How many times do you feed fish in a day?

The number of times you should feed your fish in a day depends on a variety of factors including the species of fish, their age, and the environment they live in. Proper feeding is essential for the health and wellbeing of aquarium fish. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues while underfeeding can cause malnutrition. Finding the right feeding frequency and amount will help keep fish active, growing, and healthy. This article provides general guidelines on how often and how much to feed common aquarium fish species.

How Often Should You Feed Fish?

Most aquarium fish should be fed 1-3 times per day. Here are some general recommendations on feeding frequency for common aquarium fish:

1-2 Times Per Day

– Bettas
– Guppies
– Platies
– Mollies
– Swordtails
– Tetras
– Barbs
– Danios
– Rasboras
– Corydoras Catfish
– Plecos
– Discus
– Angelfish
– Dwarf Cichlids

These fish do well with once or twice daily feedings. This includes most small schooling fish like tetras, rasboras, and danios as well as bettas and livebearers. Feeding once in the morning and once at night is a good routine.

2-3 Times Per Day

– Goldfish
– Oscar
– Jack Dempsey
– Convict Cichlid
– Larger Cichlids
– Arowana

Larger fish and cichlids often appreciate more frequent meals. Feed them twice or three times daily, especially while juveniles are still growing. This helps ensure they get enough food when competing with tank mates.

1-4 Times Per Day

– Gourami
– Rainbowfish
– Bichir
– Pufferfish
– Triggerfish
– Lionfish
– Groupers
– Wrasses
– Tangs
– Anthias
– Dottybacks
– Assessors
– Cardinalfish

Many medium sized species do well with 1-2 feedings per day but can be fed 3-4 times a day if desired. This includes gouramis, pufferfish, triggerfish, and marine fish like tangs and angel fish. Feed more frequently for faster growth.

4-6 Small Meals Daily

– Seahorses
– Pipefish
– Large Angelfish
– Butterflyfish

Some species graze on food throughout the day naturally. Seahorses, pipefish, and some marine fish benefit from 3-6 smaller meals daily. This allows them to feed at their leisure.

Feeding Amount Guidelines

In addition to frequency, providing the right amount of food is crucial. Feed only what fish can consume within 2-3 minutes, 1-2 times daily. Here are more specific guidelines by fish size:

– Small fish like tetras: Start with small pinch of powdered or mini pelleted foods. Offer tiny amounts 3-4 times daily.

– Medium fish 2-4 inches: Offer food amount about size of fish’s eye 1-2 times per day.

– Large fish over 4 inches: Start with thumb tip sized amount 1-2 times daily. Slowly increase amount based on appetite and observation.

– Baby/juvenile fish: Feed smaller amounts 3-4 times daily. Offer finely crushed flakes or powdered foods.

– Herbivores like plecos and cory cats: Supplement diet with vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, shelled peas.

Factors That Influence Feeding Frequency

While the above guidelines provide a general overview on how often to feed aquarium fish, below are some factors that can impact the ideal feeding frequency and amounts for specific tanks:

Fish Species

As noted above, fish species have varying nutritional needs. Bettas and goldfish cannot be fed identical diets. Know nutrition and feeding habits of fish species in tank.

Fish Size

Feed more frequently when raising fry and juvenile fish. They need nutrients for growth. Decrease frequency for larger, adult fish.

Number of Fish

Tanks with many fish may require more frequent, smaller feedings to ensure all fish get food. Feed less often for tanks with just 1-2 fish.


Fish metabolism increases in warmer water. Feed more often and increase amounts in heated tropical tanks. Reduce feeding in cold water setups.

Diet Type

Flake foods and plant matter breakdown more quickly than pellets. Feed flakes more often than slower sinking pellets.

Aquarium Size

Larger tanks generally need more frequent feedings to ensure all fish find food. Feed extra times if fish seem to go hungry.

Aggression Level

Tanks with bossy fish may require multiple small feedings so timid fish can secure food. Target feed shy fish directly.

Signs Your Fish Are Hungry

It can be tricky to identify a perfect feeding amount and schedule from the start. Observe fish behavior before and after meals to determine if adjustments are needed. Here are signs fish want more food:

– Increased activity and begging when people approach tank

– Nipping or eating aquarium plants

– Fighting over food during feedings

– Eating flakes quickly before they can sink

– Rooting through substrate looking for food

– Loss of body conditioning and sunken abdomens

If fish act hungry, try offering an extra feeding daily or increasing amount slightly over 2-3 weeks. Increase gradually to prevent overfeeding.

Signs Your Fish Are Overfed

On the other hand, look for these cues that indicate overfeeding:

– Leftover food accumulating on bottom of tank

– Fish spitting out food

– Lethargic fish that do not eat all food provided

– Fish with swollen abdomens but skinny tails and heads

– Increased algae growth and cloudy water

– High nitrate levels during water testing

If fish are not eating their meals completely, reduce frequency, amount, or both gradually. Target feed shy fish to ensure they still get food.

General Feeding Best Practices

In addition to amount and frequency, follow these tips for happy, healthy fish:

– Offer a variety of quality foods including flakes, pellets, frozen, freeze dried, live foods

– Avoid overfeeding with automated feeders

– Target feed shy, slow moving fish directly

– Fast 1 day a week for fish health

– Remove uneaten food after 5-10 minutes

– Store foods properly to preserve nutrients

– Soak dry foods before feeding for less waste

– Feed more often when raising fry or conditioning fish for breeding

– Do not feed if fish recently ate live foods which digest slowly

Monitoring Water Quality

Water testing is the best way to monitor effects of your feeding routine. Test weekly and look for:

– Ammonia and nitrite: Should always be 0 ppm

– Nitrate: Under 20 ppm in established tanks

– pH: Match needs of your fish species

– KH and GH: Aim for consistency

High nitrate or alkaline pH can indicate overfeeding. Adjust foods and frequency if levels rise. Target feed, fast, or increase tank maintenance to get back on track.


Determining the optimal feeding amount and frequency for aquarium fish requires observation, patience, and routine water testing. Start with general guidelines based on fish size and species but fine tune over time based on behavior and water parameters. Adjust to allow for growth, appetite changes, and competition. Aim to feed fish a varied diet in amounts they can consume within a few minutes 1-3 times daily. This will help ensure all fish get the nutrition they need without creating excess waste. Pay attention to clues from fish and water tests to identify when adjustments may be necessary. With a thoughtful, consistent feeding routine your fish will thrive.

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