What Can Fish Eat Besides Fish Food?

Discover the intriguing world of fish nutrition beyond store-bought fish food. Join me as I share my personal experiences and expert knowledge to unveil alternative and exciting feeding options that can keep your fish healthy and happy. Let’s dive in!

what can fish eat besides fish food

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What to Feed Fish When Out of Fish Food?

Running out of fish food is a situation that most aquatic enthusiasts inevitably face. Sometimes, for various reasons, you may not have access to your regular store-bought fish food. Don’t worry; I’ve been there, and I’ve got you covered.

Here’s a quick list of alternative foods that you can safely feed your fish:

  • Vegetables: Many fish species enjoy greens such as boiled peas, blanched spinach, or chopped lettuce. These are great sources of vitamins and minerals.
  • Live Foods: Some popular live foods include brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. These can typically be found in aquarium stores or online.
  • Frozen Foods: Similar to live foods, a wide variety of frozen options like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and krill are available. Thaw these foods properly before feeding your fish.
  • Eggs: Hard-boiled egg yolks can be a nutritious snack for your fish. Simply crumble a small amount, making sure to not overfeed or pollute the tank.
  • Insects: Collecting small insects like fruit flies or ants can provide a high-protein treat for your fish. Ensure the insects are free from pesticides and suitable for their size.

Of course, it’s essential to know which types of foods are appropriate for your specific fish species. Some fish may not tolerate certain foods, and overfeeding unfamiliar foods can lead to health issues. Make sure you do some research on your fish’s dietary requirements and observe closely how they react to new foods.

Additionally, while using alternative foods can work in a pinch, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced diet for your fish by providing store-bought fish food whenever possible. This ensures that they receive all the necessary nutrients to thrive. In the long run, a mix of both alternative and store-bought foods will lead to optimal health and beautiful colors in your aquarium friends.

betta fish feeding

Homemade Food for Carnivorous Fish

Carnivorous fish require a high-protein diet, and creating homemade food can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Not only does it allow you to control the ingredients, but it also ensures that your carnivorous fish receive a well-rounded, nutritious diet.

Here are some options for making homemade food for your carnivorous fish:

  • Seafood Mix: Combine finely chopped shrimp, squid, and fish (such as salmon or whitefish) to make a protein-rich seafood blend. This mix can be frozen in small portions and fed to your fish over time.
  • Insect-Based Food: Carnivorous fish enjoy munching on insects, so why not prepare a treat that caters to their taste buds? You can combine mealworms, bloodworms, or other protein-packed insects, creating a diversified meal that provides ample nutrition.
  • Fish Flesh: When feeding any fish-based food, it’s crucial to remove all bones to prevent choking or injury. Fish like tilapia, cod, or even tuna can be cut into small, appropriate portions and fed to your carnivorous friends. Remember to opt for sustainably-sourced fish when possible.
  • Beef Heart: This may sound odd, but beef heart is a favorite amongst discus and other large carnivorous fish. Trim all the fat and cut the heart into small pieces or blend it with other ingredients to create a nutritious meal packed with protein.

When preparing homemade food, ensure that all ingredients, especially raw meats and seafood, are thoroughly cleaned and properly stored to prevent contamination. It’s also wise to research the specific dietary needs of your fish species and adjust the homemade recipes as needed. Don’t hesitate to supplement with store-bought food or vitamins to cover any nutritional gaps.

Lastly, introduce new foods gradually to gauge your fish’s reaction and appetite. Consistency and monitoring are key to achieving a well-balanced and customized diet for your carnivorous fish.

Homemade Food for Herbivorous Fish

Herbivorous fish require a plant-based diet abundant in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Preparing homemade food for these fish can be a creative and gratifying endeavor, while also ensuring that their dietary needs are met and maintained.

Here are some ideas to help you create delicious homemade food for your herbivorous fish:

  • Vegetable Spirals: Some fish appreciate a little texture in their food. You can incorporate thinly sliced, blanched zucchini or cucumber spirals for an appealing and fiber-rich snack.
  • Leafy Greens: Prepare a veggie treat by offering softened and chopped leafy greens like spinach, kale, or lettuce. Boil or blanch the greens for a short time to soften them, and then clip them inside the tank for your fish to graze on.
  • Algae Concoction: Algae, such as spirulina, can provide essential nutrients and support the immune system of herbivorous fish. Create an algae mix by combining powdered spirulina with gelatin and other greens like spinach or lettuce, forming a nutrient-dense gel food.
  • Fruit and Veggie Cubes: Blend an assortment of boiled vegetables, such as peas, carrots, and zucchini, along with a touch of fruit like apple, pear, or berry. Mix in some fish vitamins, pour the mixture into an ice cube tray, and freeze it. These handy cubes can be thawed and fed in moderation.

When crafting homemade food for herbivorous fish, keep their specific dietary needs and preferences in mind. Introduce new foods slowly to ensure a favorable reaction and monitor the water quality within the tank.

A mix of homemade and store-bought foods can work wonders in delivering all necessary nutrients for optimal fish health. Be willing to adapt and experiment with various ingredients to create a well-rounded and satisfying diet for your herbivorous fish.

goldfish feeding

Homemade Food for Omnivorous Fish

Omnivorous fish require a balanced diet consisting of both plant and animal-based nutrients, and crafting homemade food can be a satisfying and beneficial endeavor. This not only enables you to regulate the ingredients, but it also guarantees that your omnivorous fish obtain a diverse, wholesome diet.

Here are some ideas for creating homemade food for your omnivorous fish:

  • Vegetable and Seafood Blend: Combine finely chopped vegetables, such as spinach, peas, and zucchini, with an assortment of seafood, like shrimp, fish (such as salmon or whitefish), and squid. This mix offers a balanced meal rich in essential nutrients. Freeze the blend in small portions and feed it to your fish over time.
  • Insect and Plant-Based Food: Omnivorous fish enjoy consuming both insects and plant matter, so why not create a meal that caters to their dietary preferences? You can mix mealworms, bloodworms, or other protein-rich insects with blanched vegetables, such as kale or lettuce, to provide a diverse and nutritious meal.
  • Fruit and Fish Medley: Fresh fruits like banana, apple, and berries can be mixed with fish flesh (with bones removed) from species like tilapia, cod, or even tuna. Chop the fruits and fish into small, suitable portions and feed them to your omnivorous fish. Remember to select sustainably-sourced fish whenever possible.
  • Egg and Veggie Mixture: Boiled and mashed egg, combined with finely chopped vegetables, can provide a protein and nutrient-rich meal for your omnivorous fish. This mixture can be further enhanced by adding small portions of shrimp, fish, or insects to cater to your fish’s specific dietary needs.

When preparing homemade food, make sure that all ingredients, particularly raw meats and seafood, are thoroughly cleaned and properly stored to avoid contamination.

It’s also essential to research the distinct dietary requirements of your fish species and modify the homemade recipes accordingly. Don’t hesitate to complement with store-bought food or vitamins to fill any nutritional gaps.

Lastly, introduce new foods slowly to observe your fish’s response and appetite. Consistency and monitoring are crucial to achieving a well-balanced and personalized diet for your omnivorous fish.

feeding aquarium fish

What Human Food Can Fish Eat?

Feeding fish human food may sound unconventional, but it’s possible in small quantities and with the right choices. The key is selecting healthy, nutrient-rich options that cater to your fish’s specific diet. In moderation, these foods can provide enjoyable treats or beneficial supplements to their regular meals.

Here’s a list of human foods that some fish can safely consume:

  • Boiled Peas: High in fiber and easy to digest, boiled peas can be fed to fish like goldfish, guppies, and mollies. Make sure to remove the outer skin and chop into small pieces.
  • Rice: Cooked and cooled rice can be fed to some fish in tiny amounts, as it’s a good source of carbohydrates. Make sure the rice is thoroughly cooled and unseasoned.
  • Cooked Vegetables: Fish like cichlids, plecos, and tetras appreciate cooked vegetables such as zucchini, spinach, or lettuce. Blanch or boil the veggies, chop them into appropriate sizes, and observe how the fish react.
  • Fruit: Some fish may enjoy fruit like apples, pears, or berries. Make sure to remove any seeds, chop the fruit into tiny pieces, and offer it sparingly to gauge their interest and prevent overfeeding.
  • Hard-Boiled Egg Yolk: Rich in protein and nutrients, crumbs of hard-boiled egg yolk can be a treat for many tropical fish species. Feed this delicacy in moderation and remove uneaten portions promptly to maintain water quality.

Keep in mind that not all human foods are suitable for all fish species. Research the dietary requirements of your specific fish and maintain a varied and balanced diet, inclusive of their staple store-bought fish food, to fulfill their nutritional needs.

Always introduce new foods gradually, observing any changes in behavior or water quality to ensure the health and enjoyment of your underwater pets.

bread crumbs

Can You Feed Bread to Fish?

Bread, a common staple in our pantries, might seem like a convenient food when you run out of fish food. However, feeding bread to fish is not ideal and should be avoided if possible. Bread lacks the essential nutrients required to maintain a healthy fish. Additionally, it can pose certain risks to their well-being.

Below are some reasons why you should avoid feeding bread to fish:

  • Poor Nutrient Content: Bread does not provide the necessary nutrients fish need, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. A fish’s diet needs to be carefully balanced, and bread falls short in catering to their specific dietary needs.
  • Swelling Risk: Bread expands when it absorbs water, and this expansion can occur in the fish’s stomach, potentially causing discomfort or digestive issues.
  • Water Quality: Bread disintegrates quickly and can contaminate your aquarium’s water. Uneaten bread contributes to ammonia levels, pH fluctuations, and increased risks of harmful bacterial growth – all of which impact the health of your fish.
  • Fish Overfeeding: Fish may find bread deceptively filling, leading to overeating. This can cause issues like bloating, constipation, or even swim bladder problems, especially in fish with small stomachs.

Instead of bread, opt for alternative food sources that cater to your fish’s specific dietary requirements, such as vegetables, fruits, or homemade recipes. Supplementing their diet with store-bought fish food is also essential to maintain a balanced nutrition.

Although fish might eat bread, it is not an ideal or healthy option for feeding your fish. Prioritize providing a varied and nutritious diet for your fish by researching their needs, offering appropriate foods, and monitoring their behavior for optimal health and enjoyment.

cooked rice bowl

Can You Feed Rice to Fish?

Rice might not be the first food that comes to mind when considering fish diets, but it is sometimes used as a supplemental food in small quantities. However, it is crucial to understand that rice is not a suitable replacement for staple fish food, as it lacks various vital nutrients necessary for their optimal health.

Here are some things to consider if you’re contemplating feeding rice to your fish:

  • Cooked and Unseasoned: If you choose to provide rice, ensure it is plain and cooked, without any spices, salt, or oil. Let the rice cool down completely before feeding it to your fish friends.
  • Moderation is Key: Rice should be fed sparingly as a treat or occasional supplement, rather than a primary food source. While it can be suitable for some fish like goldfish, koi, or some tropical fish, it should never replace their regular fish food, as it lacks essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Portion Control: Overfeeding fish can lead to health issues like bloating or changes in water quality. Always offer small portions and monitor your fish’s reactions to the rice.
  • Monitor Water Quality: As with any new food, pay close attention to the impact on water quality. Rice can disintegrate quickly, contributing to the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in the tank. Promptly remove uneaten rice to maintain a clean and healthy environment.

Offering rice to fish can be done on occasion and with proper precautions, but be aware of its limitations as a nutritional source. Maintaining a balanced diet is essential for your fish’s well-being, so opt for foods that cater to their specific dietary requirements and ensure that their primary diet consists of a high-quality fish food.

betta fish without food

How Long Can Fish Survive Without Food?

Fish are surprisingly resilient creatures, and their ability to survive without food varies depending on factors such as species, size, age, and overall health. Understanding how long fish can withstand periods of food deprivation can be helpful, especially when planning a vacation or dealing with an unexpected situation. Still, it’s essential not to put your fish’s well-being at risk.

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Tropical Fish: Most small tropical fish can survive without food for up to a week. However, it’s important to ensure that stable water quality is maintained during this period.
  • Larger Fish: Larger fish often consume more food and possess larger energy reserves. They may be able to survive without food for up to two weeks, although this is not recommended.
  • Goldfish: Goldfish can survive for one to two weeks without food, but rapidly decreasing water quality becomes a significant concern in overcrowded or smaller tanks.
  • Betta Fish: These hardy fish can survive for up to two weeks without food, but it is not a preferred situation. They should be fed regularly to maintain optimal health.

Keep in mind that these survival estimates should not be treated as recommendations, but rather as a reference in case of emergencies or unforeseen circumstances. Regular feeding is essential for maintaining the health, color, and activity level of your fish.

If you are going away for an extended time, consider some alternatives, such as:

  • Vacation Feeders: These slow-releasing food blocks can provide sustenance for your fish in your absence.
  • Automatic Feeders: These devices can be programmed to dispense food on a set schedule.

While fish can survive for varying durations without food, it’s ideal to create a feeding plan that ensures their ongoing nourishment while you’re away. Their health and well-being should remain a priority in all circumstances.


In conclusion, there’s a surprising variety of alternative food options available for fish beyond fish food. With this knowledge, you can offer a diverse and nutritious diet to your aquatic friends. Do you have any personal experiences or questions? Feel free to leave a comment below!

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