Different Forms of Marine Fish Foods

Discussion in 'Fish Diseases & Treatments' started by leebca, Oct 6, 2007.

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  1. leebca

    leebca New Member

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    DIFFERENT FORMS OF MARINE FISH FOODS

    INTRO

    I’ve posted a few times a statement such as, ‘The least desirable marine fish food is flake and/or pellets.’ That doesn’t mean these fish food forms are bad. Just that they are the least desirable in the list of the different food forms available to our marine fish.

    There are several different forms of marine fish food we have to choose from, to feed our fishes. Each has at least one positive attribute and each has at least one negative attribute. There’s a down and upside to every form of fish food we have available to us. The question is, ‘When does the downside outweigh the upside?’ Part of that question has to take into account what is in the fish’s best interest. The aquarist wants to give their fish the best edge they can to thrive a captive life.

    The best ingredients for marine fish food has been covered in this post: http://www.reefsanctuary.com/forums...eeding-marine-fish-marine-fish-nutrition.html For this post I'm talking about the form the proper foods come in.

    I’ve listed the different forms our marine fish food comes in, in the order from first preferred to least preferred, and provide some upsides and downsides to each.



    DIFFERENT FORMS

    1. Live. This can be harvested from sea water, found at some local fish stores, or home raised/grown.

    2. Frozen. This can be found in prepared foods for purchase or it can be gathered from a seafood store and prepared at home for feeding.

    3. Gelled Frozen. This can be found in prepared foods for purchase or it can be the form to make home made food recipes.

    4. Freeze Dried. This food can be bought at fish stores. It is prepared by removing water from the product while under reduce pressure. In this preparation, water and volatile organics are removed from the product. However, there are different processes which can remove more nutrients.

    5. Flake. This food can be bought at fish stores. It is prepared by processing foods, drying it out in thin sheets and then chopping it into different sizes.

    6. Pellets, Sticks, Discs, etc. This food can be bought at fish stores. It is usually a mix of foods that is bound together by a land product, usually wheat or wheat gluten.



    THE UPSIDES AND DOWNSIDES OF EACH FOOD FORM


    This is not an exhaustive listing of the pros and cons of each type of food form, but it should capture the highlights.

    1. Live.
    Downside. Live food runs the risk of bringing disease into the marine system. Since only marine foods should be used, then there is a real risk of disease getting into the marine system from this form of food. How risky? Probably very little. The risk can be totally avoided by raising the live food at home or under controlled conditions. Another way is to quarantine the live food to verify it doesn’t contain pathogens harmful to the marine fishes. A single live food is usually not good enough to provide all the nutrients the fish needs. That is, the fish will need a variety or diversity of live food that has itself been nourished on a variety of different nutrients. Sometimes the size of these foods prevents the fish from eating it – too large and the fish can’t swallow it; too small and the fish might not see it.

    Upside. This food is totally natural. The fish recognizes it. The food contains nutritional ingredients needed by the marine fish. The food hasn’t ‘spoiled’ (begun to decompose) and doesn’t bring with it harmful bacteria of the kind that live off spoilage. Some live foods can be gut loaded with other nutrients to improve the nutrient value of the food.

    2. Frozen.
    Downside. Frozen foods can be ‘deceiving’ in the sense that the food isn’t whole. Shrimp tails, although a fine source of smell, taste, and protein, isn’t the whole organism. Our marine fishes need the whole organism to be nutritionally satisfied. Human frozen foods sometimes contains preservatives. Packaged frozen foods may bring with them bacterial and microbial pathogens. The freezing process can rupture the cell wall of the food, on a microscopic level. This releases the nutrients into a ‘juice’ around the frozen mass. This liquid just feeds the micro organisms and algae in the marine system and doesn’t get to the fish. On a larger scale, the aquarist might see that the frozen food doesn’t look whole, but comes in bits. Like frozen mysis that doesn’t even look like mysis should when put into the aquarium at feeding time. This food needs rinsing off to remove the juice. Large chunks will need to be chopped or cut to fit the mouths of the fishes. As in all prepared foods, there is a risk that the mix of frozen food doesn’t contain the right kinds of ingredients.

    Upside. Frozen foods provides the next-best nutritional value to live marine fish food, if they were chosen properly (whole sea life forms) and frozen in a way to keep the organism whole. They are easy to find to buy. Frozen foods are relatively easy to feed. Some of these foods can be bought raw by the aquarist at sea food stores for home preparation. Additionally, freezing a sea food will kill most larger parasites, flukes, worms, etc. (but not all pathogenic bacteria).

    3. Gelled Frozen.
    Downside. The gelled food bought prepared can be much more expensive than it needs to be. Prepared gelled foods can encapsulate pathogens and send these directly into the digestive track of the marine fish. Feeding it can be a bit of challenge. It needs to be chopped or cut into sizes suitable for the mouths of the fishes being fed.

    Upside. This form has the best advantage for encapsulating all nutrients the sea food has to offer. It doesn’t matter if the freezing has ruptured the cells, since it all should be trapped in the gelatin. All sorts of sea foods can be used for the recipe. Included into the recipe can be vitamins and supplements that are trapped in the gel and not washed away. If home made, the aquarist knows exactly what went into it. When prepared properly, can be a single, staple diet for marine fishes. That is, a variety of food isn’t needed.

    4. Freeze Dried.
    Downside. Freeze dried sea life contains salt. These salty foods are not good foods for freshwater fishes. So some processes remove the salt from the food during freeze drying. This makes the food suitable for freshwater fishes, but it also removes nutrients needed by the marine fishes. This process does not kill all harmful bacteria. The freeze dried food is fragile and easily broken into bits. This creates a lot of ‘dust’ and ‘pieces’ during the handling of them. These bits do not have to have the same nutritional value as the whole piece and sometimes is a cheap filler, and of lower than desired nutritional value to the marine fish. Not a good way of increasing nutrient value by adding supplements. Is usually more expensive that most other forms when compared by (e.g., protein) weight.

    UpsideAn excellent means of capturing the nutrients without all the water. All higher forms of parasites like worms, flukes, etc. are killed in the process. The process may also kill many of the harmful bacteria. Prefer only those that are dried without removing salt, for marine fish. The aquarist can take the dry food and soak it in their own vitamin and fat supplements. The freeze dried food will retain some of this until eaten.

    5. Flake
    Downside. This is a severely processed food. The processing looses some nutrient value. If using heat, the process can damage proteins and other ingredients. Many preparation contain foods not advantageous to marine fishes and with wheat and/or wheat gluten, has the same downsides as 6. below. Some contain foods that the marine fish doesn’t digest so becomes a pollutant when the fish excretes the undigested parts. Some liquids vitamins loose their potency when processed into this form. Low grade foods are often used in these preparations. It has no form that the wild marine fish recognizes as its proper food. Not a good enough nutritious food to be a staple diet. When opened it begins to take on moisture and thus begins to decompose/age with the bacteria that contaminate the flakes.

    Upside. This form has the advantage of encapsulating many ingredients that aren’t dispersed in the tank. This reduces pollution. The aquarist can take the dry food and soak it in their own vitamin and fat supplements. The flake food will retain some of this until eaten.
    Easy to feed. Usually inexpensive.

    6. Pellets, Sticks, Discs, etc..
    Downside. The binder used for these forms of fish food is wheat, gluten, or other land products. These products cannot be digested by marine fishes. They are excreted by the fish and pollute the aquarium. In addition, these kinds of products mislead the buyer as to what is the true usable content of the food. For example, since wheat contains protein, the total protein of the product is given on the package, but not all that protein can be used by the fish, so the protein content on the package is misleading as to what is the ‘usable’ protein. The ingredients of these foods are usually the furthest from the desired ingredients for feeding marine fishes. As with flakes, this process can alter the nutrient value of the food. Some liquid supplements cannot retain their value in this process. Sadly, the fish spends energy trying to process this food, without getting the full benefit from it. This is a type of stress, unseen by the hobbyist. The last part is annoying -- when you read the label and it tells you the amount of protein in the food, the protein includes the protein from the wheat, gluten, and land products the fish can't digest. So just what is your fish getting?

    Upside. This method encapsulates the food. The aquarist can take the dry food and soak it in their own vitamin and fat supplements. The pellet food will retain some of this until eaten. These foods come in a wide variety of sizes to fit the fish’s mouth. Very easy to feed.



    CONCLUSION

    When the upsides and downsides are weighed against each other, it should be clear that the order of preference is as I’ve listed them. This doesn’t mean the ones down the lower end of the list are unacceptable. It just means they are not suitable for an ongoing diet choice. I use all these forms to feed my marine fishes.

    I feed live foods now and then. I prepare my own frozen foods from sea foods (e.g., clams). I buy prepared gelled foods, but mostly I just use my own gel formula. I feed flakes and pellets about 5% of the feedings, but no more. It is just so easy when I’m in a hurry and forgot to defrost something (we've been there even in feeding our families).

    If the reader endeavors to keep to the top half of the list for the bulk of feedings, AND chooses the foods with the right ingredients, the fish will live a long healthy life in the 'thriving zone' rather than a surviving zone. Thanks!
    :wave:
     
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    Last edited: Feb 23, 2011
  2. Woodstock

    Woodstock The Wand Geek was here. ;)
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    Wow! Thanks! Need to read it again...
     
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  3. Dentoid

    Dentoid Smile Maker
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    We have hit the feeding daily double today! Thanks again Lee!:D You're a real gem!:)
     
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  4. Woodstock

    Woodstock The Wand Geek was here. ;)
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    What is the best thing to use when gutloading adult live brine? I have used phytoplankton and selcon in the past.
    How long does it take before they are gut filled? I usually let them eat overnight but sometimes just a few hours.
     
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  5. leebca

    leebca New Member

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    Brine shrimp are the 'garbage eaters' of the salty waters. That is, they are non-selective filter feeders willing to consume any biological particulate matter.

    They can be gut loaded with anything of the appropriate size (about 20 microns). Spirulina and HUFA are the most common. There is nothing wrong with loading them with phytoplankton. (Phytoplankton is one of their 'natural' foods). Selcon is a great source of HUFA.

    The gut loading depends upon the density of the 'food' in the water. There is an optimal density. Too much and it is wasteful, too little and the brine shrimp don't 'run into it' often enough. Other parameters are having enough feed but no excess which pollutes the water and harms the culture, or which produces too much bacterial activity (which they will eat along with or instead of the gut loading food). Only food that is suspended is eaten by the brine shrimp, so their feeding depends upon the food being in suspension (usually using an aerator) BUT not so strong as to hinder them taking in the food.

    If it sounds complicated, it is. There is no definitive answer to your time question because of all these parameters. Most people learn by experience. The best way to tell if they have been sufficiently gut loaded, without going through the 'math' is to take some out and look at them. If their gut looks bloated, they are 'stuffed.' If you're new to what you're looking at, simply separate some out and don't feed them, so you have something to compare them against. :thumbup:
     
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  6. Dentoid

    Dentoid Smile Maker
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    I just started hatching baby brine shrimp. At what point does one put the food in the hatchery? Is Selcon and DT's phytoplankton an adequate food source? How soon after hatching do they need to be used to get the nutritional benefits of their yolk sac, or is there a benefit?
     
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  7. leebca

    leebca New Member

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    After hatching the brine shrimp begin to use their egg sac. It usually depletes in about 2-4 days after hatching. Using them within 2 days is a good idea, but they can be stored in the refrigerator to make them last another day.

    The yolk sac is about the only real benefit brine shrimp have to marine fishes. It contains the fats that marine fishes need. Older brine shrimp contain protein, but not the other nutrients needed by marine fishes.

    Any microscopic biological particulate (DT's, Selcon, etc.) will gut load the brine shrimp. However, Selcon is not a food source for them. They prefer to eat bacteria, diatoms, and the phytoplankton cultures.

     
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  8. lcstorc

    lcstorc Well-Known Member

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    More great information.
    Thanks for sharing!
     
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  9. leebca

    leebca New Member

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    Thread; closed.
     
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