Fish Feeding in the Aquarium: the Right Way!

Is it always enough to just throw a few flakes of food into the basin every day? Certainly not! With fish, too, you have to pay attention to species-appropriate and balanced feeding. That is why we are informing you here how you can meet the demands of the different species when feeding fish in the aquarium.

Predator or Vegetarian?

You can find out where your fish should be fed here. But what do they have to get?
Depending on the species, other food sources are preferred. And some things are not well tolerated at all. Nevertheless, the transitions are fluid.


Many of the species we keep in aquariums love plant foods. And with that we love her! Because many are also good algae killers, which help us to keep the pool clean and attractive. We have less reason for joy when the beloved splendor of plants has to believe in it. However, really pure herbivores are rare among the fish. Many species, such as the aerial catfish or the guppy, feed primarily on a vegetal basis, but the menu is also supplemented by smaller creatures. Suckling catfish should always be offered softwood (for example mangrove roots). This is important for your digestion.

A pure herbivore among the fish is the cichlid Tropheus moori, an upbringing eater from Lake Tanganyika. Such animals should be fed with special, purely vegetable feed. Otherwise there is a risk of massive digestive problems.


Most of the fish kept in our aquariums are omnivores. They take what they can get. In nature, they mainly feed on insect larvae, zooplankton, crustaceans, worms, algae, and parts of plants. They are mostly uncomplicated boarders in aquariums and can easily eat commercially available flake, granulate, or tablet food. You can supplement the menu with live, frost, or freeze-dried food. But be careful! Depending on the species, there are also special features here. The omnivores include armored catfish, viviparous tooth caps, and also many of the magnificent cichlids.

Predatory fish

Predatory species are also common among fish. Most of them lie in wait for their prey and strike from ambush. Whatever fits in the mouth is devoured. In nature, predatory fish eat insects, smaller fish, and amphibians. Even birds and occasionally mammals are eaten when the opportunity presents itself and the size of the mouth permits. The species kept in the aquarium are usually easier to please, but you have to live up to them too. For many species, fresh feed must always be provided, because not all of them have to be supplied with commercially available dried feed. Many even completely disdain it. Then frozen or live food must be fed. For some species, special needs must be taken into account. For example, many pufferfish feeds on snails and mussels. Because only by cracking the shells and snail shells can they wear out their continuously growing teeth.

Other exemplary representatives of the group of predatory fish for keeping in freshwater aquariums are the African butterflyfish, the shoulder spot piranha, and the leopard bush fish.

Feed types

The choice of fish food is huge. You quickly lose track of things. Therefore, in the next section, you should find out which food is suitable for which purpose.

Flake food

The flake food is the classic among the types of fish food – but it is not equally suitable for every type of fish! Because the food flakes float on the surface of the water for a long time and only sink when they are soaked. Unfortunately, a large part of the water-soluble vitamins washes away until the flakes reach the substrate. Flake food is therefore ideal for fish that live near the surface of the water and prefer to eat there. But be careful: not all flake food is created equal! Most common are colorfully mixed flakes, which contain both animal and vegetable components. Vegetable flakes are also available. When making your selection, therefore, take into account the requirements of the fish species you are caring for!

Granulated feed

In contrast to flake food, granulated food spreads better through the layers of water. A small part initially floats on the surface, while the rest slowly sinks to the bottom. Granulated food is therefore ideally suited for fish that prefer to eat their food in the middle water zone – for example tetra and barbel. As with flake food, the same applies here: You have to match the ingredients with the needs of your fish.

Tablet feed

Food tablets are perfect for ground dwellers such as catfish or loaches. Because they sink quickly to the ground. One quickly tends to feed all soil dwellers with the same tablets. But here, too, there are different variants. For large suckling catfish, harder chips based on vegetable ingredients are ideal. Armored catfish and loaches, on the other hand, need higher proportions of animal protein in their diet. Tablets that swell a little more easily are also suitable here.

Frozen food

You can also get small and larger feed animals in well-stocked pet shops as frozen food. Typical food animals that are sold frozen are, for example, Daphnia, Artemia, mosquito larvae, and Tubifex. Herbivorous food animals such as Daphnia and Artemia are ideal for omnivores such as Mollys or guppies. Loaches like to eat mosquito larvae and armored catfish love the nutritious Tubifex worms as a change in the menu. For big predators, there is also fish meat, or shrimp.
Particularly fussy fish can be attracted from the reserve with frozen food rather than dried ready-made food. The necessary cooling and thawing are too time-consuming for you? Then look out for freeze-dried food. You usually get this packaged in cans, it is stored in the same way as flake food.

Live food

Would you like to offer your frugal fish a real highlight? Or does the species of fish you keep simply disdain everything that does not move? Then you should feed them alive. It is a real pleasure to watch the fish chasing small water fleas or crustaceans. Feeding is not only about feeding, but also about keeping busy. Because the fish have to work for their food. Particularly fun to look at armored catfish looking for Tubifex in fine sand!

As much as necessary, as little as possible!

In general: only feed as much as can be eaten within a few minutes. Because food that is leftover reduces the water quality.

And another tip: always buy the smallest possible container for ready-made feed (flakes, granules, tablets). So it is used up quickly. Long storage reduces the quality of the feed. And since you only need a little fish feed, large packs always stay there for too long. If you do not want to do without the often somewhat cheaper price of a larger container, you can fill food airtight in smaller portions. Storage in the aquarium is a no-go: it is too warm and too humid here. The ready-made feed should always be stored in a cool, dry place.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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