Feeding Peas to Aquarium Fish – All You Need to Know
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Most aquarium fish have an omnivorous diet, which means they consume a variety of foods, both animal and plant-based. Homemade greens and veggies are always good additions to most fish’s diets due to their extra nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Today, we will discuss one of the most widespread green that all aquarists feed to their fish on occasion: peas. Is this appropriate for fish, how much should they eat, and what benefits does it bring? Let’s have a look!
Are Peas Good for Fish?
Yes, peas are good for fish, especially due to the higher fiber content. This is great for helping fish defecate more easily in case they’re experiencing digestive problems. If you think your fish don’t have this issue, think again. It’s actually quite easy for fish to become constipated by either eating the wrong foods or overeating.
Constipated fish display stress, lack of appetite, and bloating, among other symptoms. They’re in a generally poorer mental and physical state, which is, naturally, not desirable. Peas are rich in fiber and work as a laxative, helping your fish eliminate the excess waste easier.
Also, many aquarists feed their fish peas regularly to prevent digestive problem, which is an even smarter move. That’s because it’s easy to overfeed your fish without realizing it. Most aquarium fish will happily eat more than they should. You think they’re still hungry, but they’re actually just greedy. Overfeeding is the number one trigger of constipation and compaction.
Adding some peas to your fish’s diet will provide the fish with the necessary fiber to ease the digestive process and prevent this issue.
Types of Peas to Feed Your Fish
There are 3 types of peas that you can get for your fish:
- Fresh – This is, by far, the best type, as fresh peas retain all of its important nutrients. You know it’s high quality and rich in nutrients, making it ideal for your aquatic pets. Naturally, you need to cook it before serving it to your fish for ease of consumption. You can get multiple types of peas from your local store, including garden peas, snap peas, snow peas, etc. These differ only slightly in terms of size, and some may have a bit more carbs, but otherwise, they’re the same.
- Frozen – I rank frozen peas as second in terms of overall quality. The freezing process will have destroyed some nutrients, but it’s still a good option overall. You can store frozen peas to use regularly, depending on your fish’s needs and diet.
- Canned/Precooked – While this is a type of peas available for purchase, naturally, I would recommend against feeding it to your fish. One the one hand, canned and precooked peas is almost always less nutritious than the fresh version. On the other hand, canned peas contain various additives and preservatives that alter its chemical composition. This may actually make the product unsafe for your fish, especially the more sensitive species.
So, I would go for fresh peas, especially since it’s not expensive and it’s readily available in most markets. Frozen peas are also a good option, except it may not be as fresh and nutritious. It doesn’t make much difference, though, because you’re mostly interested in the fiber content, which tends to remain unaltered no matter how you’re serving the peas.
Benefits of Feeding Peas to Aquarium Fish
There are several benefits to feeding peas to your aquarium fish, some of which you may not even be aware of. These include:
Better Water Quality
Peas have a small protein content compared to normal fish food or live food meals. 100 grams of peas only contains about 5 grams of protein, compared to up to 45 grams of protein for commercial fish foods. This is great for preserving water quality because it’s protein that’s responsible for boosting ammonia levels in the water.
So, your fish will poop more when consuming peas, but their poop won’t be as toxic as when eating protein-rich meals. Naturally, you can’t avoid high-protein foods if you have a carnivorous species, but omnivorous fish don’t require as much protein. Adding peas to their diet is a great move in their case.
This may seem like a ‘where you’re going with this?’ point, but it will make sense in just a second. The truth is that most fish tend to feed at the water’s surface, especially when they’re really hungry. This stays true for most fish species, except bottom feeders, which rarely leave their comfort zones near the substrate.
The problem with surface feeding is that the water contains more dissolved oxygen near the surface. Surface eating also causes fish to get some accidental gulps of atmospheric air when snatching their food. These issues cause the fish to take in oxygen into their digestive track, causing bloating and even leading to swim bladder disease in some cases.
Peas sinks, forcing fish to swim to the lower layers of the tank to feed. This minimizes the risk of bloating, keeping fish fuller and healthier long-term.
Commercial fish food isn’t always accurate in terms of nutrient description. You’re not quite sure that the food contains all the ingredients listed on the label or that the proportions are accurate. But you always know what peas contains. Sometimes it’s better to feed your fish individual foods rather than resort to mixed premade recipes.
Especially for omnivorous fish that require more protein overall and only need veggies occasionally. Peas are great for them because protein can be more difficult to digest, and your fish will always appreciate a surplus of fibers along the way.
How to Prepare Peas for Fish?
You have 3 preparation methods to consider before feeding the peas to your fish:
- Boiling – You need to boil the peas before use. Otherwise, your fish won’t be able to consume it because the peas itself is too hard.
- Peel it – Fish cannot consume the skin, so you need to peel the peas for them to reach the meat. Yes, it does sound like drag-work, but it’s necessary. Plus, it shouldn’t take too long because it’s not like you have to peel a pound, but only a handful of beans.
- Mash/Cut – You now need to smash or cut your peas in smaller portions. I prefer mashing them a bit and crushing the peas for ease of consumption. You can also just cut each bean in half, so long as they’re soft and freshly boiled.
This is as far as the preparation phase goes. Your fish will consume the peas with ease, provided it’s prepared properly.
As a general advice, watch your fish’s behavior before and during the meal time. If your fish are constipated, they might experience buoyancy problems. In other words, they won’t be able to sink to the bottom to eat the peas. If that happens, consider impaling some peas into a toothbrush you no longer need. Then hold the toothbrush into the water for the fish to have easier access to the food.
How Much Peas Can Fish Eat?
This depends on how many fish you own, how big they are, and their appetite. Overall, you should portion the peas just as you would portion any other food type. So, your fish only require sufficient peas for them to consume within a couple of minutes. Everything else will remain on the substrate as residue and decay, polluting the water.
Fortunately, boiled peas are easy to clean from the water after your fish are done eating. Make sure you do that to keep the environment cleaner and healthier.
How Often to Feed Peas to Fish?
Peas isn’t a vital food component in terms of nutrient content. While it does contain some carbs, fiber, and trace vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C and A, calcium, and iron, peas aren’t that nutritious, really. At least not as much as dedicated fish food that’s vitamin and mineral-enriched.
So, providing your fish with peas once a week for laxative purposes should be enough.
Are Frozen Peas Good for Fish?
Yes, frozen peas are perfectly good for fish since they have all the fiber content in place. Make sure you prepare the peas properly before feeding it to your fish.
Peas aren’t exactly a magical food since it’s not that rich in nutrients. This is why most aquarists use it as a backup food source to prevent fish from experiencing digestive problems. This is quite recommended because fish can experience digestive issues for various reasons, including poor water quality, improper temperatures, improper diet or feeding, etc.
A small amount of peas regularly will regulate the fish’s intestinal transit and prevent additional digestive issues moving forward. So, you don’t need to treat peas as a must-have food source, but more like a weekly treat for digestive health purposes.