When turning into the aquarium hobby, each of us gets introduced to fish pellets and flakes as fish food. However, we all know that eating the same thing every day is tedious. So, every beginner tries to find out an answer to the question, “What do fish eat?” so they can offer a varied, balanced diet to make things interesting both for the fish and for the owner.
This article is dedicated to beginner aquarists who would like to offer various food for their pet fish. Finding out the food your fish can eat can also help you when your fish food stocks run out. So, let’s dig deeper into this topic.
There are basically three fish types living in the world.
- Carnivore (eg Angelfish)
- Herbivore (eg Guppies)
- Omnivore (eg Gold fish)
Each fish type has different food habits. For example, a fish belonging to the carnivore types eats meat. On the other hand, a fish from the herbivore type eats only plant matter as its food source. An omnivore fish eat both meat and plant matters. For this reason, we’ll go through each fish species in detail.
In the wild
In the wild, carnivore fish eat meaty bites. They are used to getting their food from natural environments like sea or river bed. Some of them even go hunting for food in the wild. While some other fish chase their prey and eat them up, some houde sit-and-wait predators ambush their prey.
Generally, small fish types eat small insects and crustaceans in the wild. Large fish usually prey on small fish, shrimp, and other small animals in the wild.
In aquariums, these carnivore fish eat meaty food like bloodworms, tubifex worms, and brine shrimps. Some eat live fish foods like small fish or prawns if they have access to these small animals. You can also feed them with fish pellets and flakes especially made for carnivore fish in captivity.
In the wild
Fish from herbivore types usually eat plant-based food in the wild. These kinds of fish eat algae and plant matter for their food. Most fish feed on plant matter by sieving or picking it up from the bottom of the water body.
Now, in aquariums, these fish eat fish flakes made of plant-based ingredients. They also eat vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, and peas. You can feed them with plant-based food like fruits like apples and bananas and vegetables like sprouts, spinach, and broccoli.
In the wild
These fish eat mainly both plant and animal-based foods in the wild. They are more likely to hunt for their prey rather than waiting for them. Some omnivore fish are even scavengers that eat anything they find from anywhere, including the substrate.
These types of fish feed on pellet and flakes food made up of both plant and meat-based ingredients. But, some of them also eat small fishes if they are available around the aquarium space. You can also feed them with plant-based food like fruits and vegetables.
Does fish size matter when feeding them
Yes. Small fish like guppies, platies, and danios can not eat like large aquarium fish such as Angelfish, Oscar, Silvar Dollars, and Goldfish. The same is true for even saltwater fish. Therefore, you definitely have to feed them different amounts of food according to their needs.
Overfeeding is not good either. One of the most common mistakes made by novice aquarists is overfeeding. Some people also call it the “Gulping” habit. They feed their fish more food than they can eat in 2 to 3 minutes (which may be more than sufficient for some fish species).
A few days later, they see that their fishes are regurgitating the leftover food as their stomach can’t digest such a high amount of food at once. So, it’s better to feed small amounts of food 3 – 5 times a day than overfeeding them with large quantities only once.
Another vital point about feeding fish:
Fish can’t eat everything and anything just because they like it or because it is colorful. You have to pick out a proper fish food for your fish depending on their needs, size, and the type of fish they are.
Here are some examples of different types of foods suitable for different species of fish:
Some carnivores like Angelfish, large cichlid fishes, Oscars, big catfish, and large tropical fish like Arowana eat small fishes in the wild. So, you should feed them with freeze-dried or frozen blood worms, brine shrimp or tubifex worms, or food made of meat base ingredients.
These types of herbivores include guppies, platies, danios, discus fish, and Silver dollars. You should feed them with pellet or flakes food which is made up of plant-based ingredients. You can also provide them with fresh vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, and peas for their healthy diet plan.
Some omnivores like goldfish, mollies, swordfishes, cichlid fishes, and gouramis, eat both plant and meat-based foods in the wild. You can feed them fish flakes made of plant-based ingredients and tubifex worms or bloodworms to balance their diet plan well.
For most fish types feeding once per day is more than enough. But, many hobbyists prefer to feed them at least twice per day.
So, as a rule of thumb, feed your fish twice per day for your convenience. About providing an amount, do not feed your fish more than they can eat within 3 to 5 minutes.
If you see any leftover food after 5 minutes, immediately remove them with a net and a vacuum cleaner to ensure clean water conditions in the aquarium.
These feeding guidelines, however, change with the fish’s age. For example, young fish and fish fry require several small feedings per day as their stomachs can not hold much food at once, and they need more nutrients to grow. So, when you feed your fish, consider their age requirements first.
Fish feeding habits differ from one species to another depending on their natural habitat and the food type they consume in the wild. Nevertheless, as a rule of thumb, doing several small feedings per day is more beneficial for your fish’s health than only one big feeding. Moreover, overfeeding is usually less good for your aquarium fishes. Therefore, it’s better to remove any leftover food from the aquarium after 3 – 5 minutes.