Can fish get too fat?

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A reader is concerned that her fish are fat - Jeremy offers his advice...

A friend of mine told me that my fish are fat. Is it possible for cichlids to become overweight?

JOANNE LACEY, VIA EMAIL

Jeremy says: Yes, cichlids can become overweight, with herbivorous mbuna from Lake Malawi often growing much larger and fatter than their wild counterparts, so it’s worth researching the species and natural diet of the cichlids you are keeping. Many cichlids are omnivores, even Oscars, so try feeding them peas occasionally, cucumber or courgette, and give them one day a week without food. Avoid prawns and mussels — although taken with gusto, I’ve found from personal experience that an excess of those foods brings terrific growth but also obesity and a shortened lifespan for many cichlids. Try a herbivorous cichlid diet with less protein, or simply feed less. Move them to a larger tank with stronger water flow and more space to exercise. And never feed anything which contains saturated fats, like cheese. Although that might sound obvious, it has been known!