Here are basic percentages, please note that you can change these percentages to suit your fish food requirements:
|Whole Salmon ||25% ||20% ||30% |
|Peas||25% ||25% ||15%|
|Brine shrimp ||15% ||15% ||15%|
|Corn Starch or Gelatin||3%||3% ||3%|
Some suggest the use of Agar as a binder in place of Geletin, however I do not recommend this based on evidence, while not fully proven, that Agar allows Saprolegnia to gain a foothold in an aquarium and that Agar can allow Heterotrophic bacteria to crowd out the needed Autotrophic bacteria for a healthy aquarium nitrogen cycle.
LIVE, FROZEN OR FD FOODS:
As stated earlier, this article has been primarily about prepared foods; however this is not to say that this is all you should feed, far from it. Many fish benefit from live, frozen or freeze dried supplements such as Brine Shrimp, Blood worms, Daphnia, Microworms, Whiteworms, Walter Worms and more. Make sure that you make sure that live foods come from an uncontaminated source and some foods such as Tubiflex Worms are raised in polluted waters which make them a poor choice.
As I will discuss shortly, gut loading is very helpful in feeding live food such as feeders, crickets, or blackworms.
Generally live foods are preferable to Freeze Dried foods however both can be soaked in a multi vitamin, mineral and spirulina flake “slurry” for about 30-60 minutes prior to feeding. This will improve the nutritional value these foods (often making them more palatable as well).
Hikari has an excellent FD Brine Shrimp that contain quality Brine Shrimp immediately prior to the flash Freeze Drying process; this is an excellent product for weak, sick, or finicky fish such as Bettas that will not touch pellets or other foods that might otherwise contain immune boosting Spirulina (see Hikari Spirulina Enhanced FD Brine Shrimp).
Ocean Nutrition and other brands of frozen foods often have excellent formulas that provide additional nutritional additives to their frozen foods (such as Omega 3 and Spirulina enhanced Brine Shrimp).
If feeder goldfish are used (& they never should be the primary source of nutrition even if gut loaded), I strongly recommend not bringing them home from your LFS and dumping them in your aquarium, rather I recommend a 30 minute Methylene Blue bath followed by a day in a quarantine tank (so as to prevent disease which feeder goldfish are notorious for) where they are “gut loaded” with a Spirulina Algae or vegetable based food such Spirulina 20 Flake .
In the wild most carnivorous fish get these types of nutrients form the “guts” of their prey, but unfortunately most feeder fish have empty digestive systems to keep pollution low in holding tanks and transport. This is an IMPORTANT aspect of feeding live foods such as feeders that many aquarists miss and should not be ignored for long term health of your carnivorous freshwater or saltwater fish.
This also can be applied to ANY live food fed to any fish, whether it be worms for community tanks, silversides, fat head minnows, or crickets (an excellent food for Arowanas).
In fact just about any other live food is preferable to feeder goldfish, as besides the before mentioned disease issues goldfish feeders contain the enzyme thaimase which breaks down thiamine. Thiamine is an important vitamin and if you use feeders as a large portion of your fish’s diet it will develop a thiamine deficiency which can lead to HITH in certain fish such as Oscars, Red Devils, and similar fish.
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Worms & Brine Shrimp
For young fry such as Bettas; Walter Worms, newly hatched brine shrimp, vinegar eels or Micro Worms are an excellent choice (Micro Worms tend to drop to the bottom and Vinegar Eels may be a good alternative).
Here is place to purchase Grindal Worms, Walter Worms, or Vinegar Eel starter cultures:
Over a Copper Moon; Live foods
Here is a little about Micro Worms:
Micro Worms are nematodes (Panagrellus). Microworms are one of the easiest live foods to culture. Micro Worms are small .5 -1.5 mm and difficult to see individually. They are white, un-segmented worms that move continuously. The tail end is pointed while the mouth end is generally more rounded. They are approximately 15 times as long as they are wide. Due to their size and shape, they can be fed to fish that are too small to take a brine shrimp nauplii. Microworms can remain alive in fresh water for twelve hours or more.
Microworms reproduce sexually. The males have a curved tail, are smaller, more slender, and lower in number than the females. Micro Worms are live bearing, producing 10 to 40 young every 1 to 1.5 days for an average 20 to 25 day life span. This results in each female producing approximately 300 offspring. The young reach sexual maturity in approximately three days. Their size increases by three times during the first day and five to six times during the next three days. The Micro worm nematodes are 76% water and 24% dry matter; 40% of the dry matter is protein and 20% is fat.
Micro Worms are easily cultured (here is a link to a starter culture: Live Microworm culture
A simple mix is one cup of quick oats, baby cereal, Cream of Wheat or similar (with maybe a tiny pinch of dry yeast) to one and a quarter cups of warm water. Mix thoroughly and pour into a suitable container. Yogurt containers or similar types of containers work well for culturing Micro Worms. Allow cooling, and then seed the mix with worms, putting the lid on (with small holes for ventilation) and leaving in a cool place. The temperature should be between 65 to 75 degrees. Within a few days you will have Microworms to harvest.
For MORE information about worms for feeding as well as many more resources (including links from which to purchase), please see this Aquarium Answers Article (near the bottom): "Trematodes, Nematodes, Annelids, & Feeding Worms"
HOW AND WHEN TO FEED FISH
No one fish food should be relied on as your fish’ sole nutritional source.
For a community freshwater or saltwater aquarium start with a good basic flake such as HBH Tropical and Marine Flake , Spirulina 20 Flake , Omega, Aqueon Fish Foods, or many other quality fish foods available (it is also a good idea to switch different flake foods day to day, especially foods such as Spirulina One which will also improve your fish immune system).
Be wary of the many low quality fish foods available as well.
Do not feed two different fish foods at the same time as fish will pick and choose and this will defeat the purpose of varying the diet of your fish.
It is helpful to soak dry foods for about 5 minutes to prevent ingestion of air that can cause digestive problems, especially with goldfish and Bettas (more so with pellet foods).
Balance these flake foods with Freeze dried foods such as FD Bloodworms or Brine Shrimp or Frozen fish foods.
I especially recommend the many prepared frozen fish foods now available by companies such as Ocean Nutrition for marine fish, many of these foods address the specific needs of certain fish species.
Live foods such as blackworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp also make a good additions to your fish’ diet.
Make sure and soak live brine shrimp for 5 minutes in freshwater prior to feeding these to marine fish to prevent disease transfer.
For larger fish such as Cichlids, the same regime works, however you want to consider a pelleted fish food as well such as Hikari or AquaMaster Premium Color Luster Cichlid Food pellets.
Be careful with the feeding of worms in many African Cichlids as I have observed constipation when these are fed regularly to these particular Cichlids.
And with goldfish pelleted fish foods such as AquaMasters Goldfish Dietand a spirulina based flake food such as Spirulina 20 Flake are a good start supplemented with frozen or FD Brine Shrimp (for constipation).
Hulled peas can also make a good addition for goldfish too. It is very important with goldfish to soak dry foods for 5 minutes in water to prevent air ingestion.
Please see this article for more “Proper Goldfish Feeding”
Most fish generally do well being fed twice per day (sometimes three times) in aquariums (or ponds) over 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
In ponds when temperatures fall this will need to be cut back, please see this article for more “Pond Information, help”
Many predators only need to be fed every other day or even less (such as saltwater lion fish or Arowanas in freshwater which due best with live or FD crickets IMO).
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For problems with intestinal distress in fish (very common with goldfish, however Bettas and many other fish can suffer too), you fist want to avoid this by feeding foods with the best ingredients (as noted earlier in this article) and keeping your fish in water with the Proper Electrolyte levels. It is also important to soak dry fish foods (especially pelleted foods) for 5 minutes to prevent ingestion of air that is trapped within dry fish foods, this air can lead to indigestion or even severe problems occasionally such as Aeromonas Bacteria infections.
However this still may occur. I have found that about a ¼ teaspoon of Epsom salts per gallon of ‘bath’ water for 30 minutes along with increased salt (sodium chloride) in the aquarium, about 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons or even double this for fish that can handle this (do not double for catfish, loaches or similar).
Shelled frozen thawed Peas are recommended for strengthening digestion, reducing water retention and helping to promote elimination. And finally Spirulina Algae as well as Brine Shrimp are also effective for easing digestion and preventing these problems from the start.
POOR APPETITE, MALNUTRITION, SICK FISH:
Often new fish will not eat (more common with carnivores in my experience, especially those that are being adapted to a prepared diet such as Bettas).
Sometimes after or during treatment fish will not eat, as well sometimes fish will be suffering in malnutrition from a poor diet (often prior to the well meaning aquarist who takes care of their fish obtaining their new aquatic pet), or this malnutrition can be the result of intestinal parasites or other internal parasites.
With some carnivores, the answer may be as simple as “gut loading” their food as discussed earlier (even live worms can be fed Spirulina or similar prior to feeding), however often the answer to the problem is not as simple.
In these cases preparing a fish food soaking slurry (or thick soup) is the answer.
I will generally soak brine shrimp, worms, occasionally pellets or similar foods in this slurry prior to feeding or even force feed a very weak fish this slurry by itself using an eye dropper. Let me state that this force feeding is effective less than 50% of the time for me, but still, when the other option is death, these odds are not too bad.
This slurry is NOT an exact science, but it has been effective for me, and as well for internal diseases or parasites (such as the often common intestinal flagellates found in many wild caught fish such as Clown Loaches, wild Discus, etc.).
Medications can also be added to this mix. The medications I primarily used to add to this slurry are Neomycin (generally for bacterial problems) or Metronidazole (for intestinal parasites as well as some bacteria). Usnea has possibilities here as well, although I have not tested it much, so it is more of an idea rather than something I have actually used effectively.
When I use medications in the slurry, I generally add medications at a 10 gallon tank strength per batch (please note that I do not use medications in all food slurries).
For this Slurry, I prefer to use (1) tablespoon Spirulina Flakes, a human multi-vitamin (capsules that contain a liquid work best, however any can be ground up, as well make sure there are NO added sugars, colors, flavors, etc., only pure multi-vitamins), minerals (scrapings from Wonder Shells are what I have used since they are balanced (but likely a Sea Lab or similar will work well too), and Omega 3 fatty acids from a human capsule that is poured into this slurry.
The Omega 3, which was discussed earlier in this article as to its importance, is a key ingredient to this mix and this must be from fish sources, which most sold over the counter are (you can tell by the “fishy smell when the capsule is opened). This is important for two reasons; it is an important nutrient for fish, especially weak, sick and malnourished fish and as well often is an appetite stimulant do to its strong order!
Generally for one tablespoon of Slurry I will use half of the average Omega 3 capsule (about the same for the multi vitamin along with just a few scrapes of a Wonder Shells or similar). I mix this to the consistency of a VERY thick soup and then soak the Brine Shrimp, pellets, etc. for about ½ hour in this.
For force feedings I make this almost a paste consistency then no soaking of food is performed, just a direct feeding of this mix.
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PROBIOTICS FOR FISH :
First I will explain what a probiotic is:
A dietary supplement containing live bacteria or yeast that supplements normal gastrointestinal flora, given especially after depletion of flora caused by infection or ingestion of an antibiotic drug.
The use of probiotics whether homemade or commercial should be performed immediately after use of antibiotics on your fish either or both "in tank" or in baths.
This not to say the use of probiotics after treatments is a must, rather it is an aid to further recovery, especially for older/weaker fish.
There are many commercially available probiotics for fish, however the shelf life is often questionable.
However making you own probiotic is not difficult at all; simply using a plain yogurt with no sugar or other additives can work.
With this yogurt simply take 2-4 feedings worth of dry fish food and add just enough yogurt to moisten. Let this sit for about 15 minutes then use part of this fish food and refrigerate the rest.
Continue this for about 3-5 days (watch for any additional pollution during this time too by monitoring parameters, ammonia/nitrites in particular)
This can also be used to feed feeder fish, worms, or any live food fed to carnivores immediately prior to the feeding of these live foods to their intended carnivore fish.
This information is intended primarily for prepared foods however it can also be applied to live, FD, or frozen foods as well. You can improve live foods by “gut loading” them such as feeding Spirulina 20 Flake to your feeder fish or to black worms 30 minutes prior to feeding your fish (I have seen good color improvement in black worms fed to Bettas this way). This is actually quite natural for carnivores in particular as in the wild a worm or food fish rarely has an empty belly.
For head growth in Flower Horn Cichlids, Orandas, Red Devils, make sure your fish’ diet includes whole fish meal, wheat germ, and squid or shrimp in their ingredient list (for goldfish such as Orandas, there needs to be more vegetable higher in the list of ingredients and less raw proteins).
There are many good pelleted foods such as AquaMaster Premium Pearl Flower Horn Cichlid Food that achieve this.
Finally, what ingredient lists often do not show is the quality of the source. AquaMaster for instance uses regular committed sources, while low end brands (Tetra, etc.) go for the lowest bidder at the time.
A good example is fish meal (as explained earlier in this article); as this is an ingredient that there are extreme differences in quality and one cannot compare the fish meal used in brands such as Tetra to the whole fish meal used in AquaMasters or HBH.
Also, many fish food companies (such as Hikari, HBH, & Aqueon) also do a better job than many foods at 'upping' their food quality with "minor" ingredients as well as research & testing.
The information given here should also help you to make a better choice when purchasing prepared fish food (especially when feeding young fish!), such as the examples below:
Here is an example of ingredients for three Betta Foods:
Fish Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Dried Yeast, Shrimp Meal, Wheat Gluten, Brine Shrimps (FD), Potato Protein, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Fish Oil, Soybean Oil, Sorbitol, Algae Meal, Lecithin, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Stabilized Vitamin C). Coloring Agents: Red No. 3 Dye (E127). Ethoxyquin as a Preservative.
Wardleys Premium Betta:
Fish meal, whole grain wheat, shrimp meal, soybean flour, brewers dried yeast, wheat germ meal, wheat gluten, fish protein concentrate, fish oil, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, crayfish extract in soybean oil, iron oxide, vitamin premix containing (wheat middlings, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, folic acid, pyridoxine HCI, thiamine mononitrate, d-biotin), choline chloride, marigold petal extract, canthaxanthin, ethoxyquin (as a preservative).
Sanyu Betta Gold:
White fish meal, shrimp meal, soybean meal, wheat flour, rice bran, wheat germ, yeast, vitamins A, B C, E and other minerals.
Hikari Betta Bio-Gold originally was very similar to Sanyu Betta gold, however it has been re-formulated/improved:
Premium Fish meal, wheat flour, Soybean Meal, Rice Bran, gluten meal, Starch, Krill Meal, Wheat Germ Meal, brewers dried yeast, DHA Oil, spirulina, dried seaweeds meal, DL-methionine, Garlic, astaxanthin, grape seed extract, choline chloride, Vitamin E supplement, L-ascobyl-2-polyphosphate (stabilized vitamin C), inositol, calcium pantothenate, Riboflavin, vitamin A oil, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, niacin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K), folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, disodium phosphate, ferrous sulfate, magnesium sulfate, cobalt sulfate, calcium iodate, red 3 (artificial color)
Compare the above ingredients, the differences are striking!
Tetra starts with low quality fish meal (vs. high quality Whole White fish meal), then has cereals as the next two highest ingredients. Cereals are needed as a filler, however the cereals should not be this high in the ingredients for a carnivore such as Bettas.
Compare TetraMin to some of the facts I have explained, then compare foods such as HBH Tropical and Marine Flake ;Spirulina One Flake ; Hikari and Sanyu Foods, such as Sanyu Betta Gold (Sea Chem makes an excellent Betta Food as well).
The differences are quite clear for long term growth and health.
When it comes to feeding young fish (fry), a quality prepared food is even more important. A comparison I would use is this; would you feed your infant cows milk instead of formula? My point is fish fry are even more sensitive to poor nutrition. I prefer to powder my fish Flake foods and my favorites are Spirulina 20 (for ease of digestibility and usable protein) and Hikari First Bites.
Here are the ingredients to compare:
Hikari First Bites:
Ingredients: Fish Meal, Milt Meal, Wheat Flour, Antarctic Krill Meal, Clam Meal, Spirulina, Seaweed Meal, DL-Methionine, Monosodium Glutamate, Garlic, Enzyme, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Choline Chloride, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Inositol, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Cobalt Sulfate, Magnesium Sulfate, Aluminum Hydroxide.
Spirulina, ground whole wheat, whole fish meal, defatted soy meal, wheat flour, torula dried yeast, vital wheat gluten, fish oil, biophos, soy oil, lecithin, natural colors.
As you can see, both are excellent formulas, although different in their nutrition approach (they can be used together).
(FROM EVERYTHING AQUATIC)
This list is intended as a list of fish foods intended for daily basic feeding, not as the only food to feed.
Resources (references), further reading
Please click on the "Buy Now" Button below for a pdf format downloadable e-book (29 pages) of this article as of 3/1/13 for $3.99 usd
Not in any particular order of recommendation, type of fish, etc.
All these recommended foods must meet with the outline from this entire article for quality of ingredients:
• Spirulina 20 Flake (or HBH Veggie); this food should be a part of most fish' diet, from tropical, goldfish, marine, and even for gut loading true carnivore fish.
• Most Hikari Foods;
such as Algae Wafers, First Bites, Sinking Carnivore Pellets, Hikari Spirulina Enhanced FD Brine Shrimp, & Hikari Micro Wafers (one of the best wafer/pellet foods for small tropical or marine fish!)
As well the well known and proven Hikari Betta Bio-Gold floating pellets.
• Many Omega Brand Foods (although their Spirulina/Veggie Flake is very low in Spirulina and I would not recommend it against the much better Spirulina 20 and HBH Veggie Flake)
• HBH Tropical and Marine Flake as well as most other HBH foods. The HBH line of fish foods are VERY palatable with a very good ingredient list at very competitive prices (especially when compared to popular brands such as Tetra)
• Most Ocean Nutrition Brand Fish Foods (including their excellent frozen prepared foods)
• Sanyu Goldfish/ Koi & Tropical Pellets as well as Sanyu Betta Pellets; these Sanyu foods are similar to ingredients as found in the better known Asian Brand (Hikari) but at a lower price.
• Pro-Gold Premium Goldfish diet
• AquaMaster Ultra Premium Koi Fish Food; this is THE premium Koi food recognized by many of the premier Koi breeders of Asia. As well AquaMasters Goldfish Diet is top notch for goldfish kept in aquarium
• Aqueon Fish Foods
This includes the complete Fish Nutrition Article AS WELL AS THE Spirulina Algae Nutrition, and Goldfish Feeding Articles!
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