What to Feed Bluegill in an Aquarium

Whichever type of fish you choose to stock in your tank, they all require special care and attention primarily because of their different characteristics. The most basic requirements are clean water and a spacious enough tank.  And based on the species of fish you chose to keep, what they eat is another thing that you will have to monitor. 

Bluegills are a favorite among many aquarium hobbyists.  They are basically long-bodied freshwater sunfish. They weigh approximately 2 to 2.5 kilograms and can grow to be more than 12 inches long. Based on the region, Bluegills can also be referred to with other names such as pond perch, crappies, and bream.

Bluegills can be stocked in home aquariums along with other species of fish. They need about 55 to 75 gallons of water with pH levels ranging from 6.8 to 7.2. Mostly found in ponds, lakes, and rivers, Bluegills are actually really friendly; they can even eat right from your hand! 

They also have some very interesting habits. They, for instance, hide from their predators by taking cover behind the tall plants in your aquarium. In addition, they hunt for the small water insects and crustaceans as their feed.

They have a lifespan of about 4 to 6 years and are capable of laying more than 20,000 eggs annually. Their bold character is beautifully matched by their shimmery colors and feeding habits. And this brings us to the question, what do bluegills eat?

These fish are known to keep the insect and crustacean population low in ponds. It, however, turns out that they will consume just about anything since they are carnivorous creatures.

Feed options for your aquarium Bluegills

Below are some incredible feed options to consider when it comes to feeding your bluegills.


Bait Fish

Commonly used in the capture of bluegills from the natural habitat in the wild, Baitfish is a popular food choice among many bluegill keepers. This is because it is easily available and bluegills enjoy eating it too.

Research has it that bluegills that are larger in size prefer eating small fish; baitfish in particular. And apart from being readily available in most pet shops and the best part is that they are also cheap. 

It is the go-to feed for most hobbyists with bluegills in their fish tank.

Shiner fish

Shinner Fish

This is another popular food alternative for aquarium bluegills. These two to three inches long fish can be purchased from most bait shops and are a good choice for matured bluegills. They have been found to contain sufficient nutrients to keep fully grown bluegills fuller for longer.

Bluegills have been found to feed on these fish especially during summer and the fall. Shiner fish are also commonly utilized as bait during bluegill fishing. 



Being carnivorous animals, bluegills can actually eat other kinds of small fish. One of the popular options are Minnows, which are also kept in aquariums. Minnows are normally introduced around “lunch” time and the bluegills immediately pounce on them.

You can trim the tail of your minnows; this does not harm your fish and no blood is shed. The soft upper or lower half is normally trimmed in order to make swimming difficult for the minnows. They end up resembling struggling prey, which stimulates the bluegills to prey on them.


Sucker Fish

These are simply tiny fish with cylindrical-shaped bodies and feature downward-pointed puckering mouths. They are a common feed choice for a lot of fish species, bluegills included. If you have stocked your aquarium with large bluegills, then they will certainly enjoy feasting on these.

Small-sized suckers are a nice food idea for aquarium bluegills. Out in the natural environment, suckerfish are reared and born on time for season changes, thus providing a change in diet for bluegills as well. Even though they are hard to find, suckers are among bluegill’s top favorite foods.

Larvae and insects

Bluegills will feed on anything; from larvae to grown insects. A few common choices include mealworms and crickets. There are a couple of bluegill keepers that feed their fish on grasshoppers. In fact, insects are used in the wild as bait to attract bluegills close to the water surface, which proves how much they love consuming insects.

Terrestrial insects

Bluegills are quite fond of feeding on night-crawlers together with other terrestrial insects. They can eat spiders, ants, gnats, flies, and even moths when in the natural habitat. When out in the wild, bluegills have been found to enjoy hunting down and eating these bugs. You could introduce these insects to your aquarium when still alive, but most individuals prefer the use of frozen varieties as feed.

Water insects

Bluegills can also feed on water insects; they will consume insect larvae, mosquito larvae, as well as other water bugs together with their eggs. During summer, water insects are particularly an important source of food for bluegills as they provide them with some of the vital nutrients. 

And even though it is somewhat challenging to directly feed them this when housed in an aquarium, some hobbyists purchase frozen insects or larvae that are easier to dish out.

Shad fish

Shad Fish

400;”>Tiny shad fish can be fed to aquarium bluegills. Bluegills have tiny mouths and so shad fish are just perfect for them to eat because of their size too. They mostly feed on the Threadfin Shad, the tiny American Shad, as well as the Gizzard Shad.

Despite being a difficult feed to find, shads are still among the top foods loved by bluegills. After capture, it is quite hard to keep shad fish alive and kicking. According to research, shads stress a lot and they could actually die before you even get to introduce them in your fish tank.



They are an important part of bluegill’s diet. They can either be housed as tank mates or you can introduce them into your tank at mealtimes. A good thing is that they are easily available in feed or fish shops.

Bluegills enjoy feeding on tiny crayfish as well as tiny freshwater shrimp. These particular crustaceans normally surface during the night and are a great late-night snack for your bluegills once you switch off the aquarium lights. Bluegills prefer the freshly molted crustaceans as they are easy to spot and hunt down.

Dried worms and fish pellets

Freeze-dried worms and floating fish pellets are another staple food for aquarium bluegills. They are great alternatives to live fish and they provide bluegills with the essential nutrients that they need for survival. They are both easily available in fish and food shops and are really affordable; that is precisely why they are popular amongst many bluegill keepers.


Young bluegills mainly feed on this. This is, in fact, their primary food source until they get big enough to start enjoying other food varieties. Zooplankton contains sufficient amounts of nutrients to help with the growth and development of bluegills.

The very tiny organisms naturally thrive in the wild, but you could still introduce them to your aquarium, where they will multiply and become a great food source for your fish. The larger bluegills prefer accompanying their zooplankton with other meal options.

How to care for your aquarium bluegills

To ensure that you are providing your bluegills with the best possible care, below some of the important things that you need to be aware of.

Bluegills’ feeding habits

Aquarium bluegills need a lot of monitoring. The best time to feed your bluegills is during the day, at around 2 to 3 p.m. in the afternoon. The session should only be 10 seconds long. Note that overfeeding your fish could lead to certain urinary and digestive disorders, which could infect your entire tank.  

After the feeding session is over, you need to remove any leftover food as it could decay and completely compromise the water quality of your tank.

It has been found that bluegills can actually go without food for approximately 7 to 12 days. This does, however, not mean that you should starve your fish! Do not go for more than 2 days without feeding them as their drive to hunt will fall.

Aquarium tank mates for your bluegills

When kept with other aquarium fish, Bluegills tend to be aggressive. They are normally kept on their own, but if your aquarium is large enough, you could introduce other fish species. A few aquarium fish that can be kept with bluegills include Poxomis, Amerurus, Ambloplites, Channel catfish, Micropterus, and Plecos among others.


Bluegills are quite simple to care for when it comes to their feeding. Most of them, in fact, will even bite on your aquarium plants and in the larger fish tanks, they even feed on algae. Because these fish will feed on just about anything, you do not have to worry about personally getting them their food. 

Nonetheless, these are still living things and they need some attention regardless of how difficult or easy they are to care for. Younger bluegills, for instance, need to be moved to larger tanks as they grow. In addition, their feed should also change with their body-size changes; from plants and pellets to feeds such as worms and fish.


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