often do you have to feed fish?

The frequency of feeding is another important factor. Many beginners tend to feed too much and often. For most species it is enough to feed them once a day. Young fish, which should be fed at least 3 times a day, are an exception. You can stop feeding once or twice a week and introduce a day of fasting.

Can fish die from overfeeding?

Try and feed fish what they can eat in 2 minutes, maximum. Any uneaten fish food begins to break down in the water, creating an extra load on the filter. If there is too much uneaten food, the water becomes toxic. This ultimately can lead to fish death.

What time should you feed fish?

When it comes to feeding, there is generally little to consider. In nature, fish do not always get their food at the same time. In principle, it doesn’t matter whether you feed your fish in the morning, at noon or in the evening. However, it is important that the aquarium is illuminated for at least 30 minutes before and after feeding fish.

How much should you feed fish?

The wrong amount of feed is probably the most common mistake in feeding. Many beginners mean well with their fish and think that a large amount of food will do them good. On the contrary, because excess feed is a common reason for nitrite pollution and algae plagues. Fish do not have a feeling of satiety and continue to eat until nothing can fit in.

Tip on how to feed fish

The amount of food should be chosen so that the food is completely eaten within 3 minutes.

If you have used significantly too much to feed fish, you should remove the leftovers with a landing net. Exceptions are green fodder and food tablets. Green fodder should be removed from the aquarium after 2 days at the latest. Food tablets also need a little more time because they have to dissolve.

How to feed fish in the aquarium

What kind of food do fish eat?

Depending on the fish species, you feed them the following:
·       Insects
·       Blood worms, white worms, tubifex worms and micro worms  
·       a mixture of live, frozen and cooked fish
·       Other Live Foods
·       Dried Foods and Supplements
·       Plants and Algae
·       Vegetables and Fruit
·       Supplements and Dried Foods
·       Dried Commercial Foods

Why should you vary what you feed fish?

A varied feeding can effectively prevent diseases. If only the same type of feed is used, deficiency symptoms can occur. In addition to dry food, you should always alternate with live, green or frozen food.

The main food should also be changed regularly, because the ingredients vary greatly depending on the brand. If a person were to eat the same dish every day, it would not be healthy in the long run, and the situation is similar with fish.

How long can fish get by without food?

Adult and healthy fish can usually get by without feeding for two to three weeks. There are enough microorganisms, algae and leftover food in the aquarium for your fish to feed on. Feeding with an automatic feeder can be considered while on vacation.

How do you know when fish are hungry?

How to tell if your fish if hungry
·       Your fish is digging around the substrate (searching for food).
·       Waiting and the top of the aquarium (for feeding time).
·       Behaviour changes (aggression).
·       Noticeable weight/size changes.
·       Slow or sluggish behaviour.

Is fasting good for fish?

A regular fast day without food is recommended. Even in nature, the available food supply is not exactly the same every day. The animals get along wonderfully with these fluctuations in how much they get to eat.

For some species, reducing the amount of food for several weeks followed by a period of more generous feeding is even a trigger to reproduce.

ADVANTAGE: A positive effect of a fasting fish one day per week is that the pollution of the water through excretions is somewhat reduced. This also helps to curb the growth of algae. More about algae control.

IMPORTANT: If you have young animals in the aquarium, you should better not do the fasting days, because they need regular food.

What can I feed my fish if I run out of food?

When you run out of fish food, just feed your fish boiled vegetables, peas or small pieces of seafood like white fish or shrimp. Select freeze-dried food rather than live food to avoid the chance of transferring infections to your goldfish.

Summary: How to feed fish

When it comes to feeding fish, less is more

  • If you keep fish in the aquarium, feeding once or twice a day is sufficient. The amount should be measured so that the animals have cleaned the food within three to five minutes.
  • If you put the fish on one fasting day per week, this will not harm the animals – on the contrary. The feeding break promotes health for many fish species.
  • If your animals live in a sufficiently large aquarium, you may not have to feed often. There the fish actually find enough phytoplankton or other vegetable substances.
  • In small aquariums, however, the natural ecosystem is insufficient as a food source. Aquarium fish need around one to two percent of their own body weight in food every day.
  • The same applies here that the food should be eaten within a few minutes. If you feed too much, the food sinks to the bottom and contaminates the aquarium.

Why are my fish always hungry?

Fish have to always eat. They normally act hungry since they generally aren’t able to find food in the wild every day so they will always look for opportunities to eat and therefore “look hungry”. Remember, fish can go for a couple of weeks without food so I’m pretty sure your fish are fine.

How do you properly feed a fish?

Soak the pellets in water for 10 minutes before feeding so they expand before the fish eat it, rather than in the fish’s stomach. Feed the fish once or twice a day. Because it is much easier to overfeed most fish than to give them too little food, one feeding a day may be safer.

What human food can you feed a fish?

Green foods are well worth trying, as are some fruits. Blanched lettuce and cooked peas and spinach are enjoyed by most herbivorous fish, while suckermouth catfish like plecs will also happily graze on raw courgette, cucumber and sweet potatoes, even slices of melon.

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