When Should You Feed Your Fish After Adding Them To A New Tank?

In this article below we will discuss when you should feed new fish after you’ve added them to your aquarium.

You’ll learn;

  • How long you should wait before you feed your new fish
  • When the best time to feed your fish is?
  • How often you should feed them each day?
  • And a few more tips.

Let’s begin.

How Long Should You Wait to Feed Your New Fish After Acclimation

If you’ve been keeping fish for some time, you may have been told you shouldn’t feed your fish right after adding them to a new tank. Instead, you should wait 24 hours before feeding them.

Why should you wait that long?

Well, the answer might vary from person to person, and you might get a new reason every time you ask. The reason for that is there is no scientific data to support this strange and arbitrary rule.

However, you may notice that the new fish is hesitant to eat, not swimming or even hiding.

There is a straightforward reason for that:

Whenever the environment changes for your fish, they are bound to get stressed and possibly scared. To help minimize stress levels you can add a product like API Stress Coat to help calm things down.

Much like people and other pets, fish need time to adjust to them before they feel comfortable.

If you feel your new fish has taken to their new home, you can go on and feed them.

There is no problem with feeding your fish once they have settled.

But if you see them hiding, you should probably wait a short while.

Another thing you can do to help when adding new fish to a tank is allowing them some time before adding them to a new tank. We have a detailed article outlining exactly how long should you wait before putting fish in a new tank, check it out.

When Should You Feed Fish After Adding Them to an Existing Tank

It is very likely that due to stress, your fish may not eat right away.

If there are other fish in the tank, the new one will take its time before socializing, and there is a chance that it may find a place to hide.

However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feed your fish before 24 hours have passed.

It’s also possible that your new fish might need longer than 24 hours to adjust or might not adjust at all.

You can feed them a little once you have placed them in the tank, and if they don’t seem interested, just let them be for a while.

Your fish will eventually get hungry and will need to eat.

24 hours is just a rule of thumb to give your fish time to acclimatize and enough time for your fish to get hungry.

All that said, if you see your fish is active, swimming around, and appears normal, you can begin feeding them right away.

So, to answer when to feed new fish, it is more dependent on your fish’s condition and how well it has acclimatized.

When Is the Best Time to Feed Fish?

The best time to feed your fish depends on a few things, which we’ll discuss below.

However, no matter what time you decide, it’s always best to stick to a schedule.

Your fish will start developing a sense of time and get excited to see you walk up to the tank in anticipation of food.

We’ll discuss a few of the most common times to feed your fish below. But in my opinion, the best time to feed the fish is in the morning or the evening.

However, when feeding a new fish that has just been added to the tank, you may notice that it has not yet bonded with other fish and may not eat when your other fish are eating.

If this happens, try this;

Feed your older fish at a different corner of the tank. Once they have all moved towards that corner,

You can try to feed and lure out your new fish in another corner of the tank.

You need to keep in mind that the new fish you just added might be on a completely different feeding schedule, and you might be changing their schedule, which may take some time to get in sync with the other fish.

Okay, let’s briefly discuss the most common times to feed your fish;


Feeding your fish in the morning is probably the best option.

If you’re feeding your fish once a day, morning can be a perfect time.

Your fish are active throughout the day, and eating earlier in the morning will keep them in good shape throughout the day.

However, if you have nocturnal fish in the tank, this might not be the right thing to do.


Feeding fish in the afternoon is not a problem, but it is generally not preferred.

If you feed only once a day, try to choose either morning or evening time to feed.

If you opt to feed them more than once a day, then the afternoon is wonderful.


If you choose to feed your fish in the evening, that is alright, but try to ensure you do it a little earlier in the evening.

Excluding nocturnal fish, most fish go into rest mode in the evening, which means reduced activity and metabolism.

It is recommended that you feed them before they have started resting, so you don’t interfere with their metabolic patterns.

You can feed nocturnal fish anytime throughout the evening.

How Often Should You Feed Your Fish

How often you feed your fish is mostly dependent on the type of fish you have.

However, it’s common practice to feed your fish once a day at least.

That said, if you have a certain type of fish with a more extensive diet, a certain size, or is very active, you may have to feed it more than once a day.

Okay, now that you know what is typical, let’s discuss the most common frequencies for feeding your fish.

Multiple Times Each Day

If you plan on feeding your fish multiple times each day, you need to understand your fish’s activity and metabolism.

If the fish you keep are very active around the tank, they may get hungrier when compared to fish that tend to move slow, hide and rest.

Most African Cichlids, for example, would likely need to be fed more than once per day.

Another factor that alters the fish diet is their metabolism. Fish that are from warmer climates tend to have a higher metabolism and would food more frequently.

When you feed more than once per day, you should always be aware of overfeeding.

You can tell if you’re overfeeding your fish by watching how quickly the food is being consumed.

If it is not finished in about five minutes, you are likely feeding them more than need.

Once a Day

Feeding your fish once a day is the most standard practice.

Fish are good at conserving energy. They can make it through the day very easily with only one feeding.

However, the amount being fed should be enough to keep them full of energy all day.

Most fish don’t need to be fed multiple times a day. They will stick to their routines and will be very content and healthy with being fed only once per day.

Once a Week

Feeding your fish once a week is only applied to particular species of fish.

Usually, these are slow fish who spend most of their time in a partial hibernation.

In any case, it is usually recommended that all fish are fed more frequently than once a week. However, fish can go for a long time without food before they starve.

If you only feed once per week, you can feed them a large amount; chances are to survive.

But this should not be your routine practice.

If you like to see your fish swimming and being playful, you will have to feed them at least once a day.

There are also feeding practices in which people let their fish fast for a day or two a week.

This helps them with their digestive systems, but the fish should be at least fed once a day throughout the remaining week.

How Often Do Fish Eat in The Wild?

In the wild most fish will eat in the morning & evening. While it is more intuitive for fish to eat at these times, the critical factor is hunger.

Fish in the wild tend to eat whenever they feel hungry. It can be any time of the day;

If there are food resources available, the fish will eat. In the event of scarcity, the fish may go for days without eating.

When to Feed New Fish: A Guide to Ensuring Their Well-being

A. Importance of Proper Feeding for New Fish

New aquarium enthusiasts often wonder about the best time to start feeding their pet fish. It’s a critical aspect of fish care that can significantly impact the health and well-being of your aquatic companions.

B. Understanding the Factors that Influence Feeding Times

To answer this question, it’s essential to consider several factors, including the water temperature, the state of your new aquarium, and the nitrogen cycle.

Setting Up the New Aquarium

A. The Role of Water Temperature in Fish Health

Maintaining the right water temperature in your aquarium is vital for the comfort and health of your pet fish. It’s one of the first things you need to get right when establishing your new environment for aquatic life.

B. Establishing a Beneficial Bacteria Colony

A key component of a healthy aquarium is the establishment of a thriving colony of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria play a crucial role in breaking down ammonia and nitrite, two substances harmful to your fish.

C. Cycling Process and Its Impact on Feeding

During the cycling process, ammonia levels can spike, creating a potentially poor water quality environment for your fish. This phase directly affects when and how you should start feeding your pet fish.

The Nitrogen Cycle and Its Significance

A. Monitoring Ammonia Levels

Regularly checking ammonia levels with a test kit is essential. Elevated ammonia can be harmful to fish species, especially when you’ve just introduced them to a new aquarium.

B. Nitrite Levels and Their Effects on Fish

As the nitrogen cycle progresses, nitrite levels may rise, posing another challenge to the well-being of your fish. Understanding this aspect is critical for their long-term health.

C. Maintaining Water Parameters for Fish Health

Maintaining proper water parameters is crucial. It ensures a safe and healthy environment for your pet fish as they adapt to their new environment.

Choosing the Right Fish Species

A. Nocturnal Species vs. Diurnal Species

Consider the behavioral patterns of the fish species you plan to keep. Some are nocturnal species, while others are diurnal species, which impacts the timing of their feedings.

B. Adult Fish vs. Young Fish: Feeding Considerations

Feeding requirements vary between adult fish and young fish. Understanding these differences will help you provide the best food for their needs.

C. Herbivorous, Omnivorous, and Carnivorous Fish: Nutritional Needs

Different fish have diverse nutritional needs based on their diet. For example, herbivorous fishomnivorous fish, and carnivorous fish all have specific dietary requirements.

The First Day in Their New Environment

A. Fish Acclimatization

When you first bring your fish home, they need time to acclimatize to their new environment. This period is crucial in ensuring their well-being.

B. Proper Timing for First Feedings

On the first day, resist the urge to feed your fish immediately. This patience will contribute to their overall health.

C. Feeding in a Quarantine Tank

If you’re concerned about the health of your new fish, consider using a quarantine tank for the initial period to monitor their condition closely.

Developing a Feeding Schedule

A. The General Rule of Thumb for Feeding Frequency

Establishing a feeding schedule is essential. As a general rule of thumb, start with small feedings and gradually increase the amount of food.

B. Small Feedings vs. Large Meals

For many fish, it’s better to provide small meals throughout the day rather than a lot of food all at once. This helps prevent overfeeding and ammonia spikes.

C. The Best Time of Day to Feed Your Fish

Consider the best time of day to feed your fish, taking into account their activity patterns. Some species are more active during the day, while others come alive at night.

Monitoring and Maintenance

A. Checking Ammonia Levels Regularly

Regularly monitoring ammonia levels is crucial to catch any spikes that may occur due to feeding or other factors.

B. Partial Water Changes for Improved Water Quality

Conducting partial water changes is an effective method to maintain good water quality and ensure the well-being of your pet fish.

C. The Role of Filter Media and Test Kits

Investing in quality filter media and test kits can streamline the maintenance of your aquarium and help you track nitrogen cycle parameters.

Specific Feeding Tips for Various Fish

A. Betta Fish: Special Considerations

Betta fish have unique feeding habits and preferences. Understanding these can help you provide the best food for them.

B. Balloon Mollies: Unique Feeding Needs

Balloon mollies require special attention when it comes to feeding. Their unique shape influences their nutritional needs.

C. Small Fish vs. Larger Predatory Fish: Tailoring Food Amounts

The size of your fish affects the amount of food they need. Be mindful not to overfeed, especially if you have larger fish in your tank.

Feeding Strategies for Different Fish Behaviors

A. Active Fish vs. Nocturnal Species

Consider the activity levels of your fish. Active fish may require more frequent feedings, while nocturnal species may need their meals during the night.

B. Opportunistic Eaters and Their Diet

Some fish are opportunistic eaters, which means they’ll eat whenever food is available. Adjust your feeding strategy accordingly.

C. Adapting to Fishes’ Metabolisms: Small Meals vs. Big Water Changes

Adapting to your fishes’ metabolisms can involve providing small meals or, in some cases, opting for big water changes to maintain water quality.

Additional Considerations

A. Using Automatic Fish Feeders

If you can’t be present for feedings, automatic fish feeders can help ensure your fish receive their meals on time.

B. Addressing Poor Water Quality and Health Issues

Be vigilant about addressing poor water quality and any health issues that may arise. Prompt action is crucial for your fish’s well-being.

C. The Role of Bright Lights and Plant Material

The presence of bright lights and plant material can impact your fish’s

feeding behavior. Consider their influence when setting up your aquarium.


A. Prioritizing the Well-being of Your Pet Fish

Above all, always prioritize the well-being of your pet fish. Proper feeding is just one aspect of providing a healthy and happy life for your aquatic companions.

B. Applying Good Practices for Feeding New Fish

Applying the knowledge and practices outlined in this guide will help you navigate the delicate period of feeding new fish successfully.

C. Wishing You Good Luck in Your Aquarium Journey

Embarking on an aquarium journey is an exciting endeavor. We wish you good luck as you create a thriving and vibrant aquatic world for your fishy friends!

Key Takeaways

When you should feed your new fish is an important question.

If you notice your fish getting aggressive or restless, it’s usually a sign of hunger.

Similarly, fish leaving the food is a sign that they don’t need any more food.

Take time to learn and study the behavior, metabolism, and species of your new fish, and you’ll do great.


  1. https://thebeginnersreef.com
  2. https://www.aqueon.com
Jack Dempsey
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