As with all animals food is required for energy – energy which is used for a lot things. Fish are no exception.
But how often should fish be fed – daily, weekly, fortnightly etc.
Before we move on to how often feeding should occur it is important to ensure that the food provided is the correct type of food for the fish in the aquarium and that the type of food is varied. For example various tangs have a requirement for green food therefore it is important that this requirement is provided for. This does not mean that the fish should be fed algae all the time as whilst the fish will survive it may not thrive.
So feeding frequency then. This is quite often determined by the species of fish itself however it is always better in my opinion to feed little and often.
Fish by their very nature will feed when fed however, for example if you only feed your fish once a week then the fish will take most of the food however a lot of the food which has been eaten will pass out of the other end undigested. Food which was not eaten will put extra load on the filtration system and could lead to increased levels of nutrients – for example nitrate.
Most fish basically look at four things in life. They look for food, to not become food, where to hide and some other fish to mate with.
On the reef during daylight hours they spend most of the time scouring the reef looking for tiny morsals of food on the rock face however in a home aquarium the myseterious hand of man appears above the aquarium and provides food for them. This feeding would probably be more than they would find during an entire day on the reef however when the aquarist is not near the aquarium the fish continue to scour their mini reef looking for food.
Feeding little and often throughout the day allow for the fish to digest all of the food provided to them and decreases the chance of an increase in nutrient levels.
I do appreciate that this is hard to accomplish however as not all aquarists spend all day sat in front of the aquarium – I know I dont as a little thing called a job and another thing called a family get in the way!
Automatic fish feeders are good for things like flake food as they will release based upon a timer however you do need to be careful with this approach as dependent upon the model of feeder they sometimes do get clogged and the food does not get dispensed as it should. There are some good ones on the market though so this method should certainly not be discounted.
A peristaltic pump could be used for example on a timer to pump a small amount of food into the aquarium at various times throughout the day.
The trouble with the above two options is that feeding the fish is a pleasure – it is to me anyways and using an automated device removes or reduces this pleasure so what I do is change the lighting above the aquarium to match the time when I am at home. Therefore I get to the feed the aquarium three to four times each day. I vary the feeding times and amounts throughout the week and do not always feed four times – sometimes I feed only the once, others twice etc.
For me this works however again it may not work for everyone.
As said whilst it is a pleasure to feed the fish and all fish food appears to have gone this does not mean that it will all be digested. Any uneaten food and undigested food will put an extra strain on the filtration.
If you do only, for various reasons have the time to be able to feed once a day then it is recommended that you do not simply get some food and put the entire amount in the aquarium. Feed a small amount and wait until the food is gone, when all food is gone add some more. Keep going until the fish stop to show enthusiasm for the food offered leaving as much time as you can afford between feedings.
Also always try to use feeding times as a time to sit and watch the fish.