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Food for Aquarium Fish - Pictures, Types, Tips & Forum

Brine shrimp, resized image Different types of fish food - flakes, granules, tablets, resized image Flakes fish food, resized image Granules - fish food, resized image

Brief Description

Feeding freshwater tropical fish is obviously very important part of fishkeeping in general. Depending on species which you keep, it’s necessary to find the most suitable food due to the reasons listed in the article below.

  • Prevent diseases in the tank,
  • Help your fish to be active,
  • Make your fish well-coloured,
  • Stimulate breeding,
  • Proper fry growth.

Division into groups

Generally, fish food can be divided into 2 basic groups; Live-food and „Lifeless“ food. However, this doesn’t mean your fish require one kind of food only. Bear in mind that every species eat differently which is the result of various factors including, but not limiting to its locality, momentary season, its place in the food chain, size, feeding habits, etc.

Even though live/lifeless food division might look sufficient for beginners, let’s use another division which helps us to determine what to feed your fish. This division is based on habits which determine if fish accepts vegetables, meal based food, or both:

  • Omnivore

    Such fish eat animal and plant matter. Despite very common opinion that it’s not necessary to feed omnivores both types of food, they require vegetables and live food as well as water, light, and basically everything what’s necessary for living. Nearly all home-kept fish are omnivores even though they’re considered to be herbivores.

  • Herbivore

    Fish which eat plant based food only. Catfish are considered to be part of this group, however they like meat based food too.

  • Carnivore

    They’re meat-eating fish. This group includes many African cichlids for instance. Carnivore fish are usually aggressive against other species and shouldn’t be kept with weaker species.

In order to understand what your fish need, you must select food which is acceptable. Acceptable food should fit all of below-mentioned criteria:

  • Fish must be able to eat food. This means the food size must be less than mouth size and what’s more, it must be less than the size of digestion tract. Many fish have larger mouth than their digestion tract, so that if you feed them large pieces of food you can see they spit it out. Basically, they snap a small piece which they can eat. The rest will fall down to the bottom levels of your aquarium. Because for this reason it’s good to keep bottom-dwellers such as catfish, cories and pleco species.
  • Nutriment and vitamins-rich food is necessary for healthy tank. Please read this article in order to understand the role of vitamins and proper feeding.

Now we can divide food into more specific groups which describe each freshwater species in general.

  • African cichlids. Diet: Cichlid flakes, pellets, beef heart.
  • Angelfish. Recommended food: Granules, bloodworms, flakes, brine shrimp, frozen food.
  • Barbs. You should feed them flakes and frozen food.
  • Betta species. Blood worms and granules.
  • Catfish. Catfish as bottom-dwellers like vegetable/meat tablets, but tend to flakes if they can reach top levels. They also love frozen beef heart and tubifex.
  • Danios. Recommended diet: Mostly flakes.
  • Discus. Freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, granules.
  • Goldfish. Pellets, flakes, granules.
  • Gourami fish. They prefer granules and tablets, but eat beef heart as well.
  • Loaches. Wafers, flakes, frozen food.
  • Plecos. Tablets, flakes (if they can reach top levels), frozen food, tubifex.
  • Rainbowfish. Flakes.
  • Rasboras. Mostly flakes and granules.
  • Sharks. Frozen food, beef heart.
  • Tetras. Nearly all tetra species are small fish which prefer granules, tablets and flakes.

Of course, you can feed your fish other food than mentioned in this general division. Especially if you keep carnivores, you can feed them feeder goldfish (small goldfish born to become a dinner of other fish only), small guppies, mollies, platies, etc. Avoid overfeeding at all cost. There are species which can accept unlimited amount of food, but less is sometimes more. If you feed fish too much for a longer period, they will become fat, which results in diseases, swimming problems and lower water quality (thanks to food which decompose as uneaten). Especially uneaten food threatens all living organisms in your tank. As time goes by, uneaten food turns to fungus or gets sucked into filter.

JBL flakes Vipagran fish food - granules Vipagran

Tips

Advantage of beef heart is that it helps fish to be coloured nicely. Disadvantage is that fish will easily „forget“ about other food, what’s potentially dangerous. Beef heart results in fat bellies too. Unlike beef heart, vegetables are full of vitamins and should be put into tanks. However, there’s a big problem lying here; If fish aren’t fed vegetables from juvenile age, they will probably ignore it.

Fish feeding should reflect their appetite. This means nearly all species require food twice a day. Feeding on a random basis isn’t recommended, however it can be seen in nature (there’s no ’feeding time’) in the wild.

Naturally, if you keep fish for breeding purposes, it’s necessary to follow these feeding rules:

  • Increase amount of live food during the breeding period. Live food stimulates breeding. If you keep herbivores, don’t use meat based food of course.
  • Feed fish more than usually.
  • The fry usually accepts Artemia Salina. If you use other food, they will probably experience various troubles. Moreover, many fish will probably die. Juvenile specimens should be fed 5 times a day.

As the last point of this article, bear in mind that quality usually costs more. On the other hand, it’s better to feed fish quality food than buying new fishes each two weeks. Don’t buy low quality food, otherwise your fish will be unhappy, coloured poorly, etc. The last thing you want your aquarium to look like is that it’s dead.

Video

Feel free to download our video here (approximately 38 MB, 640x480px). Another video shows fish fed blood-worms (approximately 110 MB).

Pictures

We're not advertising any product. Images are examples only!

Brine shrimp fish food Brine shrimp fish food, example 2 Set of fish food Flakes fish food in detail Flakes fish food Granules fish food Crushed granules fish food Tablets fish food

Questions and answers related to fish food

Originally published at aqua-fish.net/answers, we moved the following questions here in order to put all related information together. If you cannot find answer on your question on this page, feel free to use the form that's available at the bottom of this page and we'll do our best to answer every question related to fish food. (some of the below-listed questions may be partially answered above)

  • What do Blue gouramis eat?

    Answer: They eat meat-based and vegetable-based food too. So you can give them Spirulina flakes, granules or bloodworms. Gouramis can also eat Ramshorn snails if they learn how these snails can be eaten.

  • What does Bristlenose catfish eat?

    Answer: They are omnivores, so you can give them various types of food. My Bristlenose's love bloodworms and JBL flakes the most.

  • When to feed the Discus fish?

    Answer: Usually twice a day; in the morning and in the evening.

  • Why does my Oscar fish eat so much?

    Answer: Oscar fish are notoriously greedy fish that will keep eating while you keep adding food. When keeping these fish always give them a reasonable diet but don’t overfeed as they do produce a lot of waste.

  • Why do clown loaches click when they eat?

    Answer: Clown loaches make the clicking noise when they are content; they are usually at there most contented when they are eating.

  • What colour fish eat green algae?

    Answer: Most algae eating fish like green algae. There is not necessarily a specific colour group of fish that consume green algae.

  • What fish will eat green hair algae?

    Answer: American flag fish, bristle nose catfish and cherry shrimp like to eat green hair algae. The Chinese algae eaters will also eat the green hair algae but only when the algae is very young.

  • Which tropical plants will my Sailfin pleco not eat?

    Answer: If a Sailfin pleco is well fed it will not eat plants. It prefers to feed on algae and prepared algae tablets. It will only eat plants when there is no other food available to it. You can tell when a Sailfin pleco is well fed by looking at the shape of its belly. If the belly is rounded it is well fed, but if the belly looks caved in, chances are the pleco is malnourished.

  • How do you know if your Platy fish is getting enough food?

    Answer: If the fish is healthy and active then it is getting enough food. Just monitor its growth and make sure that it's not overfed. It is easy to determine if a fish is overfed by watching the belly; If it's getting bigger and bigger, then a fish is eating more than it's recommended.

  • What do archers eat?

    Answer: Archer fish will eat flake food, bloodworms, ants, flies, moths, and crickets.

  • What do black skirt tetra fish eat?

    Answer: The Black skirt tetra will eat flake food, pellets, bloodworms, and nearly anything else you offer it.

  • What do fresh water snails eat?

    Answer: Snails will eat algae or aquatic plants, flake food, frozen foods, and live foods. They will often be found cleaning up what the fish left behind.

  • What do freshwater clams eat?

    Answer: Clams are filter feeders so essentially they eat debris and leftover fish food by "filtering" it from the water.

  • What do firemouth cichlids eat?

    Answer: They will eat algae, flake food, pellets, dried krill, blood worms, tubiflex worms and brine shrimp.

  • What do gold dojo loaches eat?

    Answer: Flake food and pellets are accepted, but they also enjoy earthworms and fish.

  • What do goldfish eat?

    Answer: Goldfish will eat anything that is offered to them, choose a good quality pellet as a base diet, and supplement with meal worms and earth worms, as well as fruits and veggies, frozen peas without the skin are widely enjoyed.

  • What do Green terror cichlids eat?

    Answer: Bloodworms, fish, beef, and vegetables with a good quality pellet base diet.

  • What do platys eat?

    Answer: Platys will eat flake food, pellets, brine shrimp, and any small live food.

  • What do Honey gourami eat?

    Answer: These fish will do well on any good quality flake or pellet diet. Live food can be provided as a treat.

  • What do Pictus catfish eat?

    Answer: Bloodworms, beef heart, insects, pellets, flake food and can be fed veggies such as skinned peas and lettuce as well.

  • What do Rainbow fish eat?

    Answer: Algae, vegetables, like pumpkin and zucchini, small insects, small fish, mosquito larvae, and fruit flies.

  • What do Siamese algae eaters eat?

    Answer: These fish eat a large variety of foods such as pellets, algae, small worms, insect larvae, beef heart, vegetables and flake foods. Flakes will be eaten if only you have planted aquarium, so that fish will easily be able to find flakes or other food.

  • What do Tiger barbs eat?

    Answer: These guys will eat flake food, granules, pellets, worms, tubifex, and tablets.

  • What do Mosquito fish eat?

    Answer: They love mosquito larvae, but any good pellet or flake food will do, you can round out their diet with insect larvae, brine shrimp, and blood worms.

  • What does algae eater eat?

    Answer: Algae is their main diet, but they are the cleaners of the tank, so they will often be seen cleaning up the excess food, and any dead fish.

  • What do Panda corydoras eat?

    Answer: A good quality flake food, as well as pellet food and white or black worms, tubifex worms, brine shrimp, and micro worms.

  • What does a False black tetra eat?

    Answer: Feed with flake food, small live foods, such as insects and brine shrimp.

  • What do Raphael catfish eat?

    Answer: They will feed off bloodworms, brine shrimp and frozen fish foods.

  • When should I feed Cherry barb fry?

    Answer: The fry should be fed as soon as they have absorbed their yolk sacs. Infusoria or a fry liquid food will suffice for the first two weeks; gradually build in a meal of newly hatched brine shrimp. They should be fed 2-3 times per day.

  • Why are my fish leaving uneaten food in the tank?

    Answer: The most obvious cause of this has to be overfeeding. The uneaten food will quickly foul the water so cut down on the quantity given. If overfeeding is not the case the only other reason for this could be that the fish are not in their best of health.

  • When do you start feeding African dwarf frogs tadpoles?

    Answer: Newly hatched tadpoles can be tricky to feed but persistence will pay off. Offering them newly hatched brine shrimp should get them eating as soon as possible.

  • What do pond goldfish eat?

    Answer: You should continue feeding your goldfish a good dry pellet diet even if they are in a pond, but they will supplement with bug larvae and plant matter.

  • What do Chinese algae eaters eat?

    Answer: The Chinese algae eater will eat primarily algae as a juvenile, but will quickly grow and will need more then just algae to thrive, it will take flake food and pellets quite readily as well as any excess food left by tank mates.

  • What should I feed Green terrors?

    Answer: A green terror will eat just about anything, and a rounded diet is a good thing, anything from bloodworms to mosquito larvae and pellet food will be accepted and enjoyed by these fish. Experiment with different live food options to find what your fish likes best.

  • What should I feed Koi carp?

    Answer: Feed these fish a good pellet and supplement with live food and vegetables to make sure they are getting all the vitamins that they need to thrive.

  • What do rainbow sharks eat?

    Answer: They are omnivores so they should be provided with a good variety, beginning with a flake or pellet food and supplemented with vegetables such as lettuce and brine shrimp.

  • What should I feed Kuhli loaches?

    Answer: They are a bottom feeder so a sinking pellet food is a good base diet, and live foods should be offered from time to time as well.

  • What vegetables should I feed my Oscar?

    Answer: Oscars are carnivorous fish and their diet should be primarily meat based. Feeding them with cichlid pellets as well will provide them with all the vegetable matter that they need.

  • What type of fish will eat algae and live with tetras?

    Answer: Cory's are generally peaceful and snack on algae. Alternatively, most snails (ie Apple, rams horn) are not predatory and will eagerly clean every surface in your aquarium. Another common fish that is sold as an algae eater is the "pleco". These do grow rather large and should be kept in a larger aquarium. They also prefer heat and can become aggressive. Some species will also try to eat other fishes' slime coat; which is not healthy for the victim!

  • Which food should I give catfish?

    Answer: This will depend on the species of catfish you are keeping, are they herbivorous or carnivorous. For the herbivores plenty of vegetable matters like cucumber, peas and pellet food which contains spirulina. Carnivorous species should be fed on a high protein diet of bloodworm, cockles, mussels etc.

  • What diet should I feed my flower horns?

    Answer: Flower horns should be fed at least twice per day on a cichlid pellet food, preferably three times per day. This should provide them with all the nourishment they require, but an occasional treat of brine shrimp or bloodworm will be eagerly taken.

  • Which fish eat Tetra Bettamin?

    Answer: Tetra Bettamin is designed to satisfy the dietary needs of the Betta fish. It contains colouration additives to enhance the fin colours.

  • What makes a goldfish grow fast?

    Answer: A good healthy diet and plenty of swimming space will ensure that the goldfish will grow, not necessarily fast, but it will reach its full size.

  • What meat should I feed a Piranha?

    Answer: Strips of beef or a processed beef heart mix are perfectly acceptable to feed these fish. As juveniles they will accept flake foods but a meat diet should be given as adults.

  • What shouldn’t I feed my Tiger barbs?

    Answer: Tiger barbs are very easy to feed; any flakes or pellets added to the tank will be accepted readily. There isn’t any commercial food that you shouldn’t feed them, but if you added a food they didn’t like they would leave it anyway.

  • What should I feed my Oscar fish?

    Answer: The main diet of an Oscar should be specially formulated cichlid pellets. Frozen cubes of brine shrimp, Krill, Beef heart should also be given 2 to 3 times per week. Earthworms will also be readily accepted but these should be cleaned thoroughly before adding them to the tank.

  • When should I feed my Ghost Knife fish?

    Answer: Although these fish are nocturnal, they can be trained to come out in the daytime at feeding times. They should be fed small amounts twice a day.

  • What should I feed my Black Tropheus?

    Answer: In the wild these fish will eat algae from rocks and stones so their diet should be algae based and supplement with brine shrimp to provide some meaty foods. Try to allow some algal growth in the tank so that they can feed themselves as well.

  • What should I feed Paradise fish?

    Answer: Try to give them a mixed diet of flakes, spirulina flake and brine shrimp. Additional treats should include bloodworms, plankton and small earthworms.

  • What should I feed my Amano shrimp?

    Answer: The main food source for these shrimps is algae; this is why they are often added to planted tanks. If there are not a lot of algae in your tank they will nibble a t flake food but try adding some algae tablets.

  • What should I feed my Blue rams?

    Answer: Blue rams will accept readily bloodworms, mysis shrimp and brine shrimp. Only feed these on an occasional basis, feed them with small sized cichlid pellets for their main diet.

  • What should I feed my Discus fish?

    Answer: Discus needs a varied diet or they will get bored with eating the same food. The main part of their diet should be quality discus granules with brine shrimp, bloodworm and beef heart fed on alternate feeding times.

  • What food should I give my Koi for growth?

    Answer: To get the best growth results from Koi carp, feed them a high protein diet. There are many suppliers that sell this food in pellet form but do not feed this to the fish when the air temperature starts to drop.

  • What should I feed my Tire track eel?

    Answer: These eels should be fed a varied diet comprising of bloodworms, tubifex, glass worms, earthworms, and krill.

  • What should I feed my Tetra fry?

    Answer: As with most fry, newly hatched brine shrimp will be accepted readily, crushed flake should also be given to provide them with the nutrients that they need.

  • What can I feed my Flowerhorn to promote head growth?

    Answer: There are a couple of products on the market for this purpose, Maxima and Head Booster. For natural growth, supplying the fish with a large tank and a varied diet will produce good head growth anyway.

  • What should I feed my Corydoras catfish?

    Answer: Always ensure that your Corydoras are not just left with food that other fish haven’t eaten. They should have their own diet of shrimp pellets, algae wafers and catfish pellets. They will also enjoy a treat of blood worms or Tubifex.

  • What should I feed my Gouramis?

    Answer: Quality flake should be used for their staple diet. They will enjoy a treat of blood worms and brine shrimp 2-3 times per week.

Of course there are further questions that have been asked by our visitors, the most important are listed and answered below.

How much should I feed my fish?

In various guides you can find something like “the amount of given food should be eaten in 1-5 minutes”. The number which replaces 1-5 is usually different for each guide. Anyway, I feed my fish differently... Firstly I put flakes into the aquarium in order to feed fish which swim in the top or middle levels. As flakes sink (they float for a few seconds – up to one minute, depending on water flow), they get to the bottom levels where bottom-dwellers start eating them. At this time usually all fish except bottom-dwellers are full. Now it’s time to put some granules and tablets into the tank (foods which fall down immediately). Since bottom dwellers have to find food, they will search for it for more than one or two minutes in general (unless you keep so many fish that they eat all food very fast).

It is also good to keep snails in the aquarium since these habitants can eat all uneaten food, thus they prevent such food from decomposing and causing pH to get lower.

Always check if all fish are eating during the feeding time! In my experience 1 small Tetra can eat between 4-5 normal-sized flakes (1cm2) at once. On the other hand, foods such as bloodworms or larvae are more tasty and fish will accept more such food.

What is the best time to feed my fish?

For fish, it’s nearly always. Avoid feeding during night, or when lighting is turned off. I feed my fish in the morning (at about 0800 o’clock) and in the evening (at 1900 o’clock). If you just brought new specimens into your fish tank, they will learn when it’s the feeding time very fast; usually in 4-5 days after being introduced into their new environment.

Fish are more active when they’re fed, so if you want to see them swimming here and there, feed them. However, do not overfeed.

What is Spirulina and how it helps?

Spriulina is a great addition to algae eaters and herbivores, and is classed as a high protein diet as it consists of 60% vegetable protein that is very easy to digest and obviously contains no fat or cholesterol that is contained in meat. Since there is already an article devoted to this topic, feel free to continue reading here: /articles/benefits-spirulina-food-aquarium-fish.

How long can fish live without food?

The answer is different for each species. Big cichlids can usually survive a few weeks, up to months sometimes. Coldwater fish such as Koi don’t need any food during Winter (although you can feed them during this season). And some livebearers will not survive a week without being fed. In my experience Angelfish, Gouramis and Bristlenose catfish can easily survive a week without food (Bristlenose catfish will probably find some algae anyway).

Bear in mind that rather than leaving fish without food, you should buy an automatic feeder. If you’re not leaving for more than 48 hours, then all fish should survive.

What is natural fish food, and what are advantages and disadvantages?

In order to make your own natural fish food, it all depends on which fish you’re going to feed. For instance, if your goal is a live food (larvae for example), then simply put some dead carp into the river for a few days. Then return and you should find plenty of larvae in the fish’ body. Your fish will love this food (if your tank’s inhabitants are carnivores or omnivores). Another way of feeding your fish is finding larvae in puddles. Of course, this is possible during Summer, not during Winter. Another way how to make your own natural fish food is having a temporary tank which you fill in with water from other fish tanks, and then just let it be for a few weeks. Add some fish food there, also some sponge from filter. In a few weeks you should get tubifex in the tank. Occasionally tubifex can be seen in already running fish tanks too. These are examples of natural live food, however the disadvantage is that these foods can bring diseases into your aquarium. The advantage is that it is relatively easy to raise these larvae, and fish love them.

For herbivores, algae is the best natural food. In order to achieve high levels of algae, it is necessary to use more lighting than recommended, and also make sure that fish won’t eat all algae at once. In simple words, algae must grow faster than they’re eaten. There are no disadvantages of using algae as fish food. Advantages include, but not limit to, allowing newborns to find an easy food source, and also algae helps to keep water chemistry within acceptable intervals by decomposing harmful chemicals.

Can too much live food cause the dropsy disease?

No. In fact, even a small amount of live food can cause the dropsy disease. Especially if fish are weak. It all depends on the fact if the food is infected. Actually, if food is infected, then any disease can be introduced into the tank.

Is leaving uneaten frozen food in the aquarium bad?

No. Generally speaking, no uneaten food should be left in a fish tank, however one cannot assure that all food was eaten at once and that no small piece fell down to the place where it won’t be found. Uneaten food will decompose and this doesn’t mean any danger at all.

In order to avoid this situation, keep snails. Ramshorn snails are cool for this purpose, although they produce a lot of excrements. If you’re not familiar to snails, keep bottom-dwellers such as Cories or Catfish.

Can be beef heart used as fish food?

Yes, although it is not recommended to use it too often. Beef heart isn’t usual food for fish in the wild, and it can also introduce diseases into the tank. Many fish love beef meat as a whole, but in general it’s similar to human. Many people like fat foods, ice cream, and whatever unhealthy. No matter how it tastes, unhealthy food is still unhealthy. Rather feed your aquarium fish ordinary foods than look how fish get fat and sick.

How do fish collect food?

Each fish’ mouth is orientated to some direction. For example, Betta fish use to take their food from surface, thus their mouths are orientated to the surface. In comparison, Cories and Catfish use to collect food from bottom, so their mouths are orientated to the bottom.

In general, fish’ mouth cannot be the only factor when you’re deciding what food size they can accept. In many cases mouths are bigger than the rest of their digestion system. It is easy to find out if food is too big; Fish spit the food if it’s too big.

Foods for particular species

Since many fish keepers are interested in exact answers about food for fish that they keep, every fish profile in our database contains (or will contain) information about food and feeding. Thus, here below are links to the most popular species’ pages. Please note that if food/feeding information is missing yet, they will be added very soon. We are updating the records all the time in order to offer you the most accurate information.

Feel free to visit Feeding Your Fish at firsttankguide.net too!

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