When it comes to pets, people vary. Some people like cats. Others, dogs. And then there are those that love fish! And all pets have a lot in common, especially feeding! You may enjoy the experience of sprinkling your fish feed into the tank and watching the fish lazily munch up the food. But, what happens when you have to be away from home? Consider automatic feeders for fish.
Automatic fish feeders give you the freedom to be away from home and have confidence that your fish are being fed. When it comes to choosing the appropriate feeder, it depends on if you have mixed breeds of fish in your aquarium or not.
Automatic fish feeders come in a range of options and styles and which one suits you is a matter of your tank, fish, if you have a pond and how long you will be away for. Here we will walk you through the steps of choosing an automatic fish feeder and some of the best feeders on the market. So, strap on your scuba gear and let’s dive in!
Which type suits you?
When you start to look at getting an automatic fisher feeder there are two options available on the market. It all depends on if you have the same type of fish in your aquarium or if you have mixed species cohabiting in the tank.
Rotating Barrel Feeders
These feeders operate through a barrel that rotates automatically and dispenser the food through a home. The hole size can be adjusted according to your feeding needs.
It is the most common feeder on the market, but because it only has one compartment means rotating barrel feeders aren’t they great if you have mixed breeds of fish in your tank. There is a workaround in which you place mixed food into the barrel, but that doesn’t mean the food will be portioned out fairly.
The great thing with rotating barrel feeders is that they are great for holding a large quantity of feed which allows you to go on a trip for several weeks (some models can hold up to 6 weeks of food) knowing that your fish aren’t going to starve.
Portion Control Feeders
These feeders are better suited for aquariums with mixed fish breeds. They allow you to mix food into compartments which are regulated by a timer. When it’s feeding time the feeder dispenses the food into the tank, ensuring all your fish are being attended to, no matter the type.
The downside to portion control feeders is that they don’t hold as much food as their rotating barrel counterparts. Expect 10-14 days of feeding for your fish, so plan that trip carefully!
So now you know what the two different styles of fish feeders there are, what should you be looking for in particular when it comes to automatic fish feeders?
What to think about when buying an automatic fish feeder
After much thinking and staring at your fish, you decide that the wee guys need an automatic fish feeder. You haven’t had a holiday for a while and need to take some time to relax and recharge. The fish feeder is going to make sure your aquarium dwelling pets are going to be taken care of.
However, you wonder what it is you should be considering when you buy your feeder. Here are the main items to cross off your list…
How big do you want your feeder?
You look at your tank and see that you have a healthy amount of fish circling around and the tank is a decent size too! Don’t want your fish all cramped up and fighting for space.
The amount of food a feeder can contain varies from model to model. Also, as we mentioned with the barrel type feeders you can adjust the size of the hole where the food is dispensed. That allows you to control the amount of food that is provided for your fish each feeding time.
Additionally, you can get models with timers so you can decide how often your fish get fed. Which affects the amount of food available in the feeder. The more often the fish are fed, the quicker the food inside your feeder is gone. So, make desire you calculate carefully before you say “Bon Voyage” to your fish.
As the water in your aquarium evaporates it can cause moisture to build up on your fish feeder. That leads to the food inside the feeder becoming wet and soggy. Which means that the food can clog up the dispensing hole. The result? Fish not being fed! There are models available that overcome this issue, so check to see if the fish feeder you are thinking about getting prevents this.
Quantity of food dispensed
When it comes to automatic fish feeders, not all are created equal. Look at how consistent the amount of food provided for every feeding time. You don’t want to find your fish feeder dribbles out a small portion at one feeding and a supersized amount of food at the next feeding.
Consistency is the key, but in saying that you will find that even the best quality feeders sometimes vary in the portion sizes. Just be aware that it’s a fact with fish feeders and that the lower quality feeders will provide the most inconsistent feeding portions.
As we mentioned earlier you can get feeders that have have a timer function so you can set how often your fish are fed. You will see that there is the old type of pin timers and more modern digital timers. Both options are fine it just depends on what style suits you. You get more control with the digital timer through setting the number of feedings each day as well as determining how many spins you want your feeder to take.
Battery or power plug
With providing power for your automatic fish feeder you can decide whether you want one that runs by batteries or if you want a model that has a power plug. With batteries, you have to make sure that they are new before you go on holiday (the last thing you want is to find that your fish have starved because the batteries ran out).
If you don’t want the hassle of always swapping out batteries, grab a model that is powered by electricity.
Some of the best feeders out there
Now you are armed with all the information you need to get an automatic fish feeder, here are a range of feeders that are the best on the market.
With a chamber that fits 3.3 fluid ounces of feed, you know that your fish will be okay for up to six weeks. The timer allows you to set a maximum of 8 feedings a day and the ventilation system keeps the food dry. You are alerted when the 2 AA sized batteries are running out of juice, so you have time to replace them. But, this feeder goes beyond providing food for fish. If you have a turtle, newt or frog, you are covered!
Think of the container as a hand that stretches out, turns over, drips in food for your fish and then returns back. Sounds freaky, but the Intellifeed Fish Feeder is anything but freaky. You can set the digital timer to feed your aquatic animals up to 12 times a day. The food stays dry by being get enclosed in the container until it’s feeding time.
If you have a marine or tropical aquarium, this is a great feeder option. If clumpy food is a concern, the Hydor Automatic Fish Feeder has a mixing vibration that eliminates any clumping. It pays to add an air line to this feeder to prevent any humidity issues.
This feeder from Fish Mate is suited for aquariums up to 150L. If you have a bigger aquarium, then you can purchase another feeder and your fish won’t be going. Hungry! It serves up to 14 meals and can be attached to the top of the aquarium or on the edge. You get 1 year continued use from the battery, which isn’t supplied.
You can mount this feeder in two ways, you can screw it onto your aquarium or attach it with double-sided tape. The first option sounds more secure. The batteries (which are included) last up to 3 months before you have to replace them and you have the option of 4 feeding times a day. You can use pellets, flakes, powered food or strips. PROCHE warns you to read the instructions carefully when setting up the rotation times otherwise you will struggle to get the feeder to work. Happy feeding!
You have the option to either manually or automatically feed your fish with this feeder. It allows you to do a single, double or triple feeding and your fish can be fed up to 5 times per day. The adjustable mount fits aquariums that have tops from 0.1 to 0.8 inches wide. The built-in ventilation system keeps your food dry, so you don’t have to be worried about the food getting wet and clogging up the dispenser.
Don’t let the price of this feeder put you off. It’s value for money and gives you the ability to provide either 50ml or 150ml of food. It can accommodate pellets, strips and powdered food but the manufacturer does warn against using bigger pellets as this can block the dispenser. You have the mounting options which are clamping the feeder to your aquarium, a hook and loop system or base funnel. It all depends on which option you think looks better! There are three time settings you can choose from 8, 12 or 24 hours. You can also manually feed your fish at the touch of a button. When it comes to powering the unit you can do it through USB cable or batteries (batteries aren’t supplied)
Do you have a fish pond? Then this feeder is for you. It lets you feed your fish 4 times a day and you can program it up to 99 days! How’s that for peace of mind while you take that extended holiday? It can hold up to 4.25L of food so you can take comfort knowing that your fish are going to be well fed with you have the ability to vary feed sizes.
Do you ever have those days where you are too busy and forget something important like…feeding your fish? This fish feeder will help you stop kicking yourself. It can dispense pellets, flakes and crumbles so your fish never have to miss out on their meal times just because someone forgot. You can set the feeder to give your fish their food up to 4 times a day. The hopper protects the food from moisture, so you can be confident that your fish are getting dry food. If you are going away for a couple of weeks, this feeder will definitely keep your fish fed while you are away. Have a great trip and don’t worry about your fish. They’ll be fine.
Granules, flakes, powders, particle feed, strips…Zacro’s fish feeder can handle it all. Just adjust the size of the dispenser hole and your fish won’t go hungry. It can fit up to a 600L tank and is charged via USB with the rechargeable battery can last between 3- 6 months on one charge (it can be charged up to 800 times before replacing). This feeder can be set for up to 2 feedings each day, which is on the lower side of the feeders we have covered. But it’s an affordable feeder for those of you who have goldfish, Koi fish or tropical fish. It should be able to feed your fish for up to two weeks.
Some things you need to do after you get your fish feeder
Now you have some options available on which fish feeder to get, you go ahead and buy one. Once you take it out of the box and set it up, you should think about where you are going to place it on your tank as well as play with it to see if it’s going to last the feeding distance while you are away.
Where to position your feeder
Filters will blow the feed around the tank whilst you may see your food being sucked up by the tanks overflow system. So make sure that you position your feeder in a spot where it’s not going to have the food it dispenses affected by the aquarium’s management system.
Make sure that the feeder won’t topple into the tank
The last thing you want is the disaster of your feeder falling into the tank because it wasn’t fixed to it properly. Some feeders come with velcro, which is great, but velcro can get worn out and that means an unsecured feeder. Use the clamps provided by the manufacturer and make sure that the feeder is secured tightly to the tank.
Have a full test run of the feeder
When you come back from holiday you don’t want to be greeted by fish that have starved because the automatic feeder ran out of food while you were away from home. It always pays to plan ahead for holidays and the fish feeder is no exception. Get the feeder in advance of you taking your vacation so that you can try it out and see if there is anything that you should be concerned about, such as food getting clogged due to humidity issues, or the feed is too big and blocks the dispensing hole.
Once you know the feeder can last the time you are away from home means that you and your fish are happy.
As you have seen, most fish feeders rely on batteries. Though this isn’t something you need to check for once you have your feeder, you should place new batteries into your feeder before you head away for your holiday. It may mean having to redo all the settings, but you can have confidence that the feeder isn’t going to run out of power while you are away. That’s peace of mind for you.
It’s all up to you
Whether you need a feeder or not is a matter of personal choice. They provide you with the ability to feed your fish while you are away from home. The type of feeder you get depends on whether you have mixed breeds in your aquarium or not. Also, how long you will be away for and how often you want your fish fed influences which automatic fish feeder you purchase. Make sure that your feeder is secured to your tank and give it a test so that you know it will take care of your fish while you are on vacation.
Now you have you your feeder set up, have a great holiday! Your fish are fine!