Best Automatic Fish Feeders Reviewed & Rated For Quality and Functionality
Automatic fish feeders take the stress out of constantly monitoring your fish tanks. It can also be a relief for people that tend to spend a lot of time away from home. A good feeder takes all of the guesswork out of setting up a schedule for your fish. And the great thing about this best automatic fish feeders list is that they’re all priced low.
- Eheim Fish Feeder
- Options Up Front
- Aquarium Fish Feeder
- Drop It In And Go
- Fish Mate F14
- Battery Indicator
There are no favored brands in the automatic fish feeding industry, although there is a lot of favoritism towards auto feeding tablets. The big type in that category are the ‘Pyramids’, large ones that dissolve and can last for up to 3-30 days. And beyond the tablets, there is a mix of traditional quartz timer feeders and new age digital feeders.
It would be a good idea to not force large foods into feeders if they don’t fit. Doing this can jam it and mess up the timer. Cleaning will largely come down to how good the filter is in the tank. Usually wiping it down when you have to replenish the food is the only thing that’s needed.
10 Best Automatic Fish Feeders
1. Eheim Battery Operated
Customers can purchase this as a single feeder, or in a 2 or 5 count pack. This helps out a lot no matter what type of fish owner you are.
Features and Specifications
Built-in fan and ventilation system
Can hold up to 6 weeks of food
With a 3-year warranty attached, this can be a really great value if you get the 5 feeder pack. The price is low, and the unit can hold over a months’ worth of food.
Everything works as it’s supposed to with this product, and there is even a quick start guide included. Advanced and user-friendly, once you use an Eheim system you won’t go back.
- See through food drum
- Includes a universal installation clamp
- Very easy to use
- Great for any type of fish
- Certain large pellets can jam food opening
2. Aquarium Pharmaceuticals
With a much longer lifespan, this is the Pyramid to own if you take a lot of trips away. Just drop it in the tank and leave without worrying about coming home to dead fish.
Features and Specifications
Handles 20 fish in a 10-gallon tank
Will feed for up to 7-14 days
Having a single big Pyramid compared to several smaller ones is a better value long-term. The price is the same as the multipack and lasts longer than all of them put together.
With only one other automatic fish feeder keeping this from the top spot, the Pyramid method has once again shown its value. Drop it in the tank and enjoy a long trip without a complicated setup.
- Has a secret chamber that releases tubifex worms
- In a smaller setup could potentially last an entire month
- Simple and easy to use
- Great for short vacations
- Ups the nitrates in a tank
3. Fish Mate F14
Built into the unit is a battery indicator so you know exactly how much juice you have left. Using this, buyers will never have to worry about their feeder failing while they’re away.
Features and Specifications
Handles up to 14 meals
Can be set to feed 1-4 times per day
With the quartz timer as the best feature of this product, the low price is even more attractive. Expect to get plenty of years of worth out of this product.
This is considered to be one of the more traditional automatic feeders and is still one of the best. You won’t encounter any problems using one of the best on the market.
- Quality quartz timer
- Handles all types of fish food without troubles
- Great battery indicator
- Can provide up to 14 meals.
- Changing the food time is hard
4. Hydor Automatic
It’s not groundbreaking, but the LED programming uses easy to identify lights and figures to guide you with setups. After the first time, the one button system can be done in without referencing the manual.
Features and Specifications
Compatible with leading aerators
Can set it up for 3 feedings a day
Low priced and with a really good setup, the value will multiply when you use it in conjunction with an aerator. Even without one, this is still a nice buy.
A lot of fish tanks will benefit greatly from adding this automatic fish feeder to the rotation. With a one-button feeding feature, it takes all of the guesswork out of the schedule.
- Uses flakes, tablets or pellets
- 100% usable in tropical aquariums, terrariums and marine
- Utilizes and LED light for illumination
- Users can schedule 3 feedings a day
- Has trouble with larger pellets
5. API 3-Day Pyramid
Just drop it in and walk away, no extra work needed. It is simply a dissolvable block of food that breaks up slowly over time.
Features and Specifications
Comes in a pack of 4
Good for 15-20 fish in a 10-gallon tank
With four in a pack, this can go long way with its low price. Looking at it from a per Pyramid cost, this is the cheapest option on the list.
Not having to worry about your fish over the weekend is something the Pyramid can help with. Think of it as a foolproof way to feed fish when leaving for a few days.
- Works with fresh or saltwater fish
- Requires no previous setup
- Incredibly simple to use and install
- Great for 15-20 fish.
- In tanks with bad filtration the water will get cloudy
6. Newcomdigi Daily Automatic
Having the option to disperse food on demand can be just as important as automatic functions. They made sure the manual/start gear was easy to operate and within hands reach.
Features and Specifications
Auto or manual feeding with three fixed modes
Adjustable food amounts
Like most of the other products on the list, this one is on the lower side in price. Simple directions and operation turn this into a tremendous value for any user.
High compatibility with usability specifications helps out this automatic fish feeder. You’ll have no problem using it to feed your fish daily.
- High compatibility with many different types of foods
- Manual is very clear about how the device works
- Very easy to understand and use.
- Comes with three different modes.
- Bracket can be a pain to use
7. EHEIM Aquarium
Typically a feeder will send the food out and it will float to the top of the water, leaving food pieces that are not eaten to float down and contaminate the water over time. This model feeds all food underwater at a fixed location and cuts down on the wasted food.
Features and Specifications
Universal fitting with clamps
Can be used in fresh or marine water
Suitable for big tanks, buyers will find the low price of this product just the right fit. Mid to smaller tanks will get less value from this type of automatic feeder.
This model will really find a comfortable home in a big fish tank, so use it wisely. As long as you don’t have fish that fight over food, then it is a quality buy.
- No food is wasted with this intuitive design
- Can also be used as a defrosting station
- All food is fed to the fish underwater
- Great for all fish - fresh and salt water.
- Can be problematic in tanks with territorial fish
8. KLAREN Digital
Klaren offers this product in models 2003D, 2005D and 2008D. There are differences in feedings per day, size and digital timer options.
Features and Specifications
Can feed up to 8 times per day
Comes with 2 AA batteries
There are some things that the 2005D model has that the 2003D model has, so the value is going to be dependent on which one you get. All of them are low priced, so there are no worries about wasted money.
Klaren did a good job with cramming as many options as possible into separate models. It’s a great buy and may turn into a worthwhile investment for consumers with multiple fish tanks.
- Stops moisture from spoiling saved fish food
- Can handle just about any type of food you throw at it
- Offers consumer three different modes
- Can feed fish up to 8 times per day.
- Depending on which model you get, some features will be unavailable
9. Zoo Med BettaMatic
Along with the product comes sample food for Betta fish which should last a short while. It’s pretty large for a sample size and will give users a good start when they need it.
Features and Specifications
Uses 2 AA batteries
Feeds Betta fish once per day
The price is low so it won’t scare away any potential customers. And with batteries and sample food included, it pays for itself within the first year.
Extras are always appreciated when it comes to any product for consumers. Zoo Med offers a really great choice, and it may turn out to be the best value you can get for an automatic fish feeder.
- Batteries are included
- Also comes with rail kit
- Comes with sample food for the fish
- Great feeding tool for betta fish.
- Only feeds once per day
10. Black Digital Automatic
An automatic feeder of this size has its advantages, starting with tank compatibility. It can go in smaller tanks or bigger tanks without too large of a hit on reliability.
Features and Specifications
Uses 2 AA batteries
Measurements are 4.3x10cm
The price is low so won’t be an issue for anyone looking at automatic feeders. Buyers that don’t want to do a lot of guesswork with sizes will find this the most useful.
Tanks come in all sizes, so having an automatic feeder that can accommodate them is great. You’ll have no trouble installing this and enjoying the benefits.
- Small enough to fit in any size tank
- Only weighs 7.4 ounces
- Easy to use and install
- Cost-friendly price tag.
- Batteries aren’t included
Criteria Used to Evaluate Automatic Fish Feeders
There are many different kinds of fish tanks in the world, small and large. This doesn’t even take into account the countless fish varieties available for consumer purchase. It is impossible to guarantee 100% compatibility with feeders with the millions of fish types/tank scenarios. With this in mind, we put great emphasis on making sure our criteria for evaluating fish feeders was based on value rather than compatibility.
Price isn’t too much of a concern with automatic fish feeders since all of the great ones are low priced. We used this criterion to get rid of overpriced options that didn’t offer equal value to their expense. Most of the products that we got rid of were for much larger tanks than what would be in normal homes. For consumer grade level feeders, the price for top tier equipment won’t be that much more than decorations for a tank. This versatility in price is great for first-time buyers of automatic feeders.
The next thing we looked at was the amount of food that could be included in the feeders, or for blocks the duration before they completely disappeared.
The results were surprising, with a lot of the better products lasting in excess of two weeks. We ranked the products that took multiple food types higher than the rest since they were much more valuable. This is reflected on the list by including a lot of the digital models that were favored for this specific feature.
By using a feeder that takes multiple types of food, you can use it with more complicated fish/tank setups.
Size is something to take into consideration when buying an automatic fish feeder. Not only will it make a difference in smaller tanks, but more fish and larger fish will mean that more food needs to be added to the feeder. The frequency of feeding will also come into play, so choosing smaller models over bigger ones won’t help out if you want longevity in the scheduling. By taking size into account as a criterion, we found that models offering the balance between their actual size and food capacity were overall better options.
Customization was the next criteria and was very specific to digital and analog automatic feeders. Since dissolving feeders don’t have any customization options, they were left off this criterion. This criterion covered scheduling options and how easy they were to set. Digital automatic feeders won this round, with analog options still getting points here and there. Buyers should still consider getting extra batteries with their purchase in case included ones go out. For products that used proprietary batteries, we excluded them from the list since they were harder to buy in a pinch.
Design is something we took into consideration based on the number of users that want their feeder to match a theme. This was another criterion that only catered to electronic fish feeders, with a big advantage going to digital versions that had better casings. There weren’t a lot of standouts with this criterion, so we gave a lot of points to brands that went beyond the usual static design. Most of the options looked similar to one another, so only a few really gained spots on the top ten for showing initiative with their theme. A good design also helps make fish more comfortable with having a foreign object in their space.
When consumers are leaving their tanks for days at a time, durability is important when the feeder is in a tank with larger fish. Durability was a criterion that also covered reliability and resistance when in a tank of aggressive fish. Once your fish know where the food comes from they will swarm it, potentially causing damage if the feeder is weak. That is why high durability is important for an automatic feeder, at least an electronic one. Dissolvable options were treated favorably with this criteria since they didn’t suffer the same setbacks.
Battery usage is something we decided to add as a criterion due to the lack of information on the subject. Traditionally, electronic feeders would last just fine for months without needing to change out the battery. But the problem remains that a lot of electronic feeders still don’t include a low battery warning. So products with this criteria were given points for their battery indication options along with how long they went without needing to change out a set of batteries. The data helped out a lot of models that ended up in the top five of the list for their extraordinary battery usage capabilities.
Our last criteria covered the warranty, which is something you wouldn’t expect for products in this price range. You can make the perfect buying decision and still have issues using an automatic feeder with your tank. This goes for all types, especially dissolvable blocks that some fish just refuse to use. Companies that had a relaxed policy on their warranties were considered favorable buys. This is how a lot of dissolvable types beat out electronic feeders on the list. With even a slight guarantee of catering to customer satisfaction, many of the companies on the list made the top ten by meeting that criteria alone.
How to use an automatic fish feeder
So, now you are convinced that a fish feeder is a good idea, and maybe you have also selected one from the list of ten we have reviewed on this website. That’s all great until you start wondering how to use your newest acquisition.
It’s important for us to mention that fish feeders are made by different manufacturers as you can see from the list we have reviewed. They’ll all possibly have some differences here and there. This is the reason why we think that you should keep the manual that comes with the product. Below, we look at some general ways of using a fish feeder.
Why you need to use an automatic fish feeder
Fish that live in the natural waters such as lakes and dams are in a constant search for food and nature has a way of balancing the available amount of food with the fish in a particular location. However, those that live in a fish tank or pond do not have that problem. Hence, there is a danger that if you don’t measure the food you give to the fish you could end up with big issues.
Generally, fish in a pond eat tiny amounts of food. So, if you happen to put too much in the pond, the rest of the food that is not eaten just becomes waste material inside the pond. What this does is that it disturbs the natural equilibrium in the pond. The consequence of this could be the growth of algal and turbid water. This is the reason why you need a method that will measure the food available to your fish such as an automatic fish feeder.
To successfully operate an automatic fish feeder, you will need to understand what energy source it uses, some are battery and others are electrically operated. When you use the battery operated one, you are assured that there is no risk of power outages or electrical shocks. However, the battery operated ones always pose the risk that it may die while you are away.
How they work
Automatic fish feeders are different. They have different numbers of chambers where food can be loaded. Using a clock mechanism, the feeder rotates the chambers so that the food drops into the fish pond or aquarium at a specified time. This ensures that the fish are fed on a regular basis without the risk that they have too much food.
Using an automatic fish feeder depends on your ability to mount the machine. Again, the method used to mount varies according to the model that you buy. Others come with suction cups that you attach to the inner walls of your tank yet some models have brackets that you mount on the edge.
Now let’s look at the general steps you follow when using an automatic fish feeder.
Prepare the feeder
After buying the feeder, ensure that it does not have any damages. If it does, return it to the retailer. If the feeder uses batteries, you will have to install them according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. The next step is to adjust the dispensing door to its highest setting. Slide the hopper off and fill in the food that your fish eat.
Adjusting the feed amount
You will need to set the food that can be dispensed at each feeding. When you set the adjust dispensing door to the settings you require, most machines will give you an option to press a manual button so that you can measure the amount of feed that would be dispensed in a single feeding. The dispensing door can then be adjusted as desired.
Just to give you an idea, fish inside an aquarium only need feeding of between one and three times in each day. The general rule is that you should feed only the amount that can be consumed by the fish in more than five seconds but less than 10. If you overfeed, you will be left with problems such as ammonia and cloudiness.
Using the buttons
Again machines will differ but mostly you will have four buttons on an average one: Mode, Set, Adjust, and Manual. The mode sets the feeding time and local time while the Set button allows you to change the displayed times you have set. The adjust button allows you to a higher number or lower one using the addition and minus symbol. The manual button is used when you want to rotate the feeder once for a single feed.
Setting the feeding times
To set the feeding times, you would usually start the Mode button set at zero. To set the time use the set button to get the hours to blink. The adjust button will then permit you to program the hour of the first feed, then the minutes. Using these buttons, you also set the time for the second and third feeding times of any other day.
As indicated above, the ideas we give in this article are general. Hence, it is important to pay attention to the operator manual as it gives you the instructions that will work effectively for the particular brand. Following the instructions helps keep both you and your fish safe all the time. If you use a battery operated one, it is important for you to keep a schedule of when you may need to replace the batteries, otherwise the batteries will die while you are away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are Automatic Fish Feeders Bad For Fish?
A: Only if you set them up wrong. They run off on a schedule set up by you, so there is no chance to overfeed the fish. And when using tablets, they can nibble at them as it dissolves on its own.
Q: Will Tablets Harm The Water?
A: Only on tanks with bad filtration systems. You’ll notice the water get cloudy and nasty over time, so always make sure you have a good system in place before using them.
Q: What Tank Types Accept Automatic Feeders?
A: All of them, thanks to universal brackets. If a bracket isn’t included then purchasing one separately is still an option.
Q: How Long Can They Work On Their Own?
A: The average for automatic fish feeders seems to be about two weeks. They vary based on size, brand, and price. There are plenty that can last beyond two weeks, but at that point, it may be better to get a live person to feed your fish. Depending on the size and how aggressive the fish is, you may want to adjust the feeding time to less or more based on their eating habits. This is something that fish owners with multiple different types in one tank have to account for. With different personalities sharing a single feeder, one group may choose to eat more than the next.
Q: What Are The Best Brands?
A: Eheim, Fish Mate, and Aquarium Pharmaceuticals are the leaders of the pack. But there are plenty of other companies not too far behind with their products. The differences between the feeding types offered by these three companies have given users a lot of options. Electronic feeders are dominant, but not to the point where they automatically make the top three of every list. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to see brands cater to customers with multiple different types of fish feeders. Depending on the type of aquarium and fish breed needing to be fed, this can lead to a huge advantage in sales.
Q: What Are The Best Types?
A: There are only two types of automatic fish feeders worth noting- electronic and dissolving. Electronic feeders operate by battery and have a range of customization options. You can set feeding intervals and amounts at ease without having to dive too deep into the advanced options. This is the best product to use when you have different kinds of fish in one tank. The downside is that they are only as compatible as they tank they’re fitted to. So if for some reason the feeder can’t fit on the tank, then you will have to default to using dissolving food. Dissolving food doesn’t require the use of a tank and works by slowly breaking down over time to feed your fish. With this method, only one type of food can be used since the food is the dissolving tab itself.
Q: Is There A Limit To The Amount Of Fish It Feeds?
A: Yes, and there is also a limit to the size of the tank that is supported. This is something that is overlooked when getting an automatic fish feeder for the first time. Getting a model that doesn’t support the amount of fish you have in the tank leads to undereating. There are also concerns with the fish fighting over the limited amount of food available in the tank. To keep this from happening users should always check the tank size limit and compare it to the fish amount/size limit. Using these two variables will give you a better idea of whether an automatic fish feeder can support your use.
Q: Why Are Some Fish Tanks Incompatible?
A: If an automatic fish feeder can’t activate its feeding mechanism in the tank, then your fish will starve. There are several reasons this may happen, starting with not being able to clamp the product within the tank. It needs to be immovable or there is a risk it’ll get bumped out of place and thrown off of the schedule. Fish food type is something else that needs to be looked at since not all types are compatible. Certain pellets may be too big to put in the feeder without jamming it. So while the automatic feeder fits in the tank, it still isn’t guaranteed to support the type of food your fish eat.
Q: Can You Set Feeding Intervals?
A: Yes, but only with electronic fish feeders. Your options will be limited by the specific model used, so not all intervals will be available. There are digital and analog options available, so choose wisely based on your level of understanding scheduling mechanics. The good news is that there are no major innovations between analog and digital fish feeders that would make you choose one over the other. Digital just happens to be easier to setup and use, but other than that analog and digital are largely the same. Other than setting intervals you can also set the amount of food that is released.
Q: Are Feeding Blocks Bad?
A: Depending on who you ask, dissolving feeders will either be the best thing ever or the worst. They are often found under automatic fish feeding categories as ‘vacation blocks’ and are just as widely used as electronic feeders. The only downsides are that you can’t manually set a feeding interval, there are less food type options and some tank fish/water types don’t play nice with dissolving food past a certain point. The upside is that there are no customization options so you can drop it and forget it, some blocks can even last up to two weeks and there is no danger of the block malfunctioning like an electronic feeder.
Q: Are The Prices High?
A: Automatic fish feeding prices are generally low, costing no more than regular tank accessories. A lot of times they are even bundled with new tank purchases due to the low cost but high value. Consumers can purchase a quality fish feeder for the same price as fish tank decorations. And when you go away from electronic feeders and look into dissolving blocks, the price is even lower. Either type of feeder is a must for any owner of fish, especially those that make frequent trips out of town. Higher tier options are available at expensive prices, but they don’t differ much from the low-cost models.
Q: How Hard Are They To Set Up?
A: Electronic fish feeders can be set up in less than five minutes when following the included directions. This includes analog and digital choices, so the hardest part comes down to setting up the device in an optimal position within the tank. Taking a look at any quick start guide will give you a general idea of the process since most feeders are similar with the setup. Dissolvable blocks are much different and require no setup- just drop and walk away. Special instructions that are included for the blocks concentrate on compatibility and cleanup.
Q: Will Any Fish Food Work With An Automatic Feeder?
A: No, so make sure to check the products requirements. Some only accept flakes, while others accept pellets. There are even models that accept a mixture of the two and can dispense them separately. With no guarantee of food compatibility, it falls on the customer to make sure their model can handle the type of food the fish need. Putting the wrong food in a feeder will make it jam up, cause mold and can even pollute the water after a long period of inactivity. So buyers should put a priority on using the right food with the correct feeders.
How To Make The Best Decision
Getting a traditional or electronic feeder and then backing it up with tablets seems like a good idea. The tablets can be used when you are going out of town for extended periods of time. Using this method, you wouldn’t have to worry about the feeder running out of food. Having a primary and a backup isn’t necessary, although it helps.