How Often Do You Feed Fish? (Tips, Frequency & How Much Food)

Estimated read time 11 min read

In this guide, we’re going to discuss how often do you need to feed fish, when you should be feeding and how much they might need each day.

Here’s what you’ll learn;

  • What fish eat
  • Nutrient requirements
  • When, how much and how often to feed
  • What to do about overfeeding
  • Common types of food

Further Reading: Check Out Our Big Article With 23 Of The Best Aquarium Fish For Beginners

Let’s begin.


My Favorite Food For Feeding Aquarium Fish

What Does A Fish Eat?

Contrary to popular belief, fish don’t just eat any kind of colourful flakes that you can purchase.

Each species has different dietary requirements depending on their anatomical and physical needs, their size also dictates their appetite in some cases.

Unlike humans, fish diet is not dictated by their preferences but by their body’s needs, which makes feeding them a little challenging.

There are some species that can eat anything they find, from dirt, plants to other fish. There are some that eat only fish and others that eat only plants.

You can divide them into three main categories based on their dietary requirements. Their diet will define what you should be feeding them, how often to feed them and in what quantity.


Fish that require a completely vegetarian diet consisting of plant matter have a longer digestive tract than others. Their diet is rich in fibre which is harder to digest and the long digestive tract helps break it down.

They also don’t have a proper stomach and have flat teeth they use to break down the food before it enters the digestive tract (intestines).

A herbivore’s diet includes algae, plants, vegetables, and fruits. Because they don’t have a stomach and their food directly enters their intestines, the digestion process is faster in herbivore fish.

This means you’ll need to feed them more frequently.

Sturgeon and parrotfish are two herbivore aquarium fish. Completely herbivore species are actually very rare as most fish require small protein portions. However, those whose diet consists of mostly plant matter are vital for the maintenance of the water eco-system as they keep algae growth in check which is ideal for the maintenance of coral reefs.


Piranhas are perhaps the most commonly known carnivore fish. In fact, there are multiple movie names after the species. However, these thriller films do overly dramatize the fish’s need for meat.

Other carnivore fish include Killifish, Pipefish, Bettas, Arowanas, etc.

All these species require meat or a protein-rich diet. That could include live foods or dead meat forms. Some of the most common carnivore fish feeds include shrimp, insects, other fish and dried food and supplements.

Essentially, carnivore fish are natural predators and are aggressive. They do enjoy the thrill of hunting their prey so you will have to choose their tank mates very carefully. They also have pointed teeth and a larger mouth that helps them in their hunt.


Omnivores require a healthy balance between protein and fibre. They can survive on a protein or plant-rich diet both as they have a combination of digestive tract traits of carnivores and herbivores.

However, the ideal diet of omnivore fish should consist of at least 40% protein.

Make Sure Your Fish is Getting Enough Nutrients

Fish, like humans, need their vitamins and minerals that they often fail to get from their food for multiple reasons. Carnivores eat protein-rich foods that don’t provide them with a lot of nutrients they would get from plants, fruits and vegetables.

Similarly, herbivore fish don’t get the protein and vitamins and minerals they would from meat and need to take vitamins and minerals to fulfill their requirements.

Even though omnivores have a healthy and balanced diet, they too need additional nutrient intake to promote healthy growth.

The exact nutrient requirements of each fish vary, but you will have to ensure you provide them with a variety of foods and some of the essential vitamins and minerals for healthy growth.

  • Vitamin B1 to aid the breakdown of carbohydrates.
  • Vitamin B2 and B6 to aid the function of enzymes.
  • Vitamin C improves digestion and aids the body’s natural healing process.
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorous

How Often Should You Feed Fish?

so how often are you supposed to feed fish? The number of feedings per day varies by species. Most fish require 16- 24 hours to digest their food. Thus they do quite well with around one feeding or a maximum of two feedings per day.

In fact, the majority of the fish thrive quite well with one feeding per day.

However, herbivores are an exception. They digest their food a lot quicker than other fish and thus need to be fed small quantities multiple times a day.

For them, you will have to set a proper timetable marking when to feed them small quantities of food throughout the day.

You can also include live plants in your fish tank setup as herbivores can then nibble on them all day long and you can stick to feeding them once or twice a day.

If you want to feed your fish twice a day, you can do that as long as you reduce the quantity of each meal so you don’t end up over-feeding them as that can be life-threatening for your fish.

When Should You Feed Your Fish?

The time is very important if you want to feed your fish right. If you want to recreate the natural habitat for your fish, you should feed them early in the morning.

When in their natural setting, carnivore fish, in particular, embark on their search for food at dusk. That is their one meal of the day as their digestive system is slower and they need around 24 hours to digest their food.

How Many Times Are You Supposed To Feed A Fish?

Omnivores and herbivores need to be fed multiple times as their diet consists either completely or mostly of fibres that are easier to digest.

You could start with one feeding early in the morning and one around 12 hours later for omnivores and herbivores. Ideally, morning and evening feeds are best for fish residing in an aquarium.

If you cant take out the time to feed them multiple times a day, you should also include live plants and other sources of food herbivores can turn to when they get hungry throughout the day.

How Much Should You Feed Your Fish?

The quantity is just as important as time. Determining the right amount of food is usually where aquarists struggle the most.

Don’t you worry though, we’ve got you covered. One tip for feeding your aquarium fish is to never add more food than they can finish less than five minutes. Make sure you start by adding small quantities of food int the water.

And yes, you will have to watch to conduct a series of trial run and note down how fast they eat all the food. A simpler way would be to ask the local pet store owner to help you.

Can You Over Feed Fish?

Yes, you can very easily overfeed fish.

If you give fish more food than they require, they will eat as much as they possibly can and the uneaten food will rot on the aquarium floor.

Not only with the rotting food lower the quality of the water but overfed fish may become obese which can lead to health problems.

What Happens If You Over Feed Fish?

As mentioned earlier, fish will eat as much as they possibly can which is often a lot more than what they need and what is healthy.

Once they reach the limit, they let the uneaten food be which rots in the aquarium, raising ammonia levels in the water. High ammonia levels in the water are toxic for the fish and can eventually lead to their death.

You can purchase a test kit to monitor the quality of the aquarium water and change it frequently if you find it is becoming too toxic but that’s just added work and it also disturbs the fish and lowers their quality of life.

Try to avoid overfeeding them and maintain optimal conditions in the aquarium.

How Often Do I Feed My Fish? Glad You Asked!

This is a question I get a lot and I know my answer may upset a few people. However, I feed all my tanks at the same time every day and I only feed them once a day.

Is it OK to feed fish once a day?

I choose to only feed them once per day because I leave very early in the morning and return in the evening and it’s lights out about 4 hours later. There is no way I’m feeding 2-3 times in four hours. So I’ve settled on one good feeding session.

My fish have grown accustomed to this and I find they do very well, I never worry about overfeeding or fat fish.

Learn How Several Common Fish Species Eat

The only way to ensure you provide a healthy and balanced diet for your fish is by learning about the consumption patterns of the fish species you have in your aquarium.

You can do so by reaching out to the local pet store or you can turn to the internet for help.

It is important to note that there are general guidelines available on how to care for fish, you will have to rely on trial and error.

Monitor your fish and aquarium water, make an active effort to understand their requirements and try your best to give them the best quality of life, water and food and you should be good.

It will also help you build a closer bond with your pets.

What’s On The Menu? Healthy Food For The Fish

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When you take the time to learn about the preferences of your aquarium fish, you will realize that there are many different types of foods that you can try.

Here are the most common;

Dry Fish Foods

When you think of dry fish foods, you automatically think of flaky foods but that is not all you can or should be feeding them.

You can also purchase pellets and granules besides flake food. They are available in both sinking and floating forms. Dry foods are usually low in fibre so you may have to supplement it with vegetables and plants.

These are ideal for omnivores.

Freeze-Dried and Frozen Foods

Freeze-dried and frozen foods consist of worms, shrimps, prawns, blood worms and other meat forms. If you have carnivore fish in your aquarium, then you may want to familiarize yourself with freeze-dried and frozen foods.

Live Foods

Feeder fish, worms, crickets, and ghost shrimp are examples of some live foods. Live feed is ideal for carnivore fish that enjoy hunting their prey and chasing them.


Including vegetables in the feed is essential for not only herbivores but also for omnivores.

Make sure you include ample live plants in the tank and feed your aquarium fish a variety of vegetables to provide them with essential nutrients.

Where Can You Purchase Fish Food?

Fish food is readily available at all pet stores. You can also find food of fish in most grocery stores in the pet food section.

Since food is one of those things that you’ll need to replace all the time, I like to set up an auto-shipment of the food and other supplies I need every few months. That way, just as my food is about to finish a new fresh batch arrives right on time.

I like to get my food from here and you can set up your first auto-shipment and get 30% off your first order. Oh and you can cancel anytime, so maybe you just want to get 30% off now, then cancel.

You do you.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I Feed My Fish Every 3 Days?

Feeding your fish every 3 days is not a good plan of action. Your fish needs to consume enough nutrients each day to ensure their health, body weight, and energy are maintained. When you limit the amount of food they have access to they will slowly lose weight become lethargic and slowly die.

Related: How Long Can Goldfish Go Without Food: 3 Ways To Feed Them When Your Not Home.

How Often Do You Feed Glofish?

You should feed your Glofish in small amounts each day at least once or twice.

That said, as I noted above take into consideration the needs of not only your fish but your schedule and work around it.

How Many Times Should You Feed Your Glofish?

You should feed your fish at least once or twice per day. Glofish are just slight genetic alterations of many common fish breeds. That fact that they are Glofish doesn’t change how many times they need to eat.

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