What Can You Feed Fish Other Than Fish Food? (Best Alternatives)

Wondering what you can feed fish other than fish food? This guide is for you!

If you have run out of fish food, there are alternatives you can use to keep your aquarium fish well-fed.

The good news is that most fish can go for up to 1 week without the need to eat. Actually, some hardy species can go for up to 10 days without food.

It would be best if you understood your fish’s feeding needs to choose a suitable alternative other than fish food. You’ll realize that you’re not a bad pet owner if you don’t feed your fish on schedule. Of course, this does not mean you should habitually skip your fish’s feeding time.

With all the alternatives available, you have more than enough food options to cater to your fish’s food requirements.

pet fish food alternatives

What Are Your Fish’s Feeding Needs?

Fish are of different types – some are carnivorous, others are omnivorous, and others are herbivorous.

The type of fish you keep determines its feeding needs. The food you give your pet fish should be palatable and easily digestible.

It should also be nutrient-rich to ensure your fish remains healthy and well-adjusted.

If you don’t have fish food readily available, ensure that you choose alternatives that won’t harm your fish.

Some fish food alternatives have been known to cause ammonia pollution, kidney infections, and bloating.

The good news is that you’ll get healthy and wholesome alternatives by carefully selecting fish food alternatives.

Such alternatives are made of natural raw ingredients geared toward providing your fish with essential nutrients.

How Often Should You Feed Your own Pet Fish?

How often you feed your pet fish depends on age, health status, and the type of fish. For example, sick fish eat less frequently than healthy ones.

However, it is generally accepted that going by age is the surest way of determining how often to feed your fish.

Here’s a rough idea of how often you should feed your fish:

  • Newborn fry – 4 times daily for the first 1 month of their lives.
  • Juveniles – 2 to 3 times daily.
  • Adult fish – twice daily.

How Much Should You Feed Your Fish?

Newbies make the mistake of overfeeding their pet fish. You should be careful not to fall into this trap as it may cause health issues to your fish.

Generally, you should give your fish all the fish flakes it can eat in thirty minutes. Anything above this counts as overfeeding.

If you’re feeding your fish alternative foodstuffs such as meat, fruits, and veggies, provide your fish will all the food they can eat in 5 minutes.

Any leftovers after this time should be removed from the tank. Otherwise, your fish may overfeed, leading to bloating or constipation.

Also, leftover fruits and veggies decompose quickly, giving rise to a host of other health issues.

What is the Best Food for Your Pet Fish?

Ordinarily, you should restock the fish food before it is depleted. However, here are some nutritious foods you can consider feeding your pet fish.

Freshwater Fish Food

This store-bought type of food provides a well-balanced diet for your fish. Freshwater fish food keeps your fish well-satisfied and healthy.

This food is also palatable, and your fish will enjoy eating it.

Saltwater Fish Food

This type of fish is most appropriate for saltwater fish. If you keep this type of fish, you can confidently feed them saltwater fish food.

Many saltwater fish keepers prefer to supplement this type of meal with suitable alternatives. Others prefer to grow corals in the tank, making the fish’s life more enjoyable.

Enriched Fish Food

This type of fish food is best suited for fish battling health challenges. For example, if your fish is just recovering from an infection, enriched fish food boosts his immunity.

An excellent example of enriched fish food is fortified probiotic-packed pellets. This food is particularly important if your pet’s immunity has been compromised.

What Can You Feed Fish Other Than Fish Food? (Best Alternatives)

Don’t panic if you discover that you’ve run out of fish food flakes. Surprisingly, you can use some alternatives readily available in your home to feed your pet fish.

The good thing about these alternatives is your fish gets to taste something new. You’ll also discover that alternative fish foods are cost-effective.

However, you must ensure that every alternative you offer your pet fish is safe and nutritious.

Any aquarist can run out of the traditional foods they’ve been feeding their fish. With the right mindset, however, you’ll discover new, calorie-rich sources of nutrition for your pet.

Alternative fish foods should offer a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. This is the best you can do for your pet fish, considering he is going to spend the rest of his life with you.

Although you may not know it, fish get bored by the same type of food. Your fish will thank you if you can offer it palatable alternatives.

At the same time, you may be surprised to realize that your pet fish will readily take to the new type of food.

However, as we noted earlier, it’s important you understand whether your fish is an omnivore, carnivore, or herbivore.

Here’s a list of common aquarium fish you’re likely to find in our homes or offices:

What to Feed Your Carnivorous Fish

Examples of carnivorous pet fish include Betta, Killifish, Discus, Oscar, and Angelfish.

Carnivorous fish thrive on meat and meat products. Therefore, feeding your carnivorous pet fish vegetable matter would be a mistake because they can’t digest it.

So, although you may see a few carnivorous fish eating vegetable matter, they simply cannot benefit from them.

Also, the digestive tract of these fish is too small to carry out the laborious work of digesting veggies.

At the same time, avoid feeding your carnivorous fish fatty foods, as this will interfere with their heart and liver.

Try crickets, snails, mealworms, daphnia, bloodworms, and brine shrimp to keep your carnivorous fish happy.

The good thing about these foods is that they are readily available either as live or frozen diets. Alternatively, you could try something more exotic that your fish will find unique and tasty.

Such treats include chicken scraps, table shrimp, whitefish, beef heart, and organs.

Closely observe your fish to see whether he finds the alternative foods palatable. What one fish may find tasty can be distasteful to another.

Also, carnivorous fish can be pretty picky when trying new food.

Take lots of care that you don’t feed your fish fatty meals. Carnivorous fish should not be provided a higher fat concentration than 6%.

This is to protect its heart, kidney, liver, and reproductive organs.

Are White Fish Fillets Good for Carnivorous Fish?

Carnivorous fish such as betta fish and Killifish feed on smaller fish in their natural setting. This means that your pet fish in captivity will enjoy meat treats every now and then.

White fish fillets are not only tasty but are highly nutritious. They are also low in fat content, which is good for the overall well-being of your carnivorous fish.

White fillets are also appropriate because they are cost-effective and readily available. Your carnivorous fish will enjoy the following examples of white fish fillet – Coley, cod, and tilapia.

To feed your carnivorous fish with white fish fillet, you simply need to defrost the diet beforehand. It would also be a good idea to chop the fish fillet into manageable pieces.

What to Feed Your Herbivorous Fish Other Than Fish Food

Examples of common herbivorous aquarium fish include some Cichlids, Surgeon fish, bristle nose plecos, Silver Dollar fish, and Parrot fish.

Herbivores actually thrive on herbivores. However, a good number of fish nibble on veggies without being herbivores.

In case you run out of fish flakes, herbivores will exclusively feed on live plants. A herbivorous fish has a long digestive system than carnivores.

This system is designed to digest plants. Also, unlike carnivores, herbivores have a smaller stomachs.

This makes it easy for herbivores to digest steamed or boiled root veggies such as potatoes, pumpkin, cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli.

Other foods you can feed your herbivore aquarium fish include some fruits (such as mangoes and apples), lettuce, softened peas, spirulina, and edible live aquatic plants (Brazilian waterweed, duckweed, etc.)

It is easier to feed herbivorous and omnivorous fish alternative food. This is because, unlike carnivores, these two are less picky eaters.

What to Feed Your Omnivorous Fish Other Than Fish Food

Examples of omnivorous aquarium fish include barb, tetra, guppy, goldfish, and molly fish.

In the wild, omnivorous fish thrive on an omnivorous diet, such as insects, insect larvae, and live plants. As such, it is only fitting to feed your omnivorous fish this diet.

All the same, some omnivorous fish prefer meat and meat products. So it’s okay to feed your pet this diet if that is what he prefers.

This is because omnivores can process both meat and live plants. As such, this is the easiest type of fish to feed if you run out of fish food.

If you don’t have fish flakes readily available, you can opt for protein-rich alternatives for your omnivore aquarium fish.

These include snails, insect larvae, shrimp, crabs, copepods, and crayfish.

You could also augment these diets with veggies and greens. Examples of these include cucumber, broccoli, lettuce, steamed or boiled cauliflower, pumpkin, and boiled or steamed potatoes.

Your omnivorous fish will also enjoy a diet of edible aquatic plants, such as duckweed, Hygrophila, and Egeria densa.

Most omnivorous aquarium fish will also relish a meal of egg yolk. However, don’t leave egg yolk in the tank for too long, as it could change the water chemistry.

All the same, no two aquarium fish are the same. As such, you need to understand the needs of your fish to know exactly what to feed it.

For best results, you can make your pet fish fast for a couple of days before feeding him the alternative diet.

Bear in mind that alternative diets should not be a staple. These foods are only meant to provide your fish with tasty alternative treats.

What’s the Best Homemade Fish Food?

Homemade fish food provides you with a great way to provide your fish pet with an alternative diet. The good thing about this kind of diet is that you get to choose the ingredients you want to go into the meal.

Also, homemade fish food is an excellent way to cut costs. This is more so if you have many pet fish you want to feed.

Getting your pet fish used to alternative fish food as early as possible is a good idea. But, of course, you must take into account your fish’s dietary needs as you prepare this diet.

Ensure that the diet consists of the right quantities of vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional needs.

You can prepare these diets in advance, and keep them in your freezer to occasionally give to your fish as a treat.

Here’s a look at some typical diets you can prepare for your pet fish at home:

Homemade Diet for Carnivores

To make a homemade food jelly for your carnivorous pet fish, follow these instructions:


  • 1 cup organs
  • 1 cup shrimp
  • 1 cup white fish


Puree the meat and mix it thoroughly well. Add 1 cup of hydrated granulated gelatin. Store in a freezer until when it’s needed.

Homemade Fish Food Jelly for Omnivores

This recipe is best suited for voracious omnivores that should devour the meal. Don’t leave this meal for too long in the tank, as it could mess up the water chemistry.


  • ½ cup white fish such as bass, Pollock, and cod.
  • ½ cup shrimp.
  • ½ cup leafy greens.
  • ½ cup blanched peas.
  • ½ cup cucumber.
  • 2/3 cup granulated unsweetened gelatin.


  1. Blend all the ingredients into a fine puree.
  2. Hydrate the gelatin by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Mix the hydrated gelatin with the puree in step 1 above.
  4. Freeze the mixture and drop a chunk of it into the tank.
  5. If there’s any leftover block after 15 minutes, remove it from the tank.

Can I Feed My Fish Human Food?

Yes, it’s possible to feed your fish human food. However, as you select the food for your pet’s diet, ensure the meal is safe and nutritious.

The worst you’d not want to do is to provide your pet with a human diet that does not add value. So here’s a look at some human food that your fish pet will enjoy.

Unprocessed Fresh Food

You can share your meals with your pet fish. But, of course, you may have to pick on selected ingredients instead of providing him with the entire diet.

Examples of unprocessed food you can offer your pet fish include veggies, fruits, and greens. Of course, you can also give it meat as long as it is fat-free.

Avoid giving your fish watery or oily food. The food should be of the right texture. Ensure you don’t feed carnivores greens as they can digest this diet.

In the same way, avoid feeding meaty foods to your herbivorous fish.

Unseasoned or Cooked Food

This type of food is minimally processed. It includes cooked greens and veggies such as carrots, peas, cauliflower, and pumpkin.

Herbivorous and omnivorous fish also do very well with steamed or boiled potatoes. This can provide a very appropriate alternative to fish flakes.

Whatever you do, never feed seasoned food to your pet fish. This means any food with salt and spices should be avoided as it’s likely to do more harm than good.

At the same time, you should consider that some fish cannot digest grains eaten by humans. So the best thing is to avoid grains altogether instead of trying by guesswork.

Can My Pet Fish Eat Fruits?

As earlier noted, carnivorous fish cannot eat fruits or vegetables. For the omnivores and herbivores, you should make very good selections of fruits to feed them.

Fruits are good if given to your pet fish in small qualities. Here are a few fruits you can try with your omnivores and herbivores: plantains, apples, mangoes, pawpaw, and pears.

You don’t have to soften fruits as you would with vegetables and greens. As long as you chop them into acceptable chunks, your pet will happily eat the fruit.

Even so, fruit should be given to your pet sparingly. This is because fish do not usually eat fruits in the wild.

Be careful not to feed your fish pet fruits with dangerous chemicals. For example, avocado contains persin, a toxin that can potentially harm your pet.

Actually, avocado is not recommended for most other house pets. For this reason, you should not bring this fruit anywhere near your fish.

What Vegetables Can I Feed my Fish?

Your herbivorous and omnivorous fish can eat a wide range of vegetables. These include:


Your fish will enjoy a diet of cucumber, courgettes, and zucchini. These vegetables are best suited for bottom dwellers such as Corydoras and plecos.

However, ensure that leftover vegetables are not left in the tank for too long. Remove all leftovers within five minutes of serving your fish to prevent decomposition and subsequent poisoning.

At the same time, vegetables should be chopped into manageable chunks to make it easier for the fish to chew on them.

Remove all seeds from the veggies before serving them. Fish have been known to choke on seeds, in addition to causing digestive issues.


Like humans, fish benefit immensely from the immunity-boosting qualities of lettuce. In addition, this vegetable contains precious vitamins and minerals that your fish will find nutritious and beneficial.

Tear lettuce into manageable sizes before placing them into the tank for your fish. An alternative is to cook or boil the veggie slightly to make it more palatable.

Just like with all vegetables, don’t leave lettuce in the tank for more than is necessary. Lettuce, in particular, rots pretty fast and should be removed within 30 – 45 minutes after serving it.


Peas is one of the best supplements you can offer your omnivorous and herbivorous fish. Indeed, this vegetable should be given to your pet even when you don’t have a shortage of fish food.

Peas has a high fiber content, which is good for your pet’s digestive system. It also has special qualities that contribute to your pet’s coat’s overall shine and health.

Before serving your fish pet peas, boil them, remove the testa (outer covering), and break them into manageable sizes.

You can keep peas frozen for up to 1 year, a period in which they’ll be good for your pet.

Can I Feed My Fish Bread?

The answer to this is a resounding NO! Bread and other wheat products cause bloating and constipation in fish.

Fish do not handle wheat products very well. So, as much as possible, avoid bread. But, unfortunately, many new owners get the temptation to feed their fish bread.

Don’t fall into this temptation, as it will cause your fish (and most other household pets) undue stress.


It’s not uncommon for fish pet keepers to find themselves out of fish food. When this happens, do not panic.

You can feed your pet various other foods to fill in the gap.

The vital thing to note is the kind of fish you’re dealing with. For example, carnivores have very different needs from omnivores and herbivores.

Indeed, some foods in your home make for a perfect supplementary diet for your pet fish. Homemade food allows you to provide a nutrient-packed diet for your pet.

So, the next time you run out of pet fish food, consider the alternatives at home before rushing to the food store.

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