What Can Fish Eat Besides Fish Food? Discover the Top 5 Foods for Your Aquatic Pets

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Feeding fish is often a task that pet owners enjoy. Choosing the right food and watching their aquatic pets devour it can be satisfying. However, have you ever wondered what else your fish can eat besides regular fish food? It’s essential to diversify their diet to avoid malnutrition, obesity, and even boredom.

This blog post aims to introduce you to five alternative foods for your fish that can make mealtime more enjoyable and nutritious. We will explore the advantages of each option and how they relate to the health of different species of fish.

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” -Maimonides

Whether you’re new to owning fish or have been doing it for years, truly understanding what our underwater friends need to thrive is always rewarding. By learning about other options besides traditional fish food, you’ll provide them with an exciting diet that meets all their nutritional demands.

So let’s dive in and discover what foods you can give your fish besides fish food!


When it comes to feeding fish, vegetables may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, many species of fish – especially herbivorous or omnivorous ones – can benefit from a diet that includes some plant matter. Here are some types of vegetables that you can consider feeding your fish:

Leafy greens

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and lettuce are great sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals for fish. They are also usually low in carbohydrates, which makes them suitable for many different types of fish. To feed your fish leafy greens, blanch them quickly in boiling water and then chop them into small pieces. You can then drop the pieces directly into the aquarium or mix them with some fish food.

“Spinach contains essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, and calcium.” -Dr. Catherine Clinton

Root vegetables

Root vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and yams are another good option for feeding fish. These vegetables are rich in vitamin A, which is important for maintaining healthy skin and eyesight. They are also relatively easy to prepare – simply peel and chop them up into small cubes or slices before adding them to your fish’s diet.


Cucurbits such as zucchini, cucumber, and pumpkin are also popular choices for feeding fish. These vegetables are low in fat and high in water content, making them ideal for helping fish stay hydrated. Like leafy greens, cucurbits should be blanched and chopped into small pieces before being added to the aquarium or mixed with fish food.

It’s worth noting that while vegetables can make up a valuable part of a fish’s diet, they should not be the sole source of their nutrition. It’s important to supplement any vegetable-based diet with high-quality fish food that contains all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that your fish need to thrive.

“As with humans, a balanced diet is key to keeping aquarium fish healthy.” -Dr. Jessie Sanders


While most people think that fish only eat other fish or aquatic creatures, they can also enjoy insects. In fact, many fish species in the wild mainly feed on insects to supplement their diet. There are a variety of insect options available for feeding your pet fish.


One type of insect that can make a good food option for your fish is beetles. Many different types of beetles can be fed to your fish from ground beetles to mealworm beetles. Beetles are rich in protein as well as essential nutrients such as fat and fiber.

You can buy canned beetle larvae or whole beetles from pet stores and online retailers. However, you can also raise your own beetles specifically for feeding your fish. Raising beetles at home in containers is easy and affordable. You can use wheat bran to provide them with adequate nutrition, and keep them hydrated by providing tidbits of apple slices or carrots.


Another interesting insect that fish can consume is butterflies. These flying creatures are particularly attractive to larger-sized fish such as Oscar fish or Cichlids. Some butterfly species have high nutritional value and contain plenty of protein which is crucial for growing healthy fish.

As butterflies typically fly during the day, it might be hard to catch one before your fish become hungry. Pet stores and online retailers offer dried butterfly pupae which your fish will love just as much as fresh ones. Ensure that they come from reputable sources to avoid diseases and contamination.

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.” -Albert Einstein


When it comes to feeding your fish, algae can be a great option. Not only is it a natural food source for many species of fish, but it also contains important nutrients that can help keep them healthy and happy.

Green algae

Green algae are perhaps the most common type of algae found in aquariums, and they are often a favorite food among herbivorous species of fish such as plecos, certain types of cichlids, and some tetras. You don’t need to do anything special to cultivate green algae either – it will typically grow naturally on surfaces inside your tank if there is enough light and nutrients present.

If you have a larger tank with plenty of space, you may consider adding a group of algae-eating fish like Siamese Algae Eaters or bristlenose plecos to help control algae growth. Just remember that these fish still require a balanced diet and should not rely solely on algae.

Red algae

Unlike green algae, red algae tend to be more difficult to grow and less commonly consumed by fish. However, some species – particularly those in reef tanks – may enjoy nibbling on these nutrient-rich organisms.

In addition, red algae can provide other benefits beyond direct consumption. They play an important role in maintaining water quality and overall ecosystem health thanks to their ability to absorb excess nitrates and phosphates from the water column. This can help reduce the risk of harmful algae blooms and promote a more stable environment for your fish.

“The presence of favored food sources combined with pristine water conditions make perfect living environments for saltwater fish.” – Richard Smith, author of “Common Marine Food Fishes of Southeast Asia”

To encourage the growth of red algae in your tank, make sure to provide plenty of light and a steady supply of nutrients. You may also want to consider adding certain species of macroalgae to help with filtration and nutrient uptake.

Algae can be an excellent addition to your fish’s diet and overall aquarium health. Just make sure to monitor your water quality carefully and avoid overfeeding to prevent any negative effects on the ecosystem.


Feeding fish a diet that consists of only commercial fish food can become boring for them, and it does not offer the variety of essential vitamins and minerals they need. Adding fruits to their diet is a great way to provide a tasty treat and additional nutrients.


Berries are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, which helps stimulate digestion in fish. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries all make great additions to your aquarium vegetation. Cut these up into small pieces before placing them into your tank.

“Blueberries contain valuable flavonoids called anthocyanins, which give them their characteristic blue-purple color and act as powerful antioxidants.”

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C, which promotes tissue growth and healing in fish. Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits all contain high levels of this important nutrient. Be sure to remove the rind to avoid harmful pesticides or other chemicals on the fruit; otherwise, you may contaminate your tank’s water.

“Vitamin C plays an important role in collagen production, iron absorption, immune function, weight loss, and mental health.”

Tropical fruits

Adding tropical fruits, such as mangoes, papayas, and pineapples, to your fish’s diet adds natural sugar to their diet, improving the overall taste of their meals. These fruits contain essential vitamins like A and K, which help reduce inflammation and promote healthy vision.

“Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme shown to have anti-inflammatory and proteolytic effects, aiding in digestion and reducing swelling.”

Stone fruits

Peaches, plums, and apricots are all great options for fish food. Stone fruits contain fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C which can promote healthy development in your pet fish’s immune system. However, be sure to avoid using the pits as they can become lodged in your fish’s throat or digestive tract if swallowed.

“Apricots provide an ample supply of beta-carotene, which may help prevent cancer.”
  • Overall, adding various fruits to your fish’s diet offers myriad benefits, improving health, and increasing overall enjoyment.
  • Remember to always chop fruit into small pieces to ensure that it does not get stuck in your fish’s gills or create waste buildup in the aquarium.
  • Fruit should only supplement a fish’s normal commercial diet, not replace it entirely.

Pellets and Flakes

When it comes to feeding our aquatic pets, commercial fish food is the go-to choice for most fish owners. However, there are times when we run out of fish food or want to provide our fish with some variety in their diet. Here are some options for what fish can eat besides fish food:

Pellets for herbivores

If your aquarium contains herbivorous fish such as plecos or mollies, they will thrive on a mainly vegetarian diet. You can offer them pellets made from high-quality vegetable matter. Such pellets may contain spirulina, seaweed, kelp, spinach, peas, zucchini, or other green vegetables. These pellets typically have all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that a herbivore would need in its diet.

“Spirulina algae has long been recognized as an excellent nutritional supplement rich in protein content, essential fatty acids, iron and beta-carotene.” – Journal of Aquatic Food Product Technology

Pellets for carnivores

For carnivorous fish like cichlids or angelfish, opt for pellets made up mostly of fish meal and shrimp, which mimic their wild diet. Dry shrimp, krill, and worms are also good options, mimicking their natural prey. Be sure to purchase high-quality pellets because cheaper brands may not have enough moisture that freshwater carnivores, especially those in the wild, require.

“Quality matters most when choosing the right food for your pet, so invest in products that use fresh and human-grade ingredients.” – Dr. Ivan Bandric, veterinarian at Animal Clinic Subotica

Flakes for herbivores

While flakes remain the staple among most fish owners, we often forget that there are other types of flakes available in the market besides the generic ones. For herbivores, go for specially formulated vegetable-based flakes that contain spirulina, seaweed, kale, or spinach. These flakes will give your aquatic pets a range of nutrients that they might not get from eating simple fish flakes.

“Spirulina is one of the most nutritious foods which consist of vitamins (A, B1-B6, K and E), minerals (iron, selenium, magnesium) and antioxidants.” – Dr. Cornelia Georgescu, veterinarian at Exotic Pet Clinic

Flakes for carnivores

If you have carnivorous fish like barbs or puffers, select high-quality commercially made food flakes with ingredients such as dried shrimp and krill. You should be careful when using meat-based food because fish fed by it works better only if balanced correctly with plant-based fibers.

“The protein requirement varies among different species of fish depending on metabolic rate and feeding habits. Fish require about 30% digestible protein in their diets.” – FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department

It is crucial to provide a varied diet for our freshwater pets to keep them healthy. However, before offering alternate options, make sure to avoid giving them anything that may cause health issues. Remember always to take into account the size of aquarium inhabitants and do research on what food is compatible with the varying sizes of each fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Natural Foods That Fish Can Eat?

Fish can eat a variety of natural foods including insects, algae, plankton, and small crustaceans. Some fish also enjoy snails and worms. Providing a diverse diet for your fish is important to ensure they receive all of the necessary nutrients they need to thrive. Live foods can also be a great addition to their diet, such as brine shrimp, daphnia and bloodworms. Other natural foods that can be included in their diet include spirulina, kale, spinach, and other leafy greens.

How Can You Prepare Vegetables For Your Fish?

Vegetables can be a great addition to your fish’s diet. Before feeding them to your fish, it is important to blanch them first to make them easier to digest. Simply boil the vegetables for a few minutes until they are soft, then rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Some great vegetables to feed your fish include zucchini, cucumber, peas, and spinach. You can also mix the vegetables with some fish food to make it more appealing to your fish.

What Are Some Insects That Fish Can Eat?

Many fish species enjoy eating insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, and mealworms. These insects can be purchased at pet stores or caught in the wild. Live insects are a great source of protein for your fish and can help keep them healthy. Other insects that can be fed to fish include fruit flies, ants, and beetles. However, it is important to ensure that any insects you feed your fish are free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

What Are Some Fruits That Fish Can Eat?

Fruits can be a great addition to your fish’s diet. Some fruits that are safe for fish to eat include bananas, apples, grapes, and watermelon. Before feeding fruits to your fish, it is important to remove any seeds or pits that could be a choking hazard. It is also important to cut the fruit into small pieces to make it easier for your fish to eat. Fruits should be given to your fish in moderation, as they are high in sugar and can cause health problems if given in excess.

Can Fish Eat Meat Or Poultry?

Some fish species, such as catfish and oscars, can eat meat or poultry. However, it is important to ensure that the meat is cooked and free of any seasonings or additives that could be harmful to your fish. Fish should not be fed raw meat, as it can contain harmful bacteria that could make them sick. It is also important to feed meat or poultry to your fish in moderation, as it is high in fat and can cause health problems if given in excess.

What Are Some Homemade Fish Food Recipes?

Homemade fish food can be a great way to provide your fish with a nutritious and diverse diet. Some great recipes for homemade fish food include gel food made from blended fish, shrimp, and vegetables, or a mixture of crushed pellets and freeze-dried krill. You can also make your own fish treats by blending up fruits and vegetables and then freezing them in small portions. It is important to research the nutritional needs of your fish before making homemade fish food, and to ensure that you are providing them with all of the necessary nutrients they need to thrive.

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