Aphids as fish food

Aphids are a great source of energy for your fish. As we saw in the last article on“Breeding Artemia“, there are many valuable food alternatives besides the normal dry food. And the best thing about it is that you can also breed it yourself for a reasonable price. Another reason to use food living on land is that it does not transmit water parasites.

Aphids breeding made easy

In this blog post we will not only explain what you need to know about aphids, but also how you can breed them yourself. This does not even require much space or effort.

Aphids from the wild

You should avoid aphids from nature if possible. They often carry traces of poison like insecticides. They may have ingested this even if you do not work with insecticides or other poisons. Plants can also absorb the pollutants from the soil through their roots. If you like your fish, you can either buy aphids regularly in a bag or start your own breeding. You should also be careful with poisonous plants, as the juices are absorbed by the animals.

Which aphids for which fish?

francok35 / Pixabay

Before you start breeding an aphid species, you should test whether your fish like aphids at all and if so, which ones? Not all fish eat all species. The size of the aphids is also relevant. Depending on how big you let them get, they can only get the bigger fish species in their mouth. Grabbing the aphids from the surface is apparently not as easy as catching a crawfish under water. With increasing age the crawlers change their colouring, the older the darker. At high temperatures there are not only green lice, but they can also be reddish. The high-quality live food is also only suitable for fish that get their food from the surface.

In some forums it is written that the sugar content is very high and therefore the louse may only be fed as a sweet. I think this is nonsense: the sugar that attracts the ants is present on the hindquarters in such a low concentration that it is not important. However, you should always make sure you eat a varied diet anyway. The lice should not be the only source of food. By the way, most carnivores excrete almost all carbohydrates undigested without building up fat reserves.

Fish that love aphids

  • Platy
  • Guppy
  • Barbel
  • Butterflyfish
  • Neon
  • Axe belly
  • Labyrinth Fish
]If you know of any other fish, please leave a comment

Pea leaf louse

Aphids can of course also be purchased from the food traders. Here you can usually find the pea aphid. The purchase of a breeding kit or a portion bag is to ensure that the aphids are not pre-loaded with harmful substances. If you want to start breeding, you should start with such a breeding approach

Aphids unwanted

Who would have thought, some lice also like water plants 🙂 If you have accidentally introduced aphids by buying a plant or from the garden, you should not panic. This happens from time to time. Either you take all plants out of the water and rinse them thoroughly (lice are very persistent) or you brush them down and let your fish do the rest. Provided of course that your fish like aphids. Usually these are black aphids or mealybugs. The little pests are usually found without wings, but if danger threatens – such as an attack by ladybirds – winged aphids are born and move to another plant,

If washing up and eating away is not successful, then get ladybirds or ichneumon flies. They’re pretty busy. You can get them from internet shops, specialist retailers and DIY stores. Another radical method is to weigh down the plants and leave them under water for a few days. This should give very good results.

Other methods are:

  • Detergent (Attention: wash well afterwards)
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Tea tree oil

Aphid breeding

Let's finally get to production. Those who already have aphids will know how fast the reproduction of live bearing animals goes. The little children are born with their backsides first. After the children are put down, they look in the same direction as their mother. There they remain until they are bigger. A louse can have up to 100 children in its life. This corresponds to 5 children a day.


As a breeding container it does not need much, this can be an old jam jar or a plastic box. The animals are not demanding. It is important that the material is water-repellent so that the plant food administered does not soften the material or cause it to mould. Do not forget to make air holes in the sides. It is also possible to make holes only in the top of the lid, but experience shows that ventilation works much better with side holes and the risk of mould remains low. The container must definitely have a lid, because lice can get up even on glass.


If you have cultivated a wild catch, i.e. you have brought along lice from nature, then it is advisable to note down the plant species and preferably to pick them at the same time. The pea aphid lat. Acyrthosiphon pisum is very suitable for breeding. Pea aphids belong to the class of aphids and are not only found on pea plants, but also on beans, alfalfa and clover. Either you pick the food wild and take the risk of pollutants or you prefer field beans, peas or lentils on a damp kitchen towel and plant them in the breeding container. In a nice big candy jar this is a real eye-catcher.

Temperature and light

The ideal breeding temperature is between 16-28°C. The warmer you set them the more productive they become. The pea lice need 12-14 hours of light a day, otherwise they will not reproduce. That means in the summertime a cozy window seat is enough and in the winter you need a lamp. A household lamp is sufficient.


The ingenious thing about the pea louse is that it lets itself fall in case of danger. In nature, the little louse would have a chance to land on a leaf underneath. In your aquarium only water is waiting here. Other louses are much more difficult to detach from the leaf.

My conclusion about aphids

I would never feed plant lice from the garden, although some friends have had good experiences with this. If lice are fed, then only the green ones. Otherwise all fish are very happy about the addition of the little crawlers. It's nice that pests can also be beneficial. If you want to learn more about aphids, you can do so on Wikipedia.

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