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Fish feeding

What you feed your fish with is as important as the environment you provide for them. This article provides all the information you need to make good food choices for your fish.

Food Basics

The most commonly made error fish owners make is overfeeding fish. These articles tell you how much to feed your fish, and what kind of foods are best for your species of fish.

Choosing the right food for your fish is a key factor in maintaining the health and long life of your pet. Although there is no single food that is good for every fish, if you follow these four basic steps you won't go wrong.

Dietary Type

Different fish are built to eat different types of foods. Do a proper research on your fish and determine what dietary type your fish is (omnivore, herbivore, or carnivore). Certain species of fish have very specific dietary needs, as do newly hatched fry.

Where and When to feed fish

Its a good practice to become familiar with where and when your fish prefer to eat. Although many fish eat from the top of the water, some graze on the bottom. Likewise, even though most fish eat during daylight hours, some eat only at night. For the bottom feeders, be sure to choose some sinking foods. The nocturnal feeders should be fed after the lights are turned off.

Variety is Spice of Life

Regardless of what type of food your fish eats, it's important to vary the diet to insure balanced nutrition. A combination of dry as well frozen and fresh/live foods will ensure a well balanced diet.

Keep it Fresh

Fish foods often don't carry an expiration date, but they have a relatively short shelf life. Flake foods lose much of their nutritional value in as little as a month, so purchase only what you can use in a few weeks. Vitamin and nutritional deficiency is a big contributor in making fish susceptible to disease.

If you need help choosing which brands of food are best for you, I've written extensive list of my personal top picks. You'll find them just to the right under the Top Picks heading. Good luck, and happy dining for your fish.

How Much and How Often Should you feed your Fish?

Overfeeding is the most common mistake fish owners make. Overfeeding clogs the filter, and breaks down into toxins that are harmful to fish. Hence the warnings on the packages.

In nature fish eat whenever they are hungry and food is available. If food sources are plentiful, they will eat several times a day. On the other hand, if food sources are scarce, they might go for days between meals. For this reason, fish are very opportunistic and will eat whenever they have a chance. That means that if you offer them food, they will usually gobble it up even if they aren't starving. Keep that in mind the next time your fish 'beg' for food. Fish quickly learn who brings the food to the tank and will jump at the chance to be fed, even if they are not in dire need of food.

How Often and how much should fish be fed

The frequency of feeding will vary based on the type of fish. In general most fish do quite well on one feeding per day. However, some owners prefer to feed their fish twice a day. Regardless of one or two feedings, the key is to keep the feedings very small. The timing is not critical, with the exception of nocturnal feeders, such as certain catfish. If you have nocturnal fish in your tank, be sure to feed them just before turning the lights out at night.

There are some exceptions to the once per day feeding rule. Herbivores (vegetarians) need to eat frequently because they do not have large stomachs to hold a lot of food. In nature they would graze all day long on plants. They should be given several small feedings a day, or provided with live plants they can nibble. Newly hatched fry and young fish not fully grown, require more frequent feedings of special foods designed for fry.

As for how much food to feed, a good rule is to feed no more than the fish will consume completely in less than five minutes. When in doubt, underfeed! You can always give them another small feeding if necessary. However, if you overfeed the uneaten food will produce by-products which can be harmful to the fish. In the event you do overfeed, promptly remove the uneaten food using a siphon or net.

As a final note, keep in mind that not only the amount but the type of food is important. Check the related links for a reference table that shows the proper type of diet for most popular aquarium fish.

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