Feeding our fish is a daily activity that’s one of the most enjoyable parts of the hobby! But sometimes our regular schedule gets interrupted and we can’t be there to keep our pets full.
If there’s nothing we can do and we have to be gone for a spell, just how long can fish go without food?
How Long can Fish Go Without Food?
Most healthy aquarium fish can go three days to a week without eating. However, it usually isn’t recommended to go more a day or two without feeding unless completely necessary.
This number may vary based on a few factors:
How Active Are Your Fish?
How long your fish can go without food depends heavily on the metabolism of your fish. Smaller fish tend to be very active, which means they need more food than slower, larger fish.
Small, schooling predators like Tetras and Rasboras tend to be continually active. The way they dart about, nipping at one another and exploring their home is part of their charm!
In nature, these fish would be constantly “grazing” as plankton, insect larvae, and other food sporadically drifts by. In aquariums they get a large feeding all at once, which fills them up for a few hours. Still, you’ll need to provide food 2 or even 3 times per day for these guys!
The warmer the environment, the faster the metabolism of your fish. Many tropicals, like Danios and White Cloud Minnows, can also thrive in room temperature or cooler water.
In cooler tanks, we should be giving them either less food per feeding or offering food less often (1-2 times per day). Any more and you’ll run into either fat fish or uneaten food going to waste.
Are your fish herbivores or carnivores? Since plants tend to be abundant but low in nutrition, herbivores tend to graze continually. They need large amounts of this lower energy food to maintain their weight. Carnivores, on the other hand, can eat a single meal and digest for a longer period without eating.
How Can I Keep My Fish Fed During a Holiday?
If you have a longer vacation planned, you’ll need to make sure your fish are cared for in the meantime. Here are some of the most common ways to ensure your fish don’t need to go without food!
Automatic Fish Feeders
Automatic fish feeders are my tool of choice for this situation. These devices store prepared foods in a hopper and can be programmed to dispense some as often or as little as you wish.
Having a neighbor, relative, or friend drop by to feed your fish is another common way to make sure your fish eat properly.
While they look strange food blocks have been around for decades and are an inexpensive, incredibly easy way to keep your fish happy. They can last weeks and don’t need calibration or directions on how to operate!