One of the most enjoyable and important parts of keeping fish is feeding time. What, how much, and how often you feed the fish has a direct effect on not only how quick the fish will grow, but also on their colour, whether they will breed and even how resistant they are to disease!
What do fish need?
Just like people, fish need a wide variety of food to ensure that they remain healthy, but before we look at what types of food that fish should eat, lets look at what their basic nutritional requirements are.
- Protein: We need protein in our diet to grow strong and healthy, and so do fish. Most of the dry foods that are on the market contain the right amount of protein for each variety of fish. Marine, cichlid and tropical fish have similar protein needs, around 46%. Goldfish require less because they live at a lower water temperature. The higher the water temperature, the more protein fish require because they burn more energy.
- Vitamins: In terms of the health of the fish, vitamins play a very important role. Although all of the vitamins are important, there are several specific ones that play a critical role in the development and health of the fish. These are Vitamins A, E, K, and especially Vitamin C. Fish like people cannot produce their own Vitamin C, so they must receive it from food. The better quality flakes all contain stabilized Vitamin C. Vitamins only have a limited life once exposed to light and air.
When you purchase food, only buy enough to last no more than 6 months, otherwise you may as well be feeding the fish nothing at all, as the goodness will have gone from the food.
What should you feed your fish?
We believe that it is essential that you provide your fish with a varied diet. This should include a good quality flake or pellet food in the morning, a frozen food at night, and a serve of live food such as Brine Shrimp or Black Worm on a weekly basis. Other foods you can try include vegetables we have the best success with pieces of raw zucchini, earthworms and fine chopped seafood. We feed our display fish twice a day. In the morning we feed them on a dry food and a frozen food at night. Only feed what your fish can eat in about 30 seconds to 1 minute. If there is left over food on the surface or at the bottom, then you have fed them too much. Uneaten food can cause cloudiness and odour in the water, and will also lead to ammonia.
People often say they fed their fish more because they look hungry. Fish will always look hungry because it is their natural instinct to look for food. They will eat whenever food is offered as in the wild they spend 90% of their time searching for food because they are worried they will not get enough to eat. This same instinct still applies in the aquarium even though they are fed every day. So don't feel any guilt when it comes to feeding your fish as by feeding them too much, you may kill them with kindness.
What do we recommend you feed fish?
The following is what we recommend and use with both our display and stock fish.
- Goldfish: Always use a good quality flake food such as Sera Goldy and Goldfish Dinner, a frozen food by Fish Fuel. Goldfish also enjoy thin slices of raw zucchini and cooked pumpkin. This helps to keep their digestive system working, and helps to prevent them from eating plants. They will also enjoy some live Brine Shrimp as a treat.
- Tropicals: For tropical fish we use Sera Vipan (flaked) and Sera Vipagran (small pellets). Several times each week they will also receive a serve of frozen brine shrimp or bloodworm by Hikari. We prefer using Hikari Frozen Foods as they are very clean. Tropicals also love vegetables too.
Tip: If you are feeding vegetables, use a vege clip to keep the vegetable in place, or microwave for a few seconds until partially cooked so it sinks.
- Cichlids: Cichlids tend to strike at their food and flakes tend to break up and become messy. We feed our fish Hikari Cichlid Pellets which stay in their pellet form and remain floating in the water. Both Cichlid Dinner by Fish Fuel and Hikari Brine Shrimp are excellent frozen foods for them. Bloodworm should not be fed daily to African Cichlids as it can lead to internal bacteria infections of the gut. Special colour enhancing foods such as Super G pellets can be used on an irregular basis to highlight the colours of your fish.
- Marines: Marines should be fed a high protein diet as they can quickly lose condition in captivity. Small marines will eat either Sera Granumarin or Hikari Marine S, while larger ones will eat Hikari Marine A pellets. Do not feed your marines solely on frozen Brine as this contains as little as 5% protein. Vary their frozen diet with Marine Green and Marine Dinner by Fish Fuel. Give them plenty of fine chopped fresh seafood such as prawns, octopus, and mussel meat (always take out any uneaten food).
Variety and small regular feedings are the key to keeping healthy fish, if you feed your fish well then you'll have greater success.