Feeding Vegetables to Aquarium Fish

Fish needs the proper supply of energy to maintain metabolism in their body. To stay healthy and for maintaining the aquarium, properly feeding your fish should be done.  Fish foods differ from species to species and you should know what types of foods your fish need and how much food they require. 

There are many different fish species and generally, they are classified into three categories on the basis of their feeding behavior, these are:

Herbivorous fish: This type of fish only eats plants. They have a small-sized stomach and flattened teeth for grinding plant matters. These types of fish need plant and vegetable matters in their diet and feed them with small amounts 2-3 times daily. They also love to eat all the algae in your aquarium and maintain a healthy ecosystem (for example most Plecos are herbivores).

Carnivorous fish: This type of fish only eats meaty foods. Generally, they like large and protein-rich foods. They have comparatively large-sized mouths with sharp teeth for tearing food items. If you keep carnivorous or predator fish (for example Discus) in your tank, you should care about the other fish in your aquarium because they try to eat other fish from the tank water. 

Omnivorous fish: This type of fish eats both plants and animal matters. The most aquarium fish are omnivores (such as rainbow shark etc). They take a wide variety of food in their diet hence they are very easy to care for than other types of fish.

Image of Herbivorous Fish (Plecostomus sp)Image of Herbivorous Fish (Plecostomus sp)

Harbivorous fish (Plecostomus sp)

Image of Rainbow SharkImage of Rainbow Shark

Omnivorous fish (Rainbow fish)

Image of Carnivorous Fish (Discus)Image of Carnivorous Fish (Discus)

Carnivorous fish (Discus sp)

Almost all fish species need vegetable matters in their diet to thrive. Vegetables are the best food for many fish species which depends upon their digestive system. Most of the vegetables provide benefits to the fish including anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-parasite properties.  Vegetables also support the immune system, organ function, reproduction and growth of many fish species. Some omnivores require more vegetables in their diet such as Mollies, Rainbowfish etc.

Generally, carnivore fish species take small amounts of vegetable matters including algae and aquatic plant leaves in their wild condition. If you keep them in a captive condition and feed them only carnivore food then they develop nutritional deficiencies over time. In this case, you should provide them vegetable foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies. Vegetables are not only valuable for their nutritional content but also prevent constipation in fish because vegetables contain a lot of fibers in their body.

There are many fish species such as common Bristlenose Catfish (Ancistrus sp.), Oto’s catfish (Otocinclus sp.), Pacus, Silver Dollars, Mollies, Farlowellas or twig catfish are mainly vegetarian. But many other fish, from the Goldfish to Guppies take vegetables as part of their diets while Catfish are not fully vegetarian, but require a great deal of vegetable matter in their diet. Some carnivores such as Piranhas accept and enjoy vegetables as part of their diet to maintain their body metabolism.

Some Tips For Feeding Vegetables to Your Aquarium

  • You should purchase organic vegetables and wash carefully to remove any unwanted particles attached before feeding your fish; 
  • You should always select vegetables with low carbohydrates; if you use vegetables with high starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, etc which may interfere with digestion or nutrient absorption and encourage reproduction of parasite;
  • You should avoid feeding your fish with vegetables that contain a high amount of oxalate such as spinach;
  • You should always use fresh fish food. You can also feed low-heat dehydrated and freeze-dried vegetables;
  • Always use balance food for your fish. In this case, you should do some research for your fish species and try to meet their nutrient requirements as naturally as possible;
  • You should not feed lots of vegetables to your fish at once which can pollute the aquarium. In this case, clean up any leftovers promptly from the tank;
  • Before feeding vegetables to your fish, feed should be cooked enough to break down the tissue so fish can eat easily. Usually, you can also feed frozen and canned vegetables without cooking;
  • Most vegetables from the supermarket contain filthy substances.  Before feeding, all the vegetables should be cleaned to remove any dirt.  They also contain bacteria and some pretty nasty pesticides on their body coverings.
  • If the vegetables have a firm skin, clean it with cool water by using a stiff brush. Leafy vegetables have irregular skin and it should be thoroughly washed under tap water.

Some Popular Vegetables That We Feed to Our Aquarium Fish

You should use fresh greens as ideal vegetables in your fish’s diet. Many vegetable greens that don`t use as human food but you can be put to good use in your aquarium as fish food. Among them, the most popular are:

1. Cucumber, Tomatoes, Zucchini: They are the most widely accepted vegetables especially for live-bearers, or any other fish that eats plants or algae in the wild condition. Carefully wash it and remove the jelly bits and the seeds. Before feeding, cut into small pieces and place them into the fish tank.

2. Spinach, Lettuce, or Romaine Lettuce: Koi, goldfish and many marine herbivores love to eat raw or blanched romaine lettuce. In this case, wash and split them using the hand.  Before feeding, boiling them to soften for one minute and place them into your fish tank. You can also use as fresh vegetables without cooking.

3. Fresh or Frozen Peas: Peas are very favorite food for nearly any fish. It is perfect for relieving constipation of fish. If you have fancy goldfish, regular feedings of peas are required to relieve constipation. Before feeding your fish with peas, you should soften them by dropping into boiling water for about one minute. After boiling it, unwrapping the shell and place them into your fish tank.

5. Potato, Sweet Potato: Potato is a tuberous crop which contains starch and vitamin C while sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant which is a suitable source for carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals. Before feeding with potatoes, cut into very small pieces using a sharp knife and place them into the fish tank.

6. Pumpkin: Pumpkin is the best fish food that is rich in fiber and helps to relieve constipation. Before feeding, cut into small slices and place it into the fish tank.

7. Carrot: Carrot is a suitable vegetable food for many fish. It is an anti-oxidant-rich fruit and vegetable that also rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It prevents infection and provides healthier skin of fish.  Before feeding with carrot, it should be cut into small piece, boiling should be done for about one minute to soften them and place them into your fish tank.

8. Bell Peppers (Green, Red, Yellow or Orange): The bell pepper is also known as pepper, sweet pepper, or capsicum. It contains water (94%), carbohydrates (5%), and a  small amount of fat and protein. They are also rich sources of vitamin C.  During feeding, it should be cut into small pieces and remove all the seeds and boil it for a minute and place them into your fish tank.

9. Broccoli: Broccoli is a green plant under cabbage family. If you keep Plecos in your fish tank, you must use some broccoli, available in the supermarket at a  reasonable price. Before feeding, boil the broccoli, cut into small pieces and place them into the fish tank

image of bell papperimage of bell papper

Bell Papper

image of Broccoliimage of Broccoli


image of carrotimage of carrot


image of cuccumberimage of cuccumber


image of lettuceimage of lettuce


image of peasimage of peas


image of spinaceimage of spinace


image of zucchiniimage of zucchini


Final Words

Generally, leafy green vegetables are great food for fish. They contain minerals and vitamins and are available in their natural habitats such as Spinach, Seaweed, Kale, and Lettuce etc. You can also use live water plants which are commonly available in pet shops such as Cabomba, Egeria, and Limnophilla. Vegetarian fish also love to eat fresh fruits. You can periodically offer different fruits such as pieces of banana, peeled grapes, mango, papaya, plantains, pears, and melon chunks. In this case, cut them into small pieces, and place them into the fish tank. Uneaten portions should be removed within the hour, so they do not foul the tank. It should be noted that feeding saltwater fish with fruits introduce sugar into the tank water, which may increase more algae production in the fish tank causing the algal bloom.

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