Have you ever had the problem…
I can’t find someone to feed my fish today?
I know I have.
It was last year when I decided to binge-watch Scrubs on Netflix, which I highly recommend by the way!
However, after watching just nine episodes in a row, I realized that it was time to feed my fish.
And to do that, I had to leave the comfort of my couch.
First world problems, right?
I am embarrassed to say that it was this event that led to me buying an automatic fish food feeder.
It allows me to watch as many shows as I like while my little robotic friend feeds my fish for me – it’s effortless!
If you are lazy like me, then you will rejoice at the idea…
However, an automatic fish feeder also has a more practical purpose:
It’s a great way to feed your fish while you are away from home – like if you go on vacation (yay!) or to work (boo!).
I would also add that if you are the absentminded type, an automated feeder will keep your fish full even if you forget to give them food!
It doesn’t matter whether you need your fish fed in a small tank, a large reef tank or your pond, there is an automatic fish feeder to suit your needs.
As you see, it’s a pretty handy tool for any fishkeeper.
Today, I am going to teach you everything you want to know about these beauties, including choosing the ideal auto feeder for your aquarium.
- What is an automatic fish feeder?
- What are the pros of automatic fish feeders?
- What are the cons of automatic fish feeders?
- What is the best automatic fish feeder?
What is an automatic fish feeder?
The exact design and operation of an automatic fish feeder varies from brand to brand.
However, in its simplest form, they all work the same…
Simply attach the feeder to your tank, fill the container with your fish’s favorite food, set the programmable controller to your preferred feeding time and walk away.
When the timer tells the controller that it is feeding time, the rotor will cause the feeding container to rotate once, causing fish food to fall out of an opening in the compartment.
All without any effort from you.
In fact, the only time you need to get involved is to either refill the feeder with fish food or to change the batteries.
And, well…that is pretty much all there is to it!
While that may seem basic, more advanced automatic fish feeders include the following functions:
- Multiple servings each day
- Digital LCD screen
- Holds enough food for up to six weeks
- A built-in fan to keep food dry
- Manual release to feed fish outside of programmed times
- Low-battery warning
What are the pros of automatic fish feeders?
Why should you buy an automatic fish feeder?
I have three good reasons…
1. A great vacation solution
Whether you are skipping town for a few days or going all out on a month-long vacation, an automatic fish feeder will take care of your hungry fish while you enjoy your time off.
Fish sitters can overfeed your fish and slow release fish food can turn your water into a cloudy mess with no guarantee that your fish will eat it.
But an automatic fish feeder? It will serve a portion of your fish’s favorite food on time, every time – making it my favorite method for feeding fish while on vacation.
I think you’ll agree with me when I say:
Fishkeeping can be an expensive hobby!
And, you might be cringing at the thought of dropping a wad of cash on yet another piece of equipment for your tank.
But automatic fish feeders are surprisingly affordable.
In fact, you can pick up the top of the line Eheim Auto Fish Feeder for less than $30.
Believe it or not, this is actually one of the most expensive models on the market.
3. They can be set up anywhere
If you look at my reef tank, you will notice an awful lot of aquarium equipment plugged into the nearby socket…
Pumps, lights, wave makers, protein skimmers, heaters, temperature controllers…
I honestly don’t have room for more plugs.
Fortunately for me, automatic fish feeders run on batteries.
This also has the added bonus of allowing you to set up the auto feeder wherever you like…
Want to use an automatic fish feeder for your koi pond?
You can do that – even if you don’t have an electrical outlet nearby.
What are the cons of automatic fish feeders?
But like all your other aquarium equipment, relying on an automatic fish feeder to dispense food can have its downsides.
1. No frozen food
Automatic fish feeders are for dry food only.
Flakes, round pellets and freeze-dried food are all suitable to use with an automatic feeder.
Frozen food? Not so much.
At the time of writing this, a commercially available automatic fish feeder for frozen food doesn’t exist.
And, any frozen food you put in your auto food feeder is quickly going to defrost and stink up your tank.
Same goes for gel food because it will stick to the inside of the feeder.
The only way to get around this is to go the DIY route using a dosing pump.
2. Hoods and lights get in the way
Automatic food feeders operate by dispensing food into an opening on the top of your tank.
While this won’t be a problem for most of you, it can be an inconvenience in certain situations.
Let’s say your aquarium hood doesn’t have an opening, or your aquarium lights don’t leave a whole lot of room. In these cases, you may have difficulty installing an automatic fish feeder on your tank.
3. Community tanks
There is no arguing it – community tanks, aquariums with many different types of fish, are magical to watch.
But they do make feeding time difficult.
You may find that not only do your fish eat at different times of the day but different foods too.
Automatic fish feeders only have a single compartment – you do not have the option to dispense different types of food at different times.
Want to feed your fish pellets at one time of the day and flakes at another? You have one option:
Buy two automatic food feeders.
You will need an additional automatic food feeder for each type of food you plan to add to your tank.
As you can imagine, the price can soon add up!
Best all-around automatic fish feeder – Eheim Everyday Fish Feeder
|Food capacity||Up to 6 weeks|
|Feedings per day||Up to 4|
|Location||Indoor use only|
|Instruction manual||Downloadable PDF|
Eheim makes one of the most popular feeders on the market, recommended by beginner and expert aquarists alike.
In fact, it is my go-to fish feeder – I have had it for two years, and it’s still going strong!
Like many other aquarists, I refuse to recommend any other type of automatic fish feeder.
When it comes to mounting the Eheim feeder to your tank, you have two options:
1. You can clamp the feeder to the edge of your tank, as you would with most types of automatic fish feeders.
2. You can put the unit on top of your cover and dispense the food through an opening. The unit is weighted and will support itself while sitting on your cover – although I recommend using Velcro tape (included) to ensure your feeder doesn’t go for a swim!
Like most automatic fish feeders, the Eheim feeder uses a rotating container with an opening on one side to drop fish food into your aquarium.
Oh, and you can control exactly how much your fish get fed…
The adjustable opening on the container allows you to control how much food gets dispensed during each rotation.
For bigger flakes and pellets, you want the widest opening. But for tiny pellets, I recommend leaving only a small crack open.
The versatility in portion control makes this automatic fish feeder perfect for aquariums of any size, whether you have a small tank with a single betta or a large planted tank. This feeder has you covered.
The only problem I have ever had with this dispenser is when using large flakes – they can get stuck. But I get around this by simply crushing the flakes to a smaller size before placing them in the feeder. Oh, and it certainly won’t do large sinking wafers.
A button on the back of the feeder allows you to manually dispense a “snack” to your fish outside of the programmed feeding times if you need to.
But overall I have been hugely impressed with the Eheim automatic fish feeder. It’s been good to both me and my fish, and were I to buy another one, it would certainly be this model.
And that’s why I am recommending this as the overall best automatic fish feeder – nothing else comes close. On sale at Amazon!
Want to know more? Check out our Eheim Everyday Fish Feeder Review.
As you see, an automatic fish feeder can be a very handy addition to your aquarium setup.
Whether you are away from home because of work or on vacation, a fish feeder will make sure your fish are fed until you return.
Do you use an automatic fish feeder with your aquarium? What is your experience? Let me know in the comments below.