How much should I feed my fish?

Overfeeding is without doubt the most common mistake fish keepers make. This applies both to ponds containing Koi Carp and/or general pond fish, as well as aquariums with cold water, tropical or marine fish in.

Overfeeding your fish clogs up your filtration system, making it work harder. In circumstances where the filtration system is saturated (in terms of waste handling), excess food and/or fish waste will break down into toxins which are harmful to fish.

Naturally, fish of all types are instinctively on the lookout for food at all times, and as a result will eat whenever there is a source of food available. On the contrary, fish can quite comfortably go for several days without food without succumbing to any ill effects. Therefore, given their opportunistic nature, whenever you offer your pond or aquarium fish food, they will usually start to consume it regardless of whether they require the nutrition. Fish quickly learn who brings food to an aquarium or pond, and will often beg for food by coming to the surface of the pond or aquarium… Do not be fooled by this.

Food which is not consumed and ends up in the filter combined with additional fish waste eventually turns into ammonia. This in turn, leads to elevated levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in the pond/aquarium which can lower the pH and available oxygen levels. In instances where this happens, the water becomes toxic to the fish and becomes a very stressful environment to live in.

The correct feeding frequency will vary based on the species of fish, but as a rule of thumb most pond/aquarium fish do quite well on one/two feedings per day. It is worth noting, when dealing with external pond fish such as Koi Carp and goldfish (etc.) feeding frequency will reduce with temperature and feeding should stop all together if the water temperature drops below 9°C.

Once a fish consumes food, it generally takes around 16-24 hours for the food to move through the digestive system, so the key is to feed small and top up if required. In terms of ‘how much’, we would recommend feeding fish no more than the fish will completely consume in a given time frame as per the below:

  • Larger pond fish such as Koi Carp – 5 minutes
  • General aquarium fish – 60 seconds.

If you are finding uneaten fish food in your pond or aquarium it is best to skim this out promptly using either a siphon or a net. If you are finding food at the bottom of your pond/aquarium, then this is a clear sign that you are over feeding.

As a final note, please keep in mind this is only a guide. Research the fish species you have/are interested in, and feed accordingly. While the food quantity is important, the food quality and type can also be critical depending on the species. As an example, bottom feeding pond fish such as Sturgeon will require a sinking pellet which is suitable for their mouth size. Whatever food you end up choosing, make sure it’s balanced to provide the vitamins, proteins and minerals your fish require. Small amounts of high nutrition feed are better for your fish than large amounts of cheap food.

For any questions related to the above, please don't hesitate to contact Complete Koi & Aquatics:

Tel: 01204 582105
Address: Complete Koi & Aquatics, Unit 4, Tonge Bridge Way, Bolton, BL2 6BD




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