Why Is My Fish Spitting Out Food When Eating?

Hi, this is your friend Clifton Ervin, the founder and chief editor of this site, Aquariumwolf. I completed my graduation in marine biology and became...Read more

The fish taking food in the fish tank is an exciting scenery. But most fish keepers don’t know about aquarium fish’s food habits or don’t spend minimum time watching them. Do you know, sometimes fish don’t eat the tasty morsels popped by you in the fish tank and even may spit it out from their mouth? The question must arise if you have seen it: Why is my fish spitting out food?

The fish may spit out food for different reasons. Few fish don’t take their meal immediately after giving it to the aquarium. Some fishes play with their flake, worms, pellet, or whatever you provide on their menu. The other possible reasons are sickness, lousy water, ulcer in the mouth, infection, gill problems, bitter taste of food, etc. 

To know the details about the mentioned problem, please read through the article. You will find everything that you need on this issue.

Why Is My Fish Spitting Out Food From Their Mouth?

There are many reasons why aquarium fish spit out food from their mouths. The reason for finding it is critical. Many unwanted questions arise in your mind, like Are my fish ill or starving? Don’t worry; you will get answers soon.

why is my fish spitting out food

Some reasons for your fish spitting out food are not so wrong. But sometimes, it may be fatal, especially when they don’t eat anything.

We accumulated all possible causes and remedies to the problem in this session.

1. The Fish May Not Hungry

Sometimes your fish may not take the food or spit out the food from their mouth due to the lack of hunger, or they may be full. However, this does not usually occur. If lack of hungriness is the only reason, it is normal for your fish.

The Fish May Not Hungry

But if your fish abstains from taking food regularly, for one or two meals at a time, it indicates something wrong like stress or illness. So be sure about it by some close attention during their dinner.

2. Food Boredom

Eating the same menu over and over again is upsetting for everyone. Suppose you eat hot dogs and burgers for every meal, every day for successive weeks; you must be bored soon, right? The same thing may happen to your fish.

They may feel tired of eating the same meal every day. It may occur when you don’t change their food for a long time or provide a single item daily.

If it is the reason, give them something different and mix other food grains with the food. You will experience a magical result soon. Your food-bored fish will turn back to the natural fish mood.

3. Dislike of The Food

All fishes do not enjoy the same food. All fishes can not take the same size foods also. The foods you are providing may be suitable for a particular species.

So change the diet and try to provide different food for different fishes. Try to figure out what they like to eat. Failing to do that may cause some severe sickness for them, even if they may die of that reason.

4. Problems in Their Mouth

One of the main reasons for spitting out food is any problem in their mouths. Fish might generally suffer from ulcers, tumors, and mouth deformities.

Even any gravel stuck in their throats may be the possible reason. Eating food is difficult for the fish in all of the above situations.

Problems in Their Mouth

Sometimes they try to eat, but it spits out due to the pain in the mouth or throat. In this case, inspect your fish closely to find out the problem.

If it is a medical issue, you do not have many things to do. So you can try some easily edible food to ease their diet.

5. Branchial Problems

Gills are very important for fish. They breathe by the gills and flex it when taking food. But this gill fixing may be hampered by parasites. You can be sure about the parasite by some signs.

If you guess the gill problem is the reason for spitting out the food, treat your fish medically and give them some easily edible food.

6. Sickness/Infection

If your fish is sick or is affected by any infection, it will stop taking food altogether. In this case, some fishes try to eat food, but they spit it out due to sickness or tiredness because food consumption needs some energy.


Sometimes this illness occurs due to unusual fish activities like slow swimming and lethargy. You can transfer them to any big tank of fresh water to get rid of this situation.

7. Stress

Fish stop eating when they feel stressed. The common causes of stress are Illness, picking up, and competition to take food.

So it would help if you tried to discover the reason and remove the causes of stress.

8. Water Quality

Water quality in your fish tank is essential to keep your fish healthy. The fish limit their swimming and food consumption when the tank water goes bad. Even bad water quality brings some stress for them.

Change your aquarium water after regular intervals to keep it clean and healthy for the fish.

9. Hardness / Large Size of Food Grains

Food grain size and its hardness are two other common reasons to spit food from its mouth. You can be quickly sure about it if you see the fish doing it repeatedly with the same chunk of food.

To recover from this problem, try some soft food for the fish and observe the result closely.

The fish may also spit out food if it is too large to grab. If it is the actual reason, then crush the food into small pieces and try it.

10. Just Playing/ Fun

Your fish may take food and spit it out over and over for fun only. Sometimes the fish may spit out food for playing also. Though there is no evidence of fish playing, we can assume it by seeing their movement.

Because we all have experienced some animals playing with their food before eating, a cat with mice is an excellent example. If only playing is the reason, then there is nothing to worry about.

11. New Food

If you provide new food for your fish, getting accustomed to the different tastes might take some time.

You should continue feeding them this food and remove the uneaten food after a few minutes.

12. Rotten or Soggy Food

You may think of adding extra foods to your aquarium so that your fish can eat whenever they want. But The food in the fish tank soon starts to rot due to the decomposing bacteria.

So it is not always a good practice because fish does not like to eat old, soggy, or rotten food.

This food decomposition is unsuitable for the fish’s health and creates a mess. Hence, we suggest you do not overfeed them, so they keep some food uneaten and make trash.

You May Also Read: What To Feed Bluegill In An Aquarium?

Bottom Line

Food spitting is normal for some fish species, such as Goldfish, Koi, Betta, Cichlids, Angelfish, etc. Some fish species also like to taste the food before eating it.

Still, please don’t be complacent about it. Be more careful about what happens with the fish and identify the actual reason. Always look over them for any unusual things while eating. That’s all about your asking; why is my fish spitting out food?

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and found what you need to know about your fish feeding in the aquarium. Please ask questions about the aquarium fish in the comment section below. We will be back with the answer asap.

Hi, this is your friend Clifton Ervin, the founder and chief editor of this site, Aquariumwolf. I completed my graduation in marine biology and became an Ichthyologist. One of my favorite hobbies is aquarium keeping; therefore, I love to talk about fish keeping, breeding, food behavior, etc., and much more relevant to aquarium maintenance. I have created this site Aquariumwolf, to share my 20 years+ of experience and knowledge with all new to this journey.

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