Here are 8 Signs You are Overfeeding Your Fish & 6 Ways to Prevent it

There are several ways to identify if you are overfeeding your fish. Doing so can negatively affect their health leading to a shorter life span and dying early. Fish tend to have small bodies and an incredibly huge appetite for fish food. But we must be aware that they cannot digest all that food. This is why people tend to overfeed their fish most of the time.  Overfeeding might defer from fish to fish. However, there are general signs to know if you have been overfeeding your fish. Feeding our fish has always been my favorite part of fish keeping, but overfeeding will result in a dangerous effect on themselves and other tank mates who might not be surviving on that fish food directly (like shrimps).

Some common signs that you are overfeeding your fish include; Cloudy water, Planaria in the tank, Higher level of Ammonia, Algae Bloom, and Overweight fish. You can always prevent these issues by feeding them enough food which they can consume within 4-5 minutes of feeding, and feeding on time.

Here are some of the signs that indicate you are overfeeding your fish


These guys are very tiny, white worms that directly indicate bad water quality. These worms will appear, mostly due to overfeeding in your aquarium, and could result in infecting your freshwater shrimp, snails, and other crawlers within your tank.

One of the Many types of Planaria that can grow in an Aquarium (Courtesy

Overweight fish

Just by looking at your fish, you can understand if your fish is overfed. You can see that the fish has a bloated stomach which could result in the slow moment or imbalanced moment of the fish within the water.

This makes it difficult for the fish to digest all the food and result in problems like fatty liver, and improper digestion and causes the fish to produce excess nitrate production.

High level of ammonia in the aquarium:

All the uneaten food or leftover food in the aquarium will result in a high level of Ammonia in the aquarium. You can identify this high concentration of ammonia when you see the water get cloudy and looks milky white and causing a bad smell coming from the aquarium water.

This high level of ammonia would result in causing a lot of stress to the fish, which would also result in the slow growth of the fish or even death in severe cases.

Video Showing High Levels of Ammonia

Algae bloom

An excessive amount of fish food and fish waste in the aquarium will give rise to algae bloom. It will reduce the amount of oxygen level in the aquarium but at the same time disturb the water balance and ecosystem within the tank. As the excess nutrients in the food will end in the tank, this will be a paradise for algae and promote its growth.

Algae Bloom (Courtesy

Cloudy water

When the water becomes cloudy with the new aquarium and you can barely see through the water. This cloudy water could also increase the chances of the fish getting infected.

Cloudy Water

Dirty aquarium gravel

When there is overfeeding in your tank, you will find the fish food reaching the bottom of the tank after several hours. 

This Leftover food will get mixed up with the gravel or the substrate and result in the rising of bacteria and Planaria in your tank which has the risk of being infectious to your fish.

Embed from Getty Images

Clogged up filters

All the leftover fish food in the aquarium finds its way to the filter and gets collected or stranded in the filter which makes it inefficient for filtration. Plus it creates a vicious cycle of waste accumulation within the aquarium.

This also damages your electric motor in the filter as it has to use more power to pump water or the same amount of power at a slower speed. This increases the chance of the motor coil getting burnt, not to mention the slow filtration which reduces the water quality even more. 

Changes in the pH scale of Aquarium water

Excess production of nitrogenous waste along with the high levels of ammonia could result in sudden changes in the pH levels of the aquarium water, which results in rising acidity and increased algae production within the aquarium.

The high amounts of algae will consume the oxygen, reducing the oxygen levels in the water. This low level of oxygen in your tank causes extreme stress. The fish tend to swim to the top of the tank when this happens. As the water at the top tends to have higher levels of oxygen due to surface exchange with the air. 

If not dealt with in time it will surely result in the quick death of your fish.

How to avoid over-feeding your fish

It needs to be understood that feeding your fish order to numerous harmful effects on the tank and the tank mates. The following method shall be able to highlight how you can avoid overfeeding your fish

Feed on the basis of a schedule

Usually, most of the fish keepers tend to feed the fish twice a day. But, make sure that there is always something for the fish to nibble upon throughout the day. 

Make sure you feed them at the same time every day.

Feed the right amount

Feed your fish only up to the amount that they can eat, within 4 to 5 minutes of feeding. If there is anything left over after five minutes, is most likely to be left over by the fish and this is the left-over food that will result in cloudy water, increasing nitrate, high ammonia level, and Planaria. After 5 Minutes remove whatever is left, or at least most of it.

Feed the Right Kind of Food

Just like humans, it’s good to give a varied diet to your fish. I mean the generic All-In-One fish food (regardless of which brand and whatever nutrients they claim to have) is fine for most people on most days. But I suggest that at least once a week you feed them something else. What else should you feed? This answer I cannot give you s it really depends on what fish you own. A quick Google search or Youtube video will definitely help you out. For my Cherry Shrimps and Neon Tetras, every few days I feed them boiled Carrots and peas. I keep a few pieces at the button of the aquarium for the shrimps to nibble upon and chop the carrots into very fine pieces for my Tetras. After a while, I remove the remaining to prevent decay. 

Shrimp Eating Boiled Carrot (Courtesy Sheikh Ramim)

Always keep in mind that you are feeding your fish the right quality of food that is not stale or improper food that could result in malnutrition and fish food being left over by the fish.

Choose the right type of food the flake, wafers, or pellets, depending upon the size and type of tank mates and fish in your aquarium. 

Some fish prefer food that sinks while other fish prefer food that floats.

Always remove uneaten food

Make sure that you don’t leave any leftover food floating in your aquarium. Try to remove as much of the leftover food as it could result in increasing nitrate and ammonia in your aquarium.

Add scavenging fish/invertebrates 

Try to add some shrimps like Cherry shrimp, Amano shrimp, catfish, Corydoras, or loaches into your aquarium. These guys should be able to clear off any uneaten food that falls to the bottom of the aquarium.

My Yellow Shrimp

Educate the family members and fish viewers

This is one of the most important points to be remembered as most of the time it is the family members or any visitors that happened to feed our fish in our absence, so make sure everyone is obliged towards feeding your fish and has at least a surface level understanding when the fish is showing signs of being stressed out.

It is best if only one member of the family feeds the fish.


Considering all the above signs and remedies of overfeeding your fish, make sure that you do not take this lightly as it could affect your fish’s health and safety, and we would definitely not want our fish to die in our aquariums as they are very dear to every fish keeper.

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