Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Food and feeding

African butterflyfish, Pantodon buchholzi African butterflyfish, Pantodon buchholzi


All captive fish are 100% reliant on you for all there needs including feeding. So you need to make sure that all your fish receive a healthy balanced diet if they are to reach their full potential and have a long and healthy life. Although modern flake and pelleted food is made to a very high standard and the better ones also include important trace elements and vitamins they should not be relied upon completely but instead they should make up just a part of the fishes diet. It is also important to consider the type of diet that your fish would normally eat in the wild. Some fish are predators and some are scavengers, fish eaters, herbivores and some require very specialized diets.


Most herbivores will eat flake food although one of the high quality vegetable flakes will suit them better because it is lower in protein than normal tropical flake; there are also Algae pellets and wafers. Even flake food intended for Goldfish will be better than the tropical fish type. To prepare some food it will need to be dipped in boiling water to help breakdown the cellulose. This only needs to be done for about 30 sec. This is referred to as blanching.

Suitable foods

  1. Blanched Spinach
  2. Raw Lettuce.
  3. Raw Cucumber.
  4. Algae. This can be cultivated by placing a tank with old used aquarium water in sunlight and with a few pebbles in the bottom. The Algae will grow on the pebbles and these can then be rotated between the tanks as the Algae are eaten.
  5. Blanched Peas, without their skin.
  6. Even though the fish are herbivores it is still a good idea to offer live or frozen food such as Daphnia once or twice per week.


These are amongst the easiest fish to feed. Use a good quality tropical flake food and freeze-dried food for the staple diet and supplement this with a variety of suitably sized live food 3 or 4 times per week. Also try them with some of the vegetable-based food from the previous category.

You may have to keep offering the veg based food because they quite often don't recognise it as food at first and it may take a few tries before they will accept it. Ideally you should make the diet as broad and varied as possible because a lot of fish tend to become almost addicted to one type of food if it is fed over and over again. If this happens they will most probably not receive a balanced diet so keep it varied.


Predatory fish come in to this category, not necessarily large fish that prey on other fish even small micro predators, which have to be cared for in the same way. Some of these fish will refuse all dried food. This is quite often the case with dwarf Cichlids, but they still need a balanced diet.

  • Live food of all kinds. Of the appropriate size.- Daphnia, Cyclops, Blood worm, Crickets, Earth worms, etc.
  • Frozen food. This has the advantage that it allows you to add a few drops of a vitamin supplement such as Kent Zoe, or Waterlifes Vitazin. and it can include other food such as fish because it is against the law to use live vertebrates as food in the UK.
  • Apart from heart and liver, red meat should never be used. Fish cannot digest animal fat it simply hardens in them and could cause a problem.


Or fish eaters as they are better known. Lots of fish prey on other fish, it's a fact. However, it is illegal to use live fish or any other vertebrate animal as live food in the UK. Some argue that it is just nature but lets be clear about this, there is absolutely NOTHING natural about a large fish chasing and eating a smaller fish which is probably in a state of shock having just been dropped in to a tank with a large predator and has no means of escape.

Types of food.

Dried food, this is the most common type of food used. When choosing which to go for look to see what the ingredients are and if Vitamins which should be stable in water, are included. Also don't be tempted to buy food in bulk because it is a little cheaper, it will go stale and could harm the fish. Keep the food dry and in an airtight container.

It comes in flake, wafers, tablets, pellets and sticks and there are different varieties intended for different fish. This type of food is good for a basic staple diet provided that there is some variety and it is supplemented with other food.

There are specialist-dried foods where medication has been added to it in order that the fish can be given antibiotics should this ever be necessary.

Freeze Dried Food

This is another type of dried food but the difference is it is relatively unprocessed. The food retains ALL the goodness of the original food but without any risk. Tubifex worms are a good example of this; live

Tubifex worms are notorious for carrying diseases and bacteria. Because of the environment they come from but freeze dried Tubifex are entirely safe to use and they retain all the nutritional value of live ones, They are also one of the best conditioning foods available. Provided that the food is properly stored in a cool airtight and dry container it will last indefinitely.

Fresh food.

There are a number of household foods and vegetables, which will make great supplements to a fish’s diet, depending upon the fish species. The main things to stay away from are foods that contain - The following must NOT BE USED.

  1. Animal fat of any sort.
  2. Salt.
  3. Spicy food.
  4. White bread.
  5. Red or white meat including poultry.

The following are all ideal

  1. 1. Most green veg, in most cases it will need to be blanched (softened in boiling water) and skins removed where applicable. Lettuce can be used raw.
  2. Bread crumbs, from brown or wholemeal loafs. And only sparingly.
  3. Boiled potatoes, (loved by Koi).
  4. Beef heart and liver. Raw.
  5. Slithers of fresh uncooked fish.
  6. Frozen Food. There is a huge variety of frozen food available. This means that food that would be unavailable in winter like daphnia is now available all year round. And there is the added advantage of it being safer because no undesirable pests will be introduced into the aquarium such as dragonfly larva or argulus. All the following are usually available.
  • Blood worms.
  • Daphnia
  • Brine shrimps
  • Tubifex worms.
  • Glass worms.
  • Discus Diet, a mixture of things.
  • Vegetarian diet, a mix of edible greens.
  • Cockle meat.
  • Mysis Shrimps
  • Lance fish.
  • Gamma fish
  • Krill

And many more. Some of these foods have under gone a process to sterilize them so that no pathogens can be passed on from the food to the fish. Even predatory fish can be safely fed on whole fish without the need for cruelty by feeding live prey.

Whilst there is no specific law against the practice you can still be prosecuted for causing unnecessary suffering by using a live vertebrate as food and this includes fish. Inverts are excluded from the law.

Live food.

Still very popular and the fish love it. This is the most natural of all fish food and it is their main diet in the wild. Insects caught in the wild will be full of nutrition and vitamins, some of these may be missing in farmed live food but most fish will do much better if fed 3 or 4 times per week on live food.

Care must be taken to avoid introducing undesirables in to the aquaria when feeding live food this particularly applies to food you have collected your self. A practice not recommended unless you know the water to be unpolluted, you know how clean and prepare the food and how to recognize parasites and other pest. It is much simpler to let someone else do all that.

Feeding Frequencies

Herbivores - generally eat food that is lower quality with regard to nutrition than most other fish, to compensate for this they eat a lot more. This means they need to be almost constantly grazing and to reflect this food should always be available like a slice of cucumber or a pebble full of algae as well as a vegetarian flake food fed three or four times daily.

Omnivores - These should be fed twice per day with the odd extra treat of live or frozen food 3 or 4 times per week.

Carnivores. - Should be fed just once per day due to a high quality diet. Even missing the odd days once per week in order to keep them from becoming obese and lazy.

Making your own fish food.

A straight forward and easy food to make is a conditioning food for breeding fish. The ingredients will vary slightly depending on the species of fish.


  • One beef heart.
  • Several chicken livers.
  • Shrimps.
  • Oatmeal.
  • Blanched green vegetable. (spinach, cabbage, shelled peas etc).

Also the following additions are worth considering, Vitamin and Mineral supplements (there are some intended for aquarium use). Flake Food, Freeze Dried Tubifex, Frozen Blood Worms, Frozen Lancefish, and so on.


  1. Remove all traces of fat from the beef-heart and cut the lean meat into strips.
  2. Add all the other ingredients. The amount of each one isn't critical and you should use varying formulas until you find the one your fish are happiest with.
  3. Place the mix in a food blender and mix it until you have a coarse paste.
  4. Roll out the mix into a sheet approx 1/4 of an inch thick and break it into manageable sized pieces.
  5. Put these pieces into polythene food bags and freeze.
  6. Once frozen the food is ready to use, simply break off the desired amount and feed it to the fish.

Growth Food For Fry

Use exactly the same ingredients but leave it in the blender for longer so that it forms a much finer paste and feed it to fry in very small quantities. It would be easier if the fry tank bottom was left bare so that it would be easier to remove any uneaten scraps of food.
* Young Discus will thrive on a diet such as this.
* Because of all the high protein fresh food in this mix, any which is left uneaten should be removed after a few minutes or the water quality will suffer.