Taking an extended vacation allows you to get away from the chaos of everyday life, but it also presents challenges for the pets you leave at home. When you cannot rely on a friend or neighbor to feed your fish, you can install an automatic fish feeder to care for your underwater friends. Some feeders are only designed to fit large tanks, and others may not accept the type of food you need for your pets.
To eliminate the confusion, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best automatic fish feeders and included reviews so you can select the ideal unit for your aquarium.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites of 2023
|Best Overall||Eheim Everyday Fish Feeder Food Dispenser||
|Best Value||Zoo Med BettaMatic Automatic Daily Betta Feeder||
|Premium Choice||Current USA AquaChef Aquarium Fish Feeder||
|FREESEA Aquarium Automatic Fish Feeder||
|Fish Mate F14 Aquarium Fish Feeder||
The 10 Best Automatic Fish Feeders
1. Eheim Everyday Fish Feeder Food Dispenser – Best Overall
|Size:||5.5” L x 2.5” W x 2.5” H|
The Eheim Everyday Fish Feeder is one of the most dependable products on the market, and it scored the award for the best overall automatic fish feeder. Unlike many of its competitors, the Eheim holds enough food for six weeks. The aerated chamber keeps air flowing over the pellets to prevent clumping and mold accumulation, and the release hole can be adjusted to drop different amounts of food.
Some models are complicated to program, but the Eheim has a simple programming process and a digital screen that warns you when the batteries run low. Several customers mentioned that they had used Eheim feeders for several years without issues, but a few complained that the mounting screws were too small for some tanks.
2. Zoo Med BettaMatic Automatic Daily Betta Feeder – Best Value
|Size:||7” L x 5.5” W x 2” H|
The Zoo Med BettaMatic Automatic Daily Betta Feeder is an excellent option when you need to save money on fish supplies, and it won our award for the best automatic feeder for the money. It can be mounted to any rectangular freshwater tank or betta bowl, and it feeds your betta every 12 hours. The lightweight unit runs off of one AA battery and comes fully assembled. Unlike many of the feeders on our list, the Zoo Med does not allow you to program specific feeding times. It drops food when the clock hits the 12-hour mark, but you have to insert the battery at the moment you want the food released over the next 12 hours.
3. Current USA AquaChef Aquarium Fish Feeder – Premium Choice
|Size:||10” L x 6” W x 8” H|
If you’re looking for a feeder with more customizable features than the competition, you can use the Current USA AquaChef Aquarium Fish Feeder. You can set up four feeding times and adjust the unit to rotate once or twice during the food release. For manual feeding, you only have to press a button to cancel the automatic timer. Several feeders do not allow you to adjust the amount of food released, but the AquaChef has a dial that you can move to allow material through the opening. It fits open and framed aquariums and is easy to install. Although it’s a reliable feeder, it’s more expensive than the other products we reviewed.
4. FREESEA Aquarium Automatic Fish Feeder
|Size:||5.8” L x 2.8” W x 4.4” H|
The FREESEA Aquarium Automatic Fish Feeder can be set to feed every 8 hours, 12 hours, or 24 hours. Unlike other models that require you to stop the timer before filling the reservoir, the FREESEA has a clear lid on the top that displays the volume of food and allows you to fill it up at any time. The feeder accepts granules, pellets, strips, flakes, and powder. If you have an open tank, you can attach the feeder with the bracket or install it on a closed tank with double-sided stickers. Most customers were pleased with the FREESEA, but some were disappointed you cannot control the portioning. Because of the amount of food released, this feeder is better for tanks with several fish.
5. Fish Mate F14 Aquarium Fish Feeder
|Size:||5.5” L x 4.6” W x 1.5” H|
Most feeders do not allow you to mix several types of food into the same reservoir, but you can place the food in separate containers with the Fish Mate F14 Aquarium Fish Feeder. It provides 14 meals for your fish, and you can set the F14 to feed up to four times a day. The feeder is ideal for small and medium tanks, but it’s not large enough to support large tanks unless you add another unit. Pet parents were happy with the simple feeder, but some mentioned that flakes tend to clump together from the moisture accumulation. You can attach an air hose to dry the food, but the F14’s biggest drawback is the inconsistent portioning. It does not release the same amount of food for each feeding.
6. Lychee Aquarium Fish Feeder
|Size:||5” L x 4.4” W x 3.2” H|
The Lychee Aquarium Fish Feeder has a 60-milliliter capacity and releases food up to two times a day. The food chamber holds pellets, strips, powders, and flakes. The Lychee can be attached to an open tank with a plastic bracket, or you can install it with double-sided tape to the top of the tank. Although it’s more affordable than our best value pick, the Lychee is not as reliable or durable. Several customers complained that the timer malfunctioned, and some received the same defective timer when they ordered replacements. However, some units did not have faulty timers, and their owners seemed pleased with the feeder’s performance.
7. Shyfish Mini Automatic Fish Feeder
|Size:||4.33” L x 2.95” W x 2.2” H|
Some feeders are too bulky for small tanks, but the Shyfish Mini Automatic Fish Feeder was designed with desktop tanks in mind. It accepts pellets, powders, flakes, and wafers, and you can set it to release food from every 8 hours to every 72 hours. It also has five different portion settings that you can adjust depending on the type of food in the chamber. The Shyfish has an alarm that sounds when the power runs low, but the feeder will operate for 3 months before it needs new batteries. It’s less of an eyesore than the other products we reviewed, but it releases too much food on the lower setting. Also, the larger pellets can cause a blockage when they get stuck in the exit hole.
8. Penn-Plax Daily Double II Battery-Operated Automatic Fish Feeder
|Size:||2.76” L x 5.24” W x 7.24” H|
Digital timers are a common feature of most automatic feeders, but some are difficult to use and set up. The Penn-Plax Daily Double II does not feature a programmable timer, but it automatically releases food every 12 hours. You can go on an extended vacation when you use this feeder because it holds a 4-week supply of fish food. The feeder’s mounting bracket attaches easily to any tank, unlike some of the competitors.
The biggest problem with the Penn-Plax is that it seems to collect too much moisture. Most customers had the most trouble using flakes because they clump together and block the opening. If you decide to buy the Penn-Plax, we suggest only using pellets for larger tanks. Without modifications, the feeder releases too much food for a single fish.
9. Lefunpets Automatic Fish Feeder
|Size:||6.4” L x 4.7” W x 3.4” H|
The Lefunpets Automatic Fish Feeder is the only product we reviewed that comes with two dispenser boxes. You can use the 100-gram or the 50-gram reservoir and choose between 12-hour and 24-hour feedings. The Lefunpets feeder costs less than any feeder on our list, but it also had more problems than the other products. You can adjust the portion size, but even the lowest setting drops too much food. Several customers complained that the food got wet and caused the feeder to become clogged, and others mentioned that it was difficult to mount to smaller tanks. The Lefunpets may work if you’re only away for a couple of days, but we do not suggest using it for a long vacation.
10. API Pyramid Fish Feeder, Weekend and Vacation Block Feeders
|Size:||3” L x 3” W x 3” H|
The API Pyramid Fish Feeder is unlike the other products on our list, and if you’re tired of changing batteries and removing clogs, it may be the ideal feeder for you. The block slowly releases food over 2 weeks, and you can add more pieces to the tank if you have several hungry fish. It’s a novel idea but does not seem to work for everyone. Pet parents with only one fish in the tank risk overfeeding it with the API Pyramid, and the components of the block are not suitable for tanks with invertebrates. The biggest downside to the Pyramid is that it does not always dissolve. Some customers included photos of their tanks that still had lumps of material sitting at the bottom after 2 weeks.
Automatic feeders are useful devices, but some models are more reliable than others. Before selecting a brand, you can examine these tips for using the feeder in your home.
Testing Before Your Vacation
While most feeders supply fish food for a few weeks, some models, like our top pick, will drop meals for over a month. We noticed several customers installed their feeders just before leaving town and had disastrous results. Most manufacturers claim their products accept all food types and are not affected by condensation, but we reviewed several feeders that did not live up to the claims. Before leaving for vacation, run a few tests, and feed the fish for several weeks with the device.
Most feeders do not require assembly and can be installed immediately, but you should test the machine on a paper towel or sheet of paper before attaching it to the tank. A test will show how much food is dropped each time, and the initial portion may not be suitable for the species in your tank. By running the feeder for several days or weeks, you can adjust if it clogs or becomes damp from condensation.
Fish Food Type
Whether you use pellets, powder, or flakes to feed your fish, you may have issues using your preferred food in the feeder. For instance, our #5 pick (Fish Mate F14) did not have problems dropping pellets but became clogged when loaded with flakes. Feeders generally have more issues with flakes than other types, and you may try experimenting with a different food for your fish if you plan on using a feeder. However, most problems occurred when the flakes became wet and caused a clog, and some customers were able to reduce moisture with air hoses and fans.
Automatic feeders sit inches from the water level, and several brands have issues with moisture dampening the food supply. Although the feeders are covered with plastic lids and vented with air holes, condensation often finds a way into the reservoir after several days. A dehumidifier or fan can reduce the moisture in the feeder, but some customers discovered that leaving a space at the top of the food chamber also decreased the humidity. This may solve the condensation problem, but it leaves less food for the fish if you’re away for several weeks.
Some feeders have adjustable portion control, but even on the lowest setting, the amount may be too much for your fish. You can modify the opening with waterproof tape, as many unsatisfied customers have done, but you’ll have to check it periodically to ensure it’s secure. The waterproof tape will work better than masking tape, but it will wear down eventually and lose adhesion since it’s close to the water level.
Back-Up Plan In Case of Failure
You do not have to stress about your fish starving during a power outage with a battery-powered feeder. However, the water pump will stop working without a backup. Although buying a feeder was meant to keep you from relying on a friend or neighbor, you should ask someone to drop in a few times when you leave for several weeks. A clog in the chamber or a malfunctioning timer can deprive your fish of food or release too much material into the water. With a human backup, you can ensure your fish are healthy when you’re away.
Automatic feeding is vital for pet parents who frequently travel, but some brands in our reviews were equipped to handle long trips better than others. Our top pick was the Eheim Everyday Fish Feeder Food Dispenser, and it stood apart with a giant chamber that holds 6 weeks of food. It was one of the few feeders that customers have used for several years without issues. The best value selection on our list was the Zoo Med BettaMatic Automatic Daily Betta Feeder. It’s an affordable option for betta owners and does not require setting a complicated timer.
Featured Image Credit: Amazon