There’s nothing wrong with store-bought fish food, and we all need a convenient way to feed our fish from time to time. These foods provide your fish with a balanced ratio of nutrients and calories and are specifically formulated to meet the needs of your developing aquarium inhabitants.
However, store-bought fish food can get expensive, and it doesn’t always have the exact balance of nutrients that you want your fish to eat.
Making your own fish food is an easy way to provide your fish with a healthy diet – while also protecting your budget. You can change the ingredients of the food to meet the specific needs of your fish, a must if you have fish that are sick, breeding, or otherwise in need of a specialized diet.
You might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of making your own fish food, but don’t be. This is an easy task that can be conducted by any fish keeper – novice, experienced, or otherwise.
- What Ingredients Do I Need In Homemade Fish Food?
- What Kinds Of Tools Do I Need To Make My Own Fish Food?
- What Kind Of Fish Food Should I Make?
- What Are The Best Recipes For Homemade Fish Food?
- Why Should I Make My Own Fish Food?
What Ingredients Do I Need In Homemade Fish Food?
All fish will have different diets, but you can generally make your own fish food with just a few simple ingredients. Beyond that, just about any recipe can be modified to suit the needs of your individual fish. To avoid shocking your fish with a brand new diet, you might want to consider checking the label of your current store-bought fish food before getting started.
Doing this will allow you to determine the exact ingredients in the food your fish is already eating. Once you have this information, you can use those ingredients as a base to start your new food. This will help give you ideas for potential additions, and will also create a basic diet for your fish that is not too different from the diet it was consuming before.
Start by selecting just a few basic ingredients. You can start with three, four, or five easy items like cod, salmon, or shrimp – usually, the main ingredient in a flake or pellet fish food will be a meat-based ingredient. However, if you’re feeding fish that primarily eat plants or algae, then you will notice these items as the primary ingredients instead.
Keep in mind that when you are making your fish food, you don’t have to rely on just one kind of food source or final products. You can create a number of fish foods so that your fish have plenty of options to choose from. This will help keep your fish healthy, too, as it will provide them with the same varied diet that they eat in the wild.
Consider making several of the most popular recipes (which we will detail below) so that your fish receive the most balanced, well-rounded diet possible. Your goal in making your own fish food should be to provide your fish with a diet that is the most similar to its natural variety. You might also want to try out a few different recipes in case your fish don’t like the first recipe you tried! Believe it or not, fish can actually be quite picky eaters.
What Kinds Of Tools Do I Need To Make My Own Fish Food?
You don’t need a commercial-quality kitchen in order to make your own fish food. All you really need is a few basic essentials.
To start with, you should have a high-quality blender. You will be processing many hard, difficult-to-mix ingredients that will need high power. It’s best to have a blender that is specifically designated for this purpose so that you are blending fish and other smelly ingredients in the same blender you will want to use to make your smoothie later – ew! If you don’t have a blender, a food processor will also work.
You should also have a sharp knife. You will need to do lots of slicing and dicing, and a sharp, easy-to-use knife will make your cuts that much neater.
You will also need a pan, some ice cube trays to store your food in, and a freezer in which to stash the final product. Beyond that, there isn’t much that you need to get started besides a whole lot of creativity and enthusiasm for the exciting task ahead.
What Kind Of Fish Food Should I Make?
Just because you can make your own fish food doesn’t mean you should feed your fish the same exact foods. You will have some fish that are carnivores, others that are herbivores, and some that are in between (or omnivores, as they are known). This part of making your own fish food has nothing to do with your fish being picky eaters- it has to do with their natural characteristics.
Knowing exactly what kind of food your fish is built to eat will require you to have some background knowledge about your fish. Take a close look at the current diet of your fish and make sure the food that you make meets all of your fish’s dietary needs. Here are the three basic types of fish diets, along with the foods that will work best for those specific lifestyles.
Herbivores are animals that eat only plants. Fish that eat plants are vital for maintaining the health of your aquarium. Many herbivorous fish also eat algae, meaning they can help keep your tank clean while filling their bellies at the same time. Most catfish species, like plecos, are herbivores.
If you are feeding herbivorous fish, you will need to provide them with plenty of plant-based food sources. Leafy greens are a great first choice, as these are chock full of vitamins and minerals and also help mimic the natural plants that fish are accustomed to finding in the wild. You might choose foods like kale, spinach, or lettuce, or you can even choose to feed your fish the most natural plant-based food for them – seaweed.
There are other live water plants that you can either grow in your tank or include in your fish food. These will provide all of the nutrients your fish need. You might include plants like Egeria, Cabomba, and Limnophila.
You can also add raw or frozen fruits and vegetables. These will be incredibly nutrient-dense, and as long as they are sliced into small pieces, you don’t have to do much prepwork in order to prepare them for mealtime with your fish. You may need to blanch or steam some kinds of fruits and vegetables in order for them to be palatable. Good fruit and vegetable options include pears, peas, broccoli, and apples.
Another food that most people don’t think about including in their fish food – but should! – is garlic. Garlic is a super nutritious food that has a variety of health benefits. In particular, it is packed full of antibacterial properties. It can enhance the appetite of your fish, helping them to grow larger and more healthy. You can rub the juice ono the food or mine it before adding it to any DIY recipe.
Carnivores are animals that eat only meat (including other fish). A popular example of a carnivorous fish is the discus fish, but there are plenty of other carnivores out there, too. Cichlids are popular carnivores that people raise in their tanks.
Carnivorous fish tend to be larger and often more aggressive, but this is not always the case. Many species of fish enjoy eating meat, with the most popular ingredients being tuna, trout, salmon, and cod. However, many commercial and homemade foods also include earthworms and other aquatic animals, like squid, mussels, larvae, and brine shrimp.
You can feed your fish live, frozen, or fresh meats. Just remember that any live foods should be fed sparingly, and you should only allow your fish to feed for five minutes. Anything that is remaining after this time should be removed from the tank to prevent it from rotting and contaminating your water quality.
Some people get nervous when feeding their fish a variety of meat-based foods, as they are concerned about the fat content. If your fish is a natural carnivore, don’t worry – he can tolerate up to six percent fat in a given feed. Just make sure you don’t overfeed them – again, heed the five-minute rule – because too much fat can damage a fish’s liver just as it can in humans.
Omnivores, on the other hand, are fish that eat both plants and meat. Most fish are omnivores, preferring to eat anything they come across. If you have fish that are omnivores, you can feed your fish any of the above foods – a balanced ratio of both meat and vegetable-based foods is ideal. Some species, like tadpoles, are omnivores in that their dietary preferences change as they move through their life stages.
What Are The Best Recipes For Homemade Fish Food?
You can find thousands of recipes for homemade fish food via a simple search online. You can also talk to your local aquarium or pet store to find out their recommendations for making your own food. However, here are some of our favorite recipes that you can use to make your own DIY fish food.
Gelatin-Based Fish Food
This food is incredibly easy to make, and because gelatin is a primary ingredient, it is also easy to store. You can make large batches of this food and stash it in your freezer so that it’s always ready when you need it.
- 4 packets of unsweetened, plain gelatin
- 6 cups of assorted vegetables (you can choose the specific kinds – consider broccoli, spinach, or seaweed)
- 1 cup of seafood (found at a local pet store)
- 1 clove of garlic (optional)
- 2 drops of fish vitamins (found at a local pet store)
- Begin by finely chopping all of your vegetables. Cook them, either by blanching them or steaming them.
- Puree you vegetables, garlic, and seafood. The final mixture should be soft and mushy in texture. Then, add the vitamins.
- Boil water and prepare your gelatin according to the instructions on the gelatin packet. Then, add the gelatin to the vegetable mixture.
- Pour the mixture into ice cube trays (or onto thin, stackable baking sheets) and allow it to cool. Freeze until needed.
Plant Lovers’ Fish Food
This fish food is the ideal choice for the vegetarian in your fish tank. You can add meat if you want to make this an omnivorous meal, or you can modify it by adding other kinds of vegetables for an added boost of nutrients.
- 2 cups oats
- 2 packets unflavored, plain gelatin
- 3 cups of vegetables (peas, spinach, cucumbers, kale, etc)
- Blanch or steam your vegetables. Place them in your blender and puree until they are smooth. Remember, you can use any vegetables you have in your refrigerator or freezer, just make sure they are thawed and thoroughly cooked before you feed them to your fish.
- Add your oats to your pureed vegetable mix.
- Prepare your gelatin with hot water according to the instructions on your gelatin packet. Then, add the gelatin to the oats and vegetable mix.
- Store your combination in ice cube trays in the freezer and break off a piece as needed to feed to your fish.
Meat Lovers’ Fish Food
This fish food is a great choice for the meat lovers in your aquarium. If you have carnivorous fish -or even omnivores who need an extra dose of protein -this is the food to feed to them. You can adjust the quantities depending on how much you have available, as well as how much food you would like to make.
- Any vegetables you’d like to use (like broccoli, peas, carrots, spinach, etc)
- Beef heart
- White fish (like cod)
- Unflavored gelatin packets
- Blanch or steam your vegetables, then mix them in your blender until they have reached a mushy consistency.
- Process the shrimp, white fish, and beef heart. Keep in mind that you will need to set aside extra time to shell the shrimp, but you do not need to cook the meats.
- Mix the gelatin with hot water, following the instructions on the packet.
- Mix all of the ingredients together before pouring the mixture into ice cube trays. You can store it in the freezer for several months and feed as needed.
Protein-Rich Fish Food
If you’re feeding omnivorous or carnivorous fish, you sometimes will want to give them a food that is naturally high in protein – without feeding them full chunks of actual meat. This recipe is a nutrient-dense fish food that is also high in protein.
- Fresh or canned salmon
- Frozen peas
- Fresh or minced garlic
- Unflavored gelatin packets
- Raw, unpeeled shrimp with the tail removed
- Dice the shrimp, spinach, carrots, and salmon into fine pieces. Combine them in a blender. If this mixture is too dense, you can add some water to lighten it up.
- Combine your gelatin with hot water, according to the directions on your packet.
- Heat this mixture at a low heat, combining until everything is thoroughly cooked.
- Pour the combination into ice cube trays and freeze, using small portions as needed.
The Easiest, No-Cook Fish Food
No stove? No problem! This fish food recipe is a great choice for time-crunched aquarium hobbyists who still want to make their own nutritious recipes for their fish. You can use one ingredient from each bulleted line or you can combine all of them for a super-tasty food.
- Cod, crab, or shrimp
- Cucumber, peas, or spinach
- Dice all of your ingredients into small pieces. Blend them carefully, adding water if the mixture is too dense.
- Combine the gelatin mixture in a separate container, then add it to the vegetable/meat mix.
- Pour the concoction into ice cube trays. Freeze them and serve as needed.