Best Catfish Food To Buy (2024 Buyer’s Guide)

Featured Image - PT-0179 - catfish food
Featured Image – PT-0179 – catfish food
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 9, 2024
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Different catfish species have particular dietary requirements for optimal health, making it essential to supply food that meets their exact nutritional needs. While most catfish species are omnivorous, some show a tendency toward either carnivorous or herbivorous diets.

As an owner of many types of catfish, from the common pleco to the pygmy cory cat, I hope I can help you understand the dietary needs of these animals and select the right food to feed them.

Not all commercial fish foods are suitable for this species as they can contain the wrong types of ingredients. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of some of the best catfish foods that use only the highest quality and healthiest ingredients. Let’s dive in!

Article Summary

  • Different catfish species have varying dietary requirements, including preferences for meaty foods or vegetable matter.
  • The recommendations are: the Top Pick – Hikari Sinking Wafers for Pets with vegetable matter, spirulina, krill, and silkworm; the Best Pellet – Omega One Super Color Veggie 2mm Sinking Pellets featuring spirulina, kelp, and a small amount of protein; and the Best Algae Wafer – New Life Spectrum Algaemax Wafers 150g containing aquatic veggies, seaweed, kelp, marine proteins, and more.
  • Check the ingredients and avoid fillers like soy and grain in commercial catfish food.

Top 3 Best Catfish Food

Top Pick

Hikari Sinking Wafers for Pets

These tablets from Hikari provide all the nutrients your catfish needs as they contain vegetable matter, spirulina, krill, and silkworm. They can be eaten by both large and smaller catfish like the common pleco and clown pleco.

Top Pick: Hikari Sinking Wafers for Pets

These tablets from Hikari provide all the nutrients your catfish needs as they contain vegetable matter, spirulina, krill, and silkworm. They can be eaten by both large and smaller catfish like the common pleco and clown pleco.

Hikari make a huge assortment of top-quality fish food products, and these sinking tablets for catfish and other bottom dwellers are no different. That’s why they’re my top pick out of all the catfish foods in this list!


Suitable for freshwater and saltwater fish, they contain a mixture of vegetable matter, spirulina, silkworm, and krill to provide your catfish with optimum nutrition. The tablets also contain vitamin C and a range of other vitamins and minerals to keep your fish happy and healthy.

These tablets from Hikari are suitable for both large and small catfish species, including the upside down catfish, plecos, corydoras sterbai, and other cory catfish species. These tablets are also a good option for gobies, like the dragon goby and the bumblebee goby. They can be consumed whole by bigger fish or will slowly soften so smaller species can munch on them.

However, these sinking tablets can be a bit messy as they tend to break down fairly quickly, which can make your water a bit cloudy.


  • Item Form: Wafer
  • Product Weight: 1.76 oz
  • Age Range: All Life Stages


  • Highly digestible
  • High in vitamin C and other good nutrients
  • Contains vegetable matter and protein for a well-balanced diet


  • Can make your fish tank water cloudy
Best Pellet

Omega One Super Color Veggie 2mm Sinking Pellets

Omega One Super Color Veggie Sinking Pellets are a great staple diet for small species of catfish that need vegetable matter as their staple diet. They contain kelp and spirulina, as well as a small amount of protein.

Best Pellet: Omega One Super Color Veggie 2mm Sinking Pellets

If you’re looking for a healthy and nutritious veggie pellet food for catfish, I fully recommend Omega One Super Color Veggie Sinking Pellets due to their high-quality ingredients.

The main ingredients of this pellet food are spirulina and kelp, making them a great choice for catfish species that need vegetable matter in their diet. The pellets also contain whole seafood, Alaskan salmon, and a range of vitamins and minerals to help your fish thrive.


My favorite feature about these veggie pellets is their superior quality – they don’t contain meals, digests, hydrolysates, and other types of pre-processed protein. This makes them the best fish food for herbivorous and omnivorous species of catfish.

Omega One Super Color Sinking Pellets also won’t foul the water in your fish tank as they are naturally insoluble and don’t contain much starch, which means your fish produce less waste!

The only downside of these sinking pellets is their small size. This is ideal for small fish, but it could pose a problem for larger species of catfish like the common pleco and redtail catfish.


  • Item Form: Pellet
  • Product Weight: 8 oz
  • Age Range: All Life Stages


  • Naturally insoluble for easier digestion
  • Free of meals, hydrolysates, digests, etc
  • Contains kelp, spirulina, and a bit of protein for a healthy diet


  • Small size pellets may be unsuitable for large fish
Best Algae Wafer

New Life Spectrum Algaemax Wafers 150g

Omega One Super Color Veggie Sinking Pellets are a great staple diet for small species of catfish that need vegetable matter as their staple diet. They contain kelp and spirulina, as well as a small amount of protein.

Best Algae Wafer: New Life Spectrum Algaemax Wafers 150g

For catfish species that eat algae and vegetable matter like the clown pleco, bristlenose pleco, and otocinclus catfish, New Life Spectrum Algaemax are the best choice.


These tablets are formulated with a mix of 9 aquatic veggies, including seaweed and kelp, as well as marine proteins like whole antarctica krill and giant squid. The latter helps mimic the zooplankton and invertebrates they’d normally encounter in the wild.

Although designed for herbivorous fish, New Life Spectrum Algaemax are also suitable for omnivorous catfish species as they contain both vegetable and protein matter.

The only fault I could find with this wafer food is that some fish seem to dislike the taste of it. However, this doesn’t appear to be a regular occurrence as most catfish will eat it without any problems.


  • Item Form: Pellet
  • Product Weight: 8 oz
  • Age Range: All Life Stages


  • Naturally insoluble for easier digestion
  • Free of meals, hydrolysates, digests, etc
  • Contains kelp, spirulina, and a bit of protein for a healthy diet


  • Small size pellets may be unsuitable for large fish


What Is Catfish Food?

Fish Wafers
Fish Wafers

Catfish foods are formulated specifically for catfish species or bottom-dwelling fish. Most catfish are omnivorous, but some species are carnivores and others are strict herbivores.

Omnivores eat meaty foods and plant matter, while carnivores and herbivores eat solely meat and plant matter respectively.

You’ll need to do your research on the type of catfish you own to make sure the food you’re feeding is suitable for their dietary needs and nutrition requirements.

For instance, red tail catfish and the cory cat are omnivorous, so they’ll need both vegetable matter and meat.

What Food Do Catfish Eat in the Wild?

Wild catfish eat a variety of foods depending on their dietary preferences and what is available to them at the time. So their natural food will vary depending on the type of catfish.

Most catfish consume crustaceans, small fish, snails, insects, insect larvae, phytoplankton, vegetation, algae, detritus, and frogs. Larger catfish species will even prey on small animals.

Herbivorous catfish, on the other hand, tend to solely eat algae, wood, plant matter, and phytoplankton.


Did you know that many catfish are considered an invasive species? That’s because they can survive in poor-quality waters and adapt to a water temperature well beyond their preferred range.

How Do Catfish Find Food?

The majority of catfish have poor vision due to their small eyes, so they rely on finding prey by using their sense of smell, sense of taste, and their barbels.

The latter are tiny whiskers located near the mouth, hence the name “catfish”.

How Do Catfish Eat?

Catfish are scavengers, so they are constantly on the hunt for food. They eat by using their barbels, which allow them to sense, taste, and smell food in the muddy, low-light waters they usually inhabit.

What Is the Best Food to Feed Catfish?

Peppered Cory Catfish
Peppered Cory Catfish

The best food to offer to catfish is either pellets that sink or algae-based tablets depending on the species’ dietary and nutritional needs. Catfish food that sinks will allow your pet to smell, sense, and taste it easily. They might not swim up if given floating pellets.

Pellets that contain a combination of meat and vegetable matter are ideal for omnivorous catfish, whereas algae-based tablets and pellets that contain a lot of vegetables are best suited to herbivorous fish.

Things to Consider When Buying Food for Catfish

There are more than 3,000 varieties of catfish, all of which have different dietary requirements. When choosing a food for your catfish, you’ll need to research their preferred diet and the type of food they normally eat.

For instance, the clown pleco is a herbivore, so they will benefit from vegetable and algae-based tablets. These animals also need to eat wood to assist with digestion.

You’ll also need to consider the size of the catfish feed to make sure it isn’t too large or small for your pet. Cory catfish and bumble bee catfish usually don’t exceed 4 inches in size, so they will do well on most commercial bottom-dwelling omnivorous fish food.

The redtail catfish, on the other hand, can grow more than 4 feet in length, so they will need to be fed larger offerings like live brine shrimps, mysis shrimps, scallops, small fish, fish copepods, and worms.

Types of Food for Catfish

There are many types of foods you can give your pet catfish, but the best variety depends on the species’ dietary requirements and size. In this section, we’ll discuss the different types of catfish feeds.

Live Food

Live foods are ideal for large carnivorous or omnivorous catfish that enjoy catching their own prey. Red tail catfishes, common plecos, and the queen arabesque plecos prefer to eat live foods like shrimp and worms.

The cory cat will also happily eat live brine shrimp, bloodworms, black worms, and tubifex worms.

Frozen Food

Frozen foods for catfish include frozen shrimp, white fish, scallops, and worms. Smaller catfish like cory catfish love frozen blood worms, brine shrimp, and blackworms.

Larger catfish enjoy cut-up pieces of small fish or shrimp you’d normally find at the grocery store.


Flake foods can be given to catfish, but they are not ideal as these animals are scavengers that spend most of their time at the bottom of the fish tank.

Flake food will usually disintegrate and become soggy by the time it reaches the base of the aquarium, if it has already been eaten by other fish in your fish tank.

Sinking Pellets

Fish Food
Fish Food

Sinking pellets quickly fall to the bottom of the fish tank, so they are ideal for bottom-dwelling fish like catfish. You can try sinking shrimp pellets, algae pellets, or carnivore pellets.

This type of pellet food also tends to hold its shape and texture better than dried flake food, so it won’t rapidly soften or break apart as soon as it hits the water.

Algae Wafers

Herbivorous catfish eat algae, pylotplanton, vegetation, and detritus in the wild, so algae-based tablets that contain spirulina and kelp are ideal for algae eaters like the farlowella catfish and the pictus catfish. Omnivorous catfish can also benefit from algae wafer foods every now and again.


Before you choose a commercial food to give to your catfish, make sure you check the ingredients thoroughly. Foods that contain a lot of fillers such as soy and grain are not ideal as they are less nutritious and healthy.

For example, Tetra are one of the most popular fish food brands, but their products tend to include a lot of filler ingredients. A better substitute is Omega One or Hikari!

Only select foods that use high-quality ingredients with no or very little fillers to support the health of your pet catfish. They will provide them with the best nourishment and a wide range of nutrients.

Ingredients to Avoid

Below are some ingredients in fish foods that you should avoid:

Fish Meal

Fish meal, which is the remains of dead fish (eyes, scales, skin, etc) is a common ingredient in lower quality fish foods as it’s less expensive than whole fish.

Filler Grain

Filler grains like corn and wheat are another ingredient you should avoid as they are difficult for fish to digest, which can cause them to produce more waste.


Soy is hard for catfish to digest, just like filler grains, so it can lead to more fish waste production.

Ingredients You Want

Now that you know what ingredients to avoid in catfish food, here are some ingredients that are beneficial.

Whole Fish

Whole fish is ideal in food for catfish as it’s packed with protein and of a higher quality than fish meal.


Bloodworms in Plastic Container
Bloodworms in Plastic Container

Foods that contain worms are great for catfish as they are loaded with protein and are easy on your pet’s digestive system. This means less fish waste!


Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is found in freshwater and saltwater. Both herbivorous and omnivorous catfish eat this in the wild, so store-bought commercial foods that contain it are a great option.

Feeding your catfish spirulina algae also helps enhance their color so they look more vibrant.

Black Soldier Fly Larvae

Feeding black soldier fly larvae to your catfish will ensure they get enough protein. It is also easy to digest!

When to Feed Catfish

Many catfish like bristlenose plecos and otocinclus catfish are most active at night, so feeding time should occur in the evening after you turn your aquarium lights off.

How Many Times a Day Do You Feed Catfish?

Feeding catfish should occur once a day in the evening. Make sure you don’t overfeed these animals, otherwise, it can lead to unstable water parameters and make your pet sick.

Only let your catfish eat food within around 2 minutes. After this time, remove any leftover food after feeding activity with a net.

How Long Can Catfish Go Without Food?

A healthy catfish can survive up to 2 weeks without food, but this shouldn’t be a common occurrence. You should make sure you are feeding these animals once a day in small amounts.

If you’re unable to stick to your daily fish feeding schedule or feed your catfish for more than a couple of days, ask a friend or family member to check on your fish tank and feed your animals. If you don’t have anyone to help you feed your pet, you should consider using automatic feeders.

Food for Aquarium Catfish

Aquarium catfish eat sinking pellets, frozen foods, live foods, and algae-based foods. Smaller fish that need a mix of protein and vegetables in their diet can eat small sinking pellets, bloodworms, blackworms, black soldier fly larvae, mosquito larvae, fresh green veggies, and algae-based tablets.

Big carnivorous catfish can consume large sinking pellets, frozen cockles, mussels, prawns, and white fish.

Herbivorous catfish eat mostly vegetable matter, so make sure you offer them fresh veggies and algae-based tablets. They will also eat any fresh algae in your aquarium!

Food for Pond Catfish

Catfish In a Pond
Catfish In a Pond

Pond catfish eat large sinking pellets or algae-based tablets, as well as frozen prawns, white fish, mussels, and scallops.

What Food Do Cory Catfish Eat?

Corydoras are mostly carnivorous, but they will also eat some vegetable matter. You should offer them sinking pellets, bottom feeder tablets, and shrimp pellets, alongside frozen, live and freeze-dried foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms.

Final Thoughts

I hope I helped you select the best foods to offer your catfish and the dietary requirements of these amazing animals. Remember, while most catfish eat a mix of meat and vegetable matter, some fish need more meat or vegetables in their diet!

What do you offer your catfish during feeding time? Be sure to let me know on our social media platforms, and share his post with your friends and family!

If you’re looking for more informative guides on aquarium fish and aquarium equipment, take a look at our other articles here.

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