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What Do Aquarium Fish Eat?

What Do Aquarium Fish Eat? 1

Do you ever wonder what to feed your fish? What if you want to know if the fish food is good for them or not? You can feed various foods to your aquarium fish, you don’t have to be limited. I find if you maintain a rounded diet it can help keep the fish happy and more importantly, healthy.

Some fish may have certain dietary requirements that you need to be aware of. Since you are reading this article, that means you are interested in taking care of your fish. I recommend that you always do your research when picking fish and knowing what to feed them.

Ok back to the question at hand. Certainly, the most common fish food to feed your fish would be flakes. These fish flakes can be purchased at all fish stores and nearly any fish will eat it. You can also consider this to be a staple food for the fish. I sometimes change it up and use these fine pellets for the staple, while also offering other foods mentioned below from time to time. The fish really like it when I change it up, they notice the difference and scarcity.

The flake fish food has been designed with a well-rounded nutrition ideology. The companies that produce them have been able to add all needed nutrients for the fish. As long as the flakes are fresh (not sitting on a shelf forever), then you will be good. In most cases, it can be found in a variety that doesn’t cloud the water.

Other foods to feed your fish include; live foods, frozen foods, dry foods, and more. Many of the fish in your aquarium will also eat things from the environment like algae or debris on the bottom. While fish may eat these leftovers, please do not consider it to be a complete food source. Make sure to feed them daily with some type of complete nutritional food product.

Not all foods are appropriate to feed your fish. There may be food actually made for fish but you wouldn’t want to use it. This is because the food would make your tank have too much waste. One example I stay away from would be the frozen tubifex worms. When thawed they really dirty up the water, just a gross food option. I had to feed them to my puffers once and after that experience, I never want to use them again. If you do not filter out the water you thawed them in then it will cloud the water. This bio-waste will also create an environment for disease.

When feeding I always check back with my fish and take out whatever is leftover. I do not want the excess food to spoil the substrate and for that matter the whole tank. Preemptively cleaning like this will help keep the filter clean as well. As the aquarist, you are ultimately responsible for what is going on in your tank.

Feeding your fish the appropriate foods for their diets will have many benefits. The fish will be healthier and more active. Some species will have bland coloring and will not show their full vibrant colors until they are fed the correct fish foods.


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As stated above, there are many types of foods. They can be in several different forms and sizes for various fish types. In my opinion, some are definitely better than others, I will explain how some better ones in detail. Most you can find online but others like the live and frozen food types can only be found locally.

Some well-known fish food categories are:


  • Flakes – I don’t have to say this is the most common type of fish food. It is packed with nutrients. Fish Flakes should be the staple in your fishes diet. Easily found bands are the TetraMin, I use the TetraColor version offered.
  • Granules – Like the flakes but in a small grain shape, this shouldn’t cloud the water too easily. This can be a good alternative to swap out now and then. I would also say the TetraColor Granules is the best option in this category.
  • Algae Wafers – These are for larger fish, the smaller fish would have a hard time eating it even though they still try. These pellets work great for bottom feeders and plecos since it sinks to the bottom. For my bottom-feeders, I like to get the Hikari Tropical Algae Wafers.


  • Infusoria – This is a small single-celled organism, most of the type Protozoa. The Infusoria can be cultured at home, it’s actually easy to do with some lettuce and a jar of water.
  • Plankton – Another single-celled organism, Phytoplankton to be precise. It is found in salt water. Might be a hard one to find, likely specialty stores only.
  • Crustaceans – These are invertebrates and can be something like a Scud or a Shrimp. You can raise both pretty easily, saving you some money. It will also be a great source of protein for your fish. You can get these online and start a small breeding tank to get a regular food supply for your fish.
  • Spirulina – This is a type of cyanobacteria, the blue-green algae, don’t worry it’s the good kind. You can make this at home too!


  • Larvae – This can be the larvae of different insects, sometimes Mosquitos. Make sure to thoroughly rinse before feeding to prevent contamination.
  • Shrimp – One of the more popular frozen foods, Brine Shrimp or Krill. The fish will love them. I often give these to my rams, and they just eat them up so quickly. It has the bonus of bringing out the color in my rams, vibrant colors!
  • Worms – Some fish love these frozen worms, Tubifex worms, Bloodworms, and others. These can go bad quickly, can cloud the water, can bring other diseases to your tank. I recommend you only feed small amounts to your fish and only if you have a fish that requires them.


  • Ghost/Feeder Shrimp – These can be found for pretty cheap at most fish stores. These shrimp have a clear in color, you do not want any that appear foggy. If these shrimp survive then they can help clean your tank!
  • Feeder Goldfish – You can find these at your local fish stores, be careful, they could carry disease. Feeder fish like these are not always kept in the best conditions. Definitely for larger more aggressive fish types.
  • Earthworms – Make sure that you get these from the store and not from the outdoors. You are on your own with this one, never tried it. I’m not even sure where to get clean ones that are meant for the aquarium. Stay tuned for that article. LOL


Fish will eat as much as they can get. It is best for you to regulate how much they are fed each time. It is a good idea to reference the instructions on the fish food labels. If you do not have those instructions, you can follow the 5-minute rule.

So this means when feeding you should only put the right amount of food in the tank. If you put more food in the tank than the fish can consume within 5 minutes, then you have put much. As with many things in life, less is more.

Fish will eat until they cannot eat anymore, but there can also be a limit to how much they can eat. The remaining food will remain in the tank. The extra biowaste that they produce will increase as well.


I still say, to get the best idea, I would reference the label on the product. This will be the safest way to go, but even information may mean you are feeding more than needed.

Some people will feed their fish twice a day. I personally only feed my fish one time per day. It falls in line with my work schedule, and I feed them when I return home. If I am away from home, my loving wife happily feeds them.

This one time per day schedule will work for most fish, but not all. Some fish have such an appetite that they will need more regular feedings. If these pesky fish are not fed often they will pick on the other inhabitants of your tank, or sometimes eating them.

I also suggest skipping one day a week, so I feed my fish for 6 days then skip 1 day, and then repeat. By skipping on feeding it can help the fish utilize the resources they have built up. It can also help get the fish in a sort of balance so to speak, in that they are not always needing to be fed.

In nature fish feed in an opportunistic way. If the food supply is plentiful, then they will gorge themselves. If there isn’t significant food available, then they will just go without. This sporadic and non-constant feeding pattern is best replicated in the tank.

I think the 6-on 1-off feeding schedule is one of the best ways to keep my fish healthy second only to a clean tank. Also if I forget a day or two, it’s okay because they are more conditioned and not as spoiled.


What Do Aquarium Fish Eat? 3

If you follow the idea of not feeding too much, then you shouldn’t have any problems. Things to be concerned about would be excessive biowaste. When something takes in energy, then it must be released. This is the same for fish, they will take in the food but create waste that will remain in the tank until you remove it.

This overfeeding can be dangerous for the fish if it isn’t regulated. It can result in the fish being bloated or gassy. If the fish has too much gas then they will not be able to keep right side up since their equilibrium would be off. Bloating can cause death, this can be one of the hardest things to figure out if it isn’t just from excessive feeding.

Overfeeding can dirty the aquarium water, causing it to become cloudy. The excess waste then goes into the substrate causing toxic gases. This will also cause your filter to work overtime, needing more frequent cleanings.


Well, one thing you could do would be to make your own food. You can raise Infusoria, Amphipods or even Brine Shrimp. These are some easier live foods to raise for your tank.

My fish often like it when I feed them a piece of cucumber weighted down to a rock with a rubber band. If you do this, remember to remove it later and not let it break down in the tank.

I find it interesting that many people are tempted to feed their fish human foods. In researching, I have found many crazy ideas.


  • Carrots – This could be good if slightly cooked. I would try to do it in strips to give more surface area for feeding.
  • Cucumber – I put a piece of this straight in the tank, attach to a rock with a rubber band. This is one of my fishes favorites and mine too!
  • Zucchini – I would handle this one like the cucumber. I think zucchini could break down faster in water, I don’t know for sure though.
  • Bread – I don’t know how this would work since the bread would go soggy right away. I am not sure of what nutrients there would be for fish.
  • Bananas – This is the same as the bread, I think it would just be too mushy. I can see the nutritional value though.
  • Apples – My wife doesn’t think they would be interested. I myself like the idea that this wouldn’t break down as easily in the tank. I am sure the plecos would love to gnaw a piece of this off.
  • Chocolate – I am not sure what sugar would do to the fish. Some animals are allergic to chocolate so this could be an indicator as to its toxicity. If I was fed a diet of chocolate, I wouldn’t be complaining.
  • Dog Food? – This reminds me of the fish pellets you get at the fish hatchery where you pay a quarter and turn the knob to get them. I could see the fish really loving this, but it wouldn’t make for a good smelling tank.

I would attempt some of these, but others not so much. As mentioned before, I give my fish cucumber. The apples seem like a good one that I could try for my catfish. I may even take a fork and scar up part of the apple with a crosshatch like fashion so my shrimp can get at it easier.

I hope it goes without saying that you should always be careful with what you feed your fish. Foods meant for humans can have all kinds of side effects for other animals, including your fish. I wouldn’t recommend experimenting when in doubt go without.

Check out this video from Michael Langerman on YouTube, this one is really cool. It could potentially save a lot of money for people who keep a lot of aquariums. I will be giving this one a try myself, I just like the natural and DIY aspect of it.


Remember that a rounded diet of various fish foods can be the best for them. I am not saying to use all the food listed above, but maybe a select few. I would pick the fish food easy to store and feed.

If you overfeed you can introduce many problems. If you accidentally feed your fish too much, make sure to clean it out of the tank. If it isn’t easy to clean and is clouding the water, then you might consider a partial water change.

Maintain good food portioning, remember less is more. I also like the skip a day each week method. Keeps the fish healthy and makes it so you do not spoil them.

You should always keep your tank clean of excess debris. Take care of your fish, and they will be happier. Remember they will be their most active and display their best colors when you feed and take care of them.

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