I have a couple different auto feeders and find them to be very hard to do a consistent feeding. Seems to come out in lumps sometimes. Too much moisture in the area so that the food lumps up?? Not sure of the cause. For when the fry will be up to eating , it will depend on what cichlids you have. Some of the African cichlids are pretty much ready to take finely crushed flakes from day one. Other cichlids like rainbow cichlids are not able/willing to take much of anything other than newly hatched brine shrimp at first. Angelfish and other egg layers seem to be much smaller in general and take longer to get around to eating flakes. Some are ready when the egg sac is gone, others seem to need training.