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Homemade Fish Food

Updated on July 27, 2014

Have you ever taken the time to read the ingredients on a package of fish food? If you haven’t you might want to stop and go get yours right now. Take a look at it. It probably starts out with something along the lines of fish meal, dried yeast, cornstarch, shrimp meal, rice…etc.

Now look toward the bottom of the ingredients list and I bet you see a bunch of scientific names. These are there because they are additives that are supposed to keep your fish healthy (or to make the product endure a longer shelf life). Fish in freshwater lakes and streams don’t get daily doses of these chemicals and they do just fine. Why should yours have to when you could make your own fish food alternative today?

If you care this much about your tank, care enough to give your fish the best food.
If you care this much about your tank, care enough to give your fish the best food.

Make Homemade Food for Pond Fish or Indoor Aquariums

There are plenty of alternatives to fish food that can be made in the comfort of your own home and most of them require little or no change in your shopping habits, in fact you will be using items that you’d normally throw away. Fish food is mainly fish meal and a bit of vegetable matter. Of course there are ways to kick up things like color or immune systems but these can all be done quite easily with the addition of vitamins and minerals.

These foods all contain chemical additives.
These foods all contain chemical additives.

Get Your Ingredients

To make a homemade fish food as an alternative to the store bought flakes it is important to start with fresh ingredients, anything that has been previously frozen or processed and canned will lack the nutrients necessary for your fish and lead to poor overall health. The ingredient list is rather simple, almost any vegetable, fresh shell-on shrimp or crab, V-8 or carrot juice, and liquid vitamins if you so desire.

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Put It All Together

The process of making fish food is kind of like making a smoothie (except you probably wouldn’t want to serve this to the in-laws). Use the leftover cuttings from vegetable preparation as the base for your fish food. I suggest keeping a scrap bag near the sink to collect peels, stems, seeds, and any other vegetable matter that is trimmed away. Using a blender or food processor churn about half a cup (8 oz) until it is completely blended. Add three to five shell-on shrimp or one to two crabs to the mixture and blend again. The mix should have the consistency of mud. If it is too thick add V-8 or carrot juice to thin it out. Blend again. At this point you can add in any liquid or powdered vitamins that you would like including my suggestion, Vitachem.


Storing the fish food is pretty simple. After you have processed the food and it is in a thick liquid state all that is necessary is to freeze it. I have seen some aquarists use ice cube trays or freezer bags for this. I suggest that you try a mini cube tray. This will keep you from having to cut the food up before serving it. It is also better for smaller tanks where you can just drop one or two small cubes in without affecting the water temperature.

My Recipe

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 8 oz spinach
  • 8 oz baby carrots
  • 8 oz peas
  • 1 large apple
  • 1 cup mixed berries
  • 8 oz fresh fish, shrimp or crab
  • 2 oz Spirulina powder

My Special Formula

Vegetables that I would use in my fish food are as follows: zucchini, squash, spinach, carrots, broccoli, and peas. Although any vegetable will be beneficial these are high in vitamins and peas have been reputed to be a wonder cure for diseases like bloat and swim bladder disease.

As far as fruits are concerned, try to stay with tropical ones like mango, papaya, and others that tend to grow near bodies of water. It is fine to use apples (but not the seeds), peaches, and berries. These should not make up more than one quarter of the food though.

Proteins should be aquatic based. I use shell-on fresh shrimp, shell on crab, fresh salmon, cod, or whitefish. Any fresh caught fish should be fine to add to the food. Try to avoid catfish because they tend to carry many diseases. Under no circumstance should you use chicken or beef from the grocer. The proteins in these animals are hard for the fish to digest and put a strain on their immune systems.

And my secret ingredient, the one that makes all of the difference, Spirulina powder. It is an excellent addition to any fish food not only because it is a natural marine base food but it contains many of the building blocks of aquatic life including a high level of protein, several tissue soluble vitamins, fatty acids, and trace minerals that are usually missing in the common aquarium.

Making a home fish food alternative will not only benefit the health of your aquarium but your pocketbook as well. Commercial fish foods, the good ones at least, run upwards of $30 a pound and, depending on your aquarium population,could really add up.


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