Remember To Vary The Food When Feeding

A fish only aquarium or reef aquarium offers several pleasures. One of them is obvious, and that is just sitting and admiring. After a while, all seems at peace in the world. Maybe that’s why some doctors and dentists have aquariums in their surgeries.

Another very pleasurable experience for the aquarist is feeding, probably because it is direct interaction. Once fish are accustomed to routines, they can nearly ’talk’ to the aquarist. ‘Feed Me!’ Not forgetting the cleaner shrimp walking around on the hand looking and hoping for a morsel.

Feeding obviously is important. Fuel is important to all living creatures including us aquarists – and I don’t mean just the beer!

What if we aquarists sat down to dinner each day and were faced with the same food repeatedly. Not too impressive really, and boring. Additionally, nutritionally we’d probably miss out on important vitamins and minerals too.

Fish and shrimps are the same. They have to eat, and if they are faced with the same food each day they’ll eat. However, no matter how good the food preparation is by the manufacturer, it is likely that it will not be fully balanced.

The first consideration is what type of creature it is – vegetarian, carnivore or just opportunist. Surgeon fish are a generally good example – they need algae and if there is insufficient in the aquarium it must be provided. So a base diet has to be provided if the fish have any particular demand.

My fish are omnivores, feeding from the substrate or water column. I have seen them eating algae but it is not an absolute must (the dwarf angel needs algae but not like a surgeonfish, and there is a little, and sufficient, algae in the aquarium). My base food is marine flake, which contains many ingredients suited to marine life and has additional vitamins and minerals added. The supplementary food I use is frozen, consisting of brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, lobster eggs, and chopped cockle. There are others available.

The fish are fed twice a day, although on occasional days I miss a feed, which clearly breaks the routine. On other days one feed is flake and the other is one of the frozen foods. The flake is usually fed in the evening and the frozen after the lights have been on a while, but now and again I change this round. The frozen food is kept in a separate sealed plastic sandwich box in the freezer. It is pre-prepared by taking one square from one of the food types and cutting it into four while frozen. These pieces go back in the box and are fed one at a time until the four pieces are gone. I then pick another type of frozen food and do it again. So the frozen food is varied. It would be just as easy to cut squares up from different types of frozen foods and feed them randomly. So the fish receive a basic diet and also a varying frozen one. In this way hopefully they receive an overall adequate diet which will keep them healthy. My fish have been in residence for 5+ years and have good health and colour. (There aren’t many fish as I have regard to the seawater quality.)

Another advantage of this type of feeding, particularly with frozen food, is that other life in the aquarium feeds too. When I feed the frozen varieties I see polyps catching some. Some goes into the rocks, as does some of the flake, and I am sure the myriad of tiny reef creatures enjoy it.

Talking of nutrition, remember to keep flake food containers tightly shut when not in use, and frozen foods properly frozen. When thawing food, do it in a small utensil. Do not put it in a microwave, but let it thaw naturally in either a little seawater or R/O (reverse osmosis) water.

Proper feeding helps maintain a healthy aquarium and healthy vigorous livestock. At this point I’m sure I’ll be forgiven if I state once again – don’t overfeed! There is an article on this site about feeding called ‘Feeding Time’, it comes under Care and Maintenance. I’ve put a link below.