Feeding Fish

by George Herrman

�How much do I feed my fish?� - this is a question we get asked every day, and there is no hard and fast rule for feeding fish. It's all a matter of trial and error, but one thing is for sure - over feeding does more harm than under feeding. Bear in mind that in the wild fish don't get fed on a regular basis, and in certain seasons food is very scarce.

Start by sprinkling a little food over the water surface. If all this food is consumed within 3 to 5 minutes the amount of food is enough. If all the food is consumed in less time add a little more the next time you feed, and if it takes longer don't put so much in the next time. One way to gauge the amount of food to use is to remember that most fish's stomachs are about the same size as their eyes.

Fish do not require as much food as is often thought, and it is very tempting to feed every time they look hungry or when you want to view a timid species. As a result fish are often over fed. This creates several problems in the aquarium: firstly, uneaten food breaks down quickly at tropical temperatures causing poor water conditions, and secondly, excess food is drawn into the filter causing the filter to block prematurely,   leading to poor filter performance and increasing maintenance. Fish that eat a lot also produce more waste, and excess waste has the same detrimental effect.

Some fish are �scavengers� and feed off the crumbs left by other fish, but it is a myth to assume that these fish will tidy the aquarium.  NO FISH WILL EAT ROTTING FOOD.

The frequency and amount of food fish require depends on the species: predators will eat large amounts in one sitting then spend several hours to several days digesting; omnivores and scavengers search for small morsels during the day; whilst nocturnal fish feed at night

For the general community, feeding morning and evening is enough, sprinkling the food over the water surface. This gives the more timid species a chance to get their share. A good quality flake food is fine for most community aquarium fish, but if there are bottom dwellers sinking type pellet foods should also be used. These are also good for nocturnal fish, feeding a little, half to one hour after lights out. This will satisfy their natural requirements.

Obviously small fish and fry need more frequent feeding and should not go for more than one day without food, while healthy adult fish can go for several days without feeding if you should go away for a long weekend. If you plan to be away for longer periods automatic feeders are a good idea, but they are expensive. Holiday feeding blocks are a excellent alternative, they dissolve slowly releasing food into the aquarium. Asking a neighbor or friend is another option but make sure you spend time explaining your feeding program and write down some instructions, also it is a good idea to wrap individual feedings so that your neighbor can't over feed.


First published in the newsletter of The Vancouver Aquatic Hobbyist Club