Feeding your fish is something that you have to do. Your finned friends simply cannot survive without being fed something. While you likely enjoy feeding your fish manually, there are merits and drawbacks to using an automatic fish feeder.
The biggest benefit to an automatic fish feeder is that you don’t have to be present to feed your fish. The automatic fish feeder dispenses food and your fish should get fed (more on the should part in a bit). This automated feeding is beneficial for when you are away from your tank for several days or if you like to feed your fish several times a day and can’t or don’t want to feed by hand.
The drawbacks to an automatic fish feeder are three fold:
First, automatic fish feeders can fail. When they fail, they either don’t dispense food, or they dispense way too much food. If you’re gone for an extended period time and are relying on an automatic fish feeder that fails, then your fish either go hungry or you’ll come home to a nutrient issue and/or algae outbreak.
Second, at this time there is not a commercially available (i.e., not D.I.Y.) automatic fish feeder that feeds frozen food. The automatic fish feeders that are on the market only dispense flaked or pelleted food, which brings up drawback #3
Third, not every fish will eat flaked or pelleted food. My Banggai cardinal fish (Pterapogon kauderni) and White Tail Bristletooth Tang (Ctenochaetus flavicauda) flat out refuse flaked and pelleted food. I’ve also kept several types of anthias that refuse flaked and pelleted food. If these fish won’t eat what comes out of the automatic feeder, then these fish aren’t getting fed, rendering the automatic feeder partly useless. These fish will need to be fed another type of food (probably frozen food) which has to be done by hand.
I won’t deny that if some of your fish are getting fed, then that is better than no fish getting any food. An automatic fish feeder can be used to bridge the days when your tank sitter doesn’t feed. For example, if you know some of your fish will eat flaked/pelleted food, then your sitter could come every two days versus every day. You’ll still need to rely on a tank sitter which isn’t a bad thing as they can look over the system while they are there feeding. Just make sure you give your sitter the “Don’t kill the fish” worksheet found in my Pre-Travel Planning and Preparation Guide so they are familiar with your system!
If you’re lucky to have a tank full of fish that will all eat flaked and pelleted food, then the automatic fish feeder can be a saving grace for you. Due to my picky eaters, I, or my tank sitter, have to feed my fish frozen food by hand. Also, I have no problem not feeding my fish every day while I’m out town. For those reasons, I don’t use an automatic fish feeder.Browse the Store! Questions?