Feeding Your Fish
Marc Grover (Professional Aquarist) gives expert video advice on: Should I feed my fish commercial dry food?; How often should I feed my fish?; How do I feed my fish when I go on vacation? and more...
What should I feed my fish?
Fish food. What you feed your fish is in the top five list of super important things to know and to do. The old school way is to buy a can of flake food and you're done. That's all fine and good, but would you like to eat a salad everyday as your meal for the rest of your life? Probably not. You wouldn't get a lot of nutrition out of it either. So my philosophy and our philosophy here is to give you as much variety as possible, give your fish as much variety as possible. Fish water or salt water doesn't matter, there's specific food for each one, but you want to feed a really good flake food as a base and then a really good frozen food on top of that. And again, there's different formulations for every fish you can think of.
Should I feed my fish commercial dry food?
You can feed fish commercial dry food as their staple food or as their basic food. I won't lie to you, there are better brands than others and there are better foods than others. You kind of want to look at the ingredients and see what they list first, and if what they list first seems like a fish food. In other words, that it contains fish meal or something a fish would actually eat, not wheat - that's a good indicator. It's like you're reading as if you're on a diet and you're reading a cereal box. How much fat does it have? How much fibre does it have? And make some general comparisons to what you would eat for the most part and if it looks like it meets the parameters, it's probably a pretty good food and it's a great basic food to start with when feeding your fish.
How much should I feed my fish?
It really depends on how many fish you have, how voracious their appetite, and how aggressive they are. There are some fish, that when you feed them, they are very timid and they won't go to the food right away. There's other fish that will try bite you as they are trying to get the food out of your hands. That's going to determine how fast they can eat, and how much food they can eat. The name of the game is this. Whatever food you feed, you want it all to get eaten. So, you have to feed the right amount, and you have to feed it at the right speed. One of my analogies is this: If you go to your favorite restaurant, and you're tied to the chair, and the Maitre D feeds you, with a slingshot of your favorite food, and you try to catch what you can with your mouth, you're just going to make a mess everywhere and get a couple of bites of food. If you feed too much food too fast for your aquarium, that exact same thing happens to your fish. Top Tip: Your fish should eat the food in 3 to 5 minutes without anything sinking to the bottom. The food goes everywhere. They only eat what's right in front of them, and they don't like to look down for food most of the time. You're going to have a mess in your aquarium if you feed too much too fast. So, it's an art form, and any good professional aquarist can teach you how to do it.
Should I feed my fish 'live food'?
A lot of people ask about feeding live foods to fish, sometimes it's good sometimes it's bad. If you're feeding a live blood worm or live black worm to say a discus that's great because they really really need that type of high fat high protein. Some people feed live fish to other fish; namely feeder goldfish. I am 100% against that idea. There is just so much disease that those fish carry that just transfers over to your tank and you get parasites and you get all kinds of problems when you do that. Plus when you take a predatorial aggressive fish and you give it prey, it's not going to differentiate between a fish in your tank that's the same size as the feeder fish you just put in. You're going to find out it becomes a lot more aggressive and you may loose some of the fish that you actually want to keep in there with it and before you start feeding it live food, it never bother that fish and now it wants to eat it and that just happens. So you can feed it some types of acquired grade but a lot of types are to avoid completely.
How often should I feed my fish?
What I tell people, when they ask me the question of how often to feed fish, is that it's a minimum of once a day. Where it gets a little tricky is if I tell you to feed them, then some people want to feed them more than once a day. You don't want to feed the same amount both times. You want to take what the total amount you feed them once a day is, and break it up into however many meals you want to feed them. If it's three, then break it into thirds. If it's five, which I wouldn't recommend, break it into fifths. If it's two, break it in half. The other thing that you want to think about is to be consistent with it. If you feed in the mornings, feed in the mornings all the time. Don't feed them in the morning one day, and then at night another day. Fish get used to routines, so you want to feed them at least once a day, and you want to feed them at approximately the same time each day.