Cichlids are a large family of freshwater fish whose diet is determined by various factors, including their natural habitat, behavior, and individual preferences. They can eat a wide range of food, from algae to vegetables to meat and small fish.
So, can cichlids eat strawberries?
Some cichlids can eat strawberries, but they should not be the main part of their diet. Strawberries are high in sugar and carbohydrates, which can be difficult for some fish to digest. Additionally, the carnivorous cichlids may not be interested in eating fruits as they prefer a meaty diet.
Pro Tip: If you want to offer your cichlids strawberries as a treat, it is best to stick to small amounts once or twice a week. Let most fish’s diet be foods that meet their nutritional needs, such as high-quality live or frozen foods appropriate for their species.
Carnivorous and omnivorous cichlids like the angelfish and Bolivian Rams enjoy eating brine shrimp, earthworms, and bloodworms. On the other hand, herbivorous cichlids prefer nutrient-rich aquatic plants and high-quality vegetable-based flakes or pellets.
Nutritional benefits of strawberries to fish
Strawberries are rich in antioxidants (Vitamin c), fiber, and other minerals beneficial to fish. Providing the fruit to your fish once or twice a week can improve their health and help reduce stress levels. Vitamin C, in particular, provides a strong immune system for proper defense against diseases.
Here’s the nutritional value for 100 grams of strawberries as provided by the USDA.
How to Serve Strawberries to your fish
Get strawberries that are fully ripe and clean them with warm water. The bright red ones are juicy, soft, and less acidic. Cut them into small pieces using a clean knife and offer them to the fish in small amounts.
After 15 to 30 minutes, check if any pieces have been eaten and remove them from the tank to maintain the cleanliness of the water. As you know, overstayed fruits can decompose and release harmful chemicals into the water. This is one reason why your fish may die.
- Strawberries, especially the unripe ones, are higher in acidity. Serving them to your fish may alter the water chemistry resulting in fishy dying. However, the acidity in the fruits decreases when they ripen, as the Royal Society of Chemistry explains.
- Further, strawberries have higher levels of sugars and carbohydrates, and serving them to fish in plenty can cause bloating and digestion problems. Feed your cichlids strawberries as a treat just once or twice a week
What other fruits can cichlids eat?
If you don’t have strawberries, here are safe fruits to feed your cichlids.
Raspberries are the easiest fruits to feed cichlids. You don’t need to peel or divide the fruit before giving it to them. Cichlids will tear off the soft tissues of raspberries and happily eat them. However, eating many raspberries can cause skin infections and bloat in your fish.
Oranges are essential fruits for fish as they contain vitamin C. The vitamin gives cichlids a robust antioxidant defense system against diseases. Peel an orange and cut it into small cubes before dipping it in the aquarium for your cichlids.
Grapes have a tough outer layer that’s difficult for cichlids to bite through. Peel the layer and drop the grape balls in your aquarium. However, grapes are acidic. Too many grapes can lower the aquarium water pH and cause several health issues to your fish.
Cichlids eat blueberries but don’t like the skin. Before giving your fish the blueberries, peel off the skin and divide them into halves. If you feed them blueberries in the morning, give them a heavy meal in the evening.
What vegetables can cichlids eat?
Herbivorous cichlids need plenty of vegetables as part of their diet.
1. Lettuce and spinach
Lettuce is great for cichlids, but not regularly. Although cichlids love it, this veggie has few calories and provides little nutrition to fish. Therefore, give them lettuce alongside spinach as a boost for calories.
You should not give your cichlids raw broccoli. The vegetable is unlike lettuce or spinach, which the fish can eat raw. Cichlids love boiled, blanched, and steamed broccoli because it is soft. I feed my angelfish and Bolivian Ram with steamed broccoli twice a week.
Boiling and steaming make the broccoli soft for the cichlids to eat and improve the nutritional value of broccoli to fish. Cut the broccoli into tiny pieces your cichlids can eat and feed them bit by bit until they don’t want to eat anymore.
Peas are low-calorie vegetables that cichlids enjoy eating. Peas also act as laxatives, meaning they help flush out the content in your cichlid’s GI tract. For example, if your cichlids are bloated and constipated, feed them some green peas.
Balance peas with other foods such as blood worms and flakes. I will return to that in the next section. Just peel the skin from the peas before giving it to your cichlids.
There are many benefits of cucumber in a fish tank. Cichlids can eat raw, steamed, or blanched cucumbers. Cut thin cucumber slices and stick them inside the fish tank. You can also tie the cucumber slices to a rock and sink them into the bottom of the aquarium for your bottom feeders.
Before feeding your cichlid fish with boiled cucumbers, ensure the vegetable has cooled completely. A hot cucumber may make your cichlids afraid and anxious anytime you give them food. Moreover, remember to remove leftovers from the tank.
5. Boiled carrots
Carrots contain large amounts of beta-carotene. Alternatively, roast two or three carrots (depending on your aquarium population) in the oven for 20 minutes. The beta-carotene will boost the immune system of your cichlids and give them healthy skin.
Also, boiled carrots have a high fiber content. Like a diet of peas, boiled carrots can help your fish with bloating or constipation. It is also important to note that herbivorous cichlids eat raw or cooked carrots, and carnivorous cichlids enjoy cooked carrots.
Nearly all tropical freshwater cichlids will accept a meal of zucchini vegetables. Slice the vegetable into manageable units, blanch them, and feed your cichlids. Zucchini also contains a lot of fiber that prevents constipation in cichlids.
However, do not put a lot of zucchini vegetables inside the aquarium. They can decompose and alter water chemistry.
Meaty foods for cichlids
Here are some meaty foods that you should serve your carnivorous cichlids:
Large and aggressive cichlids are more likely to prefer meaty foods such as shrimp. Feed them frozen shrimp or add live shrimp into your aquarium. Live shrimp will live among your fish, clear the water of leftovers, and still be a constant food source for your cichlids.
You can put live or chopped earthworms inside your fish tank for cichlids. Carnivorous cichlids such as the angelfish will happily eat earthworms. It provides their body with rich protein and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Cichlids can also eat bloodworms. The worms are rich in iron and protein. However, you should feed the fish bloodworms in moderation, or the cichlids can constipate. A good bloodworm diet for cichlids should be once or twice a week.
Cichlids also eat algae, aquatic plants, and biofilm. Like guppies that eat algae, they can be used to clean an aquarium. However, give them high-quality fish food to meet their nutritional needs.
Tips and precautions when feeding cichlids
Here are some tips and precautions when feeding cichlids:
- Peel and divide larger foods into smaller manageable pieces for your cichlids.
- Drop food inside the tank gradually until all cichlids stop eating.
- Avoid overfeeding your cichlids.
- Remove any leftovers that can quickly destroy the aquarium water chemistry.
- Most fruits are acidic. Give your cichlids just a few to avoid lowering the aquarium’s pH.
With these tips and precautions, you can easily feed your cichlids any food they like. In fact, they’re not very choosy and will enjoy most meals.
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Magalhaes, I. & Ford, A. (2022). The Amazing Diversity of Cichlid Fishes. 10:544098. doi: 10.3389/frym.2022.544098
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Breeding.