Did you pour too much fish food into your fish tank? Did your kid overfeed your fishes out of innocence? Are you trying to coax a shy fish to come out by pouring too much food?
As scary as it sounds, your fish might be dying because you pour too much fish food into the tank. Here are some things you need to know to avoid overfeeding your fish.
(If you replied to at least one question mentioned above with a yes, you need to read this article!)
The Most Common Reason People Overfeed Their Fishes
Your fish probably has a hard time trying to get enough food on its own inside the tank. Try giving them some food every once in a while and maybe you’ll start to feel connected with your pet more often. You’ll also be able to practically see it getting better!
Unfortunately this is one of the most common reasons why pet fishes are overfed. While fish parents don’t mean any harm here, the fishes do end up stressed out due to the excess food inside the tank.
What Happens If You Pour Too Much Fish Food in the Tank?
1. Increase In The Levels Of Toxins
Overfeeding isn’t good for your fish. Excess food can release nitrites and ammonia which are harmful for the fish in the water.
You need to be extra cautious if you have a new aquarium. Why? Well, new aquariums haven’t had enough time to develop nitrifying bacteria naturally. These bacteria help dispose of these toxins to a certain extent. So leftover food inside the tank has higher chances of hurting your fishes.
High nitrite and ammonia levels can stress fish, which might even kill them. For this reason, proper filtering methods are important in aquariums.
2. Your Fish May Get Stressed or Feeling Suffocated
The process of breaking down leftover food uses up oxygen from the tank’s water, which results in less dissolved oxygen (DO) in the water for your fishes or plants.
This scarcity of oxygen, as you would have guessed, is really not a good thing. It stresses your fish, and they may even start hanging out at the top of the tank trying to gasp for air.
3. Increase In Phosphate Levels
Phosphate levels also increase due to excess food, increasing algae growth, and affecting your pet’s growth. Fishes might start to lose their colors and be more susceptible to catching diseases. Fish also suffer from ailments such as obesity and liver, kidney, and other diseases related to its organs when they overeat.
4. pH Instability
Another drawback of overfeeding is that the breakdown of food pellets releases CO2. This carbon dioxide will soon convert to carbonic acid.
This extra acid will now lower the pH of your tank, which is a no-no as well.
5. Tank Becomes Breeding Ground For Fungus and Mold
Decomposing food invites harmful fungus and mold into the fish tank. Certain types of mold, like white mold, are incredibly harmful to your fishes.
6. Removing Excess Food From The Tank Is A Pain
Not to mention that removing excess food from your tank is a pain. Uneaten food may find its way into the filters. Clogged filters do not perform efficiently, and efficiently results in low DO, increased nitrite and ammonia amounts, decreased pH levels.
Excess food may settle at various nooks and crannies of your tank’s decor, plants, or substrate.
7. Damages the Aesthetics of Your Tank
We all put so much time into making our tanks a great home to fishes. Uneaten or decomposing food just looks ugly.
How to Stop Overfeeding Your Fish
Now that you know the side effects of overfeeding your fishes, let’s get to the solution of the problem. As always, prevention is better than the cure.
So how do you stop overfeeding?
I like to feed my fishes food that they can consume in one or two minutes. Anything more and your tank will start overfilling.
If you think your fish is hungry after the first two minutes, then only add some more food.
If your fishes like to eat from the surface of the water, you need to be very careful about the speed at which you put food, since any particle that your fishes miss is most likely going to decompose at the bottom of the tank. Food shouldn’t reach the bottom of the tank. If it does, get rid of the remains after about five minutes.
A common mistake that I see people making is that they put food according to the size of the tank. That is wrong. Add food depending on the number of fish, and their sizes.
Depending on the species, you may also fast your fish once or twice every week. You can also add scavengers like shrimp, snails, loaches, or catfish to clean the bottom of the tank.
How to Remove Uneaten Food From Your Fish Tank
I try to follow the following methods to remove excess food from my fish tank:
Use Gravel Cleaners
Gravel cleaners remove extra food from the gravel floor of your tank conveniently. I have a cheap gravel vac that I bought from my local shop, and it really is a time-saver. If your tank uses sand, then manual cleaning is your only option.
Add Some Bottom Feeders or Snails
A popular solution is to add some bottom-feeding fish to eat the leftover fish food. You can also add snails to your tank. They are safe and will add to your aesthetic. But make sure that they are compatible tank mates.
It is worth mentioning that bottom feeders can eat only so much, so if you’ve accidentally dumped too much food, you pretty much have to clean the tank manually.
Use a Fishnet To Remove Excess Food
One can use fishnets to remove broken flakes and other big food particles. Ensure that you don’t catch any fish with them.
If you can’t find a cleaning tool, use your hands. Wash your hands with soap and cut your nails so that you don’t hurt your fish
Removing Ammonia Due To Excess Food In The Tank
Ammonia is harmful, and you need to get rid of it as fast as possible. If the excess food has been in the tank for days, here are some steps you can use to get rid of the resulting ammonia:
- Perform a 50% water change every day till ammonia levels are under control
- Get vacuuming with a gravel vac and remove as much food as possible. Employ fishnets if needed
- Removing any rotten plants
- Make sure to clean and unclog your filters so they are working efficiently
- Reduce feeding interval for the next couple of days
- Add Ammonia removing pellets to your filter.
It’s not always about how often you feed your fish, but the amount. Sometimes it might be better to feed them less rather than more or provide too many options at once. If you are not at home when its time to feed your fishes, consider training someone from your house to help out with feeding duties.
It’s also important that you don’t feed different types of fish differently. For example, surface dwellers won’t go looking for food at the bottom, and bottom feeders will not spend time near the surface. If you give large pieces of food to small fish, they may not accept it.
Anyway, now that I’ve imparted all the knowledge I could muster, I hope you have everything you need! If you think you’re overfeeding your fish, take up the tips mentioned above. And if you think your tank is filled with uneaten food, make sure to clean your tank now!