What Do Fish Eat: Let’s Find Out!

Fish are great pets to have and eat a variety of different things, from flakes and pellets all the way to small shrimp and even veggies.

This food is something that you will be able to purchase at your local pet store where you got your fish, and costs may vary. To get an in-depth detail about what your pet fish eats, check out this guide.

My mother early on taught us to respect all animals, and I mean all animals – not just cats and dogs but rats and snakes and spiders and fish and wildlife, so I really grew up believing they are just like us and just as deserving of consideration. – Joanna Lumley

Obviously, and this should go without saying, there is no one answer to this. I can’t say “all fish eat this food”. Instead, fish eat a specialized diet based on their species and dietary needs. For instance, a Koi fish does not eat the same kind of food that a 25¢ goldfish from Walmart will eat. Because of this, it is very important to research and talk to the people at the pet store about what your pet fish will end up needing.

What Do Different Fish Eat?

Since there are so many different kinds of fish we wanted to give a list of the top 5 best fish for beginners and go over what they eat and the care they will need. The majority of these fish I have personally owned and they are very hardy fish to have. If you are wanting to look for a specific breed’s diet you should Google it specifically. You can look up, for example, “what to feed my goldfish” and you will find a bunch of information on that individual fish’s dietary needs. When getting a fish remember to keep these things in mind:

  • Water temperature
  • Food and diet
  • Choose between gravel and sand
  • Choose a good net
  • Get water conditioner

We wanted to include a video about setting up your first aquarium. The video is about 10 minutes long but it is extremely helpful and gives great tips for starters.

Top 5 Fish For Beginners And What They Eat

1. Neon Tetra

SizeMax 1 1/2 inches
ColorBright, vivid coloring
Scientific NameParacheirodon innesi
DietGeneric fish flakes, can eat shrimp or bloodworms
LifespanMax at 8 years
Tank sizeAt least 10-gallon tank needed
Water needsWater pH level of 5.5
TemperatureBetween 72 and 78 degrees is best
SalinityFreshwater fish

This is one of the more popular beginner fish are neon tetras. These guys are super easy to care for, look great in your tank, and are pretty forgiving when it comes to water conditions (at least in my experience). These guys are originally from Malaysia where they are farm raised, and if you want to make them feel at home you can add rocks and wood to your tank.

Their diet is pretty simple and can eat higher quality fish flakes. They are also omnivores, meaning they can eat both meat and plants, so they can also eat bloodworms and small brine shrimp. This will provide protein for these little guys so they can grow and live longer.

2. Betta

A beautiful betta fish. Image source: Pixabay

Size2 1/2 inches long
ColorRanges from blue and red to black and white
Scientific NameBetta splendens
DietCarnivore- Betta flakes and some other meat products
LifespanAround 3 years
Tank sizeMinimum tank size 1 gallon
Water needs7 (neutral)
Temperature75 to 80 degrees, Bettas thrive in warm environments
SalinityNo, freshwater fish
Hostile?Very, cannot be placed in a tank with other fish

Bettas, or Japanese fighting fish, are extremely popular fish that many people have owned. They are easily recognizable and are great fish to have around. A big thing about bettas is that they need at least a 1-gallon tank, not one of the very small ones you can find at pet stores. They also don’t like water currents since they actually breathe from the surface of the water. They can also be super aggressive so they do need to be kept alone in their tank.

Bettas can eat betta flakes or pellets (often found near where you can choose your betta at the store) and can even eat bloodworms for protein. If you buy them frozen food remember to thaw it before feeding it to them. If your betta is your you will need to crush up the flakes so they don’t choke on it.

3. Cory Catfish

SizeCan grow to almost 3 inches long
ColorDarker grey to brown coloring
Scientific NameCorydoras
DietFish flakes, bottom feeder tablets, and pellets
LifespanUp to 5 years
Tank size
Water needspH needs to be around 7.0 to 7.8
TemperatureNeeds to be between 72 to 78 degrees
SalinityNo, freshwater fish
Hostile?Very peaceful

These fish are very easy to care for, in part, because they are bottom feeders. That means that they are almost like the vacuum cleaners in your aquarium. These little guys eat the flakes and pellets that sink to the bottom of your tank, but you can also give them bottom feeder food if it isn’t enough for them to survive on. Overall great fish to have and a must have in most aquariums to help clean up.

4. Plecostomus

SizeCan be over 12 inches long
ColorDark black to dark brown coloring
Scientific NameHypostomus plecostomus
DietOmnivore, and bottom feeder. Will eat food pellets, flakes, and bottom feeder pellets. Can also eat algae and veggies
Lifespan10 to 15 years
Tank size20 gallons
Water needsThrive in water between 7.0 and 8.0 pH
TemperatureBetween 70 to 80 degrees is best for plecos
SalinityNo, freshwater
Hostile?No, very peaceful

This is another bottom feeding fish and will clean your tank for you, just like the catfish does. One great thing about plecos is that they eat algae that grow on your tank, making it look great. You can also give it cucumbers by securing it in the bottom of the tank. It is important to feed your pleco daily, so make sure you stay on top of it.

5. Guppies

Size2 inches max
ColorColors range based on specific breeds
Scientific NamePoecilia reticulata
DietFlakes and dried foods are best
Lifespan4 years
Tank size10 gallon at least
Water needsNeeds a pH between 7.0 to 8.0
Temperature68 to 85 degrees
SalinityNo, freshwater fish
Hostile?No, very peaceful

These fish are pretty forgiving and are great for beginners. They eat fish flakes, pellets, and some freeze dried foods. In my experience, the flakes work very well, but they do require variety in their diet. They do well in groups, so, get a few of them for your tank.