Surprisingly enough, feeding the aquarium correctly is something most new hobbyists don't quite grasp until they have to deal with the consequences of feeding incorrectly. Choosing the right food is only the first step, the real trick is getting that food effectively delivered without fowling the aquarium water and then adhering to that routine religiously.

These tips and tricks will help you develop a successful feeding regime specifically for your tank. Not only does that mean your fish get the nutrition they need for long, healthy lives and vibrant color but it is also critical for maintaining optimal water quality.  

Feeding Tools

There are a variety of aquarium feeding tools that are predominately designed to assist in efficient food delivery and minimize food waste. While you probably won't need everything on the list, you will quickly learn that a few of these tools will be invaluable to your feeding success. 

Feeding rings: Helps contain food in one area of the tank and prevents food from floating on the surface into the overflow or filtration.

Frozen food defrosters: Slowly defrosts frozen food in your tank, containing and delivering that food to one area. Reduces food waste too. 

Bulb syringe or "baster": This allows for target feeding and delivery of liquid foods. It can also help deliver food to bottom feeders or harder-to-reach areas of the tank.

Pipettes: Great for dosing vitamins or amino acids. Can also act just like a bulb syringe helping to deliver food to finicky fish or harder-to-reach areas.

Automatic fish feeders: An electronic device that automatically feeds dry flakes or pellet food to your aquarium on a 24-hour schedule. Great for vacation.

Seaweed clips and grazers: Holds dried sheets of seaweed in one place so herbivorous fish can graze and feed upon it.

Best Practices

  • Consider the needs of your fish and accommodate their nutritional needs and feeding habits. 
  • Some foods sink, and some foods float. Be sure you're not allowing food to flow immediately into your filtration while also supplying the food where your fish need it. 
  • Always feed slowly, let your fish eat small portions at a time, then feed some more. This reduces food waste and ensures ALL of your fish are getting fed.
  • Always target feed your frozen foods or use a defroster. This reduces food waste. Frozen food can quickly pollute the water if not used correctly. 
  • Pellet foods are far more nutritionally dense compared to flake foods. This means leftover food can quickly pollute the tank if not fed correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to rinse my frozen food?

This is the process of defrosting your frozen foods using RO/DI water then straining out the liquid before feeding. This will rinse away some of the extra waste (nitrate and phosphate) before the food goes into your tank. You certainly can rinse your frozen food with RO/DI water but it's probably not necessary so long as you are feeding responsibly and not keeping an overstocked aquarium. The amount of waste you wash away is minimal and won't have too big of an impact.

What is target feeding?

This is the process of using a bulb syringe or squirt feeding to deliver frozen foods to a specific area of the tank. Great for feeding corals and fish that won't leave the rocks or substrate to eat.  Fish also learn to accept food directly from the tip of the syringe which ultimately helps to reduce food waste. Pick a target in the tank, and feed it. 

How do I feed herbivores?

Use seaweed sheets and food formulas specifically made for herbivores. Seaweed sheets can be clipped into the aquarium and left for algae grazers to consume for 30-60 minutes at a time. If they don't eat it, you do wan't to remove it before the seaweed breaks down and enters your filters. 

Do my tangs need to eat both algae and meaty foods?

Yes, your tangs need seaweed to get all of the nutrition they require.  Just because they eat pellets or frozen food, that doesn't mean you can neglect regular offerings of seaweed or herbivorous foods.

How do I feed high-energy fish?

You want to feed high-fat content foods, multiple times per day.  At very minimum 3-5 times per day, small portions at a time. Using food soak like Selcon can help increase the fat content with each and every feeding. 

How do I feed a lot without increasing nutrient levels?

You can't, more food = more waste. To combat those extra nutrients you need to adjust your filtration capacity. More maintenance, more frequent water changes, and/or stronger more robust filtration will be required to accommodate the increased nutrient levels. It's all about finding a balance in terms of the necessary filtration required to keep your water clean while ensuring your fish are healthy. 

Are auto feeders good for everyday use?

Automatic fish feeders are great for vacation or times when you are not home but try to avoid using them every day because they can often lead to excess food waste. A great trick is to mount a feeding ring directly below the automatic fish feeder, that way the food is contained in the feeding ring when it comes out of the feeder. The fish eventually learn to find the food in the ring and will more effectively consume it before its lost to your filtration. 

Should I turn off my pumps during feeding?

It is best practice to turn of your filtration when feeding your fish. You can get away skipping it but ultimately you will end up with less waste in your filters when you turn off the pumps during feeding.  Leaving a powerhead moving inside the display can help disperse food throughout the tank should that be necessary. 

How often should I feed my fish?

It just depends on the particular species of fish. Some fish eat 1-2 weekly, while others need to eat constantly, 5 times per day or more.

How do I know if I am overfeeding my fish?

If your nitrates and phosphates are constantly rising, you are probably feeding too much or simply need to increase your filtration capacity.

How do I know if I am underfeeding my fish?

If your fish are lethargic, losing color, aggressive toward one another, or have concave bellies they are likely underfed.  Once you have some experience with your fish, its pretty easy to tell if your fish are well fed or not. A well-fed fish has a plump belly and acts naturally in the aquarium.

Recommended Weekly Feeding Schedule

Alternate frozen foods and flakes or pellets. Adjust the frequency each day based on the type of fish you have. Don't forget to offer seaweed alongside your daily feeding at least 2-3 days per week for your tangs, blennies, and other herbivores. 

The BIG Mistake

Do not think that you can get away with one type of food and/or approach to feeding your entire tank. Different fish have different needs and all fish will require a variety of nutrient sources to thrive in your aquarium.  

Food Soaks

These are liquid supplements used to soak your fish food and add nutritional value. Mostly in the way of fat, amino acids, and vitamins. 

Recommended Nitrate & Phosphate Test Kits

We recommend testing nitrate and phosphate at least 1-2 times per week to monitor your tank's nutrients. 

  1. Phosphate Low Range Colorimeter HI713 Hanna Checker - Fresh & Marine Water
    Hanna Instruments
    Phosphate Low Range Colorimeter HI713 Hanna Checker - Fresh & Marine Water
    $63.95

    Earn 63 Reward Points

    $63.95
  2. Salifert Nitrate Aquarium Test Kit
    Salifert
    Salifert Nitrate Aquarium Test Kit
    $17.37

    Earn 85 Reward Points Earn 170 Reward Points

    $17.37