How to Care for Carnivorous Fish

Posted by Diedra Blackmill on Aug 1st 2019

How to Care for Carnivorous Fish

Betta with aquarium décor

Photo courtesy of Christy Hammer 

Last month I talked about how to get your fish to stop eating your aquarium plants, and one of the suggestions was to put carnivorous fish in the tanks where you want to display plants.

The meat-eating fish I suggested were:

  • Betta fish,
  • Black ghost knife fish,
  • Oscar fish,
  • And rosy red minnows, which are actually omnivores.

And then it occurred to me that our readers may not have experience with caring for carnivorous fish. So I’m going to remedy that by giving you this primer on how to take care of your little meat eaters.

Here’s what to do…

Rule number one: Be careful about tank mates

Many species of carnivorous fish need to be kept separate from your other fish species. The reason should be obvious -- tank mates can get eaten.

Now, a lot of people interpret this precaution as meaning you can only have one of these fish in a tank, such as the common lone betta fish aquarium. But that’s not the case. In fact, even bettas can do well with tank mates.

Betta fish

The main cause of aggression between betta fish is sharing a too small tank. Like many animals, bettas are territorial -- especially males. But if you give them enough space, they’ll be just fine together. Of course, you don’t want to put ONLY two males together because fighting is much more common in that scenario, but a couple of males and a larger group of females can absolutely work.

What you should not do is put your carnivores in a small tank with a bunch of small, plant-eating fish.

Follow ordinary fish care procedures

As mentioned above, tank size matters for carnivores. They can be aggressive, and you want to give them enough room that they don’t feel like they are fighting for space.

Oscar fish cichlid

Other than that, you really treat your carnivorous fish just like you would any other aquarium specimens. Keep their water clean and at appropriate temperatures. Add aquarium additives as needed. Clean away algae that grows in the tank (but maybe don’t stick your hand in there; they may bite!). And use a water filter and air pump.

Know what to feed

Obviously, carnivorous fish are going to need different foods from herbivores. It’s best to feed a diet with a bit of variety. And they’ll need to be fed once per day.

Here are some of the options available from exotic pet suppliers:

You can find a few different varieties of pellets for your carnivores, such as betta pellets, shrimp pellets, and shrimp and lobster pellets.

You can also purchase live feeder fish as an occasional treat for your meat eaters. These includes minnows and guppies. Just be aware that adding live feeders can cause aggressive behaviors in your tank.

If you were worried about what to feed your carnivorous fish, you’ll be glad to know that even more options are available than the ones listed here.

Stop in at The Tye-Dyed Iguana to check out all the options we have in stock for carnivorous aquariums.

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