December 20, 2022
Overfeeding fish is so easy to do. First, we forget how small they are: our appetites are much bigger than their stomachs! Second, feeding is one of the only ways we can interact with the fish, so we tend to do it too often. Third, fish quickly learn that our approach often means food is on the way. They come to the front and top of the tank, appearing eager and hungry. Don't be tempted to think this is an indication that they are famished and need food immediately. Overfeeding is definitely too much of a good thing, and can lead to serious consequences.
Problems associated with overfeeding
Accumulated uneaten food and fish waste pose a number of problems, as listed below. First, they can result in lethal changes in the water chemistry. The breakdown products are toxic and can stress fish, making them prone to other diseases. Overeating, itself, can cause health problems. Finally, the pond or tank can become very unsightly, not pleasing to the eye, or the fish.
To avoid problems with overfeeding
The first step to avoiding overfeeding is to understand how easy it is to do, and how harmful it can be. This will give us the motivation to develop good habits when it comes to feeding our fish. Try to incorporate the following tips to prevent overfeeding:
A common error is to feed according to tank size - adding more food to a larger tank, even if it has the same or fewer inhabitants as a smaller tank. Always feed based on the number of inhabitants, not the size of the tank. Regardless of the size of the tank, spread the food out over the surface of the water to allow more fish to eat at the same time.
If switching to a new food, feed sparingly. Fish may take time to identify the new diet as food.
If you know or suspect overfeeding has occurred, perform a partial water change by siphoning 25% of the water from the bottom of the tank. Use the siphon to pick up as much debris from the substrate as possible.
When leaving on vacation, you have several options:
For more tips on caring for your aquarium while you are away, see "Going on Vacation? Automate Basic Aquarium Functions."
Overfeeding is the most common problem that affects aquarium and pond owners. For the health and enjoyment of your fish, Don't Feed the Fish... too much.