Updated August 12, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
What do fish eat? Turns out they eat all sorts of things. Food is one of the most important topics to know about when keeping fish and a proper diet is essential. If you want to get the most out of your aquarium fish it is important to give them a variety of fish foods. While you can give them just flakes, you should try to vary their diet with some of the different types of foods described below. It is also good to note that two or three small feedings a day is better than one feeding per day. Only put in as much food that the fish will consume within 2 minutes. Overfeeding your fish will lead to poor water quality and stressed fish!
Be extremely careful when using live foods (especially feeder goldfish) due to the diseases that they may carry. Freeze-dried foods (pre-soaked) are a safe alternative to live food due to the treatment of these foods before the freeze drying process.
Automatic FeederAuto feeders are good to use because they will dispense the same amount of food at specified intervals, usually every 4, 6 or 12 hours. They can also be utilized while you are away on vacation. Vacation feeder blocks usually cause more harm than good and having an automatic feeder will free you up from having to use something like those clunky feeder blocks.
Flake Fish Food
Flakes are easy to use and your fish will probably like them. Flakes usually float on the surface while the fish eat. If you have bottom dwelling fish like Cory Cats, you will want to use something like algae wafers or pellets that sink to the bottom. You can use flakes as the primary food source because it contains most of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your fish need. They are also easy on your fish's digestive system. Start off by using just a pinch or two. If your fish gobble it up in less than 2 minutes, try another tiny pinch. Avoid overfeeding because this can lead to poor, cloudy water.
Also keep in mind that flake food does get bad if you've had it for a long time. Just imagine eating from a 6 month old box of cereal. So, it's probably best to go for the smaller flake food containers instead of the jumbo containers that will last for 5 years.
Brine shrimp is a great fish food for getting your fish ready for breeding. It can also be used as an excellent treat for your fish. Use it as a supplement to the daily diet of flake foods.
You can also create your own brine shrimp rather easily. Check out the brine shrimp hatchery page for details on how to create a DIY hatchery.
If you have carnivorous fish you may want to supplement their diet with some blood worms. Your other fish will love these as well. Blood worms are high in protein and only feed them to your fish occasionally.
KrillKrill are small crustaceans that are often used to enhance the colors in tropical fish. It is not recommended to feed krill daily to your fish. Use it as an occasional supplement to their diet.
Made from brine shrimp and because these pellets usually sink to the bottom, they can be used to feed your bottom dwelling fish. Brine shrimp is a great food and is often used to stimulate breeding in tropical fish.
SpirulinaSpirulina is a type of blue-green algae that can be a great supplement for your fish that are primarily herbivores. What is the benefit of spirulina? It contains many amino and fatty acids that are the building blocks for proteins. It is also usually vitamin enriched. Fish such as Plecos, Silver Dollars and Mollies will really benefit from a diet supplemented with spirulina fish food. It should help make your fish more regular with their bowel movements.
These algae wafers were specifically developed for the hard to feed plecostomus and other algae eating bottom feeders. Cory cats and Silver Dollars will go after these sinking wafers as well. It can be really funny to watch Silver Dollars chase each other around the tank when one gets the algae wafer. This food can be a great supplement for the aforementioned species as well as other herbivorous fish. Drop one or two in at night when the tank lights go off for your bottom feeders. This way they won't have to compete with the top dwelling species for the wafers.
Frozen FoodsFrozen fish foods are great for getting high quality, fresh food to your fish. These foods are usually high in proteins and fats so check the label to see exactly what you're giving your fish. Manufacturers are making frozen cube packs for many tropical fish types, including brine shrimp, beef heart, bloodworms, daphnia, krill, plankton, silversides, etc. You can sometimes get the frozen food in cube packs that really makes it easy to dispense.
Using frozen food can be messy and can lead to algae blooms if not used properly. The juices are frequently high in phosphates. To cut down on the amount of pollution added to your tank you may want to thaw the frozen food in a bowl and then slowly spoon feed it to your tank. Only put in as much food as your fish will eat as soon as it touches the water.
Feeding your fish high quality, frozen foods will really do wonders for them. You may start to notice that your fish have improved colors and they may even start breeding.
Freeze Dried FoodFreeze dried fish foods are great foods as well. However, they are one of the most expensive types of fish foods per ounce. There are benefits to using freeze dried foods. They are not very messy, they tend to float at the top of the tank for a very long period of time and they have been decontaminated (free from fish disease) by the manufacturer before the freeze drying process. If you've used freeze dried food you know how fish go after them. Freeze dried food is a very good way to supplement your pet's diet. Some hobbyists feel that freeze dried foods can lead to constipation/bloat in their fish. You can help limit any bloating issues potentially by pre-soaking the freeze dried foods in a bowl with tank water beforehand.
Live Fish FoodsLive fish food is exactly what you think it is. The food is still alive when you introduce it to the tank. Brine shrimp, Daphnia, Feeder Goldfish and worms are usually the main live foods given to tropical fish. Many give feeder Goldfish to their Piranhas and Lionfish. If you plan on using live foods, caution is advised because feeder fish can bring fish disease along with them.
Earth worms can be a great supplement for your fish but don't feed them to your fish too frequently. Finding earth worms can be fairly easy but make sure you don't collect them from soil that may have contaminants such as lawn fertilizer.
Fish Food Comments
Related Aquarium Articles
Learn how to setup a freshwater aquarium, from start to finish.
Contrary to what you may have heard, setting up and running a saltwater aquarium is not difficult. Read this to find out how easy it really is to have a saltwater tank.
If you want to set up the ultimate aquarium, try your hand at setting up a reef tank!