Is Your Fish Herbivore, Omnivore or Carnivore?

Is Your Fish Omnivore, Herbivore or Carnivore?

One huge mistake that many amateur aquarium owners make in their community is combining omnivorous, herbivorous, and carnivorous fish. As most people tend to think of fish food as flakes from a bottle it’s not so hard to see how these kind of mistakes can be made. Unfortunately mixing the wrong fish can cause fatalities. 

Fish Diets

Not all fish require the same diet. Like other organisms, a fish is made of a mouth, teeth, and a digestive tract that is intended for certain types of food. It is important to keep in mind that any living creature will eat virtually anything if they are hungry enough. In other words, don’t assume the dietary needs of a fish based on observation alone.

Do your research and find out what the fish need to eat to stay healthy. There are three types of fish, and they are classified based on their dietary needs: Carnivore, Herbivore, and Omnivore.


These are meat-eaters, and generally require live food. Their mouths are large and their teeth are sharp, that allows them to grasp their prey and tear off large chunks of flesh, which is swallowed whole rather than ground.

Carnivores have shorter intestines and larger stomachs, which is designed to hold an entire fish. Their digestive system lacks the ability to digest vegetables, so even though they might eat plants, they cannot derive nutrients from them as the other types. For their reputation, they are known to chase down and eat other fish in the aquarium, carnivores are not suitable for a community tank.


Herbivores are on the opposite end of Carnivores diet. Although herbivores can sometimes be seen eating live foods, the proper diet for an herbivore consists of plants, algae, and pieces of fruit.

They have no true stomach to hold much; instead, they possess a specialized intestine that is capable of breaking down plant matter. Their teeth are flat, which allow them to grind food before swallowing it. Because they lack a stomach for holding large volumes of food, the herbivore must eat frequently – at least several times a day.


An omnivore can eat a variety of meat and vegetable matter. Although omnivorous animals can and will eat vegetables, they cannot digest certain grains and plants. Their teeth and digestive tract have common traits of both the carnivore and the herbivore.

Omnivores are one of the easiest fish to feed, as they eat flake foods as well as live foods, and everything in between. That’s why omnivores are your best pick for a community tank.

As you can see, it’s important to feed your fish properly, as their bodies are designed for certain types of food. If you are not very sure what type of food your fish needs, use the dietary type chart or simply do some research.