- Category: Aquarium Fish Care and Feeding
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You Are What You Eat
Nutrition is obviously vital to your fishes health. It is as important as water quality for promoting healthy fish, and yet nutrition is one of the most overlooked aspects of aquatic husbandry. The first step toward good nutrition is to find out whether your fish are herbivorous, carnivorous, or omnivorous. Just like other animals, fish have evolved to eat certain types of foods. Some have sharp conical teeth specialized to capturing fish, while others have down-turned mouths perfect for grazing on algae. Still others are able to eat both fish an plants. Carnivores eat almost exclusively fish, herbivores are specialized for eating plants, and omnivores need some mix of plant matter and meaty foods. The table below lists the feeding preferences of some common freshwater aquarium fish. Most flake foods contain both plant and animal matter, but while they will keep most tropical fish alive, they are not the ideal staple for most (or any) species.
Just as important as what a fish eats, is where it eats it. Animals like hatchetfish have their mouths facing upwards and are limited to feeding off the surface, while others, like catfish, have their mouths facing downwards and are obligated to pick food off of the bottom. The foods you feed should stay in the appropriate zone of the aquarium, top, middle, or bottom, long enough for the fish to eat. If you have a mixture of top and bottom feeders, you should provide both floating and sinking foods. Like humans, fish appreciate some variety in their diet. Things like live or frozen brine shrimp, frozen blood worms (mosquito larvae), or dried marine algae are all good things with which to supplement your fishes diet. Brine shrimp are not always high in nutrition though, and should not be a staple of the diet. Finally, freshness counts. Most dry feeds begin to lose their nutritional value after about a month. Only buy small quantities that you are likely to use up in a month. Remember, it's not really a good deal to buy in bulk if 80% of the product ends up useless or spoiled.
Feeding live foods is popular for large carnivorous fish, and can benefit all fish. There are several things to consider before feeding live foods in order to minimize the possibility of introducing disease into the aquarium. First, avoid feeder goldfish and guppies unless you raise them yourself. Fish grown in densely packed populations are often rife with disease. For this reason, it is often advisable to feed marine feeders to freshwater fish since any protozoans or parasites of marine fish will die quickly in fresh water. In addition, feeding live foods is much more expensive per unit of nutrition.
|Convict cichlid||Cory catfish||Danios|
|Tetras||Goldfish||Psuedotropheus (Zebra cichlids)|