Articles DIY Fish food Goldfish

Homemade fish food!

February 3, 2013
gel fish food

If you’re done with regular commercial pellets or need to cut your aquarium spending, keep reading! Gel food is a great alternative to the fish food sold in pet- and aquarium stores, and it’s cheap and very easy to make too. It’s already very popular among goldfish keepers because it can help fish overcome swim bladder problems caused by commercial foods and it seems that tropical fish lovers are slowly catching on as well.

My first try at gel food was for my goldfish. I only used vegetables in this batch because they get their required amount of protein from frozen foods, but depending on what you want to feed your fish you can use all kinds of ingredients. This means gel food can be made for pretty much all aquarium inhabitants, from turtles to plecos, and the recipes can be adapted to suit their specific needs. The only fish I wouldn’t recommend it for are the ones that need a lot of hard foods to shorten their teeth, like puffer fish.
So how do you make gel food for your fish?

  1. Find or make a recipe that contains the food you want to give your fish and collect the ingredients you need.

For my goldfish, I made a small batch containing peas, lettuce, kale, broccoli, garlic and regular unflavored gelatin. The garlic gives off a pretty strong smell, but goldfish love the taste of it and it’s said to help fight off parasites. I didn’t include any color-enhancing foods like paprika because I don’t want my new Demekin to lose his black, but if you want your fish to get vibrant colors, this is an optional ingredient.

Gel food for goldfish
Gel food for cichlids
Gel food for discus fish
Gel food made with baby food
Gel food for tropical fish

Note: most fish shouldn’t be given warm-blooded animal meat, and if they are, it should be fed sparingly. Going for fish as a protein source in your gel food is a much better idea.

2. Toss it in the blender.
A lot of recipes tell you to cook all ingredients before doing this but I wouldn’t recommend following this guideline. Blanching is a much better option than cooking if you don’t want to lose too many precious vitamins: just heat the veggies for a very short time so they soften a little bit and leave it at that. Meat and fish, however, should always be cooked/baked for at least a few minutes, either when adding the gelatin or before that.

Cut up everything in chunks before putting it in the blender and blend until all the chunks are gone.

3. Add gelatin
After your ingredients have gone for a ride in the blender, it’s time to add gelatin so the food won’t fall apart when you put it in the aquarium. You can use regular unflavored gelatin, or, if you’re looking for a vegetarian substitute, Agar Agar. Follow the instructions on the package – I heated the mixture and added the gelatin while doing so, but this isn’t always necessary.

Now that you’ve added your gelatin, you can pour the resulting mixture in ziplock bags and flatten them so you can break off pieces easily or into ice-cube trays. Gel food can be kept in the freezer for long periods of time – just thaw before feeding and you’re ready to go/

4. Offer small amount to test panel

If you’re short on time, Repashy also sells many varieties of premade gel foods. If gel food just isn’t your thing or you’re looking for other ways to replace pellet foods, check out alternative fish foods!

If you want to share a recipe, have any more questions or want to share your experiences with gel food, be sure to leave a comment below. Happy fishkeeping!

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  • Reply Peter Owens July 17, 2016 at 3:52 am

    In my experience DIY foods of this general type cause the tank water to quickly become cloudy & this takes all night even for a good sized canister filter to clear. Clearly this is an extra load of debris which is unwanted.
    Any ideas how to minimise this effect?

    • Reply Mari July 27, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      Yes, use more gelatin! I never had any problems with my homemade foods at all because I made sure they were quite solid. This did mean I had to cut them to small pieces as the fish couldn’t nip off bits by themselves, but that was never much of a problem.

      Hope that helps!

  • Reply Neil March 16, 2016 at 3:47 am

    Was looking for a way to reduce the ever increasing cost of feeding my little darlings. came across your recipe by chance and am very impressed.
    Well laid out and good photo evidence as well.
    Going to have a go myself as soon as i can get all the ingredients together.
    Thanks for putting it together for us.

    • Reply Mari March 18, 2016 at 11:04 am

      Glad this was helpful for you! 🙂

  • Reply sid March 15, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    if i prepare the food, for many days i can store it in freezer ?

    • Reply Mari March 18, 2016 at 11:04 am

      I’m not sure, if you store it in a ziplock bag or something like that it’ll probably last quite a while, about as long as normal food would!

  • Reply Danny Williams December 18, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Hi! This recipie sounds great for my fish. But do you have the exact amounts of each ingredient? It would help a lot. Thanks!

    • Reply Mari December 19, 2014 at 11:44 am

      Hi! I’m sorry but I unfortunately don’t have the exact amounts, this was just an experiment that turned out right. I’d say a small handful of everything (except the garlic, obviously), but that’s probably not too helpful… sorry! The recipes listed do have the exact amounts I think, maybe you could check those out 🙂

  • Reply masood February 11, 2014 at 9:23 am

    thank you for your recipes
    would gelatin make water dirty by itself ??
    because I have small top filter

    • Reply Mari February 11, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      Gel food can be messy; you could increase the amount of gelatin a bit, that should help it stay more firm!

  • Reply The gold fish lover February 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Does this also work for nymphs?

    • Reply Mari February 9, 2014 at 11:03 am

      Sure, although they will probably need more protein. I don’t have experience with raising fish so I’m not sure what the best recipe is, but I know it’s possible to raise them on gel food once they’re big enough to eat it. 🙂

  • Reply Kaline Fox April 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Excellent idea!!!

    Can we use the Goldfish recipe for Koi and Black Moor as well? …all kinda in the same family.

    Thanks for your time and knowledge! It is very helpful and has saved time, money, and heartache as well as answered questions from emergency (yet temporary) situations!

    • Reply Mari April 14, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Glad to be able to help 🙂
      Black moors are goldfish, so you can definitely use it for them. I think koi have a slightly different diet than goldfish, so it may be better to find a specific recipe for those. I’m not really an expert on koi, though 🙁

      • Reply Kaline Fox April 14, 2013 at 7:26 pm

        Thank you, so much!
        We will keep checking into the Koi…so far, not too many food differences, but will definitely keep going – we want them to stick around for a long time. 🙂

        • Reply Mari April 14, 2013 at 8:59 pm

          I had trouble finding gel food recipes specifically made for koi, I guess it’s not a big thing in that part of the hobby? You could compare the info on the back of a pack of high quality koi food and a high quality goldfish food to see if koi need more protein or something like that. If you find/make a recipe, feel free to let me know and I’ll add it to the article. 🙂 Good luck!

          • Kaline Fox April 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm

            Thanks! And, happy ‘fishing’ to ya’!
            (by the way, I really like the white/pale blue moon beta…its colors fit its name :))

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