How to Feed your Fish

by ​Susan Horton, DVM

What is proper fish feeding?

To successfully keep fish as a hobby you must learn to feed your fish the right type of food and the right QUANTITY of food. If you “overfeed” your fish the ammonia level will rise quickly and ultimately make your fish ill or kill them.

Overfeeding fish is the #1 cause of problems in fish aquariums.

What is overfeeding?

“Overfeeding” is simply putting more food in your aquarium than your fish will eat. Generally if the food falls to the bottom of the aquarium you are overfeeding.

How should you feed your fish?

It is best to feed your fish after the light has been on for at least 1 hour. Start by taking a very small portion of food (4-5 flakes or pellets per fish) and put it in the tank. Now observe your fish. Do they immediately eat the food while it is still on the surface? If so put in a little more. As soon as food begins to fall to the bottom, stop. Every tank will require a different amount of food. Experiment to find out what is right for your tank using the guideline above. If you have liveleavers, stop at 7-9 per fish, as they may overeat!

How often should you feed your fish?

When starting an aquarium we recommend you feed your fish once, every other day. In a new aquarium it is especially important not to over feed. After one month you can increase your feedings to once a day if you would like. Remember it is difficult to “starve” your fish, but very easy to “overfeed” and cause ammonia problems.

What type of food should I feed my fish?

There is no right answer. The more variety you give your fish, the more likely you will mimic their natural diet. This variety will result in better color, quicker growth and better health. Like any living thing, the better the diet, the healthier and prettier it will be. Don’t overfeed but offer variety for a healthy and vibrant aquarium. A good rule is a staple food 3-4 times and different foods the other days; only one feeding a day.

What food do we recommend?

Flake Foods
Choose a balanced flake diet as your staple food.

Frozen Foods
There are lots of these to choose from.  Choosing a frozen food depends on the type of fish you are keeping. Frozen food should be offered at least twice weekly.

Floating Pellets
Floating food stays at the top longer before it sinks which is great for cichlids.

Sinking Pellets
These are preferred for bottom feeders and goldfish.

Various worms, live food
Many different fish, shrimp, and worms are sold. Tubifex, brine, and bloodworms are the two most popular.  Make sure they are rinsed well and healthy before you feed these to your fish.

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