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.

Feeding Vegetables to Tropical Fish, Shrimp & Snails

  1. Buy organic and wash well
  2. 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.
  3. Cook just enough to break down the tissue so fish can eat it.  Frozen and canned vegetables can usually be fed without cooking.
  4. Avoid feeding too much vegetation that is high in oxalate (such as spinach)
  5. Although fresh fish food is the best fish food, you can feed low-heat dehydrated and freeze-dried vegetables for convenience.
  6. Balance is the key to any successful diet plan. Research your specific species and try to meet their nutrient requirements as naturally as possible.
  7. 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)
  • Zucchini
  • 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


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19 thoughts on “Can Freshwater Aquarium Fish Eat Vegetables?

  1. My Platy’s and Guppies go crazy whenever I put vegetables in the fish tank. Peas, squash and green beans are the favorites in my aquariums.

  2. I pick up produce on sale when it’s close to expiring. The fish can eat it better when it’s starting to get soft and it’s a lot cheaper. Great post!!

  3. We’ve tried all kinds of veggies on our fish but their favorites are peas, zucchini, rom lettuce, green beans and brusselsprouts.

  4. I’m happy to hear there’s lots of vegetable fans & fins out there! Thanks for sharing your experiences :-D.

  5. Oh I don’t bother much since I started buying bottom bites, you do the work for me :-). Well that’s not entirely true because I give them the outside leaves of romaine lettuce sometimes too.

  6. I’ve only tried giving peas to my mollies but all my fish eat Bottom Bites food every other day or so. It’s true they’re healthier with some vegetables for food and they breed more often too.

  7. I give them a pinch of thawed spinach pieces when we have it for supper and it doesn’t bother them.

  8. Oh oh……I give them sweet potato food they love but I’ll cut back on it. Thanks so much for sharing this information.

  9. Awesome post, you sure know your fish. I usually stick to zucchini. I slice it up and keep it in the freezer so it’s easy to throw a slice in a few times each week.

  10. My fish & snails love blanched zucchini and romaine. I’ve tried broccoli and cabbage for them but they STINK. They loved the broccoli but didn’t appear to be too excited about the cabbage.

  11. I have a 45 gallon tank of breeding red calico bristlenose plecos and they eat more vegetables than I do!

  12. I don’t know what kind of algae eater we have but he’s the reason we started to put lettuce in our fish tank. He’s so big I was worried there wasn’t enough algae to fill him up. The other fish eat some too.

  13. Yes! We breed many fish that need veggies and we love mixing them up into gelatin food, thanks to your recipe on All Natural Pet Care.

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