What to feed fish

What to feed fish

Many aquarists treat the maintenance of fish with frivolity because they behave unpretentiously. And in feeding for fish, the first available aquarium food is purchased without taking into account the quality of its composition, the presence of vitamins and nutrients necessary for the fish body. Food for fish is selected based on the type of fish, its activity, type of nutrition, age and health.

Nutritional basis

The main nutritional ingredient for fish species depends on their natural type:

  • carnivores;
  • herbivorous;
  • omnivores.

Depending on it, the basis of food consists of meat, insects, plants, vegetables. And then you should add additional feeding in the form of vitamins and microelements.

Food in an aquarium should be at least roughly similar to food in nature. For the long-domesticated fish in the form of guppies, goldfish, this is not yet so important. But for newly domesticated or wild fish caught in fry, an abrupt change in the dietary basis will cause health problems. After all, it is impossible to feed fish from central Russia with tropical insects and their larvae, because this food is unusual for them.


Proteins are responsible for the nutritional value of food, form the muscle mass and bones of fish, and release energy when there is a lack of carbohydrates. For predators in the diet, 60% of the food should be protein. But dry food in the form of flakes, granules, tablets usually contain 40–45% proteins, so feeding with live food is mandatory.

But not every type of protein is suitable for predatory fish. After all, the feed contains animal protein and vegetable protein. For carnivores, excessive amounts of plant protein cause digestive problems. And the body of herbivorous fish does not perceive a lot of animal protein.

Sources of animal protein:

  • All types of fish.
  • Shellfish and crustaceans.
  • Bird eggs.

The meat of birds and most mammals is not suitable for fish. But it is allowed to add calf liver, beef heart to homemade feed.

Sources of vegetable protein:

  • Cereals.
  • The legume family.
  • Spirulina.
  • Chlorella.


Another important nutritional component that provides a lot of energy. Fats in the diet are easy to misunderstand and can lead to overeating and obesity. Therefore, the fat content of the feed should not exceed 5-10%. With an excess of fat, the fish loses its ability to reproduce, it has problems with digestion.

Sources of fats:

  • Fatty fish (usually marine species).
  • Bird eggs.
  • Fish fat.
  • Crustaceans.
  • Shellfish.
  • Vegetable fat (rapeseed oil, soybean oil).

The fat of birds and mammals is poorly absorbed by the fish organism. You can find out low-quality feed by the ingredients of the composition: “pork fat”, “beef fat”. Palm oil is still poorly absorbed.


Organic matter carbohydrates are a source of rapidly renewable energy. But with their excess, they are easily deposited in adipose tissue, leading to obesity of the inhabitants. Only “noble” carbohydrates, which are found in vegetables, fruits, cereals, bran, grain, and herbs, are useful for fish health. The rest of the carbohydrates cause only a rapid increase in energy, and then a sharp decline. Such carbohydrates are found in flour, sugar, bread.


Natural and synthetic vitamins are used in food. Natural ones are fast digestible, but with their lack, synthetic ones are also beneficial.

What food is better to feed

The choice of food for aquarium fish depends on:

  • on the characteristics of the organism: predators, herbivorous or omnivorous;
  • whether they are catching food on the surface, in the water column or at the bottom.

The appearance, color and size of food particles are also important. For pets with a small mouth, food with large granules is not suitable. And some are more willing to eat colored particles that resemble insects.

Feeding mode

The number of feedings per day depends on:

  • The age of the fish.
  • Physique and size.
  • Appetite.
  • Health.
  • Breed characteristics.

It is recommended to feed the fish in the morning and evening before turning off the backlight. For adult representatives, the break between food intake is 10-12 hours, for young animals – 4-5 hours. In a shorter time, the food does not have time to fully digest.

All food in the aquarium should be consumed within 3-5 minutes. The maximum time is 15 minutes. The leftover food remains are then removed from the aquarium. If they have already got between the soil particles, then you will have to siphon the substrate. Reduce the dose the next time you feed.

If the fish suddenly began to not eat their usual portion of food, then check their health or readiness for breeding. It is in these situations that underwater inhabitants refuse food.

In case of a forced departure, the fish will calmly survive several days without food. The maximum period for healthy adult fish is 7 days. But with severe hunger, predators are able to eat smaller neighbors and relatives, and herbivores begin to eat planted plants. Fry, sick and elderly fish should not be left without food even for 1 day, otherwise it will negatively affect their health. This issue can be solved by purchasing an automatic feeder, which dispenses feed at a certain time.

Form and volume of feeding

The particle size of the feed depends on the type of fish, the type of food and the structure of the mouth.

Flakes and sticks float on the surface for a long time, so they are given to fish living in the upper layers of the aquarium. They break easily and are therefore suitable for fish with small mouths.

Tablets and sinking sticks are used for bottom fish. They quickly sink to the bottom, so other inhabitants will not have time to eat them. They are then soaked in water and are suitable for fish with all types of mouths.

You can determine the amount of food only individually, depending on the number of fish in the aquarium. For the first feedings, place a small portion of food in water. If it is eaten in a minute or less, then there was not enough food. And if the feeding process is delayed for more than 15 minutes or is not eaten at all, then the portion was too large. On average, fish should consume food within 5 minutes.

Types of food

All types of fish food are divided according to the preparation technique and composition.

Among them are:

  • Live food – food from live larvae of insects and worms.
  • Frozen – almost all types of live food are suitable for freezing.
  • Dry – consists of dried and crushed ingredients in the form of flakes, granules or tablets.
  • Vegetable – cereals, vegetables, fruits, berries, greens useful for fish.

Live food

Live food is recognized as the most nutritious due to its high protein content. It pollutes the aquarium less than dry food. Due to the nutritional value of live food, it is advisable to feed fry and fish during the breeding season. But the danger of such food is the possibility of infection of fish if there is an infection in the larvae and worms.

How to disinfect live food:

  • Crush a few cloves of garlic and put it in water with larvae or worms. After an hour, remove the garlic.
  • Hold live food for several hours in a light pink solution of potassium permanganate.
  • In a 5% salt solution, lower the larvae for 10 minutes 2 times a week.
  • 5% piperazine solution, lower the larvae and worms for 15 minutes.
  • Dissolve 2 tablets of metronidazole in 10 liters of water.
  • Dilute 250 mg of Erythromycin in 1 liter of water. Soak the larvae for an hour.
  • Dilute 0.1 g of trypaflavin in 10 liters of water. Place the larvae in the solution for 2 days.
  • Dilute 100 mg of kanamycin in a liter of water. Soak live food for an hour.

Common types of live food:


Dry food is easy to store, because it has a long shelf life, unlike live food. Dry foods are also often categorized by type. These feeds take into account the characteristics of the fish and meet their individual needs. But their nutritional value is much lower than that of live feed, and even with constant feeding, they need additional vitamin supplements.

Quality dry food is determined by the components of the composition.

Healthy Ingredients:

  • Spirulina. Algae rich in amino acids, fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, beta-carotene.
  • Shrimp flour. Particularly suitable for brightly colored fish to maintain color. Contains useful substances and has a high nutritional value.
  • Fish meal. Consists of minced and dried fish. Contains fatty acids, amino acids and vitamins. The fishmeal in the composition helps to fill up with less food.
  • Squid meal. Created from the remains of squid that do not go into production. But they are highly nutritious and contain vitamins and minerals. Stimulates appetite in malnourished fish.
  • Meal worms. Increase the nutritional value of dry food due to its high protein and fat content. Also contain vitamin D.

what to feed fish

The most popular manufacturers of fish feed types:

  • ADA (Japan).
  • Biodesign (Russia).
  • Dennerle (Germany).
  • PRODAC (Italy).
  • Sera (Germany).
  • Tetra (Germany).
  • Zoomir (Russia).
  • Wardley (USA).

Auxiliary formulations

Auxiliary formulations are necessary for fish that require increased feeding due to illness, breeding season or simply high activity during the day (cichlids, barbs). Also, additional formulations are suitable for fish that do not have time to fill up with everyone during the feeding period.

Auxiliary formulations are usually made from high-protein foods: larvae, krill, crustaceans with jelly and fatty acids. Available in tablet form. But such food is not typical for fry, so it is better to keep them on live food.

Harmful ingredients

Many formulations of cheap aquarium foods contain ingredients that are neutral but not beneficial to health. So nutrition with such feed will eventually weaken the fish’s body, because together with food it does not receive all the necessary substances for immunity. Ingredients that are actually harmful to the health of the inhabitants are less common.

List of foods that should not be included in fish feed:

  • Wheat flour. Even for the human body, it is recognized as not particularly useful, and for fish unaccustomed to such a product for digestion, flour can be harmful. It does not contain useful substances, it only greatly increases the level of glucose in the body. And this provokes obesity in fish. Wheat flour is especially harmful to fish in medium-sized aquariums, where they are not able to spend extra energy.
  • Potato protein. It also contains an excess of easily degraded carbohydrates that are converted into glucose. If you constantly feed the inhabitants with food with potato protein, this will lead to obesity and decreased activity, and then to diseases of the internal organs.
  • Soy flour. Soy is not so harmful to the body, but it also contains a large amount of carbohydrates and little benefit to the body.
  • Wheat gluten. These are almost empty carbohydrates that are quickly absorbed. With a lack of movement, they are stored as a fat layer. Used as a binder for other ingredients.

Every aquarist knows that you shouldn’t give your fish food from your table, because it is usually salty, contains sugar, seasonings and other harmful additives.

Homemade food for aquarium fish

Most often, homemade food is fed to their pets by experienced aquarists who want to achieve a completely healthy meal with all the necessary vitamins and minerals. After all, even the most highly valued and complete feed with constant feeding can cause a deficiency of some substances in the body.

The basis for homemade fish food for omnivorous underwater inhabitants will be:

  • Meat and by-products of fish, cattle.
  • Vegetation.
  • Fruits, vegetables, berries.
  • Cereals.
  • Microorganisms and protozoa.
  • Crustaceans, molluscs.
  • Insects and their larvae.
  • Worms.

The easiest fish food recipe is to make them scrambled eggs / omelet. This does not mean that it is allowed to feed the pets the remnants of food from the human table; food for fish is prepared separately.

  • Break 1 egg and pour into boiling water, wait until it is fully clotted (1 minute).
  • Remove the resulting omelet with a colander or spoon, finely chop.
  • Serve to fish in small portions; all particles must be eaten.


  • Avoid overfeeding pets. Obesity negatively affects the entire body of underwater inhabitants, reducing their life expectancy by half. Overfeeding leads to water pollution with ammonia toxins. It is better to underfeed than overfeed.
  • Feed strictly at a certain dosage. Fish should consume all the food in the aquarium within 3-5 minutes. If the time has passed more than 7-10 minutes, then the next dose of food decreases.
  • Fasting days and short hunger strikes are necessary to keep the fish in good shape. Thus, the consequences of previous overfeeding are eliminated, the desire for reproduction increases, the body is cleared.
  • Food for aquarium fish should be varied – living organisms, greens, vegetables and fruits are added to it.
  • Feed several times a day. If you give fish food once a day, it will adversely affect the body of even an adult fish, not to mention the young and the elderly. Adults are fed 2 times a day, fry 5–6 times, and adolescents 3–4 times a day.
  • Consider your pets’ food needs. It is advised to increase the feed dosage before and during spawning, after illness. When the water temperature drops, metabolism slows down, so the amount of food decreases.
  • Each species has its own feeding habits. If you keep more than one species in 1 aquarium, then make sure to satisfy each of them with different foods. Some companies produce food for all types, but they are usually less useful than food for certain types. In this case, at least purchase 2 types of fish food: for carnivores and herbivores.

The selection of food for underwater pets is an important part of maintenance and care. Here you need to focus on the type of food, oral apparatus, activity, habitat. What food do you prefer for aquarium fish?