Feeding Tropical Fish – Making Your Own Fish Food
Making your own fish food is an art and takes some time to get right, but if you are devoted to your fish and they require special things in their diet, this may be the best way to go. In an article by the Tropical Fish Expert, they identify the range of nutritional requirements that must be addressed if you are interested in making your own fish food:
In order to make your own fish food, it’s important to understand your fish’s nutritional needs. Though this varies between different species, there many factors that are consistent:-
- Protein – All fish need plenty of protein in their diet, and for carnivorous fish protein is the most important constituent of food. Although you can feed meat and fish directly, it’s a bad idea to mix them into food for drying or freezing as there’s too much risk of infection. You can use egg yolk and pulses (peas and beans) as alternative protein sources.
- Carbohydrates – The amount of carbohydrate your fish need will vary depending on how active they are. If you feed too many carbohydrates to lazy fish, they’ll put on weight and become unhealthy. Sugars should be avoided in favour of complex carbohydrates that release energy throughout the day. Cooked, ground rice, oats or barley are good sources of carbohydrates.
- Fats – Fish need fats to give them a reserve of energy during times of illness, and to help them produce the oils that protect their skin from infection, but, as with humans, too much fat can lead to ill health. The best sources of fat come from fish or from olive oil. Some aquarists use dried milk, but not all fish can break this down properly.
- Vitamins and minerals – It’s vital for fish to have a regular source of vitamins and minerals because their bodies are generally too small to store much beyond what they immediately need. Banana and cucumber are great options for this, and you can also use fish oil, crumbled dried seaweed or spinach, and pulses.
- Fibre – Because fish have very short digestive tracts they can’t process fibre very effectively, but eating it helps to flush their systems and keep them from developing gastrointestinal problems. Even carnivorous fish can benefit, especially if they suffer from bloating after eating. The best source of fibre is vegetation – algae, blanched lettuce or cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower.
- Salt – Fish get the balance of salts they need from the water they live in. Some salt also comes from food, but if you are preparing otherwise healthy food to meet the requirements described above, you shouldn’t need to add any extra. Too much salt can very quickly lead to health problems
There are other considerations that need to be addressed, depending on the nutritional requirements and preferences of the fish you do keep. The article also noted that fish, like humans can develop food allergies to prepared flake and pellet formulations. In my experience this is quite rare, but it is a factor to consider when deciding whether you need to be making your own fish food for the species you are keeping.
Making Your Own Fish Food By Hand
Most home aquarists will decide that it isn’t worth the fuss to go to the bother of making your own fish food. Prepared flakes are often cooked and undergo some pretty high temperatures to dry them and make them uniform in nature. That can reduce the actual nutritional value of some ingredients. You don’t need such expensive machines or go through the same preservation techniques if you are mixing the food by hand and then separating the mixture for freezing. If you want fresh foods where you know what the ingredients really are, you might want to consider making your own fish food using the recommendations of this article.