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can fish eat bread?

Can Fish Eat Bread?

If you’ve ever tried feeding bread to your fish, you may have noticed how they flock excitedly to it, almost as if they think they’re about to have a wonderful treat. But is bread actually good for them? Or are you doing your finned friends more harm than good?

In this article, I’ll discuss in more detail how eating bread affects fish, and what kind of food is actually safe and beneficial for them.

Can Fish Eat Bread?

Fish cannot eat bread. In fact, bread is actually harmful to fish, because they cannot digest the yeast, gluten, and carbohydrates typically found in bread. Consuming bread can cause health issues like bloating and constipation. In some cases, it can even cause death from poisoning.

can fish eat bread
Don’t give bread to your fish!

Is Bread Safe For Fish?

Bread is absolutely not safe for fish. Unfortunately, fish are not as selective as they should be when it comes to what they eat. That is why even though bread is bad for them, they will keep nibbling at the bread crumbs you put in their tank.

Since fish can’t distinguish between what’s healthy and unhealthy for them, fish owners should be extra careful about the types of food they give their fish.

Why Bread Is Bad for Fish.

Bread contains high amounts of carbohydrates, yeast, gluten, and fat that a fish’s digestive system isn’t capable of breaking down. Because fish can’t digest bread, it can even become poisonous to them when they consume it in large quantities.

Consuming bread also causes health issues like: 

  • Constipation 
  • Liver problems 
  • Reproductive problems 
  • Swelling and bloating 
  • Sluggishness. 

After feeding bread to fish, you may notice that they can become motionless and unresponsive to stimuli like gentle taps on the glass.

Also, even if not all of the bread is consumed, the leftovers floating around in the water become harmful to fish health too. As leftover bread decomposes, it releases ammonia into the water, making it toxic for the fish. Leftover bread is also tricky to remove because it absorbs water and dissolves.

Are Fish Attracted to Bread?

Fish are definitely attracted to bread, as well as other human food, which is why bread is sometimes used as bait when people go fishing. Fish cannot distinguish between different foods and will eat anything that comes along, especially in a controlled environment like a fish tank.

What Will Happen if My Fish Eats Bread?

Feeding fish bread can result in health issues and even death, especially when fish are continually given bread instead of fish feed or food available in the wild. Feeding fish bread can cause:

  • Constipation
  • Organ failure
  • Poor metabolism
  • Liver failure
  • Poisoning
  • Sluggishness
  • Death

Unlike humans and other animals, fish don’t have a complex digestive system, which means many foods tolerated by other animals can be harmful to fish. Their digestive systems are usually able to digest fruits and vegetables, fish matter, insects, and (in the case of bigger fish) snakes, frogs, and rats.

But when it comes to the ingredients that make up bread (particularly gluten and yeast), fish do not have the capacity to break these down and convert them into energy. The bread also absorbs water and expands inside the fish’s tummy when eaten, which causes swelling, bloating, and constipation.

When fish cannot digest their food, they become sluggish, weak, and swollen, causing them to bob through the surface of the water involuntarily, damaging their tissues and organs. It’s also common for bread-fed fish to become “lazy” and immobile. These fish also tend to have short life spans.

What To Feed Fish.

Fish need food high in protein as well as vitamins and minerals typically found in the food they’d eat in the wild. If you keep fish in an aquarium, you can feed them fish flakes rich in protein and biotin to keep their immune systems strong.

If you’re looking for fish flakes, you might want to check out this TetraPro Tropical Color Crisps (available on These come in an easy-to-digest formula, are rich in vitamins and minerals, and reduce aquarium waste.

You can also feed fish the following:

  • Tiny portions of fresh fruits (such as melons)
  • Frozen vegetables (such as peas and cucumbers)
  • Shrimp
  • Worms
  • Insects
  • Other small fish

Herbivorous fish, such as parrotfish, may enjoy leafy green vegetables.

When feeding human food to your fish, remember not to leave any leftover food in the aquarium for too long. Any uneaten meals should be scooped out of the water using a fine mesh five minutes after your fish are done eating. 

I recommend the Filhome Telescopic Aquarium Fish Net (available on The set includes four nets of varying sizes for different purposes. You can use the smallest one to gently scoop out leftovers without harming your fish. 

By removing leftovers with a mesh, you’ll prevent your fish from overeating, as well as keep food from decaying in the aquarium if left out for too long. Otherwise, the leftovers will contaminate the water and make it poisonous for your fish as I’ve explained earlier.

Other Human Foods To Avoid Feeding To Fish.

Any food items that are too fatty are harmful to fish. As a general rule, fish shouldn’t be given pork, beef, or chicken meat, because these will cause fat to build up in their bodies, particularly in the area near the heart. Food that is too fatty can also wreak havoc on their reproductive organs and liver.

Also, avoid feeding fish junk food like store-bought chips, fried potatoes or other root vegetables, and even tiny portions of food cooked in oil. Raw fruits and vegetables are great substitutes for processed fish food.

If you’re in doubt about what to feed your fish, consult a veterinarian — preferably one who’s experienced in treating fish. You can ask them for recommendations on what to feed your pet to keep them healthy and happy.

Final Thoughts.

Some fish will continue to eat what food is available (like bread), even if it’s harmful to them. If you want your fish to thrive and be healthy, take care to feed it the right food in just the right amount.

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