Can fish eat human food? That’s a question we hear every now and then from our clients. The answer is mostly “no,” but there are some possible exceptions. Even for those exceptions, however, we wouldn’t recommend placing human food in an aquarium because it could be dangerous for the animals and live plants.
Herbivorous livestock may be able to graze on some kinds of fruits and vegetables, and carnivorous fish may be able to eat some kinds of proteins. It’s tricky and limited, so ask our aquarium technician for specifics regarding the human foods that your particular fish can eat if you’re in a crunch.
Generally, human foods that certain fish can possibly eat include:
- Light white fish, such as cod and tilapia, but avoid feeding them fish that are too oily or that have unhealthy chemical composition
- Hard-boiled egg yolks
- Blanched lettuce
- Cooked peas (without the shells)
- Cooked spinach
- Sweet potatoes
Any human food given to fish must be in small pieces or minced, and you should take care to avoid any choking hazards.
These foods can be freeze-dried or frozen, but never give them canned foods. Canned foods may contain preservatives and other chemicals that can be dangerous to the livestock.
Although it may be possible to feed them these foods if you’re out of fish food, we don’t recommend doing so for the following reasons:
- The leftovers and fats can cause cloudiness in your tank or generally diminish the appearance of the aquarium.
- The fish may produce excess, relatively unnatural waste, which can endanger the overall habitat.
- Fish foods are made with the essentials that fish need, including protein, amino acids, healthy fatty acids (lipids) and/or vitamins. Human foods might not give them the nutrition they need.
- The fish may become spoiled with human foods and refuse fish foods.
Never place the following foods in your fish tank.
- Cat or dog food: It is formulated for their bodies, so it will not give fish the nutrients they need. It may also contain ingredients that are generally unhealthy for livestock, such as preservatives.
- Bread: Fish may eat it, but it can be especially dangerous for them. The yeast, wheat, salt, and preservatives can lead to bloating, which is potentially fatal to fish.
- Beef, chicken, or pork: These meats typically contain too much fat, which can endanger a fish, and can be difficult to digest.
- Any foods that are too fatty: Too much fat can be harmful to a fish’s liver and reproductive organs.
- Cooking oils: They can poison the livestock, contaminate the water, and cling to the tank.