What's worse: overfeeding or underfeeding?

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FathomtheFish

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I'm just curious as to your opinions - what's worse?

I think underfeeding is worse. These days we see more and more emaciated fish because people are afraid of over feeding - but really, what's so bad about "overfeeding?" Fish know when to stop eating. The only problem would be uneaten food and that is easily fixed with a turkey Bastet or gravel vac. Emaciated fish are harder to help. I feed my fish until their bellies are nice and round.
 

EmiliyaCossack

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FathomtheFish said:
I'm just curious as to your opinions - what's worse?

I think underfeeding is worse. These days we see more and more emaciated fish because people are afraid of over feeding - but really, what's so bad about "overfeeding?" Fish know when to stop eating. The only problem would be uneaten food and that is easily fixed with a turkey Bastet or gravel vac. Emaciated fish are harder to help. I feed my fish until their bellies are nice and round.
Man I wish my fish knew when it was time to stop eating. That is not my experience in the least. I have lost a lot of bettas to overfeeding, because I didn't know how to feed them correctly. Not to mention my Raphael catfish wouldliterally eat until he popped, it became so hard to deal with that I ended up rehoming him because I couldn't separate him from everyone else while I was feeding the community tank.

Can you elaborate how you get your fish to not eat so much?
 

PascalKrypt

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"Fish know when to stop eating"
They don't though. Lots of fish species are really prone to obesity. Bettas are a good example.

Plus overfeeding is a really common rookie mistake among inexperienced fishkeepers, fouling the water and killing fish. I think that's a prime reason why people new to the hobby are told to be careful of overfeeding. The only risk with underfeeding is starving the fish, which can be corrected for quite a while longer than one disastrous overfeed.
 

Addictedtobettas

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Overfeeding.

Underfeeding can be remedied over time. Overfeeding can kill fish quickly. Especially with certain fish. :(
 

RedGallant

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Fish can go weeks without food easily, overfeeding disturbs water parameters.
 

ystrout

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If you grossly overfeed and cause an ammonia spike, that's pretty bad. That said, in an established tank, it's pretty hard to overfeed so much that you cause any detectable ammonia. I get that it's an issue during the first couple months the tank is running though.

You definitely don't want to underfeed your fish long term. Having someone feed them small portions when you're on vacation is a good idea. But not forever. You also don't want your fish to get fat. I saw a couple obese calico bass at the Denver Aquarium. Their care givers were clearly giving them WAAAYYY too much. Just like any other animals, obesity can cause health problems. It's pretty obvious if your fish is getting too big though and you just need to cut back on their portions.

Like everything in the hobby, balance is key. Don't underfeed but don't let them get fat. It's easy to figure out the right amount. And if you have bottom feeders, put more in the tank right away rather than feed small amounts over a couple minutes so some sinks and the bottom feeders can get it.

RedGallant said:
Fish can go weeks without food easily, overfeeding disturbs water parameters.
Not easily. They can survive a while without food just like humans can. That doesn't make it easy or healthy though.
 

Belzz

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I think chronic underfeeding can be worse for the fish but it depends on how much you are under or overfeeding. A little bit of overfeeding won't hurt too much long term but a lot? It's very hard to fix. I'd rather overfeed my fish a little than underfeed them a lot but also I'd rather underfeed them a little than overfeed them a lot if that makes sense
 

RedGallant

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ystrout said:
Not easily. They can survive a while without food just like humans can. That doesn't make it easy or healthy though.
Well, at least a few days then
 
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FathomtheFish

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EmiliyaCossack said:
Man I wish my fish knew when it was time to stop eating. That is not my experience in the least. I have lost a lot of bettas to overfeeding, because I didn't know how to feed them correctly. Not to mention my Raphael catfish wouldliterally eat until he popped, it became so hard to deal with that I ended up rehoming him because I couldn't separate him from everyone else while I was feeding the community tank.

Can you elaborate how you get your fish to not eat so much?
Wow. I've never seen a betta lost to overfeeding! How much did you feed? I knew a person who had a betta eat about 300 scuds (accidentally) and be full to bursting, but he lived fine.

I generally feed until their bellies are nice and round (not super round, but round enough to show they just ate) before I stop feeding. They get two meals a day. Now o have two bettas who always want food, but they maintain a good weight. If I notice food falling I scoop it up and there's one day of half fasting a week. Never had any problems this way and extra food goes to the cories or shrimp.
 
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ystrout

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I think we can all agree an ammonia spike is the worst case scenario, which is caused by overfeeding. But in a tank that has been established a year, slightly overfeeding won't cause ammonia. The fish will eat the food off the ground before it decomposes. They do in my tank at least. I always see my danios going vertical and picking bits of food off the sand. Or the shrimp will get it.

But if we're talking about them getting slightly too fat verses too skinny, I think too skinny is worse. Food gives them energy and keeps their immune system strong. A weak fish is not a healthy fish. But being fat is not good for them either!
 
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BlackOsprey

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Extreme overfeeding causes more problems overall. You aren't gonna get snail explosions, ammonia spikes, distended stomachs, and a ton of pollution from underfeeding. Fish can deal with a week-long fast as long as they're healthy and decently well-fed going into it... Whereas if you go completely overboard with the feeding just for one weekend, the tank turns into a box of fetid water and stressed, bloated, dying fish.
 
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Deku-Cory

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I think a lot of the fish that are thought to be skinny from under feeding are actually suffering from internal parasites. Internal parasites are much more common of a problem than under feeding.
 
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