Automate daily fish feedings with these 5 feeders
Written by Dan
Few things can mess with the success of a fish tank more than fish food. Not enough food, and your fish will starve. Too much food, and you are just dumping nutrients in the tank to feed an algae bloom! With the busy lives that we all lead with work, kids, family, and friend the more we can simplify the process of keeping our fish tanks healthy the more likely we are to have long term success.
It is not uncommon to leave the house and think “I forgot to feed the fish”. We have all done it, and then we think “I’ll do it when I get home.” All of the sudden it is the next day and we just left the house thinking, “Crap I did it again, wait did I feed them last night?”
This is a problem we all face. Then there is the issue of, I over feed my tank, who will feed the fish while we are on vacation, I wish I could feed my fish while I was at work.
The solution to these issues, is getting an automatic fish feeder. With many models you can load them up once a week and sometimes even once a month. You set the frequency it should feed and boom you are all set.
The added benefit to this is by feeding the same amount of food with the same frequency is that you control how much food is in your tank. This allows you to prevent over feeding and keeps more left over food out of the tank. This is good because left over food that does not feed your fish, feeds your algae.
No one wants to feed their algae!
Well, which is the best one to get?
In this article I am taking a look at 5 very popular automatic fish feeders. Of these 5 my favorite is the Eheim Automatic Feeding Unity. Eheim has been around for a long time in the aquarium world and makes many great products. Many of the items we looked at have a lot of the same features but only one has the history of great build quality and customer satisfaction and that is the Eheim.
Check current prices for the Eheim Automatic Feeding Unity on Amazon.
Eheim Automatic Feeding Unit
Eheim is a great company known for making quality products. This one is no exception. The simplified LCD screen allows you to set the current time, time of feedings, and see if the batteries need to be changed. It makes sense that this is the most popular automatic feeder on the market right now.
The food storage drum holds 3.3 fluid ounces. That is up to 6 weeks’ worth of dry fish food. I say up to, because it depending on if you use flakes, pellets, and crumbles, the size of them, not to mention how much food you set it to dispense will all impact the time frame.
To prevent food from getting damp while sitting over a tank of water for weeks, Eheim has added a ventilation path into its design scheme. Air can flow from the side of the tank where the feeder clips to the top of your tank and through the barrel past the food an up out of the container. In addition, a fan has been added to increase the airflow and keep the food dry.
To set the amount of food you want dispensed you simply set the slider to the desired hole size for food to be dumped as it rotates. A manual feed button is added for you to feed at any off-schedule interval as well. This allows you to make sure feeding in the morning is covered and feeding in the evening is done when you are able to be at the tank to enjoy watching your fish eat. The manual feed button also allows for testing of how much food is dispensed so you can fine tune the best slider position for your tank.
Check current prices for the Eheim Automatic Feeding Unity on Amazon.
- Holds up to 6 weeks’ worth of food
- Easy to setup and use
- Patented ventilation and fan to keep food dry
- Splash proof buttons to prevent water damage
- 3yr Manufacturer Guarantee
- Batteries need to be changed periodically
- Slider on dispenser hole can be easily nudged out of position affecting the amount of food dispensed
- Mounting in a hood with end against side could block fan intake
Fish Mate F14 Aquarium Fish Feeder
The F14 by Fish Mate is the most unique design of the 5 we looked at. It reminds me of a daily pill container, but automated. There are 14 small compartments where you can place dried fish food, either flake or pellet. You can then set the unit to feed up to 4 times per day. This gives you the capability to feed your fish smaller portions more frequently and it allows you to feed them a variety of food which I think is amazing.
The F14 runs on 1 AA battery and claims to be able to run for up to one year on a single battery. Although we have not had one running a full 365 days yet to verify, the minimalist design leads me to say that is possible.
The 14 food compartments incircle an round 24Hr timer. The kind similar to what you would have seen in light timer that do not have LED clocks. The timer completes one full rotation every 24 hours and has peg holes located around its rotation every 3 hours. That means you can set it to feed at 12am, 3am, 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm. You will insert one of up to 4 pegs into these 8 selections. If at that time there is a peg present the feeder rotates the food compartments and dumps the next compartment into the tank. If you wanted to feed at any time other than the ones listed you simply need to offset the timer’s clock to the actual time so that these intervals align to the time you want to feed.
A common problem many people have had with this is due to food getting soggy and clogging the feeder. Fish Mate has built in an air intake line to prevent this. You simply connect a standard air hose from a standard aquarium air pump to the intake and it will blow air through the food compartments keeping them dry. This seems like an added hassle but seems like a necessary evil when weighing the option of varying your fish diet threw out the day. The other option would be to have multiple barrel style feeders with different types of food going off at alternating intervals.
Check current prices for the Fish Mate F14 Aquarium Feeder on Amazon.
- Allows you to feed multiple types of food
- Can feed up to 4 times per day
- Can feed for 3.5 to 14 days depending on feeding frequency
- Needs added air pump to avoid clumping of food in humid environment (over fish tank)
- Compartments are small and take getting alternating food in compartments can take some getting used to
NICREW Automatic Fish Feeder
NICREW has set its self to directly compete with Eheim. In a very similar barrel design NICREW has made a few design decisions to contrast their biggest competitor in an attempt to pull the market that may have wished for these differences in the Eheim feeder.
To begin with you can set the NICREW to dispense food up to 5 times per day at any time. You can then set it to dispense up to 3 times at each of these feedings. This means you can have it dispense 15 shakes of food per day. You can also vary which feedings have more or less rotations.
The LCD and controls have been moved from the top of the device to the end. This may make it easier to access and use if you are not using a hood and can stand beside the tank. It could be an issue if you are trying to mount this inside a hood and need to mount the control end to the side of the hood.
Next is the food hole slider in the side of the barrel. To improve this and keep the slider consistently in the same position and avoid accidently nudging it out of position; the slider was given ridges or pumps which put the slider into a selectable position count. If you are using the smallest pellets on the market for say a beta the smallest position may dispense to many pellets. I have seen people solve this by closing the slider and drilling a small, say 1/8”, hole in the slider door to let out less pellets per rotation of the barrel.
If you are not using these extra small pellets though the locking mechanism on the slider could be a welcome change to ensure consistency and avoid confusion of where to set it after you fill up the barrel and possibly knock the slider out of place.
The last major difference is in the ventilation. NICREW has added a ventilation system which includes a fan to push air threw the barrel to keep the food dry. The fan is positioned to suck air in from the bottom of the feeder just outside the tank where it clips to the top of the tank. If you have a tight fit on the side that would block the intake on the Eheim this allows for a varied airflow intake direction.
So again, depending on the specific needs of the tank you will be using this on some of the items we discussed could be pros or cons but will alternate with that of the Eheim giving you the difference you may need.
Check current prices for the NICREW Aquarium Feeder on Amazon.
- Highly adjustable timer allows 5 feedings per day with up to three-barrel rotations at each feeding
- Ridged slider on food barrel helps maintain consistent feeding amounts
- Ventilation system with fan powered airflow to keep food dry
- Batteries need to be changed periodically
- Ridged slider may not work well with some of the very small beta pellets if only a couple should be dispensed w/out modifications
RESUN Automatic Fish Feeder
The RESUN AF—2009D is offered under several distribution rebrands including eBoTrade Direct and PROCHE. Some will have additional labeling identifying the distributor but this Chines made feeder is identified by the manufacturer brand and model number above the top left corner of the LCD screen.
This feeder is the smaller form factor of our barrel feeder options. It is about an inch shorter than its comparables. This feeder allows you to setup 1 to 4 feedings per day giving a good amount of control over the feeding frequency. Combined with the ability to adjust the amount of food dispensed and you get a very versatile system.
Rather than a slide door on the side of the barrel RESUN has devised and system that sits in the barrel and a pop open trap door. By adjusting a lever, you can regulate how much food is let into the trap door compartment as the barrel rotates.
An integrated fan keeps the food dry so that it does not get soggy and clump in the barrel. This allows for all types of food including flakes, pellets, and crumbles.
This unity will run on 2 AAA battery and contains a Lo indicator on the LCD to notify you three days before the battery is expected to die.
Check current prices for the RESUN Aquarium Feeder on Amazon. eBoTrade Direct Proche
- Smaller form factor
- Ventilation fan to help keep food dry
- Multiple feeding settings
- 18mo warranty 30day money back guarantee
- Battery will need to be replaced
- Can experience issues with LCD display which requires taking the battery out and putting it back in
Mylivell Automatic Fish Feeder
The Mylivell fish feeder is the bare bones entry on our list. It does offer something none of the other feeders do, which is two different size barrel cups. The feeder comes with a 50g barrel and a 100g barrel. These will give you some adjustability if you need more food or a more compact size.
Both barrels give you a switch on the side to adjust the volume of food dispensed on each rotation of the barrel.
From there on though this feeder is very barebones in its design. There is no screen and no way to set specific times. You can push the manual feed button to cause the barrel to turn and dispense food; or, you can select between a 12hr or 24hr feed cycle. The timer starts when you flip the switch so if you want it to feed at certain times, you simply set the feeder at that time.
The Mylivell feeder runs on 2 AA batteries and due to the barebones design I expect a single set of batteries will keep this thing running for a good long while.
Attaching this feeder is very simple. Like other models you can clip it to the side of your tank or using double sided Velcro hook it to the lip of your aquarium or any other flat surface above your aquarium.
Check current prices for the Mylivell Aquarium Feeder on Amazon.
- Two barrel sizes provided 50g and 100g
- Very compact design when using the 50g barrel
- Very simple to setup and use
- Like all of our listed options it runs on batteries
- Minimal customization ability in the feed schedule
- No battery life indicator
Having looked at these 5 top selling automatic fish feeders, I can see why each would catch someone’s attention. Depending on the needs of your tank each of these gives an array of options suitable for different tanks. I believe the Eheim automatic feeder offers the most flexibility, durability, and based on the brands track record it gets my vote for reliability as well.
These 5 model feeders were selected as 5 of the most popular feeders currently out using the Jungle Scout chrome extension and Amazon product rankings at the time the article was written. We plan to periodically review the current data and update the models reviewed as needed.
Are there any automatic feeders that didn’t make the list and you think they should? Let us know below.