The Golden Rule of Fish Feeding

Fish Feeding

Fish feeding the right way will make for a fish tank full of happy fish.  It’s not rocket science, but there are also some feeding mistakes you can make that can hurt your fish tank in the long run.  Some basic ideas, including “The Golden Rule”, will ensure your fish are happy and healthily fed.

The Fish Feeding Golden Rule

The golden rule of tropical fish feeding is “Do not over feed your fish”.  You’ll notice this on the back of most types of fish food you purchase off the shelf.  What you might not realize is that extreme over feeding could be very unhealthy for your fish.  Every time you come near the tank you’ll see your fish heading to their normal feeding position.  Don’t mistake this for your fish truly being hungry or under fed.  The reality is that your fish could go days without eating and be just fine.  In their natural environment this is exactly what happens.  In nature, fish eat food when they find it.  This doesn’t always happen twice a day.

How Often Should You Feed Your Fish?

You’ll have to feel your fish out on this one.  The ideal fish feeding frequency varies by fish.  Twice a day is preferred by most fish.  It really goes back to being careful not to over feed.  You could feed you fish more food less often, or less food more often.  You just do not want any food leftover a couple of minutes after feeding.

Leftovers Are Bad For Your Water

You might not realize the full effects of left over fish food.  Leftover fish food is a very common root of cloudy fish tank water and algae growth.  This is mostly because of the affect it can have on your chemical levels.  Spiking nitrates and weakening pH are just some of the chemical problems that excessive fish feeding can cause.

Fish Feeding Times

Your fish will come to expect the feeding times.  It’s also a good idea to get on a regular feeding schedule to make things easier on you.  It’s just easier to remember if you have a regular schedule of say once in the morning and once at night.  Pick a couple of times a day that work for you and try to stick to it.  Your fish will appreciate this consistency with their feeding times.

What thoughts do you have about fish feeding?

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6 Responses to The Golden Rule of Fish Feeding

  1. Liz May 28, 2008 at 10:40 pm #

    Hi tank tutor,
    I have two greedy tetras and two shy blue rams in my 29 gallon biocube. I worry that I am overfeeding them because I have to put in a lot more food that I would like just to ensure that the rams get anything at all. Just for them to get one flake each I have to feed enough that the tetras gobble down five or six flakes each. Nothing is left over ever, but I worry about the excess waste that the tetras produce if they eat too much. But I don’t want the rams to starve. Anybody out there want a couple of tetras???

  2. Liz May 29, 2008 at 7:10 pm #

    Oops– make that one tetra. The greediest one went belly up today. Could it have overeaten itself to death? Only in America . . . .

  3. Eric May 29, 2008 at 9:10 pm #

    Hey there Liz,
    I doubt it would be from overeating, even in America 🙂
    As long as there isn’t anything left over, I wouldn’t worry much. Your Rams will get a little more aggressive if they get hungry enough. They extra waste really just makes for a little more work in the form of water changes if you see ammonia readings.

  4. Wils July 21, 2008 at 9:34 pm #


    Any suggestions on the combination of amount of food?

    I’ve got a 12-inch pleco, 3-inch pleco and 15 or so small mollies in a 55-gallon tank. It’s not crowded yet because I removed most decorations.

    How do I feed a 12-inch pleco and everyone else without clouding the tank? I already went green once and did a 40% change. It’s a white cloud now but I am expecting it to settle in a day or so. (unless the pleco does his #2 — and there’s a lot of it too….)


  5. Eric July 24, 2008 at 6:39 am #

    Hi Wils,
    Algae tabs work great for plecos. There really isn’t an amount to suggest. It really depends on your fish. Some eat more than others. If you see a lot hitting the bottom of the tank you’re feeding too much. Almost all of it should be eaten before then. I’ve even seen a hungry pleco eating off the top of the water. It’s funny to see with their mouth being on their bottom, but he didn’t go hungry.

  6. Nancy Smith January 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    i will never feed my fish twice a day because that is over feeding them. If i were you i would feed my fish once a day in the morning or at night. I feed my fish one a day in the morning before i go to school.