When it comes to food, fish are like human beings: if you provide them the right high-quality diet that suits their specific type, you’ll be rewarded with happier, more brightly colored fish.
To start off, you’ll need to work out which of your fish are carnivores (meat-eaters), which ones are herbivores (plant eaters), and which are omnivores (eat both).
A proper fish diet is a varied diet, so it’s sound practice to feed your fish different types of food.
Types of Fish Food
As your fish is totally reliant on you, you’ll want to make sure you’re giving them the variety of nutrients they’d get in their natural habitat.
Fish flakes are usually the mainstay of aquarium fish. Fish flakes are generally a combination of squid meal, fish meal, earthworms, shrimp meal, vitamins, and minerals. The quality of fish flakes can vary.
For good quality fish flakes, check the label for fat and fiber content. If it’s low in fiber, it can cause constipation, swim bladder problems, or bloating, so try to go for a higher fiber option. Also, if the fat content is too high, it could cause obesity.
Fish flakes are available for carnivores and herbivores. Herbivorous fish flakes often consist of seaweed, algae, spirulina, alfalfa, herbs, cod liver oil, so they’re getting the same kind of nutrition that they would in a river or sea.
Poorer quality fish flakes contain fishmeal, which often lacks nutritional value as it consists of ground bones and waste fish products. Good quality fish flakes include mollusks, crustaceans, and fish for higher protein content.
Pellets are considered to have a higher density of nutrition than fish flakes. Also, they don’t leak nutrients as fish flakes do. When nutrients leak into the water, they produce more nitrogenous waste in the tank. Pellets keep hold of the nutrients, so the fish get all of the amino acids, leading to healthier fish and less waste in the water. Floating pellets are suitable for surface feeders such as rainbows.
For bottom feeders such as cichlids, geophagous, and tropheus sinking pellets are ideal.
For carnivorous fish, frozen fish food is highly nutritious. Frozen fish food usually comes in frozen cubes, packs, or blocks. Popular frozen fish foods include daphnia, krill, brine shrimp, bloodworms, beefheart, or tubifex worms. Cockles and muscles are also popular frozen food due to their high protein content.
Frozen fish foods are an excellent nutritious option as they retain many of the nutrients. The more nutritious the food, the brighter and more colorful your fish will be.
Frozen fish is more expensive than dry food. Also, it can’t be refrozen once it’s thawed. If you don’t live near a frozen fish food supplier, there are many online suppliers. You can receive your order in as little as 24 hours.
A popular treat for most aquarium fish is freeze-dried food, although it’ll be slightly less nutritious than frozen food. Freeze-dried food often contains processed daphnia, tubifex, krill, bloodworms, or brine shrimp. It can be stored in the cupboard and has a long shelf life, although it’ll probably lose nutrients over time. Freeze-dried bloodworms are ideal for bettas and fancy guppies as they are high in protein.
Freeze-dried foods are right if you have different sized fish as you can crumble it for the smaller ones.
Live food has higher nutritional content as it is unprocessed and is less likely to rot in the aquarium. Wild fish are used to a varied diet, so feeding your fish some live food gives them a nutrition boost to aid growth.
Live brine shrimp are an aquatic crustacean and popular live food. Newly hatched brine shrimp (called nauplii) can be fed to fry, and adult brine shrimp can be fed to bigger mature fish. Water fleas or daphnia are a great source of vitamins A and D.
Live worms are also a tasty treat. Bloodworms are rich in iron, protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Fish that love bloodworms include bettas, mollies, guppies, eels, and discus.
Adult killifish enjoy white worms, which contain proper levels of protein and fat. White worms measure around 2cm and can stay alive in cold water under 27 degrees. Other fish that enjoy white worm include tetras, nothobranchius, and fundulopanchax.
You can feed veggies to your fish if you run out of fish food. For herbivorous fish, you may add blanched zucchini, peas, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, or cucumber (but removed the seeds). Make sure you clean them thoroughly to get rid of harmful bacteria, dirt, and pesticides.
Algae wafers are small disk wafers of compressed vegetable matter and algae. They make a great addition to bottom feeders’ diets such as corydoras, catfish, and plecostomus, which help to control algae build-up in fish tanks.
Depending on how many bottom eating fish you have, you may want to break a wafer in half to avoid uneaten food clouding up the water.
Spirulina and Seaweed
Spirulina is a type of algae that contains high protein. Spirulina can be bought in packs in aquatic stores or online. Spirulina is suitable for fish because it aids digestion and absorption, it also helps to bring the beautiful colors out in their scales. You can increase the longevity of your fish with spirulina due to its fantastic health benefits.
Seaweed contains iodine, iron, vitamins C, K and B12, and antioxidants. Seaweed will improve your fish’s immune system and has anti-inflammatory benefits too.
How Often Should You Feed Your Fish?
Getting the feeding frequency right will have benefits for your fish. If you add too much food, it will sink to the bottom and create nitrogenous waste which will cloud up the tank. It’s best to feed small amounts twice a day to ensure all of the food gets eaten. It will also reduce aggression in larger fish as they will be content and won’t feel the need to chase smaller fish.