Hand-feeding your aquarium fish is an exciting idea you may have already tried. Although aquarium fish are not the most adorable pets, they also can be hand fed, much like dogs. 

Here are a few tips and tricks to hand tame your aquarium fish and make them a lovely family pet that you can enjoy.  

How to Train Fish to Eat From Your Hand?

Before you start feeding fish by hand, you must wash and clean your hands properly. You may use a suitable hand wash or soap to remove oils and other harmful germs on your hands. 

Step One: Spending Time Near the Tank

Sometimes certain types of fish can be so skittish. They don’t even like humans near the tank making sudden movements. Because fish are naturally wary of predators, they might also think of you as a danger.

So it’s good to start to tame your fish by just being with them, and it’s usually better to do this when there are not too many other people around the tank. 

Familiar with fish
Familiar with fish

It can be really helpful to spend some time sitting next to the tank and making small slow movements rather than sudden movements, maybe reading a book or something. So then, they get familiar with you being around. 

Step Two: Getting the Fish Used to Your Hands Being in the Tank

Once your fish have become accustomed to you being near the tank and moving around, you can start to get familiar with your hands being in the tank. 

Just let your hand hang in the tank, and the fish will come up and look at it. Make sure not to do any sudden movements that can scare your fish. 

Probably your fish will swim away at the beginning. But with time, they will surely come up. So don’t be discouraged if they avoid your hands at first. 

You’ll find some of your fish are more skittish and outgoing than others, while some fish are curious to observe your hands. So if you can get a few of your fish that are more curious, to begin with, they will coke the other fish also in as they’re not scared.  

Hand feeding Fish

Also, you can put your hands in the tank when you’re doing water changes. Obviously, you may scrub the side walls or other stuff in the tank. But just take a break for a while, and let your hand sit there without making any movements.

So that they realize it’s not that scary and they can have a chance to become familiar with it. When you’re not moving, a bunch of fish becomes accustomed to your hands being in the tank, and they don’t freak out anymore.

Step Three: Holding Food in Your Hand & Dropping It

Next up, you can start to take some food in your hand. So hold some food in your hand and slowly let it fall from your fingers into the tank. Sometimes, your fish may not respond. But they will surely do with time.

When they see you drop the food into the tank, they will know that the food is coming from your hand. But at first, let them eat it off of the bottom on their own.

Do this until your fish realize that foods are coming from your hands. But make sure you don`t make any sudden movements to convince it.

feeding fish

Finally, they’ll take your fingertip, start to trust you, and realize that your hands aren’t anything to worry about.  

Step Four: Keeping the Food in Your Hand

Once you think your fish is accustomed to your hands being in the tank and to dropping food into the tank, you can start to hold the food in your hand. They don’t freak out anymore.

Let the fish come up to you and investigate. When the pieces of food are flaking off, they will surely smell the food and locate where it is. So wait until the fish swim towards your hands and release food. 

When they come to your hand, don’t move at all. Just keep your hand perfectly still. Even if they’re nibbling at the wrong spot first, don’t try to move your hand because that will scare them away. 

Initially, you can just release food when the fish comes near. Then gradually train them to get food from your fingers.

Train Your Fish to Eat from Your Hands

Which fish can be trained to hand Fed?

Many non-aggressive fish varieties such as Bettas, Koi, Goldfish, and Flower horns can be tamed to their owner’s hands. But in the case of aggressive or semi-aggressive fish varieties, you should be aware. For example, hand-feeding Oscar fish can be dangerous as they can damage your hand. 

Hand-feeding Koi fish in an Outdoor Pond

Koi fish hand feeding
Koi fish hand feeding

Koi carps are one of the easiest fish to be trained to do hand feed. But every koi fish is unique; some would never like to eat from your hand. Your continued focus on their comfort will improve their trust, and by the time they will be familiar with you.

While following the above steps to tame your fish, try to keep a school of fish rather than a pair. It makes them more confident to come up. You can read more about KOi fish taming here.

Hand-feeding Goldfish in an Indoor Fish Tank

Goldfish are one of the most personable fish in the aquarium hobby. Even though some misconceptions say that they have a short time memory, some researchers have pointed out that it’s not true.

So you can easily tame your goldfish not only to eat from your hand but to play with you. Read more about how an aquarist trained his goldfish to play soccer.

Hand Feeding goldfish

Hand-feeding Betta fish in a Planted Aquarium

Hand feeding betta fish

Final Words

So that’s how you could train your fish to eat from your hands. If you have an extremely skittish fish, you should start from step one. But if your fish is already familiar with you near the tank and everything, you can probably start from the later steps. 

Sometimes it can take a bit long time to become familiar with your fish. It depends on what kind of environment the fish had lived in before you got it and what kind of human contact it has used to.


I am Prasanjaya who is an aquarium hobbyist for nearly a decade. I wish to help fishkeepers to get accurate and helpful information regarding every aspect of fishkeeping.

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