How to Feed Freshwater Tropical Fish & Mussels

Updated November 21, 2016

A well-kept freshwater tropical fish tank requires more than a few food pellets once a day for optimal health. Research the fish you keep in your aquarium, and adjust your feed to accommodate fish that are mainly carnivores versus fish that are omnivores, and whether your species prefers to feed in the daytime or at night. Generally, a variety of commercial and live food with a bit of vegetation is the best way to feed a tank.

Turn off the aquarium's filters and lift the hood.

Drop a small amount of commercial fish pellets and/or flakes into your tank. Feed only as much as the fish will consume in three minutes. The pellets or flakes you choose will depend on the size, type and feeding habits of your fish. Flakes work best for smaller fish who swim up to the surface to feed, while sinking pellets are better for mid- and bottom-swimmers with large mouths.

Turn on the aquarium's filters and close the hood.

Turn off the aquarium's filters and lift the hood.

Feed your fish either live or freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp or water fleas. Feed only as much as the fish will consume in three minutes. Of these foods, live brine shrimp is most easily cultivated at home.

Feed algae eaters and herbivores with a sinking algae wafer, and/or a bit of romaine lettuce, zucchini, or spinach. Attach the vegetables to a sinker or clip it to the side of the tank. Algae-eaters should only be fed once daily so that they consume the tank's algae during the rest of the day.

Spot feed mussels with a pipette or a syringe without a needle. Slowly release a suitable filter-feeder food near the mussels. All of the commercial filter-feeder foods available in fish stores and online are marketed for marine filter feeders, but they will work for freshwater mussels. Alternatively, you can make your own green water to feed mussels. Mussels will also consume algae and uneaten food in the tank throughout the day.

Leave your filters off for a half hour after feeding mussels to give them time to take in the food.


Live guppies or feeder goldfish can be fed to large predators, such as Oscars.


Overfeeding fish is just as dangerous as underfeeding fish. Feed small amounts more frequently rather than a large amount once a day.

Things You'll Need

  • Commercial fish food
  • Live or freeze-dried food
  • Algae wafer or veggie
  • Pipette or syringe
  • Filter-feeder food
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