What Do Freshwater Fish Eat?

Freshwater fish spend most if not all of their lives in freshwater. You can usually see these fishes in wetlands, lakes, and rivers or bodies of water with a salinity of 1.05% or less. This environment is different from other water conditions like saltwater primarily due to the water level’s salinity.

There are about 41.24% of fish species that live in freshwater. Today, freshwater fish is at risk due to human activity. Overfishing, dam building, dynamite fishing, marine pollution, and habitat loss are just some of the problems being faced by these marine animals.

What are the kinds of freshwater fish?

There are some freshwater fish that are called anadromous. Salmon and trout are examples of these fishes, and they are distinct because they will hatch in freshwater then head out to the sea. They will live in the sea until they come back to freshwater to reproduce.

Then there is the other freshwater fish that does the complete opposite of the anadromous. The catadromous fish are animals that would hatch at sea but live their life in freshwater. When it is time to reproduce, they head back home to the ocean. The freshwater eel is an example of a catadromous fish.

What is the personality of freshwater fishes?

Freshwater fishes can be as colorful as saltwater fishes. They can be as striking, too, making them aesthetically pleasing when placed in home-based or commercial aquariums. These forgiving critters are easy to take care of. One thing you will admire about these creatures is their toughness and sturdiness. It might be because of having to survive in rivers and lakes, which are their natural homes, but these small critters are adaptive to their environment and would thrive wonderfully so long as you give it attention and love.

What are the best freshwater fishes for aquariums?

Having an aquarium at your home is having the best of both worlds – a decorative and colorful work of live art and at the same time helps you reduce your stress and lower down your blood pressure. Not only is it beneficial to the eyes, but it also has its health perks. It doesn’t matter if you are an expert hobbyist or are just starting your aquarium.

You have a wide selection of the best freshwater fishes to add or start your little marine ecosystem. There are thousands of freshwater fishes that you can use, but here are the top ten freshwater fishes for you: Neon Tetra, Guppies, Mollies, Goldfish, Betta Fish, Angelfish, Golden Dwarf Barbs, Zebra Danios, and Platies.

betta fish

What do freshwater fish eat?

When you have freshwater fishes in your tank, you can feed them with dry food like fish flakes. This is the most common food that most owners use. Dry food can be in the form of pellets and granules and, depending on the type, can either float or sink inside your tank. It is essential to know what kind of freshwater fish you also have to provide them with the correct diet. Some fishes enjoy munching on aquarium plants, so just in case, you also need to clip some vegetables like cucumbers and zucchinis inside for them.

What are other options for fish food?

You first need to identify if your freshwater fish is a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore before deciding on what food is the best for your little swimmers. Aside from the fish pellets and flakes, which are considered dry foods, you also have the option to supplement your fishes’ diet with frozen food. Some fishes would have been happy snacking on bloodworms, plankton, mussels, shrimps, and prawns. There is also an alternative to using freeze-dried food if there is frozen fish, which are Mysis shrimp and Tubifex worms as freeze-dried cubes. These are perfect for carnivorous fishes because it is exceptionally nutritious.

Another option for you, especially for larger freshwater fishes, is live food like ghost shrimp, feeder fish, worms, and crickets. Lastly, for your herbivore fishes, you can put in some greens on one side of your tank or fasten them using your gravel. You can use lettuce and spinach for this. Just remember to take out the uneaten veggies within 24 hours. If you have any Plecostomus fish, they’ll love these snacks.

Is live food better than commercial flakes and pellets?

Commercial fish food is not at all bad. It is formulated to meet most of the basic nutritional needs of your fish. But live food has a significant role in filling the gaps that these commercial foods cannot provide. Live foods have a unique high nutrient content that is not modified with commercial food processing.

The usual pellets, freeze-dried foods, and flakes usually lose a huge chunk of their nutrition because of the food and manufacturing processes that it goes through. Another benefit of live food is they are the natural carrier of vitamins and minerals. What the live food has on their bodies, they pass that along to your fishes when eaten. You can by no doubt use commercial ready fish food, but it would be best to supplement it with live food two or three times a week.

What are the cons of live food?

One obvious disadvantage of using live food is its cost. It is more expensive than commercial fish food. This is one reason why most hobbyists would learn the process of cultivating themselves to have a supply of live food without having to shell out too much on a weekly or monthly basis.

Another reason why some are hesitant about using live food or at least not regular in giving their fish live food is because you can’t hoard this kind of food. Unlike commercial pellets that you can store for months, live food can only last for no longer a week. Also, there is the risk of feeding your fish with some harmful bacteria. If the live food you got is infected with other toxic pathogens, your fishes can get it directly from the food and get sick.

What are the differences in how freshwater fish eat?

Besides knowing your freshwater fish’s dietary type, you also need to know how your fish is physically designed to eat their food. Yes, there are three main ways fish eat their food. By knowing this, you can choose the correct kind of fish that will meet your critters’ needs.

The bottom-feeders are characterized by their downturned mouths. They snatch their food once it sinks in the bottom of your aquarium. There are also the surface-feeders who have upturned mouths. These fishes skim the water’s surface to get their food. Lastly are the midrange-feeders who have a mouth that seems to appear straight from their faces. They feed by gathering all the food as it falls through the tank.

What if I have a variety of fish in my aquarium?

 Since the biology of various fishes is different, then it means that they would require diverse food in the tank. Don’t worry, though, since you can use a combination of food for your fishes. You can use floating foods, rapidly sinking foods, and slow sinking foods of any different types of fish food. This process can ensure that all your fishes are getting the appropriate dietary needs that they need.


How much should I feed my fish?

Overfeeding your freshwater fish is a common mistake, especially for beginners. These fishes don’t require a massive amount of food to thrive and survive. Giving too much food can lead to bloating and even indigestion, which can be fatal to your little critters.

Additionally, uneaten fish food will also sink and stay at the bottom of your aquarium and, in time, can form organic debris. Over time, this will break down and produce ammonia, which is toxic to your fishes. Do not feed your fish with too much that they can consume in a 3 to 5 minutes time period.

Feeding your adult fish once a day is enough for them to meet their nutritional needs, or you can feed them multiple times but in a smaller amount. Young fishes need to be fed three to four times a day. Herbivores have smaller stomachs, so they can’t have a lot of food. They would opt to do what they would normally do when in the river or lakes, which is to nibble on some algae or plants.

But the rule of thumb is, you should only feed your fish with food that they can eat in five minutes. You can see if there are plenty of uneaten fish food so you can make adjustments on the next feeding.


Where to buy food for my freshwater fishes?

You can readily and conveniently get your stash of fish food – almost all kinds from pet stores. Most groceries also carry these products, so it is not hard to get food for your fish. It is affordable and accessible. Conveniently, these can also be ordered online in major eCommerce platforms or even in local virtual Marketplaces.




  1. https://www.thesprucepets.com/feeding-your-aquarium-fish-1380920
  2. http://www.fao.org/fishery/static/FAO_Training/FAO_Training/General/x6709e/x6709e10.htm#:~:text=3.,greatly%20depends%20on%20water%20quality.
  3. https://www.petco.com/content/petco/PetcoStore/en_US/pet-services/resource-center/food-nutrition/3-tips-for-feeding-freshwater-fish.html
  4. https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/what-do-fish-eat/
Rita Wagenerhttps://thepetkeepers.com
Rita is a resident paw expert at Pet Keepers. A registered & licensed dog trainer, she also has a degree in animal nutrition, and runs her own dog training course.

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