Salty Q&A: How Often Should Your Fish Fast?

Saltwater SmartsBy Saltwater Smarts 3 years ago
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For a zooplanktivore such as Anthias, who are frequent feeders, withholding food isn’t necessarily advantageous

Question: I’ve been told that it’s a good idea to avoid feeding aquarium fish on occasion, for example once every week or once every other week. I guess this stands to reason because fish in nature can’t always get a meal. Do you agree with this, and if so, how frequently do you recommend doing it?” – Submitted by Candace Brown Answer: While I don’t have an issue with the practice of occasionally fasting fish, I’m always wary of making any sort of blanket recommendation such as “Marine fish should be fasted every X number of days.” In my opinion, a much better approach is to think in terms of feeding in a manner appropriate to the particular species—which may or may not include fasting. For instance, some predatory species, such as groupers and moray eels, naturally take in large prey items in one sitting and then go without eating for a relatively long interval until another prey item happens along. With these fish, it may be appropriate to feed only once or a few times per week and then allow them to fast in between meals. On the other hand, zooplanktivores and herbivores (such as anthias and many of the tangs/surgeonfishes respectively) naturally feed frequently, if not continuously, throughout the day. Thus, in an aquarium setting, it’s appropriate to provide multiple small feedings each day for zooplanktivores and continuous grazing opportunities for herbivores. MORE

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Saltwater Smarts is a unique online resource created by long-time aquarists Chris Aldrich and Jeff Kurtz to inspire and entertain a new generation of marine aquarium hobbyists while helping them acquire the reliable, authoritative knowledge base they need to succeed with a saltwater system. By clarifying key concepts, techniques, and terminology, as well as sharing expert insights from fellow enthusiasts and industry professionals, Chris and Jeff hope to promote a more accessible, sustainable, and enjoyable marine aquarium hobby. Read more about our mission and the contributors who are part of our team.

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