When Should I Feed My Fish For the First Time?

Overfeeding is the most common mistake made by fish owners and can lead to several severe problems in the aquarium. Overfeeding clogs the filter and breaks it down into toxins that are harmful to fish. For this reason, the fish food packaging contains clear warnings about the dangers of overfeeding.

While some people mistakenly believe that there is nothing nicer to feeding fish than throwing a pinch of food into the aquarium, it’s a little more complicated. So, providing a balanced and nutritious diet to your aquatic life for the first time doesn’t have to be an intimidating task.

Therefore, when you should feed your fish for the first time is after 24 hours of putting them in the tank. Also, there is no need to feed the fish the same day if fed in the store before buying the fish.

Note: If you are afraid to go that long, you can feed your fish the same day at few-hour intervals. For example, if you add your new to the tank in the morning, you can feed them in the evening. But I will advise you to wait till the next day before feeding.

A fish in a new environment needs to use its energy to deal with stress and osmoregulation.

Besides, fish can go weeks without food to be fine until the next day.


fish feeding first time

Before Adding a Fish to your new tank

Make sure you cycle your new aquarium before adding your fish.

The cycle is an essential process for introducing beneficial bacteria into the aquarium and filter media, which help convert ammonia to nitrite and convert nitrites to nitrates.

How long does this process take? In terms of timing, this process can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months or more. For anyone wishing to keep aquarium fish, it is crucial to learn and understand this process!

The best way to monitor your cycle is to purchase an aquarium test kit that tests ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH. While you can undoubtedly get the individual ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH test kits, the cheapest option is to get a master test kit with all of these tests in one kit.

Test the aquarium water every other day and write down the test values. You will first notice an increase in ammonia levels. A few weeks later, the nitrite levels should increase, and the ammonia levels should decrease. Finally, after a few more weeks, you should find that nitrate levels rise and nitrite levels drop. If you no longer detect ammonia or nitrites but can detect nitrates, you can rest assured that it is safe to add fish to your tank.

How much feed should you feed your fish?


Fish owners are more likely to overfeed than underfeed their fish. The excess feed increases the litter in the tank. This, coupled with the waste excreted by the fish, will further pollute the water and alter its cycle.

Adult fish can be fed once a day at approximately the same time. However, you can feed them several times a day if you give them a smaller amount each time you feed them. 

Follow the rule of thumb that you should only feed the fish what it will eat in five minutes. 

Do not take the size of the aquarium as an indication of how much food is needed. Five fish in a large aquarium need the same amount of food as five fish in a smaller aquarium. Just distribute them in the aquarium so that every fish can access them easily.

Feeding fish, how often should it be?

In most cases, feeding your fish once or twice a day will suffice. Some hobbyists even fast their fish a day or two a week to clean their digestive system. Larger, more sedentary fish may take longer between meals than smaller, more active fish. 

Herbivores look for food all day, so they should be fed more often, but only in small quantities at a time. Also, water temperature regulates the fish’s metabolism and influences how often and how much they need to be fed. The higher the water temperature, the more feed the fish will consume.

What can I feed my fish if I run out of food?

  1. Green Leafy Vegetables: Many fish species love vegetables like spinach and lettuce. Be sure to cut the leaves into small pieces before adding them to the tank. Cooked vegetables are a better option because they are easier for fish to digest. Some species may be allergic to greens. Avoid this food if you notice that your fish seem lethargic.
  2. Seafood: Carnivorous species can be fed white fish fillets such as cod and tilapia. It is a good idea to avoid oily fish pieces as they can ruin your aquarium. If you are using frozen fillets, be sure to thaw them before feeding them to your pets.
  3. Firm Egg Yolks: Smaller fish and shrimp love cooked egg yolks. It is a good idea to feed them small pieces from time to time. But don’t overdo it.
  4. Peas: Cooked peas are another great substitute for fish feed. Remove the outer skins and break them into smaller pieces before feeding them to your aquatic animals.

Best time of the day to feed your fish

After you’ve fed your fish for the first time, the best time of the day for continuous feeding is early in the morning and late in the afternoon or evening.

If you wonder when to feed your fish for the first time, you properly just got a new aquarium with a new fish inside. As such, here are some common questions you might have in mind

How do I add fish to my aquarium?

Whenever you add new fish to your aquarium, you don’t just have to throw them straight from the bag into the aquarium. It is important to gradually introduce them to the aquarium using a process called acclimatization. Here we explain what acclimatization is.


acclimatize fish

What is acclimatization?

Acclimatization is the process of moving fish to a new environment without causing stress or sudden changes in their physiology. Acclimatization is usually required when buying fish from a retailer and taking it home. 

However, fish must also be acclimatized if they are moved from one aquarium to another in your home. The process doesn’t take long, and the fish can be safely introduced within an hour. However, it can take a few weeks for your fish to adapt correctly to their new environment.

Why do fish need to be acclimatized?

When fish are introduced to a new environment, sudden changes can put them in shock and weaken their immune systems. At worst, the modifications can even kill your fish. The various properties of water, together with the water temperature, are partly responsible for this.

Therefore, to properly acclimate the fish, it is necessary to take some precautions to give a warm welcome to the fish.

How to add fish to your aquarium

  • Float the bag in the aquarium for about 20 minutes. If it took a while to get the fish to your home, it might be a good idea to open the bags to let in some air. The temperature should now roughly match that of the water in the aquarium.
  • If you haven’t already, roll down the sides of the bag and add some aquarium water into the bag to bring the fish to pH, salinity and hardness without shocking them. After another 20 minutes, repeat this process.
  • After following the steps above, it is time to place the fish in the aquarium correctly. It is usually recommended to use a fishing net to bring the fish into the tank. In rare cases, fish shop water can be harmful to your aquarium. A network, therefore, ensures minimal water transmission and reduces the likelihood of spreading the disease.

Always remember that the aquarist is solely responsible for everything that is added to the aquarium. Fish are entirely dependent on the fish keeper for their vital needs: nutrition, filtration, and so on. 

If there is too much food available, the aquarium becomes dirty. An adequately fed aquarium avoids this. It should also be well taken care of with partial water changes. Use a gravel cleaner to eliminate these debris buildups in the bottom layer of gravel before they become critical.

Feeding time is an excellent time to check the health of your fish. All fish should be interested in the food you offer them and consume it quickly. If some fish are not eating, it is a sign of illness or stress. In addition to accounting for other necessary medical interventions, try manually feeding or quarantining delicious foods and providing them with a high-protein diet. 

Also, after eating, check for gas or difficulty swimming. This may indicate a gluten allergy, as most flake foods are filled with grains, especially wheat, and a significant number of fish have this allergy. Try alternative foods and check how the fish reacts. If problems persist, switch to an algae-based diet only until the fish’s condition improves.

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