All new aquarists are wondering how and what to feed the fish. The advice given to beginners everywhere is not always helpful, and often even harmful. “Hungry fish are healthy fish”, “underfeeding is better than overfeeding”, “once a week, be sure to have a hungry day” – this is an approximate list of feeding tips that wander from book to book, from forum to forum. Such instructions often cause the slow death of fish from underfeeding, although overfeeding is just as terrible.
I will tell you how to feed the fish correctly
Give food twice a day
In most cases, it is optimal to feed the fish twice a day. In the morning – an hour after turning on the light, and in the evening – about two to three hours before turning it off. Feeding once every few days is permissible only for adult predatory fish: polypters, kalamoichts, armored pikes, and snakeheads. Often, aggressive fish are mistakenly referred to as predators: African cichlids, barbs, pacu. In fact, most of these fish in nature feed mainly on plant food.
Unlike predators, which after a successful hunt may not eat for several days, herbivores are in search of food all the time. Plant foods are more readily available, but less high in calories and more difficult to digest.
Some herbivorous fish do not have a stomach, because they only need it to digest protein. These fish need to feed several times a day in small portions. Moreover, the feed should contain a minimum of protein and many plant components. Protein food, being in the digestive tract for a long time, rots, causes enteritis, swelling, and can even cause the death of fish.
Few fish in nature feed exclusively on one type of food. In herbivores, more than 60% of the diet is plant food, and in carnivores – animal food. In an aquarium, food should also vary.
As the basis of the diet, you can choose high-quality dry food that is suitable for fish in composition and size.
Various additives can be used in the second feed. Predatory fish can give bloodworms, tubifex, brine shrimp, and shrimp. It is useful for herbivores to add duckweed or wolfia to their diet. Herbivorous catfish and snails can occasionally be placed on the bottom of a scalded leaf of lettuce, nettle, or a slice of bell pepper. The fish do not eat such a feeding completely, so after a couple of hours, the leftovers must be removed.
Do not overfeed
It is often difficult for a beginner to determine the amount of food: the fish quickly eat their portion and then rush in search of an additive. This is usually how overfeeding begins. In mild cases, they lead to turbidity, algal outbreaks, and chronic intoxication, in severe cases – to the mass death of fish.
There is no universal way to determine the amount of food required for a particular aquarium: all food, like all fish, is different.
Fish should completely eat food in 5-10 minutes. If after 10 minutes of feeding, there are residues at the bottom, they must be removed with a siphon, and the filter sponge must be rinsed. At the next feeding, it is worth reducing the feed dose.
Fish should actively take food to collect it from the bottom. If the fish ignores food, eats sluggishly, swims past, it means that you should feed less. In some cases, this behavior may be associated with a lack of habit to a particular food.
The tummy of all fish should be evenly rounded, not swollen or retracted.
Make sure everyone has enough food
The last recommendation is related to territorial aggression in most fish species. The food must be poured evenly over the entire surface – so that there is enough food for all fish, active and slow, strong and weak, living at the bottom and in the water column.
Previously, when the aquarium did not have high-quality filtration, and often aeration, they used feeders. Thanks to this, the fish knew the place of feeding, the food did not spread, was eaten quickly, and there were no leftovers left in the aquarium.
In most cases, the fish should feed twice a day: in the morning – one hour after turning on the light, in the evening – two to three hours before turning it off.
It is worth giving both dry food and various additives.
To understand if you are overfeeding your fish, you need closely monitor them after feeding.
Food should be enough for both strong and weak fish.