newbie question ... why is overfeeding bad? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 06-30-2007, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
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newbie question ... why is overfeeding bad?

Sorry if this is a dumb question, but I'm just curious to know why is overfeeding bad?

I think knowing the underlying reasons will help me not cave in when my fish starts doing his "hungry dance." he does it almost every time I approach his tank ... and unfortunately I'm very, very susceptible to the hungry dance.

I know that if you overfeed it eventually makes nitrates higher and you have to do more frequent water changes ... and I know that if you have snails or planaria, the overfeeding it causes their population to soar through the roof.... but that's all I know about it and I'm still scratching my head wondering why it's bad to overfeed. snails and planaria are harmless, right? so if you stay on top of water changes, then why would overfeeding harm the tank? is there something else going on?

thanks in advance for helping me understand...
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post #2 of 12 Old 06-30-2007, 11:22 PM
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First, fish are opportunistic feeders. Having extra food available, they will eat themselves to death. This can still happen with "standard" feeding to allow your less aggressive fish a chance to feed.

Second, the food will rot and raise ammonia levels in the tank. A cascade problem with this is that left over food will also mold causing the tank water to smell very foul and to cloud out. Both ammonia and mold create seriously detrimental problems in your tank. Water changes won't necessarily help control these. Vacuuming the substrate can reduce the occurance, but once the outbreak occurs of mold, unless you remove the molding material, it will keep coming back.

Third, if you do have snails, population blooms can get out of control.
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post #3 of 12 Old 06-30-2007, 11:29 PM Thread Starter
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thanks, that makes more sense now! I didn't know about the mold or the opportunistic feeding.
now that I know why it's bad i can stoically resist the hungry dance... :)
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post #4 of 12 Old 06-30-2007, 11:33 PM
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Don't let the fish fool you, as your tanks age, they will build up "snack food" for your fish as well. Plus, a healthy fish can got 10+ days without eating and it's actually good to not feed every so often.
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post #5 of 12 Old 06-30-2007, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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that's interesting ... i didn't know that either.
do you think I should give my tank a break from feeding for a few days? I have definitely been overfeeding, i started seeing a snail population explosion last week, and today I saw two planaria ... my guppy ate one of them, that freaked me out. do you think a vacation from feeding would help get rid of the planaria? i read they are harmless but I think it makes my tank look unhealthy...
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post #6 of 12 Old 06-30-2007, 11:59 PM
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First, I would suggest a vacuuming of your substrate to remove as much of the excess food as possible.

Second, you need to look at how to control your snail population. Some people prefer the bait method where you put a toothpick though a piece of zucchini and tie a line to it and lower it into the water for a couple of hours. Remove the zucchini and the snails. Repeat as levels of snails requires. The other method is to get loaches or other snail eating fish (puffers are good, but other fish tend to dislike puffer's aggressive fin nipping). Smaller loaches such as kuhli are only good for baby snails, but in combination, the two methods should work to get rid of snail over population. If your tank is too far gone, you might need to chuck the substrate and relocate the fish into a temp home while you clean the tank.

Regarding the stop feeding, might be good for a day or two. I need to get into this habit as well of not feeding every once in a while. ;)
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post #7 of 12 Old 07-01-2007, 09:08 AM Thread Starter
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thanks! i just finished vacuuming my substrate. i just noticed my siphon had a piece of gravel stuck in it so my last few vacuumings have not been very effective. but now i got the piece of gravel out and this vacuuming got a ton of gunk out. :)

are the snails harmful to the tank? there are a lot of them but they seem so cute...especially when they walk upside down on the surface of the water. can i keep the snails without harming my plants or my fish. i like my snails so i would like to keep them if possible?
they like to collect on top of my skull to eat the algae that grows on it, so i guess if I have to kill them I could just take the skull out and rinse it off periodically. (sad....)
actually a kuhli loach sounds good.... i like that idea
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post #8 of 12 Old 07-01-2007, 11:45 AM
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It depends on the snail type. They can be destructive to the plant life, but you'd likely see that by now.
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post #9 of 12 Old 07-02-2007, 09:51 AM
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when you get an explosion of snail population like that, snails will die off quickly and you probably won't notice their dead boddies because they are still in the shells. Constant reproduction of snails as well as constant dying off of some snails will foul a tank very quickly. Keep in mind they can reproduce to a point where your whole glass is covered by them get it under control asap.

Mike H
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post #10 of 12 Old 07-02-2007, 01:03 PM
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As far as feeding goes - I feed only every second day and find that my snail population doesn't get out of control. I have no method of keeping their numbers down and after approx 6 months - there still aren't that many in the tank.
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