10 Best Fish Food for Tropical Aquarium Fish

Disclosure: I may earn a commission when you purchase through my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. – read more

What you need to understand about aquarium fish is that you need to give them various different foods in order to keep them healthy. There are omnivores, herbivores and carnivores and there is a range of foods each species can eat.

Thankfully, there are plenty of varieties you can choose from in a typical fish store. Many brands create a wide range of crisps, flakes, tablets, pellets and other types of foods that are all full of nutrition. And, of course, you always have the option to give your fish live foods and vegetables you can find in the kitchen.

In this article, we are going to talk about the types of fish foods you can buy for your community aquarium. This will allow you to set up a mixed diet for your precious pets and make them thrive.

1. Flakes

Flake food is the absolute winner in terms of popularity when it comes to feeding tropical fish. You only need to take a look at the size of the fish you want to give it to. Small- and medium-sized tropical fish do just fine if you give them Flakes.

It is mainly made for the most popular home aquarium species. For example, you can give it to Tetras, Barbs and pretty much any livebearer.

In the fish store, you can usually find a wide range of flake foods. It is important to mix it up and buy a different brand or even a different type of food from time to time.

In case you have colorful fish at home, consider buying flakes that are specifically made to bring out those colors.

2. Crisps

Crisps are quite similar to flakes, with the difference that they are a bit denser and thicker. At a first glance, it might seem like it’s just another variation of the same food. In fact, it has some significant advantages compared to Flake foods.

Since Crisps are denser, they take more time to dissolve in water and thus float longer as well. It retains its shape; therefore, it generates less waste. Plus, your fish have more time to get the full amount of nutrition out of it.

Now the reason why people don’t always buy Crisps over Flakes is because they are more expensive. Also, if you have smaller fish like Neon Tetras, then Crisps will be too big for them to eat. This problem can be solved by crushing them into smaller bits.

3. Granules

You can also give your fish Granules, which gained a lot of popularity among fish keepers in the last few years. This is a great option if you are looking to feed something other than Flakes to your fish. A mix of various Granules and Flakes will make a great diet for your fish collection.

There are many Granules that even sink down to the middle and bottom layers of your aquarium. It provides a straightforward way to feed those species that spend most of their time in those layers. This is also the type of food you want to put in an auto feeder because it rarely clogs the dispenser.

Granules are perfect for Loaches, Corydoras Catfish, Barbs and Tetras for example.

4. Tablets

Tablets are made exactly for bottom dwelling fish. In a larger community tank with many species in it, other types of foods often don’t get to them. Fishes in upper layers get to eat it before them.

The great thing about Tablets is that they sink to the bottom and are also too big for the other species in the tank.

There are also suckermouth-type species that absolutely love this type of food. The way they eat is they graze small amounts of the Tablet, consuming it bit by bit until they have enough.

For them, the food they eat should last for a long amount of time so that they can keep grazing on it.

In the fish store, you can find Tablets that you can stick to the side glass of your tank. Stick-on Tablets allow you to watch your fish while they eat.

5. Algae Wafers

As the name says, Algae Wafers are created as a substitute food for those fish species that mainly eat algae. This type of fish food mainly consists of vegetable matter and it is full of nutrition. It contains everything that can be found in algae, if not more.

Algae eaters usually live on the algae they can find in the aquarium. The diet of an algae eater sometimes has to be supplemented by other types of food. This depends on which species are we talking about.

You pretty much only need Algae Wafers when your algae eater fish runs out of its main source of food. There are many other foods that are great for herbivores and you can get them in the store.

However, they will eat the Algae Wafer too because it is completely plant based.

6. Sticks

Sticks fall under the category of dry foods just like Pellets, Flakes and Wafers. Whether you have omnivores, herbivores or carnivores in your home aquarium, you can find delicious Sticks for them in the store. There are many brands and many different compositions to choose from.

The only thing to keep in mind when buying Sticks is that you can only give it to larger fish because they are rather big. It is all about the variety.

Feeding the same type of food to your fish over and over is definitely not the way to go. Sometimes you give them Granules, sometimes Flakes, and then you switch to some Sticks.

The fish you keep at home get food from many sources out in the wild. Therefore, it is important to have at least 4-5 different types of fish foods next to your aquarium at home.

7. Pellets

If you are trying to find some food for your Cichlids, then feeding them some Pellets is always a great idea. Since they are considered as hard and dry food, they are less likely to contaminate your aquarium or sabotage your filter.  

Now the reason why we mentioned Cichlids is because Pellets are for large fish species. It has to fit into their mouth because it is not made for chewing. They consume it as whole, which also means less waste is going to be generated.

You can feed them to any large fish you have in your tank. At the store, you can choose from plant based and meat-based compositions.

Of course, you can give them to bigger omnivorous fish as well. However, in this case, you need to feed them both varieties alternately.

8. Gel Food

Fish food doesn’t have to be something dry all the time. This is where Gel Food enters the picture. This type of food is mainly made for Goldfish. The main source of food for this species in its natural habitat is moist.

Although you can find plenty of gel food in the fish store, this is something you can prepare at home as well. It really takes no special skill; you only need to look up a good recipe online and follow what it says. There are so many gel food recipes available online that you can create a different one every day.

This type of food was already popular among Goldfish keepers. Now tropical fish owners also start to realize that this is indeed a great option for their fish too. As long as it contains the nutrients they need, they are going to love the Gel Food you prepare for them. 

9. Freeze Dried Food

When you hear the term Dried Food, you start thinking about some dry food that contains many different ingredients. When it comes to Freeze Dried Food, we are talking about something different. The method freeze-drying is used to shrivel up live food.

For example, typical foods for fish are freeze-dried blackworms, brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia and krill, all frozen as whole. This is the type of food that is not going to expire any time soon from the time you buy it. It is optimal for both bigger and smaller species.

If you want to give them to smaller ones, you only need to crumble it into pieces. Aquarists usually buy bloodworm because that is the most appropriate one for the typical community tank. Of course, you better check the most preferred food for your fish before buying anything.

10. Live Food

Live Foods are less and less common because there are so many other varieties to choose from in the store. However, the fact still remains that many fish get excited when there is a live prey in front of them. This is what makes Live Food a good treat for aquarium fish.

Also, not all fish keepers get their fish via the fish store. Some of them catch a certain species out in the wild and then put it in their fish tank. Until these fish get used to the typical aquarium food, they prefer to be fed with Live Food.

The most popular ones are daphnia, bloodworm and brine shrimp. These are also unlikely to cause health problems to your fish. All in all, feeding Live Food is usually not necessary but you definitely can if you prefer to.

Can Commercial Fish Food go Bad?

You should definitely check the expiration date on every fish food you want to buy just like in the grocery store. Even after you have done shopping, you should keep track on the expiration dates. This is to prevent feeding old food to your fish.

Even if it won’t make them sick, expired fish food certainly loses its nutritional value over time. Therefore, if they don’t get sick from food poisoning, they will get weaker which makes them more vulnerable to diseases.

This is not much of a concern with dry foods because you can typically use them for 3-4 years before they expire. The rule of thumb is to feed them the food that is about to expire more regularly.

Does Fish Food Contain Enough Vitamins and Minerals?

It is important to buy fish food that contains the basic nutrients required for your precious pets. You want them to live a long and healthy life. Try to avoid those container labels that either don’t show the list of nutrients properly or indicate a lack of nutrients.

Furthermore, you should do your homework and learn more about the nutritional values that are displayed on the containers. The nutritional values displayed on the label have to be in accordance with what your fish needs to eat.

Many of the foods we talked about can be full of vitamins and minerals. It only depends on which one you choose from the shelf in the fish store. It is worth to mention though that live foods are full of nutrition.

What to Feed Your Fish When Out of Food?

When you run out of fish food, there are still plenty of ways to feed your fish. There are alternatives that provide enough nutrition and it doesn’t require much effort to prepare them.

Whether you have fish that live on a plant-based diet or a meat based one, there are numerous ways to solve this problem.

Also, keep in mind that providing your fish something different is usually very good for them. For herbivore tropical fish, you can get some green leafy vegetables straight from the kitchen.

Cucumbers, carrots, zucchini and watermelons are also good for them.

You can either boil lettuce and spinach or just give it to them in raw form. You need to slice them into small pieces, otherwise they won’t be able to eat it.

For tropical fish, you can prepare some peas as well. Avoid giving them canned peas because those usually contain a huge amount of preservatives.


As you can see, there are plenty of easy-to-get fish foods to choose from. There is literally no reason not to supply your fish with a diverse diet with so many options available.

We humans can’t eat the same meal every day and work properly. The same thing is true for aquarium fish.

A mixed diet greatly contributes to their well-being and allows them to grow in the desired pace.

It also emphasizes their colors, granting more vivid colors to your tropical fish. Strong colors signify that they are healthy and lively.

And, most importantly, a consistent good diet ensures that your fish will resist diseases for the rest of their lives.

This is something you should be careful about because some popular species are very hard to cure.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
Questions and Answers
Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *