How Often to Feed Tetras

How Often to Feed Tetras

Tetras are my favorite fish to add to a planted freshwater aquarium. They come in vibrant colors, move-in lively groups, are non-aggressive, and are relatively low-maintenance.

This guide will focus specifically on food requirements for these remarkable little fish and will look at the best food for tetras, how often to feed tetras, how much they should be fed, and how long they can go without food.

Best Food for Tetras

Tetras have pretty basic needs when it comes to the type of food they like. High-quality dry flakes make a good base for their diet and can be found in just about any fish store.

In addition to their regular diet, tetras should also be fed some supplemental treats 2 – 3 times a week. This is due to the fact that most varieties in the wild are omnivorous, which means they eat both plants and other animals and often spend their time searching for anything they can eat in the murky waters of the Amazon.

Adding some of these options to your tetra’s food will help mimic the variety they are used to in their natural environment:

  • bloodworms
  • daphina
  • tubifex
  • brine shrimp

Keep in mind, though, that tetras will have trouble eating anything that isn’t in small pieces, so be sure to break up bigger chunks of food like shrimp or worms before adding them to the tank.

How Much to Feed Tetras

A good rule of thumb to follow when determining how much food to give your tetras is to add as much food to their tank as they can consume in 2 – 3 minutes and then a little extra.

This will vary depending on how often you feed your fish – which will be discussed in the next section – but you want to make sure your fish aren’t going hungry. Watching them eat for 2 – 3 minutes will help you determine how much food they actually need.

Since these fish should always be kept in groups of 15 or more, throwing in a little extra will help ensure all the fish in your school get a chance to eat their fill.

On the other hand, though, you want to make sure you’re not over-feeding your tank. Excess food breaks down into biomatter that can cause ammonia spikes. These can be harmful to your fish and inconvenient for you as you will have to spend more time changing the water and filters to keep the tank clean and safe for your fish.

How Often to Feed Tetras

How often you feed your tetras will depend on what stage of life they are in, how much you feed them each time, and what works best for your tank.

Young Tetras

As a general rule, young and adolescent tetras should be fed at least twice a day, though some tetra owners like to go for 3 or even 4 times a day. Four times a day is probably a bit excessive but feeding your fish several times a day will help ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need to grow and develop properly.

Adult Tetras

Once your fish reach adulthood, feedings can be cut back to once a day, though again, many enthusiasts like to stick to 2 or more times a day. This is because tetras are continuous feeders in the wild, which means they are used to eating smaller amounts throughout the day instead of consuming and processing large quantities of food at one time.

The widely-accepted approach to keeping wild fish in captivity (even if the particular specimens you have didn’t come from the wild) is to mimic their natural environment and way of life as closely as possible. If you want to follow this approach, twice a day feedings are a good idea even for adult fish.

Other Considerations

If you feed your fish frequently, you should be sure not to provide too much food at each mealtime. Feedings that take place two or more times a day should probably only last 1 – 2 minutes, with only a little food left over after this time.

Every tank and school of fish is different. It might take some experimentation to find out the food amount and schedule that works best for your setup.

Just keep on eye on the health of your fish to make sure they’re not becoming listless or losing color due to lack of food, and watch your ammonia levels and filtration buildup to ensure you’re not overfeeding.

How Long Can Tetras Go Without Food?

Tetras shouldn’t go for longer than a day or two without food on a regular basis. It can put a strain on their system if they’re only fed every other day or every three days.

In a pinch, tetras can go without food for anywhere between 1 – 2 weeks but only if they are being regularly fed several times a day in the days leading up to this time period. If you need to leave your tetras and know they won’t be fed for a week or longer, it can help to make sure there are plenty of suitable plants growing in your aquarium for your fish to nibble on to help sustain them.

You can also look into an automatic feeder, but keep in mind that you’ll probably have to worry about ammonia spikes if you go longer than a week or two without cleaning the tank. This will probably be a problem for your tetras long before lack of food is.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this guide has given you everything you need to know in order to feed tetras properly, including how often to feed tetras, what to feed them and when, and how long they can go without food.

As you can see, these fish are pretty low-maintenance and make an easy, beautiful addition to any planted freshwater aquarium.

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