Aquarium fish feeding methods and food types

Proper feeding of the aquarium fish has influence on their rapid growth, proper development, the amount of energy needed to perform the duties of life, natural coloring and joining the spawning. Properly balanced diet (in terms of the amount of protein, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins) is necessary for aquatic organisms the same as for a human.

1. Influence of the proper diet on the aquarium fish development

  • Proteins:are responsible for creating hormones and enzymes which are indispensable to the life of fish and also are the building blocks of organism. The best is protein made of fish and a little worse is the one made of for shrimps, crabs and snails. Mammalian protein is the least desirable (if we have to use them, it is recommended to use beef instead of pork). Vegetable protein is absorbed only by a few species of fish.
  • Fat:provide the fish body with energy. Young fish requires more fat but older fish need to have food with reduced amount of the fat. Overfeeding fish with fats causes them to get fat, increases susceptibility to disease and inhibits their willingness to spawn. Fats should be only a few percent of the whole mass of food.
  • Carbohydrates:also provides energy for fish and just like with fat is not recommended to be overdosed. The amount of the carbohydrates in the food should not excess 40 per cent. The older the fish is then less sugar should be in the food.
  • Mineral (including trace elements) are responsible for the proper functioning of enzymes and cells, normal skeletal structure (phosphorus, calcium) or electrolytic balance of the whole fish body.
  • Vitamins:regulate metabolic processes. Vitamins that we use should be stored in a tightly closed container in a cool place. Do not overdo the use of vitamins because the excess amount is harmful for the fish (it is harmful for human too). Vitamins should be used only during breeding, and during the winter time when the fish may get sick.
  • Chitin and cellulose: ingredients that fish do not absorb directly from the gastrointestinal tract. Plant foods contain cellulose and chitin can be found in the daphnia. These compounds regulate the digestive functionalities of the fish and help to avoid indigestion and constipation.

2. Division of fish due to the way of acquiring food

  • Carnivorous
  • Herbivores 
  • Omnivorous

3. Characteristics of natural food for aquarium fish

  • Daphnia (small planktonic crustaceans) - a tiny crustaceans living in stagnant and flowing water during the spring, summer and autumn. Their size (depending on species) can be about 0.5 cm. Are transparent. They reproduce quickly - make unfertilized eggs, which hatch into females (reach sexual maturity in a few days), males hatch in the autumn. Fertilized eggs survive to the spring. Daphnia is perfect food for fish, even when you use only Daphnia to feed your fish. You can find Daphnia in ponds - the best are ponds without fish, because Daphnia can carry fish diseases. If you will be transporting Daphnia in a jar you need to keep in mind that if there is high concentration of Daphnia in the jar oxygen shortage may kill them easily. For up to several days you can be kept it in a flat vessel filled with water, in a cool place (daily removing dead ones).
  • Cyclops or water flea - are small (up to 2 mm), gray / gray-green crustaceans. Have a lower nutritional value than Daphnia, but are more caloric (contain more fat). It should be recognized that Cyclops may hurt the fry. We collect them only from ponds without fish as similar to Daphnia they can carry fish diseases. They must be stored in flat dishes with water up to several days (removing dead ones every day). You can also freeze them. 
  • Gammarus pulex and Asellus aquaticus (also known as waterlouse, aquatic sowbug or water hoglouse) - a larger crustaceans - up to 20 mm. A valuable, high-protein food. Asellus aquaticus occur in the ponds spending time in the bottom. Gammarus pulex can be found in clean mountain streams (you can find them under rocks). They must be stored in flat dishes with cold water or layered in a dish in the refrigerator.
  • mosquito larvae - you can find them in the forest puddles, ditches and other shallow ponds near the surface (frightened flee into the water). You can keet them in a flat vessel with water, covered with gauze (larvae rapidly converted to mosquitoes). You can also freeze them.
  • larvae of the genus Chironomus - non-biting midges  - are red in color and reach 15 mm in length. You can find them in the tanks silted with a high content of organic matter (you can find them in the sediment). They are rich in protein but also contain toxic substances. That is why before we give it to fish we keep them in clean water. Larvae we keep the same as Daphnia.
  • Drosophila melanogaster known as fruit fly - suitable for feeding fish that in the wild catch insects falling on the surface of the water. Breeding of these insects is very simple. We need the jar fruit or vegetable mush which will attract flies and cover made of gauze. Fruit fly will start reproducing very fast.
  • Tubifex tubifex also known as sludge worm, or sewage worm - This is a living food that can easily be purchased at the pet stores. It contains a lot of fat. That is why it is recommended for young, fast-growing fish. In the nature they live in slimy sediment, grow to a length of 5 cm. They can be kept in a shallow dish, in which the water is changed daily or flows continuously.
  • Enchytraeidae also known as potworms - a whitish, growing up to 3 cm, high in fat annelids. You can find them among others in pots (they feed on plant debris). As a nutrient, it is similar to sludge worm.

Collected food we can store as fresh or as frozen. At temperatures below 20° C fish food can freeze up to one year without losing its nutritional value. Note that once thawed must be used within 2 days (do not re-freeze this food). Prior to freezing the food should be dried on the kitchen towel or other absorbent material.

4. Feeding the fry

There is a lot of redy made products to feed the fry on the market. However, you can also make the food yourself, which is certainly not an easy task. First of all, remember that food must be adapted to the mouth size of youngsters. For most of the species in the first days when fry starts to eat we give them very small food. It includes Rotifer also known as wheel animals, Cyclops or water flea, Diaptomus, the smallest Daphnia and Artemia Salina. You can catch them up with the fine net from ponds without fish. The smallest species of fish can be given food consisting of Protozoa such as Paramecium, Euglena Viridis or Tylenchida. We do not catch this organisms but we establish our own breeding environment. Larger fish should be fed with larger organisms. Some species of fish can be fed with dried food (genus Poecilia or many species of Danio), mashed cooked egg yolk (eg gold fish), crushed oatmeal (White Cloud Mountain Minnow, Paradise Fish  and species of the genus Trichogaster), algae (Flagfish, family poeciliidae). We use this kind of food in moderation so you do not overfeed the fish.

5. Hygiene eating fish

  • young fish which growing fast should be fed up to three times a day with the amount of food which will be immediately consumed,
  • older fish are fed only once a day in an amount of food that will be immediately consumed,
  • once a week you can do one day break in feeding (of course not in the case of juveniles),
  • it is advisable to feed the fish with living plankton (high nutritional value, moving plankton forces fish to swim),
  • food should be varied.

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