Overfeeding Flat out Kills Your Fishes
 
Use a smaller shovel when you feed your fishes.
 
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New tanks, old foods, vacation fish feeders, carelessness, non-working filter systems, low water levels, visiting four-year-old nephews, too “helpful” family members, overly generous “pinches” of food – all contribute to the overfeeding problem that kills fishes.

Excess food in your aquarium causes many problems:

  1. overloads your filter

  2. encourages excess bacteria

  3. decreases oxygen levels

  4.  increases carbon dioxide

  5. increases waste products

  6. pollutes the water

  7. stresses your fish

  8. encourages disease

  9.  wastes your money

Outside of these particular problems, feel free to pound as much extra food into your tank as you desire.

Overfeeding also stresses fish tank owners.  It causes more fish keepers to drop out of the hobby than any other reason.

Every day we see more cases of overfeeding.  Sometimes the problems are expressed to us as:

  1. cloudy water

  2.  foam at the surface

  3. “growths” on the gravel

  4. loss of appetite

  5.  fish “wobbling”

  6. fish gasping at the top

  7.  fish huddled on the bottom

  8. spots on the fish

  9. open sores on the fish

  10. fish deaths

Unfortunately, we see these results after the damage.  (New tank owners are the main perpetrators of overfeeding.)

Most people want a “magic bullet” to drop into the water and magically “cure” any and all of these problems.  No such cure exists.  We looked for it.  Lots of places.  Several times.  Over a very long period.

New fish keepers recognize unhealthy symptoms.  However, they need a correct diagnosis to rectify the problem.

The Problem:  Too much food causes stress factors that make your fishes lose their appetites and thus eat even less food.  The problem snowballs.

Let’s not blame new fish keepers entirely.  Experienced fish keepers are just as likely to overfeed -- you Oscar keepers know who you are.  All Oscars and other big cichlids wiggle their butts hungrily – whether they’re hungry or not -- when you walk past.  It only takes them a couple weeks to train you when to feed them.

Resist the temptation to try to make your fish love you by feeding them more and more and more.  Hungry fishes are always healthier than overfed, chunky fishes.  Get real.  Your fishes do not love you no matter what you do.

What’s the cure for overfeeding?  Start with massive water changes.  Use your gravel vacuum cleaner to remove the visible pollutants.  Change half the water to remove the invisible pollutants.  Use a good water conditioner when replacing your water.  We like NovAqua.  Make sure it’s the same temperature.  And a teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon always helps -- especially in new tanks.

LA Pic
In the old days we used to put these hard workers on the clean-up crew.

Avoid antibiotics and other magic pills.  The “cures” that actually put the kibosh on disease bacteria also severely wound the beneficial bacteria in your filter system.  The “cures” too often cause even greater problems two weeks later – back to the “new tank syndrome” that burns out new hobbyists.

LA Pic

How much food is “too much?”  Old-timers in the hobby say, “Their stomach is as big as their eye.”  Actually, their mouth is as big as their eye.  A few fish autopsies will show you that fish stomachs are actually much larger.  However, this rule will save your fishes lives.  Feed them as much food as will fit in their eye and you will actually find out that goldfishes, angels, and oscars (and many others) live to the ripe old age of 10 years.  Many live even longer.

Overfeeding can take on another form – feeding the wrong kind of food.  Wrong foods include:

  1. foods they won’t eat.,

  2. too large a food,

  3. old food.

And just because your oscar will eat hunks of ham, chunks of chicken, or bits of burgers, does not mean you should give them to your fish.  Ditto dog and cats foods.  Feed fish fish foods,

Many flake foods sport labels that say “will not cloud the water.”  However, you can overfeed these foods also.  They fall to the bottom and grow a slimy layer of mold on the gravel.  

LA Pic

No fish will eat dead food lying on the bottom.  Snails will eat this garbage.  Fish will not.  Better yet, take out this moldering garbage with a gravel vacuum cleaner.  Regular water changes with your gravel vacuum cleaner will prevent overfeeding symptoms.

Feed lightly and often.  Missing a daily feeding once in a while beats overfeeding.  Overfeeding kills more fishes than any other problem.  LA.

© 1997, © 2003, © 2004  LA Productions

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