Tropical Fish Food - Where to Start?

So you have been buying your tropical fish food, but have you been buying the right food? It’s a sad fact that the vast majority of people are feeding their fish incorrectly.

The types of tropical fish food available are quite extensive, but to make sure your fish are being properly fed you may need to do a little research. Not all tropical fish eat the same food, but they can generally be divided up into categories.

Fish are either herbivorous (eat only vegetable food), carnivorous (eat only meat products) or omnivorous (eat both vegetable and meat products). It is important to know which group your fish fit into. The chances are that out of all the fish in your aquarium you may have to buy food to cover more than one of these categories.

Flake Food
Tropical Fish Food Flakes

Many aquarium owners don’t even realise that they are using the wrong tropical fish food. This comes when fish that are carnivorous eat food based on vegetable matter and vice versa. While the fish may be eating what is given to them, they are actually being malnourished, which leads to poor growth and weakened immune systems. Malnourished tropical fish are very susceptible to catching diseases.

Once you have done your research and figured out what category your fish fall into, you need to make the next decision. Aquarium fish foods come in many different forms, you need to choose a type of fish food that suites the feeding habits of your fish. Fish are either top, middle or bottom feeders and there are foods designed specifically for each type.

Here are the types of fish food that a good aquarium store should have available for you:

Along with the food types available for purchase, you may also look into preparing your own Organic fish food out of everyday household vegetables. You can save a bit of money by feeding your fish this way, but only if your fish are meant to be eating vegetable matter. There are also a number of fish food feeders available to help you keep you fish alive if you are away on holiday.

The pellet and flake foods can be bought in a variety of formulas to suite different fish diets. These are either vegetable only, vegetable and protein together or mostly protein. The flakes are often in different colours, with each colour representing different food content. You can purchase the tropical fish food that will suite the types of fish in your aquarium. You may also find foods that have been specifically designed for the type of fish you have. These are normally quite good as they may have some added vitamins to help keep your fish healthy.

A good flake food will normally do the job for both top and middle feeder fish. The flakes tend to float for a bit before sinking down, but you could always speed the process up a little by giving them a nudge under the water if needed. Top feeders will grab the flakes that are floating and middle feeders will wait until the flakes sink down to them.

The sinking pellet or tablet variety foods are generally what you would feed your bottom feeders with. They will sink straight to the bottom of your tank to where the fish can eat them.

TIP: Don’t buy food in large quantities and always read the labels carefully! It will often go stale and lose its nutritional value before it is used!

If you have carnivorous fish, you may wish to feed them some live, frozen, or freeze dried fish foods. You will find that they love this type of food! In fact, it is essential to bring some variety into your fish’s diet in order to keep them strong and healthy. This also goes for herbivorous fish, which also need some variety to be kept good and strong.

You should only buy live fish foods from trusted sources. There is the risk that the food may be carrying diseases that can be passed on to your fish. To avoid this, it may be an idea to breed your own food, which many aquarists do.

You should also see some fry fish food at any good aquarium store. If your fish have young, it is necessary to buy food that is tailored for them. Their mouths are very small and can’t swallow food meant for bigger fish. The content of the food may also be different in order to help them grow.

Medicated fish food is something that will only be needed in special circumstances. If you are having trouble with fish diseases, you may wish to use medicated food instead of treating the water. This does have some advantages. Again, always read the labels carefully!

How Much To Feed Your Fish

I generally like to feed my fish twice per day in smaller servings. There are two main reasons for this.

  1. Some fish just don’t know when to stop eating. This can leave them bloated and over full, which is bad for them. They also produce more waste when fed like this.

  2. Any tropical fish food that is not eaten straight away will be left over as waste. This waste food then begins to decay, adding toxins into the water which affect the delicate balance in an aquarium and in turn you fish’s health. Read more about The Nitrogen Cycle to find out about the balance that needs to be kept in your aquarium.

A general rule is to only give your fish enough food as they can consume in 3 or 4 minutes. Any more than that may be wasting. Your bottom feeders that are eating from pellets or tablets usually take a bit longer to eat, so just keep an eye on them to make sure they are not leaving lots tropical fish food uneaten.

Some fish can be aggressive eaters, so always check that more placid fish are getting food. You may need to adjust your feeding technique to make sure each fish gets a fair share.

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