How Often To Feed Fish? How Much Food Should You Give Them?

Rhea Nischal
Feb 10, 2023 By Rhea Nischal
Originally Published on Oct 13, 2021
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Orange and white fish in water.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.7 Min

Unsure about how much to feed your gorgeous fish friend?

It can be quite difficult to tell how much to feed a pet fish as it can appear to be hungry all the time. Do not worry, we have got you covered!

If you have recently gotten a new aquarium, you have probably faced the problem almost every new fish owner faces- hungry fish behavior! This behavior can be a tad confusing as fish act like they want more food after just being fed. Don't worry! You do not need to feed your fish again. Most fish species need to be fed only two times a day by their owner, which is in the morning and evening. However, the schedule depends on the fish species, whether your fish are omnivores, herbivores, or carnivores, or whether your fish are shy or confident. Read on to learn tips about feeding schedules, the diet, and different food requirements of these aquatic pets!

If you enjoy this article, why not also read about why do fish jump and why do raccoons wash their food here on Kidadl?

How many pellets do you feed a fish?

It is often heard that one must add the amount of feed that can be eaten within five minutes by the fish. Some say that 30 seconds are sufficient for a fish to finish meals. It's important to not get confused as both these opinions are correct, but they are for different species. Some fish eat slowly while some can eat food very fast. Fish of the same species can have different feeding speeds as well! As pellets come in various sizes, the most commonly used theory is to feed a fish the number of pellets that could fit in its eye.

An easy way to check if you're giving the right amount or not is by observing its belly from the side and top view. You need to check the roundness here, whether the belly is sunken or bulging. A rotund abdomen is a perfect shape and you must feed your fish until this shape is achieved. However, this can be difficult for goldfish owners as a goldfish belly is naturally round. A good option would be to compare the belly of your fish with that of an image of a healthy goldfish. If the fish has a sunken belly or a skinny body overall along with a pale shade, it is a sign to increase the number of pellets. These signs are the same as those of worms or parasites in a fish, thus you must be careful. These fish may need a deworming medicine or antiparasitic to eradicate worms or parasites. Sometimes, many new fish owners make the common mistake of overfeeding. Similar to wild fish, pet fish are opportunistic feeders and will look like they are hungry all the time. However, they aren't and can last for more than a week without food. Signs of overfeeding are a fish excreting a lot, a fish not showing interest in eating any food, and a fish having a swollen belly. Overfeeding can cause toxic chemical accumulation, such as increased ammonia levels in the aquarium. Overfeeding can cause debris buildup in filters and water lines as well. Thus, fish meals must not be given frequently. Meals must not be oversized. Some fish owners play it safe by skipping feeding on alternate days so that overfeeding doesn't happen and the fish does not suffer from any health issues.

Schedule/Timings For Feeding A Fish

Fish do not need a strict feeding schedule. However, they do get used to a certain schedule if you follow one. If you feel you might forget the usual time fish eat, you can maintain a feeding schedule. Many fish do well with a feeding schedule consisting of only one meal time. Many fish live happily and healthily when they are eating only one time in a day. Some owners prefer to feed their fish two meals of smaller portions so that they can enjoy feeding their fish more times. Newly hatched fry naturally require more feeding and eat about three times a day. Slow eaters also need small feedings many times and are given three to five meals of small portions.

Aquarium fish can eat anytime throughout the day. Most people feed them in the morning and evening. Aquarium fish also quickly recognize the time you have fixed as fish feeding time and are known to swim excitedly when that time is near. Fish feeding time in the morning must be 10 minutes after you turn on the aquarium light. Doing so allows the fish to become alert and awake. Nocturnal fish such as catfish, plecos, and kuhli prefer to feed in the dark, especially at night. You can add some food at night before you sleep so these nocturnal fish can feed easily when all other fish are asleep. In the wild, fish are not able to find food every single day; thus, they consume as much as they can so that they don't starve in coming days. This behavior causes them to act like they are hungry all the time. It is imperative that you do not give in to such behavior and stick to your feeding schedule as otherwise the health of your pet will be affected negatively. You can divide a day's food into two to three small meals so that fish can be fed multiple times a day.

If a fish owner adheres to a strict schedule, fish get used to it too and know when to expect food!

What can you feed a fish when you're out of fish food?

Fish owners usually feed their fish wafers, pellets, and flakes. Freeze-dried, frozen, live, or gel food can also be given to fish to increase nutrition in their diet. Other than these, fish can also be fed lettuce, earthworms, sprouts, boiled rice, and fish fillets.

Aquarium fish love earthworms as they are filling for them. Instead of feeding fish pellets to your beautiful pets, give them earthworms for a change. You can even give them fish fillets. Predatory fish love to eat fish fillets. However, it is important to give them defrosted, healthy fish fillets. You can also feed fish greens such as lettuce, sprouts, and peas. Lettuce is really liked by aquarium fish and can be given to them by cutting it into very small pieces. These pieces will be rapidly consumed by fish within a few minutes. However, some fish may get lazy after eating lettuce, indicating that they might be allergic to it. Brussels sprouts are loved by plecos fish. These sprouts can be fed to fish after being boiled or soaked overnight in water. These sprouts are very good for the health of a fish. Peas are also preferred by aquarium fish. Your aquatic pets will also love boiled rice and pasta. Dropping a few bits will be readily consumed by them.

Certain Types Of Fish Require More Food

Different fish have different food requirements and will need different feeding schedules. All fish do not eat the same type of food. The fish food a goldfish eats is completely different from the fish food a betta fish eats. It is always better to research food to feed your fish as food is different for different types of species. You must know whether your fish are omnivores, herbivores, or carnivores, if they like live foods, frozen foods, or prepared foods, which pellet size can easily fit in their mouth, and if your fish consume sinking foods or floating foods. Many fish eat their food by coming to the surface of the water, some eat it when it reaches the middle, while some forage for it after it has sunk to the bottom.

Feeding your fish is an essential step in keeping your fish healthy and ensuring a long life for it. It is crucial for you to research feeding habits of your species so that you know certain characteristic things about your fish, the most important being whether your fish are omnivores, herbivores, or carnivores. For example, goldfish are omnivores and will eat anything that is given to them or that they find on their own, be it algae, vegetables, meat, or aquarium debris. These fish need a well-balanced diet that has a healthy amount of fiber and protein in it. Giving them a varied diet also keeps them healthy. Goldfish owners can even add some live plants to their aquarium as leaves can be nibbled by fish between meals. These plants will also emit oxygen in the aquarium and will absorb carbon dioxide as well. Another example is betta fish, which are carnivores and like their feedings to be protein-rich. These fish have suitable upturned mouths that aid in consuming floating betta pellets. These fish also prefer to eat live foods as well as frozen foods. Their food requirement is variable as fish of the same species have different appetites. A betta fish can eat so much food until it almost bursts, while another betta fish might be so picky that it would only eat food that is very close to it.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how often to feed fish then why not take a look at why do chickens eat their eggs or Rubyfish facts!

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Rhea Nischal

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Management

Rhea Nischal picture

Rhea NischalBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Management

A background in Business Administration and Management from MCM DAV College, Rhea has led her to work for her father's global business. However, her passion for content production, where she manages operations to ensure all processes run smoothly. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the piano and spending time with her one-year-old nephew.

Read full bio >
Read the DisclaimerFact Correction