Automatic fish feeders can simplify the day-to-day care of an aquarium. Today’s feeders can accommodate a wide variety of aquariums, and are becoming easier to use.
The down side of automatic fish feeders
There are some limitations to most feeders, such as not being able to use frozen food, and in my experience, flake foods are hit-or-miss as far as how well they work.
Also, many aquarium owners like feeding the fish, themselves. So for them, an automatic fish feeder may only be used while they are on vacation or for some other reason that they may not be able to tend to the tank every day.
The up side of automatic fish feeders
My customers tell me that they like knowing that the fish are getting fed every day, the same time every day, and the same amount each time. It gives the fish a routine, and some say that they notice less aggression in the tank after they used it (I haven’t personally observed that).
Some like to use their automatic fish feeder as a part of their feeding routine. They will have it dispense pellets once or twice a day, and they will supplement with frozen food or nori sheets.
Buying an automatic fish feeder? Some things to consider:
Where do you want the food to be dispensed into the aquarium?
You’ll want to make sure that the dispenser is able to drop food into the spot on a consistent basis without missing. Look at how broad an area the feeder is actually dropping food into. If it is broader than the gap that leads into the aquarium water, then food will land on top of a tank’s glass lids, over the edge, or somewhere else. Food that almost falls into the aquarium can become food for insects.
How much food do you want it to hold in its reservoir?
Automatic fish feeders can can hold up to weeks of food in their reservoir at one time. From a freshness standpoint, food that sits in a feeder for more than a couple weeks can start to degrade and become stale.
How much room do you have or want to dedicate to a feeder?
There are a couple considerations, here. An automatic fish feeder needs to be able to sit somewhere that does not impede the food reservoir’s rotation. The reservoir needs to be able to spin properly so that it can dispense the food correctly.
Check the height of the space you are placing your feeder into. Does it easily fit into place? Is there something on top that could rub up against the reservoir, or unintentionally press a manual feed button?
How secure is the feeder’s footing?
Automatic fish feeders need to sit flat on a solid surface. They are weighted in order not to fall over. Placing a feeder on the corner of a tank sitting on three of four of its “feet” opens the door to the feeder falling of balance and into the aquarium. Many feeders have velcro tabs that you can put onto them. They are a good extra support to proper positioning, but you might not want to count on them to prevent a feeder from tipping over.
Functionality/Ease of Use
Does the feeder do what you want it to do? There are feeders that can feed two different types of food at different times of the day. Many aquariums just need one or two feedings in a day.
Programming a feeder can be simple, or complex, depending on the manufacturer and the model. So you’ll want to do some research ahead of time to make sure that you will be able to easily get the feeder to do what you want it to do.
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