How to Know When to Feed a Fish

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

Fish make beautiful and low-maintenance pets. But unlike dogs or cats, they can't tell you if they're hungry. It's difficult for owners to gauge how often and how much food to feed their pet fish. However, there are several signs that your fish are being over- or underfed. Read the tips listed below and learn about how to know when to feed a fish.

  • Fish feed Feeding your fish five to seven times per week will ensure a healthy school of fish. While there are many types of fish feed on the market, experts assert that feeding your fish pellets is the best way to ensure a complete diet. The size of the pellet should be small enough for your fish to consume. Though flakes are a popular form of fish feed, they often lead the owner to underfeed the fish [source: Francis-Floyd]. Discuss with an aquarium store associate about the best type of food to provide for your fish and how much to feed them.
  • How they eat An excellent way to know if you're providing your fish with the proper amount of food is to watch them after a feeding. Fish will eat as much as they need, so dispense the food in a few servings. When they start spitting out the food, they've eaten enough. If there is food remaining in the tank and floating to the bottom, you're giving your fish too much feed.
  • Aquarium clues The appearance of your aquarium will give you clues as to whether you're feeding your fish too much. If food is accumulating in the tank and the filter, it's a sign that you're providing too much food. Also, if red or black algae are growing on the glass surface of the aquarium within a week of cleaning, it's another sign that you're overfeeding [source: Aquarium Pros].
  • Scheduling Most fish only need to be fed once a day. If you're planning on being away for a few days it's fine to feed your fish well shortly before you leave and let them do without while you're away. Most pet fish can go for seven to 10 days without food [source: Lewbart].

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