Automatic fish feeders

Most pet experts would agree that a regular feeding pattern will help maintain the health of your fish. Because of our increasingly hectic lifestyles, many home aquarium owners are placing their trust in technology and purchasing automatic fish feeders. This Loving Your Pet guide will explore some of their selling points.

What you've been saying about them...

If you go by what's being said on aquatics forums, a lot of owners see the benefit of automatic fish feeders; handy if you are planning a holiday or business trip, however, some would rather trust a friend or neighbour over a battery operated device. Clearly there is a big difference between auto feeders, ranging from the simple to the state of the art.

What features should I look for?

Again, this depends on how much you are prepared to spend, but here is a list of features we felt best summarise the kind of technology out there.

  • Daily feeding programme options
  • Portion settings
  • LCD clock screens
  • Moisture control and anti-clogging
  • Transparent casement for food level monitoring
  • Manual over-ride
  • Aquarium hood mountings

How much do automatic fish feeders cost?

Prices start from under ten pounds with the more expensive units priced at around fifty pounds.

How much food can an automatic fish feeder hold?

Most auto feeders can deliver as many as four feeds per day, with the more basic units able to drop at least two. The feeders we looked at can generally deposit food for at least two weeks, with the exception of larger hoppers which are able to contain four month's worth.

How do I choose the right one?

We recommend that you read the reviews and feedback before you purchase. If you take the time to visit several aquatics websites, you can find out which feeder is consistently picking up decent reviews. It does appear to be a real mixed bag, so make sure you pick a market leader. It's also worth making sure that the feeder can dispense your chosen brand of food, judging from the reviews we read, some feeders might have trouble dispensing food in pellet form.

But do I really need one?

The truth is, maybe not. You might prefer a friend or neighbour to look after your fish. Two things an automatic fish feeder can't do, is check on the fishes health and the function of the aquarium.

It's worth remembering that if your aquarium is well maintained and the water balance good; your fish can survive perfectly well for a couple of days without food. And of course, this might sound rather trivial, but you must always consider battery life; most auto fish feeders run on AA batteries which we all know don't last forever, so if you were planning on using one while you are away, make sure you install new batteries to be safe and not sorry. Some manufacturers suggest batteries can last for up to a year, but this depends on usage and perhaps the type of display on the unit.

So what have we learnt?

In the age of technology it comes with little surprise that a convenience gadget like the automatic fish feeder is now readily available. Whether you choose to put your faith in one remains a choice only you can make. All the evidence suggests that the highly rated models can be relied upon, but make sure you do your homework!