It’s a misconception to think that looking after fish is simpler than having a dog or cat – to keep your pets happy and healthy, you need to make sure the water is regularly replaced, filters are cleaned out, ventilation functional, and of course, that the fish are fed regularly. The latter may seem simple enough, but if work or social obligations demand you stay out for long periods of time, or have hectic daily routines, it might be difficult to schedule feeding your aquatic friends. Meanwhile, getting the quantity of fish food right is also critical, especially if you have smaller fish tanks – accidentally tipping too much in, or at too short intervals, leads to overfeeding fish, which can harm or even kill your pets.
The solution? Automatic feeders. Programmed to release a fixed amount of food at specific intervals, these feeders can tend to your fishes’ needs while you’re away. Here are our picks for the best automatic feeders for small tanks.
Eheim Battery Operated Auto Fish Feeder
Capable of holding up to 6 weeks’ worth of food, the battery-operated automatic feeder comes with a slider that can be adjusted to fit most aquariums and fish tanks. The drum where the food is stored is transparent, letting you see exactly how much there is left, with an adjustable opening you can moderate to determine how much food you want released at every fixed interval.
The waterproof buttons and LCD display allow you to schedule the timings of feeding, clocking up to a maximum of 8 feedings a day. The feeder is programmed with a ventilation system to prevent fish flakes or pellets clumping or getting moist as well, and will notify you when it’s running low on battery.
STAR BUDGET PICK
eBoTrade Daily Automatic Fish Feeder
With a unique design slightly reminiscent of a food-mixer, this novel automatic feeder accommodates all types of fish food, from crumble for baby fish to pellets for bigger fish. The patented holder is designed to keep moisture out of the food and to churn and mix it up prior to every feeding cycle, to minimise the chances of bigger chunks of food going to waste.
The feeder comes with an adjustable clamp to mount it at the lip of a fish tank. With the capacity to dispense up to 8 meals a day, the holder is 3 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep, letting you entrust it with the responsibility of keeping your fish well-fed in your absence. The feeder comes with a precise timer you can program with the number of meals, intervals and rotations at which you want the fish food to be dispensed.
Fish Mate F14 Aquarium Fish Feeder
Big enough to be appropriate for smaller fish tanks, this feeder accommodates both fish pellets and flakes, designed particularly to let you feed tropical and cold water fish. As it’s recommended to feed fish several small meals rather than dump a lot of food into the tank at once, this feeder is programmed to hold up to 14 individual meals, releasing between 1-4 meals a day depending on your requirements.
The feeder comes with brackets that let you mount it at the edge of an aquarium to keep your fish well-nourished while you’re away, with a precise timer to schedule meals and a notification system to alert you when the battery is running low. Although the part is not included, there is also the option of attaching the feeder to an air-pump, as the flow of air will keep the food dry and prevent clumping.
TOOGOO Automatic Fish Feeder
Compact and ideal for smaller fish tanks, the patented technology of this feeder keeps moisture out, with an in-built digital timer to mix, crumble and dispense food at fixed intervals throughout the day. The timer lets you schedule up to four meals a day, for up to a week at a time, while the slider lets you adjust the volume of food you wish to dispense per meal.
Battery operated and with an LCD display to fix meal plans and notify you when power-cells need replacing, the feeder can both be stood at the edge of your aquarium or mounted to the edge of it with an adjustable clamp, depending on the type of fish tank you own.
Choosing the Best Automatic Fish Feeder for Small Tanks
Overfeeding is a risk whenever it comes to smaller fish tanks – it’s a little too easy to overestimate, or even underestimate, how much food your fishes are going to need. Since it’s also the only time we interact with our fish, sometimes we might get a little too enthusiastic and feed them more, or more often than they need to be fed.
Excess food goes to waste, and can end up poisoning the fish tank’s water as it decays, releasing high degrees of ammonia or nitrites, reducing dissolved oxygen levels in the tanks, and more. Cloudy water and algae growth can also be side-effects, especially if you’re not around to regularly maintain and clean out the fish tank. Meanwhile, overeating can irreversibly damage your fishes’ health, causing anything from fin rot, to open sores, or in worst case scenarios, death.
Automatic feeders are an ideal solution, both to exercise self-control and to look after your fish when you’re away, especially when they come with adjustable sliders or in-built programs to let you fix the precise volume of food to be dispensed. Feeders which can hold multiple types of fish food, mix and crumble them up into more manageable portions, are also recommended to avoid waste.
Since fish nutritionists recommend several small meals a day are more efficient than a huge serving all at once, a feeder which can be scheduled to dispense food at regular intervals throughout the day is the best option.
It’s also crucial to pick a feeder which will keep moisture out of your fish food – moisture can make the food clump together, making them difficult or even dangerous for fish to ingest, and can encourage an uptick of fungi or mold, which are extremely detrimental for your fish.