What Can Fish Eat Besides Fish Food? Discover These Surprising Alternatives

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Feeding your fish with the same food over and over can become monotonous, not just for you but for them too. A diverse diet is essential to keep our finned friends healthy and happy.

If you’re wondering what else you could feed your little aquatic buddies besides fish food, you’ve come to the right place! Fish aren’t picky eaters – in fact, they’ll happily gobble up a variety of foods if given the chance.

In this article, we’ll explore some surprising alternatives that are both nutritious and tasty for your fish. From fruits and vegetables to insects and worms, we’ll cover everything that can be safely incorporated into a fish’s diet.

“Fish keeping enthusiasts know how important it is to offer a variety of food choices to their underwater pets.”

You might even have some of these alternative foods available at home or in your garden. Not only will you get the satisfaction of watching your fish enjoy something new, but you’ll also save money on commercial fish food.

So put down that bag of flake food and read along as we unveil some exciting new feeding options for your fish!

Fresh Vegetables

While most fish are primarily fed with commercial fish food, they can benefit from fresh vegetables as well. Fresh vegetables provide essential nutrients that help keep your fish healthy and vibrant. Here are some good examples of fresh vegetables that you can feed to your fish:

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and lettuce, are rich in vitamins A, C, K, and minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium. These leafy greens should be blanched or boiled before adding them to your fish’s diet. This process helps break down the plant cell walls and makes it easier for your fish to digest the vegetable.

“Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin A for growth and maintenance of various body tissues.” – Ramesh Kumar Gupta

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and yams are a great source of carbohydrates and fiber. While these vegetables hold many benefits for your fish, overfeeding on root vegetables can make cleaning your aquarium more difficult due to their high starch content. Therefore, only allow small amounts of these vegetables per feeding session.

“Carrot is rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which provides various health benefits including better eyesight and skin health in fish.” – Dr. Gopa Mandal

Cruciferous Vegetables

The cruciferous vegetable family includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help fight against diseases and infections. Cruciferous vegetables must be steamed early since boiling may leach out important nutrients.

“Cabbage-feeding leads to improved growth performance and digestion of fish.” – Dr. Md Abul Bashar

Squash and Gourds

Examples of squash and gourds include pumpkins, cucumbers, and zucchinis. These vegetables are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as minerals like potassium. It is advisable to remove the skin from these vegetables before adding them to your aquarium since they require more cleaning than other types of fresh vegetables. Moreover, steaming and baking can help soften the tough outer layer.

“The pumpkin seed contains a unique combination of fatty acids that have a beneficial effect on memory in old age.” – Sheng Zhonghua

Feeding your fish with fresh vegetables will provide many vital nutrients essential for their overall health and longevity. However, it’s worth noting that different fish species may have varying dietary requirements; therefore, you should seek advice from an expert before changing your pet’s diet.


Did you know that some fruits can be great for fish as a treat or supplement to their regular diet? Here are some fruits that your aquatic pets may enjoy:


Berries are excellent choices for fish as they provide fish with important nutrients like antioxidants and fiber.

Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries are excellent choices. These berries should always be washed before feeding them to the fish to remove any harmful chemicals or pesticides present on the surface. Berries can be crushed and scattered in the water or frozen overnight and dropped into the tank for added entertainment for your fish.

“Berries are a good source of vitamin C, manganese, fiber, and antioxidants that support different vital systems and processes within the body.” -Dr. Matthew Hoffman

Tropical Fruits

Tropical fruits contain essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that help maintain the health of your fish by boosting their immune system, digestive system, and overall well-being.

Papaya is an excellent fruit choice for fish since it contains enzymes that aid digestion. Mango and pineapple chunks are also good options, but they must first be cleaned off thoroughly and deseeded if necessary.

You can give small amounts of these fruits to your fish several times during the week, making sure not to overfeed them, which could result in serious health problems.

“Tropical fruits offer many benefits including dietary fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium.” -Raynor Goh
  • Always check with your veterinarian or local pet store about what fruits are healthy and safe for your particular breed of fish.
  • Avoid canned or processed fruits as they may contain added sugars and preservatives harmful to fish.
  • Any uneaten fruit pieces should be removed entirely from the tank within a few hours to avoid bacterial buildup and other health concerns.

While feeding your fish only commercially prepared foods is essential for their nutrition, adding some fresh fruits into their diet on occasion can provide much-needed vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that support healthy growth and development. Remember always to do research, ask your veterinarian about what fruit choices are safe and beneficial for your aquatic pets.

Live Foods

Fish food pellets and flakes are the most common types of food given to fish, but did you know that there are other options available? Live foods can be a great addition to your fish’s diet, providing them with essential nutrients and improving their overall health. Here are some live foods that fish can eat besides fish food:

Brine Shrimp

Brine shrimp are small crustaceans that are often used as starter food for newly hatched fry due to their high protein content. However, adult fish also enjoy brine shrimp and they can provide a delicate flavor and texture to the fish’s diet. Brine shrimp are usually sold frozen or dehydrated and can be easily found at pet stores.

“Brine shrimp contain high levels of lipids, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, making them an excellent nutritional supplement.” -Marosy Gabor


Daphnia are tiny freshwater crustaceans that make for a perfect snack for small to medium-sized fish. They are rich in fats and proteins and contain many of the essential vitamins and minerals that fish need to stay healthy.

“Daphnia have been found to show positive effects on the growth and survival rates of juvenile fish.” -Yigit Akbulut


Microworms are tiny little nematodes that are relatively easy and cheap to culture at home. They make an excellent source of nutrition for newborn fry and smaller fish species. Microworms are highly digestible and packed with proteins and beneficial fatty acids, which help to promote healthy tissue growth and development in growing fish.

“Microworms have a high protein content relative to size, making them an excellent source of nutrition.” -Jonathan Minden

Grindal Worms

Grindal worms are small pinkish-red soil-dwelling worms that make for a great food supplement for small to medium-sized fish. They are easy to culture at home and contain high levels of protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients that can significantly improve the health of your fish.

“Grindal worms can be easily cultured at home in simple setups and are a nutritious source of live food.” -Melanie Martinez
  • Overall, incorporating live foods into your fish’s diet offers many benefits including:
  • Better overall health due to the variety of nutrients offered by live foods
  • Promotion of natural hunting behaviors, which can help reduce stress in fish
  • Improved digestion and waste removal from their system, as live foods offer a more natural way of eating for your fish

Giving your fish a varied diet is important for their overall health and wellbeing. While fish food pellets and flakes remain the staple of most fish diets, adding live foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, microworms, and grindal worms can offer significant nutritional benefits and promote healthier behavior in your aquatic pets.


Feeding your fish with insects is a healthy alternative to traditional fish food. Insects are packed with protein, which is essential for the growth and development of fish. Plus, it adds variety to your fish’s diet, preventing them from becoming bored with the same old fish flakes or pellets day in and day out.


Crickets are an excellent source of protein for fish. They also contain calcium and other nutrients beneficial to your fish’s overall health. Live crickets can be purchased at many pet stores and online retailers. To feed your fish, simply drop the live cricket into the water and let your fish enjoy their meal.

“Crickets are nutritious food for many animals, including fish.” -LiveScience Staff


Mealworms are another great option when it comes to feeding your fish. These small larvae are high in protein and other nutrients that promote good health. They can be found in most pet stores or ordered online in bulk quantities. You can keep mealworms alive by keeping them in a container with bran or oatmeal as a food source until ready to feed them to your fish.

“Mealworms are a convenient and affordable insect-based fish food that provides necessary dietary content.” -Pet MD


Waxworms are soft-bodied caterpillars that make an excellent addition to your fish’s diet. Just like crickets and mealworms, they are an excellent source of protein and other essential nutrients. Waxworms can be purchased at many pet stores and through online retailers. They should be kept cool and away from direct sunlight until you’re ready to feed them to your fish.

“Waxworms can be fed as a treat or to supplement insects-based fish feed. They are highly nutritious and contain up to 50% protein.” -The Aquarium Guide

Feeding your fish with insects can provide variety and nutrition that traditional fish food cannot match. However, it is important to note that not all insects are suitable for fish consumption. Avoid feeding them with any insect that may be harmful to your fish, such as ants, mosquitoes or spiders.


If you’re a fish owner, it’s important to provide your aquatic pets with a balanced diet that will keep them healthy and happy. While commercial fish food is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and nutrients, there are other options that you can consider adding to their diet. Algae is one such option that can be a great addition to your fishes’ regular meals.


Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is packed with essential nutrients like vitamin A, iron, and protein. Not only is it beneficial for fish, but it has also gained popularity among humans due to its many health benefits.

In addition to providing vital nutrients, spirulina can help enhance the coloration of tropical fish like cichlids and angelfish. This makes it a popular choice for hobbyists who want to showcase their fishes’ vibrant coloring.

“Spirulina is a superfood for fish” -Julie Mullins, senior editor at Pet Age

You can either feed your fish pure spirulina powder or look for commercial fish foods that contain it as an ingredient. It’s best to introduce small amounts gradually to ensure that your fish adjust well to this new type of food.


Another type of nutrient-rich algae that you could add to your fishes’ diet is chlorella. Like spirulina, it contains high levels of protein, amino acids, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

The benefits of chlorella don’t stop at nutrition though, as it’s known to have immune-boosting properties that can help protect your fish from infections and diseases. It may also promote healthier digestion and overall better gut health.

“Chlorella may offer protection from various environmental toxins that are commonly found in aquatic environments” -Eva Sanchez, author of “Aquatic Toxicology: Current Trends and Future Directions”

Similar to spirulina, you can find chlorella as an ingredient in many commercial fish foods or buy it in powder form. It’s recommended to feed your fish small amounts at first until they’re used to the taste.

Algae is a great addition to any fish owner’s arsenal when it comes to providing a varied diet for their aquatic pets. Whether you choose spirulina or chlorella, both types of algae are packed with nutrients and benefits that can help keep your fish healthy and happy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some natural foods that fish can eat in the wild?

Fish in the wild eat a variety of natural foods, including plankton, insects, crustaceans, and smaller fish. They also eat algae and aquatic plants, depending on the species. Some fish, like catfish and carp, are bottom feeders and eat worms and mollusks found on the bottom of rivers and lakes. It’s important to consider a fish’s natural diet when choosing food for them in captivity.

Can fruits and vegetables be a part of a fish’s diet?

While fish are primarily carnivorous, some species can benefit from fruits and vegetables in their diet. For example, herbivorous fish like tilapia and carp can eat lettuce, cucumber, and other vegetables. Fruit like apple and banana can be offered as an occasional treat. However, it’s important to remember that fish require a balanced diet that meets their specific nutritional needs.

Are live insects and worms a good source of nutrition for fish?

Live insects and worms can be a good source of nutrition for fish, particularly for carnivorous species. Insects like crickets and mealworms are high in protein and can be fed to fish as a supplement to their regular diet. Earthworms and bloodworms are also commonly used as a food source for fish. However, it’s important to ensure that the insects or worms are safe and free from harmful chemicals.

Can fish eat human food leftovers?

While some human food leftovers may be safe for fish to eat, it’s generally not recommended. Many human foods are high in salt, sugar, and fat, which can be harmful to fish in large quantities. Additionally, some human foods may contain additives or preservatives that can be toxic to fish. It’s best to stick to specifically formulated fish food to ensure that your fish receive a balanced and safe diet.

What are some commercially available alternatives to fish food?

There are a variety of commercially available alternatives to traditional fish food, including pellet and flake food, frozen food, and live food. Pellet and flake food are the most common types of fish food and are available for a wide range of species. Frozen food, such as brine shrimp and bloodworms, can provide a more natural diet for carnivorous fish. Live food like crickets, mealworms, and earthworms can also be purchased and fed to fish as a supplement to their diet.

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