Fish need nutritional variety. The types of fish food you feed influences the health of your fish and other aquatic inhabitants. Manufacturers have developed many options, including  “staple” diets to specialized natural food alternatives. Among the staple diets, categories break down to foods for tropical fish, cichlids, Bettas, goldfish, guppies, and marine fish. The staple diets are available as flakes, floating pellets, sinking pellets, wafers, frozen fish food, freeze dried, granules, “crisps” and sticks. While it is important to consider the size of the mouth with the type of the food, please remember that the fish do not bite food! Contrary to popular belief, fish actually grind their food. Cichlids spend all day scrapping algae off rocks, so chewing on a Cichlid food pellet bigger than their mouths is no challenge. The flake foods are the most popular type but are also the most easily overfed. Small flake pieces in the rocks are harder to see than un-eaten floating pellets. Most staple diets offer balanced nutrition for daily feeding. A restricted diet like this could be nutritionally deficient in some areas. It can also become monotonous for the fish to eat the same thing every day!

Food Variety: the Spice of Life

Text books will claim certain fish are carnivores and others herbivores. Most fish in an aquarium will try whatever is on the menu, but there are some things to keep in mind. African cichlids’ primary diet is the algae they scrape off the rocks, but among that algae are microplankton and possibly insect larvae, that are ingested along with the algae. A carnivorous fish may appear to eat other fish, but they may have stomachs full of vegetable material (sort of like a fish burrito). The point is, getting total nutrition will take several types of foods. In addition to the staple diets,  frozen brine shrimp are great treats that most fish enjoy. Larger fish enjoy frozen mysis shrimp or blood worms. If sharing your freezer with fish food is not your first choice, use freeze dried versions. Soaking them in water for several minutes rehydrates the food.  Adding Vita-Chem to the water soaks into the food as well. You can also do this with some fish medications, like Metro-MS, to get the treatment directly into the fish’s gut. Be sure to offer a mix of floating and sinking type foods to ensure your scavengers (catfish, loaches, and plecos) get their share too. You can also supplement the diet with natural options like Romaine lettuce, zucchini spears or broccoli.

Food Moderation

It is extremely important to know that overfeeding harms your fish. Fish “beg” for more food when you approach the aquarium, but stick to a feeding schedule.  When you overfeed, the water quality suffers, and this stresses the fish. The next thing you know, you have a disease outbreak. If you are offering food to your fish and they are eating it, they will never starve to death in your aquarium! Larger carnivore type fish may only need to bed fed twice a week, as they tend to gorge then digest for a few days.

Smaller fish require daily feeding. They have smaller reserves and tend to graze all day long in the wild. Carefully observe your fish for any changes in behavior or appearance. Feeding your fish when you have company attracts more people to the hobby! This is also a great time to feed frozen krill or bloodworms; your friends will see the fish go into a frenzy!

About The Author Giselle Rodriguez

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