Guide to Fish Foods
Feeding your fish (and other aquatic livestock) a well balanced diet is an important part of fishkeeping. Provide your fish with the correct nutrition to ensure your live stock are healthy, which will naturally result in you seeing your fish at their best – colours bright and often in breeding condition. With over 500 food items available on our website, we thought it was time to write an article about the different approaches available to you.
We have split our food section into ten core categories of product:
- Flake Foods
- Freeze Dried Food
- Frozen Food
- Fry Foods
- Gel Foods
- Marine Liquids
- Pellet Foods
- Pond Foods
- Wafer Foods
This article will examine each category separately, outlining the benefits and drawbacks of each type, before putting forward recommendations for feeding as part of a conclusion.
Flake foods have been the staple diet of many fish since the beginning of the hobby – and I doubt there is a hobbyist out there who hasn’t purchased flake for their fish at some point! One of the great benefits of feeding flake foods is convenience. There are no special storage requirements, simply buy the appropriate pot size (whether that be a 16g pot or a 2Kg box) and away you go.
Flake foods are readily consumed by the great majority of fish, floating on the water’s surface when added. If you have an internal or external power filter, the flakes will begin to break down at the water’s surface allowing mid water swimming species such as freshwater angel fish or neon tetra to consume the flakes with ease.
Flake foods are available from a number of manufacturers such as Aquarian, New Era, Nutrafin, Ocean Nutrition and Tetra, with numerous types of flake available. This can includes staple flake foods which are well balanced for all fish, or specialist flakes such as those designed specifically for herbivores. We also stock colour enhancing flakes, designed to promote the colouration of your fish, enhancing their red hues.
We recommend flake foods as part of a well balanced diet for your fish, mixing the varieties of flakes that you offer as required e.g. if you have herbivores such as Tangs, ensure you include flakes such as Ocean Nutrition Formula 2 within the mix.
Feed as many flakes as your fish will consume within 5 mins, making sure that surplus flakes aren’t allowed to settle where they can cause water quality issues in the long term.
A draw back of flake food is that not all fish will be able to eat flake foods, such as catfish, therefore ensure other food stuffs are also provided.
Freeze Dried Food
If you have ever fed your fish freeze dried Daphnia blocks, you’ll know just how popular they are with our aquatic friends!
Freeze Dried Foods are free from diseases and pathogens and have no special storage requirements, as such they’re really easy to keep with the rest of your aquatic equipment and will not pose any risks to your fish.
They are ideal for freshwater community fish and are recommended as part of a well balanced diet for your fish. Available in blocks, they can often be stuck against the inside of the aquarium glass. Once your fish know what you have just added to their aquarium, they’ll ravenously consume the food as quickly as possible!
A benefit of freeze dried food blocks is that by pushing the food against the front glass of the aquarium you will be able to view you fish really well – providing you time to check for damage or disease outbreaks. Another benefit is that you can control where you place the cube, so if you have catfish such as Corydoras or a school of Clown Loach, place the cube next to the substrate so that they can join the feeding frenzy.
Frozen food is an essential part of your fish’s diet, replicating as closely as possible the natural foodstuffs of your fish – without the risks associated with feeding live foods. Frozen foods are Gamma irradiated which ensures any pathogens or bacteria which could cause diseases are removed, whilst ensuring all of the nutritional value of the food stuff is maintained.
Usually supplied in blister packs, pop out the appropriate number of cubes for your live stock and wait for it to thaw in a pot (on the top of the aquarium to speed up the process!). Supplements such as Seachem Entice or Garlic Guard can be added if required at this point, prior to dropping the food into the aquarium.
As you’ll see from our frozen food section, we have a huge variety of foods available for either tropical or marine fish, including combination packs and mixes.
Feeding frozen foods will bring out the best in your fish health and colouration wise, and frozen foods should be fed to help condition your fish if you wish to breed them.
A drawback of frozen food is that they are not as convenient as other types of food.
One of the great delights of fish keeping is the pitter patter of tiny fins, and it’s a great sign that you’re caring for your fish properly when they’re breeding in your aquarium.
Obviously this creates a whole new element to the hobby, particularly if you want to continue to breed your fish, with the need for holding tanks, breeding tanks, etc, etc.
To raise your fry you’ll need to provide them with an appropriate food stuff which will depend upon the livestock you are keeping. There are a number of options available, which are liquid foods, powder foods and hatched brine shrimp nauplii.
Liquid and powder foods are the easiest to use, just make sure your fry are large enough to consume the foods provided and that you are providing sufficient food for the fry to find whilst no too much (which will lead to water quality problems) – the difficult part!
Alternatively you can hatch brine shrimp nauplii, using one of the kits that we have available. This is a little more involved, however much more fun and successful!
Let us know if you would like an article written about how to raise brine shrimp.
These foods have only recently arrived on the market and they’re proving to be extremely popular. They provide all of the benefits of feeding frozen food with one added advantage, they’re really convenient.
Gel foods are supplied in sachets with sufficient food for a standard serving of food (obviously dependent upon how many fish you have!). To feed, simply tear off the corner of the sachet and squirt the contents into the aquarium.
I’m yet to see a fish that does not like to consume gel foods, which are available in a number of varieties suitable for both omnivores and herbivores – as such they’re highly recommended.
A draw back of this approach is the sachets can not be used in an automatic feeder, however if you’re away on holiday and a neighbour is going to feed your fish, they’re far less likely to over feed if you ask them to use the correct number of sachets per day.
Gel foods should definitely be used to supplement your fish’s diet, together with flake and pellet foods as appropriate – and we’re pretty confident that you’ll be happy with the results you see.
There are a vast array of liquid foods that are designed for use in marine, and particularly reef aquariums. This includes amino acids, zooplankton, phytoplankton and many many more tailored food stuffs.
Together with targeted foods, there are blended foods suitable for feeding to marine inverts, such as Coral Food, Nutraplus, Marine Snow and Marine Deluxe.
When feeding marine foods be sure to follow the instructions that will be printed on the bottle, to ensure that you don’t over feed - which will cause water quality issues.
Pellet foods are a great staple food for larger fish such as Oscars and other large Cichlids; and fish that swim in mid water. Discus for example will happily consume Tetra Prima like it is going out of fashion!
These are very similar to flakes, e.g. they provide a great staple diet which is easy to store and feed to your fish with the minimum of fuss. There are a large number of pellet foods available, tailored to different species of fish, together with colour enhancing pellet foods.
A draw back of pellet foods is that not all fish will take them, they’ll just watch the pellet sink straight past them or will nibble at the food before spitting it out again. As such, care must be taken to ensure that all of your fish are feeding properly if relying upon these types of food.
Pellets should be fed to your fish little and often throughout the day, feeding as much food as will be consumed in a few minutes, to prevent over feeding leading to deteriorating water conditions.
A final benefit of pellet foods is that smaller pellets can be added to automatic feeders, mixed in with flake food, to provide a more rounded diet for your aquatic community.
The great majority of pond foods are available in pellet form (although flakes are available for smaller fish, and pastes too). There can be a bewildering number of pond foods available, in summary however the main types of pond food are colour enhancing pellets, growth enhancing pellets, staple pellets and wheatgerm pellets, the latter of which can be fed to koi in the cooler months if your fish are feeding. In addition to the food types, different approaches to the pellets also exist, for example some pond pellets are designed to float on the water’s surface, whilst other pond pellets are designed to sink. These different approaches are designed to cater for different feeding habits, e.g. koi or goldfish will happily take food from the pond’s surface, where as tench or sturgeon are more likely to only consume pellets that have sunk.
It is recommended that you feed a mix of pellets throughout the year to ensure that the nutritional requirements of your live stock are fully catered for, again feeding little and often. This can easily be achieved by using an automatic pond feeder.
These foods have been specifically developed for bottom dwelling fish such as catfish and loaches, and tend to be tailored to the nutritional requirements of catfish which consume a large quantity of plant material, e.g. algae wafers which are perfect for plecostomus and whip tail catfish.
It is important to keep in mind that most catfish are active during dawn/dusk and during the night. As such, don’t feed wafers targeted at these species during the day. Instead wait for lights out before you add them, to ensure that the food isn’t sitting in the aquarium for too long prior to consumption. This will help to reduce the likelihood of water quality issues and will ensure that your nocturnal fish are able to receive their fare share of the food they require to prosper.
In summary, there are many great foods available today that will enable you to provide a varied diet for your fish. By mixing and matching the different approaches, including staples such as flakes and pellets with the supplementary feeding of frozen and paste type foods, you will ensure that your fish prosper.
Always make sure you only feed the amount of food that your fish will consume within a few minutes to prevent water quality issues, and don’t forget to ensure your provide food for any nocturnal fish that might be tucked away at the back of the aquarium and easily forgotten.
We recommend the use of an automatic feeder, as this will help to simulate the little and often approach your fish would encounter in the wild, will provide you an easy way to mix your different staple foods together, and will ensure that your fish aren’t forgotten/over fed whilst you’re on holiday.
We hope that you’ve found this article useful, and if you have any feedback, comments or questions then feel free to get in touch.