What do fish eat?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What do fish eat?” and provide information on what fish consumes in the wild, whether fish can be kept as pets, what baby fishes consume as well as how fish hunt or forage.

What do fish eat?

Fish eat worms, shrimps, crustaceans, and aquatic plants. The diet of the fish would vary. Some fish are carnivorous, some are strictly herbivores while others are omnivorous. 

Smaller fish are more likely to consume algae, detritus, or other smaller organisms. Some smaller fish would eat fish smaller than them.

There are larger fish like whale sharks that might consume smaller fish like plankton. There are many different kinds of foods that a fish might consume.

Some of the primarily consumed foods would include Jellyfish, algae, plankton, sponges, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, mammals, reptiles, insects, worms, and amphibians.

Apart from fish, worms and insects can also be a source of meat for fish. Bigger fish can consume smaller birds or other mammals. Some of them might even target seals or walruses. If the fish is bigger, it would prey on an even bigger target too.

What do fish consume in the wild?

The diet of the fish in the wild can vary. Some of the wild fish would target smaller fish while other fish are likely to be herbivores. Some fish would consume both plant and animal matter. 

There are not many fish that consume a strictly herbivorous diet though there are a few. For instance, Surgeonfish and parrotfish are commonly known as herbivorous fish. Both surgeon and parrot fish feed on algae.

Fish would eat a lot of food available in their environment. Fish can eat a lot of insects including beetles, grasshoppers, flies, mayflies, crickets, and midges. Some fish would also consume leeches, bloodworms, nightcrawlers, or super worms.

Frogs, snakes, and turtles can also be consumed by larger fish. Some wild fish would go after sea lions or birds. Some fish would swallow the prey immediately whereas others would hold them between their teeth.

What do fishes kept as pets consume?

There are fish pellets available for pet fish. You would need to check with the vet to see whether you are providing the appropriate food to the fish.

Apart from pellets, fishes can also eat small worms. Some fish would eat a mixture of frozen food, dry food, greens, and live food.

Flakes and pellets are commonly consumed foods. Fish can also be fed with prawns, planktons, shrimps, and krill. Crickets, feeder fish, or worms can be commonly consumed too.

There are greens that can be consumed by fish as well. Spinach, cucumbers, green vegetables, and lettuce can be consumed.

What do baby fish consume?

The diet of baby fish is the same as that of adult fish. Baby fish might not be able to consume pellets as their mouths are smaller. In such cases, worms or smaller pellets can be given to them.

They can also consume algae, crustaceans, or smaller insects. They can be fed smaller flakes too. They can consume zooplankton baby shrimp too. It is important to monitor their dietary habits as they would need to eat several times throughout the day.

How do fish hunt or forage?

Fish use their senses to hunt or forage. A lot of fish’s eyes are able to see in the dark. Fish can also detect movement in water or vibrations. 

Using chemoreception, fish would be able to smell. They can touch and smell the objects present in the water. 

The senses of the fish can help them in locating the food. Fish can also use their speed to catch prey as well. Certain other kinds of fish can hide or camouflage themselves and then pounce on the fish to kill them. 

For instance, scorpion fish can camouflage themselves and attack their prey when they swim close by. Fishes like stargazers bury themselves in the sand and then attack the prey.

On the other hand, there are fishes that consume the scraps of other fishes by swimming on the bottom floor of the ocean. Some others would hunt in groups and then try to attack or disorient the prey. 

Fish can also try to attract themselves to the prey. For instance, anglerfish swim in deep water areas and have a rod-like substance that radiates from the head and the tip of it is luminescent (similar to a light bulb). 

This can attract small organisms and the moment they come close to the luminescent stuff, they are consumed by the fish.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What do fish eat?” and provided information on what fish consumes in the wild, whether fish can be kept as pets, what baby fishes consume as well as how fish hunt or forage.


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