What Do Mosquito Fish Eat?

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The mosquitofish – common name ‘gambezi’ – is a small freshwater species used for pest control in ecosystems all around the world.

While diminutive in size compared with other freshwater species, the mosquitofish is a voracious eater and can consume hundreds of mosquito larvae in a single sitting.

Some females regularly consume more than their body weight in larvae throughout a day.

Their fondness for insect larvae, and mosquitos, in particular, makes these fish a valuable addition to garden ponds in humid climates.

They feed on mosquitoes at all stages of life so rarely need supplementary food when housed in an insect rich outdoor environment. When insects are scarce, they will happily feast on algae, fish eggs, small amphibians, and even juvenile fish.

Helpful Tips for Feeding Your Mosquitofish

Mosquitofish have also been observed eating bloodworms, brine shrimp, scuds, and more. In fact, they’ll eat almost anything that enters their habitat.

This can make them a danger to smaller species and fry. When pairing mosquitofish with tankmates, larger species are recommended to keep their aggression levels low.

It is safe to keep mosquitofish in freshwater aquariums and feed them (at least partially) on processed pellets and flakes. They much prefer to live, wiggling prey or frozen food but rarely reject dry feed.

Aquarium fish can survive and thrive on an exclusively dry diet, but it’s always worth supplementing with mosquito larvae and other insects if possible.

Frozen mosquito larvae can be purchased from most fish care retailers or bought online. It’s much less common for owners to feed fresh mosquito larvae to a fish that’s housed in an aquarium.

While it’s a nutritious and stimulating way for a captive fish to feed, few people are willing to tolerate contact with live mosquitoes to capture fresh larvae.

In some states, there are laws that prevent people from actively encouraging mosquito breeding. Make sure you are fully aware of the rules in your area before attempting to collect fresh mosquito larvae from marine environments.

Important Advice for Your Mosquitofish

It’s true that mosquitofish in biodiverse ponds can almost entirely feed themselves. In the summer months, outdoor pets do not need feeding unless a pond’s insect activity is in decline and natural food is scarce.

Mosquito larvae are a key feature of this species’ diet in the wild, but they’re not enough to sustain it.

Outdoor mosquitofish may appear to eat nothing but larvae, however, lack of dietary diversity leads to stunted growth and delayed maturation.

If your mosquitofish lives in an aquarium, it’s safe to feed them larvae provided it’s not the only available food source.

When hand-feeding a mosquitofish, give them only as much food as they can eat in five minutes. Feed them no more than twice a day. Chronic overfeeding is a leading cause of fatty liver disease in captive fish.

The risk of liver disease is slightly increased when commercially prepared foods are given because many cheaper brands contain too much fat and too little protein.

 

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