Feeding your fish is probably the easiest and most fun part of fish keeping. It’s an amazing opportunity for you to view your fish at feeding time and observe their interesting feeding behaviour so no matter what fish you have this is the time to enjoy and reap the rewards of all your hard work. Unfortunately because of the above reasons it’s easy to overfeed your fish because you just love them so much you want to tend to their every need. The fish certainly don’t make it any easier by swimming around excited at the top of the tank when you walk past waiting for you to feed them and they do this regardless of when the last time you fed them was. It’s important not to fall for their guilt trip as overfeeding can have a negative impact. Underfeeding is also not good and with time if you pay attention to the details you will figure out just the perfect amount of food for your fish.
Believe it or not it is possible to overfeed your fish and even if you do they will still be “begging” for food as soon as they see you walking past the aquarium. Resist the urge to feed them again if you have already given them their food portion for the day. So just how much is their portion for the day? That all depends on the type of fish you have, the type of food you are feeding them and the size of the fish. Food items such as blood worms and brine shrimp (meaty foods) should not be the staple diet for most tropical fish (unless otherwise researched) and should only be used as a once in a while treat with their usual food being appropriate flakes and/or pellets. African cichlids are susceptible to Malawi Bloat and you should avoid any food too high in meat content, instead provide them with African cichlid pellets/flakes.
Pellets and flakes are the easiest when feeding, you can put in small amounts and wait for the fish to fully eat and then add more till the fish no longer eat. This is a great method to ensure all the fish get a decent meal if you have semi-aggressive to aggressive fish in the tank who will eat first and then the other fish will get a chance to eat after. If you are familiar with your fish and how much they eat, in a community tank you can put the full amount of their required portion in at once (what they eat within a 2 minute window). A good diet for most tropical fish is a portion size of what they can eat in the space of 2 minutes once a day, however, some people like to feed less but twice or thrice a day which is also fine. Your fish can go a few days without food with no problems so don’t feel pressured to over feed them as that will do more harm than good. Make sure to remove any uneaten food as they will sink into the substrate and release harmful chemicals which will affect your water quality.
This can also be a negative factor and will cause long term effects on the health of your fish. If you regularly go more than a day in between feedings as part of your schedule you are probably underfeeding your fish (unless otherwise researched). Missing a day or 2 here and there is not an issue for the fish and should not be a cause for concern. In some aggressive species such as African cichlids underfeeding can potentially lead to increased aggression between tank mates where as well fed fish are likely to only display natural levels of aggressive behaviour.
Getting the right food:
The content of the food you are feeding your fish plays an important part too, you can be feeding enough but the food just doesn’t contain enough nutrients suitable for the fish or perhaps it contains too much protein or meat. If you are going to use meaty foods, use them as a treat for other tropical fish as little as once a week to a provide variety to their diet. Some fish prefer their food high in vegetable content and others do well with more proteins so knowing your fishes dietary needs is important. The good news is most readily available food at LFS are great for the majority of tropical fish specially the community varieties and are reasonably prices, other fish like Cichlids have special requirements but their food is also easily found and for a good price.
Bellow are some of the pet fish food options available:
These fish require a different diet to most other tropical fish and thus specialist pellets and flakes are available suitable for their digestive systems and dietary requirements. Spirulina algae is a vital ingredient for these fish specially for Mbuna and other grazing African Cichlids. Click the links below to purchase or find out more about each product from Amazon.
This Hikari Cichlid Excel – Mini 250g pack is a well balanced diet for your African Cichlids and although specialist foods are often more expensive than general tropical fish foods they are a necessary part of keeping your cichlids happy as any other tropical food may contain too much protein or “meat” ingredients which can cause bloat in your fish.
Other fish food options such as this TetraMin Tropical Fish Flakes 52G are great for most tropical community fish.