Veggies for Your Fish

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How to Serve Veggies to Your Fish (Minus the Silver Platter)

This article was contributed by Aquarium Advice member Menagerie

When I first heard about feeding vegetables and fruits to my fish, I thought it was very odd. I had heard of feeding peas to a betta to relieve bloating, but then I had hobbyists telling me to feed veggies and fruits to my fish weekly to increase the variety of foods my fish eat and to improve their overall health. So, I tried it. First, the Mbuna cichlids were fed peas and they laughed at me. However, by the next morning, there was not a pea to be found. Next, peas were fed to the community fish. They were also not interested; nevertheless, by the next morning, the peas were gone. At that point, I thought the plecostomus in each tank liked the peas until peas were fed again and I saw fish nibbling at the peas. Then I began asking others what kind of vegetables and fruits they feed their fish. How do you prepare the veggies and/or fruit? I was surprised to find that most tropical fish enjoy vegetables and/or fruit, and then I learned that nontropicals and saltwater fish also munch on veggies.

I asked everyone at to tell me what veggies and/or fruits they fed their fish and how they prepared the tasty treats. Trying to come up with a list of fish that enjoy fruits and/or veggies was impossible. Basically, if you have a fish, try feeding veggies and fruits~you may be surprised.

Before feeding your fish any vegetable or fruit, rinse thoroughly before cutting up. The fresh foods must be removed within 24-48 hours; otherwise, they will foul up the tank. The veggies and fruits are divided into categories based on how the vegetable or fruit should be prepared. This article will conclude by explaining how to get the vegetables and fruit to stay put in the aquarium, in order to keep your fish from playing hockey with it.

~Squash (i.e. zucchini and yellow squash) and cucumber
These can be peeled or served with skin on. Remove any seeds since the fish will not eat them. Slice or cube the squash.

~Lima beans, peas (frozen), and sweet corn
Blanch the beans, peas, or corn in boiling water for just a moment, cool and peel.

~Broccoli (fresh or frozen)
Using the stalk, peel, blanch, cool, and serve either whole or in slices.

~Cabbage, lettuce, and spinach (fresh or frozen)
Blanching can be done, but some fish will eat the leaves raw.

~Banana, grape, mango, papaya, plantain, and pumpkin
Small chunks of fruit work best, served raw.

~ Apple, carrot, pears, potato, sweet potato, and turnip
Peel, slice and serve raw.

How to serve the vegetables and fruit? (This can become a feat in engineering.) The easiest to serve are lima beans, corn, and peas. They sink and are eaten as they fall, or they are eaten after they have sunk to the bottom of the tank. If you are feeding a smaller fish, such as a betta, coarsely chopping the lima beans, etc. may be necessary. Any vegetable or fruit that is sliced can easily be placed in a veggie clip or a MagFeeder®. The alternative is using a rubber band to fasten the slice to a rock. For softer fruits, such as a banana or pumpkin, serve small pieces to start. If there is a problem with it floating, put it in a non-toxic, coarse mesh bag and weight it down. Another suggestion for floating veggies or fruit is to thread fishing line through and place a weigh at one end. When serving vegetables that sink — for example, broccoli — you can thread fishing line through the stalk and allow the broccoli to sink. Leave a piece of line sticking out of the aquarium, and after 24 hours, the broccoli can be pulled out with ease.

Be aware that feeding fruits in a SW tank may increase the amount of sugars in the water, resulting in algae.

(First appeared in the November 2004 issue of the Calquarium)

Filed under General Articles.