The food that you eat every day has an expiration date. Once your food is past the expiration date, it will lose its original heterotrophic value.

As an aquarist, you may wonder if the same goes for fish food. Does fish food expire? Let’s find the answer via this post.

Does Fish Food Expire?

The short answer is Yes. All fish food kinds can expire and lose their qualities over time.

Feeding your fish expired food for a long time might lead to health issues, but it isn’t likely to harm them.

So we recommend buying fish food in small quantities and storing it in proper conditions to ensure it will last longer.

If you store fish food in the proper conditions, it is okay to continue feeding fish with expired food several months after its expiry date. But your fish won’t get the needed nutrients in this case.

If you notice the presence of insects in your fish food, just throw it without hesitation, even if it hasn’t expired.

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Fish Food Types and Shelf Lives

tetra fish eating flake food

Fish food comes in various kinds


Flakes are available in various kinds, created for many species. They are typically rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Flakes are ideal for surface eaters. Meanwhile, they dissolve in your tank water and lose nutrients quickly, making them not the most suitable option for your bottom feeders.

Flakes typically last from eighteen months to three years, depending on manufacturers. But they tend to lose their nutritional value after several months.


Crisps can retain nutrients and float longer, making them good options for picky fish.

Also, crisps dissolve slowly, keeping your aquarium clean and minimizing waste. Regarding shelf life, like flakes, crisps can last two to three years without issues.

Dried Food

Dried food comes in various shapes, such as pellets, crisps,  flakes, stick-on tablets, and waffles. It is the cheapest fish food type and is commonly available in pet stores.

If you appropriately store dried food, you can give it to your fish several months after its expiration date. Store it in dry places and keep it away from moisture.

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Pellets are easy to digest and are usually utilized to feed larger fish.

Using them as the primary diet for your fish is okay as they are full of various nutrients. Avoid keeping pellets for longer than several months.

If you prefer to extend the shelf life of pellets, keeping them in your freezer is alright (using small bags is recommended).

Stick-On Tablets

Ingredients of this type are similar to dried food but so denser.

As the name describes, they will stick to your tank walls, allowing you to monitor your fish when eating. Most tablets have containers, keeping them usable for a long time.

Fresh Food

Fresh vegetables and plants will be an excellent addition to the fish’s diet. Omnivores and herbivores crave fresh food like spinach, cucumber, lettuce, and zucchini.

Live Food

This type is ideal for wild fish, active or large fish, and carnivorous fish who do not recognize stationary objects as fish food.

If you’re breeding your fish, it’s a good idea to give them live foods, such as Brine or Ghost shrimps, daphnia, crickets, mosquito larvae, or blackworms.

Frozen Food

Frozen food might be a single or various live food frozen into cubes. Shrimp, bloodworms, plankton, krill, mussels, and prawn are primarily available.

Although frozen food might lose some minerals and vitamins, it is still an excellent supplement to carnivore fish’s regular diet.

Freeze-Dried Food

Freeze-dried food is ideal for omnivores and carnivores, but you avoid choosing it as their main diet.

It retains most of the original nutrients and can last very long. Unlike live food, this option is completely free from bacteria and will not lead to any infections.

Food Type Expiration Time
Fish Pellets 6 months
Fish Flakes 6 months
Dried food 6 months
Crisps 1 year
Frozen food 3 months
Freeze-dried food No time limit
Live foods No time limit

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How to Keep Fish Food Last Longer?

Here are some tips on how to extend the life of fish food:

  • Most aquarists buy food in bulk as it is more economical, but most of their fish food is wasted. We recommend buying food in smaller quantities. It may be more expensive, but it will guarantee a healthy aquarium.
  • Always opt for well-packed fish food, such as nitrogen or vacuum-packed cans or jars.
  • Keep your fish food in dark places, such as the cabinet, freezer, or garage.
  • Never keep fish food near your fish tank as it is the dampest or hottest place in your house.
  • If you make fish food yourself, you should make enough food for a week or two. Then freeze the fish food you make.


Does Frozen Fish Food Expire?

Yes, frozen foods also expire. Yet, you can keep fish food longer when frozen.

Does Freeze-Dried Food Expire Storage/Shelf Life?

Yes, its shelf life may vary within the brand, material, packaging method, etc.

Can Expired Fish Food Kill Fish?

Expired food may cause diseases and can also kill your fish, but it is rare.

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Does Fish Food Dissolve in Water?

Yes, but each food is dissolved in water at different levels.

Will Fish Eat Old Food?

Your fish sometimes consume expired food, but it will not be a good idea to continue utilizing these foods for a long time.


As a fish lover and aquarist, it is your responsibility to keep your fish healthy. To do that, you need to give your fish the proper diet with food that’s not past its expiration date.

Feeding your fish with expired food does not harm them but can cause health issues. We all don’t want that, do we?

Alex is a pet freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. He attended Colorado State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, which was where he first got some experience in animal nutrition. After graduating from University, Alex began sharing his knowledge as a freelance writer specializing in pets.

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