How Much Food to Feed Tropical Fish

Fish thrive on one feeding each day; however, some owners opt to feed theirs twice. Young or growing fish will require feedings more frequently.

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Feed your fish sensibly; excess food waste releases ammonia which reduces oxygen levels in the water and may even result in some species’ demise.


Feeding Frequency

As fish are generally opportunistic eaters, they will scavenge for food whenever it becomes available in order to ensure enough for themselves and their young. Unfortunately, this instinct can cause people to overfeed aquarium fish; thus it is important that only small amounts are given during each feeding time, ideally just enough so the fish consumes the meal within one or two minutes if using flakes or pellets respectively; any leftover food could lead to digestive issues and pollute the aquarium environment, both which are detrimental for its inhabitants’ wellbeing.

Some varieties of herbivorous fish must be fed more frequently, like those that would typically nibble away at algae all day in nature. But generally it’s best to feed once daily as tropical fish digestive systems aren’t designed for frequent meals; an exception would be surface feeders such as hatchchet fish and gouramies which need regular meals.

Types of Food

Some tropical fish require specific foods. Surface-feeders like hatchchetfish and gouramies require diets of floating pellets containing protein, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients – these foods should sink slowly into the water to attract fish so they can eat them. Many pet stores carry frozen, dried or canned food suitable for different kinds of tropical fish; avoid breads, crackers or any foods which expand in water and may clog up their digestive tracts.

Some fish owners choose to feed their tropical fish live food, including baby brine shrimp, daphnia and cyclops; freshwater snails; bloodworms as occasional treats in order to add variety to their diets. Vegetables are another popular food choice that supplement fishes such as bristlenose plecos. Blanching or boiling is required in order to make digestion simpler for these hardier species while protecting the tank water quality from contamination by waste materials.

Feeding Size

Aquarium care requires only offering small amounts of food at one time to reduce waste and pollution of the water, and help keep waste levels to an absolute minimum. Most fish only eat what they can consume within five minutes or so. As a general guideline, however, individual species should also be considered; plecostomus or freshwater goldfish species that feed on herbivorous organisms would typically nibble throughout their day in their natural environments so multiple smaller feedings per day is often more effective.

Overfeeding can cause digestive issues, water quality issues and disease or death for fish. Keep an eye out for skinny bodies or sunken bellies as indicators that your fish is receiving too little food. Remember that many tropical fish species are omnivorous – meaning they can survive on any generic food source – while some require specific diets in order to thrive; one way of keeping track of what type of diets your species requires would be using commercially available tropical fish food flakes as an easy guideline.


Tropical fish require only small portions at each feeding. Overfeeding can cause digestive issues and pollute aquarium water with nitrates, phosphates and other organic waste from uneaten food and fish waste that decays into murky, cloudy water with reduced dissolved oxygen levels.

Avoid overfeeding by only adding small amounts of food at once and monitoring whether or not your fish has devoured it within minutes or two – if not, reduce the amount and remove any uneaten food after several minutes.

Setting a feeding schedule and informing all involved with caring for tropical fish of its existence can also help ensure all their needs are being met, which will prevent accidental overfeeding by children or family members, which can cause health problems like fatty liver disease and constipation in tropical fish.