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Healthy Fish Food Means Healthy Fish!

If you want healthy, thriving fish it's important to feed them a variety of healthy fish food. In this article you'll learn the basics of a healthy diet for your aquarium fish.


fishfood xs 13102738In the same way that you wouldn’t feed your children a diet consisting entirely of fast food (if you wanted them to be healthy!), you shouldn’t expect your aquarium fish to thrive on a diet of flake food. While some commercial flake foods are specially formulated for specific types of fish, and many companies offer vitamin- and mineral-enriched formulas, flake foods alone are not enough to fulfill the nutritional needs of your fish. In order to cultivate a healthy, thriving aquarium you need to feed your fish a variety of healthy foods - this includes live, frozen and freeze-dried foods in addition to flake foods. Before you can hope to raise healthy fish, you need to learn the basics of a healthy diet for aquarium fish.

Types of Aquarium Fish Food

fish-food pellets AqueonProcessed – Flakes are the most commonly used processed fish food and they are available in many varieties. Some flake foods are formulated for specific species or groups of fish, such as tropical fish or cichlids, and others are designed to encourage spawning. Some flake foods are even designed to provide your fish with vitamins and minerals to enhance growth and color. Pellets are similar to flakes in that they too are a type of processed fish food. The main difference is that pellets are designed to sink, making them a good food source for bottom feeders. Tablets, or wafers, are also designed to sink and are largely formulated to fulfill the nutritional needs of scavengers and bottom feeders. Processed foods should not be the main component in the diet of aquarium fish, but it can be a useful supplement.

eating oscar xs 4518354Live – Live fish food may consist of plants in the tank as well as insects, animals or microorganisms that you introduce to the tank as a food source. Live plants, snails and microorganisms that are already present in your tank can provide your fish with a healthy supplemental food source, but they should not make up the majority of their diet. Some of the most popular types of live food include brine shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex worms and white worms. Large species of fish may also be fed feeder fish. However, care should be taken when using feeder fish because if the feeder fish are carrying disease or parasites, it could spread to the other fish in your tank. Live foods are the most nutritious type of food for fish because they still contain all of their natural nutrients.

mysis-shrimp HikariFrozen – Aside from live foods, frozen fish foods retain the most nutrients among all the various types of aquarium fish food. This is made possible by the fact that frozen foods are not processed – they are simply frozen at the peak of freshness in water or some kind of gelatin to contain the food. There are many types of frozen food available but some of the most common include plankton, shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex worms and squid. It is also possible to find vegetables and algae in frozen form for herbivorous fish. In order to ensure that your fish get all the nutrients they can from frozen food, do not thaw the foods for more than 30 minutes and never use hot water to thaw frozen foods.

food shrimp-freeze-dried OmegaOneFreeze-Dried – Tubifex worms, bloodworms and shrimp are just a few examples of the many types of freeze-dried food available. These foods can be stored at room temperature, making them almost as convenient to use as flakes. The downside to freeze-dried foods, however, is that 50% or more of the nutrients contained in the food are lost during the freeze-drying process. Because they are relatively low in nutrients, freeze-dried foods should only be used to supplement the diet of your fish – they cannot serve as a healthy staple diet. Another thing to keep in mind about freeze-dried foods is that because the moisture has been removed during processing, they will absorb a lot of water and will fill up your fish more than you might realize. For this reason, it is a good idea to moisten freeze-dried foods before you offer them to fish and be especially careful to avoid overfeeding.

What Nutrients Do Fish Need?

The nutritional needs of aquarium fish include protein, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins and minerals. Protein is essential for healthy growth, but if fish are given too much protein it will simply be broken down into sugars, a process which produces excess ammonia that can affect the water quality in your tank. Aquarium fish glean energy from lipids, or fats, and carbohydrates and some fats provide some of the pigments responsible for red, yellow and green coloration. Vitamins and minerals are essential for healthy bone, tissue and scale growth. A healthy diet for aquarium fish will include all of these components in the ideal proportion.

Healthy Fish Food Tips

When you set out to create a healthy, balanced diet for your fish you need to know what kind of fish you are dealing with. Freshwater aquarium fish may be herbivorous, carnivorous or omnivorous. Once you have determined what type of fish you have in your aquarium, you can begin to design a diet that will fulfill all the nutritional needs of your tank inhabitants. Herbivores require a diet consisting of approximately 15% to 30% protein, 2% to 6% fiber and 1% to 3% fats. Carnivores require a much higher protein content, between 50% and 70%, along with 2% to 4% fiber and 3% to 6% fat. Omnivorous species of fish need a diet composed of about 30% to 40% protein, 3% to 8% fiber and 2% to 5% fats. Because carbohydrates are a major source of energy, the diets of all aquarium fish should contain about 40% carbohydrates. All types of fish can also benefit from being offered fresh vegetables like lettuce, spinach, peas and zucchini.
Once you have determined what type of foods you need to feed your fish and how much to give them, try to establish a weekly routine. Do not give your fish the same combination of foods everyday – try offering them live food one day, frozen the next and flake foods on the third day. If you feed your fish twice a day you may find it easier to offer them vitamin- or mineral-enhanced flake foods for one meal a day then provide another type of food during the second feeding to balance things out. When feeding your fish, keep in mind that you should only be offering as much food as they can consume in 3 to 5 minutes. This will prevent both obesity and the build-up of uneaten fish food along the bottom of your tank

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