Introduction to Fish Food

On the surface, fish food is a pretty simple concept.  You feed your fish, they eat.  But there is a lot to consider.  How much should I feed my fish?  How often? What should I feed my fish? These are all great questions that many new aquarium keepers find themselves asking.

Diet Classifications

Like the rest of the animal kingdom, different fish fall into three basic diet classifications: Carnivores – the meat eaters, Herbivores – the plant eaters, and Omnivores – those who eat both meat and plants.  A majority of aquarium fish fall into the omnivore classification, but both carnivores and herbivores are common.  It is important that you know which of these classifications the fish in your aquarium fall into.

How Much Should I Feed My Fish?

Fish should be fed a small amount often.  They should be fed no more than they can eat in 2-3 minutes 2-3 times a day.  Overfeeding is the main concern.  The additional bioload from uneaten food can create a lot of strain on your nitrogen cycle and can create unhealthy conditions for your fish which ultimately will lead to disease.  Many fish will also graze on algae that grows in the aquarium between meals.  So if you miss a feeding, don’t sweat it.  Your fish will still be happy and healthy.  In general, it is better to underfeed than overfeed.

Types of Food

Like nearly all animals in the animal kingdom, fish thrive when given a variety of foods.  There are several options and we typically recommend feeding your fish two or more types of food to maintain some variety.

By Pinpin [CC-BY-SA-3.0]
By Pinpin [CC-BY-SA-3.0]


Flakes are the most common and diverse fish food available.  Flakes will float on the surface for several minutes then sink to the bottom.


Pellets are similar to flakes, but are typically reserved for larger fish.  They will float for a few minutes then will sink to the bottom.


Wafers will sink to the bottom once they are put in the tank.  They are perfect for algae eaters and bottom feeders such as cory catfish.


Granules are similar to pellets, but are more dense so they sink to the bottom.  They are also suitable for bottom feeders.


Bloodworms are a form of live food that are a wonderful treat for your fish.  Nearly any omnivore will love these.

Brine Shrimp

In their larval form, brine shrimp are very small and very nutritious.  They can be bought both in their larval form or as eggs which can be hatched.

Fresh Veggies

For many algae eaters, fresh veggies are critical for optimal health as they don’t get all the vitamins and minerals they need from just algae.  A small chunk of a cucumber or a few peas added to the aquarium once a week are perfect.

By Pinpin [CC-BY-SA-3.0]
By Pinpin [CC-BY-SA-3.0]