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Does It Matter What Food You Feed Your Fish?

Goldfish in aquarium

Photo by Juan Carlos Palau Díaz

Flakes, pellets, granules, freeze-dried, fresh—there are a lot of options for how to feed your fish. Confused? Don’t worry.

Many fish can eat a variety of foods. That being said, certain fish species do need particular features in their diets.

Here’s what you need to know when determining what food to feed your fish…

Should you feed live food?

Some fish are carnivores, and obviously those fish are going to need to eat food made from other sea creatures. But there are a lot of processed fish food options for carnivores and omnivores.

You can, however, feed live food occasionally.

What kind? Live brine shrimp, vinegar eels, and daphnia are common live foods for fish. Do you have to feed your carnivores live food? No, but there are some benefits to occasionally feeding live. Specifically, live foods contain more of the food’s naturally-occurring nutrients and fewer additives.

Of course, the big downside to live foods is that they are more difficult to acquire or keep, compared to processed flakes, pellets, or granules. Fortunately, processed fish foods are highly nutritious and safe.

(And if you choose to exclusively feed live food, be sure to give your fish multiple kinds of food to ensure they get a variety of nutrients.)

Feed what your fish will eat

The first thing to consider when selecting a fish food is whether your fish will eat it. If you try to feed them a specific food, and they don’t eat it, then pick something else for them to eat. There is no way to force a fish to eat something it doesn’t want.

Flake foods

Tropical fish flakes

Fish flakes are one of the most common types of fish food, and they come in varieties for carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores. These foods are great for small top and middle feeders because they fit in smaller fish mouths, and they float. However, they are not so great for large fish or bottom feeders because the flakes are not very dense and tend to dissolve before making it to the bottom of the tank.

Pellet foods

Cichlid pellets

Also great for all fish diets, fish pellets are better for larger fish so that the food fills them up faster, but pellets are made for smaller fish, as well. Pellets also work well for bottom feeders if you purchase sinking pellets. Other pellets are made to float for top and middle feeders.

Granule foods

Goldfish granules

Granules are actually just another name for pellets. You’ll find these for a variety of fish diets and as floating or sinking types.

Freeze-dried foods

Can of freeze-dried bloodworms

Freeze-dried foods typically consist of shrimp or worms for carnivorous and omnivorous fish. Most tropical fish keepers don’t feed freeze-dried foods exclusively, but they are a great addition to your fish’s diet, especially if you can’t get live foods.

Wafers, tablets, and rounds

Algae rounds for herbivorous fish

Wafers, tablets, and rounds are all names for sinking, disc-shaped fish food. These foods are typically fed to bottom dwellers. They dissolve slower than flakes or pellets, so that these fish can nibble at them over time, which is their normal eating pattern.

The good news is that you can feed your fish a variety of types of food to ensure that they get all the nutrition they need.

Check out the variety of fish foods available at The Tye-Dyed Iguana in Fairview Heights.