HomeFreshwater FishFreshwater Fish Health & CareWhat Can I Feed My Fish If I Run Out of Food...

What Can I Feed My Fish If I Run Out of Food at Home

So you are running out of fish food, and you have no way to get a supply soon. You’re afraid your fish will have nothing to eat for the next few days. And you begin to think, “What can I feed my fish if I run out of food? Surely there’s something here I can feed them.”

The list ranges from fruits to vegetables to cooked and raw meat, insects and bugs. As early as now, you already know that you will hardly run out of food for your fish.

What Can I Feed Fish Besides Fish Food

If you have the common aquarium fish in your tank, it should be no problem to drop in pieces of vegetables, fruits, and fresh or raw meat. But of course, you are concerned about feeding them balanced, healthy food, and you want to know which food they could eat and enjoy. So, at this point, the perfect question is, “What can I feed fish besides fish food?”.

The standard aquarium fish diet can be categorized into three: carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore. In this article, National Park Aquarium will list down the ideal diet for each of these categories to ensure vigorous and happy fish in your tank.

What Can I Feed My Fish If I Run Out of Food at Home

What to Feed a Carnivorous Fish

A carnivorous fish cannot digest plant material food. Though you may see some nibbling on plants, their digestive tracts do not allow such foods to be processed. Hence no nutrients are extracted.

By feeding carnivorous fish, you can experiment with various meat-based food choices. Their sharp teeth and large mouth make it easier for them to consume proteins. They would undoubtedly appreciate live or frozen food as a change from pellets or flakes.

what to feed a carnivorous fish
What to feed a carnivorous fish

Here are a few examples of fish food alternatives you can feed them:

  • Blood Worms
  • Shrimp
  • Earthworms
  • Maggots
  • Small Insects
  • Daphnia
  • Beef heart
  • Chicken bits
  • Smaller fish

Although handling this type of food can be uncomfortable, do keep in mind that these are a treat for your carnivorous fish. And as much as your fish enjoy this food, it cannot be the staple diet. Carnivorous fish still needs the balanced nutrients fish flakes to contain.

You have to remember a couple more things before we move forward. First, avoid fatty meats and oily fish as the fat may build around the heart of the fish.
Next, remember that carnivorous fish tend to be picky when it comes to their diet. They would relatively fast for a few days first before they eat the new kind of food they are not accustomed to.

So do not be alarmed if you see your fish not eating the food you give within the first few days of the change.

What to Feed a Herbivorous Fish

You will find countless fish species nibbling on plants, but only a handful have an exclusively plant-based diet. They have flat teeth that work as grinders, and they would eat until their small stomachs are filled.

what to feed a herbivorous fish
What to feed a herbivorous fish

For the herbivorous, try these:

  • Boiled root crops (potato, carrot, cauliflower, pumpkin, etc.)
  • Small pieces of fruits (apple, orange, watermelon, mango, etc.)
  • Softened and peeled peas
  • Lettuce, cabbage, and other leafy greens
  • Aquatic plants (duckweed, etc.)

Unlike carnivorous fish, they are easier to feed. The change in their diet from fish food to fresh fruits and plants will not bother them at all.

What to Feed an Omnivorous Fish

If the population of your tank consists of omnivorous fish, there will be no reason to ask, “What can I feed my fish if I run out of food?” because your choices are almost endless. You can mix food options from both the carnivorous and herbivorous fish diets.

what to feed an omnivorous fish
What to feed an omnivorous fish

In addition, you can feed them:

  • Corn, popcorn, grains, and oats
  • Small crustacean
  • Hard-boiled egg yolk
  • Snails
  • Zucchini (remove seeds and soft inner part)

While you can mix and match meat and plant-based foods to feed the omnivorous fish, fish food still tops the best source of all necessary nutrients. This does not mean that meat, fruits, and vegetables do not have noticeable positive effects on the fish’s physical appearance.

On the contrary, an occasional shift to this kind of food may result in shinier scales, more vibrant in color, and more energetic swimming.

What to NOT Feed Your Fish

While you are still caught in the question, “What can I feed my fish besides fish food?” never feed your fish bread. In opposition to what we may be led to believe, bread may cause a fatal incident to the habitats of your tank, regardless of the diet.

Bread, crackers and any of the like can expand and block the digestive tract. So it is best to avoid them altogether.

Daily feeding of the listed diet above for each respective species over a long period may be harmful in the long run. These food do not contain the whole nourishment a domestic fish can get from fish food. Instead, let the occasional shift be in the diet as a treat or supplementary food for your tank occupants.


Can Fish Eat Cheerios?

While fish can eat Cheerios, it’s not the best choice for a meal. Cereals like Cheerios are high in carbohydrates and lack the essential nutrients that fish require. These nutrients are abundant in fish-specific foods. Thus, Cheerios should only be used as a temporary substitute if you run out of fish food.

Can Fish Eat Sugar?

Fish should not be fed sugar or any food containing sugar. Sugar can disrupt the balance of the water and can also negatively affect the digestive system of fish. It’s always best to stick with specially formulated fish food that has been created to provide the essential nutrients that fish need.

Can You Feed Fish Pasta?

Cooked pasta can be fed to fish as an occasional treat, but it shouldn’t make up a large part of their diet. Pasta lacks the nutrients found in fish food and can also muck up your aquarium water if fed in large amounts. Always make sure the pasta is thoroughly cooked and cooled before feeding it to your fish, and remove any uneaten pasta after a few minutes to prevent it from fouling the water.

Last Words

There’s no need for concern when wondering, “What can I feed my fish if I run out of food?” because, more often than not, there is a food source around you. Whether you’re at home or on the move, finding something edible for your fish is feasible. Occasionally diversifying their diet can elevate their mood and enhance their well-being.

Rate this post
Further Reading
Kevin Mills, the founder of Nationalparkaquarium.org


-- Founder --

I'm Kevin Mills, the founder of Nationalparkaquarium.org, where I share my deep passion for aquariums and aquatic life. With over 20 years of experience in fishkeeping, covering everything from tending to saltwater and freshwater tanks.

Kathleen Wood


-- Interrogator --

Kathleen Wood, a seasoned marine biologist, possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in her field. Her research on tropical fish biodiversity spans over three decades, and she has contributed numerous scientific papers on aquatic life.