fish eating homemade food

We know we love our fishies.

And that’s why we make sure that they only get the highest quality (probably even the most expensive) fish food from your local pet stores.

Then the question: What can I feed my fish if I run out of food?

Whether you just gave the last feeding serving or your local pet store don’t have stock of your fish food brand, you might be wondering what else can you feed your fishies for the meantime.

The answer? Homemade fish food!

Why Homemade Fish Food?

For starters, homemade fish foods are cost-effective.

While making your own fish food, you can make up to 3 times more the amount of fish food when compared to buying a packaged one at your local pet stores.

In addition, the dry flakes that you purchase for your fish from local shops undergo many treatments. This is the reason why they are flaky and have a longer life span. Plus, there will always be chemical preservatives present in the fish food. However, making your own fish food at home, you’ll know that it is healthy and fresh.

In addition to being healthy alternatives that can serve as an emergency fish food, homemade fish food allows you to customize the nutrients you give to your fishies and even cater to their specific needs. You also have the freedom to choose the best ingredients.

Lastly, it is often recommended that you feed your fish a combination of store-bought fish food and homemade fish food to increase the variety of nutrients and feedings.

Fish Food Diets

Okay, before we get into the fish food making part, you first need to understand what kind of eater you have. Most fishes are herbivore, a handful of pet fishes are carnivores, while a lot of them are omnivorous.

Here’s a guideline o what fishes should be eating:

Herbivore Fish

Most aquarium alga eaters such as catfish and otocinclus species as well as some tropical species and the African cichlids are herbivores. Although these fish may still eat meat proteins occasionally, the majority of their diet will consist of plant matter. In general, it is recommended that they get 60 percent plant matter ad 40 percent animal matter in their diet.

Carnivores Fish

Just like herbivores, there is a handful of aquarium fish that are actually known as true carnivores. For the carnivorous species, these fish should be fed with 60 – 75 percent animal matter, and the remaining 25 – 40 percent is plant matter.

Omnivore Fish

Most aquarium fish for sale are omnivorous. These fish will readily eat both plant and animal matter and both should be regularly fed for continued health. In general, though, omnivores normally like plant matter, thus animal proteins are typically limited to at least 20 – 40 percent of their diet.

The Common Homemade Fish Food Ingredients

So, now let’s take a look at the most common and best ingredients that you can use for your homemade fish food.

Plant Matter

For plant matter, you should strongly consider using organically grown veggies and plants. Since pesticide residues can have an adverse effect on microbial and aquatic life, it is best to forget about the conventionally grown produce.

Here are some of the best plant matter ingredients you can use:

  1. GARLIC

It turns out that the pungent garlic is a superfood in the fish world. In addition to its ability to stimulate the appetite of even your pickiest eaters, garlic can also maintain good fish health as well as providing anti-bacterial properties.

2. DARK LEAFY GREENS

Kale, Spinach, Sushi Seaweed, Chard, and Romaine Lettuce offer a nutritious and rich plant base for any diet. Filled with minerals and vitamins, these leafy greens mimic the natural aquatic flora loved by fish species.

3. FRUITS AND VEGGIES

In addition to the leafy green base, it is also a great idea to add extra fruits and veggies to your fish food. This helps ensures that you provide a variety of nutrition sources for your fishies, keeping them healthy and looking their best.

Oranges, pears, carrots, peas, apples, zucchini, and broccoli are just some of the great addition to homemade fish food.

4. CORN OR POTATO STARCH

A teaspoon or so of wither starch can be added to the mixture for binding. The starch should hold the mixture together and creating flakes when dried.

5. SPIRULINA POWDER

A favorite additive for homemade fish food, spirulina powder is composed of cyanobacteria. It is rich in amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Also, the natural pigment can help captive fish show their best and bright colors.

6. Animal Matter

When choosing animal protein, it is also better to seek out wild-caught or the organically produced options.

When it comes to adding meat to your fish foods, there are some great choices you can consider.

7. FISH

Yes. Fish eat fish.

That is just how it is.

And adding fish to your homemade fish food provides your pet with tons of natural minerals, proteins, and essential oils that are great for both carnivorous and omnivorous species. Several kinds of fish that you can add are trout, cod, salmon, sunfish, and tuna.

8. EARTHWORMS

A great additive for homemade fish food or fed directly, earthworms are easier to find and buy and are extremely cheap. These worms are known for their high protein content and other nutrients.

In addition to fish and earthworms, there is also a lot of other animal matter that you can add to your homemade fish food. It is preferable to use aquatic animals such as scallops, mussels, octopus, squid, clams, and brine shrimp. However, you can also use beef hearts, bloodworms, crickets,and even mosquito larvae.

Can I Give My Fish Human Food?

AS you can see, you can add some of the food meant for humans including beef heart, garlic, veggies, gelatin-based homemade foods, food supplements, and more to your homemade fish food.

However, you will need to understand the risks and limitations when adding these to your food.

For one, beef heart is a nice source of protein for your fish. However, you need to cut out all fat from it since fish have a hard time processing those mammal fats and may lead to certain diseases.

Due to cellulose-binding and the high concentration of starch-based carbs in some plants, some plants are not good for fishies and should be limited or avoided altogether. This includes bananas, corn, and sweet potatoes.

Generally, white bread is considered bad for your fish. Regular bread feeding can lead to bloating as well as lethargy. This is because white bread is low in protein and does not contain vital nutrients needed by your fish. Too much bread can even damage your fish’s gut. Plus, breadcrumbs expand when in water, leaving your tank messy.

Meanwhile, cooked pasta and rice are loved by some species. Readily available and convenient, you can just break the pasta or rice into smaller pieces. Most smaller fish also love hard-boiled egg yolks. Although it is better if you only give it as an occasional treat. Also, yolk particles can make the water of your aquarium cloudy.

5 Homemade Fish Food Recipes To Try

Now, to help you get started, here are some of the best homemade fish food recipes that you can try when you run out of store-bought fish food.

1. The No-Cook Recipe

If you need a fish food right now, then this easy to make recipe can be made within 30 minutes without cooking.

Ingredients:

  • Cod
  • Crab
  • Shrimp
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Unflavored gelatin powder

Instructions:

  1. Cut all ingredients into small pieces.
  2. Blend. You can add water if it is too thick.
  3. Make the gelatin mix in a bowl.
  4. Add gelatin to the mix.
  5. Pour the mixture into an ice cube tray.
  6. Freeze. 

2. The Meaty Recipe

Full of protein and meat, this meaty recipe is the perfect fish food for the meat lovers and carnivorous species.

Ingredients:

  • Shrimp
  • Whitefish
  • Beef heart
  • Any veggies you have (carrots, peas, spinach or broccoli)
  • Unflavored gelatin powder

Instructions:​​​​

  1. Cook the veggies.
  2. Put in a blender and blend to a smooth consistency.
  3. Remove, shell, and blend the shrimp, white fish, and beef heart.
  4. Mix the gelatin with hot water in a separate bowl.
  5. Mix all ingredients together.
  6. Pour the mixture into an ice cube tray.
  7. Freeze.

3. The Green Recipe

For the non-meat eaters in your aquarium, this recipe is the perfect one to try.

Ingredients:

  • Oats
  • Cucumber
  • Frozen Peas
  • Spinach
  • Unflavored gelatin powder

Instructions:

  1. Blanch all veggies.
  2. Puree them until smooth.
  3. Add the oat.
  4. Mix the gelatin with hot water in a separate bowl.
  5. Slowly add the gelatin into the vegetable mixture.
  6. Continue mixing.
  7. Store in ice cube trays.
  8. Shave a piece off when it is time to feed your fish.

4. Veggie Delight

Perfect for the omnivores, this recipe is super easy to make and won’t take much of your time.

Ingredients:

  • 2lb shrimp
  • 8oz salmon
  • 1lb frozen spinach
  • 1lb frozen chickpeas
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 bag of mini carrots
  • ¼ cup spirulina powder
  • 6 centrum vitamins
  • Unflavored gelatin powder

Instructions:

  1. Steam the zucchini and mini carrots.
  2. Cut the salmon into smaller pieces.
  3. Dissolve the vitamins in water.
  4. Put all ingredients into a blender.
  5. Blend until slurry.
  6. Mix the gelatin with hot water in a separate bowl.
  7. Slowly add the gelatin into the mixture and blend.
  8. Pour the mixture into an ice cube tray.
  9. Then, tore in the fridge.

5. The Nutrient Bomb

If you want to give your fish pet a variety of nutrients, then this recipe is your best bet. It is called the nutrient bomb because of the variety of ingredients, providing a lot of nutrients for your fish to stay healthy and happy.

Ingredients:

  • Broccoli
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Yams
  • Shrimp
  • Oranges
  • Crab legs
  • Unflavored Gelatin powder

Instructions:

  1. Add all the ingredients into a blender. 
  2. Then, blend until smooth. If it is too thick, you can add water or carrot juice or sweet potato juice for extra taste.
  3. Mix the gelatin with hot water in a separate bowl.
  4. Slowly add the gelatin into the mixture.
  5. Pour the mixture into an ice cube tray.
  6. Store in the fridge.

How Much Homemade Fish Food To Feed

  • ​​​​Fish owners tend to over feed their pet fish than underfeeding them. This increases the amount of waste in the tank. This is not only the waste that is left when the fish don’t at all the food but also the excreted waste from the fish since they are eating more than necessary.

If you find that nitrite, ammonia, or nitrate levels are going up and your tank gets polluted easily, then you are probably over feeding your fish.

So, here’s a general guideline on your fish feeding schedule:

  • Adult fish are best fed once a day and around the same time. However, you can feed them multiple times a day, if you are giving them smaller servings each feeding.
  • Young fish will need to have 3 – 4 feedings per day.
  • In general, herbivores do not have large stomachs to hold lots of food. It is also in their nature to nibble on plants and algae throughout the day. Thus, they need to be fed more often than the carnivores. You can also give them live greens and plants that they can nibble on throughout the day.
  • For nocturnal feeders, put the food in the aquarium in the evening before you turn off the lights and go to sleep. Let the fish eat overnight.
  • Follow the rule that you need to feed the fish only what they will eat in 5 minutes. If there’s food left (except for fresh greens) after that time, then you’re feeding them too much.
  • When feeding several fish in the aquarium, make sure to spread the food across the aquarium so that they can get to it easily.

Conclusion

Now, you have a general idea of what you can feed your fish when you run out of store-bought fish food. 

Whatever you chose to feed your lovable fishies, make sure that it is well-balanced and provides the necessary vitamins, minerals, and protein that they desperately need.

And instead of regularly giving your pet fish flakes and pellets, make sure to feed them nutritional homemade fish foods once in a while. This way, your fishies should stay healthy and happy in their aquatic habitat for many years!

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