HOW TO BUILD AN AUTOMATIC FISH FEEDER
An automatic fish feeder can be a great tool if you have to go out of town or want to regulate your feeding schedule for fish. In this article you will learn about popular automatic feeders and receive instructions for building your own.
When it comes to keeping your aquarium fish healthy and happy, offering them a high-quality diet is incredibly important. If you do not provide a healthy diet for your fish, they may suffer from malnutrition and they are more likely to become stressed. Fish that are stressed have a higher risk for developing diseases, so a high-quality diet is essential for your fish.
Most fish do not require a large amount of food – in fact, fish benefit from not being fed every day. If you go away on vacation, however, your fish might have to go several days without food and that might not be good for them. To ensure that your fish get the food they need when you aren’t able to feed them, you might consider installing an automatic fish feeder. Automatic fish feeders can be expensive, depending which model you choose, so think about making your own DIY automatic feeder. You will find instructions for building an automatic feeder below.
Pros and Cons of Automatic Feeders
Automatic fish feeders can make the task of keeping a regular feeding schedule for your fish easy – it is also a great option if you have to go out of town for an extended period of time and you want to make sure your fish get fed. As is true for all aquarium equipment, however, automatic feeders have their pros and cons. You will find a list of pros and cons associated with automatic fish feeders below:
Pros for Automatic Feeders:
- Eliminates the risk of forgetting or missing a feeding
- Allows you to feed your fish when you are away from home
- Can be attached to an automatic timer for scheduled feeding
- Some models can accommodate a variety of food types
- Many feeders can be programmed for multiple feedings a day
Cons for Automatic Feeders:
- Some models have limited space – may only be enough to feed for a few days
- Live and fresh foods may spoil before feeding if left in the feeder too long
- Automatic feeding may lead to laziness and neglect of the tank
- High-quality automatic feeders can be expensive
Making Your Own Automatic Fish Feeder
If you think that an automatic fish feeder is the right choice for you, you have the option to purchase one or to make one yourself. Making your own automatic feeder might take a little bit of work but it could save you some money if you already have most of the required materials on hand. Below you will find a list of required materials as well as step-by-step instructions for building the feeder:
- Empty plastic bottle
- Plastic milk bottle cap
- Wooden matches (3)
- Cell phone or pager (with vibrate function)
- Use a sharp knife or pair of utility scissors to cut the bottom off the plastic bottle and take the cap off the top.
- Place the plastic milk bottle cap on a flat surface (like a table).
- Arrange the matchsticks on top of the cap, one on top of the other, gluing them to each other and to the milk cap.
- Place the plastic bottle on top of the matches upside down so the mouth of the bottle is right on top of the matches – glue it in place.
- Fill the plastic bottle with your choice of fish food granules or pellets – they will spill over the matches but the milk cap will stop the flow.
- Place the cell phone in the bottle after setting it to vibrate mode.
- Put your feeder in place above your tank – you can hang it from the ceiling or wall using a plant hook or attach it to the back of the tank.
- To use the feeder, call the phone or pager – when the phone vibrates, the food will fall into the tank.
This DIY automatic fish feeder is fairly simple to make and it can be inexpensive as long as you already have the materials on hand. The downside of this type of feeder is that it really only works with pellet and granule fish food and you cannot control accurately how much food the feeder dispenses at one time. The best use for this feeder is as a back-up in case you cannot get home to feed your fish and you are going to be gone for several days. Aquarium fish can last for several days without feeding and, in fact, it is better to feed them less than to feed them too much. If you have to go away from home for several days you can use this feeder to feed your fish once during your absence or, if you are gone for a week or more, every other day or so.
Popular Automatic Fish Feeders
If you like the idea of an automatic fish feeder but you want something a little more accurate and programmable, you may need to buy a fish feeder. Below you will find a list of popular automatic fish feeder models to consider:
AquaChef Automatic Feeder – This automatic feeder can hold up to 35 grams of food at once and it is moisture-resistant so you don’t have to worry about your food clumping up or going bad. The AquaChef feeder allows you to select the portion size and number of feedings (up to four per day) using a programmable timer – you also have the option to choose between single or double feedings. This feeder costs about $20.
Eheim Twin Feeder – This feeder features two chambers so you can offer your fish two different types of food in up to three feedings per 24 hours. In addition to selecting from different feeding frequencies this feeder has up to 9 turns per feed time so you can customize the portion size as well. This feeder runs about $60 and it runs on four AA batteries.
Fish Mate Automatic Feeder – The Fish Mate automatic feeder costs about $25 and it has 14 individual compartments to hold individual servings of food. This feeder allows you to program up to four feedings per day and it dispenses the food slowly over a period of 2 hours to prevent overfeeding.
Eheim Feed Air Digital Automatic Feeder – This digital feeder features an electronically controlled programmer which allows you to feed up to four times per day using either flake or granule foods. This feeder has an integrated ventilator which keeps your food dry so it doesn’t spoil. The Eheim Feed Air feeder can dispense single or double portions (spaced 1 minute apart) and it comes with a manual override as well. This feeder costs about $30.
If you are looking for a simple way to automate the task of feeding your fish, an automatic fish feeder might be a good option. If you think it is, consider purchasing one of the models reviewed above or try making your own DIY feeder.
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