Professional Buying Guide on Automatic Fish Feeders
Unlike birds and other terrestrial pets that allow you to leave a huge bag of food in their bowls for those extended vacations, leaving plenty of food inside the aquarium will have adverse effects, such as:
- Overeating – some fish, like goldfishes don’t have stomachs to store food, which means that it’s in their nature to continuously eat; there’s no such thing as too much food for them, and if you leave a huge pile of pellets or flakes in the water, in a few minutes or hours your goldfish would’ve devoured them all.
- Ammonia Spike – when fish poop or anything organic decays, ammonia, which is highly toxic to fish, is produced. Fortunately, aquariums naturally develop beneficial bacteria that break down ammonia into less toxic forms. However, beneficial bacteria take time to grow, which is why new aquariums need time to adjust to added fish. Dumping a load of fish food into your aquarium, whether your fish consume them all immediately or not will cause a huge spike in ammonia that your beneficial bacteria cannot handle yet. This is why some owners come home to a tank full of dead fish after overfeeding their fish before their vacations.
In any case, nobody wants to go home to stressed, or worse, dead fish after a relaxing vacation. Fortunately, it’s possible to still feed your fish even when you’re away for a few days without overfeeding them or polluting the water: by purchasing an automatic fish feeder. In this buying guide you’ll find great tips to help you find the best automatic fish feeder that fits your budget, as well as your fish’s needs.
In this context, we’re not talking about aesthetic design, but functional design; some automatic fish feeders only fit in rimless tanks because of their narrow-clamp design, so if you have a regular tank, it may not dispense food properly. In any case, it’s important to consider the size and shape of your aquarium, as there’s no one-size-fits-all automatic fish feeder available as of the moment.
Type of Food Dispensed
Most automatic fish feeders dispense pellets, so if you’re using flake food or possibly even live foods, specialized automatic fish feeders are available.
Cheaper automatic fish feeders have fewer options regarding how often they dispense food; some can only be set in terms of time, which means that they will drop food everyday whereas some can release fish food at different time intervals at different days of the week. Obviously, the latter will be much more expensive.
Top Rated Automatic Fish Feeders in 2018
In searching for the best fish feeder, it’s important to consider the aspects mentioned above, as well as the price you’re comfortable with. Fortunately, we’ve already round up some of the best automatic fish feeder brands that users have sworn by. Any of these products will most likely work for easy-to-care-for fish like guppies, but for high-maintenance fish like discus, you’ll want to choose more carefully.
EHEIM products are well-known for the reliability and robustness of their design. This product is no different; it’s said to last for years without so much as a hiccup in its operation (no accidental feedings, no lockups, etc.). Flakes can be used in this product, provided that you crush them so that they don’t block the opening. Each chamber can store about 0.80 ounces of fish food, with the possibility of feeding up to four times a day on 1 or 2 feeding rotations. The only drawback users have reported is moisture coming into the dispenser, causing some pellets or flakes to clump together inside the dispenser and blocking the opening. In most cases, placing the feeder away from airstone bubbles helps a lot in preventing moisture buildup.
For people with larger fish and more frequent feeding schedules, the AquaChef by Current USA can dispense larger food particles into the water up to 8 times a day! AquaChef could even continue feeding your fish for a few weeks, possibly a month if completely filled up. It also addresses the two most common problems of automatic fish feeders, which is food jamming at the opening of the feeder, as well as moisture getting into the feeder’s chambers, making the food spoil quickly. It addresses the former by crumbling the flakes or pellets before dispensing, and it addresses the latter through a patented design that supposedly locks moisture out. A lot of users, however, complain about the non-user-friendly digital controls and the random lock-ups the unit sometimes has. You’ll want to have the unit tested before purchasing it to make sure you don’t run into problems, or make sure that the seller offers a warranty.
From its rather generic name, you can immediately deduce that it doesn’t offer much compared to more robust (and more expensive) automatic fish feeders out there. That being said, it doesn’t work too well with flakes, as bigger ones tend to get stuck in the opening while the really small ones easily get through. What a lot of people like about this is that it’s easier to program than its more expensive counterparts, with the ability to quickly adjust the amount of food delivered and test the feeder by pressing the manual rotation button. Despite its bulkiness, it can also be mounted easily even on smaller tanks, possibly even fish bowls because of its clamped design. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense automatic fish feeder without too many bells and whistles, this product should be perfect for you.
Resun is known for having both reliable and affordable aquarium equipments. Priced below $10, it’s one of the cheapest automatic fish feeders you’ll ever find. With that, one can expect a rather cheap plastic feel, however, this says nothing about its sturdiness that sets it apart from other cheap Chinese automatic fish feeders out there (as long as it isn’t abused). There are only two options for feeding your fish: every 24 hours or every 12 hours. However, you can set how many pellets or flakes are released, from a gentle pinch to a raging torrent. Because of its limited options, it runs longer than more advanced fish food feeders, to the point that it could last for months! In the end, this Resun product looks and sounds cheap, but it gets the job done, and when you’re on a budget, that’s really all that matters.
In contrast to Resun, which caters to more budget-conscious aquarists, Hydor caters to the high-end market. For starters, it has a sleek, black design. Unlike typical automatic fish feeders that use LCD screens, this product uses LED indicators for better visibility in darker environments, as well as a longer battery life (a little under a year). It can hold a week’s worth of food, possibly more if you feed less than three times a day. Unfortunately, despite this product company’s reputation, this one seems to fall short even when compared to midrange fish feeders in terms of its interface. If you want to set the feeder to release food at 3 am every morning, you’ll have to wake up exactly a 3 am in order to set the timer – a huge drawback for a lot of people, especially those who are leaving in a few hours and don’t have time to wait a few hours just to set their feeders. Also, a lot of people have a gripe with its programming, as there’s no way to do a one-time feeding outside the set schedule, and the interval between feedings cannot be changed. Despite all these, however, Hydor remains one of the most reliable brands out there, so if you can live with bad user interface, you can go for this product knowing that it has the least chances of failing while you’re on vacation.