What Can You Feed Fish Other Than Fish Food? (Full List)

All fish keepers have panicked about what to feed their fish at least once in their lifetime. Food selection for fish is a pretty difficult task as you have to research their tastes, their requirement of protein, and vital nutrients.

Now that you have landed on this page, all I can guess is that you ran out of your fish food. Even if you do not have fish food to feed them, there is nothing to be worried about.

The majority of the aquarium fish can survive a week without the need to be fed. Now there are some strong species that go on two weeks without food. Hence, there is nothing to worry about.

Many newbie fish-owners overfeed their fish, and when they fail to feed them at the scheduled time, they feel like a bad owner. If you think your fish will be affected if you skip a few feedings, that’s not the case.

Most fish would easily survive a week without food, and perhaps this could be beneficial to some of them.

So, now you know there is nothing to panic about.

Now let us discuss what can you feed fish other than fish food –

Fish Food Substitution: What Human Food Can You Feed Your Fish?

Running out of foods that your fish is inured to is pretty common, like this can be the scenario in case of any veteran aquarist. But, let me tell you that there are plenty of food options that you can choose from while waiting on foods to restock.

However, you need to come up with several trial and error methods, but this could be a thrilling experience and discover other nutrient sources for your fish.

Just like us, the fish in your tank get bored of consuming the same food flakes every day. Today is the day to try something new!

What if I tell you that your fish can consume some of our foods too? Yes, they can. If you currently don’t have the right food, here is what you feed them –

So let us take a look at the alternatives.



Are you surprised by the lettuce here? Well, what if we tell you that fish love this green leafy vegetable.

All you have to do is cut this green-ish leaf and put it in the tank. Now you have to wait for a couple of minutes, and all of it will just vanish.

However, you need to do a bit of research about which fish can eat lettuce, as some fish are allergic to lettuce.

Also, you need to pay close attention if your fish start being lazy; if so, immediately stop giving lettuce.

Direction: It is better to feed frozen or boiled lettuce to your fish because they eat it pretty easily. If the lettuce goes bad, it will act as a water pollutant. Hence, you should let the lettuce stay in the water for long.

Rice (boiled)

Rice boiled

We, humans, love to eat rice, and so do the fish in your tank. Fish love to eat boiled rice, and they will love you more if you feed them frozen rice.

Direction: Simply add some boiled rice or frozen rice to your tank, and watch them eat it happily!

Now, what if I tell you that fish can also eat boiled pasta? Well, this is quite surprising, isn’t it?

Yes! They love to eat boiled pasta too, so the next time you make pasta, drop some boiled pasta in the tank!



Another great alternative to fish food is feeding them sprouts. Brussels sprouts are loved by the plecos and algae fish.

Direction: if you wish to feed boiled sprouts to your fish, simply boil the sprouts before feeding. Or you let them soak overnight and feed them.  



Not only sprouts but peas are also loved by fish! Peas are very healthy for your aquatic buddy. You can also feed them some frozen peas.

Direction: Like sprouts, you can feed your fish some boiled peas or frozen peas.

Fish Fillets

Fish Fillets

If you have got a predatory fish, then your predator aquatic will love some frozen fish fillets.

Directions: Before feeding fish fillets to your fish, defrost the fish fillets! It is better not to feed fatty fillets as they can be pretty harmful to your fish. Always feed healthy fillets.

What To Feed Carnivorous Fish Other Than Fish Food 

Carnivorous fish do not have the capability to extract nutrients from greens. Fish of this type have larger stomachs and small intestinal tracts. As they have a large stomach, they store a lot of food.


If you have carnivore fish like the Angelfish, Oscars, Discus, Cichlids, or an Arowana in the tank, the following alternatives are for you –

  • Earthworms – earthworms are loved by predatory fish, cichlids, angels, etc.
  • Live Foods such as ghost shrimps or brine, crickets, feeder fish
  • Frozen foods such as shrimp, prawn, krill, and mollusks

Making the right food selection is a difficult task. Food selection should be made on the basis of the type of fish you own. You need to know if the species are carnivores or herbivores.  

You can try an experiment with the following to see if they are really interested in eating that. If they show interest, that particular choice can act as a tasty treat.

  • organs
  • shrimps
  • scraps of chicken
  • chicken liver

Make sure that you do not fix these items as a staple diet for your fish. They need their prescribed foods to meet the demands of vitamins and minerals.

Feeding them food that has a high oil content and fat content can badly affect their liver and ability to reproduce. The diet should have a fat concentration of 5 – 6%. Moreover, oily foods can spoil the water’s quality.

Do not rush with the feeding process, and fish tend to be a bit picky when trying new food!

Also Check: Aquarium Fish Food Types and Their Nutritional Values

What To Feed Omnivorous Fish Other Than Fish Food

Most aquarium fish eat an omnivorous diet. However, some fish may like only fatty foods, and some may love green vegetables.

Omnivorous Fish

Omnivorous fish have the ability to digest both green vegetables and fleshy foods. This quality makes them easy to keep and has low care requirements.

If you run out of prescribed foods, you may initiate a trial and error method to know what type of food they would like to eat.  

If you wish to provide them a protein-rich food, here is what you should give –

  • Insect larvae
  • Crustaceans such as shrimps, crabs, crayfish, etc.
  • Egg yolk (hard-boiled only)

Do not be surprised after reading Egg Yolk here, and egg yolk is pretty popular when it comes to feeding the fry or newborn livebearers.

Egg yolk is one of the finest foods if you pet a shrimp. However, putting egg yolk in the tank can ruin the water quality in the tank.   

Greens for the omnivores include –

  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Boiled or steamed peas
  • Boiled or steamed potato
  • Boiled or steamed carrots
  • Boiled or steamed broccoli
  • Boiled or steamed cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • Duckweed

The foods mentioned above are likely to be eaten by omnivorous fish only if they fast for two days straight. These are to be fed only when you run out of the prescribed foods. These foods should not be given regularly as the primary nutrient source.

What To Feed Herbivorous Fish Other Than Fish Food

There are only some fishes that live on an herbivorous diet. However, you can find hundreds of fish that will nibble on live plants even after not being an herbivore.

Koi fish

The species which only follow an herbivorous diet are –

Also, there are some dedicated green-eaters who will consume a varied green diet when you are out of the prescribed foods. These are dollars and algae eaters.

The digestive system of an herbivorous fish is efficiently designed to extract nutrients from green matter. The fish in the category have small and razor-sharp teeth that function like mini grinders.

Herbivorous fish have small stomachs, unlike carnivorous fish, and this is why they need to be fed frequently.

If you run out of fish flakes, you may try with these foods –

  • Spirulina
  • Live plants such as waterweed and duckweed
  • Apple and mangoes in tiny proportions
  • Lettuce and greens
  • Root veggies like carrots, broccoli, etc. (make sure they are steamed or boiled before feeding them)

This category of fish is not picky at all like omnivores and carnivores. It is comparatively easy to feed them.

Also Read: Substitute For Fish Food

What Can You Feed Your Tropical Fish if You Run Out of Food?

If you happen to own some tropical fish species like Guppies, Arowana, Oscars, Angels, Swordtails, Gouramis, etc., and you are run out of fish food, we will tell you how to make up for it.


Tropical fishes are categorized into three groups –

  • Carnivores
  • Omnivores
  • Herbivores

Food Alternatives for Carnivorous Tropical Fish

  • Organs
  • Think strands of chicken meat
  • Earthworms
  • Bloodworms
  • Snails
  • Larvae mosquitoes
  • Shrimps
  • Prawn

As mentioned above, do not use these alternatives regularly. However, you can use these alternatives as tasty treats, but they should not be given as a primary diet.

Food Alternatives for Omnivorous Tropical Fish

  • Cucumbers (seeds need to be removed)
  • Lettuce
  • Steamed or boiled carrots, pumpkins, cauliflower, potato
  • Zucchini (seeds and soft part need to be removed)
  • Duckweeds
  • Mosquito larvae
  • Insects
  • Shrimp, crayfish
  • Snails
  • Egg yolk (hard-boiled only)

Keep yourself from overfeeding your fish, and do not use these alternatives as the primary nutrient source.

Food Alternatives for Herbivorous Tropical Fish

  • Boiled or steamed peas
  • Lettuce cut into small pieces
  • Spirulina
  • Boiled or steamed cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, etc.

These choices are only to be used when you do not have the prescribed foods. Using these alternatives regularly can hamper the water quality in the tank and need extra care.

Use the prescribed foods only to satisfy their quota of nutrients.

How Much Should You Feed Your Fish?

If you feed your fish their prescribed foods which are commonly dry food flakes, then 2 to 3 flakes are enough for one fish. Now, if you drop a calculated number of flakes, their feast will be over within 3 minutes.

If you run out of their food, and you plan on using any of the alternatives mentioned above, then we recommend that you should try with small proportions. Clean the leftovers immediately as the leftovers can ruin the water quality in the tank.

Also, you should keep yourself from overfeeding your fish. Overfeeding your fish will have a dangerous effect as your fish will not be able to tell if their stomach is stuffed. Overeating will lead to some serious problems like constipation.

Also, do not keep the leftovers in the tank. They will spoil the water quality content.

How Often Should You Actually Feed Your Fish?

Look, this depends on numerous factors. However, there is a general outline that you might want to allow, rather we all have followed to date.

If you are new in this, you should follow this schedule –

  • Newborn or Livebearers – feed them at least four to five times a day for the first four weeks
  • Juvenile – two to three times every day
  • Adult – feed them once or twice every day


Even if you run out of fish food flakes, there are some alternatives that are readily available in your kitchen.

As you have read, in this article, we have discussed what to feed your fish when you do not have the right fish food. Every food mentioned here is safe and well-researched.

We have considered the nutrient requirements and other needs of the fish in your tank. Not only are these foods cost-effective, but your fish will get to taste something new.

So, next time you encounter such a situation, do not panic but try one of these alternatives. I am sure your fish will love to taste these alternatives and find them enriching.

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