Fish Feeding Schedule

When it comes to aquariums, some of the most commonly asked questions have to do with feeding.

How often should I feed my fish? What is overfeeding? How will I know if I’ve overfed?

Overfeeding is one of the most commonly committed mistakes made by first time fish owners.

Unfortunately, without paying attention to detail and keeping thorough records, it can also be a mistake made by alleged expert aquarium owners.

Overfeeding = Potentially Toxic Chemicals

Not only does overfeeding introduce additional debris into the environment that can clog filters and water lines, but it also introduces potentially toxic chemicals released when uneaten food breaks down.

Fish can also overeat, which can lead to poor health.

In the wild, fish will eat anytime food is available and when hungry.

When food is abundant, they might eat several meals in a given day.

Alternatively, when food is not readily available, they can go hours or even days without eating.

What Schedule Should I Keep?

Fish Feeding Schedules

The schedule that you feed your fish on will ultimately depend on the species of fish and what type of food you are feeding them.

Generally speaking, most fish breeds can do quite nicely on a once per day feeding schedule.

Some aquarium owners like to split a single feeding amount into two separate meals, but that is completely up to the owner.

Again, in the broadest sense, adhering to a strict time of day is not of any great importance, save for some species that have special requirements.

Different preference for different fish type

Some fish, like catfish, prefer to eat after the lights go down, so if you have a night owl under the water, drop in some food just before bedtime.

Others may be early risers, so to speak, and will want a big “breakfast” when the lights come on.

A strict schedule may not matter to the fish, but eating daily does!

If you need a schedule to help you remember then by all means, keep your fish on a strict schedule.

Consider feeding them right before you eat, assuming you have a relatively fixed schedule.

If there are no daily activities you engage in that would help you remember, set an alarm on your phone.

If you plan on being out of town, remember to ask a friend, neighbor, or family member to drop by daily to check on your watery companions or invest in an automatic feeder.

I’ve written an excellent post on Automatic Fish Feeders.

Exceptions to the Rule

Just like anything in life, there are a few exceptions to the rules above.

One notable example would be herbivorous fish; as plant eaters, these fish would typically eat plants throughout the day, regardless of what time it was.

One reason for this is the typically small stomach these breeds have, limiting the amount of food they can hold.

They may eat frequently to satisfy their hunger in their natural environment.

These species should be given multiple small feedings per day.

Additionally (or in place of some of the smaller feedings), consider adding live plants to your tank that the fish can nibble on between meals.

Live plants are also beneficial as they remove carbon dioxide from the water in your tank and provide life-giving oxygen.

How Much Food Should I Provide?

Fish Feeding Schedule

Once again, all species and all fish are different; however, a good guide would be to provide only enough food that your fish will eat in about five minutes or less.

If you’re unsure, provide less than you think they’ll need, since you can always add more food later.

Overfeeding is not ideal since the uneaten food will collect at the bottom of the tank, lowering the water quality.

Uneaten food also poses issues with the potential to clog filters or to break down into harmful chemical components.

If you do happen to overfeed, don’t panic.

Once the fish have finished eating, simply remove the uneaten portion with a net or a spoon.

Conclusion for fish feeding schedule

Just as all fish are different, so are their dietary needs and/or restrictions.

Some fish may require certain types of food or feeding schedules.

Others may have foods they simply cannot eat or times of day or night when they won’t eat.

When in doubt, ask!

Check with other aquarium enthusiasts that have the same types of fish.

If you don’t know anyone personally, ask at a your local aquarium supply store.

If you still can’t find someone, look online; you’re likely to find another tank owner that can answer your questions.

If not, research the particular fish you are considering.

Feeding is one of the most important aspects of caring for fish so be sure to research your fish and their feeding habits to have a healthy tankful of fish.

7 thoughts on “Fish Feeding Schedule”

  1. I give my one Betta 4 little pellets once a day in the a.m., suggested by the breeder and a couple workers at the Pet Stores in the Fish Dept. Then in afternoon I give some blood worms. I cannot imagine putting enough food in tank for him to eat for 5 minutes, I believe he would burst with a stomach the size of a pin. Plus having to take out what he doesn’t eat, don’t think so. I have had him 6 months and so far he seems to be thriving. Wondering if any other owners of Bettas feed close to what I am doing?

    • Hey Char, thank you for sharing your experience. Sorry if I’ve confused you. The 5 mins guide is more for tanks with schooling fishes of about 10 or more.

      For 1 betta, it is more personalized and you feed it 1 pellet at a time until it no longer wants it. =)

      • Hi Adam, Glad you explained about feeding fish for 5 minutes. I believe my little Betta would keep eating the pellets as long as I put them in one at a time, so I believe I will stick to the 4 he gets plus some blood worm later in the day.
        I don’t believe I know how to send you a pic of my little aquarium, not real computer savvy. Would like to though.

  2. HI Adam. I have a RES turtle that I feed turtle stixs. I have two decorative catfish, two goldfish-one about 4 to 5 inches and the other is 3 inches, plus a pleco that is about 10 inches all in a 75 gallon aquarium. When I feed my turtle, the gold fish will eat the stix I feed him. I feed all of the fish flakes. The water has started staying cloudy and green so I know I’m overfeeding. My question is how much should I be feeding the fish? I feed them twice a day too. It’s hard to tell if they have eaten all of the flakes because the flakes sink to the bottom into the gravel. Thanks so much for your help!

    • Hi Connie, a common practice of keeping a turtle in a tank with other fishes is to feed your turtle in a separate container. So during feeding time, you could move your turtle to a smaller tank with shallow warm water and feed it. You could leave your turtle for an hour or so for it to feed and defecate. Once that is done, you could place it back into the main tank. This way, your turtle are fed and your main tank remains clean. Hope that helps.

      PS: Your pleco and tank might outgrow your tank soon.

  3. Hi Adam
    This was a very good article on feeding. My problem if you can call it that is with my 2 blood parrot fish, I feed them flakes, it is very messy but when I tried to give them pellets they would not eat them. I have to vacuum the bottom of my tank every morning for uneaten food, should I take the approach of tough love and put pellets in the tank and leave them there until they are hungry enough to eat them or what should I do? I appreciate your help. Keep up your good work I am learning a lot from you. Loulou

  4. Hi you wrote great articles. I am having guppy issues. My levels are great but I keep losing fish. at least one or two a week. It seems to always happen a day or two after a water change or adding fish. I do weekly 30 to 40 percent. My other fish are all fine. Juli Corys, zebra danios, neon tetras & amano shrimp


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