How to Choose the Best Automatic Fish Feeder
As a pet owner, you are responsible for the health and well-being of your little animal friends, and fish keepers are no exception. In fact, fish can be a bit more demanding. While they take care of the exercising part by themselves, you still have to make sure they receive food at the right intervals, whether you are home or not.
Feeding your fish is not only a problem when you leave on vacation; a chaotic and unpredictable daily schedule can also affect them. An automatic fish feeder will make sure your fish receive the right quantity of food exactly when they need it. But choosing the right auto feeder can be tricky; they have different functions that have to match the particular needs of the type of fish you have. The ideal fish feeder follows a precise schedule and doesn’t overfeed them. These are the best options on the market to help you find the right one for your aquarium.
Best Automatic Fish Feeder
We’re starting the list with this product from Eheim because we think it’s probably the best option available on the market. It’s incredibly efficient and user-friendly and can take care of adequately feeding your fish even during an extended vacation.
The Eheim automatic fish feeder is excellent for everyday use as well as for when you need to be away from home for a more extended period. It’s easy to set up, and you can control precisely how much food it will release into the water. The container is transparent, so you can keep an eye on how much food is left and fill it when necessary.
The fish feeder rotates at specified intervals, dropping the amount of food you have set into the fish tank, so you can be sure it’s not overfeeding the fish. It has an opening that slides so that you can set how much food they should get with each rotation. And you can put quite a lot of food in the container, so you won’t have to worry even if you have to be away from home for a few weeks. Many fish feeders use a rotating design, but after testing them, we have found this one to be the most efficient.
The Eheim automatic fish feeder has an LCD programming that can set up to 8 feedings per day. That’s very useful if you have fish that need to be fed more frequently. There’s a button that allows you to manually release extra food outside the schedule you have set up if you think it’s necessary.
One of the essential features of this automatic fish feeder is the ventilation system. It has an integrated fan that keeps the fish food dry and your fish healthy. The feeder operates on two AA batteries and lets you know when they are running low. It also has an extra safety measure, preventing the drum from stopping in a downward position.
What’s in the Box?
An automatic fish feeder and 2 AA batteries
Take a look at the next video for a short tutorial on how to use this fish feeder properly:
The Eheim automatic fish feeder may be a bit pricy, but you really don’t want to cut back on quality when buying a feeder. And this one is reliable and easy to use. So, it’s worth buying, and you won’t have to worry about your fish while you are away from home.
#2 – Zacro Automatic Fish Feeder
Zacro sells various useful gadgets, but this automatic fish feeder is particularly efficient. All you have to do is set the amount of food you want to feed the fish and the feeding hours. The discharge hole is easy to adjust, so you don’t have to worry about overfeeding.
The Zacro auto fish feeder can be used on batteries, but if you want to lose the hassle of replacing the batteries, you can also charge it by USB. That’s one less thing for you to worry about, and at the same time, it’s safe for the environment. On top of that, it has a large capacity lithium battery that will do a great job for a long time; you can charge and discharge it up to 800 times. One single charge can last from 3 to 6 months, depending on the feeding frequency.
The feed bucket is pretty large and is fit for many types of fish food, like flakes, granules, and even powders. It can be set for a maximum of 4 feedings a day, each of them consisting of 1 to 3 releases. But if you decide you want to feed the fish at a certain point manually, you can do that as well.
This automatic fish feeder is an excellent choice for larger tanks as well. It works excellent for aquariums up to 158 gallons, so you won’t have to buy an extra feeder. Another advantage is the fact that there’s no need to reset anything when you fill it. From this point of view, it’s actually better than the Eheim fish feeder. In fact, overall, the two automatic fish feeders are pretty close quality-wise.
What’s in the Box?
An automatic fish feeder, a USB charging cable, 3M stickers
In the following video, you can see a presentation of this product:
This is another excellent option when it comes to fish feeders. It’s easy to set up and adjust, easy to charge, and works for large tanks as well. There are a few small negative aspects, but nothing that should stop you from trying this automatic fish feeder.
#3 – Torlam Auto Fish Feeder
Torlam is another trusted brand when it comes to automatic fish feeders. This particular one is ideal both for everyday use and for when you go on vacation; it can feed your fish for up to 21 days without any problem. All you have to do is make sure you add enough food and fresh batteries, as this fish feeder only works on batteries.
The Torlam automatic fish feeder can be easily programmed to do up to four feedings per day, and each round can consist of 1 to 3 feedings. You can still manually feed the fish anytime you want. The container has a pretty large capacity, so you don’t have to fill it all the time. The auto feeder is also moisture-resistant, which is extremely important. And it can hold most types of fish food, so it’s quite versatile.
There are two ways to set up this fish food dispenser; you can either fix it to the tank using the holder or use a double side sticker to paste it on the aquarium cover. The pedestal of the auto feeder has a 360 degrees rotation, so once you have installed it, you can choose whatever position you prefer. As a piece of advice, if you want to be sure everything goes well while you’re on vacation, make sure the flakes (if you’re using flake food) are of similar sizes; the automatic fish feeder will do the rest.
What’s in the Box?
An automatic fish feeder, a feed box, a location fixture, a double-side sticker, and a user manual.
The following video will give you a video presentation of the Torlam fish feeder:
We definitely recommend the Torlam automatic fish feeder; you get excellent quality at an affordable price. It’s easy to set up and adjust, moisture-resistant, and can hold enough food to make sure your fish are fed for weeks. The only thing you should be careful about is to change the batteries, and the device will let you know when that’s necessary.
#4 – API Automatic Fish Feeder
This is a different type of automatic aquarium feeder. Instead of rotating to drop the food into the tank, you put it in the water, and it gradually dissolves to release food. It can feed your fish up to 14 days if you have to leave home.
The most important advantage of this auto feeder is the price. It’s extremely cheap, and it performs pretty well considering the price. It’s a pyramid that you drop into the fish tank, and in a few hours, it starts to dissolve. The food it releases is suitable for most types of fish, and the pyramid is safe and non-toxic. However, it’s essential only to use it in well-aerated aquariums. If the water isn’t properly circulated, the pyramid won’t dissolve.
This automatic fish feeder isn’t meant for everyday use, but it can be helpful if you have to leave home for a while. On the downside, some users have complained that once it started to dissolve, the pyramid turned the water a bit cloudy. So, it’s not a solution for a more extended vacation.
What’s in the Box?
If you get the vacation version, you get one pyramid fish feeder that can last up to 14 days.
This short video shows you exactly what you receive if you order this automatic fish feeder:
This automatic fish feeder may not be the ideal long-term solution, but you get quite a lot for such a low price. It can be what you need for a short vacation if you don’t want to spend more on a sophisticated fish feeder. It doesn’t need to be set up; it works for many types of fish and is safe for the environment.
#5 – Decdeal Automatic Fish Feeder
This is a pretty cool example of an automatic fish feeder. There are many positive things about it, but the fact that you can control it with your smartphone is the coolest feature. You need to download an app, and you will have access to a smart cloud network that covers many regions all over the world.
You can install this auto feeder on aquariums with top widths under 35 mm. It’s easy to set up, but you must remember never to twist the food container with your hand. It’s controlled by an app, and it also has voice control.
The automatic feeder’s food container has a decent size, and the plastic is translucid, so you can see when it’s time to refill it. It also has a button for manual feeding. You can use this fish feeder with pellets and flakes but check the instructions first to see what diameter they must have.
What’s in the Box?
An automatic fish feeder, a USB cable, a screw bracket, a double-sided tape, and the user manual
For a visual presentation of the Decdeal automatic fish feeder, take a look at the following video:
The idea of feeding your fish using an app on your phone is quite exciting. And this automatic fish feeder actually works pretty well. The technology behind it makes this fish feeder worth buying, and the price is more than justified. It’s a reliable choice, but you must keep an eye on the food container to make sure you don’t have a moisture problem.
#6 – Penn-Plax Daily Double II Battery-Operated Automatic Fish Feeder
Penn Plax is a top brand that offers excellent products from acrylic tanks to filters and other accessories. And, as you will see in this review, they do a pretty good job with fish feeders as well. This is a battery-operated automatic fish feeder that performs two feedings a day for up to a month. So, it’s a great option if you have to be away from home for a more extended period.
The food drum is quite large and easily adjustable. Another great thing about this fish tank auto feeder is that you use it for any tank. You can use a clamp or leave it free-standing. It will rotate clockwise and release food twice a day. Even without an actual timer, you can be sure that it will perform a feeding every 12 hours.
When you place the fish feeder, make sure it’s not over an air stone because then you will have moisture problems. Also, if you want to use it with flakes, you will have to crush them first, to make sure the automatic fish feeder doesn’t get clogged.
What’s in the Box?
A battery-operated automatic fish feeder
Take a look at this video to see the Penn Plax auto feeder compared to an automatic fish feeder from Top Fin:
This is a very simple and easy to use automatic fish feeder. It does what it’s supposed to do, so as long as you are aware of its limits and don’t have unrealistic expectations, you will be pleased with it. It may not be the best product on the market, but for this price, it’s worth buying.
#7 – Petacc Automatic Fish Feeder
Petacc is a trusted brand for many pet-related accessories, fish feeders included. This particular automatic fish feeder can help you have a nice vacation without having to worry about your fish being fed.
One of the main advantages of this auto feeder is that you can program it. You can set up to 4 feedings per day, even during the night. It may be a good idea to do a test run before leaving on your vacation to make sure everything runs well.
The Petacc automatic fish feeder is very easy to set up and use. And when you add fish food, you don’t have to take down the container. Also, since it’s placed on a pedestal, you can rotate it and choose the best position once you install it.
You can use any type of food with this fish feeder, and the food will remain dry. Being moisture-resistant is a significant advantage, especially if you want to use it when you leave for a longer period, and there’s nobody around to check the aquarium. The food container is also quite large, and you can control the portion size. And if you decide you want to give your fish an extra treat, you can use the button for manual feeding.
What’s in the Box?
An automatic fish feeder, you need to buy the batteries separately.
Take a look at the following video to see the Petacc auto feeder in action:
The Petacc automatic fish feeder is a good option at an affordable price. It’s a pretty complex fish feeder, easy to set up and use, and it’s also quiet and moisture-resistant. The only downside is that you have to be very careful when you position the door to set the amount of food it will release. All in all, it’s worth buying.
#8 – Uniwood Automatic Fish Feeder
The Uniwood automatic fish feeder is another reliable option. It’s a product that works well and has an excellent design. Its aspect is not the primary concern, but considering you will also have other accessories hanging on the fish tank, it’s nice to have an auto feeder that looks stylish.
Not only does this fish feeder look nice, but it’s also quiet and can hold a decent amount of food. It can perform four feedings a day, and it’s a reliable tool to use when you leave on vacation. Another important aspect is that the Uniwood automatic fish feeder is moisture-resistant. It keeps the food dry and doesn’t get jammed, no matter what type of food you use.
The auto feeder is powered by two AA batteries that will last up to one year (if you use good batteries, not the ones included in the package). So, it’s also a smart choice if you want to save energy.
You may notice it doesn’t release exactly the same amount of food every time. But it’s pretty close, and even if you feed the fish manually, you may not manage to get the exact quantity each time.
What’s in the Box?
An automatic fish feeder and two AA batteries.
Take a look at the next video for a short presentation of the Uniwood auto feeder:
The Uniwood automatic fish feeder can be what you are looking for if you travel a lot or simply have a busy everyday schedule. It may not function perfectly, but it does a good job, it keeps the food dry and makes sure the fish aren’t overfed. So overall, it’s a good product, for the money you pay.
#9 – Fish Mate F14 Aquarium Fish Feeder
This automatic fish feeder from Fish Mate is a good choice if you have a nano tank. It doesn’t hold as much food as the fish feeders we reviewed above, but it’s enough to take care of a smaller aquarium. You can use it for most types of tropical and cold water fish foods.
If you worry about moisture (and you should), you have the option to attach an airline from an air pump, to keep the food dry and prevent it from clogging. However, the air pump is not included, so if you don’t have one already placed in the aquarium, it’s something to keep in mind when you set the budget.
You can set this fish feeder to do up to four feedings a day. But considering it cannot hold a large quantity of fish food, you should only rely on it for shorter periods, not for an extended vacation. This type of auto feeder has a rotating wheel with compartments that can hold different types of fish food. You measure each portion, so there’s no risk of overfeeding the fish. The great thing is that this automatic fish feeder doesn’t drop all the portion at once but slowly releases it over an hour and a half.
What’s in the Box?
One automatic fish feeder (the battery is not included)
Take a look at this short video to see precisely how the Fish Mate auto feeder works:
This is a good automatic fish feeder for small tanks. In fact, it’s better than good, as long as you attach a line to an air pump to prevent moisture. You also need to check if the feeding hole and the compartments are lining up correctly, to make sure all the food falls into the water. But the price is reasonable, and you can use different types of food, so overall it’s a smart buy for nano tanks.
#10 – P7000 Automatic Pond Fish Feeder
After all those aquarium fish feeders, it’s time to review one that’s dedicated to ponds. Ponds may not be as popular as aquariums, mainly due to issues related to space and costs, but there are still many aquarists that dare to keep their fish in a pond.
This pond fish feeder from Fish Mate has a large capacity, a user-friendly LCD, and works on 4 C batteries. It’s quite accurate when it comes to portion control, and can be used with pellets and food sticks as well.
The automatic food dispenser can also be used manually if you want to treat your fish with a nice snack. Or you can try the ‘frequent feed’ mode. All the components are easy to clean and suitable for the dishwasher. It also has a snap-lock lid for extra safety. It’s a sturdy pond fish feeder, so even if you have raccoons in the area, they won’t be able to damage it that easily.
What’s in the Box?
An auto pond feeder (the batteries are not included)
In the following video, you can see the pond fish feeder from Fish Mate already set up and running:
If you consider the price, there’s a huge gap between this automatic fish feeder and the others on the list. But it’s normal, since pond fish feeders, just like all pond accessories, are more expensive than the ones you get for aquariums. Overall, this is a good small pond fish feeder, but it needs a cover to protect it from the rain or intrusive raccoons.
What is an Automatic Fish Feeder?
Fish need a few things for a healthy and happy life: enough space to swim, food, and clean water. When you go on a vacation, the food becomes the main issue, since water changes don’t have to be that frequent if the aquarium is in good condition and has a few plants to help keep the water clean.
But fish will need to be fed, so an automatic fish feeder will act as your replacement while you are away. It will make sure the right amount of food is released into the water at the time intervals you have set. So, an automatic feeder keeps your fish alive while you are away, and you can enjoy even a more extended vacation without worrying they are starving. The auto fish feeder is a useful answer to the question, ‘How do I feed my fish while on vacation?’.
More exactly, an automatic fish feeder is a fish food container that has a timer and a moving mechanism so it can release the amount of food you select at certain hours.
Do I Need an Auto Fish Feeder?
We mention going on vacation a lot when talking about automatic fish feeders, and this is indeed the main reason people buy them. But the fact is they are great for everyday use as well. Even the most dedicated fish keeper can forget to feed the fish at some point. It’s not a lack of interest; it’s just a busy schedule. As much as we love our fish, we cannot plan our entire life around their feeding schedule. We have jobs, activities, an entire life outside our homes, and sometimes it’s really inconvenient to be there to feed the fish at a particular time interval.
And then, there’s the commodity. Let’s face it; there are moments when we just want to stay on the couch and relax, and not get up to get the fish food. It may not be nice, but it happens. But none of that is the fish’ fault, and they shouldn’t suffer the consequences. So, we can turn to automatic fish feeders to get that off our mind. That way, we can enjoy looking at the aquarium after a crazy day, knowing the fish are fed and happy, and we don’t have to feel guilty about anything.
You also have the option to ask a neighbor or a friend to feed your fish while you are away. But that doesn’t always work very well. First of all, things can come up in their daily schedule as well, and they may not be able to be there for every feeding. And even if they are, experience shows that fish are more likely to be overfed by a person than an auto feeder. Just looking at them, we are tempted to offer that extra unnecessary snack that can affect the overall state of the aquarium.
Types of Automatic Fish Feeders
As you can see from our list, there are a few different types of automatic fish feeders. Depending on the type of fish you have, what food they eat, and how often you need to set the timer, you can choose the one that best suits your needs. These are the two main types of automatic fish feeders:
Rotating barrel fish feeders
This is probably the most popular type of automatic fish feeder. You place the food inside the container, set the feeding schedule, and it will rotate and release the fish food into the water. You can set the quantity by adjusting the opening. While it’s not a great option for community tanks, it’s ideal for a medium aquarium while the owners are on vacation.
- there are many options on the market, from different reliable brands
- the container is usually pretty big so that it can hold a lot of food, even for a more extended vacation
- they typically have more options when it comes to setting them up
- You cannot use them for larger pieces of dry fish food
- You cannot do mixed feedings with them
- It’s not always easy to set the exact portion
- If you have a community tank, you will need more than one automatic fish feeder
Portion control fish feeders
If you check out any portion controller review, you will see how much this automatic fish feeder resembles a pill container. In fact, it’s exactly like that, except it also releases the food into the tank, not just keeps every portion separately. At every time interval, the fish feeder releases the food from one of the slots, making sure your fish will get precisely the portion you wanted.
- You can put pellets in one tray and flakes in the next one, for instance
- You control the amount of food with precision
- You can even use it with wafers
- It can hold less food than other types of auto feeders, up to 14 feedings
- The feeder itself is larger
- It’s not that easy to clean, due to the small compartments
Things to Consider when Buying an Automatic Fish Feeder
The first thing you should keep in mind when choosing an automatic fish feeder is that you will probably be using it more often than you think. In fact, you may end up using it on a daily basis, not just when you leave on vacation. So, it’s even more important to consider all the main aspects if you want a product you will be happy with for a long time.
You may start out with great intentions, planning to be there to feed your fish every time. But when the initial enthusiasm starts to wear off, reality checks in. The fact is most of us have pretty chaotic schedules, and cannot plan our days around feeding hours. So, you need your auto fish feeder to be very reliable and have a large food container.
Size and type of fish
Some automatic fish feeders can handle larger aquariums, but you must also consider that different types of fish have various feeding necessities. So, you may want to have two feeders, or even more if the tank is large.
Dampness is your enemy when it comes to fish food, so you must make sure the automatic fish feeder you choose is moisture-resistant. You also have to be careful where you place it so that it’s not exposed to evaporation and extra humidity. A ventilation system is a great idea; adding one will help a lot with keeping the fish food dry, and it’s not that difficult to set up.
The timing controller
Being able to control precisely when the feedings start will make your fish happy, and you will be hassle-free even when you are away from home.
It’s not just timing that’s important; you also need to make sure you can set the quantity of the food as precisely as possible. Overfeeding is extremely dangerous, so that should be one of the first things you test with your automatic fish feeder.
There are two options when it comes to charging the automatic feeder: batteries or USB cable. If you choose one with batteries, you have one less cable ruining the design, but you must be extra careful to replace them on time. So, you need an automatic fish feeder that has a battery indicator. And even if the indicator doesn’t announce anything, if you are going away for a more extended period, it’s a good idea to replace the batteries.
No matter what automatic fish feeder you choose, test every feature before you start relying on it to keep your fish fed. Test the quantity, the time intervals, the manual feeding button, make sure the ventilator works. If your fish feeder has more features, test them all. If something doesn’t work as it should, you don’t want to discover it when it’s too late.
How to Mount an Automatic Fish Feeder
The installation of an automatic fish feeder depends on the model you have chosen. Some of them must be attached to the hood. With others, you need to mount them on the glass side or the exterior of the tank. In any case, it’s essential to place them away from other devices and not over an air pump.
How to Make an Automatic Fish Feeder
If you aren’t pleased with the automatic fish feeders on the market or you simply don’t want to spend that money on something you can do by yourself, it’s time to bring out those crafty aptitudes. An aquarium autofeeder isn’t that difficult to make, and you don’t need any special or expensive materials. Here is what you need and step by step instruction on how to build an automatic fish feeder.
- An empty plastic bottle, but make sure it’s clean
- Something to cut with, like scissors or a knife
- Some wooden matches
- An old mobile phone or a pager, one that still vibrates
- A plastic cap
- A hook
- Remove the cap from the bottle
- Use the scissors or knife to cut the bottom part of the plastic bottle
- Place the plastic cap on the table
- Take three wooden matches and place them horizontally on the plastic cap, one on top of the other, and glue them together and to the plastic cap
- Place the plastic bottle on top of the matches, upside down; the bottle’s mouth must be glued against the matches
- Once everything is dry, fill the bottle with fish food. The matches will provide an opening for the fish food to come out, while the plastic cap will prevent too much food from spilling.
- Place the mobile phone inside the bottle, but make sure you set it on vibrate mode first
- Hang the auto feeder for fish on top of the aquarium any way you feel is safe and easy
- When you want to use the feeder, just call the mobile phone. Its vibrations will release the food into the fish tank
This type of DIY automatic fish feeder is inexpensive and very easy to build. But you cannot expect it to perform as well as a good fish feeder you buy from a store. First of all, you cannot really control the quantity it drops into the water. Secondly, it only works with certain types of fish food, granules, and pellets. And then, there’s the aspect; you may be proud of your homemade automatic fish feeder, but it won’t look pretty hanging over your beautiful aquarium. And honestly, your fish deserve better.
FAQ’s on Automatic Fish Feeder
Where can I buy an automatic fish feeder? You can buy such an auto feed machine in most pet shops and stores that sell pet supplies. We recommend you keep an eye on Amazon, because you have many brands to choose from, and the price may be lower than you expect.
Are there any downsides to using an automatic fish feeder? Automatic fish feeders may save you a lot of trouble, but they are not perfect. First of all, like any product, they can malfunction. And with you being away on vacation and no one around to see what happened, you may return home to a full tragedy. The fish can be starving, or they can be overfed, and the tank can have a severe algae problem from the extra waste.
Then, if your fish eat frozen food, you cannot use an automatic fish feeder. You won’t find a frozen fish food feeder on the market. And it’s not just the frozen food that’s the problem. Some fish will only eat certain types of food that you cannot place inside an auto fish feeder.
Is there an alternative to automatic fish feeders? A gel fish feeder is an alternative to automatic fish feeders if you won’t be away from home for a long time. You can also use it for everyday feeding, but keep in mind that each block or package only lasts for a few days. There are many options on the market, from trusted brands like Tetra. And if you don’t like the ones from the stores, you can always make your own. Just mix the nutritious ingredients with unflavored gelatin and place it in ice cube trays to make the portions.
How long can fish go without being fed? Fish can usually go without being fed for two or three days, up to one week. We’re talking about healthy fish that live in an aquarium. Some types of fish can survive even longer without food. However, this should only happen in case of an emergency, when there’s absolutely no way to make sure the fish can be fed.
Can I leave my betta fish for a week? Betta fish are pretty resilient creatures, and an adult can survive up to two weeks without food. But after the first week, they start to feel weak, as their body consumes its’ inner energy reserves. When fish starve, their immunity weakens, and their organs can begin to fail. There’s no point risking that when there are several ways to make sure they receive food regularly. So, try not to find out how long can a betta survive without food.
How does a feeding ring work for an automatic fish feeder? A feeding ring is a straightforward fish feeding device. It’s a ring that you place on the surface of the water; you can attach it to the side of the tank to make sure it stays there, or you can let it float freely. When you add the fish food inside the ring, it will prevent the food from floating away all over the water surface. It’s like feeding your fish their meal on a plate. They will quickly get used to it, and your tank will be less messy.
It’s obviously better not to need an automatic fish feeder. Feeding your fish is an integral part of the fish keeping experience and an opportunity for you to interact with them. You are the one who knows precisely how much food your fish need and when they have their meals. But there are times when you cannot be there. And given the crazy rhythm our lives tend to have, it happens more often than you had expected when you started planning your aquarium. Since your friends and neighbors may not always be available, automated food dispenser can be the best choice for you. And after going through this guide, it will be much easier to choose the best one.
Hi there! I’m Richy, the founder of AquariumStuffs. Since I was young, and had my very tiny plastic fish bowl, I’ve been passionate about fish and aquariums. I went to school to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Marine Biology, and have continued to educate myself and share my knowledge in this field. For almost 20 years, I’ve been obsessed with collecting and learning about everything to do with fish keeping and aquascaping. My goal with this site is to bring all that I’ve learned – the principles, how-to guides, and more – to you. Learn about the art and science behind aquariums, and let me simplify each process around building a sustainable home for your fish through this blog.