Feeding tropical fish is an important part of fish care. Most tropical fish will eat the flakes that you can buy at your local grocery store, but some fish do require that you give a little more thought into their dietary needs. When you choose a fish to investigate what its eating requirements are going to be. You do not want to discover that your fish is starving or suffering from malnutrition even though you have been putting food in the tank.
Fish fall into four basic groups of eaters; herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and limnivores.
Herbivores are fish that eat only plants while carnivores eat meats. Omnivores like a balance of both plants and meats. Limnivores or mud eaters are fish that live at the bottom and eat algae and detritus. Detritus is basically the debris on the bottom of the tank, i.e. food particles, parts of plants, or fish.
Fish not only have dietary needs, they have their own particular eating habits. Some fish rush to the top to eat while others want to stay at the bottom of the tank. Fish also have certain times when they like to eat. Some fish are nocturnal and do not, as a rule, eat during the day. You may have to vary the foods and times when you feed your fish to accommodates these needs.
Watching your tropical fish eat is a really good idea. It will give you a chance not only make sure that everyone is eating well but will give you the chance to see if any of your fish are sick. Watch how they eat and how they swim. Are any of the fish not coming to eat? Do they all look healthy?
Live Foods: Some fish prefer live foods. This might include smaller fish (goldfish and guppies) worms or brine shrimp. Beware when choosing to feed live fish because diseases and infections are often a problem. Many tank owners like to have a special tank to keep feeder fish in before they introduce them to their main tank. This way they can ensure that the feeder fish do not have any contagious diseases which may infect their tank. Most live foods can also be purchased in freeze-dried forms.
Freeze Dried: Most freeze dried foods include only one ingredient. You can purchase brine shrimp, mosquito larvae or worms in this form. This is not a complete diet for any fish but is a supplement. The nice thing about freeze-dried food is that you do not have to store it the freezer. It comes in chunks or sheets, but be careful storing these products and do not feed fish old food.
Frozen Food: There are many different kinds of frozen foods on the market. Take the time to find out exactly what is in the food to ensure that it is suitable to your fish’s needs. You want to make certain that it is of good quality, and you also want to know if you will be required to buy any other kinds of food to supplement the frozen food. Remember that frozen food should be kept frozen until you are ready to feed your fish and should be thawed before adding it to the tank.
Pellets: Pellets can be purchased for a variety of different species of fish. You can get goldfish pellets, betta pellets, and ones designed for bottom feeders. Pellets are a great way to make sure that any bottom feeders in the tank are getting an adequate food supply.
Fish should be fed once or twice a day. They should never be fed more food than they consume in about two minutes. Any more than this and it will simply fall to the bottom where it will build up and can cause disease. You are better off to feed your fish just a pinch of flakes and watch them eat. If they consume all the food very quickly give them a pinch more. Watch to make sure that all the fish in the tank are getting food. If you have a lot of fast fish some of the slower fish may be getting the chance to eat. If this is the case adjust your feeding to accommodate the slower fish. Try wetting the flakes so that they sink faster when they go in the tank.
Do not over feed your fish. Tropical fish can get overweight, and this is not healthy. Like any other animal being overweight will lead to other health problems and disease. Be very careful. If you forget to feed your fish do not panic, fish can easily go a day or two without food, but try to feed them every day. And do not give them extra food if you are going away overnight just give them their regular meal.