Feeding your pet fish can be a task at times, especially if you are a new fish parent. However, by knowing what types of fish food are available and which kinds of fish benefit from them the most, you can then make a more informed decision.
Let's dive right into it - there are four types of fish food commonly available - pellets, worms, sticks, and flakes, each type of fish food has its advantages and disadvantages, and the easiest way to determine the right type for your fish is through careful assessment of their breed, feeding habits, activity level, health risks, etc. In addition to this, it is important also speak to your veterinarian about your fish's diet plan.
Fish pellets are power-packed with essential nutrients to keep your fish healthy and happy. They come in two varieties - ones that sink and ones that don't - both of which are scientifically developed formulas that ensure a complete and balanced diet of natural essential ingredients. Pellets increase appetite, enhance colour, aid digestibility, maintain body shape, boost immunity, and accelerate growth rate. They are also breed-specific, i.e. you can find pellets for freshwater fish, saltwater fish, tropical fish, cold-water fish, omnivores, herbivores, and meat-eating fish. Owing to the size and texture of pelleted food, fish don't swallow much air while feeding on them which prevents their swim bladders from inflating making it difficult for them to swim. Another added bonus of pelleted fish food is the two different varieties - floating pellets are eaten by top and middle column fish, whilst sinking pellets are eaten by bottom feeders. This, in turn, allows for equal feeding in a tank with different kinds of fish. Furthermore, pellets are known to have more nutritional content due to their size and consistency. They are easy to measure, have a longer shelf life, and fit most automatic fish feeders in comparison to other varieties of fish food. Whilst pelleted fish food has several benefits and is of high popularity amongst fish parents, they do come with a few cons. Pelleted fish food that sinks to the bottom of the tank when left uneaten, starts to dissolve and adversely affects the quality of the water requiring you to clean the tank more often. In addition to this, bottom-feeding fish when foraging for sunken pellets can ingest substrates at the bottom of the tank which adversely affects their health. Fishes are fed pelleted food twice or thrice a day in equal intervals. They need to be fed only as much as they can consume in 5 minutes. Feeding more than what's necessary leads to obesity, digestive upsets, and contaminated tanks.
Fish flakes are commonly used by fish parents with many fish of the same and different breeds. Fish flakes are primarily made up of different types of protein, vegetables, fruits, and algae. Fish flakes are one of the most inexpensive forms of fish food and are often bought in bulk. Because of its increasing popularity among the fish parent community, you can now find fish flakes for almost any type of fish out there. High-quality fish flakes, like the ones available at Petsy, are power-packed with a plethora of essential nutrients responsible for immunity, growth, digestion, energy, colour, and longevity. Fish flakes float on the surface of the water and unlike pelleted fish food, they dissolve in the water if left uneaten. They disperse easily on the surface of the water making it easy for the fish to feed on before it sinks to the bottom of the tank. The size and texture of the flakes are perfect for fishes with small mouths and those that are top and column feeders. Whilst flakes have their benefits, it is essential to know about their cons before deciding whether or not to feed your fish the same. Since fish flakes tend to float, they aren't the best option for bottom feeders like catfish, cods, Zebra loaches, gobys, etc. Fish flakes, if left uneaten, dissolve into mush which affects the water chemistry and would require you to clean the tank from time to time. Furthermore, although often bought in bulk, fish flakes do not have a long shelf life once opened - they are required to be consumed within a couple of weeks to a month, which proves inconvenient for fish parents with only a few fish. Owing to the shape and size of the flakes, when ingested, fishes tend to swallow excess air leading to digestive and buoyancy issues such as an inflated swim bladder. Moreover, it is hard to accurately measure the amount you feed when it comes to flakes. Lastly, fish flakes are excellent options for small fishes but tend to be of little use to larger fish because of their small size. A large fish would then have to consume hundreds of fish flakes in order to receive adequate nourishment.
Fish sticks, unlike pelleted food, float on the surface of the water. They are, hence, perfect for top-feeding fish such as firemouths, convicts, large freshwater, and marine fish. Floating fish sticks are a healthy mixture of essential nutrients that stimulate growth, enhance colour, boost immunity, aid digestion, and provide energy. They are scientifically developed formulas that ensure the overall development and well-being of your fish. Whilst floating fish sticks seem to be the perfect option when it comes to ease of feeding, palatability, and affordability, it is important to note its cons as well. Floating sticks don't do well for bottom feeders and can contaminate the aquarium if left uneaten thereby requiring you to have to clean the water regularly. Ensure you feed your fish floating sticks no more than twice or thrice a day and in minimum quantity, i.e. how much they would be able to consume within 5 minutes. Overfeeding can lead to stomach upsets along with gulping in too much air, leading to inflated swim bladders.
Worms - so tasty, they make fintastic food for pet fishes! Freeze-dried worms, like tubifex and bloodworms, are high-protein food with appealing flavours that are easy to digest, maintain water quality, boost immunity, aid digestibility, increase appetite, and enhance energy. This type of food is best suited for small and medium-sized freshwater fishes such as Bettas, Cichlids, Discus', Guppies, Mollies, Angelfish, Catfish, Cichlids, Discus, and Tetras. Freeze-dried tubifex worms come in the form of a cube and are stuck to the walls of the aquarium making feeding time fun for both fish and parent. Likewise, freeze-dried bloodworms are excellent for tropical fish, goldfish, marine fish, and freshwater fishes. Bloodworms contain over 50% crude protein providing fishes with lots of energy, in addition to supporting healthy breeding and promoting the healthy growth of juvenile fishes. They come power-packed with several essential vitamins that not only stimulate growth but also support a healthy immune system and enhance color. Since both varieties of worms are rich in protein, it is best to limit their consumption to once to twice a week in order to avoid upset stomachs and constipation.
Now that you are aware of what your fish can eat, you can make a more informed decision on their diet. Remember, it is best to speak to a veterinarian first before attempting to change your fish's diet.
Happy fish parenting!