What To Feed Bluegill In An Aquarium? [Nurture Your Fish With Knowledge]

We know that bluegill fishes look extremely stunning in a home aquarium. But did you know the beauty of your aquarium depends on how you nurture your fish?

Yes, healthy fish means a gorgeous aquarium. So, if you want to keep your bluegill fish healthy, you must correctly know what to feed bluegill in an aquarium. Luckily, we have provided you with an in-depth guide on this topic right here.

In short, you mainly have to give your bluegills animal-based food items because bluegills are majorly carnivorous. Plus, you also have to maintain some plant life in an aquarium, so the bluegill can eat algae and zooplankton.

There are some other factors as well that you must consider if you want to keep your bluegills healthy and energetic. So, without any further ado, read on till the very end!

What Do Bluegill Fish Eat?

The majority of the diet of bluegill fishes consists of animal flesh. It’s because bluegills are mainly carnivorous fishes. That’s why you’ll most commonly see bluegill surviving by eating aquatic and terrestrial insects, snails, small crayfishes, fish eggs, etc. Plus, they also eat worms and flies.

In addition to animal-based proteins, bluegills also eat a limited amount of plant-based items such as zooplankton, native plants, etc.

Therefore, if you want to keep bluegill fish in an aquarium, you have to provide a balanced diet consisting of animal-based proteins and healthy plants.

11 Items To Feed Bluegills In An Aquarium? (In-Depth Food Item List)

What To Feed Bluegill In An Aquarium [Nurture Your Fish With Knowledge]

As we have already mentioned, bluegills are majorly carnivores that feed on the flesh of other fishes. Thus, bluegill likes hunting down smaller fishes, insects, and other small animals.

So, you could also say that bluegills are somewhat opportunistic as well. This is why small fishes are the main items in the diet list of bluegills.

Fishes That Bluegill Can Hunt Down

Below, we have mentioned some of the smaller fishes that bluegill will be very much fond of hunting down.

1. Bait fishes:

There are multiple types of bait fishes in the market that are perfect for feeding to aquarium bluegills. The main characteristic of bait fishes is that they can breed very fast and multiply their numbers very easily. As a result, they are an excellent food item for bluegills.

Some of the most typical bait fishes that bluegill owners feed are Gudgeon, Halfbeaks, Anchovies, etc.

Gudgeon, Halfbeaks, Anchovies Bait fishes That Bluegill Can Hunt Down

2. Shiner fish:

Shiner fishes are especially favorite to bluegills because the Shiner can be as large as 3 inches long. That means that they have just enough flesh and muscle to fulfill the appetite of average-sized bluegills.

bluegill hunting down Shiner fishes

In nature, you’ll mostly see bluegill hunting down Shiner fishes in the summer and fall seasons. The bluegills especially like to prey on shiner because they offer a wide range of nutrients and a high dosage of protein.

Hence, if you can provide a few Shiner fishes in the aquarium, your bluegills will not need to have any other types of fish.

3. Minnows:

We’re mentioning the name of minnow fishes here because they can stimulate the drive of hunting in the bluegill fishes. Due to their small and streamlined shape, Minnows can maneuver and swim very fast. As a result, bluegills love to hunt them down.

Minnows fish

So, if you can keep a few Minnows in the aquarium of bluegills, it will fulfill the dietary needs of the bluegills. And, it will also enhance the hunting sense of the bluegill. Consequently, the bluegill will stay mentally activated and healthy all the time.

4. Suckerfish:

Sucker fish are fast runners, and they’re also somewhat relatively rarely found in nature. Their cylindrical shape makes them an excellent source of protein and mineral nutrients for bluegills.


As they are one of the most favorite foods of bluegills, you can keep small-sized sucker fish in the aquarium alongside bluegills.

Not only will they serve the purpose of fulfilling hunger, but they will also provide enough physical stimulus to the bluegill. How? Well, just like we have already said, they are extremely agile escapers, so Bluegill loves to hunt them down.

Lastly, the best thing about Sucker fishes is that you can easily purchase them at any fish feed store.

5. Shad Fish:

Shad fish are an uncommon food choice for bluegill fishes. It’s because they are usually larger than bluegills. But, bluegills love to eat dead Shad fishes.

More specifically, Gizzard shad, American shad, Threadfin shad, etc. are most favorite to bluegill fishes.

However, the catch with feeding Shad fish to your bluegills is that it is very difficult to keep shads alive after catching them.

But, this should not keep you from feeding Shads to your bluegills. Because even when the shads are dead, bluegills will love to munch on them from time to time.

Shad fish

Insects That Are Healthy For Bluegills

In addition to various small fishes, bluegills also love to eat small flies and insects. You’ll be amazed to know that bluegills not only love water insects, but they love to feed on terrestrial insects as well.

6. Terrestrial larvae and insects:

There are many types of terrestrial insects that bluegills love to munch on. Besides full-grown insects, bluegills also love to eat larvae.

For instance, the larvae of crickets and mealworms are ideal food choices for bluegills. So, if you want to diversify the dietary list of your bluegill in the aquarium, you can purchase a few grams of cricket or mealworm larvae for your bluegill fish.

Terrestrial larvae and insects

What’s more, bluegills also love to feed on grasshoppers, ants, bees, spider flies, moths, and other commonly known insects. For this reason, if you can manage to provide these to your bluegills, they will stay healthy and energetic for a long time.

7. Water insects:

Bugs found in the water are easy prey for bluegill fish in nature. This is why a majority of the diet of bluegill fish consists of water-based insects.

For example, mosquitoes, dobsonflies, bush giant dragonflies, diving beetles, water boatman, etc. are amongst the most common prey in the water for bluegills.

Now, if you want to feed your bluegill these water-based insects, the best option is to get frozen bugs from fish-feed stores. Since these insects cannot be stored in live-state, they are only available at the market in a frozen state.

bluegill fish consists of water-based insect

8. Crustacean Preys:

Crustacean insects have a large amount of lipid and protein in their body. Due to this, they are amongst the best-suited food items for bluegill fishes.

Seed shrimp, brachiopods, amphipods, remipedes, krill, mantis shrimp, etc. make up the majority portion of the crustacean diet list of bluegills.

Now, the best thing about feeding crustaceans to your aquarium bluegills is that crustaceans usually roam around late at night. As a result, they can become a perfect late-night snack item for your bluegills.

Plus, crustaceans will only remain in the lower part of the aquarium and live off the zooplanktons and phytoplanktons. That’s why you don’t have to provide additional food in order to breed them in your aquarium.

Micro-Food Items For Bluegills

In addition to the above-mentioned animal-based food items, you should also provide some plant-based food to your bluegills in the aquarium.

So, we have mentioned some of the most appropriate plant-based food items down below:

9. Phytoplanktons and Zooplankton:

In short, phytoplanktons are the most widely available plant-based organism in nature. Although they are tiny in size, most underwater animals (including bluegill fishes) survive by eating phytoplanktons.


The cellulose and carbohydrate content present in the phytoplanktons fulfill the need of plant-based food items of bluegills. So, having phytoplanktons in an aquarium is always healthy for your bluegills.

On top of that, zooplankton can also fulfill the need of animal-based proteins in bluegills. So, it’s best if you can breed some zooplankton in your aquarium.

breed some zooplankton in your aquarium

However, you should note that having too many zooplanktons and phytoplanktons in the aquarium can make the water very hazy. Which, in turn, can spoil the visual beauty of your aquarium.

Man-made Food Items For Bluegills

Although bluegills love to munch on natural food items, they are not too picky when picking food. So, they will also eat any type of pellet you provide in the aquarium.

10. Readily available pellets (for fishes):

If you have a medium-sized aquarium (up to 45 gallons in volume), you can provide 50g of fish pellets to your bluegill fish every day. Or, if you have a larger aquarium, you can provide up to 70g of fish pellets to your bluegills.

Bluegill fish love to eat the floating pellets from the water surface. During the time of grabbing floating food particles, they go through some physical activity which is essential for all aquarium fishes.

11. Readily available Dry worms:

Dry worms are amongst the food items that bluegills love to eat on a daily basis. Plus, the best thing about feeding dry worms is that they are already available in any fish feed shops. Therefore, you should consider providing dry worms to your bluegills every 2 to 3 days.

Can You Keep Sunfish In An Aquarium?

Although it might seem impossible to pet wild fish like bluegill, which is also known as sunfish, in an aquarium, it’s not very uncommon at all. In fact, you can easily house a pair of bluegills in a 25 to 30-gallon aquarium.

Can You Keep Sunfish In An Aquarium

Now, you might be thinking what the exact measurement of the aquarium for each sunfish is. Well, the thumb rule is that you have to provide one-gallon space for a one-inch length of a sunfish.

For instance, sunfish can grow up to 10 inches, which means you have to provide at least 10 gallons of space for a single sunfish.

However, you must also provide diverse food items to the sunfish if you want them to stay healthy. For example, a diet consisting of animal-based protein and plant-based carbohydrates should be always maintained for sunfish in any aquarium.

Plus, you must also provide some bait fishes or smaller fishes in the aquarium, so the sunfish can hunt down these small fishes from time to time.

Since bluegills are majorly carnivorous, they need a certain amount of physical stimulus that mimics the hunting activity. This keeps their mental state stable and also promotes healthy growth.

Which Fish Can Be Bluegill Tank Mates?

Bluegills can be a bit aggressive when it comes to coping with other fishes in an aquarium. That’s why pet fish enthusiasts wonder which fish to keep as bluegill tank mates.

Simply put, it’s best to keep other kinds of sunfish with bluegills. Plus, you can also keep other carnivorous fishes like bullheads, zebra danios, tiger barbs, Bass, etc.

These fishes are particularly compatible with bluegill because they share the same dietary list. And, there’s also another fact: bluegills can’t play “Boss” on them.

Furthermore, you can also keep some bottom-feeder fishes like Plecos. Plecos (Sucker mouth catfish) generally roam around in deep water, and they feed on algae. So, keeping plecos will make sure that algae won’t grow in your aquarium too much. This fish can also grow up to 20 inches, so there’s no chance that bluegill will attack this.

What’s The Best Bluegill Aquarium Temperature?

The aquarium temperature for bluegills should always mimic the actual freshwater temperature of nature. That’s to say, you should make sure that your aquarium temperature is about 65° to 75° f.

It’s also okay if the water temperature is a bit higher than 75°. However, it’s duly recommended that the temperature is never above 80° f.

In addition, it’s also important that the aquarium’s water remains completely pH neutral (pH 7.0).

Are Bluegills Aggressive Fish?

It would be completely wrong if we say that all bluegills are aggressive. But, they are certainly a kind of fish that is always curious and hungry. For instance, if you put a bait in close vicinity of bluegill, it will not wait for a second to jump on to bite that bait.

Are Bluegills Aggressive Fish

Now, in terms of aggressiveness, it really depends on the environment whether bluegill will behave aggressively or not. For example, if you put bluegill in a small aquarium with inadequate space, it might show aggressive behavior towards its tank mate.

However, in nature, bluegills do not show extreme aggressive behaviors most of the time. In fact, they are sociable fish who mostly like to be in small to medium-sized groups.

What Do Baby Bluegill Fishes Eat?

A baby bluegill has the same dietary choice as an adult bluegill fish. However, babies might eat more zooplanktons relative to adult bluegills. It’s because zooplanktons are easy to get, and the babies do not have to hunt down any other animal if zooplanktons are readily available for them.

However, baby bluegills will certainly like to eat small insects (both terrestrial and water-based), fish pellets, and other fish food bought from stores as well.

Do Bluegills Eat A Lot Of Food?

Yes, they certainly do eat lots of food. As we have already mentioned, bluegills are gregarious fishes.

So, they will start feeding as soon as they find a suitable food source. And, it can happen any time of the day, meaning bluegills will happily eat their food in both daytime and night as well.

What Are The Best pellets For Bluegills?

Bluegills will generally eat all types of fish pellets that you can get in fish-feed stores. However, it’s best if you can provide them algae-based pellets that have a high amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

These pellets are known as semi pellets because the manufacturers mix up larvae, detritus, and worms in this type of pellet to make them an ideal food for freshwater fishes.

Correct Bluegill Care: How To Keep Bluegills Healthy?

The first step in caring for your bluegill fishes is providing high-quality freshwater fish food. However, this is not the only duty that you have to do in order to keep them fully healthy.

1. Routinely providing food:

While you are keeping bluegills in an aquarium, you must make sure that you feed the fish at a particular time every afternoon. For instance, you can pick a time for feeding the fish between 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Additionally, you must remove the excess food after the fish have had their munch. Keeping the excess food in the water will make them decompose and contaminate the water. That, in turn, will create an uncomfortable environment for your bluegills in the aquarium.

2. Never starving over 2 days:

An aquarium contains a lot of miscellaneous food items that bluegills can eat and live on. That’s why bluegills can make do for up to 12 days even if you don’t provide food in the aquarium. However, it doesn’t mean that you should starve your bluegills for long.

Rather, you should never starve your bluegills for more than 2 days. It’s because starving can cause them to get hungry and aggressive. Resultantly, your bluegills in the aquarium might attack other tank mates.

3. Having an appropriate-sized tank:

As we have already mentioned, a pair of bluegills will require at least 25 gallons of water to roam in. However, if you provide other tank mates with the bluegills, you must expand the space so that the bluegills can live peacefully with their neighbors.

Otherwise, the bluegills will normally see other smaller fish as competitors and attack them eventually.

4. Providing appropriate tank mates:

In unusual circumstances, keeping other varieties of sunfish is the ideal choice as tank mates for bluegills. However, you can also keep larger bottom dweller fishes as tank mates for bluegills.

We have explained this topic in greater details in the above subsections. We advise you to refer to that for providing appropriate tank mates for bluegills.

5. Providing natural vegetation in the aquarium:

Since bluegills are freshwater fish, they will keep healthy as long as they are around natural vegetation. Therefore, you must provide some plant life in the aquarium for bluegills so that they can feel at home.

Plus, having enough vegetation in the aquarium will create healthy algae, phytoplanktons, and zooplanktons for the bluegills to eat. That, in turn, will make sure your bluegills are always well fed.

6. Provide an opportunity to hunt:

As we have already said many times, bluegills are carnivorous fish. That’s why they love to hunt down their prey. So, you have to provide the opportunity for your aquarium bluegills to also hunt some prey.

For instance, you can provide some insects or other bait fish in the tank, so your bluegills can enjoy the physical activity of hunting down a prey.


Well, that’s all there’s to it, people. Just take a deep breath and pat your back as you’ve just finished reading an around 3000-word article on what to feed bluegill in an aquarium.

The bottom line of this discussion is that almost all types of freshwater fish food are suited for bluegills in aquariums. However, you should never over-indulge in feeding the bluegills in aquariums.

It’s because overfeeding them can cause your aquarium to be unnecessarily polluted. Also, don’t forget to remove food leftovers and other wastes from the water as frequently as possible. This will keep the bluegills healthy and happy all the time.

Thank you so much for dropping in today, you guys are the bee’s knees!!!

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