Saturday, May 18, 2024

How to Identify Underfed or Overfed Catfishes

To know if your catfishes are underfed, you need to regularly observe their weight gain. Underfed fishes will always fail to develop well. Also, observe how they rush feed each time they are fed. In addition, unequal sizes and cannibalism are common occurrences with underfed fish. Diseases are also not far from them and which may at times lead to their death.

The common occurrences with overfeeding include water contamination; this is because the excess feed will lead to excess waste production. Also, you will always found feed remnants on the surface of water. It could also lead to their death if they greedily consume excess feeds. So, it is better to give them adequate quantity of feeds.

Signs of Overfeeding Catfishes and other Fishes

Feeding our aquarium fish is one of the most fun activities of aquarium keeping. Feeding time provides personal interaction between the aquarist and fish and brings the fish up close so we can see them.

It’s one of the best times to see their colors and scale patterns and check on their health. Many fish seem to recognize their caretakers and will come to take a closer look when you approach the tank and you may even be able to enjoy hand feeding your fish.

There are no discussions that proper nutrition keeps aquarium fish colorful, healthy and disease-free. No matter the reason feeding is important and fun. But the fact is, feeding should be done cautiously as overfeeding causes nothing but problems in the aquarium.

Read Also: Advantages of Imported Catfish Feeds over Local Feeds

How Do you Know If You’re Overfeeding your Fishes?

Overfeeding your fish is an extremely easy thing to do. Feeding your fish is the primary way of interacting with your fish. The only time your fish will be excited to see you is when you are going to feed them.

It’s more often that a fish will die from overfeeding rather than die from being starved. This would be the case as not all the food put into the tank would be eaten or removed. This food is likely to fall to the bottom of the tank and stay there, where it will begin to rot over time. When the food begins to rot this will begin to pollute the water in the aquarium.

When cleaning the aquarium if the substrate is not siphoned effectively the rotting food will remain which could cause your water levels to fluctuate which could cause diseases with your fish which may cause death of livestock. We would suggest investing in a siphon gravel cleaner for your tank to help with this issue, and as a bonus they also help with water changes.

Happy healthy aquarium fish will always look hungry. When buying new fish, a very good way to test whether the fish are in good health and well cared for would be to raise your hand to the tank. If the fish in the tank swarm at the surface of the water this shows the fish are regularly fed and cared for.

The problem of overfeeding the fish is more common in beginners. The three major reasons behind are:

  • Thinking their diet is as huge as humans and supplying more food in the tank.
  • Feeding is one of the best modes of communication with them; doing it too often seems exciting.
  • Fish express enthrallment and eagerness when humans approach them and swim to the top or front of the tank. It sometimes looks like they are hungry which made the beginners feed more.

All these temps the aquarists to supply more than the required to the fish. However, on the contrary, the stomach of these small creatures is so tiny that they need a very little amount of feed.

What are the problems associated with overfeeding?

How to Identify Underfed or Overfed Catfishes

When you give extra food to the fish, they overfeed which leads to the production of excess waste product. Some of the uneaten food also accumulates in the tank that changes the water chemistry.

Waste products and uneaten food breakdown into chemicals that increase the toxicity of the water.  It eventually stresses the fish, creating health issues and different types of diseases in them.

Other than the fish’s health, the tank also becomes unsightly and unpleasant to the eyes. The aesthetic view of the aquarium gets deteriorated drastically.

Read Also: Why You Should Not Give Smaller or Bigger Size of Feeds to Catfish

Some major problems or the consequences that fish face with an overdose of fish feed;

  • Increase in the level of ammonia and nitrates due to the breakdown of uneaten food and waste products making the water toxic for fish.
  • Decrease in the level of oxygen as decaying of the excess of waste products will require more oxygen for decomposition. Therefore, less dissolved oxygen will be available for the use of fish.
  • Decrease in the pH level due to more acid production.
  • Development of fin rot or tail rot in fish which occurs majorly when they remain in stress for longer durations.
  • Fatty liver due to overeating which affects the normal functioning of the fish. It is common in African Cichlids and rainbow fish.
  • Problem in digesting as the bacteria become no longer available to do the needful.

These are some common problems with which fish had to deal when you overfeed them. Other than these, the tank also suffers greatly, and its aesthetic value diminishes completely. Some major problems that arise are:

  • Algae Bloom– It occurs mainly when there is an excess of food in the tank and waste products take too much time to decompose.
  • Cloudy water- The large quantity of decaying organic material worsens the quality of water making it unclear and hazy.
  • Mold development- Sometimes gravel and decorative items inside the tank develop white cottony thing which is mold or fungus.
  • Flat Worms or Planaria- The emergence or development of Planaria is quite common when the quality of water deteriorates. Overfeeding tanks have higher chances of their development. Although not harmful, they feed on fish eggs.
  • Clogged filters- The function of filters is to purify the water, remove the normal amount of waste and enhance the water quality.

However, when the excess of waste products accumulate, they overpower the filters and clog them. This reduces their capacity to function normally.

How to ensure you are not overfeeding your fish

The rule with fish feeding is to not feed them more than what they can consume in half a minute. If you are feeding the fish more than they can consume in half a minute causing the food to sink and mix with the substrate then you are probably feeding your fish a little bit too much. Cut the food down to ensure what you are feeding the fish can be consumed in half a minute without wasted food being left in the tank.

If your tank is heavily stocked maybe feed them a couple of times with smaller pinches of feed to ensure none of the food is wasted in the tank. It is not completely necessary to feed your fish everyday either. Most fish keepers will only feed their fish every other day. Therefore, the fish will go unfed 2-3 times a week. It is sometimes more beneficial if the fish go without food for at least one day a week.

Consequences of overfeeding are the biggest motivation to stop overfeeding once and for all. Every aquarist wants his fish to remain healthy, happy and stress-free. Therefore, the first step is to understand how much fish food your swirling creatures require. Inculcating good feeding schedule and dose will help in avoiding overfeeding and its consequences.

Read Also: The Best Between Local Catfish Feed and Foreign Feed

Try the following steps to prevent overfeeding:

How to Identify Underfed or Overfed Catfishes

1. Maintain a feeding schedule – A proper feeding schedule with an appropriate interval of time makes a lot of things easy. It will train your fish and tell them the specific time of the day to get the food.

Generally feeding twice in a day is advisable but you can also go for smaller feeds at frequent intervals. Fish prefer nibbling small chunks than gulping large amount at once.

2. Give them the right amount of food – The idea of the right amount comes from experience. You need to watch the fish between the feeding intervals and the amount of food left uneaten in the tank. It is advised to start with a small amount and gradually increase the dose when you see all the food finished.

The thumb rule says to feed only the amount that they eat within 4-5 minutes of feeding.  After 5 minutes the food which is left, generally remain uneaten.

At the same time, keep an eye on the fish as well as for whether all of them are eating or not. While some munch on the food quickly, some like scavengers take time. If some of the fish are not eating at all, it could be the sign of them being ill.

3. Give them the right food – Apart from scheduling the feeding and giving the proper amount, feeding the right food is also very important for the fish. Low quality or stale food will not only make them undernourished and unhealthy but will also lead to more waste as fish will not eat them.

4. Give them in the right size and proportion – The food should be given in the right size and form. Generally fish prefer food in the form of flakes. Size of the flakes should be in consideration as well.

Some fish like to munch on floating food, and some prefer the food that sinks. So, you need to research thoroughly before feeding your fish for their good health and digestion. Make sure you always feed fresh and high-quality food.


  • Sometimes aquarists feed based on the size of their tank, which is a wrong practice. The feed should be given as per the number of the inhabitants of the tank and not as per its size.
  • If you are switching to a new food, feed sparingly as the fish take time to identify their new diet and accustom to them.

Ensure you are feeding your fish a good diet

Many fish foods that are supplied online and in your local fish shop are high quality foods which will provide good nutrient for your fish and set up. You should mix the diet with dry food and frozen or freeze-dried fish foods. It’s also a good idea to use multiple foods as they will help to add different nutrients to the tank.

Read Also: How to Store Fresh Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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