Should I Feed My Fish?

Feeding the fry is a very nurturing behavior. Students feel they are “caring and providing for” their young charges. Fish that are fed while in the classroom may grow larger more quickly. Many teachers struggle on the issue of whether to feed the fry or not. The danger is that the fish food adds contaminants to the tank as does the fecal matter generated once the fish begin eating. This makes it more difficult to keep the tank clean and increases the risk of mortality.

feeding fish

As the fish are only in your tank for a maximum of 8 weeks from egg delivery, they do not need to be fed – they can survive for a couple of weeks without food. Some teachers opt to feed the fish for a day or two prior to release as this fulfills the desire students feel to “nurture” the fish while minimizing the risk of mortality.

If you choose to feed fry, here are some guidelines:

  • Only use the food provided by CDFW hatcheries.
  • Provide a tiny amount of food. Less is better; more is dangerous. If any food particles fall to the gravel, the fish have been overfed.
  • Use your sterilized turkey baster to remove all debris from tank on a regular basis and change the water frequently to reduce contaminants.
  • Watch for dying fish and if spotted, release the survivors as soon as possible

We recommend NOT feeding the fish, or feeding them just prior to release. Ultimately though, it is your decision. Good luck with your fish!

About Ethan Rotman

Ethan Rotman (Bayareatic) manages and coordinates programs that hatch fish in classrooms for the San Francisco Bay Area. He also chairs the committee that manages these programs throughout the state. Ethan has worked with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for over 20 years.
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