One of the earliest pets that families and children often take care of is fish. Yes, they require a lot less out of you than an energetic puppy or a curious kitten, but fish still deserve that same level of care that you’d give to any animal. A crucial and often neglected factor to owning a pet fish is maintaining a proper feeding system. Some mornings you give them too much, other afternoons you give them too little. Heck, some days, you forget to feed them at all. If you’re looking for a surefire way to ensure your pet fish gets their full day’s worth of grub, an automatic fish feeder is a worthwhile investment.
Buying Guide for Automatic Fish Feeders
Why buy an automatic fish feeder?
Automatic fish feeders can be an extremely useful tool for just about any fish owner, especially those who travel or otherwise go out of town with any sort of frequency. With a good automatic fish feeder, you can go away for a weekend (or longer, depending on the feeder in question) without worrying that your pet(s) will miss a meal or needing to hire someone just to feed them. Even if you don’t travel a lot, you may still benefit from an automatic fish feeder for daily use. If you have a busy schedule, work odd hours, or get called away by an unexpected emergency, an automatic fish feeder ensures that your fish will get fed at the same time every day; all you have to do is remember to refill the feeder every once in a while.
Another great thing about automatic fish feeders is that they’re surprisingly versatile and varied devices. There are models for every type of fish food out there, and even some that can hold one or more types. Others can be set to dispense more than one meal a day. And while most are designed for indoor home aquariums, there are also larger and hardier outdoor models meant specifically for koi ponds and the like. Basically, no matter what type of fish you own and whatever environment they live in, there’s an automatic fish feeder that should suit you and your pets’ needs.
What should you look for in an automatic fish feeder?
- Feeding Capacity: While you don’t want to overfeed your pet fish, it’s important that the fish feeder you find features a tank capacity that can hold enough food to hold an owner over until they can get back home to refill it. Ideally, a device’s feeding capacity will be split into select meal slots or as one large container that features an adjustable opening to accommodate the proper serving size.
- Versatile Settings: What kind of fish owner are you, and which kind would you like to be? Are you the type who enjoys the automatic wonder of setting a schedule and allowing modern tech to do your bidding, or are you the type of owner who still finds enjoyment in the responsibility of feeding time? If you’d consider yourself the former, then most feeders will have you covered. However, if you’re the latter, then you should seek out feeding devices that offer you the opportunity to adjust your pet’s feeding schedule, given that fish nutritionists recommend you feed your pet several small meals throughout the day rather than just one large one.
- Additional Convenience: It doesn’t hurt to seek out those additional factors that make both you and your pet’s lives much easier to maintain. Seek out devices that offer perks like easy installation methods, unique food dispensing styles for different types of fish, clear home-setting layouts, and even smart device capabilities.
How do automatic fish feeders work?
Automatic fish feeders are electric devices, so they’ll be either battery-powered or plugged into a wall outlet via a power cord. They come in many different shapes and sizes, but most will be rectangular or rounded in shape and attach to the top of an aquarium. (Or, in the case of outdoor models, rest on the bank or edge of the water with a chute that dispenses the food.) Each feeder will have a number of inner chambers that you pre-fill with the fish food. These chambers are hooked up to a clock mechanism. When the clock strikes the time or times you’ve preset, its mechanism rotates the food chambers until the food inside is dispensed into the water.
Also note that some models have a manual feature to go along with the automatic one, which allows you to press a button and feed your fish at any time. Some more modern models may also connect to an app on a smartphone, allowing you to use your phone as a sort of remote control and dispense food through the automatic feeder on command.
Our Picks for the Best Automatic Fish Feeders
EHEIM Everyday Automatic Fish Feeder
Adjustable, programmable, and ventilated, this handy automatic fish feeder will fit most home aquariums and can manually dispense food as well.
Pros: Even if you’ve never owned an automatic fish feeder before, you shouldn’t have any issues with this battery-operated model. It’s simple to attach and designed to be almost universally compatible; it should fit on pretty much any aquarium or tank you might own. This device’s feeding intervals are also easy to manage, especially since it comes with a user’s manual just in case you need some guidance. It can be programmed for up to eight meals a day. Users can select the appropriate portions of food their pet needs via the adjustable slider that regulates how much food will be dispensed at a given time. You can also give your fish food manually with this feeder if you so choose, and the built-in fan and ventilation system helps keep the food inside dry so that it won’t rot or get stuck together. And it’s suitable for both flakes and pellet food.
Cons: It may take some time to figure out the right portion sizes for your fish; the adjustable slider doesn’t have any sort of markings or other guidance. You may also have to fiddle with this feeder to find just the right and most advantageous position to dispense into the water without food missing the opening or the device getting stuck when rotating. And keep in mind that if you use pellets, there is a risk that the pellets might get stuck.
Bottom Line: With both automatic and custom feeding windows, this handy little device requires minimal battery power to keep your fish healthy and full. It fits most types of food for freshwater and saltwater fish alike, has splash-proof buttons, and is compatible with almost all at-home tanks, so it even makes an excellent option for reptiles and turtles in terrariums.
Fish Mate F14 Aquarium Fish Feeder
A conveniently small feeder that's capable of dispensing up to 14 scheduled meals while the owner is away.
Pros: This round automatic fish feeder features an accurate quartz timer that can schedule and dispense 14 meals before needing to be refilled. If you feed your fish once a day, this means it only needs refilling once every two weeks, or once a week if you feed them twice daily. Additionally, this feeder can serve a variety of food to both cold and freshwater fish. Depending on your pet’s needs, you can program it to dispense anywhere between one to four meals per day. It only requires a single AA battery to operate (sold separately), which can last you as long as a year, and it will indicate when the battery is running low and needs changing.
Cons: Unlike most automatic fish feeders, this model has to be set to dispense manually; it doesn’t have a digital clock and programming. This can make the settings a little trickier to figure out at first. It also lacks built-in ventilation, which may cause food clogging in humid environments. Also keep in mind that this feeder was meant for tanks under 150 liters; if you own a bigger one, you’ll probably need to buy more than one feeder.
Bottom Line: This versatile feeder combines the best of automatic and manual operation in a well-priced package. It’s also straightforward to keep track of how often it needs to be refilled, thanks to the clear lid and visible food chambers. This model is an option you can reliably structure a feeding schedule around without doubling back over in case one meal was missed.
Noodoky USB Charging Automatic Fish Feeder
This long-lasting and versatile fish feeder features one of the best dispensing palates and a crystal clear LCD display bar.
Pros: Among the best and most advanced feeders you can buy for your underwater pets are those featuring digital interfaces. With its modern, digital design and a rotating head, this particular feeder brings users a whole other level of feeding power and options. There are four feeding windows and three levels of portion control that a user can adjust between. There’s also an instant feeding button to manually feed the fish. While battery-powered, the feeder also comes with a USB charging cable. The digital panel is clear and easy to read, and there are two different mounting options depending on the type of aquarium you own; you can either fix it to the tank’s wall with the adjustable clamp or use the included sticker to adhere it to a flat point on the tank’s lid.
Cons: Many automatic fish feeders are on the compact side of the size spectrum, but not this one. It’s much bulkier than most tank-attached fish feeders. And there may be a bit of a learning curve for setting the timer properly, especially if you’re not super familiar with military time.
Bottom Line: Dispensing flake, granulated, strip, and pellet feed, this automatic fish feeder knows how to accommodate an assortment of fish with their preferred grub and plenty of it.
Decdeal Automatic Fish Feeder
A fish feeder that strongly embraces the convenience of 21st-century technology.
Pros: This feeding device is complemented by the power of a 21st-century smartphone; it connects to Wi-Fi and allows users to control their feeder with the feeder’s mobile app. Through the iLONDA app, fish owners have complete control over the servings and scheduling of their pet’s meals in accordance with how far away they are from home, whether they’re out for work or in an entirely different state. Additionally, this fish feeder is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Echo devices for voice control operation when you’re in the home. If your Wi-Fi network ever goes down, never fear; this feeder will still remember your timer settings and feed your fish as programmed. As a bonus, it’s suitable for most different types of fish food and can be mounted either with the screw bracket or with the provided double-sided adhesive. A user manual and USB cable also come included with your purchase. It’s not much more expensive than most non-WiFi-compatible models, either.
Cons: While you can buy and program this fish feeder even if you don’t own a smartphone, you will miss out on the app and thus most of its useful high-tech features. It doesn’t have any built-in fans or ventilation to help protect the fish food inside.
Bottom Line: Packing a wide assortment of fish dispensing abilities alongside one very modern perk, this automatic fish feeder is an option for fish of the future—or, at the very least, owners who’d like to control their feeding schedule without getting up.
Fish Mate P7000 Pond Fish Feeder
Automatic fish feeders aren't exclusive to indoor tanks, as this large, made-for-ponds fish feeder aptly proves.
Pros: Most automatic fish feeders were designed with indoor fish tanks in mind, so if you have an outdoor setup of some sort, you may think that one of these devices isn’t in the cards for you. Not with this model. It was designed specifically as a pond fish feeder, meant to rest on the banks of ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water rather than on tanks or aquariums. It has a huge capacity of 30 cups of food. Even if you have it dispensed three times a day or in ‘frequent feed’ mode, you won’t have to refill this feeder very often. And when the time does come to clean and refill it, you can simply throw this fish feeder in your dishwasher for quick and convenient cleaning.
Cons: This model is much more expensive than the indoor automatic fish feeders; it’s by far the priciest option on this list. Also, since this was designed as a pond feeder, it’s not suitable for indoor tanks or aquariums, nor will it work effectively with fish food that isn’t in pellet or stick form.
Bottom Line: This fish feeder offers users an extra-large capacity option made specifically with outdoor use in mind, allowing people with koi ponds and other similar setups to take advantage of the peace of mind and other benefits that come with automatic fish feeders.
Even the most responsible pet owners can use a hand from time to time. These automatic fish feeders will have your back; should you ever run late at work or have to run an unexpected errand, you can rest assured knowing that your fish won’t miss a meal or eat later than they’re used to.