Can you Feed Bread to Your Aquarium Fish?

When I was a kid I used to go out fishing with my grandfather a lot. It was awesome! We mostly used bread for lure, and I started to wonder whether I could feed bread to my freshwater aquarium fish. I did some research and this is what I found.

Can you feed regular bread to the fish in your aquarium? No, this is bad because bread can easily bloat your fish. Because bread soaks up a lot of water when it gets wet, it swell up a lot. This will happen in the stomach of the fish once it eats it. There are a lot of other foods out there that will make your fish happy and healthy instead of bread.

Although bread may be a bad idea, it is important to understand why it is. What other foods can you give your fish to provide a healthy and varied diet? These are all factors that you should take into account, and with the right knowledge you can make your fish extremely happy.

What Happens to Your Fish When You Feed Them Bread

So, feeding bread to your fish is not such a good idea, but why not? The main reason for this is that it will cause major issues in the fish’s digestive system. It can even completely block it off, which is deadly.

Bread can absorb a lot of water. Like, a LOT of water. While soaking up all the water it can grow in size, even almost 1.5 times its initial size. If you want you can test this by throwing a piece of bread in a glass of water and see for yourself.


The second thing that is a reason for us fish keepers to not feed bread is the ingredients that are in it. It is a processed food. It contains sugar, salt, yeast and depending on the bread all kind of other additives.

Most of these ingredients are not necessarily suited as fish food.

In fact, for example added sugar is a source of carbohydrates to the fish. In the wild, obtaining carbohydrates is like 50% of survival because it means energy! Therefore the fish will continue to eat even though it might be bad for them.

How Does Bread Affect The Water Quality

The fish might be directly affected by the bread that they consume, but the water quality will also be heavily affected. Somewhere on the internet I read a comment of a person on a forum that said “If your child would throw a big piece of bread in your glass of water, would you still want to drink it?” and I think he made a valid comparison.

In the wild, where there is way more water in a pond that we could ever dream to have in an aquarium, the effect of bread on the water quality is super small. Everything gets diluted and no-one will ever notice.


“If your child would throw a big piece of bread in your glass of water, would you still want to drink it?”

Someone on a forum

In our aquarium bread will be a problem. It can be compared to the glass of water with the breadcrumb in it.

Bread has the tendency to fall apart into small pieces when wet. This means that a lot of bread will be eaten by your fish, but there will also be parts that will not get eaten.

Everything that does not get eaten will fall to the bottom of the aquarium, or will get stuck in your filter. If that is the case, it will become a major source of ammonia in your tank. Ammonia is super toxic to your fish, so this is less then ideal.

What Are Good Alternatives For A Varied Diet

The main reason that you and I were probably thinking about this topic is because we want to provide our fish with a healthy and varied diet, right? And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, in fact, that is perfect.

A lot of fish keepers just feed flake food to their fish, and while the container claims that it contains everything they need, your fish might actually get bored of it.

But, there are loads of other options that we can feed them, that they will love!

To start, I will provide a small list with possibilities. You can feed a variety of everything that is in there. Just remember you do not necessarily have to feed all of it.

  • Bloodworms (frozen or live)
  • Brineshrimp (frozen or live)
  • Daphnia (frozen or live)
  • Beefheart (frozen)
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • Frozen Peas
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce

As you can see, there are a lot of options. And I am sure that I have forgotten to add a couple of things, these are just an inspiration. Most of these things (except for the vegetables obviously) you can buy at your local fish store.

Tip: Feed these foods next to their flake and pallet foods for a complete and healthy diet. Flake foods contain vitamins and minerals your fish need.

What Happens If You Feed Bread To Fish In A Public Pond

How often do you walk in a park or somewhere else when you notice a pond that has an enormous number of fish begging for food. This happens a lot, and is rather enjoyable to watch.

What you see happening often is that there are a lot of people that feed all these fish bread. And because we have just learned that it can constipate a fish’s digestive system this might not be ideal.

In fact, it can be terrible for the biodiversity of the pond.

What does that mean, biodiversity? Biodiversity has to do with the amount of different species living in an ecosystem (the pond in our case). What happens when people feed bread to the fish in the pond, is that only the strongest species of fish survive.

If there is one particular species that has a very resilient digestive system, this will be the species that will thrive because it can handle the bread the best. Other species that might suffer from the bread will become weak. And when you become weak in the wild, you will be eaten by predators.

Next time when you encounter such a pond where a lot of people are feeding the fish, pay attention to the number of different species you see. This might be one or two, but in one pond there should be dozens of different species that are all living together.

For a pond, it is best to not feed them anything, because the number of different species will be greatest.

Related Questions

Can you use bread as a fishing lure or it is bad for fish? In my opinion it is fine to use bread as a fishing lure, because the size of the fish that you catch are usually bigger than your average tetra. Also, the bread has been in the water for a while when the fish bites. However, it might be better for your fish if you use larvae.

Can you feed your fish bread crumbs? Feeding your fish bread crumbs is not a good idea, as the bread contains additives like sugar and salt in concentrations that are not meant for your fish. Furthermore, all the breadcrumbs that do not get eaten will be a major source of ammonia and will ruin your water quality.

What human food can fish eat? For the most part, you can feed your fish unprocessed food like fresh vegetables for example. All the processed food contains additives and ingredients not meant for your fish. Think about cucumber, spinach and lettuce.

Bart Sprenkels

I have been keeping multiple aquariums since I was 18 years old. Just like many of you, I started with two goldfish but quickly learned they were not suitable for aquariums. Later, I switched to a tropical community tank and I also have two pet musk-turtles in a bigger aquarium. You can read more about me here.

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