Review: Aqua Culture and Fish Mate Automatic Feeders

Today I review two different automatic fish feeders: the Aqua Culture Automatic Fish Feeder and the Fish Mate Fish Feeder.  I used both these feeders during my recent vacation, and I can recommend either of them.  Both feeders are worth buying, but you get what you pay for, and the Fish Mate food dispenser is a better value despite its higher price tag.

I have a video review on my YouTube channel (the video includes both feeders), but for those who’d rather read than hear my voice blathering on for 8 minutes, you can read my thoughts below.

Aqua Culture Automatic Fish Feeder

The Aqua Culture feeder appears to be a rebranded Penn-Plax product.  I purchased mine at Walmart for around $13.  It runs off a single AA battery and feeds twice daily.

aquaculture feederPros:

  • Low cost
  • Adjustable/removable clamp
  • Works well with flakes
  • Large food capacity
  • Adequate food delivery
  • Adjustable (sort of) feeding amounts

Cons:

  • ONLY works well with flakes
  • Somewhat prone to moisture problems
  • Inconsistent feeding amounts
  • No ability to adjust feeding frequency
Loading flakes into the feeder.

Loading flakes into the feeder.

This is a “drum-style” feeder that holds a pretty decent quantity of flakes.  An adjustable scoop rotates through the drum and picks up flakes, which are dropped into the tank twice each day.  The “adjustable” part is debatable, though.  The scoop’s angle can be adjusted so that it’s likely to scoop up a larger or smaller amount of flakes, but truthfully, it’s hit-or-miss.  I had mine set to pick up a pretty small amount of food with each pass, but when I got home, I found that the MTS population had really boomed due to the feeder dispensing too much food.

The other major problem I have with the feeder is that it really is only recommended to work with flakes.  I prefer to feed pellet food (specifically, New Life Spectrum Thera+A, if you’re interested), so this was a drawback for me.  The flakes are prone to clumping due to moisture, which compounds the problem of inconsistent amounts of food being dispensed.

aquaculture feeder bottom

Adjustable/removable clamp on bottom.

The clamp on the bottom grips the tank well, can be adjusted back and forth depending on how you want it placed on the tank, and can be removed entirely if you just want to set the feeder on a flat surface.

I guess the bottom line is:  the feeder works.  I didn’t have any serious fallout from the overfeeding, and my fish certainly didn’t starve.  Just be aware that even though this is a decent feeder on a tight budget, you can do better for just a little more money.

Fish Mate Fish Feeder

(Skip to about 4:00 in the video to see this review.)

The Fish Mate Fish Feeder is a completely different design from the Aqua Culture device.  It is a bit more expensive at around $20, but it’s well worth the price.  It also takes a single AA battery.

fishmatePros:

  • Adjustable/removable clamps
  • Works well with pellets and other large dry foods
  • Reliable food delivery schedule
  • Highly adjustable schedule
  • Precisely controllable feeding amounts
  • Moisture control option with air pump (not included)

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Slow feeding
  • Doesn’t work well with flakes

fishmate openThe feeder has 15 individual compartments, 14 of which are fillable at any point.  The compartments rotate over a hole that allows the food to drop into the tank.  It’s a brilliantly simple design that allows you to easily customize your feedings.  You can be boring and unimaginative like me and just fill each compartment with pellets (and you can control EXACTLY how many pellets go in each one!) or you can alternate — pellets today, freeze-dried bloodworms tomorrow, half an algae wafer the day after — whatever foods you want.

The adjustable options don’t end there.  I set mine to dump one compartment per day at a specific time (it actually spreads the food dispensing out over a couple hours) but by inserting special pins into the dial, you can make it dispense two, three, or even four times per day.  The drawback to this is that the 14 feedings are divided by the number of feedings per day.  That is, if you feed once per day, it will last for two weeks;  if you feed twice per day, you only get 7 days’ feedings before having to refill the feeder.

The last huge advantage that needs mentioning is a feature I’ve never actually needed to use, but which some people will appreciate.  By hooking an airpump up to the bottom of the feeder, you can force air to circulate through the feeder and keep the food dry enough to prevent clumping.  This wasn’t necessary for the pellets I used, but for people who try to use flakes in the feeder, it could be pretty useful.

Speaking of flakes, they aren’t the best choice for the Fish Mate.  The feeding compartment dial isn’t guaranteed to push thin flakes reliably, especially if they do get damp.  Pellets, broken algae wafers, or freeze-dried foods are all better choices.

The Bottom Line

I like both feeders, but I’ll probably stick to buying the Fish Mate product in the future.  It’s just a better deal with its greater reliability and more feeding options (plus, as stated above, I prefer pellets over flakes).  I’ll still use the Aqua Culture feeders that I already own, though.

Disclaimer: This is an unsolicited, unsponsored review. The seller or product manufacturer has not reimbursed me in any way for this review. My opinions are my own; your mileage may vary.