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How To Feed Multiple Fish In One Tank: The Essential Guide

how to feed multiple fish in one tank

Many people think that fish are easy to maintain, and the truth is that they might be compared to cats and dogs. However, taking proper care of them can come with challenges of its own, particularly when you are caring for multiple fish at the same time. When you have multiple fish, they often have different needs to address, even as they inhabit the same tank.

To feed multiple fish in one tank, the fish should ideally have similar dietary requirements. You should also make sure that all of them are getting their fair share of the food and that you do not overfeed them. If the fish have different needs, monitor them to avoid problems.

If you are interested in learning more about feeding multiple fish in one tank, read on for more information. You will learn all about the needs of different fish and how to address them when they are under your care.

Set Up the Tank Properly

It is possible to have multiple species of fish in the same tank. However, you should not mistake this to mean that you can put any two fish species together in the same tank. Before you put two types of fish together, you will need to research them and make sure that they are compatible.

By this, we mean that not only should they share similar diets, but they should also have similar requirements in terms of water chemistry and temperature. Some thrive in cold temperatures, while some will not survive and need warmth.

You also do not want to put fish together that can end up harming or killing one another (such as two species that are predator and prey)

In terms of food, you will want to put fish together that eat the same types of food. This way, you will not risk putting food in the tank that is good for one type and not potentially harmful for another in the same tank.

The following are a few types of fish and the recommendations for how you can house them in a tank with other fish:

African Cichlids

African cichlids have tendencies to be aggressive and territorial. However, even though it may seem counterintuitive, they generally fare better when you crowd the tank because that allows the aggression to be distributed throughout the tank.

Put them in an aquarium that is at least four feet long and monitor them closely, taking fish out when you see that they are too aggressive.

Ensure that the cichlids have similar diets before you put them in a tank together, as the diets of these fish can vary quite a bit.

South and Central American Cichlids

Like the African cichlids, these fish can vary quite a bit in terms of diet, size, and temperament, so you should use only house ones together that are similar in these ways.

Make sure not to overcrowd them, especially not the larger ones, since they can show aggression.

Choose the tank size that is big enough for the adult fish, and make sure to monitor them and take out overly aggressive individuals.


These are a very common household pet for fish owners and a good reason. They are hardy and relatively easygoing. You should make sure that you only keep them with other goldfish, as they have unique diets and do not need a heater, which would make them incompatible with tropical fish.

Closely monitor the water quality in a tank with goldfish. They produce quite a bit of waste.

There should be at least 20 gallons of water for every goldfish in the tank.

Community Fish and Semi-Aggressive Fish

Community fish are active fish, often swimming in schools. They are compatible with other types that are not aggressive. Usually, you will want to get five or more to thrive as well as possible.

If you have fish that are considered semi-aggressive, you should keep in mind that they can bully smaller ones in the tank. This is why you should make sure that all of the fish are of similar size if you have these types.

Monitor aggressive fish closely in order to make sure that they are getting along well. If any of them becomes too aggressive, you should remove them from the tank.

The above are just a few examples. You should always make sure that you research every fish species that you are putting into a tank, as you want to make sure that you can set up a tank that meets all of their needs.

Know the Different Types of Food

how to feed multiple fish in one tank

It is important that you provide your fish with proper nutrition. As such, it is a good idea that you know exactly what type of food will be good for your pet, depending on their natural environment, body type, and location in the tank where they like to eat.

If you feed your fish an incomplete or incorrect diet, they can end up with vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Their growth can be stunted, and their immune systems can be compromised. In severe cases, an improper diet can prove to be fatal. It is a good idea to know about the different types of food so that you can figure out which one is best for your fish.

Frozen Food

There are different types of frozen food for fish. You can either get meaty ones, such as squid or shrimp. Alternatively, there are vegetarian foods, such as seaweed and spirulina. In some cases, these can be a staple food for fish, and in others, they can be a supplement.

Even though these foods are frozen, they typically retain all of their nutritional value and their natural appearance and taste. Fish will enjoy it, as this type of food triggers their instinctive feeding responses.

Some require live food, while others can eat lifeless food. Additionally, you should be mindful of whether your fish is a carnivore (meat-eater), herbivore (plant-eater), or omnivore (can eat both plant and animal matter).

You should make sure that the size of the food particles is less than the size of the fish’s mouth and digestive tract. It should also be rich in vitamins and nutrients.

Freeze-Dried Food

Freeze-dried foods are a lot like frozen foods in that they retain the natural nutrition and appearance and texture of live food. However, they are processed in different ways to be able to easily feed the fish and for you to be able to store them conveniently.

You can also add drops of vitamin supplements fairly easily, delivering extra nutrition. Most of the time, freeze-dried foods work best as treats rather than staple parts of the diet.

Staple Food

This is likely what you think of when you think of fish food. Staple foods are the most popular, typically available in pellet or flake formulations. The flakes will quickly become soft without decomposing completely, making them the most popular types of fish nutrition available.

Flake foods can be sprinkled on the top of the water and slowly make their way down to the aquarium’s bottom. This will give several different types the chance to eat, depending on the level at which they choose to eat within the tank.

Food that comes in pellet or wafer forms will be available with the same floating and sinking capabilities and carnivore formulations.

Liquid Food

Liquid foods are good for the meaning of very specific nutritional needs. They can be used to feed very young fish, corals, and filter feeders. Usually, these come in the form of liquid suspensions of either plankton or minute food particles.

These foods are very concentrated, making it easy to overfeed fish with them. This is why you should give them in trace amounts and target feed them using pipettes or droppers.

Buy Small Amounts of Food

Rather than buying large bulk amounts, it is a good idea to buy small amounts of fish food. You should try to aim for no more than a one month supply at a time. This way, you can minimize the chances of the food losing its nutritional value before you can feed it to your fish.

Spread Out the Food

If you are feeding multiple fish in the same tank, you should spread out the food so that all of them can get some. There will typically be a tendency within a tank for larger or more aggressive ones to take all of the food and not leave any for their fellow fish in the tank.

However, if you divide up the food and add it to more than one area of the tank, this will reduce their ability to take all of it before the other fish have a chance to get their share. You can also sprinkle it evenly across the entire surface of the water. It is always a good idea to stay and watch them eat, so you can make sure that they have all had some.

Make Sure Not to Overfeed the Fish

Some people may think that it is better to give a tank full of fish too much food rather than too little. After all, you want to make sure that all of them have their food share, even if there is a little bit extra, right?

The truth is that when it comes to fish in a tank, it is better to underfeed them than overfeed them. When you overfeed them, you can create a buildup of waste material in the tank that is very bad for them.

How Much and How Often to Feed Your Fish?

In most cases, you should feed your fish, either one or two times every day. Because you want to err on the lower side, it might be better to feed them once a day. If you feed them twice a day, make sure that you are careful and only give them small amounts of food.

The majority need between 16 and 24 hours to completely digest their food, so most of the time, once a day will be perfectly adequate. The timing is not particularly important in most cases. However, if there are nocturnal fish in the aquarium, you should make sure that you feed them right before turning the lights out in the nighttime.

Fish are considered to be very opportunistic. They will eat whenever you give them a chance. When they live out in nature, they will look for food when they are hungry, but they generally just eat when food is available to them.

If they have plenty of food available, they will eat several times a day. However, if food is scarce for them, they can go without food for days and be fine. If you give them too much food, they will usually eat it even if they do not need extra nutrition.

You should feed your fish in very tiny portions. Only put as much food on the water as they will be able to eat within two to five minutes. If you give them too much food, they might end up with digestive problems.

If they eat all of the food within less than two minutes, you can give them a tiny bit more. After a while, you can figure out the appropriate amount to give your fish with every feeding.

Another potential issue is that the tank can become dirty, which will ultimately be unhealthy for them. In particular, nitrite and ammonia levels can rise, which can end up being toxic.

With betta fish, you should feed them much less than what they can consume in five minutes. One feeding should consist of no more than two or three pellets.

Overfeeding Your Fish

The most common mistake made by fish owners is overfeeding. It leads to all sorts of serious problems within the tank. It can clog the filter in the aquarium, and it can also break down into toxins that will ultimately be harmful to your fish. Also, it can have a more direct effect of causing digestive problems.

If you see that you have overfed them, meaning that there is still food in the tank after five minutes, you should try your best to remove all the uneaten food from the aquarium. You can do this using a net or siphon. Another obvious sign of overfeeding is rotten food that seems to be collecting near the tank’s base.

If you see a trail of feces hanging from your fish’s body, it is possible that their intestine is partially blocked. This could be due to giving them the wrong types of food or giving them too much food.

If you need to change the water more than once a week because it is no longer clean, it is possible that you are overfeeding the fish or that there are too many of them. In this case, what you should do is reduce the number of feedings per day or the amount of food per feeding. Keep in mind that the larger ones who consume more will also create more waste.

Hopefully, when you try this, the issue will resolve itself within a few days. However, if it does not, you should ask an expert (such as a person with a lot of experience in raising fish or an employee at the aquarium store) for some advice on how to feed the fish in your tank.

Monitor for Problems

Ideally, all the fish in your tank should eat the same kinds of food and be compatible in other ways as well. However, if you have an aquarium where this is not the case, you will need to be extra vigilant.

For example, if you have fish in the tank that feeds on different food types, you will need to make sure that each of them is getting enough food. Some will tend to monopolize everything you are putting in the tank.

If this is the case, you might need to find different combinations of food, where the more assertive type will allow others to have their share. You also want to make sure that the food for one will not be harmful to another.

If some of your fish are active at night and others during the day, this can be helpful. In this case, the answer to your problems might be feeding them at two different times of the day to ensure that all of them get enough food.


It can be a challenge to attend to the needs of multiple fish in one tank. No two fish will have the same set of needs, even if they are of the same species.

Even if they have the same needs, it can be difficult to make sure that all of the tank fish are getting what they need. Creative tactics may be to make sure that you end up feeding all of them. As long as you put in the effort, you should take care of all your fish.