Vets4Pets logo
Text size:
Menu
Fish header 1360x450.jpg

A guide to feeding your fish

Getting the right nutrition is a key part of keeping our birds feeling chirpy

Need Pet Advice?

Search our expert advice articles

Search

What food should I feed?

Thinking about the dietary needs of your fish is one of the first things you will need to consider. The nutrition you provide your fish is hugely important – food provides the building blocks for everything that happens in your fish’s body and is also important for water quality.

There are lots of different species of fish, which have slightly different requirements. First it is important to feed for all the ‘types’ of feeders in your tank. These are:

  • Top (or surface) feeders – which have an upturned mouth, and need floating foods
  • Mid-feeders – with straight mouths, who need food that slowly sinks
  • Bottom feeders – who have downturned or mouths on their underside, and need sinking foods that sit on the bottom. 

Food can also be species-specific, for example ‘chichlid food’ or ‘plec pellets’. Many simple aquarium fish will do well on more generic foods, such as tropical fish flakes, but you should always check if your fish species have any specific dietary needs. 

Live food supplements can also be a great way to provide nutrition and stimulation for fish that will eat live foods – while many fish species are omnivores, some are herbivores and won’t be interested in live options. 

How often should I feed my fish?


Once a day feeding is perfectly fine for most fish, although some herbivorous fish like Mollies have smaller digestive systems and can do better on more frequent feedings. It is always good to check when you buy your fish what their recommended feeding pattern is. 

Splitting your feeds throughout the day does actually match the natural feeding pattern of most fish better. However, when feeding more often it can be tempting to overfeed which should be avoided. Fish will generally always eat when it is offered, even if they are not particularly hungry. They will also quickly learn who brings the food, and can ‘beg’ in their own way, so don’t be tempted to succumb to the pleas of ‘starving’ fish!

However you choose to feed, routine is best, so try and feed your fish at the same time every day. If you have nocturnal fish, such as some catfish, make sure to consider that when planning your feeding regime.

How much food should I give my fish?


Overfeeding can be a big problem for fish, and sadly is often a product of over-kindness! Waste food accumulates, and this increases levels of nitrates in the water. Higher nitrates upsets the balance of the water, leading to lower oxygen levels and a fall in pH. Overfeeding or feeding a low fibre diet can also lead to constipation, which his usually seen as a trail of poo coming from your fish.

A good rule of thumb is not to feed more than your fish can eat two minutes. 

Don’t forget to alter the amount you feed if you gain or lose fish in your tank, or if you change food brands or types. It is important, however, not to change the amount you feed if you are only changing tank size, as this will not alter the nutritional requirements of your fish unless they then grow. 

How can I make sure all my fish are fed?


Spot feeding (putting all the food in one place) will often lead to a dominant fish getting the lions share. Sprinkling food around the tank will allow all your fish to get their dinner! The main thing is to avoid the temptation to put more food in, as overfeeding will only lead to poor water quality and unhealthy fish.