When it comes to feeding the bottom feeders in an aquarium, choosing the best fish food for them is essential, since all fish food is suitable for them.
Bottom feeders in the fish aquarium hobby refer to the fish and in some cases other aquatic species who only eat their foods at the bottom of the fish tank. Examples of some popular bottom feeders are Plecostomus, most species of so-called catfish, loaches, shrimp, and snails. While some of the bottom feeders choose to eat their food the way they do for safety reasons, a lot of them are incapable of eating food any other way due to their physical limitations.
In typical cases during the feeding, a lot of fish will rush to the scene to grab as much food as they can as quick as possible. It is the jungle law, in the water. The quicker, the better fed you are. Many fish species will grab the food from the water surface, as well as on the way down. It often leaves the bottom feeders with nothing but scraps if you only feed certain types of fish food such as flakes and small pellets.
If you only feed flakes, for example, most of them will stay at the water surface. The fish from the top and the middle level will eat them before they even start sinking. Very little of it will fall to the bottom if any at all. It makes flakes a lousy choice for bottom feeders.
We do not recommend overfeeding just for the sake of having some of the food to reach the bottom. We must avoid overfeeding to ensure the health of the entire aquarium system and in many cases the survival of your fish.
Some pellets do not do much better either since most of them do not sink quick enough. Many types of pellets will stay afloat for only a few seconds before falling slowly. The fish who are not bottom feeders will still be able to grab them rather quickly. A few pellets might reach the bottom of the aquarium here and there during each feeding, but you can’t guarantee the quantity. Once again, overfeeding will allow enough pellets to sink to the bottom, but you must avoid it for the sake of your fish.
The goal is to make sure the bottom feeders get enough food while at the same time do not overfeed other fish in the same aquarium.
What should we do?
There are two options for the quick fix without any negative side effect.
The first one is to use a sinking fish food designed for bottom feeders.
The second one is to manually insert fish food at the bottom of the fish tank since most of the top and middle-level fish will not eat from the bottom. Between these two methods, the first one is apparently easier, so it is what we will mostly talk about today.
There are some commercially available fish foods designed for bottom dwellers in a fish aquarium. They have some common characteristics. A. They sink rather quickly after you put them in the water. B. They are too big for most fish to swallow them whole in one bite.
Some of the best bottom feeders fish food is
1. Omega One shrimp pellets
Omega One is an excellent fish food brand. They always use “whole food” as the main ingredient which makes their fish food one of the most nutritious in the market. In this case, they use whole shrimp, whole salmon, cod, whole herring, to make large pellets of around 5mm long. Most fish smaller than a typical human hand should not be able to swallow it whole. These pellets will reach the bottom of the fish tank for sure, and make delicious meals for the bottom feeders.
I have used Omega One shrimp pellets to feed my Yellow Shrimp with excellent results. Corydoras catfish also love them.
You can also crush them into smaller pieces for top/middle level fish as well. It is a multi-role fish food with high nutritious value.
2. Omega One Veggie Rounds
As always, Omega One uses mostly whole (sea) foods in its products. These Veggie Rounds have whole kelp, spirulina, whole salmon, Halibut, as the main ingredients. They are 14mm in diameter. Much bigger than even the shrimp pellets. Too big for most aquarium fish to swallow whole. The more important part, they sink fast. It makes another high-quality bottom feeder food for your aquarium.
3. Hikari Algae Wafer
Hikari produces a type of algae discs the size of around 19mm in diameter. They are mostly made of fish meals and algae. These algae discs will sink like rocks. Their size and shape do not allow any fish less than 2 feet long to swallow them whole. Just a single disc will be a good buffet for a school of corydoras sized bottom feeders. They will keep sucking away at it until it is gone. A few top/middle level fish will also occasionally come to pick at it, but the most they can do is to take small bites and move it slightly. Bottom feeders have a much better chance of eating it.
Some fish with special diet requirement such as Otocinclus catfish. Their natural food is algae. When there are not enough algae in your aquarium, these algae discs are a suitable replacement. Shrimp and snails also love algae wafer. Speaking of my first-hand experience, they always gather around the algae wafer when it is available.
4. Hikari Sinking Wafer
This wafer is made from fish meal, wheat germ, silkworm pupa, seaweed. It is high in protein. Similar to Hikari Algae Wafer in both size and shape, it is excellent for bottom feeders.
5. Meaty foods such as frozen krill and frozen bloodworm.
Frozen food will sink fast. It gives them better chance to reach the bottom feeders than the freeze-dried food. It is especially true when they are packaged in cubic form. Just make sure not to feed your fish too much or too frequently. Meaty foods should be a weekly treat. Too much protein might cause digestive problems in some fish species who are not used to a carnivore diet. Meaty food can also pollute the water more quickly if there is any leftover. Use them in the place as regular diet no more than once or twice a week.
There might be other suitable sinking food for bottom feeders. Since new types of fish food appears on the market all the time. Anything that can sink fast and not easily be swallowed whole by top/middle level fish should make great meals for the bottom feeders. Getting the best fish food for your bottom feeders makes the life easier for both you and your bottom feeder fish.