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can tropical fish eat human food

Can Tropical Fish Eat Human Food?

Taking care of tropical fish can be an exciting endeavour, and you get the added bonus of being able to observe their beauty in your home. However, caring for these fish is also a large responsibility, especially when it comes to feeding them properly.

One of the questions I see get asked many times over is what food other than fish food tropical fish can eat if you run out of fish food or simply want to try something new. 

Tropical fish can eat some human food depending on if they’re carnivorous, omnivorous, or herbivorous. The human foods they can eat include certain vegetables, fruits, pasta, and seafood. However, avoid feeding them canned or fatty foods, or bread, as this will make them sick.

The rest of this article will answer all your questions about what to feed your fish beyond the fish food you can buy at the store. If you’re looking to change or embellish your fish’s diet, keep reading! 

can fish eat human food?

What Type Of Tropical Fish Can Eat Human Foods? 

The type of tropical fish that can eat human foods is carnivorous fish such as Tetras and Pufferfish. Omnivores and herbivores might be able to eat human foods if it is fresh and not canned. 

The first step in determining which human foods your tropical fish can eat is determining what diet they follow. Some fish eat meat, while others don’t. 

However, all fish need a balanced diet with: 

  • Nutrients 
  • Protein 
  • Fats 
  • Carbs 

Some tropical fish are carnivorous. Here are some carnivorous fish that are commonly kept in tanks: 

  • Tetras 
  • Oscars 
  • Red-bellied piranhas 
  • Pufferfish 
  • Arowanas 
  • Discuses 
  • Clown loaches 
  • Butterflyfish 
  • Brown-banded bamboo sharks 
  • Killifish 
  • Pipefish 

Although these fish are carnivorous, many of the meats that humans eat, such as beef or pork, are too fatty for these fish to consume. 

However, they can eat seafood that humans eat, including: 

  • White fish fillet 
  • Shrimp 
  • Tilapia 
  • Cod 

Other fish don’t eat meat. Here are some common types: 

  • Silver dollars 
  • Oto catfish 
  • Siamese algae eaters 

These fish may be pickier with what they can eat, but there is still a wide variety of human food that you can feed them if you’d like. 

What Human Food Can Tropical Fish Eat?

Tropical fish can eat a wide variety of human food, including certain vegetables, fruits, seafood, and even pasta. The most common human food to feed tropical fish is vegetables. 

Many fish prefer blanched vegetables, including: 

  • Zucchini (courgette for the Brits reading…)
  • Lettuce 
  • Spinach 
  • Cucumber with the seeds removed. 
  • Kale 
  • Carrots 
  • Cabbage 
  • Broccoli 
  • Bell peppers 
  • Tomatoes 

Fish can also eat peas, although you should be sure to pull the shell off before putting peas in the water. Additionally, too many peas can cause some digestive issues, so make sure you feed your fish peas sparingly or not at all. 

Fish can also eat fruits, as long as they are thoroughly washed, including: 

  • Watermelon 
  • Apples–remove the core and seeds and boil until soft. 
  • Blueberries 
  • Strawberries–remove the leaves.
  • Orange slices in moderation
  • Honeydew 

It is best to feed fish organic fruits because some pesticides can be deadly. Fish should also only be fed fruits occasionally, as the acid and sugar can cause some problems with digestion and in the water’s balance. It can even trigger the growth of algae and bacteria in saltwater tanks. 

Carnivorous fish will enjoy eating the same type of seafood that humans enjoy, including: 

  • Tilapia 
  • Cod 
  • Shrimp 
  • Mussels 
  • Coley 
  • Scallops 
  • Clams 

Make sure that the seafood is cut into small pieces to avoid choking. 

Additionally, although it is safe for fish to eat prawns and mussels, you should only feed your fish these items in moderation because they contain thiaminase (an enzyme which is found in certain raw fish), which breaks down vitamin B1 (also known as thiamin) and is not good for your fish’s health. 

Another protein source that people commonly feed their fish is hard-boiled egg yolk. 

However, make sure that you remove any of the yolks that the fish don’t eat, or else you’ll end up with cloudy and smelly tank water.

Finally, fish can be fed certain carbs, like pasta and rice. Just boil pasta until it is soft and drop it into the water. You can even add some grated cheese if you’d like. However, this should be a treat for your fish and not something you feed them every day, as too many carbohydrates can cause health issues. 

What Human Food Is Dangerous for Tropical Fish To Eat? 

The human food that is dangerous for tropical fish to eat is fatty meats, such as beef, pork, and chicken. They also can’t eat canned foods because of the salt and preservatives in these foods. Fish also shouldn’t eat bread. 

Even if your fish are carnivores, they shouldn’t be eating the same meats that humans eat. Fat is extremely harmful to many fish, and the meats that humans eat tend to be high in fat. 

Beef and pork are the worst meats to feed your fish, although even chicken scraps can cause some fat buildup around the heart of your fish. Carnivorous fish can consume up to 6% concentration of fat, but it is best to avoid these meats altogether for the safety of your fish. 

One alternative is beef heart. This meat is not as fatty, so it can be fed to fish if it is shredded first. 

You should also avoid feeding your fish any canned food. Canned food contains high levels of preservatives and salt, and these ingredients can harm your fish if they eat too much of it. It is best to feed them fresh or frozen vegetables. 

Finally, tropical fish shouldn’t be fed bread. Bread has wheat, yeast, and preservatives, which can cause several health issues for fish, including bloating and constipation. 

fish flakes
Not as tempting as a roast chicken…


Tropical fish can eat some human food, although what kind of food they can eat largely depends on if they’re carnivores, omnivores, or herbivores. 

Once you’ve determined what kind of eater your tropical fish is, you can feed them some human food accordingly, such as leafy vegetables, a hard-boiled egg yolk, or shrimp cut up into small pieces. You’re not limited to the fish food section at the store when it comes to feeding your fish.

My advice, however, is to always feed your fish a good quality fish food, as it has carefully measured quantities of everything your fish needs in their diet. Any other type of food you feed your fish should be a treat, and not become a staple part of their diet.

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