Aquarium Decoration

Eheim 3581 Automatic fish feeder

Aquarium hobby requires a certain level of commitment: water changes, regular cleaning, feeding… there is always a minimum level of effort to keep the tank healthy.

Inevitably, there comes a time when you want or have to leave home for a few days and then reality hits: what am I going to do with the fish?

Automatic fish feeders are a practical tool that allow you to feed your fish while you are away from home.

Whether you’re on vacation or just at work, this handy little device can feed your fish without you being there.

And many aquarists agree, there is no better automatic fish feeder than the Eheim Automatic Fish Feeder.

If you want to take a look at our comparison guide to the best automatic fish feeders, you will be able to see what other options there are in the market for automatic fish food dispensers.

What is it that makes the Eheim feeder so great?

Let’s find out together…

Main Features of the Eheim automatic fish feeder

  • It can dispense almost any dry fish food, from flakes to pellets.
  • The amount of food dispensed is controlled by the adjustable door on the food container.
  • The unit is controlled by a digital timer and display.
  • The timer can be programmed from 1 to 4 events per day.
  • Each feed event is time set by the user.
  • Each feeding event can be programmed to double flip, in which the unit rotates the container once to dispense food, waits one minute, and then rotates the food container a second time.
  • There is a manual action button that can be pressed to feed the fish.
  • The feeder incorporates a fan that cycles on to keep the food in the bowl dry. This helps ensure that food does not stick and cake and clog the dispenser opening.
  • The feeder works with two AA batteries

Comparative table of the best automatic fish feeders

Opinions about the Eheim feeder for daily use

Most people give the Eheim automatic fish feeder very good reviews with only a few negative comments.

On Amazon, at the time of writing this review, the Eheim electronic fish feeder has more than 3145 reviews, which give an average rating of 4.3 out of 5. In this link you can see the current reviews.

Little more needs to be said.

Eheim Automatic Fish Feeder Description

When the scheduled time arrives, the drum rotates and the fish food is dispensed into the aquarium. This rotary design is common to all automatic fish feeders, although the Eheim design is the most reliable.

The translucent drum has an opening on one side with an adjustable door. The position of the door controls the size of the opening and the amount of food that is dispensed in each feeding cycle.

A feed cycle is performed when the unit rotates this food container to position the opening downwards to dispense food. Then come back up in the normal position.

When paired with a fish feeding ring like this, you have the ideal fish feeding combo. The automatic fish feeder dispenses the food into the aquarium, and the feeding ring prevents the food from floating throughout the tank.

There is nothing complicated about this fish feeder, it comes apart easily for cleaning with a damp cloth. The container is easily removed from the unit and refilled in seconds.

The container can hold a generous amount of fish food, about 100ml, which is more than enough to keep our fish fed for weeks.

And at the end of the container, a sliding opening that can be adjusted according to the amount of fish food to be dispensed. The wider the opening, the more food will be dispensed during each rotation, it’s pretty simple.

Several tests are needed to set the correct opening of the dispenser. You have to test until a little less is dispensed than you would normally feed your fish by hand.

Once you find the perfect fit, we recommend that you place a piece of tape over the slider. This will prevent you from accidentally moving it, especially when you have to refill it.

Programming the Eheim automatic fish feeder

You can program Eheim’s feeder to dispense food up to four times a day. And each time, you can make the container rotate once or twice, depending on the amount of food you want to dispense.

The only confusing part about programming the feeder is that after setting the time for the event, you have to select how many times the feeder will rotate: one or two rotations.

You can see that this step is complete when small arrows appear next to the event number: one arrow for one rotation, and two arrows for two rotations.

An aquarist friend told us that he made the mistake of setting the event without selecting the number of rotations, and when the scheduled time came, nothing happened.

It also features a manual action button. It’s the Eheim-branded button, which when pressed causes the container to rotate once, feeding the fish outside of the scheduled times.

Another useful feature is the built-in memory. If you need to change the batteries, the controller remembers the timer settings for 1 minute. It doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it’s more than enough to change the batteries and replace the lid.

Thanks to this handy memory function you don’t have to reprogram the fish feeder every time you remove the batteries.

Speaking of batteries, the fact that this device works with batteries is valuable. It means that it can be placed anywhere without cables getting in the way. Not to mention that it’s one less thing on the possibly already saturated socket.

Rechargeable batteries like these are your best friend… You’ll always have a fresh pair on hand.

Built-in ventilation system

On the back of the unit you will see a small red piece which is actually the fan for the aeration system. Why does a fish feeder need a fan?

To prevent moisture from building up inside the food container. If you’ve ever had an open container in a humid environment, you know all too well that fish food can get soggy and cakey.

Well, the idea behind the fan is to prevent this situation from happening. The fan draws air in from the rear, causing it to flow through the control unit and onto the food.

But the truth is that this is not one of the characteristics for which the
Eheim Automatic Fish Feeder shines.

The fan only works when the food container is spinning, a process that takes less than 10 seconds.

Although it is understood that this is done so that the fan does not drain the batteries, there is no noticeable difference in the moisture content of the fish food. So the Eheim Automatic Fish Feeder is pretty much the same without the fan.

Installing the Eheim automatic feeder

Placed on a flat surface

The first is the simplest, and involves placing the unit on a flat surface with the dispenser above the surface of the aquarium water.

This setup works well with tanks that have a cover or other flat surface on top of the tank.

Thanks to the carefully placed weights on the battery cover, the Eheim fish feeder can stand on its own, no matter how much food is in the container.

Simply place the container over the opening and let the Eheim Automatic Fish Feeder work its magic.

Unit comes with a set of Velcro® adhesive squares to secure feeder to flat surface. These are generally not needed as the unit is heavy enough to sit securely on the surface.

Still, Velcro® can be used to prevent the fish feeder from accidentally shifting out of position.

Fixed on one side of the aquarium

The second mounting option is a bracket that allows the Feeder base to be directly attached to the glass wall of the aquarium. This option works well for open tanks.

Simply hang the fish feeder over the edge of the aquarium, screw the stopper in until it locks and you’re done.

The clamp is strong enough to withstand accidental bumps in the fish feeder.

If using the clamp, mount the Eheim feeder away from any surface agitation that could cause water to splash into the bowl.

The Eheim Automatic Feeder and the different types of fish food

  • Large flakes – need to be crushed into smaller pieces
  • Small flakes: Yes
  • Large pellets: Yes
  • Small pellets: Yes
  • Micro-pellets: may need tape
  • Seaweed Wafers: Small and Medium only
  • Freeze-dried live foods: Yes

The Eheim Fish Feeder is capable of dispensing almost all types of fish food. But the larger dry foods caused problems.

Large wafers get stuck in the opening of the food container, blocking any food from exiting.

Same problem with the larger flakes… However, these can be easily crushed to a smaller size.

Now, if you feed your fish micro-pellets, such as betta food, you may find that the smallest setting on the dispenser is still excessively large.

Fortunately, a little modification is all it takes to solve this problem… all you need is a piece of duct tape.

By fine-tuning the position of the tape, you can make the smallest opening even smaller. This makes it very easy to reduce the opening by half, allowing the perfect amount of fish food to be dispensed.

Eheim automatic fish feeder box

  • Eheim Model 3581 Automatic Fish Feeder
  • 2 AA batteries
  • 1 small square of Velcro tape to hold the feeder to a flat surface
  • Mounting bracket on glass with screw to fix the feeder
  • manual

Conclusions about the Eheim automatic fish feeder

Most acuriophiles who have decided to buy the Eheim automatic feeder are very satisfied with the operation of this device. It is very consistent and reliable in feeding our fish.

In general, I like the screen and the ease of programming. I like that they put the snack button to give a portion manually. And he likes the food container to be quite large.

On the downside, the food container is completely oversized for small aquariums.

We hope that this review of the Eheim automatic fish feeder has helped you decide if it is the most suitable for your tank. If so, do not forget to share it on your favorite social networks. Thank you!!

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