How to make your own fish food

prawns make a good component for diy fish foods

How to make your own fish food

prawns make a good component for diy fish foods
prawns make a good component for diy fish foods

While many fish are happy enough if you give them excellent quality water, a well-stocked aquarium to live in, and commercially available dried flake food, many aquarists enjoy going the extra mile and preparing their own fish food from scratch, or supplementing the diet of their fish with homemade meals. This option allows careful aquarists to enjoy a number of benefits simply not possible with commercial foods.

Although it may seem like hard work, you can make a lot in one go. A large batch can keep your fish going for a long time. Freezing what you are not using right away can keep it fresh a long time.

Advantages to preparing home made fish food

• Fresh Ingredients—By leaving out the manufacturing process, storage and distribution of commercial fish food, you ensure that your fish food is much fresher and healthier than commercially available dry flake alternatives.

. Better ingredients – because you don’t have the same economic constraint a manufacturer has, you can utilise the best ingredients rather than using cheaper alternatives.

• Lower Costs—If you are clever with your use of household food waste, you can use a wide variety of commonly thrown away food scraps to feed your fish. Even if you don’t totally recycle your foods, you can still end up enjoying considerable savings.

• Nutrient Control—Since you are controlling the foods your fish eats, you can determine the specifics of its diet. For example, weak fish can be fed home made preparations that are higher in protein, and sick fish can be given important boosts of vitamins by using supplements.

The combination of fresher ingredients and strictly controlled nutrients can help you ensure that your fish enjoy happier, healthier lives. This is usually the primary reason why aquarists go for home made fish food recipes.

Types of foods that your fish will eat

spinach is an excellent green ingredient for fish food
spinach is an excellent green ingredient for fish food

Unlike cultivating live food such as brine shrimp or daphnia, home made fish foods are generally easily put together from various common household leftovers. And you only have to do it once in bulk, freeze the product and use it as needed. You will have to begin collecting leftovers that fish can eat and combining them into nutritious meals for your fish. Your fish will gladly eat many combinations of meats and vegetables if they are properly prepared using a food processor or blender.

Your fish, of course will happily eat just about any seafood, especially shrimp, but they will also happily devour most meat leftovers as well including chicken and beef. Take care to remove any bones before processing. A very popular option that many home made fish food enthusiasts take is discarding livers, hearts, and other organs in the food processor with root vegetables such as carrots or zucchini.

Most of the healthiest recipes centre their nutritive offerings around a combination of leftover meats and vegetables including peas and spinach. The basic combination of meat and vegetables forms the base of your recipe. The vegetables need to be steamed soft and then blended with the cooked meat to make a healthy paste. Also the gelatin or agar must be prepared separately by adding a little liquid and boiling before adding to the ingredient paste to create something that will bind together without crumbling. Then it can be conveniently frozen in small separate blocks and fed to your fish as needed.

Examples of healthy ingredients that can be used in your home made fish food are:

  • beef heart is a good food for meat eating fish
    beef heart is a good food for meat eating fish

    fresh prawns or fresh fish

  • Discarded meats and organs (but take care to remove any fat)
  • Root vegetables like carrots and broccoli
  • lettuce or spinach
  • Ground staples such as corn and flour
  • Most fruits in small quantities
  • Spirulina (fresh if you can find it, but powedered spirulina is acceptable)
  • Raw chicken eggs

This allows for some very creative possibilities, but there are some ingredients to steer clear of as well: Things to avoid include nuts, saturated fats, and just about anything processed.

Tweaking your fish food recipe

Once you begin collecting your leftovers, you can conveniently make your own brand of fish food from a wide variety of ingredients and then begin adding health boosters for your fish. For example, fish will gladly eat eggs, and the protein boost can be very helpful when you want to encourage growth, so cracking a few eggs into your fish food paste can be an excellent idea. This is especially true for juvenile fish.

agar makes an excellent food binder to keep the fish food from disintegrating
agar makes an excellent food binder to keep the fish food from disintegrating

Another useful tip that can make your life easier is the use of unsweetened gelatin powder in your fish food paste—this powder will help give your food the consistency it needs so that it doesn’t crumble before your fish can eat it. You are also encouraged to add vitamins and other useful ingredients such as lecithin. Do your research on the vitamin and mineral needs of your fish before deciding which supplement to add. Simply add the powder to the food processor with all of the other ingredients to enjoy its benefits.

You will want to spend some time getting your fish accustomed to your new specialised cooking skills by gauging their reactions to your experiments. Fish, just like people, will have differing tastes and you may find that yours prefer certain foods over others. By paying attention to their appetite, you can begin to formulate an exact recipe that fits their needs exactly.

Packaging and freezing your fish food portions

Once you have settled on a combination of ingredients and have successfully processed them into a fine paste, you are ready to package individual portions into small bags and freeze them. It is recommended to pack just enough food into a single serving for your fish to consume everything in one sitting. Each frozen pellet of food will easily dissolve in your tank, providing great health and nutrition for your fish. Remember to thoroughly defrost the fish food before feeding your fish.

Home made fish food can be a great way to give your fish a special treat, or offer a complete replacement for commercial fish foods. Enjoy watching the obvious pleasure of your fish as they eat your lovingly crafted foods.

Example recipes

Recipe 1 for omnivorous fish

  • 1kg fresh shrimp
  • 1/4 kg fresh fish
  • 1/2kg fresh or frozen peas
  • 1/2 kg spinach
  • 1/2 kg fresh carrots
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 200g spirulina powder
  • 6x 1 a day multivitamin tablets
  • 120g gelatin powder or agar for binding everything together

Recipe 2 for carnivorous fish

  • 1kg fresh shrimp
  • 1/2kg fresh fish
  • 1/2kg beef heart
  • 200g spirulina powder
  • 6×1 a day multivitamin tablets
  • 120g gelatin powder or agar for binding everything together

Recipe 3 for vegetarian fish

  • 1/4 kg fresh shrimp
  • 1/4 kg lettuce
  • 1/2 kg fresh carrots
  • 1kg spinach
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange or lemon
  • 400g spirulina powder
  • 6×1 a day multivitamin tablets
  • 120g gelatin powder or agar for binding everything together

Alternative coldwater aquarium fish

round tailed paradise fish

Choosing alternative cold water aquarium fish

round tailed paradise fish
round tailed paradise fish a true coldwater fish from China

Making a coldwater aquarium beautiful used to be a problem because there weren’t enough coldwater aquarium fish to choose from. However, with the better availability of temperate fish and exotic species this is no longer an issue. Here you can choose from the best cold water aquarium fish species listed below. With the wide range of coldwater aquarium fish available these days, you can make your coldwater tank look just as enticing and beautiful as a tropical aquarium. There is no need to immediately associate coldwater tanks with dull, uninteresting fish—even if you have to do some searching for them, there are a number of excellent species available for these tanks.

With the right choices, you can have a coldwater tank that looks just as good as a tropical one. The truth is that a home aquarium is not actually a coldwater tank but rather a temperate water tank with temperatures the equal of most warm temperate waters.

Some alternative cold water aquarium fish species and how to choose

rainbow shiner group
The beautiful and very active rainbow shiner is a coldwater aquarium fish

Your choice of fish should show the same bright assortment of colours that makes tropical fish keeping such an attractive hobby. One of the best ways to approach your coldwater tank is by holding it to the same standards as you would a tropical one, but without buying into cliché fish choices such as goldfish.
 
If you spend some time looking for the right combination of coldwater fish in terms of colour, size, temperemant and water conditions, you can create a very impressive tank. Keeping various species from different parts of the world such as Chinese gobies and American red shiners together can help create a varied and lively atmosphere in your tank.

Coldwater Aquarium fish species worth considering include:

• White Cloud Mountain Minnows
• Golden Barbs,
• Whip Tail Catfish,
• Empire Gobies,
• Argentinean Pearl,
• Japanese Medaka – Rice Fish,
• One Sided Livebearer,

white cloud mountain minnow pair
white cloud mountain minnow male and female

• Rainbow Shiners,
• Emerald Shiners,
• Macropodus Ocellatus, (Round tailed paradise fish)
• Black Bullhead Catfish,
• Bloodfins,
• Banded Charcidium,
• Common Loaches,
• Two-Spot Barbs,
• Bengal Danios,
• Red-Tailed Goodeids,
• Sunset Platies,
• Pygmy Sunfish,
• Mudminnows,
• Chinese gobies – rhinogobius (eg rhinogobius zhoui or r. rubromaculatus)
• rosy barbs

rosy barb males
rosy barb males

• odessa barbs
There are quite a few different elements to take into consideration with these alternatives. Any one of them is more interesting and exotic than keeping a stereotypical goldfish tank, but the right combination can really shine. Some of these, such as the White Cloud Mountain Minnow, are very popular as alternative coldwater aquarium fish, while others are more unusual choices.
Barbs are a great choice because of their colour assortments and generally good community behaviour and activity levels. The two-spot and golden barbs can grow very colourful when properly taken care of and offer a uniquely exotic appeal to any tank they are a part of. Sunset platies are a great choice as well—people rarely expect to see any species of platy in a coldwater tank.
The two species of catfish presented above make fine additions to larger tanks: the whip tail does best in a small group of similar individuals, and the black bullhead is large; with a dominating presence in any tank.

Argentinian pearlfish male
Argentinian pearlfish male

Argentinean Pearls, especially the males, tend to feature bright, ornate spotted colouring that looks fantastic in a variety of environments. If you want to give your tank a tropical look with coldwater fish, these are a great choice, especially when combined with other coldwater fish with bright colouration and ornate markings like theirs.
As always, fish compatibility needs to be taken into consideration when making your choices: Barbs and gobies tend to do well in a variety of community tanks, and catfish will spend most of their time in the lower depths of the water avoiding other fish. Sunset platies, as an additional example, should be kept at a ratio of two females to each male in order to minimize harassment.

Coldwater fish in a coldwater tank: is a chiller necessary?

Naturally, one of the advantages to the coldwater tank setup is the fact that you do not need to keep a heater. However, some aquarists from hotter climates who keep coldwater tanks insist on the use of a chiller to prevent their tanks overheating.

Advantages of the coldwater aquarium

Round tailed paradise fish
Round tailed paradise fish

The fish mentioned above will do well in an unheated tank, temperate water temperature, eliminating the need to buy a heater, for the most part. For most aquarists, the primary appeal of these species and of this tank type is the fact that there is no need to keep an expensive temperature control tool on twenty four hours a day, and all of these species will thrive in temperate waters kept anywhere within the normal range of room temperature.
As an added benefit, these fish tend to be very tolerant of temperature changes, so if you live in an area with cold winters and hot summers, you may still find that your fish are capable of thriving without your intervention. This saves time, money, and electricity while providing you with all the benefits you would otherwise have with a heated tropical tank. This actually better mimics the fishes natural environment with warm days and cool nights and seasonal temperature changes.
Not having to heat your aquariums saves you having to buy a heater and pay for higher electricity bills and not worrying about a broken heater or power outs. Another advantage is that you can expand quite easily. A breeding tank set up is no problem. Any water tight container and a filter and your away. Also growing-on, breeder tanks can be set up as they are needed in the same way.

Rhinogobius Zhoui male
Rhinogobius Zhoui male

Also not having a heated tank means that you can have an open topped aquarium(no hood) because there is less evaporation. However care still has to be taken with jumpers. Perhaps a glass cover should be employed to prevent fish committing suicide. With an open top and temperate temperatures, the aquarist can then consider mini water lilies and floating plants.
One thing you have to consider is the aquarium plants. Most plants do okay at lower temperatures however some will not. A little bit of care in the selection of your plants will let you avoid plants that don’t thrive. On the other hand you can obtain plants from the coldwater and pond section of your local aquarist.

Where to buy coldwater fish

Often, the best way to purchase coldwater fish is online. Local aquarium stores and fish shops will often provide several species of coldwater fish alongside their more popular tropical ones, but the selection is often limited. In order to get your coldwater aquarium looking colourful and bright, you will need to do some searching to find the right fish.
Local classifieds in which you can find nearby fish breeders can also be of great help. Often, you can find rare or exotic species being raised only a short distance from your home. This gives you an easy opportunity to get your hands on some good alternative species that can give your tank the special, unique appeal that you are looking for.

One note of caution : Many fish stores keep these temperate fish at tropical temperatures. It might be a mistake to put these fish into a cooler aquarium overnight. Acclimatise them to the cooler temperatures slowly over time.

An outsider’s view of the Burlington Fishkeepers Club in Vermont

members of the Tropical Fish club of Burlington Wermont

members of the Tropical Fish club of Burlington WermontThis is an article by a sympathetic reporter into what he sees as the unusual activities in a fishkeeper’s club during an auction.

With about 45 current members, the Tropical Fish Club of Burlington has been uniting freshwater fish fans for almost a quarter century. Judging by the scene in the club house, it’s a small but spirited society. Some 40 people attended the event, which was emceed by Doug Patac and featured everything from fish to filters to cartoonish figurines of nude females — for aquariums, of course. Around the meeting room, several long tables were loaded with fish and plants in clear plastic bags of various sizes. While local vendors donated some of the auction items, most were fish bred by the hobbyists themselves.

 

Read more here

Burlington Fish Club website