Herbivorous and Omnivorous fish, shrimp, and aquatic snails often enjoy household vegetables in their diet. Some omnivores require more vegetation in their diet than others, such as Mollies, Rainbowfish and Apple Snails. Freshwater fish that are primarily herbivorous, such as common Bristlenose Catfish (Ancistrus sp.) and Oto’s (Otocinclus sp.), should be fed a diet based almost entirely on vegetation.
Many fish-keepers like to provide whole vegetables to limit the amount of processed fish foods consumed. Which vegetables are best for each species depends upon their digestive system as much as the nutrient content. While tropical fish don’t digest terrestrial vegetables as well as they do seaweed and algae, they can digest some better than others.
Many vegetables also offer side benefits to fish, shrimp and snails, including anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasite properties. They can support the immune system and organ function, while also improving reproduction and growth.
7 Tips for Feeding Vegetables to Tropical Fish, Shrimp & Snails
- Buy organic and wash well
- Go for vegetables low in carbohydrates and avoid those high in starchy carbohydrates and/or sugar (potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, etc). High carbohydrate food may interfere with digestion or nutrient absorption and encourage parasite reproduction.
- Cook just enough to break down the tissue so fish can eat it. Frozen and canned vegetables can usually be fed without cooking.
- Avoid feeding too much vegetation that is high in oxalate (such as spinach)
- Although fresh fish food is the best fish food, you can feed low-heat dehydrated and freeze-dried vegetables for convenience. We often feed gently dehydrated Vegetarian Bottom Bites natural fish food for an optimum combination of many vegetables, herbs and a bit of fruit.
- Balance is the key to any successful diet plan. Research your specific species and try to meet their nutrient requirements as naturally as possible.
- Vegetables can pollute your fish tank if you feed too many of them at once. Since the nutrients aren’t compromised like they are in highly processed flake or pellet fish food, a little goes a long way. Clean up any leftovers promptly.
Some Vegetables we feed to our Aquarium Fish, Shrimp & Snails include:
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli florets, cauliflower and bok choy)
- Green peppers
- Wild vegetables (dandelion greens, chicory, dock, etc)
- Dark, leafy greens and ‘Waste’ greens - Many vegetable greens that humans don’t eat can be put to good use in our aquarium fish tank. Radish tops, for example, are even more nutritious than the root humans love. Research to avoid foliage that isn’t safe, such as rhubarb leaves.
What are the favorite vegetables in your aquarium? Please tell us about it in the comments below.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Top 15 Natural Fry (Baby) Fish Foods for Optimum Growth
Live Fish Food Cultures for the Home Aquarium
Top 15 Natural Foods and Herbs for Breeding Fish
The Natural Diet of Omni-Insectivorous Aquarium Fish
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