I swear that these things are one of the best kept secrets in fishkeeping…
Every single person who sees the empty ring floating on the surface of my fish tank will point at it and ask, “What’s that?”
It’s a fish feeding ring and, for many fishkeepers, it’s an incredibly helpful tool when feeding time rolls around.
Never heard of it?
I’m not surprised…
Today, I am going to make sure fish feeding rings get the recognition they deserve, by teaching you all about them.
What is a fish feeding ring?
A fish feeding ring is perhaps one of the simplest pieces of aquarium equipment that you will buy…
In fact, a basic fish feeding ring consists of just three parts…
1. Suction cup – Attaches to the glass of your aquarium and holds the feeding ring in place.
2. Lever – Allows the feeding ring to rise and fall with the water level.
3. Feeder ring – Floats on top of the water and holds your fish food in place.
How a fish feeding ring works is even simpler than its construction…
Simply attach the feeding ring to your aquarium glass so that the ring itself can float on the surface of the water.
Then, all that’s left to do is add your fish food…
And just like that, the ring contains all of the fish food – stopping it from floating all around your aquarium.
Obviously, this only works for fish food that sits on the surface of your aquarium, like floating pellets and flakes.
But if floating food is a major part of your fish’s diet, then a feeding ring can offer many benefits… But I will get to those in just a moment.
First, I would like to add that while the word ring implies something that is round, this isn’t the case with all fish feeding rings.
Fish feeding rings come in any shape and size, from small round rings to large squares – or any other shape!
Yep, that’s not a fish feeding square – it’s a fish feeding ring.
Note: You can also buy fish feeding rings for ponds. However, these are free-floating – you can’t attach them to anything.
Why do you need a fish feeding ring?
1. It stops food from floating away
Let’s start with the most obvious, the very thing that a fish feeding ring was designed to do…
Stop your fish food from floating away.
Are you sick of your fish flakes getting sucked up by the filter or washed out the overflow before your fish get a chance to eat them all?
A feeding ring keeps the food in place while your fish eat their fill, not only preventing waste but reducing the amount of food that is left to rot – that stuff can really mess with your water quality.
It is for this reason that a feeding ring is often paired with an automatic fish feeder – the feeder dispenses food into the water while the feeding ring holds it in place.
2. Multiple rings for multiple fish
Have a fish that loves to bully the others away at feeding time?
Set up multiple feeding rings. A bully can’t hog all the feeding rings.
But feeding rings can be used for more than just holding fish food…
3. Stop floating plants from moving around
Does your aquarium contain floating plants? You can use a feeding ring to trap them, preventing them from freely roaming around.
4. Bubble nest friendly
Okay, so this point will only benefit those of you who own fish that make bubble nests.
Fish like betta and gourami like to build bubble nests on objects that break the surface of the water, such as a plant, rock or… a fish food feeding ring.
Not only does the ring provide a calm area for your fish to create a bubble ring, it also makes it easy to scoop the nest out when you need to clean your tank.
What is the ideal location for a fish feeding ring?
The reason I like feeding rings that attach to the side of your tank is because you can permanently set them up in a calm location with minimal water movement.
This is important. While feeding rings are more than capable of keeping fish food in one place, turbulent water can cause food to escape.
Now, the perfect spot for you to set up your feeding rings will entirely depend on your aquarium setup.
As you know, the filter return, powerheads, circulation fans and a whole manner of other equipment can agitate the surface of your aquarium.
Oh, and I shouldn’t have to say it, but don’t place the feeder ring directly above an air stone – the rising bubbles will shoot the food right out of the ring.
But the good news is that once you find the ideal spot for your feeding ring, you won’t have to move it unless you rearrange or add new aquarium equipment that affects the water movement.
Best fish feeding ring
Let me make one thing perfectly clear before you rush off to buy a fish feeding ring…
You can easily make one yourself.
A shower curtain ring, hoop earring, air tubing… You would be amazed at just how many options you have to make your own fish feeding ring.
Even so, my personal preference is to buy them. While they are not as cheap as making your own, they are still very affordable.
So, let me introduce you to my top feeding ring picks!
Best all-around fish feeding ring
This is now the only fish feeding ring I use in my tank. It may be slightly pricier than the others on the market, but the build quality beats out any other feeding ring.
Rather than using a suction cup, the fish feeding ring attaches to your glass with magnets. Simply place a magnet on either side of your aquarium glass and the feeding ring will hold firmly in place.
You might have noticed that this feeding ring doesn’t have a “shelf” on the inside of the ring. I never understood why fish food feeders include this shelf – if the tank has a lot of water movement, fish food can wash up onto the shelf and get stuck. The Little Fishies MagFeeder proves that it isn’t needed, and you definitely won’t miss it.
The ring itself is also deeper than others on the market – even in a current, your fish food isn’t going anywhere. Highly recommended.
Best square feeding ring – Aquarium Equip
While it may not have the same build quality as my top pick, it can hold more food in place thanks to its large size.
With internal measurements of 3 x 3 inches (7.6 x 7.6 cm), the only way you will get a larger fish feeding ring is if you make one yourself.
An added bonus of the square shape is that it can slide neatly into the corner of your tank.
Best cheap fish feeding ring – Nutrafin Max
If all you want is a cheap fish feeding ring that floats on top of the water, then this will do the job well enough.
It may not have the bells and whistles of my top pick, but it does the job at a good price.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I use a fish feeding ring with sinking fish food?
In my experience, feeding rings are best used with fish food that floats at the top of the tank. Sinking food just falls right through and your ring won’t be able to contain it.
How often should you feed your fish with a fish feeding ring?
I recommend you stick to feeding my fish twice a day—once in the morning and once in the evening. However, it really depends on your fish species, water temperature, and tank size.
What should I do if my fish aren’t biting, even with the feeding ring?
I’ve faced this issue before. Sometimes, switching up the type of fish food or moving the aquarium feeding ring to another spot in the tank helps. If you’re overfeeding, try reducing the food quantity. And when all else fails, it might be time to consult an ichthyologist or a seasoned fishkeeper.
Can I pair a feeding ring for aquariums with automatic fish feeders?
Absolutely, it’s a match made in heaven! My feeding ring helps to keep the food in place while my automatic feeder does its job.
How long does a typical fish tank feeding ring last?
I’ve had some feeding rings last well over a year. The lifespan depends on the material and how often it’s in use.
Any benefits of using a betta fish feeding ring?
If you have a betta like I do, a feeding ring can help reduce stress during feeding times by keeping the food in one spot. This allows your betta to eat without feeling threatened by other fish.
Can you use a fish feeding ring in saltwater tanks?
I’ve used fish feeding rings in both freshwater and saltwater tanks. Just make sure you pick one made of saltwater-safe material, like acrylic.
My fish like to jump. How can I keep them in the tank?
Choosing a feeding ring with a higher edge and placing it in calmer water usually does the trick. Also, cutting back on food amounts can make your fish less jittery.
Algae is all over my feeding ring! How do I clean it?
When this happened to me, soaking the ring in a mild vinegar solution for about 30 minutes and then scrubbing it with a soft brush worked wonders. Just make sure to rinse it thoroughly before putting it back in the tank.
Got any creative ideas for using a fish feeding ring?
Besides using it for food, I’ve used feeding rings to corral floating plants and even as a base for bubble nests for species like bettas and gouramis. The possibilities are pretty endless!”
As you see, a fish feeding ring is a great way to stop food from floating around your tank.
There might not be much to their design, but a fish feeding ring can be an essential tool during feeding time.
Do you use a fish feeding ring in your aquarium? Let me know in the comments below!
Ian Sterling, founder of Fishlab.com, began his aquarium journey over 30 years ago, driven by a deep fascination for fish and their diverse personalities. His website, Fishlab.com, is dedicated to making fishkeeping accessible and enjoyable, offering beginner-friendly guidance, expert insights, and a community for aquarists to connect and share experiences.