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FAQs on Foods & Feeding, Nutrition for Freshwater Systems

Related Articles: Foods, Feeding, Aquatic NutritionBasic Fish Nutrition by Pablo Tepoot

Related FAQs: Aquarium MaintenanceCulture of FW Food Organisms, About Terrestrial Animals in Aquatic Foods, Freeze-Dried Foods


Press Release - Vibra-Bites     10/13/18
Attached – please include in next issue or post
Chris Clevers
Hikari Sales USA, Inc.
Offering Hikari®, Bio-Pure®, Bio-Pure® FD, Aquarium Solutions®, Pond Solutions®, Reptile Solutions® & Takara Products
PRESS RELEASE – For immediate publication
Hikari Vibra-Bites™

Hikari® is please to introduce its newest addition to its extremely popular line of tropical diets, Vibra-Bites™. Great for all types of tropical fish, this flavorful nutrient mix offers many unique benefits. From the pellet design, which mimics a blood worm moving through the water, to the incredible color enhancing ability which will help your fish glow with a flood of color, to the exacting nutrient balancing through extensive feeding trials that helps us offer growth and form you won’t believe, this is truly a new generation aquatic diet. The oxygen barrier package helps maintain the quality and perfection consumers have come to expect from the leader in aquatic nutrition worldwide. For more information contact us Hikari Sales USA, Inc. at fish@hikariusa.com or (800) 621-5619. You can also see more information on this item at www.hikariusa.com

Press Release - Canadian Lake Okanagan Freshwater Mysis Shrimp Cubes      10/16/18
Attached – please include in next issue or post
Chris Clevers
Hikari Sales USA, Inc.
Offering Hikari®, Bio-Pure®, Bio-Pure® FD, Aquarium Solutions®, Pond Solutions®, Reptile Solutions® & Takara Products
2804 McCone Avenue
Hayward, CA 94545-1663

Aquarium problems; overfed FW     8/21/18
I have recently been on holiday and left the fish with an auto feeder but come back to a very over fed tank I have done my best to remove as much of the food asap with a water change and will do another in a few days along with a filter clean, is there anything else you can recommend doing.
<Yes! TEST your water for ammonia and nitrite, and do NOT feed if either is present. DO mix up some replacement water (in advance) in case there is a need for a large water change>
Another question is my fish specifically the dwarf rainbow fish that has for a wile and the dwarf cichlid have been opening as if gasping but not at the surface of the water the tank flow is slow but here are many plants so a bit stuck on what is wrong can’t find anything online any ideas are appreciated thank you.
<Other water quality issues. Some mentioned above>
On a lighter note I did come back to one of the dwarf fry about 5mm long and looking healthy probably enjoyed the extra food.
Thank you for your help
From Josh
<Do please keep us informed. Bob Fenner>

Mineralized water fish compatibility       8/12/17
Can you tell me if there's a food fish that will live in a mineralized solution of potassium, calcium, and magnesium? And at a specific gravity of 1.011.
I can get mollies to live in it, but they don't offer much in the way of food production.
<Artemia should... I'd feed these for a few days ahead of offering... to boost their nutritive value. What else? Neale, your input please. Bob Fenner>
Rob Gunnett
Mineralized water fish compatibility /Neale       8/12/17

Can you tell me if there's a food fish that will live in a mineralized solution of potassium, calcium, and magnesium? And at a specific gravity of 1.011.
I can get mollies to live in it, but they don't offer much in the way of food production.
<As Bob says, brine shrimp are surely the way to go if you must use such an oddball water solution! The usual reminder does need to be made that while brine shrimp nauplii are nutritious, adult brine shrimp are "empty
calories" and don't make a good staple diet as they come (frozen brine shrimp are often boosted with Spirulina and the like to improve their nutritional value). There are probably some Mysids that would work, but the
extent to which they are breedable under aquarium conditions is unknown to me. Can I ask why you want to grow fish or invertebrates in a non-saline mineral solution? You might experiment with things like Soda Cichlids or
even the hardier Tilapia if this was a research project, and there are certainly killifish (such as North American Pupfish of different kinds and some of the West Asian Killies) adapted to mineralised but not saline waters. How easy these will be to obtain I cannot say, but in the UK at least a few, such as Aphanius mento, that do get traded periodically. These are often adapted to produce small broods of large fry, so might be less useful than Tilapiines, which are highly productive, but their spiny fry aren't safe foods for those fish not adapted to consuming perciformes.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Mineralized water fish compatibility       8/13/17

Thanks for the answers, but I'm looking for a species like trout, catfish?
Tilapia, perch- a definite food fish.
I need the mineralized water for another purpose as well and it can't be changed. The plan is to use 250000 mollies in 30000 gallons. The fish are a necessary part and I think it would be great to produce food stock instead of ornamentals.
<Mmm; well... I'd try other Cyprinodontiform fishes... poss. Killies (estuarine species) as Neale has mentioned; Gambusia, Heterandria can likely be acclimated to this water. Neale, any more input? BobF>
Re: Mineralized water fish compatibility    /Neale        8/13/17

Thanks for the answers, but I'm looking for a species like trout, catfish?
<There is a HUGE scientific literature available on the maintenance of Salmonids, particularly Atlantic Salmon and Rainbow Trout; DO access these online/via your local academic library and peruse -- determining optimal water chemistry and temperature for these will not be hard. Obviously these are not tropical and invariably require cool/cold water to do well. As for catfish, Ictalurus and Pangasius catfish widely farmed and their requirements are, again, well documented in the scientific literature. I am not aware of any ornamental species that want, simultaneously, room to tropical temperatures; specific gravity equivalent to half-strength seawater; no sodium; but high mineral content of other anion/cation combinations. One I'd experiment with before others would be Mystus gulio,
a brackish and freshwater species from India, but it's a big catfish traded more as food than as an ornamental. Like other bagrids, it's a predator with tasty flesh, but unlike most other bagrids, inhabits estuaries and even the sea, so should have a broad tolerance for mineralised water. The Ariidae might also be worth a shot, but they are not particularly esteemed as food fish, though they are certainly edible provided you can avoid being stung!>
Tilapia, perch- a definite food fish.
<Wide tolerance for oddball water chemistry, so definitely worth a shot.
Sarotherodon melanotheron for example should handle highly mineralised water well, and is edible, if not particularly large. Tilapia rendalli would be another good choice, as well as Oreochromis mossambicus that will live in virtually anything wet and warm.>
I need the mineralized water for another purpose as well and it can't be changed. The plan is to use 250000 mollies in 30000 gallons. The fish are a necessary part and I think it would be great to produce food stock instead of ornamentals.
<DO review the literature on doing this. Stocking fish in "closed" systems allows certain toxins, metals and pathogens to accumulate, which means particular care is needed for fish farming this way. Modern fish pond techniques of fish culture may be relevant; do ensure you are aware of the food production standards relevant in your country. One of the things I like to remind people about fish farming is this -- if it was easy, everyone would be doing it! Raising fish, whether for pets or for food, is difficult, and by no means guaranteed to pay for itself. On a smaller scale, farming ornamentals is probably easier and has fewer legal or public health issues associated with it.>
There's no sodium in the water
<Probably an issue for brackish water fishes, but experimentation may pay dividends. Cheers, Neale.>

Fish Eggs for Freshwater Fish (food)       6/21/17
Hello Crew! Hello Neale! Last time we talked about the elephant nose and getting some weight on him, I shared my idea of fish eggs instead of lobster eggs (which are not available in my area). I'd like to share what I've discovered to hopefully spare someone else from the disaster I created.
While I believe this is an excellent product, I do not believe it to be the best choice for the average freshwater aquarium keeper, and never the best choice to fatten up one fish in the tank and here's why - there is a staggering amount of eggs in each cube. Even though I cut off a piece as small as I could get it, defrosted it in tank water, and looked at what was in my cup before I put it in, I was unable to see just how much food was in there. Next, while my fish did seem to pick at the eggs, they didn't like the eggs enough to do more than pick at a few pieces and certainly came no where close to eating all I had inadvertently put in the tank. Also, this stuff stuck to anything and everything in the tank - decorations, plants, the heater, the spray bar, and it completely clogged the filter intake. I
worked at it for hours, but getting the extra food out was nearly impossible. The next morning I woke up to a slightly cloudy tank and an expression on the faces of my rope fish that clearly said "help!" I did a vacuuming of all the eggs I could see and replaced the water (about 10 gallons). When I got back, the eggs were much easier to spot as the ones I could see had grown white "fur." I tested the water and found the nitrates had climbed to nearly 20 ppm (no ammonia or nitrite as this is a well cycled tank), so I did a 30% water change and vacuumed as many eggs as
I could find (and/or dislodge from plants, decor, etc.). When I did this water change I noticed that the bubbles created by the spray bar were not going away, so I scooped those bubbles out with a plastic pitcher. The following morning the water was still cloudy, the fish still seemed distressed (the elephant nose was hiding), and there were eggs still visible in the tank - only now the white "fur" they had grown was longer and a greenish black at the ends. So I pulled the everything out of the tank (and I do mean everything - except the fish) and wiped all the eggs off the best I could. I got a net and did my best to scoop up every egg visible in the water. I tested the water and the nitrates were still lingering around 20 ppm (orange, but not dark enough to be higher than 20 - and no red in the test tube). So I did another 30% (still had bubbles which I scooped) water change and put the decor, etc., back in. As of tonight, the nitrates are down (a more translucent orange) to around 10. There are still some eggs floating around but not many and when I see them I'm getting them out with the net. The water is no longer cloudy and the fish seem normal (the elephant nose is still hiding). I still have bubbles, but not so many and I'm scooping them out with a spoon. I'll keep testing and taking appropriate action to what I find. But if anyone ever asks you about using fish eggs in their freshwater tank, you can refer them to my experience. All I can say is that while the package says the eggs are also for freshwater fish, I believe ideally this product should be reserved for marine fish and coral where a protein skimmer is also in use in the tank.
If someone still wants to use this product in a freshwater tank, do so with EXTREME caution.
<Thanks for sharing your firsthand experience of this product, Renee.
Lobster eggs are what I recommend, but even then, only the tiniest amounts.
A good approach is to defrost inside a plastic cup of some sort, with a bit of aquarium water in there. Then, using an eye-dropper or similar pipette to direct small amounts at the fish (for example, I used them for newborn Halfbeaks). Indeed, there's a good argument for *always* defrosting frozen foods outside the tank, and then using a pipette, tweezers, or whatever to introduce carefully controlled portions of the solids while keeping the "juice" in the plastic cup. Your observation of water quality problems, while extreme, is certainly a risk if cubes of frozen food are simply
lobbed into aquaria without further thought. Cheers, Neale.>

Hand feeding     8/19/15
Hi crew
Stingray is doing great and now has its own tank. Won it at a raffle, a 150 gallon.
<Won a Stingray at a raffle? Weird.><<The tank. B>>
I now have a new tank. My large cichlid set up show tank. /toothy terror tank busters. I think I have prepped the tank to where these guys cant break it. I hope. I have a metal brace on the rims and smash boards installed. I accidentally built it out of 1/4 so I put in 1/3 glass on the inside. Then 1/8 so if they break any glass its the 1/8 and not the actual tank
This is a long wide and not tall tank. Its 5' x 2' x 2'. About 125.
The stocking is:
1 female jaguar cichlid
<Nice fish.>
1 male red terror. (Complete wuss, got beaten by a pictus cat at 16")
<C. festae? Can be psychotic, so watch out.>
1 florida gar
2 peacock bass
<Short-term residents presumably? These things get massive and are active swimmers. Bit cruel to keep them cooped up.>
3 lima shovelnose catfish
<Nice fish as well.>
3 Senegal bichirs
<These bichirs don't belong here. I've seen Yellow Labs strip the fins from them.>
My question is about hand feeding
<Yes, worth doing.>
I want to teach these guys to hand feed and jump feed but cant find any info on how to do so. I don't have to worry about them jumping out as the tank has 2 hinged acrylic pieces screwed and siliconed to open and close smoothly like doors on the top. These dead bolt and have two locks on either side so even when chasing the minnows I bred and crayfish and frogs
and bugs and such, they cant take a trip onto the floor.
How do I do this?
<Your only risky fish is the Gar, which can bite you. But basically, you need long forceps. Aquatic gardeners use them, fishermen use them, I dare say even doctors use them. eBay and similar places will sell them. Cheap plastic ones are fine, though stainless steel ones look better. Visual predators are attracted by silvery flashes, so what you want to do is
wiggle something like whitebait in the current, maybe 15-20 cm away from the fish in question. You may need to drop one or two bits of food to start with so they realise forceps = food. Try doing this when they're hungry, even skip a day or two before attempting. Gar move extremely quickly, and have poor eyesight in terms of distinguishing fingertips from food, which
is why they're dangerous to your fingers. No way you can feed them by hand, and you'd be an idiot to try. But even the Peacock Bass could do some harm. Anyway, nothing terribly difficult, have done this, and my Gar was certainly tame enough to take food from forceps, and I routinely train things like puffers and Hujeta Gar to feed this way because it helps to
make their life more interesting. Hand feeding fish is a good way to get them to associate you with food.>
I am having a party in 2 weeks I want to show this off.
<Don't overfeed them. This is a very heavily stocked tank, and the line between success and failure is very thin; a bunch of drunk teen or 20-something "dudes" wanting to hand-feed everything that swims is a recipe for disaster. There's a hell of a lot more status that comes from restraint and long-term success.>
Please help me out.
<Welcome. Neale.>
Re: Hand feeding        8/20/15

Id be the only one feeding them.
<Indeed, but still, resist the urge to overfeed.>
Is it possible to do this with pellets?
<Possible, but never bothered trying this myself.>
Massivore and sinking carnivore? My gar when he was much smaller hand fed.
I stopped as he grew to avoid losing a finger.
<Quite so!>
He is still very tame and follows me around my room
<They're nice fish.>
I didn't have a large enough tank for him so I built a series of aquarium bridges to go from to tank and he swims through them and follows me.
<Now that sounds very cool!>
So if Senegal bichirs wont work, will my delhezi, or endlicherii?
<Better bets in terms of life with large carnivores (Gars, Siamese Tigers, Cichla spp., and so on) but do remember that being a predatory fish doesn't make a fish immune to attacks from territorial fish. Indeed, a bit of fish psychology for you: stealth predators survive by not making a fuss and blending into the background, so they tend to be relatively peaceful fish
that aren't designed for rough and tumble situations. Herbivorous fish are often much more aggressive because their food doesn't run away, so there's no need for them to be discrete. Mbuna are the absolute classic examples, fighting all the time with a vigour that would make a predatory cichlid pass out from exhaustion just by watching! So basically, the more
specialist the predatory fish, the more careful you need to be about adding tankmates.>
Or bichirs as a whole just wont.
<They're okay with Oscars and Severums, that sort of thing. But most Central American, West African and Rift Valley cichlids are a risk.>
Yes the bass are temporary. When they leave can an Oscar go in here?
<Sounds good.>
<Welcome, Neale.>
Re: Hand feeding.... stkg. Wolf fish, Erythrinidae f'        8/20/15

So I finally got my stocking set up.
1 jag cichlid
1 florida gar
1 azul peacock bass
1 orinocensis peacock bass
1 festae cichlid (female)
1 lima shovelnose catfish
My friend just kicked in my door bearing a gift. A finned toothy gift. A 14" wolf fish. Can he go into this tank?
<In 125 gallons? Assuming this is a Hoplerythrinus species, these can cohabit with docile fish of similar size but are nervous around larger or more aggressive fish, and conversely, are intolerant of their own kind and similar looking fish. Frankly, your 125 gallon tank is chock-a-block already, and adding more predators sounds iffy. Have you joined Monster
Fish Keepers? I really do think that's the place to go for chatting about stocking.>
I am always getting drop off fish because I have the largest tank in my area and run an exotic fish store. They want a fish, I find it, get it and sell it to them once I see the tank its going to. Just for my local aqua circle of friends.
If he cant go into this tank, should I just put him in my monster tank? A
2.5k gallon pool with an African tiger fish 4.5 foot, a 6.7 foot alligator
gar and a stingray and a mess of rtc and tsn and a Paroon shark. All over 4 foot. My guess is that he will be eaten here
<Indeed. He won't be happy. These fish are much happier kept on their own in a quiet, dark aquarium. They aren't active, and 75 US gallons is ample.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Supplements.     1/2/15
Hi bob,
I work in a vitamin store, and was just wondering of the garlic avail for people is same used in garlic power in fish store?
<It is the same... as are chemically all other vitamins, supplements sold for human use>
If so it is much cheaper to buy it here than a lfs.
Off hand , any other human vitamins that could be used to improve fish health?
<See WWM re; yes is the definite answer>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

feeding (FW)       10/31/14
Good afternoon Crew,
This will hopefully be a quick and easy question. I have a South American biotope with a few medium cichlids (angel, keyhole, Severum) and some red-eye and rummy nose tetras. The other is an Asian biotope (Betta, ghost
cats, harlequin Rasboras). Both tanks are healthy and heavily planted without issue.
I have been doing a 2 day feeding cycle for six days a week with Sunday being a fasting day. Day one is a micro sized spectrum pellet. Day 2 is frozen baby brine shrimp. I have been doing some research and have heard that the baby brine shrimp have very low nutritional density
and of course every other opinion from every Joe that's owned a carnival goldfish. In your years of fish husbandry what could you recommend?
<If what you're doing currently works for you, your livestock, to continue it>
My fish have beautiful color and I am not breeding so no concern there. I would like a healthy frozen food that will best meet their nutritional requirements for a long healthy life.
<There are many choices here; including mixes/blends... by several makers>
Let me also add that I tried the omega one cichlid cube. Not a fan. It floats frozen and slowly dissolves into a...you guessed it...mess.
I prefer to manually feed my fish to monitor healthy and consumption to avoid messes or over eating. Also I have a wicked bloodworm allergy so we'll rule those out now.
<Am not a fan of these sewer worm larvae>

No I'm not opposed to live foods either but am fairly naive in that area at this point.
<Not to worry. Much posted on WWM re Cichlid feeding. Try the search tool>
Thank you very much for any guidance you can offer.
<And you; Bob Fenner>
feeding /Neale's go      10/31/14

Good afternoon Crew,
This will hopefully be a quick and easy question. I have a South American biotope with a few medium cichlids (angel, keyhole, Severum) and some red-eye and rummy nose tetras. The other is an Asian biotope (Betta, ghost cats, harlequin Rasboras). Both tanks are healthy and heavily planted without issue.
I have been doing a 2 day feeding cycle for six days a week with Sunday being a fasting day. Day one is a micro sized spectrum pellet. Day 2 is frozen baby brine shrimp. I have been doing some research and have heard that the baby brine shrimp have very low nutritional density and of course every other opinion from every Joe that's owned a carnival goldfish. In your years of fish husbandry what could you recommend? My fish have beautiful color and I am not breeding so no concern there. I would like a healthy frozen food that will best meet their nutritional requirements for a long healthy life.
<Brine shrimp nauplii actually have a pretty good quantity of nutrients -- otherwise baby fish wouldn't wax fat upon them -- but it's the adults that are mostly roughage. Luckily, frozen adult brine shrimp are augmented with all sorts of additional nutrients such as Spirulina. So while you wouldn't use them as an exclusive food, they're pretty good as a fibre-rich supplement alongside flake foods. Going back to newly-hatched shrimp nauplii, while there's some discussion as to the nutritional profile of nauplii from one producer compared to another, they're all good, and any differences are trivially small in most situations. You won't often see me
link to a marine aquarium journal, but this article at Advanced Aquarist sums things up nicely:
Both nauplii and adults can be improved by feeding, but for someone dealing with frozen foods, that's irrelevant. You can go out and buy fortified adult brine shrimp, frozen and ready to use!>
Let me also add that I tried the omega one cichlid cube. Not a fan. It floats frozen and slowly dissolves into a...you guessed it...mess. I prefer to manually feed my fish to monitor healthy and consumption to avoid messes or over eating. Also I have a wicked bloodworm allergy so we'll rule those out now. No I'm not opposed to live foods either but am fairly naive in that area at this point.
<Fortified brine shrimp are probably what you're after. For larger fish, mysis and krill can be good. As a rule of thumb, marine (or hypersaline foods like brine shrimp) have essentially zero chance of introducing
parasites to your freshwater fish, which makes them a very safe option.
Indeed, a marine variety pack of frozen foods might be worth trying, though I have usually found some of the "plankton" foods in these packs far too small for my fish, so rather wasteful.>
Thank you very much for any guidance you can offer.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: feeding      10/31/14
Thank you very much Neale. I appreciate your insightful wisdom. Happy Halloween.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Dear Crew I have few Question on CR6 & CR8... Searching for color-enhancing ingredients in fish food    9/16/13
Dear Crew,
                I am a discus lover and hobbyist. I have question on CR6 & CR8. those product manufactured by White Crane Aqua Thailand.
<Can't make out much that's useful on their site re: http://www.whitecranev88.com/en/shop/product/features/10
 But I want to know what Basic Color enhancer they use in those two product?
<They might tell you if you contact them; but I don't see MSDS sheets or such re their lines>
Carophyll Red & Carophyll Yellow these two Color enhancing Substance they used in their product or any other chemicalized formula or Hormone.
<Claim these are sex hormone free. Likely so... as powders... expensive>
Please let me know about the Product composition. And if there is any Other color enhancing element expt ASTAXANTHIN. CAROPHYLL. please let me know pn that too.
<Sorry; you'll have to contact the manufacturer re. Or better time spent, search (computer) out your own bibliography. Some notes re how here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm
<I would search for Symphysodon color enhancers, foods>
Bob Fenner> 

Sm. FW stkg.     7/22/13
I expect it's a no go, but I was wondering if I had no other fish in the tank except for around five Kuhli loaches, would that be ok? If suitable, I certainly wouldn't add them until the tank has matured since I know that they like an established environment.
Sorry, forgot to include information about the tank : Marina 360 Nano tank (10litres).
<Hello Steve. Do start by reading here:
Your 10-litre aquarium is 2.1 Imperial gallons (about 2.6 US gallons). As one aquarist I respect likes to say, "that's not an aquarium, it's a bucket". The whole nano aquarium phenomenon is a minefield for inexperienced aquarists who imagine small tanks are cheap and easy. They're not. In fact they're almost entirely useless unless your prime focus is plants. This sort of tank could be easily decorated with tiny plants (such as Java Moss) and stocked with a small number of crustaceans, such as
Bumblebee Shrimps, that wouldn't be viable (except as live food!) kept in larger quarters with bigger animals. Are there any fish that can live in 10 litres/2-ish gallons of water? Basically no. I dare say you could keep a Betta in there, but that's pretty much it, and even Bettas are easier to keep -- i.e., healthier and less disease-prone -- in bigger systems around the 20 litre/5 gallon mark. So bottom line, your 10-litre tank is useless for fishkeeping, but might have some value with plants and shrimps, if you're prepared to make the effort, and spend the money on lighting, necessary for long term success. Kuhli Loaches need, minimum, 45 litres/10 gallons; anything smaller just doesn't make any sense in terms of space for the numbers that need to be kept (at least 5) alongside any day-active fish you want swimming about in midwater (don't kid yourself you'll see your
Kuhli Loaches, you won't, and they may as well not be in the tank 99% of the time you're looking at the aquarium -- they're very shy and nocturnal, especially immediately after purchase). Cheers, Neale.>
Re: sm. FW stkg.     7/23/13

Hi Neale,
Thanks very much for your informative message.
<Most welcome.>
As 2.1 UK gallons is too small for even a Betta,
I have decided to explore the wonders of plants and shrimps instead. As it happens, I purchased the Colombo flora base just for the purpose of plants, so this could still be a lovely little gem to gaze at in the evenings.
<Quite so; much written on this subject, plus a nice (free) leaflet from JBL:
Lots of stuff about species, requirements, diet, etc.>
It makes me very sad to think of people out there keeping Bettas in even smaller containers.
<For sure.>
Anyway, cheers for now.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Feeding Fish Flies      7/17/13
One of the members of my household has been swatting small flies and feeding the bodies to my comet goldfish. The fish really seems to enjoy them. So far the fish looks ok. Is it ok for the fish to eat flies?
Thank you.
<Yes; as long as these flies haven't been sprayed/exposed to pesticides they should be fine as food. Bob Fenner>

freezing pellet foods     3/23/13
Dear WWM crew,
<Hi Emilie!>
Hello! I was hoping for your input on freezing pelleted fish foods. I only have one fish, so it takes quite a long time to go through a typical tin of fish pellets, especially considering that the good quality ones don't come in small sizes!
<Ah yes>
In order to keep them fresh, I keep the tins sealed in their containers in the freezer, only taking a small amount out at a time (about a month's worth) and keeping them in an airtight vitamin dispenser. How long do you think they will stay fresh? I've had them almost a year and I'm worried all the vitamins are gone.
<This is an excellent practice. You are correct that foods, including pellets, do lose their nutritive value w/ time, warmer temperature>
Thank you for your time and have a good weekend!
<Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Algae Wafer Content    10/25/12
Dear Crew,
I have been feeding my Ancistrus and Gibbiceps catfish a mixture of New Life Spectrum and Hikari algae wafers as well as several mixed vegetables.
<Good choices in my estimation>
I recently purchased a pack of 'Tetra Veggie Xtreme' and noticed at the end of the ingredients list something I was unsure of. It says 'Color: Blue No.
2 Lake, Yellow No 5 Lake, Yellow No 6 Lake. Ethoxyquinas as a preservative.'
My question is what are these colour ingredients and are these particular wafers safe for my catfish?
<Yes; they are fine. In fact these artificial colorants and preservative (a quinoline-based antioxidant ) are extensively used in human foods and spices>
I don't want to feed them any kind of dangerous hormone foods that supposedly bring out more colour but with negative
effects on their health so I thought it would be best to check in with you regarding this matter.
<These are not hormones>
Thank you very much for your time,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Another check in    7/13/12
Hello Neale and crew,
<BobF here now>
Thank you so much for such a speedy response last time! I got some African Frogbit and it's doing well in my tank. I've got my Nitrates down even lower to under 5 ppm. My Plecs though have been having white stringy feces, I know probably from having higher Nitrates in the past; not so great water quality and an overcrowded tank. My Jack also seems to have a bloated tummy. All the fish have been acting normally and eating regularly, no signs yet of any behavioral changes. I researched and found that soaking food with Metronidazole is my best bet, especially at an early stage. Is this correct?
<Mmm, depends on the root cause/s here... IF protozoal, bacterial to some extent, yes... IF worm-based, a vermifuge like Praziquantel... these can be administered at the same time... BUT the only way to accurately assess what is really going on is through sampling (and/or necropsy) and microscopic examination. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm
and the linked files above>
I've been feeding them soaked food for three days now and the Plec feces is looking much more normal, so I believe it's working. I do want to make sure I'm feeding them the right dosage though. I have packets of 250mg Metro with 75mg Praziquantel (API General Cure here in the States). My LFS said one packet would treat enough food to fill up a baking sheet. True?
<Depends on the size of the baking sheet and food...>
Also they said that the antibiotic is only good in the food for about 3 days.
<Keep the food refrigerated>
 Any more specific information would be helpful in treating my food/fish. Also, should I just feed them the food until it subsides?
<Yes I would>
I've read that this can take weeks. I included a pic of my Jack, hopefully the size is small enough and doesn't cram up the inbox! Thanks so much again in advance. Best to you, Craig
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Re: Another check in
Medicating Cichlid Food    7/15/12

Hello Neale and crew,
Thank you so much for such a speedy response last time! I got some African Frogbit and it's doing well in my tank. I've got my Nitrates down even lower to under 5 ppm. My Plecos though have been having white stringy feces, I know probably from having higher Nitrates in the past; not so great water quality and an overcrowded tank. My Jack also seems to have a bloated tummy. All the fish have been acting normally and eating regularly, no signs yet of any behavioral changes. I researched and found that soaking food with Metronidazole is my best bet, especially at an early stage. Is this correct? I've been feeding them soaked food for three days now and the Pleco feces is looking much more normal, so I believe it's working. I do want to make sure I'm feeding them the right dosage though. I have packets of 250mg Metro with 75mg Praziquantel (API General Cure here in the States). My LFS said one packet would treat enough food to fill up a baking sheet. True? Also they said that the antibiotic is only good in the food for about 3 days. Any more specific information would be helpful in treating my food/fish. Also, should I just feed them the food until it subsides? I've read that this can take weeks. I included a pic of my Jack, hopefully the size is small enough and doesn't cram up the inbox! Thanks so much again in advance. Best to you, Craig
< For internal protozoa infections I have used 1/2 tsp of Metronidazole to 4 oz of fish food for 10 days with good results on discus . I am sure it will work for your jack Dempsey too in the early stages.-Chuck>
Cichlid Food II    7/15/12

And thank you Chuck! I was having a hard time finding smaller recommendations for dosages as the medicated food loses it's potency after a few days, even when refrigerated. For precautionary sake, if my fish don't improve after ten days is a microscopic identification and water/feces sample my next move? Thanks for additional response Chuck! -
< The medication is in a dry form. I think as long as the food container is moisture proof it should be OK for the duration of the treatment when refrigerated. An examination of the fecal matter would give a better diagnosis.-Chuck.>
Re: Another check in, FW    7/15/12

Thank you Bob! I got the Praziquantel yesterday, am doing a big water change and starting treatment today along with the medicated food. Happy weekend :) - Craig
<And you. Please do follow up w/ your observations. BobF>

Medicated food source   9/19/11
<Hey Rick>
I just wanted to call this website to your attention. If you click on the antibiotic or parasite treatment links, this place sells medicated flake food.
<? Oh, am thinking this is a "Google thing"... w/ them selling ads at the tops of their search results. It's not a re-direct from an actual WWM link I hope/trust. Have checked>
I wonder if I had been feeding my mollies the food medicated with Praziquantel if the outcome of my Camallanus worm infestation might have had a better outcome.
<Ah yes. BobF>
Rick Novy

Hi Neale - Are sea urchins safe to feed freshwater fish?   8/1/11
Hi Neale,
How are you? I hope everything is going well!
<Yes, but it's pretty darn hot today! Maybe not by US standards, though.>
Would this marine frozen formulated food be safe to feed freshwater herbivore/omnivores?
Ingredients: Sea algae, sea urchin, plankton, krill, shrimp, squid, sea worms, Spirulina.
Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude Protein 12.0% min
Crude Fat 1.5% min
Crude Fiber 10.0% max
The sea urchin and sea worms are kinda throwing me. I would use this food to feed platies if you thought it was safe.
<Yes, should be fine. The sea urchin and sea worm tags are a bit surprising, but I assume this simply means it's ground up seafood left over from processing stuff for the human food market. In any event, harmless. I wouldn't use this food all the time, but a couple times per week should be welcomed by your fish as a tasty addition to their diet.>
Thanks for your thoughts!
<As a broad rule, anything sold for marine fish will be safe for freshwater fish. The only exception I can think of would be foods containing sponges, as these are formulated specifically for sponge-eating marine Angels.
Cheers, Neale.>

discus question, fdg./nutr.     6/21/11
I am a beginner to the discuss fishkeeping. I would like to know whether I have to keep discus in odd or even numbers. I hope you will enlighten me on this query.
<Some argue odd numbers are best; I'd argue so long as you have six or more, they should be happy. In smaller groups, aggression is more common.>
Also my discus eat Tetrabits but every time I try to feed them Nutrafin max they are not ready to eat it. What could be the reason.,
<Discus often decide to eat just one thing! Try starving them for a few
days. Appetite makes the best sauce! Cheers, Neale.><<Actually, the NutraFin product is neither nutritious, nor palatable/attractive to Symphysodon. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusfdgfaqs.htm
Get rid of the Hagen product.
Bob Fenner>>

Feeding questions    5/21/11
Hi guys. I've got a couple of feeding questions that I've been researching and haven't been able to find answers to.
<Fire away.>
First off, I read online that flake food shouldn't be kept all that long after being opened, and within 6 months has lost most of its nutritional value. Is that true?
Is that true of other forms of food, like pellet food?

And if true, are there any ways to extend the food life, like keeping it in the freezer?
<This will indeed extend the life of dried foods, though not indefinitely, any more than frozen human foods shouldn't be kept more than six months or so.>
Secondly, I read on your site that Corydoras are mostly carnivorous in what they eat. I am setting up a new 29 gallon tank, and had been planning to put my three 2-inch Platies and one Ancistrus catfish in it, as well as some mollies (most likely the balloon variety)
<Would not keep Mollies in here. The Platies, Corydoras and Ancistrus all need the same thing -- coolish freshwater around 22-24 C/72-75 F. The Mollies need warmer water and often brackish water to stay healthy, so adding them to this community would be just making things less easy and potentially stressful for one or other species. So why bother?>
I was planning on buying. I also wanted to put a school of 5-6 Cory cats on the bottom, but all the other fish in the tank are complete herbivores. If I start having to throw in higher protein food for the Cory cats, how will I keep these herbivores from gorging on it and getting intestinal blockages?
<Not a problem here. Hikari Algae Wafers for example make an excellent staple for both Ancistrus and Corydoras, and the Platies will nibble on them during the day without any harm coming to them. If you put some standard catfish pellets or wafers in at night, the Ancistrus and Corydoras will eat them while the Platies are sleeping.>
Should I just forget about the corries and put in a pair of moonlight or pearl gouramis, or some other fish that is more veggie oriented?
<Again, I'd skip the Gouramis. The Platies, Corydoras and Ancistrus make a trio of beautifully compatible, low-end tropical species.>
One last non-feeding question as long as I'm writing. My tap water here in Minneapolis comes out of the tap with a pH of 8 and 15 degrees KH. (GH would normally be very hard also, but is soft due to an industrial water softener in our apartment building, and I typically raise it to about 8 degrees of hardness using SeaChem replenish).
<Should not cause problems for any of these fish. Ancistrus and farmed Corydoras are very adaptable.>
Those pH and KH levels are perfect for Livebearers, especially Mollies, but is that going to cause a problem for the Cory cats?
<Would skip the Mollies. And no, standard Corydoras species like Corydoras aeneus and Corydoras paleatus will handle such water chemistry without problems. There are some fussier Corydoras species, but you a site like Planet Catfish will set you straight on the needs of individual species.>
I've read they naturally are found in softer, more acidic water, but that they also are pretty hardy and adaptable.
<Yes, they mostly come from soft water, but yes, the hardy, common species are very adaptable indeed.>
Would it cause any problems for a pair of gouramis if I got them instead?
If neither gouramis or Corydoras are suitable, do you have any other suggestions for this setup?
<Some midwater tetras or barbs might be appropriate, and of the ones widely sold, X-Ray Tetras would be absolutely ideal, being happy in hard water and doing well at the low-end temperatures the other fish enjoy.>
Thanks for your time!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Feeding questions   5/22/11

Thanks Neale! That was really good information.
<Glad to help.>
I have just one follow-up question. I'll forget about the mollies as you suggest, but could I replace them with the small praecox rainbowfish?
<Worth a shot, so long as the tank wasn't too cool. 24 C/75 F would be about right for all concerned.>
To refresh your memory, here is the information about the setup I am creating: 29 gallon tank, pH 8.0, KH 15, (both those first two parameters come from my Tapwater). GH probably 8.0, but can be varied to anything I want, since the water starts out soft due to a water softener and I can raise hardness with SeaChem Replenish.
<Hmm'¦ do remember a domestic water softener doesn't produce "soft" water suitable for fishkeeping -- it merely replaces carbonate hardness with sodium salts, and leaves general hardness behind. Hard, alkaline water is ideal for Platies and Rainbows, and acceptable for Corydoras and Ancistrus, so I wouldn't faff around with water chemistry at all. An ideal water chemistry for this mix would be about 15 degrees dH, pH 7.5, but a bit below or above these values shouldn't cause undue harm.>
I'm planning on adding in my one male and two female 2 inch Platies, and my Ancistrus catfish. I was planning on also buying a school of 5-6 Cory cats, though I don't have them yet. If the rainbows are a good fit, how many of the praecox variety can I keep in this tank?
<Half a doze would be a good starting point in a 30 gallon tank.>
And based on some of your other FAQs, it looks like an equal ratio of males to females is desired with rainbows, right?
<Yes, otherwise aggression between males offsets any extra prettiness you have from skipping females. Plus, the males put on their best colours when they have a reason to show off!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Flower horn sick after feeding pork....Please help!   5/1/11
I am Suresh from India. I have a 1year old Flower horn. She is normally very active & a voracious eater. But 3 days back I fed her pork after which she does not eat at all & is not active. She sits at the bottom of the tank most of the time. She also has developed a small bulge in the abdomen. I came to know after referring the net that pork is not suitable for flower horns'¦but what do I do now to make her well. Please help as I don't want to lose her.
<Greetings, Suresh. Hope you've learned your lesson here! Do not, Do Not, DO NOT give bird or mammal meat to aquarium fish -- EVER! In short, mammal and bird meats congeal inside cold-blooded animals, and in doing so, cause them varying degrees of harm. Of course some cold-blooded animals are adapted to dealing with such prey, like snakes, but not your cichlid. Your cichlid should be fed a mix of pellet foods, cooked peas, spinach, and small invertebrates such as earthworms. For now, you just have to wait and see what happens. Don't feed her until her belly comes back to normal. When she does start eating, give her just cooked peas (squashing the peas as well sometimes helps) -- peas are excellent laxatives for fish. You can also use Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate; not cooking salt, i.e., sodium chloride!) at 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons will help a good deal by loosening the muscles of the gut, reducing swelling. But that's about all you can do. Cheers, Neale.>

Food for Live bearers et al.   4/16/11
<Hi there John>
We have a product here called Tetra Veggie, which is recommended for live bearers and gold fish. It does have 48% protein and Spirulina 108 G/KG. It is great for the two platies, but I am wondering if it is ok for the five zebra Danios in there also?? Is it ok for the Danios because of the protein or is it a live bearer food? Thank you!!
<This product is fine for all the fish types/species you list. Bob Fenner>

Market Shrimp? As FW food    6/29/10
Hi Crew,
Are market shrimp (small cocktail size) a good source of nutrients (protein) for Discus and/or Aro's?
<In moderation, perhaps once a week, yes, they're fine. Shrimp and prawns contain Thiaminase, so shouldn't be used too often.
Cockles, tilapia fillet, and other Thiaminase-free meats should be used instead. Remember, there's more to nutrients than protein! Indeed, protein is usually super-abundant in the foods we give fish (and indeed our own Western diet!). What they (and we!) tend to lack are fibre, vitamins and minerals. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Market Shrimp?     6/30/10
Can I assume, based on the link you supplied, that feeding calamari (squid) or market shrimp that has been cooked would be a safe Thiaminase free alternative?
<I don't think that the article says this at all! Please re-read it. Once enzymes like Thiaminase have destroyed vitamin B1 (also known as thiamin), simply cooking the shrimp or whatever doesn't magically bring the vitamin B1 back. It's gone! This is why you use shrimp, mussels and other Thiaminase-rich foods very sparingly. As for squid, as you'll see in that article, some squid contains Thiaminase and some doesn't. So it's best to assume the worst-case scenario, and use squid very sparingly, as shrimp.
Provided you use these foods no more than once each per week, and the rest of the time you're using Thiaminase-free foods (such as tilapia), you'll be fine. If you can get your fish to take a quality pellet food, e.g., anything from Tetra, Hikari or New Life Spectrum, you can then use seafood as a weekend treat without having to worry about anything. If your fish won't take pellet foods, you have to be more careful. For my carnivores, such as Ctenolucius hujeta, I use strips of tilapia fillet as the staple, plus a mixed bag of seafood (mussels, prawns, cockles and squid) for occasional treats. Easy peasy.>
Please advise
<Cheers, Neale.>

Fish not eating, FW 6/10/2010
I have a 60 US gallon tank that is 6 months old. Ammonia - 0, nitrite - 0, nitrate - 10, pH - 7.6. Currently I have 10 zebra Danios (sex?), 3 female Platies, 2 male swordtails, 3 Cory cats (sex?), and 1 male guppy.
<Okay. Apart from the Guppy, all these fish are "low end" tropicals happiest between 22-25 C/72-77 F. Wild and "feeder" Guppies can do well at that temperature range too, but the fancy Guppies sold in pet stores tend not to.>
Used to have another male swordtail, but he was too aggressive, so return him to the store and kept the mellow ones.
<Keeping Swordtails and Platies warmer than they should be will heighten aggression and shorten lifespan.>
Everyone got along well when I returned the aggressive swordtail. Since I had room in the tank, I added four male guppies and they were mean and harassed one of my swordtails.
<Usually the other way around, the Swordtails nipping the Guppies.>
Returned three male swordtails, with the intention of getting three females for male guppy. My regular fish store does not stock female guppies, so I went to a different (non-chain) fish store two towns away and got my female
guppies there.
They looked healthy in the store's tank, but the next morning (no quarantine tank) one female had a white patch on her pectoral fin.
<Likely some type of secondary bacterial infection following on from physical damage; treat as per Finrot.>
Then the next day after that a female with no fin damage kept flipping to her side.
I put tank water into a bucket and put her in it, she died a few hours later.
Talked to people at fish store and they suggested Aquari-sol.
<This is a copper-based medication; can be risky with catfish, loaches, etc.>
Cory cats and zebras did not like the copper, so I halved the dosage for a total of three days.
<Unless you're a vet, making guesses on halving doses and the like isn't sensible. Usually all you do is add so little medication, the fishes aren't treated, so the disease carries on. You may be a vet, in which you're qualified to make that judgment. But I'm guessing not, and neither am I, hence my recommendation to always use a medication as instructed by the manufacturer.>
Only one female guppy had a white patch on fin, the other ones had no symptoms except they stopped eating. Then after not eating for a couple of days they became listless, hanging out at top of tank. When they became listless, I put them in the bucket, all the female guppies died. Since I didn't see anything wrong with the fish and the copper didn't seem to help, I switched to Jungle's anti-parasite food.
<Cross-medicating can be just as bad as under-medicating.>
Current problem though is that now my male guppy is not eating, but still swimming around normal. My male swordtail only picked at his food this morning. So sorry about the long email, but I don't know what is wrong
with my fish, any ideas?
<Nothing obvious. Fancy Guppies tend to be of variable to poor quality, and unless kept quite warm, 28-30 C/82-86 F, they are often sickly. My guess is that internal parasites have nothing to do with -- I mention this because
one of my 'bate noir' is the tendency for many aquarists to assume the problems they're having are mysterious, and non-existent, internal parasites rather than the more probable causes: environmental conditions, poor quality livestock, the wrong diet. In this case, I'd be treated for Finrot, and generally making sure everything is appropriate in terms of temperature and hardness, neither of which you mention, but both of which are crucial. Note that salt doesn't raise hardness, so if your retailer suggests adding salt without explaining why, throw the box of salt at him!
If it is an internal parasite, the meds won't help if they don't eat.
<Doubt this is the issue.>
Also, I have another tank that I share the gravel vac with, but not the net, have I transferred the problem to the other tank?
<Possible, but if only the Guppies are sick, my guess would be poor specimens, aggravated by the wrong environmental conditions somehow, with subsequent secondary bacterial infections. A general antibiotic should
Thank you in advance for your assistance!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Fish not eating 6/10/2010

Hi again,
Thank you for the quick reply!
<Glad to help>
I keep the tank at 74 F, but I do not have a test for hardness. Will purchase a hardness testing apparatus though.
On the Jungle anti-parasite food bottle it says it can be used with other treatments. From the bottle, "may be used with external water treatments, antibiotic/fungal or anti parasite treatments."
<Yes, well, manufacturers say many things. In any case, this is a fairly ineffective medication. Much better to use more potent treatments focused on specific diseases.>
I read (on a different site) that fancy guppies like water between 72 and 76 F, but according to your guidelines my water is too cold for fancy guppies.
<Correct. Let's be clear, wild Guppies tolerate a broad temperature range.
The problem is that fancy Guppies are much more delicate. So what holds for proper Guppies doesn't hold for them. Use your eyes. If your Guppies look fine, then don't worry; if they're constantly sickly, then raising the temperature may be part of the solution.>
I have live plants, so there is no salt in my tank.
<All aquarium plants will do well at therapeutic required to treat Ick, for example. At higher salt concentrations, which are ideal for Guppies and especially Mollies, around 3 grammes per litre, then you will need salt-tolerant plants: Vallisneria, Java fern, Anubias, etc.>
Could the female guppies' bacteria infection spread to my male guppy then?
<Perhaps. Impossible to say.>
Now my male guppy is behaving the same way the females did before they died. The male guppy came from a different store and behaved healthy and active before the female guppies came along. I'm assuming that my male guppy will die, but I don't want my swordtail (or any other fish) to die.
I don't want to kill my good bacteria either, would Jungle's anti-bacteria (not a anti-biotic) food help?
<Probably not. Use something specific for Finrot, if Finrot seems the problem.>
Thanks again!
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Fish not eating 6/10/2010

Thank you for your help!
<You're welcome! Cheers, Neale.>

Aquamax and Silvercup Fish Food  - 4/1/10
Thank you for your website. I have found it very very helpful.
<Good to know.>
A local farm supply store ordered in four 50 pound bags of Purina Aquamax 600 (a year ago). The person never picked it up. They have offered it to me for $15.00 a bag. They were asking $30 but when I discussed the loss of nutritional value with them they cut the price in half. My question is twofold:
Would it be safe to feed year old fish pellets? I realize they may not be as nutritious as when packaged, but would it harm my fish? If it would not harm them, can I run them through my magic bullet to make the pellets smaller pieces?
<Provided the fats haven't gone rancid, no, it's unlikely "old" pellets will be dangerous. Most fish foods should have a use-by date on them somewhere, and assuming the cartons haven't been opened, that should apply here. Obviously once a carton has been opened to the air, then moisture gets in and the food goes stale and potentially rancid.>
The size they are as manufactured I would consider feeding to my large Oscars, jack Dempseys, Aztecs and Koi. If I can process them down to a smaller size I would like to feed them to my cichlids. (Brichardi, Christmas Fulu, Hongi, Electric Yellows, Electric Blues, Chocolate Cichlids, Red Empress, Jewels, Kribs [and no, they are not all in one tank, I maintain 20 tanks and they are either species tanks with just one species or with some compatibles and a big enough tank a Malawi, Tanganyikan, Victorian, South American tank.
Here is information on the ingredients, etc:
Purina Mills Aquamax Grower 600 50-lb Bag 9/32 7.1 mm Extruded Floating Protein: 41% Fat 12% Fiber 4%
Product Description: Aqua Max Fish Diet is a floating feed Complete for Catfish, Tilapia, Trout, Hybrid Striped Bass Yellow Perch and Red Drum.
Ingredients: Fish Meal, Soybean Meal, Ground Corn, Poultry Meal, Fish Oil, Wheat Middlings, Hydrolyzed Poultry Feathers, Corn Gluten Meal, Blood Meal, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Dimethyl pyrimidinol Bisulfate, Choline Chloride, Calcium Pantothenate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphoshate (source of Vitamin C), Thiamin Mononitrate, Biotin, Folic Acid, Cholecalciferol, Riboflavin, nicotinic Acid, Di-Alpha Tocopheryl Acertate, Vitamin A Acetate, Ethoxyquin (A Preservative), Zinc Oxide, Cyanocobalamin, Dl-Motioning, Manganous Oxide, Ferrous Carbonate, Copper Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Calcium Carbonate, Cobalt Carbonate.
I am a little concerned about Hydrolyzed Poultry Feathers in the formula, wondering if that can hurt my cichlids?
<No. All this means is that these are battery hen carcasses that have been stripped of sellable meat (breasts, legs, perhaps wings) and then mechanically processed into protein powder. It's much the same stuff that ends up in cheap chicken products like chicken nuggets. Hydrolysis is the process whereby the proteins are broken down in various ways, releasing water (i.e., hydro + lysis).>
They also have one fresh bag of:
Purina Mills Aquamax Fry Starter 100 50 lb bag 1/32 .08mm Crumble Sinking Protein: 50% Fat 17% Fiber 3%
I was thinking of trying this for my smaller fish, guppies, swordtails, etc.
<Again, should be safe if unopened and within the use-by date.>
I have been feeding Nelson's Silvercup Scientific #3 and my fish have done very well on it. But with the cost of shipping, it is $100 for a 50 pound bag. I will be needing to order food soon (I have 20 tanks) I also make my own frozen vegetable based food, raise red wrigglers and culture white worms, Microworms, banana worms, water worms, wingless flies, confused flour beetles. I like to offer my fish a varied diet and they seem to like their conditions as they spawn frequently and raise healthy fry. I do not overcrowd my fish and am very careful to only keep species together that are compatible and are in the same area in the wild. I do 10 percent water changes two to three times per week.
I hope this is not too lengthy, but I wanted to give you sufficient information for my query.
<No a problem!>
Thank you for your time.
Below is info from the Purina Aquamax website.
According to the Purina website, the shelf life is 12 months...it has been stored in the feed store's warehouse, unheated..so it has been below freezing for at least the last five months.
Q: What is the shelf life of Purina fish feed?
A: Purina fish feed will stay fresh for up to 12 months, providing you store it properly. Be sure to store your feed in a cool, dry area that has good ventilation to prevent mold, vitamin loss and contamination by disease carrying insects or rodents. When properly stored, the vitamin availability in Purina feeds is guaranteed for 12 months.
However, we recognize that high relative humidity in certain regions of the country may reduce the shelf life of the fish feed. When it is not possible to store feed in a dry and cool area, the shelf life may be reduced and should be taken into consideration.
<Correct. The freshness statement is more a legal obligation that anything else, and will depend on environmental conditions. If kept cool, dark and dry, dried foods should stay useful (i.e., nutrient-rich) for the quoted length of time. Realistically, under those favourable conditions they probably remain useful for considerably longer. But under poor conditions fats go rancid quickly, and vitamins quickly break down. So while the calories may still be there, the other nutrients won't be. My advice here would be to use "old" foods sparingly, perhaps no more than 50% of the total diet, and be sure to use other, definitely vitamin-rich foods the rest of the time. Cheers, Neale.>

Response to Neale Monks comments... FW fish (et al.) foods/Spectrum (RMF, feel free to chime in) - 2/7/10
With regards to .....
Re: Picky Eaters, N. Am. Natives
(comments on Bob's PowerPoint show about fish foods) 4/16/09
With all due respect to Neale Monks, not only will many North American natives eat pellet food (specifically New Life Spectrum food) many owners of these native species (such as myself) feed this food exclusively.
<At least one of the species listed by the querier, Enneacanthus gloriosus, is notoriously fussy, and really does need live food (if my experience of Enneacanthus chaetodon is anything to go by).>
I'm at a complete loss as to why Neale would state; "Even if they do, it shouldn't be the staple".
<Multiple reasons, but the main is simply my maintaining a variety of foods, you avoid fish either becoming bored of one thing.>
My Lepomis megalotis (Longear Sunfish) are fed New Life Spectrum food exclusively, and I seriously doubt that one could find healthier specimens swimming in the wild.
<Indeed. Not arguing that some fish can do perfectly well on pellet foods. But I personally don't recommend it. If nothing else, providing some fresh green foods in the diet avoids problems with constipation, which if you look over the messages we get here at WWM, is a fairly common problem.>
Pellet foods such as New Life Spectrum are far more nutritionally complete than any of the foods that Neale mentioned,
<Yes, but that's true about the food we humans eat too: no single food is complete. I do stress VARIETY, for example augmenting pellets with earthworms, brine shrimps, spinach, cooked peas, bloodworms, chopped seafood, etc. While any one of these fresh or live foods might lack something, the mixture balancing out in the end. In other words, precisely what medics tell us we should do with out own diet: a little bit of everything, and everything in moderation. Very few medics recommend people take vitamins; instead, they stress people have a healthy, varied, diet. I do have some ethical issues with pellet foods to do with the use of fish meal and chicken meal, but we'll put that to one side for now.>
and while every native species may not be successfully trained to eat pellets or flakes, those that do have amazing color, superb health, and will breed on a continuous basis.
<No doubt. But not all the species listed by the questioner fall into that category.>
With regards to http://www.wetwebmedia.com/foodsppt4.htm , I would suggest that perhaps you ask Bob what argument he was attempting to make, as I'm rather certain it had nothing to do with "general fishkeeping", as Neale
<I cannot speak for Bob.>
Bob Fenner has seen the results first hand of feeding New Life Spectrum exclusively, and with species of fish that make keeping most North American native species seem like mere child's play. (ask Bob about Pablo Tepoot's
<<Seeing is indeed believing, and I have fed my own fishes (African Cichlids and Fancy Goldfishes, Corydoras, Odd Livebearers... Spectrum almost exclusively... since there was such product. RMF>>
<Not arguing that either of these gentlemen should keep their fish my way.
Merely offering advice to that particular querier.>
Whether a fish is wild, or what that a fish eats in the wild, seems to make little difference once that fish ends up in a glass cage in captivity, if
it is fed a well balanced nutrient dense food such as NLS.
<Actually, I'm not sure that this is true. Fibre and ash content are very important, and these aspects are often overlooked in dried foods. Marine fish are often carnivores, but many, perhaps most, freshwater fish are omnivores, so some plant material is important. Barbs, livebearers, most cichlids, Synodontis, Plecs, Corydoras are all examples of fish that feed extensively on algae and decaying plant matter in the wild. I think that's important to acknowledge. I'd argue much the same holds for herbivorous marines such as Angels and Surgeonfish, and I cannot image keeping either of those without at least some plant matter in their diet, regardless of how "complete" the flake food offered might be.>
<<Neale, if you have occasion, visit the London Aquarium... they feed Spectrum to almost all their marines... The product is nutritionally complete and amazingly palatable... yes, even for Acanthuroids>
Whether that fish eats tunicates in the wild (such as Moorish Idol), sponge (such as Majestic Angel) coral (such as Parrotfish), algae (such as Clown Surgeonfish), or fish, (such as Volitans Lionfish) .... the single common denominator amongst all those species is, that in captivity they will all thrive on an exclusive diet of New Life Spectrum fish food.
<I'd argue this in the case of Surgeonfish, which in my experience do immensely better when given access to suitable green foods. But I'm not holding myself out as a marine authority since that side of the hobby doesn't interest me very much. I write here on the topic of feeding freshwater fish.>
Is Spectrum unique in this? I would have to say yes. I know of no other commercial pellet or flake food on the market that will keep fish such as some of the marine species previously mentioned thriving for "years" in captivity.
<It's not a brand I've used, so I can't comment on its quality. I will accept that some foods, like Tetra and Hikari foods, are highly palatable to a wide range of fish, and seem to keep them in good health.>
Kieron Dodds, from Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine wrote an article on the Moorish Idol in 2008, titled; "Still Impossible After All These Years - Keeping Moorish Idol". He clearly admits that the main intent of his article was to discourage anyone from acquiring this species, as he feels that Moorish Idol have almost no chance in being kept alive in captivity beyond a very short duration.
At one point in the article he states "Pablo Tepoot is perhaps the single individual who has had the most success with this species" - unfortunately Pablo lost his last group of Moorish Idol to an electrical failure during a hurricane, at that point Pablo had kept them thriving in captivity for 5 years. Something that most people would have considered impossible 15 or 20 yrs ago.
<I'm sorry to hear of this incident. A remarkable achievement.>
<<One of many I can relate. I've been to Pablo (and Carol's) home a few times in Homestead, Fla... and seen the "plant" where the foods are made, packaged... used the food/s extensively for years, seen them in use in dozens of countries around the world. Like a few other brands in our interest (e.g. PolyFilter), this food is "the real thing". I rarely "do" such "endorsements" but I will state that Spectrum brand is excellent. RMF>>
If feeding the same pellet day in and day out equates to my being a "casual fishkeeper", as Neale Monks suggests, then I guess that places me along side some pretty good company!
<Nope, you're misunderstanding me. A "casual fishkeeper" is someone who considers their fish just a pet, not a passion. Someone who buys a few colourful fish from the shop, and does their best to keep them alive.
That's my audience. For the most part, aquarists keeping a community of Platies, Corydoras, Danios and a Plec catfish will do best offering a mix of a good quality flake, some wet-frozen foods like bloodworms and Artemia,
and some suitable green foods such as blanched lettuce or cooked peas. Hope this clarifies things. Cheers, Neale.>
<<I thank you for both your comments. BobF>>
Re: Response to Neale Monks comments (RMF, feel free to chime in) - 2/8/10
I believe that part of the problem is that you are not at all familiar with New Life Spectrum products.
<I don't have shares in the company, no, and I've not used them. Honestly, I use hardly any dried foods. Perhaps a pot or two a year. Almost all my fish foods come from the grocery store, my back garden, or the freezer.>
I am not advocating that fish should not be consuming plant matter in their diet. All NLS products do in fact contain kelp, seaweed, Spirulina, several micro-algaes, along with a plant & vegetable extract.
<Ah, well, "extract" does mean fibre; indeed, usually means the reverse.>
Personally I shy away from vegetables sourced from terrestrial matter due to the anti-nutritional factors involved, especially those that are in a raw uncooked state - such as peas, but that's a whole 'nuther discussion.
<And irrelevant to freshwater fish, which is what I'm talking about. Most plant material in freshwater ecosystems comes from terrestrial sources: bog plants, forest leaves, fruits, seeds, etc.>
Your argument about fish becoming "bored" is a rather weak one, especially if your target audience is the casual fishkeeper, such as you stated in your response.
In captivity, many marine Butterflyfish that only consume coral polyps in the wild, would rather starve to death than switch food. Harlequin Shrimp eat only the feet of the Starfish, Monarch Butterflies (caterpillar) only eat milkweed, and Koala Bears typically only eat Eucalyptus leaves. Are they all dying from boredom?
<Actually, specialists like these are the minority situation. Most animals most of the time feed on a great variety of things. Do spend a little on Fishbase reviewing "Food Items" for example.>
I think not.
At 50+ yrs of age I can't say that I have ever seen Platies, Corydoras, Danios, or Plecos (even wild caught specimens) become bored with their diet, if it is in fact a nutritionally complete diet.
<Perhaps not. But at the same time, including green foods in their diet is a good thing. I think we're at cross purposes here. I'm not saying you can't keep fish feeding them nothing by Goldie Fish Flakes every day, but at the same time, there's nothing to be lost by offering a variety. And it may do some good. Costs nothing, so what's to lose? Besides, my Pufferfish aren't that impressed with flake! And things like Panaque need wood. So there are plenty of exceptions.>
(or any species of fish that the "casual fishkeeper" would be inclined to keep)
<If you say so.>
Did Robert T. Rickett's Figure 8 (Tetraodon biocellatus) puffers get bored from eating nothing but snails for 10-15 years? Hmmmmm.
<"Snails" is a class, Gastropoda, not a single species.>
Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that fish do require a varied diet, but if one single food is made from a *wide variety* of high quality raw ingredients, the varied diet that you speak of can indeed be found in one single formula of fish food.
<But without fibre, which is important. Few "complete" diets include fibre
in adequate quantities, which is why we see so many constipated Goldfish!
Look, each to their own. I'm not saying everyone should keep fish my particular way. But I am saying that way I was describing works, is safe, and is inexpensive. You and I are (I'm assuming) reasonably expert fishkeepers, so we've no doubt developed our own habits, good and bad.>
If I took all of the various raw ingredients found in your typical *wide variety* of fish foods, and created a food that contained all of these various ingredients in a proper ratio and balance, would it not be the same as feeding all of these foods separately?
<Perhaps, but fibre for the herbivores, shell for the puffers, wood for the Panaque -- all these things are more easily provided fresh. Plus, hand feeding my puffers and pike characins little strips of tilapia fillet and prawn is simply more fun than throwing in some pellets. As I say, each to their own.>
If only high quality premium ingredients are being used, in many cases that single food might actually be much better for the fish. (as everything is fed in a controlled balance)
<May well be.>
You are looking at this all wrong, this isn't just one single food stuff, it's a single formula of food, made up from numerous raw ingredients - my fish are eating every bit of the nutrition that your fish are, I simply discovered an easier way to get the job done! No constipation, and no diarrhea!
<If you say so.>
You now state that you can't speak for Bob, yet that is precisely what you did when you inferred that Bob's PP presentation on fish nutrition, and New Life Spectrum, was an argument made in regards to "general fishkeeping".
I can assure you that there are hundreds of species of fish being fed New Life Spectrum, many exclusively, that fall FAR from the scope of general fishkeeping, or are kept by casual fishkeepers. Some of these fish can fetch hundreds/thousand+ dollars, for a single specimen!
<Good for them.>
A recent comment posted by Bob with regards to New Life Spectrum .....
NLS Pelletized Food FYI 1/6/2010
Was reading one of the posts today re a gent feeding NLS pellets to his fish. I really cannot say enough about the product. All my fish are eating the NLS pellets and they are certainly more colorful and healthier looking than I've ever seen them. This is the only food I feed now and was reluctant to do this as I believe in variety, but the results certainly eased my mind as well as my wallet. I may add variety down the road, but so far it certainly appears the nutrition level is present.
<I do hope that folks reading this will realize our sincerity... This product is... amazing. Fully nutritious, and obviously... delicious... to fishes (watch out Longfellow). Have seen it in use, and used it almost exclusively myself for years. BobF>
I'll let Bob explain to you how Surgeonfish do after being raised exclusively on New Life Spectrum for over a decade.
You stated; "It's not a brand I've used, so I can't comment on its quality."
...... which is the only real point that I am attempting to drive home.
As a long time reader of Bob Fenner's, and the entire WetWebMedia site, NLS fish food is one of the few commercial products out there that is constantly been endorsed by the WetWebMedia crew. There's a reason for that, and considering the fact that you've never used it, you might not want to knock it, until you have given it a proper go. :)
<Fair comment. But at the same time, I'm not feeling the loss, either.>
In my humble opinion, suggesting that someone keeping native Sunfish shouldn't feed NLS as that species staple food, certainly wasn't doing them any favours.
<Or any harm, either. Moreover, good luck trying to get Enneacanthus to eat any kind of flake food.>
Just a little something to keep in mind ....... much of the scientific wisdom today, began as the heresies of another time.
<Nordrhein Westfalen? Cheers, Neale.>
<<Again, I thank you both for your civil discourse here. And I DO encourage Neale to seek out, try Spectrum... of appropriate size pellets et al. with his fish stocks. It has been my experience that in a remarkably short number of trials, ALL fishes take this food. Really.

Re: Response to Neale Monks comments (RMF, feel free to chime in)   2/9/10
I take no issue with you feeding your fish whatever you desire, I only question why you would recommend to someone that is already feeding a high quality food to their fish (Sunfish), one that the fish are already readily accepting & eating, and one that is highly recommended on this site by most of the various crew members, that it shouldn't be that persons staple food for that species of fish?
<I offer advice on the basis of personal experience rather than by channeling the opinions of other people. In this case, both my personal experience, and my training as a zoologist, leads be to be prejudiced towards offering a variety of different foods rather than one single food. I'm willing to be convinced that a single dried food can be worthwhile; I'm just not convinced yet. If I can offer an analogy, it's the argument that a single pellet feed is better for farmed chickens than allowing them to peck about the farmyard on whatever they want. In simple terms of feeding behaviour, yes, battery chickens will eat constantly, and yes, they grow very quickly. But there's a difference in the taste of farmyard chickens compared to battery chickens, which would seem to imply that their bodies react differently to mixed foods versus complete foods.>
I can understand offering alternative food stuffs, especially considering the Enneacanthus, but to simply discount alternatives due to your personal beliefs and/or feeding methods seems a bit over the top to me.
<Fair enough. But as I say, my approach is to tell people what's worked for me, not what someone else has told me. If you can convince me one particular brand of dried food is a perfect food for aquarium fish, then so much the better. I will bear that in mind.>
I'm not attempting to tell you or anyone else how to keep their fish, and as a forum advisor I personally find it rather cavalier that you would take it upon yourself to judge the quality, or discount the use of a pellet food that you yourself have never even tried.
<Not cavalier at all; quite the reverse. As I've said repeatedly, my aim is to tell people what I know works most of the time. It would be hypocritical of me to recommend people do certain things if I have no idea how good or bad that advice might be.>
Taking that attitude is only going to leave the hundreds/thousands of hobbyists that DO feed pellets and/or flake food as their fishes staple rather confused, and believing that they are doing something less than ideal for their fish, which couldn't be further from the truth.
<In your opinion.>
The vast majority of freshwater fishkeepers are simply not going to provide their fish with bog plants, forest leaves, fruits, seeds, etc, nor do they need to in order to keep their fish thriving in captivity. To state otherwise is downright ridiculous.
<I didn't say you need to feed your Severums leaves flown in from the tropical rainforests of South America! But I do believe you need to provide them with some green foods, whether tinned peas, cooked spinach, or whatever.>
I don't need to spend any time on Fishbase to have a solid grasp as to the nutritional requirements of freshwater fish, but thanks anyway. <sigh> I have already covered the *wide variety* concept, and how that can be fulfilled by a single product. (by using a *wide variety* of ingredients) I have also kept goldfish, numerous species, and fed them New Life Spectrum exclusively without a single constipation issue.
<Good for you.>
NLS contains fibre, and obviously in adequate quantity or myself & many other goldfish keepers would have had issues with their diet long ago.
<And yet me get lots of messages from people keeping constipated Goldfish, and in turn I recommend they feed them some cheap aquarium plants or cooked peas. I make no apologies for that. It's a workable solution that's easy to understand and doesn't demand people buy one particular brand of food.>
I've fed the same food to some of the most herbivorous cichlid species on the planet, such as Tropheus moorii, and Tropheops macrophthalmus. These fish are known to get bloat by even looking at them the wrong way, yet never a single gastointestinal issue in mine or my associates tanks. i.e.. No Constipation!
The reason that many commercial foods cause gastrointestinal issues in certain herbivorous species is due to excessive amounts of poorly digestible grains & grain by-products, not from a lack of fibre. Take a closer read of some of the ingredients used by the 2 brand names you mentioned, to a can of NLS. Ingredients such as corn flakes, dried bakery products, potato protein, soybean meal, ground rice, feeding oat meal, and MSG, will certainly never be found in a jar of New Life Spectrum.
<I'm glad to hear it.>
<<"Snails" is a class, Gastropoda, not a single species.>>
Touché© Neale, but I'm rather certain that within the various species used & fed in captivity by Robert Rickett's to his puffers (if in fact more than one species was indeed fed), the basic nutritional content (amino acids, lipids, etc) would have been near exactly the same. If I'm not mistaken one of his Figure 8's survived 16 years in captivity on that diet, and that diet alone.
<I don't think he only fed them snails, and 16 years is very unusual for this species, just as humans living to 120 is pretty uncommon! Most don't live that long, and it's not because they're necessarily kept badly, any more than the fact most humans don't get to be 120 isn't because they live bad lives.>
You keep mentioning Panaque, as though these fish won't survive in captivity without wood. Are you certain of that?
<The science is debated, but Jay Nelson and Hiro Nonogaki have performed experiments where Panaque put on weight when fed nothing but wood, while Hypostomus fed just wood lose weight. Wild Panaque have guts filled with wood chips, and there's some evidence their guts contain bacteria that break down wood. Nonogaki further observes that Panaque in captivity are short-lived if given a high-protein diet. He's looked at a large number of specimens that died relatively young under aquarium conditions, and a common thread is fat deposits around the internal organs lacking in wild fish. He recommends a low protein diet, primarily wood and vegetables. Certainly, my own specimen mostly gets plant-based foods including wood, and she's 16 years old now and seemingly in good health. On the other hand, there are other researchers who argue than Nelson and Nonogaki are mistaken. Donovan German argues that Panaque are simply detritivores, and that the experiments performed by Nelson and Nonogaki weren't sufficiently rigorous.>
Can you provide any research papers that prove this to be the case?
<I'd encourage you do to the research yourself. The names of the researchers are above. I long ago added some references to the Wikipedia article on Panaque, so that's a starting point.>
While many Plecos may be able to readily consume wood, I believe that what they are really after is the microfilm that is found growing on the wood, and not the wood itself.
<Perhaps not in the case of Panaque.>
If you feel this to be a life threatening issue for the fish, the easy work-around to that is simply keep some bog wood in the tank.
The gut analysis of Tropheus moorii in some studies will show large amounts of sand & detritus, yet just as a wood eating Panaque, I think it's safe to assume that this is nothing more than a by-product while this genus scrape the Aufwuchs from sun up to sun down.
<In Panaque is apparently is wood chips, not detritus. Their unusual teeth do seem more heavy duty than the rasping teeth of Hypostomus.>
I'm quite certain that if one was to keep a colony of Tropheus in captivity in a tank with a sand substrate, and offered them nothing more than algae, and the waste produced from that diet, you'd soon find out that Tropheus require far more than algae, sand, and detritus to keep them in optimum health.
Studies of SA stingrays have shown these freshwater fish to contain plant litter when their stomach contents have been examined, which was concluded to be related to the "accidental ingestion" of these items while using suction to capture their prey. I don't know of a single freshwater stingray owner (and I know quite a few, including several breeders) that feed their rays leaf litter, etc, in order to mimic their "natural" diet in the wild.
<Actually, the "accidental ingestion" of plant material is extremely important to carnivores. It's widely observed that the chyme, the partially digested plant matter in herbivore guts, is eaten rather than rejected by carnivores. Indeed, carnivores tend to eat the guts before they eat the meat. If you keep cats, and your cats catch birds, you'll find the birds are eviscerated and the wing muscles -- the white meat -- is often left untouched.>
Please do not take this discussion as my way is better than your way, that is not my intention. I am merely pointing out that like most things in this hobby there are many ways to get the same end results.
In the future you might want to consider that before slamming the door on something that others choose to use or do, especially when you have personally never given that method or product a fair evaluation in your own set ups.
<As I say, I prefer to quote from personal experience. Should someone send me a sample of a particular brand of flake food, I'd be happy to try it out.>
And with regards to "feeling the loss", it's difficult to miss something that you have never experienced. :)
<Would encourage you to frame your argument in favour of dried foods via an article, perhaps for Conscientious Aquarist. As editor, I'd be more than happy to run such a piece. Cheers, Neale.>

Feeding New Life Spectrum Exclusively?   2/9/10
Hello Crew,
<Hello Judy,>
I feel obliged to shed my lurker status and chime in on the New Life Spectrum debate. While I have no doubt NLS is a fine food, (I feed it to my Cichlids, but do augment with a wide variety of wet-frozen and green foods)
I must side with Neale here.
One of the reasons given by the inventor, Pablo Tepoot, of this food, is that pet dogs and cats are often fed dried food, usually a single brand, exclusively. I subscribed to this theory as well, feeding my two cats the premium (most expensive) brand available at my veterinarian's office, and heeding the dire warnings on the cat-food packages against switching foods suddenly. During the final years of my cats' lives, they succumbed to a series of intestinal maladies, including cancer, which finally claimed them.
My vet confided, during their illness, that she no longer recommended feeding dried foods exclusively (even though we were surrounded by vast quantities of the stuff), and recommended a mixed diet of mostly meat, certain vegetables, and canned food.
<Indeed, this is true. Especially for older cats. But one vet friend of mine explained it thus. We give pet cats and dogs far more digestible protein than they'd get in the wild. Instead of a mix of fur, feathers, meat, and guts, we just give them the meat. So their kidneys have to work much harder to process all the surplus urea, and effectively their kidneys wear out faster. That's why failing kidneys and eventually renal failure is so incredibly common in old cats. Ideally, we'd cut down the protein in their diet dramatically. It sounds gruesome, but serving up a whole mouse,
like you'd do for a pet snake, would actually be better. With dogs at least it's pretty easy to add pasta, carrots, and other such things to their diet, since dogs are omnivores, like us, and can digest all sorts of things. But cats are really, really fussy.>
I was grateful for her honesty, for this new diet did indeed help (projectile vomiting is not one of the more fun aspects of cat ownership).
I realize that this anecdote is hardly a scientific study; my point is that some veterinarians are now recommending *against* the exclusive dried-food diet for pets, even though they make a tidy profit from selling it.
<I suspect your vet is not in a minority position here.>
If a single dried-food diet was feasible, why has nothing been invented for humans? Precisely for the reasons Neale stated: fibre, and the safety net that a varied diet offers in terms of vitamins and other intangibles we have yet to discover (plus, humans wouldn't stand for it).
<Yes, I agree.>
Sure, it's easy to drop in a bunch of pellets, and my fish do love the NLS food, but I will continue to feed them a varied diet. And the new cats that I'll be getting from the shelter in a month or so will see a lot of variety as well.
<Good luck with your new cats! I'm quite a fan of cats, and have been owned by various Siamese, Burmese, and ginger moggies over the years.>
<Thanks for writing in. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Response to Neale Monks comments (RMF, feel free to chime in)  2/9/10
I see, so your position is to sway anyone that is already successfully feeding their fish (whatever) - to your method of feeding. At least we've cleared that up. Meanwhile back at the ranch my Lepomis megalotis are thriving on the very food that you scoffed at (as a staple part of their diet) in the original comment. Hence my reason for joining this discussion, to offer another point of view & let the reader/s draw their own conclusions.
The problem with your chicken analogy is that I'm not talking about a generic farm feed, no chicken farmer (or commercial fish farmer) on the planet could afford to feed the quality of pellets that I feed my fish. Not even the creator of New Life Spectrum can afford to feed his farm fish his premium line of food in all of his ponds & vats. (the commercial portion of his operation) Commercial farms are in business to move product, and make money, not to feed millions of hungry mouths the most optimum diet for overall health & longevity. Feed costs on a commercial farm can equate to as much as 60-70% of the total operational costs. The majority of casual fishkeepers need not be overly concerned with the same logistics, and can provide highly nutritious feed without breaking the bank.
My goal is not to convince you that one way is better then the next, it seems clear to me that we are well beyond the point of no return in that matter, but to suggest to the readers such as you have, that a species of fish such as L. megalotis (that is pretty much bullet-proof) should not eat a high quality pellet food as its staple, I personally find ludicrous. While you may have a degree in zoology, your target audience, the casual fish keeper, typically does not, and generally do not understand how complex their fishes nutritional needs truly are. (see more on this below)
Your advice is based on sound reasoning, that being feeding a "wide variety" reduces the chance of the fish not receiving certain nutrients, such as if one fed a single food stuff.
My advice is based on the exact same principle, but in a much more controlled manner, especially for the casual fish keeper. My way removes most of the guess work for the casual fish keeper as well as for the advanced fish keeper) who does not have a solid understanding of amino acids, lipids, fibre, vitamins, trace minerals, etc. Note that I have never suggested that one cannot, or even should not supplement a pellet food with fresh/frozen if they feel the need. Having said that, IMHO solely feeding a "wide variety" of fresh/frozen foods is in many cases nothing more than hit & miss for most hobbyists. Whilst amino acid & fatty acid requirements are typically easy to meet (and obvious as the hobbyist will notice growth in the fish), ensuring that the rest of the fishes nutritional requirements (and in the proper balance) are met is not so easy, and in many cases a lack thereof is not so easy to spot, especially for the casual fishkeeper. As an example, if one was to feed too much mussels (a food that you personally suggested) this could lead to a B1 deficiency, as certain sp. of mussels are known to contain Thiaminase. Tubifex have the potential to harbor numerous pathogens, and is a food that I personally would avoid at all cost. Even earthworms have the potential to contain toxins and should never be used unless one is 100% certain that they come from a source where pollution, herbicides, pesticides, etc are not found. While I'm sure none of this is news to you, as you have stated previously here on this site that "all live foods come with some degree of risk", this may not be common knowledge amongst all casual fish keepers.
<By the same token, an open carton of dried food runs the risk of oxidisation, moisture damage, vitamins decomposing, and fats becoming rancid. Nothing is risk-free.>
When I initially questioned your reason for poo-pooing the idea of feeding New Life Spectrum as the main staple for the OP's Sunfish, you stated the main reason being that by maintaining a variety of foods, you avoid fish becoming bored of one thing. With regards to Robert Rickett's longevity trials on his F8 puffers, he has stated publicly that all of those puffers were >95% snail-fed to keep consistency through the trials. All of the fish were fed in-house tank-raised common pond or Ramshorn snails, with the F8's kept in brackish conditions living 12-18+ yrs. My point was simply that for the casual fish keeper, having a fish become bored of a nutritionally sound food, that appeals to both their olfactory senses and taste buds, will be a very rare thing. That's not just an opinion, but a fact.
<If you say so.>
Your comment about Panaques simply proves my point, the science is debated, with no clear conclusion to anything, yet you boldly state; "things like Panaque need wood". I would also argue Nonogaki's conclusion that Panaque in captivity are short lived if given a high protein diet, at least with regards to the protein causing fat deposits.
<That's something to take up with that research group.>
In aquarium raised fish, fat deposits found in & around internal organs are typically caused by excessive lipids &/or carbs, not from excess protein, which is typically simply excreted by the fish.
<Surplus protein can become fat too.>
Again, his conclusions aren't based on science, unless you want to hang our hat on junk science.
<He has a PhD, and has published his research. It isn't "junk" science. May be wrong, but then so was Newton. Doesn't make Newton junk science either.>
I'm certainly not saying that a high protein diet is ideal for a Panaque, only that there is no hard data that proves they require wood as part of their diet.
<There's little hard data on anything in ecology. It's mostly broad brush stuff, with some probabilities thrown in.>
The pellet I feed (NLS) contains ample algae/greens, so again, this becomes a non issue, and if one keeps drift wood in the tank even the Nonogaki's of the world should be able to rest easy.
<<Actually, the "accidental ingestion" of plant material is extremely important to carnivores. It's widely observed that the chyme, the partially digested plant matter in herbivore guts, is eaten rather than rejected by carnivores.>>
I never argued that point, but you seem to be repeatedly missing mine. That being that if a pellet food contains a *wide variety* of plant matter, there is no need to feed additional plant mater.
<No flake food will have the sheer bulk of fibre that fresh plant material has. This is like saying apple juice has the same fibre content as a whole apple.>
What you are arguing about, I'm already doing, and have been for many years. (as have many other advanced aquarists world-wide) I'm simply supplying that plant matter in a different manner than you are. (sans the water!)
<Even if you dried out the plant food, it'd still be more bulky, and less protein rich, than the equivalent volume of flake food, surely?>
With regards to writing an article, there's already one posted here on Bob's site that covers everything that I could say, and more.
FAQs on Foods & Feeding, Nutrition for Freshwater Systems
Related Articles: Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Basic Fish Nutrition by Pablo Tepoot
<May well be a fine article.>
BTW Neale, after reading the following response I'm a bit confused as to your sudden stance against pellets and/or flakes?
... Hi, which worms are nutritious and cheap? FW fdg.... 12/5/07
<Contradiction in terms. Nutritious, safe food by definition is more expensive than useless, disease-risky food. If you're talking about all-round value for money, it's hard to argue with (wet) frozen bloodworms. Most fish love them. All live foods come with some degree of risk, with the possible exception of brine shrimp, but essentially they're a gimmick for 95% of the freshwater fish sold. We use them because it's fun, not because the fish need them. So if money is an issue, skip live food and concentrate on nutritious frozen and prepared foods.>
About how much are they?
<Over here in England, around £2-3 per package.>
Also, how many and how often should I feed my fishes?
<I use one block (about a tablespoon of worms, I guess, when thawed out) for a busy 180 litre community tank PLUS two lightly stocked 30 litre tanks. Per day. In other words, not much food is required. Far less than inexperienced aquarists often suppose.>
I have 5 Danios, 2 swordtails, 1 platy, 2 balloon platy, 3 loaches, and 1 Bristlenose Pleco that live in a 50 gallon tank.
<None of these fish *need* bloodworms. Flake plus pellets will do for all of them, and the Platies, Plec, and Loaches will further appreciate (REQUIRE!) algae-based foods for good health, such as Algae wafers.>
Last, how do I take care of the worms and is it easy to breed them without having to buy another 50 gallon or so tank?
<Don't bother.>
Thanks for your advice and tips.
<Cheers, Neale.>
<Not at all sure what you're getting at here. I've often written that frozen brine shrimp are nutrient-poor, though fibre-rich, and shouldn't be used exclusively. But mixed with some other food items, they're useful and readily taken by many types of fish. As for the comment about flakes and pellets, I've written hundreds if not thousands of replies here, and I really can't pretend to be 100% consistent. If it makes you feel better you tripped me up on my own web of illogic, then great, well done you.>
P.S. If your feeding recommendations of various frozen/live foods is simply based on "having fun", you might want to mention that in future responses.
<If you think so.>
<Thanks for writing, whoever you are (perhaps it's just me, but I find it hard to warm to people who write long letters but don't share their name!). I think it's great you consider certain brands of fish food complete and perfect for all types of fish. And maybe I'm wrong about being cool about that idea. But all I can do is tell people what I've learned and experience myself, and if I'm wrong about this one thing, I can live with that. It's not like I'm telling anyone anything dangerous to their fish by recommending a variety of foods, so if it's that one message about Lepomis that got up your nose, then fine, you're right, I'm wrong, and you get to walk away and say you beat me. In the meantime, I'm done with this discussion, and with the limited time I have to spend here at WWM -- I volunteer for around an hour a day helping Bob take care of the freshwater queries -- please forgive me if I decide to concentrate on the sick Bettas, Goldfish and other such things that come my way. I'm just a nice guy trying to help out. If you think Bob should revoke my credentials, then go ahead and "speak to my supervisor". Cheers, Neale.>
>Heeee! Thanks Neale. RMF<
Re: Response to Neale Monks comments (RMF, feel free to chime in)  2/9/10
No worries Neale, I'm a nice guy too, and trust me if I posted my full name, it wouldn't ring any bells for you.
I don't have any formal training, schooling, or letters following my name. In the grand scheme of things I'm "Joe Nobody", just someone with perhaps an above average passion for the fish that I keep.
Having spent thousands of countless hours doing exactly what you do here, I can relate to time being a factor, and I do appreciate the time you spend helping Bob, as I'm sure countless others do as well.
<I certainly do>
I was merely attempting to make a point, which I believe that I have accomplished.
<Oh! And if you should find yourself w/ spare energy, time... Please consider joining us, the WWM Crew. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

New Life Spectrum Foods  2/10/10
Just a vote of support to my fellow crewmember Neale Monks here, as I feel his logic is inescapable. Of course many people have had some success feeding just this one food, but to provide a varied diet to fishes and animals in general really is hard to argue against, and whoever the querior was seemed to me to have an 'axe to grind' about something. Personally, even with all the recommendations, I will always feed my fishes a varied diet, that includes a decent pellet as part of it. This just seems logical to me, and over a 20-30 year lifespan of many fishes this has been proven by mother nature herself to work a thousand times over. I wonder how many of the fishes fed exclusively on this food have lived that long yet for us to see the results.
Just my 'two penneth worth'
<Thank you for your input Simon. BobF>

Re: Feeding New Life Spectrum Exclusively? - 2/10/10
Hello Crew,
<Hi Judy>
Again I feel compelled to de-lurk here. If "NRW" could assure us that he does not have a financial interest in New Life Products, his arguments would have more credence. (I find it a bit odd that an aquarist with no financial interest would debate with such vehemence and have such in-depth knowledge of the product. Reminds me of big drug
companies sponsoring their own studies; it's important to know who is behind the claims). After re-reading the label on the New Life Spectrum pellets that I feed my Cichlids, I see that the third ingredient is wheat flour; NRW states that "Ingredients such as corn flakes, dried bakery products, potato protein, soybean meal, ground rice, feeding oat
meal, and MSG, will certainly never be found in a jar of New Life Spectrum." Wheat flour seems to fall in that category somewhere.
Soybean isolate is also on the ingredients list. The label also states "For best results, feed New Life Spectrum exclusively." I'm always a bit nervous when I'm told by a company to use their product exclusively.
I'm going to go and be rebellious now and feed my Cichlids some peas or maybe even some (gasp!) Hikari Cichlid Excel pellets. Hope the NLS police aren't watching!
<Thank you for chiming in here Judy. Your intelligent remarks are appreciated. I will state that though the co. owner/mgr. Pablo Tepoot and I are friends, I have no financial interest (the co. is solely owned by Pablo) in the business, but do "endorse" (use and spout off) re the food. I have found it first hand, and through observing several others use, to be excellent. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

easy beef heart recipe  10/5/09
how can i make a beef heart mixture in home?
<You don't. You freeze the beef heart, cut off small amounts when required, and then feed small pieces to your fish.>
how can i preserve it in normal temperature?
<You can't.>
is it a proper food for my Flowerhorn, Arowana and Oscars?
<It's an acceptable treat once or twice a week. Not a staple food.
Flowerhorn cichlids should be getting a mixture of quality pellets plus small invertebrates (such as mosquito larvae). Arowanas appreciate good quality pellets plus insects, particularly crickets, mealworms, beetles,
houseflies, and so on. Oscars will also take good quality pellets, but they also enjoy "crunchy" foods including unshelled shrimps and snails. All this information is on this web site: try exploring the site to get the information you want. Cheers, Neale.>

FW Algae control, Feeding and General Questions. 8/6/2009
<Hi Jamie.>
We have a new 26-gallon tank, about two months old that contains several fish. They are all very small fish and include:
4 Cory Catfish
6 Pearl Danios
4 Guppies
3 Rasboras (with black triangle on body)
All fish appear to be very happy and water readings have been great. We now have brown algae growing in various places in our tank. All over the plants (fake), filter, decorations, etc. Upon doing some research on-line we have found several recommendations to increase oxygen level, increase light or amount of time light is on, reduce food (probably overfeeding) & possibly add a Pleco to the tank.
<I agree with the first four, disagree on the Pleco.>
My questions are.
1. How do you increase oxygen level safely in the tank? Would adding a bubble bar help?
<Not as much as setting your filter to disrupt the surface of the water..>
2. I know I am probably overfeeding in getting used to the number of fish? How often should I feed and how much?
<Once a day is fine, and feed no more than can be consumed in 2 minutes or less.>
3. What about adding a Pleco. Are they compatible with the other fish in the tank? I know I was reading they are very territorial and to only have one per tank unless you add two at the same time.
4. How large to the Plecos get? Our largest fish is only about an inch and a half long. Would this be a problem?
<A Pleco will get too big for this tank. Depending on the species, up to 18 inches. (45cm)>
Thank you for all your help and for responding to peoples questions like this. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
<You don't mention your water testing results (ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate) You likely have an excess of nutrients in the tank. Doing 10 - 15% per week water changes, coupled with reducing the amount of food fed should go a long way in reducing the algae.>
<Have a look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaint.htm
and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm >

Food storage, 6/19/09
Hello again, I have another question on another subject please. When I first added fish to my aquarium several months ago most of the food I purchased for them was in fairly large containers. I recently read that
the health benefits in fish food deteriorates fairly fast and that n more than a month's supply of food should be bought at a time.
<This is ideal but difficult since most food containers will last well longer.>
If that is true I am going to have to throw all mine away and start over.
Please let me know your thoughts on this.
<Food will go stale fairly fast, but it is not practical to replace every month. I try to get the smallest containers I can and replace every 6 months or so.>

Re: Aging FW foods  6/20/09
Hello again, please tell me if the food starts getting stale only after opening or does it actually start before? Thank you again,
<Really only ages badly once exposed to air. Bob Fenner>

Picky Eaters, N. Am. Natives   4/12/09
WWM Crew,
I am currently keeping four Eastern Mudminnows, Umbra pygmaea; two Blue Spotted Sunfish, Enneacanthus gloriosus; and two Tessellated Darters, Etheostoma olmstedi.
<Some nice but extremely challenging fish there; Enneacanthus are notoriously difficult to maintain in the wrong water chemistry, while Darters tend to be fussy about water quality.>
For the past couple of months, I have tried to get my fish to eat the New Life Spectrum pellet food after being convinced through your web site and others that this food would best supply all the dietary needs of my fish.
<Where did we recommend a pellet food for these North American natives? Let me have the URL so I can get that changed! No way will these fish eat pellet foods reliably.>
Unfortunately, only my two sunfish will eat this food with any gusto.
<Even if they do, it shouldn't be the staple.>
One Mudminnow and one darter will reluctantly eat a little, but the rest of the Mudminnows and the other darter refuse to eat any.
<Quite normal behaviour for all three genera. Do please get hold of a copy of 'North American Native Fishes' by Schleser; this is the essential book for anyone keeping North American fish species.>
I am convinced that these picky eaters would rather die than eat what's best for them.
<Likely so; with wild-caught fish you can train them to take frozen foods or dried foods, but you have to get them settled in completely first, and that means feeding them live foods (daphnia, brine shrimp, earthworms, etc). Once they recognise that you're serving the meals, they'll move onto frozen foods, at which point their care becomes easier and cheaper. No real point using flake or pellet foods, though if you can convince these fish to take them occasionally, so much the better.>
On the other hand, all the fish will eat frozen mysis shrimp and devour frozen bloodworms. Yet, I can't help thinking that frozen mysis and bloodworms alone are not a sufficient long term diet.
<A combination of these two frozen foods, together with live daphnia, earthworms, and ideally fortified brine shrimps would be acceptable. Do also try (wet) frozen foods such as krill, black mosquito larvae, Tubifex and glassworms. Finely chopped seafood such as mussels and squid are worth trying too.>
I understand from your web site that brine shrimp are like the iceberg lettuce of the fish food world, and, although I have not tried it, I doubt my picky eaters will eat those frozen formula foods.
<Plain vanilla brine shrimp are indeed nutrient poor in many ways, though once a week they're fine. They contain fibre, and that helps keep fish healthy. But as you say, they should be a minority component of the diet.>
So, I was hopping you could spell out for me what precise mix of readily available frozen foods would supply all the long term dietary needs of my fish the way that New Life Spectrum foods claim to do.
<Suspect you're fussing over nothing really! If your fish are eating wet frozen foods regularly, and you can top those up with live foods (daphnia and earthworms especially) once or twice a week, you're doing fine. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Picky Eaters, N. Am. Natives
(comments on Bob's PowerPoint show about fish foods) 4/16/09

Thank you for answering my frozen and pellet food questions. To answer yours, I did not find any specific instance on the Wet Web Media site that recommended pellet food for the fish species I am keeping. The conclusion I arrived at came in part from the Power Point presentation entitled 'Foods/Feeding/Nutrition: A Key Element to Successful Aquatic Life Keeping' by Bob Fenner, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/foodsppt4.htm. This Power Point seemed to me to discuss general fish nutrition needs, and, toward the end, one of the bulleted points stated, 'Spectrum pelleted foods, the best period.' This statement, along with a picture of Pablo Tepoot feeding his fish, prompted me to look at New Life Spectrum's promotional video. On that video, they give the impression that virtually any kind of fish can be given all it needs with their convenient-to-feed food. I checked a couple relevant opinions of people on some online forums, and they seemed to agree. So, that's how I came to the conclusion I did. Anyway, thanks again for answering my questions regarding this topic.
<Hello Travis. Looking over Bob's piece there, I think the argument he makes is really about general fishkeeping. The vast majority of freshwater fish kept come from some ten species (Neons, Angels, Goldfish, etc.) and likewise within marine fishkeeping there's a relatively small core of very widely kept species (Clownfish, Yellow Tangs, etc) compared with numerous others that only appear once in a while or don't appeal to the average reef keeper. So as advanced aquarists keeping unusual fish, we need to be sensitive to the fact that what applies to Neon Tetras might not necessarily apply to Pike Livebearers (which only eat live food, specifically fish) or Panaque catfish (which have to eat wood, alongside anything else). In your case, you're keeping wild-caught fish, which immediately raises the problem of whether said fish can recognise (or can process) pellet foods. The popular aquarium fish are "self selected" in a way, because fish species that didn't eat flake or pellets readily died, so importers stopped collecting them. So most of the (freshwater species, at least) we keep feed on small floating or sinking objects in the wild, and don't really care whether that's a mosquito larva or a Hikari Micro Pellet. Now, Bob's central argument about Spectrum foods is that they're particularly well balanced. Cheaper foods may be lacking in certain ways. For example, here in England it's quite easy to buy what are nothing more than repackaged trout pellets of various sizes. These are designed for rapid trout and salmon growth on fish farms, so contain a lot of protein (often from fishmeal and chicken meal) together with oils. Tropical fish will eat them sure in enough, but do foods designed to quickly grow fish to saleable size in a year provide the nutrition something like an Oscar needs for its 10+ year lifespan? Perhaps not. If you're using "cheap" pellets alongside a variety of live and frozen foods, it probably doesn't matter; the real problem is if you're feeding just a single pellet day-in, day-out. If that's the case (and it often is with casual fishkeepers) then you need to choose a brand of pellet food that provides everything your fish species need. Hence Bob's argument in favour of buying high-quality flake and pellet foods. Whether Spectrum is unique in this I can't say; I happen to like Hikari brands, and there may well be other excellent foods from the other major manufacturers such as Tetra and Sera. In any event, since you're keeping wild-caught fish that are, in some cases, known to be finicky feeders, it pays to have a Plan B. Certainly see if you can get them all accepting balanced flake or pellet foods, but if they won't take such foods, then you will have to use frozen or live foods as well. Cheers, Neale.>

Questions on Feeding, gen. FW  02/09/09 Hello, hope things are going well for all of you today. I have several questions on feeding please. First, for a f/w community tank how long and how often should the fish be fed? <Not much. Should say on the package. For a 20-gallon tank for example, a pinch of flake or a single cube of frozen bloodworms is an adequate meal, once or twice per day.> I know the recommendations on the food containers are too much. The most sensible way I have heard is one time a day for only several minutes, making sure as little food as possible gets to the bottom. <Essentially, yes. But if you have catfish and loaches, then obviously they will need some food.> Is that close to the correct way? Also, to keep other fish from getting Cory's food is there some kind of tube that I could use to slide the sinking tablet down so it lands in front of them? <Just feed them at night.> As far as vacation goes, if I have no one to feed my fish for me are you aware of a slow release food that has advanced past the "white pyramid" stage that released tons of phosphates in the water? <Assuming the fish won't turn on each other, you can leave fish alone 2 weeks without food just fine. Add some cheap plants (like Elodea) and a piece of carrot for any Plecs to graze on and you're fine. The omnivorous fish will nibble at the plants.> My last question, please. Are you aware of any online tropical fish stores that you know are reputable? As always, thanks for your help. <Which country? To be honest, most are pretty good these days. The bugs in delivery seem to have been ironed out, and most online retailers offer guarantees on livestock. If an online retailer won't guarantee livestock, I'd be tempted to take a pass on them.> James <Cheers, Neale.> Thanks <Most welcome. Neale.>

Cloudiness after feeding zucchini 1/27/2009 Hi Crew, <Nicole> Hope you are doing well! Just a quick question, since it seems you are busy and short handed lately, I won't take up too much of your time. <No worries> I've noticed that after I leave zucchini in my tanks overnight, more often than not, the next morning the water is slightly milky. Milky is too strong a word, but I can't otherwise describe the lack of crystal clarity that ensues. If I remove the zucchini, within a few hours, the water clarity returns. <Does, can occur... I would use a bit smaller piece/s of Zucchini...> I know that vegetable based foods are low in protein, so it should not put much of a strain on the filter to leave half a zucchini (cut lengthwise) into a 55 gallon tank...is that right, or am I mistaken? <Could> Should I maybe just put less in there? <Yes> It's just a Bristlenose Plec and some Otocinclus in there eating it, along with Kribs nipping at it a bit - so I could certainly cut back on the serving size. Any insights you have would be appreciated. Have a great day! Nicole <And I should ask, "Are you blanching before using?"... A good idea to at least microwave and let cool before offering... makes this at-times tough vegetable easier to consume. Bob Fenner>

Feeding, FW   4/7/08 Hello Neale, how are you today? I have a question for you. Is it okay to feed my fishes every other day, or is it best to feed it everyday? I don't want them to starve but my tank has been very dirty lately, which means...i have to clean it :( . Anyway, thanks for all your help. <Hi there. What are the fish? If we're talking small tetras, Danios and the like, they should really be fed daily, though you can safely skip one day a week. Larger fish, particularly predators like big catfish and Oscars, can easily get by on reasonably large meals every other day, and some would suggest that for inactive predators (catfish, lurking pufferfish) that this is indeed recommended. That said, I'm not a big fan of feeding large fish big meals infrequently. I can't help but feel that water quality is better maintained by feeding more frequent but smaller meals (snacks, if you like). Less protein is dumped into the aquarium at any given instant, and therefore the resulting ammonia spike is smaller. For short periods (up to one week for small fish, over two weeks for big predators) most fish can go without food completely. If you're holidaying or find yourself having to deal with filtration problems, then not feeding at all for a while is therefore a perfectly viable course of action. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: feeding 4/8/08 Hi again, i have medium sized cichlids, like Firemouths and convicts. Will it still be okay to feed it "snacks" every other day or is it best to just feed it "snacks" everyday. Last, when you say "snacks" how much exactly do you mean? Thanks so much for your previous answer. <Medium sized cichlids like these can/should be given one reasonable sized meal per day. The standard advice holds here as in other situations: you want fish that have gently rounded abdomens but shouldn't look swollen. Stop feeding when the fish are still alert and looking for more, not when they are lethargic and obviously satiated or "full". All the food should be gone within a minute or two. Err on the side of underfeeding. Cheers, Neale.>

Feeding Tropical Fish Turtle Pellets -- 03/22/08 Hi again. I have a quick question. Can I feed tropical fishes box turtle pellets and aquatic frog pellets as an occasional treat? Thanks for your help Neale. < You can try them and see if they will eat them. Try not to overfeed and only give them enough food so that all of it is gone in a few minutes. Remove any excess left over food. As a treat I assume that they will only be fed occasionally like once a week or so.-Chuck>

Algae eating bacteria?  3/14/08 Hi guys I have a 10 gallon tank that i set up again after it had been torn down for a move. <10 gallon tanks are too small for most tropical fish, and very difficult to maintain satisfactorily.> It took me a month to get it running right (found a plant bulb that i missed, was decomposing the whole time). It finally got to the point where i felt safe to add fish and i did so. One neon to start then another bout 2 weeks later. <I'd not recommend Neons for running in a new aquarium. In any case, these fish need to be kept in groups of at least six specimens. To be honest, ten Neons in a 10 gallon tank is about right, and then I'd add nothing else save perhaps a few dwarf Corydoras, such as C. habrosus or C. hastatus.> Shortly there after the algae exploded over night but i was already prepared with a Pleco in my main tank. I have since moved the Pleco into his new home and he's making his round on the tank walls. <Plecs aren't suitable for a tank this small, and in any case the impact on algae is misleading. By dumping nitrate and phosphate into the water, you're only making the problem worse in the long term. Things like blue-green algae and hair algae (which Plecs don't eat) become very likely. The "treatment" for algae is strong light and fast-growing plants. Algae-eating snails and shrimps can also help, since they add little nitrate to the water. But algae-eating fish are a myth in terms of being the silver bullet.> I do occasionally throw some algae wafers in at night to make sure Pleco has enough. The problem is in the past week or so the water has been getting cloudy on and off. And then today i noticed the piece of wafer i threw in the night before was surrounded by a mass of mostly clear fuzz or slim approximately 1/4 thick the whole way around the wafer. What the heck is that!??!? <Decay. Perhaps fungal, perhaps bacterial. In any case not directly toxic to the fish, but a good sign you are massively overfeeding/overstocking/under-filtering.> I freaked out and vacuumed the gravel and found previous wafers with the same casing around them, that and small sheets of whitish stuff. I neglected to take a pic to help, if it happens again I'll be sure to do so first. Any ideas? <Take out the Plec. It doesn't belong there. Stick with small (2.5 cm/1 inch-sized) fish. Feed sparingly. Remove uneaten food after a couple minutes. Ensure the aquarium has reasonably good lighting and then add lots of plants. Perhaps some Cherry Shrimps and Nerite snails.> Thanks, Joe <Cheers, Neale.>

Aquatic foods/feeding/nutrition, reading   1/30/08 Hola, do you know what is the most nutritious frozen foods? ex. brine shrimp, bloodworms, Cyclops...etc. Also can they be used as a staple diet? Of course I will still vary their diets. Thanks for your time and advice. <... Please read on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feeding.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Also, can I feed my fishes cooked shrimps and raw fish from the grocery? Thanks. Sorry for the follow-up <Keep reading>

Night time fishes, lighting, eating, beh.    1/29/08 hi bob and friends I just set up a 20 gallon tank now cycled for 3 months. I just added in some nocturnal fishes and I was wondering, do I have to cover the tank up with a blanket or something to make the tank completely dark. <Blankets are a bit extreme, but obviously if the tank gets bright sunlight, the nocturnal fish will stay hidden. If the tank is in a dark corner things might be different.> I wanted to know because I don't want my other fishes taking all the food and leaving none for my nocturnal fishes. <They won't. Daytime fish won't feed at night, so food put in at night will only be taken by nocturnal fishes.> Also can daytime fishes smell the food and eat it? <Not really, no. Some fish such as Corydoras feed both day and night, but things like tetras and cichlids are daytime fish and hunt by sight. In the dark, they sleep.> Or is it okay to leave some light in it to create a moonlight effect for the fishes. <There are indeed moonlight tubes available for just this effect, though low wattage red tubes work just as well.> Last, how will I know when my fishes are sleeping? <Sleeping fish look dozy. Some retreat to favoured burrows or nest, while midwater fish often drift about among the plants. Several fishes change their colours at night when they are sleeping, most famously the Pencilfishes.> Thanks for your help. Thank you. <Cheers, Neale.>

Koi food not for tropicals....puffer beh....BORED 1/29/08 Hi, I wanted to know how to keep a figure eight puffer occupied. Mine keeps swimming up and down the glass. How do I keep it entertained? Do I buy floating plants? I don't want to buy like crazy mazes to put in. I provide 2 caves but the puffer never goes in it. He eats and is healthy so why is he bored? <This isn't something I'd be overly worried about. Wild puffers naturally swim about constantly, scanning up and down solid objects like oyster beds and rocky reefs, looking for food. Their prey is hard to find and difficult to eat, so they need to hunt for hours just to get enough food to stay alive. In the aquarium, we make life easy for them, but their instinct is still there to search. Providing a strong water current (the equivalent of a treadmill) and lots of TALL plastic plants and other ornaments will certainly help.> Also, can I feed tropical fishes koi pellets? and the shrimp found in koi pellets? Not as a main diet, just as a occasional treat? <It isn't normally recommended that coldwater fish foods be given to tropical fish, or vice versa. Certainly there'll be no harm is using them once a week if you wanted, but don't use them as a staple.> Are koi pellets nutritious for tropical fishes? <They're different, and not really meant to be used one for the other.> Last, can puffers eat mealworms and crickets? <Both are best avoided unless killed and chopped up first. I'd honestly stick with bags of mixed frozen seafood from the grocery store. Cheaper, safer, more convenient. They're a bit hard for a small puffer like T. biocellatus to digest.> Thanks. Any help will be greatly appreciated. <Cheers, Neale.>

Tetra Fresh Delica in Daphnia storage   1/25/08 Hi Neale, <Neervana,> I just bought some Tetra Fresh Delica in Daphnia, <Yum!> I was wondering if can refrigerate a pack that I have opened if it has to much daphnia for me to feed my fish. If I just give them half the pack, and I put the other half pack in the fridge to use until the next day? <Should be fine.> I would not leave it there for more than a night anyway. <Good.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Tetra Fresh Delica in Daphnia storage, and FW gravel vac.   1/25/08 Hey Neale, Well I decided to give half the pack to my two Bala sharks and the other half to the catfish, and they loved it! They are going into a frenzy, but I didn't feed them too much, I tested the water and it seems fine, N03 is a little high - around 0.1 but I am doing a water change tomorrow morning anyway, so they should be fine until the morning, shouldn't they? <NO3 is nitrate, NO2 is nitrite. Make sure you know which you're testing. 0.1 mg/l nitrite is not good, and implies either overfeeding or under-filtration or an immature filter. What you want is for that reading to go to zero. 0.1 mg/l nitrate is fine, but I don't think many freshwater test kits register such small amounts.> I looked for a gravel vacuum everywhere in central London today but none of the pet shops seem to have it. Do you know where I could get one? <If you want one, then someplace like Wholesale Tropicals in Bethnal Green or Aquatic Design Centre on the Great Portland Street would be two places to go. Personally, I just use a stick and the hose pipe. Stir the gravel with the stick, and siphon out the crud during the water change. Put water on houseplants or in the garden -- they love fish tank water!> I wanted a Hagen one. I have to use a manual cleaner tomorrow but I'm worried in case it scares them and they get stressed. What should I do? <Take the kid gloves off! Fish will get used to you cleaning the tank if you don't chase them and you do it regularly. Animals are very good at learning what's danger and what isn't.> Any other options? Not just replacing water is good enough, is it? <It is the main thing, but cleaning the tank and maintaining the filter are both important, too.> I have to get the debris off the gravel as well? <TO some degree, yes. No need to get paranoid, but if the gravel is obviously dirty, then a quick stir and a clean will help. What's on the gravel is largely harmless solid waste, and looks worse than it actually is. The dangerous stuff to fish is dissolved in the water: ammonia and nitrite.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Bloodworms   12/5/07 Hello everyone. I wanted to know how to feed bottom feeders frozen bloodworms since they float. All the bottom feeders do not go to the surface to eat and only eat when it is in the bottom of the tank. Is there another way to feed them with out hand feeding them and without the other fishes eating them? Thanks a lot for all your help. ~Logan <Are we talking about wet-frozen bloodworms or freeze-dried bloodworms? Wet-frozen bloodworms don't float. I've used them for many years, and they almost always sink straight down. Thaw them out in a small jar of water, and then decant into the aquarium. They'll sink right down. Freeze-dried bloodworms are something I don't use, so can't comment on their utility. In any case, bloodworms shouldn't be the staple for most fish. If you're keeping Plecs, loaches, Corydoras, etc then ordinary pellet foods, especially if fed at night when the lights are out, will do perfectly. Only a few fish, like spiny eels and Mormyridae, need bloodworms as a staple. Cheers, Neale.>

Loaches and worms... Logan by any other name... fdg. again     12/5/07 Hi, how do you feed clown loaches worms without other fishes eating it? Thanks for all your help and advice. <Christopher, don't bother with the worms. Waste of time. Just go with good-quality catfish pellets and algae wafers, in equal amounts, at night. Clowns feed at night, your other fish likely don't. Repeat as required, adding suitable veggies like tinned peas and Sushi Nori and cucumber to the mix periodically. Clowns will thrive on this sort of diet. Cheers, Neale.>

... Hi, which worms are nutritious and cheap? FW fdg....    12/5/07 <Contradiction in terms. Nutritious, safe food by definition is more expensive than useless, disease-risky food. If you're talking about all-round value for money, it's hard to argue with (wet) frozen bloodworms. Most fish love them. All live foods come with some degree of risk, with the possible exception of brine shrimp, but essentially they're a gimmick for 95% of the freshwater fish sold. We use them because it's fun, not because the fish need them. So if money is an issue, skip live food and concentrate on nutritious frozen and prepared foods.> About how much are they? <Over here in England, around £2-3 per package.> Also, how many and how often should I feed my fishes? <I use one block (about a tablespoon of worms, I guess, when thawed out) for a busy 180 litre community tank PLUS two lightly stocked 30 litre tanks. Per day. In other words, not much food is required. Far less than inexperienced aquarists often suppose.> I have 5 danios, 2 swordtails, 1 platy, 2 balloon platy, 3 loaches, and 1 Bristlenose Pleco that live in a 50 gallon tank. <None of these fish *need* bloodworms. Flake plus pellets will do for all of them, and the Platies, Plec, and Loaches will further appreciate (REQUIRE!) algae-based foods for good health, such as Algae wafers.> Last, how do I take care of the worms and is it easy to breed them without having to buy another 50 gallon or so tank? <Don't bother.> Thanks for your advice and tips. <Cheers, Neale.>

Catching Live Mysis Shrimp   11/11/07 Hi, Just wanted to thank you people for all the work you do. Have used your website for several years as I got hooked on fish. I currently have a 70 Gal Reef Tank, 85 Gallon Planted, and several other smaller tanks with various freshwater species. I live next to a large lake that has a large population of Mysis shrimp living in it. I would like to be able to get some of them to feed to my fish however I am at a loss at how to catch them. Have a nice day Jonathan <Nice... have seen this done (the lucky pugs at Long Island, NY, Atlantis Aquarium collect hundreds of pounds at a go behind their facility... small mesh netting... arrayed on poles if you can get a friend to help pull a seine... http://www.memphisnet.net/ one of my fave makers of such... or largish hand nets of the same, soft material. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Feeding questions, FW   11/07/07 Hello crew, <Hello,> From what I read I understand that 1) omnivorous fish I have to feed with variety of food: meet (frozen) and vegetables (Spirulina flakes). <Correct. What you're trying to do is mimic nature, and offer a variety of foods. Humans are omnivores, but that doesn't mean we can survive just eating peanut butter and bread. We need a variety of things, though primarily plant foods of one sort or another, with a bit of meat for protein. Omnivorous fish need precisely the same thing. Mostly plant material, but some meaty foods.> 2) herbivorous fish I have to feed with Spirulina flakes, wafers and raw vegetables. <Correct, though again variety helps. Even herbivores such as Severums or Plecs will be eating some small animals occasionally. So giving something like a Plec algae-pellets most nights, but something meaty like a prawn or mussel once a week would be just about perfect. Likewise Severums will thrive on a mostly plant-based diet, but appreciate bloodworms, daphnia and other small invertebrates two or three times a week. Only in some cases do meaty foods actually do harm. Tropehus and many Mbuna cichlids fall into this category, and get "bloat" if fed anything other than algae or plant-based foods.> Does it mean that carnivorous fish (blue rams) it is OK to feed with frozen food (daily) and tropical flakes (occasionally)? Anything else? <Ah, you see this is a common mistake. Mikrogeophagus spp., are, like almost all dwarf cichlids, NOT carnivores. While a lot of books will imply they are eating nothing but invertebrates like worms and insect larvae, but that isn't true. Virtually all dwarf cichlids are detritus feeders, sifting the sediments for algae and decaying plant material. (The "Mikrogeophagus" part of their Latin name means literally "small earth-eater" and refers to their feeding mode in the wild.) Small benthic invertebrates are a "treat" rather than the staple diet. It's the failure to get this aspect of their diet right and consequent nutritional deficiency that, in part, leads to problems such as Hole-in-the-Head and Hexamita. Indeed, virtually all cichlids are herbivores to some extent. Giving them insufficient plant material is just as bad for them as it is for another group of animals that evolved as herbivores -- humans! So just as your doctor tells you to "eat more greens", that advice is rock-solid when dealing with cichlids of almost every sort. I maintain dwarf cichlids using Spirulina flake and fresh green algae dragged out of my garden pond. Daphnia and other small invertebrates are offered a couple of times a week. This works well, and encourages them to breed freely and maintain excellent colours. There are some nice Malawi cichlid frozen foods out there that mix plant material, algae and small prey animals into each cube. I recommend these as a useful staple for just about every cichlid kept in the hobby, and likely far better for them than plain vanilla flake day in, day out.> Thank you for your help Mark <Good luck, Neale>

Re: A few questions... FW fdg.   10/11/07 Neale, Thank you for your very informative response. It is very helpful. We have another quick question - how much should we be feeding them as they always seem to be hungry! We are giving them a variety of things, including bloodworms, flakes and pellet like things. Many thanks, Katie & Tony <Hello Katie and Tony. Fish are always hungry! But as a broad rule, give standard community fish a small pinch of food once or twice per day, and only enough that they eat it all within two minutes. In the case of omnivorous barbs especially, some green foods can be useful. These are more "filling" than meaty foods (just as we observe when eating out own dinners). So a slice of cucumber or a crushed tinned pea can be used as an alternative to flake or pellets for a couple of meals per week. It's actually very difficult to starve fish. They need tiny amounts to stay healthy, because they aren't burning calories to keep warm. So, as long as their bellies are gently convex, you're doing fine. Cheers, Neale>

Gut blocked by a ghost shrimp? FW  10/1/07 Hello folks... I have a juvenile male Astatotilapia sp. that swallowed a ghost shrimp a couple days ago and is not acting like his usual self; clamped fins, color is fading, seeking solitude, etc... He can not seem to eat flake food now, either. He just chews it for a minute and has to spit it out. Is he going to make it? <Maybe> Is there anything I can do to get what I am assuming to be the exoskeleton of a shrimp out of his gut? Can I feed him some roughage, or is there no hope? <Always hope... but can only wait at this point... nothing will move, dissolve this mass faster> Please and thank you for any help you can give me. Martin C. <Bob Fenner>

Bait shrimp for Oscar   8/26/07 Hello to all at WWW, I've read time and again about feeding shrimp to Oscars. I envisioned those nice, pink, fat, little shrimp they sell at the grocery store. My husband passed a bait shop today and (thinking of my Oscar) brought home a box of frozen shrimp. But these are *whole* disgusting looking shrimp, complete with shells, tails, guts, whiskers, everything. I went ahead and cleaned them under cold water and cut them up (yuck) bagged them and put them in the freezer (while fighting off 4 cats and some very interested dogs). Can these shrimp be fed to an Oscar? It's highly unlikely they were raised under clean or parasite-free conditions considering they were raised for fish bait. It's the potential disease or parasite exposure that has me concerned. I know Oscars in the wild eat them, but they're probably also considerably more resistance to parasites. Does freezing them make them safe for aquarium fish to eat? If you deem them safe, can the Oscar get a very tiny chunk every day in since it's part of his natural diet (he's only 3" now). I've been looking through the FAQ's for references to 'bait shrimp' without any luck so far, will continue looking. Thank you for all you do. You all have the patience of Saints! Mitzi <Should be fine. As a broad rule, marine animals make safe food for predatory freshwater fish because relatively parasites can infect both marine and freshwater fishes. Feeding freshwater animals to marine fish is (broadly) safe too, but there are specific problems with using freshwater *fish* as food for predatory marine fish because of nutritional imbalances. You're correct about wild fish being less troubled by parasites, though the reasons for this are more to do with population biology and epidemiology than resistance. Freezing doesn't necessarily kill parasites though it may do. Regardless, your Oscar will certainly enjoy the whole shrimp, and the extra fibre will do him good. Just make sure you balance the diet with other things: shrimps contain a lot of Thiaminase, and long term this causes problems with Vitamin B1 availability. So use them a couple of times a week, and augment the diet with other things, such as shelled mussels (an excellent staple for most fish), earthworms, and a good quality cichlid pellet. Some green foods are also important, either as algae wafers or things like tinned peas. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Bait shrimp for Oscar -- 08/26/07 WWW Crew (Neale), Very thought-provoking, thank you. The idea of feeding the entire shrimp makes perfect sense. I'd read another Crew member's recommendation to take the shells off 1st because of big pieces of shell causing swallowing or digestion problems. I'll chop them up with the food processor (and not tell my family lol!) into coarse chunks and freeze them and just thaw out a chunk a few times a week for him. The shelled mussels are an excellent idea and I'll do that also. Thanks to the WWW website he's got quite a buffet in the freezer right now of peas, earthworms, his shrimp, frozen bloodworms, tadpoles & crickets, twice a day he gets 1 pre-soaked medium Hikari Cichlid Gold pellet. I only give him less than a 1/4" chunk of 2 of these frozen foods twice a week but he sure works for them begging non-stop. My 11 yr old son is disgusted and demoted me to the bottom shelf of the freezer-ha! I'd written to you a few wks ago about putting a similar sized blue crayfish in a 90 gal tank with the Oscar and got mixed opinions. Just to update you-the crayfish is still in his 20 gal quarantine tank, I've decided to just keep him there by himself (he's so funny!) and get another tank for quarantine. This is exactly what happens to all my quarantine tanks :-/ The 90 gal is going through a fishless cycle (thanks to WWW also) so the 3" Oscar is still in his 47 gal. I'd bought it as a "40 gal breeder tank" but when I did the math on it with several different size/gallon converters it measured out to 47 gallons. Not sure why they marked it as 40 gal (it's 36" x 18" X 17" tall). Interesting also. I'm grateful beyond words for this website. I've learned more through this website than I did from the endless other websites and books I've read. Thank you! Mitzi <Hello Mitzi. Glad we could help. Obviously whether or not you remove the shells from the shrimps depends upon the relative sizes of shrimp and Oscar! An adult Oscar (30 cm+) can handle unshelled shrimps around the 5 cm length without any fuss at all, and the shells will do him good. But a juvenile Oscar trying to swallow a shrimp almost as big as he is... well, that's not so sensible, and shopping the shrimp up makes sense. So use your discretion there. Oscars *are* crustacean eaters though, and they have the mouthparts to handle them. Because fish can't really choke as such, assuming the prey fits into a fish's mouth, it can usually swallow it, even if it takes a long time to do so. Sometimes aquarists get confused by watching the prey seemingly stay in the throat for long periods. Fish have "pharyngeal teeth" in the throat used to process food. Cichlids in particular have very sophisticated pharyngeal teeth that explain part of their success at being able to evolve into a bewildering variety of types able to eat everything from snails to plants. It's also why most cichlids are such opportunistic feeders, as you're discovering. Most cichlids will eat a wide variety of foods, and while some are specialists, most are omnivores feeding on whatever animals, plants, or organic detritus they can find. So your approach of "a little of everything" is just about perfect. Don't forget to try and add some greens to your Oscar's diet -- most cichlids eat some green food, whether algae, live plants, or decaying plant material. As for your aquarium: it contains 6.3 cubic feet, which is 39.2 Imperial gallons but 47 US gallons. I'm guessing the manufacturers labeled the tank using Imperial rather than US measurements. Everything is easier when people switch to the Metric system, because a litre is a litre is a litre wherever you live. (And it's so much easier to work out weights and lengths, too! One 10 cm cube of water weighs one Kilogram and has a one Litre volume. Idiot-proof.) Good luck, Neale.>

Feeding, freshwater. 8/16/07 Hey Crew, Can you recommend a guide for the amount of food fed, as a general rule. I find my levels are pretty good,( 0 ammonia, 5 nitrate but the nitrite is between 0 and about 0.1) These booklets which come with the test kits read like 0 - 0.3 is acceptable but I'm not so sure about 0.3 ?! I thought 0 was the only ' right ' answer. I fed my angels tonight (my Q tank) and literally dabbed my finger in flake crumbs and it was surprising how much of the surface it covered. I later performed a 1/3 wc and the nitrite reading was between 0.1 and 0.3 ? Perhaps feeding earlier had a substantial impact. I have read on the forums that a piece the size of a fishes eye is sufficient for it to survive on, other reads say feeding should last between 1 -3, 5 and 10 minutes as a rough guide. Just thought I'd mention that I have just bought and installed an R.O unit in my garage and hopefully this should help my readings though I have been buying it already from my LFS. Many thanks and Kind regards, Steve. <Steve, as a general rule, fish need about half as much food as we think they do. Indeed, most of us are pretty bad at estimating how much food we actually need, let alone doing this for animals with a completely different level of metabolism! It is semi-normal to register tiny amounts of ammonia or nitrite immediately after feeding. That said, when this happens it is usually a sign of inadequate filtration. A bigger (read: appropriately-sized) filter would process more water through the biological media more quickly, and hence the ammonia released by the fish would be metabolised by them that much faster. So when I say "semi-normal" I don't mean it's acceptable, but rather it's common, since people often under-filter their tanks. For angels, you want a filter with at least 4 times the volume of your aquarium in gallons per hour turnover. In absolute terms, an adult angelfish probably needs the equivalent of a dozen frozen bloodworms or one or two flakes per day to remain healthy. Fish aren't (with a few exceptions, like tuna) warm blooded, so they don't need to burn calories to keep warm. This is why mammals have to eat so much. Fish simply aren't like that, and their energy demands per day are miniscule. Fish don't need to eat every day, either (except for baby/growing fish, which need 4-6 meals a day). And in many cases, we tend to give them high-protein foods (which are polluting) rather than vegetarian foods (which are not polluting). So switching some of the meals to green foods is one good way to keep the fish healthy and well fed without causing pollution problems. Cichlids are pretty good in this regard: most are at least semi-herbivorous anyway and the rest are such greedy pigs that tricking them into accepting tinned peas, Sushi Nori, spinach and the like is rarely difficult. Frozen bloodworms and crustaceans are also good, since their percentage protein is far lower than flake food. Bloodworms are something like 5% protein, while flake is often 35% protein. So weight for weight, flake causes 7 times as much water pollution. Bottom line, feed less food than you think they need, use more green instead of processed food, use low protein frozen foods, skip feeding them a couple or three times a month, feed only once per day, and beef up the filtration system if water quality remains poor. Cheers, Neale>

Feeding Peas to Goldfish (& Other Fish Too!)  5/7/07 Dear sir/madam, <Pufferpunk/Jeni here today, I'm a madam.> I have read a lot about the benefits to feeding peas to goldfish to help their digestive system. <Absolutely> Do the peas have to be crushed once they have been skinned or can they be put into the tank whole? I have a image of a whole pea stuck inside a little fantail!!! <Depending on the size of the fish, either way is fine, as long as you defrost them 1st.  Also, try algae wafers. ~PP> Thanks for your help, Chris Stone

Overfeeding Freshwater Fish  - 4/6/07 Hi,     I have a really silly question. I was told when you overfeed fish that the stuff that comes out of them that looks like poop or feces is their intestines, is this true? I have never heard this before and I needed to check it out! <No, this isn't true. When fish are overfed, the food comes out pretty much as it went in, but because of the water, mucus, and compression, it may be formed into "strings". These could be mistaken for the intestines I suppose. The cause is lack of fibre, and the remedy green foods such as cooked peas and algae. The main problem from overfeeding fish is the resulting decline in water quality: the protein decays into ammonia, and the ammonia poisons the fish. The filter removes the ammonia, but up to a certain level, and if you put too much food in the tank, the filter can't cope, and the fish get sick. Cheers, Neale>

Hello Crew! Upgrading to a larger FW, Picking out Auto Feeder   3/29/07 Hello, My name is Derek, and I just wanted some advice about something, I have a ten gallon tank full of guppies and platies, and I plan to upgrade to a larger tank, what would be the best size tank for me next? <Mmm... about as large a space as you have, and system as you can practically afford, maintain... Perhaps a 29 gallon> Also what mechanical feeder (that lasts up to 2 weeks) would you recommend? Thanks -Derek <My fave (the ones I use) are Eheim products... though there are (nowadays) quite a few manufacturers of good ones. Bob Fenner>

Peas Hello, I absolutely hate peas but I love my fish so I thought that  I would do this pea thing for them. So after skinning a few peas I didn't really know what to do next. Do I have to cook the peas before I feed them and some of them are a little large, would it be sensible  to cut these down a bit more. thanks. hayli fairy x <Likely a good idea to prep. a batch of peas: "blanch" (microwave in a bit of water), allow to cool, pinch the skin off just before feeding... BobF>

Overfeeding A Community Tank Thanks for your reply.  I have a few further questions. I wrote this all up and it was forever long, so now I'm going to try to be short, but it still isn't very short.  Sorry.  We're having feeding problems in our 37 gallon tank (guppies, Neons, ADFs, angelicus Botia loaches).  I think the guppies are gorging themselves on our plants.  Some of the plants are suffering (mostly because some of the guppies enjoy grabbing the end of the plants and literally jerking them while swimming backwards, which pulls some up), but overall they're bearing it.  The guppies all have enlarged their stomachs since joining the planted tank.  They're slowing down on their nibbling somewhat and are mostly picking algae off.  Since they've starting picking more at the algae on the plants, they've also not appeared as interested in the flakes.  If it was just the guppies, I think we could get away with not feeding flakes at all, they eat enough plant material, but I don't think the Neons are eating the plants as much and they still eat the flakes, which means the guppies eat those, too.  I'm almost afraid that the guppies are overeating, though none of them appear constipated and they're still having good, uh, bowel movements.  Should we only feed flakes once a day instead of twice?  Would the Neons be alright?  If they don't give any other indication of feeling ill, just have large stomachs, should we not worry? < The guppies feeding on the algae is normal. Feed your fish once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in a couple of minutes. The other fish will be more hungry and begin to come up to the flakes more aggressively. The more they eat, the less flakes are available for the guppies.> We feed our ADFs once a day, the frog/tadpole food, and they don't appear to eat them, but I'm assuming they're eating something because they're still alive after about a month.  We had problems with the guppies eating the frog food but they don't do that so much anymore since they've been gorging themselves on plant material.  We give half the flakes, let them eat those, then add a few more flakes and add the frog food in another spot in the tank.  But I'm not sure that the frogs are eating them.  I find leftovers occasionally, and I see fish eating them an hour or so after I've dropped them, but again, the ADFs seem to be doing well.  They mostly hide during the day, probably because of our plant lights, but they're always out at night.  They loved the brine shrimp.  Is the frozen brine shrimp nutritious enough for them to eat all the time?  (See below for more about our brine shrimp plans.) < Feed them sinking pellets after you turn out the lights. At first drop in only a couple until they begin to get use to them as food.> We have three loaches.  They mostly hide, but two come out and play pretty often.  The third, however, I have only seen once (other then his tail sticking out of his hiding place).  When I saw him, the other two loaches were swimming circles along the side and he was sitting in the bottom.  As soon as he saw me, he ran and hid.  There are quite a few hiding places, the ADFs use a lot of different ones, including piling in with the loaches, but we're adding more just in case he doesn't feel secure enough.  We bought shrimp pellets, but they won't touch them.  They just sit at the bottom and the guppies pick at them.  Our tank is heavily planted and it's next to impossible to vacuum.  I pick them out sometimes, but I have to stand on the arm of the couch to do it and it's still hard.  Will they deteriorate all right and act as fertilizer, or should we look into a shrimp for cleanup? < Leftover food with rot and increase the nitrates. Change food to one they will consume while you are watching.> We talked to the LFS last night and they said to drop them with other food they like to teach them that it's food.  We tried white mosquito larvae last night with no interest from them.  The only thing we get them to eat is frozen brine shrimp, which we've read isn't the most nutritious for them, more like chips. < Correct> My husband's working on a brine shrimp hatchery for more nutrition with the egg sacs.  But even then, only the two came out and I don't think the third did.  My husband is up for most of the nights and he said he hasn't seen the third loach, either.  Should we be worried?  We saw him more in their quarantine tank and didn't see anything unusual (besides that they wouldn't touch their food). <Many loaches  are shy and only come out at night. You have a heavily planted tank so it may be awhile before you see him.>   Also, a few of our guppies fins almost look clamped, but not quite.  We just noticed this yesterday afternoon.  My husband had added CO2 with a homemade soda bottle thing and apparently our pH has dropped almost a point.  It's at 7.2 now.  We were monitoring the pH and it dropped over a 24 hour period and has now held constant (between 7.2 and 7.4) for a little over 24 hours and we think this is where it's going to stay.  Was that too quick of a drop? < Guppies like hard alkaline water with a little salt added to it. Plants usually like soft acidic water with no salt. You have a conflict. Many plants don't need CO2 although almost all will benefit from it. The pH drop is from the CO@ adding carbonic acid to the water. When the CO2 is gone the pH should bounce back up.> I did a 30% water change after noticing the halfway clamped fins and they do look better this morning. < Probably diluted the CO2 and raised the pH.> (There are only 5 of the 17 guppies we have doing this, but one is the male lowest on the totem pole and usually has his fins low.  All the rest are females.)  But if the pH of our tap water is higher, and it's being lowered in the aquarium because of the addition of CO2, is adding the water going to change the pH of our system and then change as the new water is infused with CO2? < You will have pH fluctuations when doing water changes.> Is that going to be a shock? < Big changes in pH are not tolerated well by many fish.> Our water is filtered with a Living Water filtration system from EcoQuest and so we don't have to add anything to it and would really hate to add chemicals to it in order to change the pH, but I don't want to shock the fish.  Would the drop in the pH have caused the clamped fins, or should we look to another source? < When fish are stressed they become susceptible to diseases. Try more frequent but smaller water changes.> Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate barely registering, probably 2 or 3, alkalinity 300.  The same before and after the water change.  With CO2 calculations, my husband says this is a perfect amount of CO2 addition and doesn't want to take away any and won't be adding any. Thanks for your time*.again.  Celeste < CO2 is needed by many stem plants like Bacopa. Plants like Cryptocorynes and swords will benefit from CO2 but I have found it is not needed.-Chuck> Jack Dempsey Hooked On Blood Worms    11/27/06 I have a 2 inch electric blue jack Dempsey and he is in a 60 gallon tank. He has been pooping stringy white for several days. He is eating fine (although he refuses to eat anything but bloodworms) and moving around fine. Water tests all measure zero for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. No signs of ick on him or other fish in the tank, and the others poop the normal brown/black poop. Is the poop from eating only bloodworms or is it reason to be concerned about something else? Thanks for your help, Kelly < Don't feed him for three days then offer a few blood worms with some other foods like Spectrum pellets. Over time his blood worm only diet will cause problems.-Chuck>

How To Cook One Pea - 10/22/2006 Do I just buy a pea at the grocery store and shell it? (And do I have to cook it--how do you cook one pea?) Or, is this something I can find at a pet store? <I don't think you'll be able to buy "a pea". Get a small bag of frozen. Then just thaw, shell and feed> Thanks for all the advice. I cleaned out his bowl last night, and kept him in another spot. I let the bowl filter itself and I transferred him back in today. He's still not as perky as usual, but he seems a bit better. A pet store   here in town recommended some salt that you can put into fresh water tanks, and since the owner lives nearby me, she offered to bring some to me. I am so grateful for the help. Gotta keep my little guy alive! Cheers! Holly <A little salt never hurt a goldfish. But Epsom Salt may be a better choice if he is bloating. Don>

Salt in FW systems, feeding FHs, worms that are larval coleopterans   9/15/06 Hi, it's me. Again. <<Well, hello again, Cecille.>> Thanks for the fast response. And, yeah that will surely help. <<Glad to hear it.>> But, I just have another question. I've been browsing quite a lot in the net about aquarium maintenance and such and some suggests to use salt. I have this 15 gallon tank. How much salt should I put in it? And, what good would that give, actually? <<Good question, Cecille. What you've read probably suggests one tablespoon of salt per five gallons of water. In your case, I would suggest a total solution of 2 1/2 tablespoons per volume of tank water. If, for example, you remove three gallons of water for a water change, dissolve 2 1/2 tablespoons of salt in the new water to achieve the 'recommended' solution rate. Obviously, you'll have to do some calculations for subsequent water changes to maintain this ratio properly. To be safe, err on the side of adding less salt than more during your water changes. (Remember that salt will not evaporate with water, which means that any evaporation that takes place effectively increases the amount of salt per unit volume.) As to the 'good' of adding salt, you'll find this debated among reliable sources. Most freshwater pathogens don't tolerate salt well and salt helps to keep these under control. It doesn't eradicate them but provides them with less than desirable breeding conditions which keeps them at levels that the fish's own immune system can deal with. (Costia is an example.) Salt has also been cited as increasing a fish's ability to uptake oxygen from the water. This is true, particularly in the presence of nitrites in the water. Nitrites deprive the hemoglobin in the blood of oxygen and the sodium ions in salt (NaCl) combine with nitrite to become sodium nitrite which increases blood flow and provides oxygen to the oxygen-depleted areas of the body. Finally, salt increases the specific gravity of the water. In the event of physical trauma (injury) or, the like, swelling is caused by fluid build-up in the affected area. This fluid (low specific gravity) in injured area is released, via osmosis, to the surrounding water (higher specific gravity) relieving the swelling and increasing beneficial blood flow to the injury promoting healing. Now, is all of this enough to convince you to add salt to your tank? Possibly. Live plants are adversely affected by salt but, since Cichlids typically don't have these in their tanks, you might be inclined to give it a try.>> Okay, I have just another one more: I've been feeding my FH pellets for a few months now and a few brine shrimps whenever I could find them. But, the shrimps are really quite rare and a bit pricey, too. <<Your Flowerhorn definitely needs a varied diet. Good for you for adding the Brine Shrimp to its diet but I understand about price and availability. Just keep in mind that too monotonous of a diet can lead to problems no matter how high quality the food might be.>> A few days ago, my friend gave me a couple of worms. <<I tried that with my wife but she insisted on jewelry. :)>> Super worms, he said. Are those good food? <<They're beetle larvae, as you probably know. The exoskeletons of the 'Super Worm' (Zophobas morio) are reportedly more easily digested than typical mealworms and they grow larger. Beyond this, I have no specific knowledge of the food value involved.>> I haven't tried  feeding those to my fishes. He said it will enhance the "characters" in the fish's body. Is that true? <<I find that a debatable issue, Cecille. In my opinion, it sounds like "hype" though, again, I couldn't verify this for you, one way or the other.>> And, what do I do with them once they turn into beetles? <<If you plan on breeding them for more "worms", hang on to them. I've run across several sites that describe how to breed these. A simple 'Google' search will lead you in the right direction.>> Thanks in advance again. Cecille, <<Any time, Cecille. Glad to help. Tom>>  

Green Peas   8/20/06 Hello Bob and... <<Tom? :)>> No question this time, just an observation that may help some of your readers. I notice by reading many FAQ'S and articles on WWM that most of you recommend frozen peas for certain fish. For those of you with arthritis, shelling the peas is a little difficult. I use the dried peas in a bag like to make split pea soup. Soak them in water for about 10 min. and they seem to work fine. Just thought some of your readers may benefit from this...Thanks...DR <<Thanks for the tip, DR. Will pass this along (as you know, by now) and I'm sure others will, indeed, benefit. Thanks, Tom>>

Do fish smell or see? 8/10/2006 Hi crew. <<Hello.>> I just wanted to know whether fishes can see or just smell the food. <<Most do both.>> There is a lake near my house with green water.  It contains a lot of snake heads and typical Indian cichlids of whose name I do not know.  So do the fish smell or see. Thanking you in advance. <<Glad to help. Lisa.>> Bye. Too much Spirulina?   8/4/06 I was wondering if there can be too much of a good thing. <Uh, yes>   I have a colony of 20 Tropheus.  I feed them Jehmco pure Spirulina flakes (ingredients: Spirulina and lecithin) in the morning, and NLS cichlid pellets in the afternoon.  I know that pure Spirulina by itself is not a balanced diet, but was wondering what you thought of feeding it once a day in conjunction with NLS? <New Life Spectrum... a very good, balanced diet/food in and by itself>   Is that still too much Spirulina? Thanks, Kelly <You should be fine here with this species, feeding regimen, regular maintenance otherwise. Bob Fenner>

Feeding fish while on holiday  - 06/20/2006 Hello, <Hi there - Jorie here> I am going on holiday soon for two weeks. <Yay for you!> I have a 20 gallon freshwater tank with pump and filter, and 3 largish goldfish. We have had them for about three years now. Can you advise as to what to do, as there is no one to come in to feed them - should I buy the "vacation blocks" from the pet shop, or are they not suitable?  Many thanks, Lynn. <Lynn, I would first look into an automatic feeder - I've heard very good things from the one made by Eheim, although I cannot claim to have used it myself.  www.drsfostersmith.com sells it, I believe.  I have not heard such great things about the "blocks" you refer to, so if it were me, I'd choose the auto feeder before those.  Best of luck and have a great vacation! Jorie> <<RMF relies on Eheim automatic feeders, and has for many years>>

Cycling, on nitrite spike, going out of town   6/18/06 Greetings WWM folks! <Cris> I've got a 10g planted tank (w/ Eco-Complete) that is on the nitrite spike part of the cycle, NH4 not all the way down yet. I will be away for 10 days and have a friend who will stop by to feed the three Corys (C. habrosus) every couple of days. I'm trying to figure whether to assume that the cycle will complete soon, or to put in some zeolite and risk it stalling/clobbering the cycle, or to ask my friend to check the Ammonia Alert and put in the zeolite if there's a spike. <I would just be very, very light on feeding... like "one flake" per, per day> The third seems like the best plan to me - any thoughts? Thanks for all the good information, Cris <Just good guessing here, but this is what I'd do. These Corydoras won't starve, but might easily be poisoned by over-feeding boosting nitrite concentration (I would not have placed them in an uncycled system). Bob Fenner>

What to feed newly caught lake fishies? NANFA.org  - 4/24/2006 Hi there... I did an internet wide search and came up empty handed on what to feed the fish we caught out of our local lake. We'd love to be able to keep them in an indoor aquarium or our outdoor 90 gallon pond; but I have yet to find what to feed them... We caught 10 spot-tail minnows, and 1 brim. (bream?) <Can likely be easily trained onto pelleted "pond" or aquarium foods... do seek out high/er quality of these... as some do a good deal of polluting>   Also.. could you tell me possibly whether they would survive better indoors or out? <Mmmm> We live in Alabama.. and the pond is made of black plastic with very little shading right now (newly installed)... <Well, best to be where conditions are more like their natural habitat... but stability is very key. If your house isn't too warm... versus the pond being too small and/or shallow... I'd keep them indoors> Anything else you might be able to add (or point me in the right direction) as to water temp/food/plants... <Do look up the website NANFA (.org) A treasure of useful information on natives, their captive care> for our new fishies would be wonderful! Thanks so much for your time and attention regarding our newbies! ~Jennifer Darnell <Welcome to the wonderful world of aquatic life keeping. Bob Fenner> Feeding Fish Vegetables   4/21/06 Hello. I was wondering why pet stores feed their fish oranges and cucumber slices. Is it good for them to eat?  Should I give orange and cucumber slices to my fish?  I was just curious. Have a nice day! Katherine < Humans, guinea pigs and fish cannot manufacture their own vitamin C. So they must get it from the food they eat. Veggies such as zucchini squash, cucumbers and lettuce are very good for algae and plant eating species. Never heard of oranges before.-Chuck>

Earthworms 'N' Eels - 03/07/2006 This is just a note for those eel lovers or those wanting to embrace the eel so to speak.   <.... I might pet one, but hugging is maybe not quite in my plans.> A couple of years ago I bought 4 eels for my hundred gallon aquarium.  Two fire eels and two tire track.  Sadly someone left the lid on the tank askew and I lost one a couple of weeks ago.   <Aww!  So sorry to hear this!> It was about 18 inches long.  I still have three left that are about that size, one is a good 23 inches long.  They share the aquarium with a sun catfish, a drift wood cat, a tiny (but extremely swift) zebra loach, a very fat clown loach which I bought at the same time (he's a good 10 inches long) a spotted perch, a dojo and a pair of spotted catfish that act like they're on crack.  I love my eels but let future eel owners be warned, they'll eat you out of house and home.  They pick at flake food in the morning, ah but at night they go through 3 of the large cubes of frozen blood worms  and whine for more.  I'm thinking that someday in the future I will find just one very enormous eel in that tank, all other fish having become snacks.  Do you know if eels might eat fishing worms?   <Yep.  Especially at that size.  I recommend culturing your own, to be sure they are in good health and nutrition.  Google "vermiculture".  You can start with worms in your own yard, provided you haven't used any pesticides, herbicides, etc.> I'm curious but haven't tried offering any.   <I'm sure they'd love 'em.  Try small worms, not big fat Nightcrawlers.> I was kind of hoping that the larger worms might just fill the tanks up a bit quicker.  Luckily I can say that none of them have had an ailment in the years I've had them. (knock on wood) and I don't want to encourage anything a live food might bring in.   <Agreed.> So if you have any information on earthworms for eels please let me know.  It would be much appreciated.    <I say give it a try - I've seen even smallish (<8" or so) spiny eels take small worms.> Thanks Jo <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Color Enhancement via foods, FW  - 02/20/06 Hi, <Ed> Just want to say thanks again for you help in the past and hope maybe you can answer my question here.  I searched your site, but could not find a definitive answer.  I have a 55 gal fresh water community tank with a wide variety of fish.  Most of which tend to be quite colorful.  I have seen many 'color enhancing' foods out there, and have read a bit about the chemicals involved (one talked about Marigold leaves as a good source of carotene), and from what I have seen, different chemicals seem to be related to different colors.    What is you take on this. <There is indeed some science/fact here... I did a bit of a sponsored study way back in college re Carotenoids derived from sponges role in the coloration of Garibaldi/Hypsypops...> Do you have a natural or commercial suggestion for making sure the coloration of my fish are being all they can be? <There are a host of natural compounds added as foods to prepared formulations for this purpose. A cursory search on the Net should reveal what these might be, or the inputting of the ingredients on your commercial foods...> thanks again for the great work, and the service you provide for the community. -ed <The use of "krill", other crustaceans, Spirulina... many other substances do enhance color (and vigor/health). Bob Fenner> Feeding Big fish   1/7/06 Hello, I seen your article and it was very informative.  I just have a few questions.  Is it alright to feed them fruits and veggies from the grocery store if cleaned properly?  Also could you explain what you would do to clean those foods and which ones would be good to feed my big guys in my tank. They have a big appetite and my budget doesn't allow me to buy a lot or daily feeder fish.  Also buying dried fish foods or frozen is expensive and doesn't last long with their hunger.  I need some good methods and ideas to feed them and make sure they are getting enough to eat.  Here is what I have:   in my 120 gallon, clown knife, alligator gar, Oscar, jack Dempsey, red snook cichlid, medium sized Pleco, and two medium African cichlids.  The first 5 I named have big appetites and could each eat a dozen feeds in one day.  In my 30 gallon I have 3 smaller fish but a growing Tiger Oscar and cichlid Salvini that have big appetites and are almost able to eat a dozen feeders alone. I need some help because I want my fish to grow. Thanks, Justin Hunt < First try trout chow from a feed store for the meat eaters. Frozen smelt can be tried too. The Plecos will go after par-boiled zucchini. Just rubber band it to a rock. There is a recipe in Ad Konings book "Enjoying Cichlids" that is made with frozen peas and shrimp held together in a gelatin mixture. My fish love it I make it often.-Chuck> Questions about Danios, Guppies and Tetras 2  12/22/2005 This is an add-on to the previous mail that I had just sent.   4) I'm feeding them with fish pellets n flakes because I noticed that each of them have the different interest on food choice. How many times I should feed them daily and what is the proper amount of food per fed?   Thanks. <Twice a day, about as much as they consume in a minute or so is about right. Take care not to offer so much food that there are remains lying about. Bob Fenner>

It's All On The Site - 10/26/2005 Why shouldn't I feed my Oscars and Red Devil beef heart and goldfish??  <Read the articles and FAQs here, under Foods/Feeding/Nutrition: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm .> The only time they get goldfish is on Saturdays (I'm not around Sundays and Mondays to feed them). They get beef heart only once a week.  <Harmful to fatal feeding practices. Please read.> I feed them daily. Thank You so much. Stretch's Tattoos Dayton, Ohio <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

White Fuzzy Balls?  9/25/05 I have a 65 gallon freshwater aquarium with a Fluval 404 canister.  All conditions are near perfect and the fish load in about 12 card. tetras and 2 angels fish.  The tank is about 3 months young.  All along the bottom of the rock gravel is soft cotton like fuzzy balls. I vacuumed them up 3 weeks ago and now there back. <It sounds a lot like leftover food growing weird fuzzy stuff on it, you might try cutting back on the amount of food you are feeding, or making sure not to feed more than your fish will eat.  It is also a good idea to make sure no one else in the household is feeding your tank without you knowing.  If you could send us a picture of the fuzzy stuff it would help us to identify it.  Best Regards, Gage>

Culture of food organisms  9/22/05 Hi WWM crew. an excellent site for aquarists. I have a question for you. How can I culture organisms such as infusoria or daphnia at home? Any help in this regard will be greatly appreciated.                       thank you. <Mmm, well... use of Google, other search tools on the Net shows many references... There are even books on live aquarium food culture... Have you searched on Amazon.com re such? Bob Fenner>

A Sucker For Inverts - 08/11/2005 Hi <Hello!> This is sort of a strange question, <I'm sort of a strange person, so that's fine.> but do you know of any marine or freshwater inverts which you suckers when feeding, <I assume you mean "use", not "you"?  And what do you mean by "suckers"?  Can you define/describe?> either to locate or catch prey?  I'm preparing a project and need some one to point me in the right direction - looking for scientific papers or any related articles any and all information would be appreciated. <I'm really not quite certain what you mean by "suckers".  You might look to the cephalopods (squid, octopus, etc. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cephalop.htm ) and echinoderms (starfish, urchins, etc., http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marind5_5.htm , many divisions near bottom of page) for more....  > Thanks, Yasi <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

A Sucker For Inverts - II - 08/12/2005 Sorry <No worries.> Well, suckers as in their feeding method they have sucking apparatus, do they use sucking mouth parts, and do they use suction cups like with an octopus to hold onto prey, is sort of a broad question? That's why I need some assistance. <Very broad question, indeed.  Start your research here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marind5_5.htm , and again I emphasize Cephalopods and Echinoderms.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina.> Earthworm Farming - 08/08/2005 Namaste! <Good morning!  Sabrina with you, today.> Hello people.  This is Mitra from India.   <Nice to hear from you, almost halfway around the world - thanks for writing in!> Can you please tell me how to store earthworms because we have a very dry soil over here and the worms come out only when it rains.  So I need to collect them and store them when they are out. So please help me. <Try a Google search with the words "earthworm farm" or "vermiculture".  Here is one excellent site I found:   http://www.jerusalemcityfarmers.org/earthworm.html , and there are many, many others.  You might try searches containing "raising earthworms" or "keeping earthworms", as well.> Thank you,  Mitra <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> New Cichlid Food Caused Cloudy water Howdy, I have a 85 Gal tank full of African cichlids and I recently purchased a new food to feed them because they have grown a lot bigger and flakes were NOT cutting it. After a week of using this food (Cichlid sticks) the water got REALLY cloudy and the ammonia spiked. The ammonia is now down to 0 but the Nitrite is spiking (1ppm). I don't want this problem to get out of hand so I have been doing daily water changes (25%) Now the question I have is if I keep replacing the water won't the cycle basically start all over again? <You have overfed your fish and the bacteria have been at the uneaten food causing the problems. Next water change you should vacuum the gravel to get rid of the junk that has accumulated in the gravel. The bacteria live everywhere, on the gravel, plants, rocks etc... A gravel vac that is done too well may remove some of the beneficial bacteria. Water changes alone usually don't.> Also could you recommend any good foods for my African cichlids? < Most African cichlids come from Lake Malawi and are often referred to by their native name as Mbuna. Their main diet is algae that they scrape off of rocks. I would recommend a quality veggie pellet high in krill and Spirulina.> PS... off topic but when I was doing the water changes I discovered babies!!!!!! They're so adorable!>>>Thanks! Ash < Watch out or you could become a cichlaholic!!!-Chuck>

Triops and Their Nutritional Value? Hi! I have a tank with 2 dwarf puffers and a dojo loach. I like to feed the dwarfs live food whenever I can. They like those pesky little pond snails a lot! I've also fed them bloodworms, live mosquitoes and am thinking of trying clams and squid and such after reading some of the WWM FAQs (which are super helpful, btw!) I was wondering if Triops had any nutritional value for fish like puffers, or for any carnivorous-type fish? They seem like they might, but a ton of searching on Google and such has not given me any good information about what they may do for fish. (I now know that they are a scourge of rice paddies and live in my neck of the woods, El Paso, up at Hueco Tanks park!) All interesting, but not what I wanted to know! Do any of you have any ideas about Triops as a food source? On a sort of related question, can dwarf puffers eat daphnia, or is it too small? Is Gammarus too big? >> Triops are a great food supplement for puffers, as are Gammarus, and all types of other shrimp. The daphnia you will simply have to try out. I would think that your puffers will love chasing them down. Many large fish like eating small live foods. Good Luck, Oliver

Please Don't Send us Questions Like This! Hi, I was wondering what could i give my fish as a snack. I seen other fish stores have pieces of fruit in the tank. Could i give them this?  <<What kind of fish do you have?  Thanks, Oliver>>

Switching Food Dear Bob (or who ever is reading this) Thanks for helping people with their aquatic needs. Anyway I have a 500g tank full of: 1 Oscar 1 red devil 1 African cichlid (don't know what type it is) 1 Pleco and 2 dojo loaches. I want to switch food because the pet store was out of the stuff I feed them so how do you get fish to switch food? I used to feed them shrimp and pellets but there were no shrimp or pellets when I got there, so I got cichlid fish sticks. So help!! Sean < Switching food is no big deal. I suspect that they will still come to the front of the tank when you approach to feed them. Only give them enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes once each day. Siphon out the rest. After a couple of days they will get the hint and be eating like they use to.-Chuck>  

Iodine in fresh water Hi <Hello there> I'm sorry to bug you, I know that this is posted on WWM, but I can find the article that talks about using marine iodine in fresh water aquariums, for ghost shrimp.  Can you just tell me how much to use in a 90 gallon tank, that is planted and is a community tank. I do remember that it was some thing like half of what the marine dose is, but I just want to make sure.  Thank you in advance, and keep up the good work.  Lukas <Mmm, well... depends on a few things... like what source of iodine/ate/ide one is using, what your water chemistry is... There are a few ways to approach this... using test kits for measuring what is actually there, what you're adding, simply observing your livestock to see if the "need something" (e.g. difficult molts), or simply pouring in X amount per the source/manufacturer's instructions... About half the marine dose is what I'd use if going the latter route. Bob Fenner> 

Soaking food in medication I have heard that you can soak medication in the food of fish before feeding them to cure diseases and rid parasites. is this true and what is the best way? also if you could point me in the direction of an article that would be great too. <Please use the search tool here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/index.html and read on! Bob Fenner>

Brine vs. Mysis 'Shrimp Face-off' Hello; How are you today? I have a question about feeding Bettas. I have frozen Mysis shrimp which I feed to the fish in my marine tank, (seahorses, etc). I was wondering if I could feed the Betta Mysis shrimp also. All the research that I have done, says that you should feed Bettas Brine shrimp. From the packages the San Francisco Brand Brine Shrimp has 5 percent protein and .5 percent fat. The PE Mysis shrimp are 18 percent protein and 8 percent fat. Do you think the PE Mysis are too high in protein and fat to feed to the Bettas? Thanks Much; Kevin D <Mysis win hands down. They are bigger, but as long as your Betta will take them they would be a big improvement. Adult Brine Shrimp have little or no food valve. If that's all he's getting you are starving him. Get a good Betta pellet or flake food. Then feed the Mysis or frozen Bloodworms two or three times a week as treats. Don> 

What kind of food is best? Hello. I just have a quick question. Which food should I use for a 5 gallon tank that contains a Betta, 4 white cloud minnows, a small bottom feeder, an algae eater, and a few small snails in it? I have been feeding them dried blood worms. I tried flakes but my Betta will eat then very sparsely. Thanks for your help. <A standard "Betta" food (pelleted likely) is best as a standard offering for your Betta and a good brand of flake food for the others... with occasional feedings of live, frozen/defrosted, freeze-dried... meaty foods of particle sizes that they can ingest. Bob Fenner> 

Pacu teeth and food/wafer evaluation I just thought you guys would be interested in a little product assessment considering algae wafers and Pacus. My Pacu is nuts over Algae wafers, so I've been shopping around for the ones that would be best for him. The two I've been using are pretty much the same as far as ingredients go. These products are Top Fin and Hikari, I've found that Hikari are actually better in two ways: they are about a dollar cheaper and have a half an ounce more in weight, also the wafers are a lot tougher and Pacu likes them that way because they feel good on his teeth. He actually takes the time to chew them and you hear a crunch that you can hear from the opposite side of the room. So there ya go, they are better for Pacu owners. Since I started feeding this to Pacu his teeth have grown in more plentiful and there are any tell tale signs for sore teeth anymore. Of course he gets a very plentiful diet of what ever just happened to be in my salad that night too. (No dressing of course) He seems to like grapes a lot too. <Thank you for this input. Will post/share... you've made many Pacus happy with your testing, reporting. Bob Fenner>

Mmmmm, Bloodworms.... 01/20/2005 I have a 40 gallon community tank, home to 20 assorted non-aggressive. How often should I treat them with some yummy (ugh) blood worms?  <It really totally depends on the type(s) of fish in the tank, and also upon whether you are planning to offer live, frozen, or freeze-dried bloodworms. My meat eating Loricariids get frozen bloodworms as a major part of their diet, but fish like, say, guppies, don't need 'em at all, and just once in a great while would be fine.> My hubby said twice a week, but I think that may be too much.  <Let us know what you've got in the tank, and we'll be better able to direct you. Chances are, though, that you can just use them at your discretion.> The regular diet consists of Pro Balance color, Spirulina, and total flake (obviously not all at the same time). Any info you have would be great! <Get back to us; I'd love to be of assistance!> Thanks, Eagle Tucker <Wishing you and your fishes well, -Sabrina>

My Betta is eating small roaches I have a gorgeous Betta in a tank, unfortunately I also have roaches in my house.  About a week ago a small one (roach) managed to get inside the tank and in to the water, he immediately gobbled it up. I know Bettas eat insects and larvae in the wild but are roaches ok?  I mean its probably not the first time that's happened and probably wont be the last so I'm kind of worried.  <Interesting... I think this may well be okay... as long as the Roaches haven't been sprayed, poisoned in some way... Perhaps rather than "hotels", you can market "Betta Roach Extractor" aquariums! Bob Fenner>

- Jar O'Zooplankton - I've tried to find a definitive answer on the web chat forum search venue but I am still confused. How long does Sweetwater Zooplankton stay in the refrigerator after being opened? <A pretty long time... have sat on jars for as long as a year.> I have one male Betta to feed, so I don't use a lot. Is this stuff "alive"? <No.> I hear that it will start to smell really funky when spoiled, but how close to "spoilage" can you continue to use it to feed your fish? <The stuff is pretty stinky from the time you first open the jar... wouldn't be to concerned until stuff starts growing in it.> Thanks-Also heard that Sweetwater sold out to another company and that anything labeled Sweetwater is old to begin with...any clue? <I don't have any information about that one way or the other. Cheers, J -- >

New 29 Gallon Tank Please help I just purchased a 29 gallon aquarium and I was wondering if you over feed your fish, what is the best way to remove the excess food. I tried to remove some of the water with a gravel vacuum hose and the 4 giant Danios went crazy is this normal?  Also, I was wondering if the Top Fin Power Filter 30 is sufficient for the 30 gallon? I have 4 Giant Danios in the tank right now, next week I would like to add something else. What would you recommend? As you can tell this is my first aquarium and I need help. Thank you. <The gravel vac is the best way to clean up. You should use it with every water change. The Danios will calm down a few minutes after you're done. I don't know your filter, but you need one that will pump around 120 gallons an hour or more for a 29. A turnover of 4 times per hour is the lowest you should go. More is better in most cases. Don't add any more fish for a while. New tanks are harsh on fish, it needs time to cycle. Instead pick up a test kit. You need to test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Ammonia is building up in there right now. Do water changes to keep near zero. When ammonia and nitrite have both spiked and crashed and nitrates start to rise you can add a few more fish. Expect this to take around 6 weeks. Cory catfish would be a good addition. Don>  

Not enough algae My son has a fish tank, the algae is not growing & he has lost 2 of his algae eating fish. He doesn't have enough algae in the tank.  <You can feed the fish algae wafers to get them enough algae or if you don't have algae you don't need algae eaters. MacL>

Feeding Peacock Gudgeons - 12/15/2004 Hi, <Ahoy thar, matey!> I have four peacock gudgeons, but I am having trouble feeding them. <Not exactly uncommon.  These can be finicky feeders.> They are in a tank with about 25 Neons.  At feeding time, the Neons go crazy, scaring the poor gudgeons away.   <This is very definitely a problem.  You may find that the two species simply are not compatible.> Any suggestions about how I can get some food to the gudgeons? <Well, first off, the gudgeons may simply refuse prepared foods.  It can be a touch tricky to get them to take anything other than live foods, at first.  I got my pair onto Spectrum marine pellets rather quickly; it took them a few days to understand that it was food, but once they tasted it, they ate with gusto.  On top of that, they have been breeding like clockwork on just the spectrum.  Definitely offer them a very high quality food, or start them with live foods if all else fails.  Some ideas to keep the Neons at bay - feed the Neons a floating food on one side of the tank, and the gudgeons a sinking food on the opposite side (Spectrum sinks, by the way).  If necessary, divide the tank.  Best option of all is to remove the gudgeons to their own tank - but be aware that if you have a male and female, they will establish dominance over the other two gudgeons and possibly cause some harm.  These are beautiful fish, and well worth the bit of effort it may take to get them eating.  Good luck with them.> Thanks,  Nate <Wishing you and your gudgeons well,  -Sabrina>

Frog/Pleco/goldfish hello, I have a few questions.  I recently just set up a 10 gallon tank, with 3 fantail goldfish, 1 Pleco, and an African dwarf frog.  I bought algae wafers for my Pleco, which I'm concerned that the goldfish are eating them instead. the goldfish are also eating the frog food.  I feed the frog the sinking tadpole/frog pellets.  I have heard that feeding bloodworms can actually make the fish sick??? < Feeding bloodworms has been known to cause digestive problems in some fish. It may be from overfeeding.> I'm not sure how that all works but I was told that the frogs like frozen bloodworms, so is it possible for the bloodworms to come alive after they have been frozen?? < Once they are frozen then they are dead.> I am looking for a substitute to feed my frog so I will have to deal with worms of any sort...ugh.  and I am also trying to find away for my Pleco and frog to get food without the goldfish eating it all first. please help! < When you turn out the lights the goldfish will go to sleep and the Pleco will come out to eat. So feed the algae wafers at night. Unfortunately I think the goldfish may still find some of the wafers , even in the dark but it is worth a try. Your frog is a carnivore and will require some sort of critter to feed on. I suggest that you get some small earthworms and wash them and place them in front of the frog. I am sure he will snatch them up right away and hide so the goldfish won't get them.-Chuck> Using the Internet 4/23/04  hello, I am trying to find someplace to buy live blackworms by the pound, shipped to my door ? the fish store's in town don't seem to carry a constant supply or ask a fortune for them, any ideas where too look ? Thanks Robert  <you've made it this far on the Internet, not do backup my friend to your search engine or some other (Google.com). Simply do a keyword search for your target words/phrases (i.e. - live, blackworms, delivered, aquarium foods, etc) and see what you can find. Also, check out some of the big aquatics message boards (also find many with keyword searches) and ask around the online community. Its the very beauty of the Internet... be resourceful my friend! Anthony>

Wonder supplements for fish? (03/12/04) Greetings aquatic connoisseurs... <Hi! Ananda here today...> My question is in regard to the addition of so called mineral and vitamin supplements to my fish tank. I have a 55 gallon freshwater tank and have seen products such as Biovit, Zoecon and Kent garlic Xtreme, which all claim to boost immune systems, promote growth, enhance personality (j/k)... <Increase intelligence? My mollies could use that....> do these work or are they just unneeded chemical additives? <Biovit and Zoecon are vitamin and mineral supplements, and can be useful if your fish are not getting a balanced diet. They are best used added to food, as you want to get the supplements in the fish and not lose them to the tank water. The Garlic Xtreme seems to be just garlic juice -- though it costs many times the price you'd pay for the garlic juice in the spice aisle of the grocery store. That said, there is anecdotal evidence that garlic juice can work as a food attractant. There are more anecdotes that more-concentrated garlic can help deal with internal parasites and worms, but as far as I know, no formal research has been done to prove or disprove its effectiveness. --Ananda>

- Freshwater Foods for Marine Fish - This will be my easiest question in history.  I went to my local fish store and bought several packages of frozen fish food of the San Francisco brand. When I returned home, I realized I had mistakenly bought a pack of Daphnia which the package said was for freshwater community fish.  As it was only $3.00, it is not worth risking the health of my marine fish (percula clown, royal Gramma, Heniochus, PJ cardinal, canary wrasse) by feeding them this freshwater food unless you give me the Okay. <Nothing wrong with this food - most Mysis that is fed to marine fish are of freshwater origin.> Is there a risk of adding a parasite or pollutants to my tank if I feed my marine fish this food? <No... only if you overfeed, just like any food.> Thanks, Ray <Cheers, J -- >

Re: I got a question for yellow labs Dear Magnus,   Thanks a bundle. <no prob.>   My fish's mate died due to eating some food covered with white fuzzy stuff.  I didn't realize it could kill my fish. <Fish just like humans can get sick by eating foods that are bad or rotten, be sure to only give foods that are still fresh and free of fungus to your fish.>   My lab seems to be very active but is afraid of light.  How can I solve that problem? <Many cichlids don't like exceedingly bright lights.  If you can find a less bright light at the store to put on your tank your fish will be more active.  Or just give it time, the fish will get use to your light and start coming out more. -Magnus.>

Overfeeding Neighbor Syndrome  Ok, try not to laugh out loud....  <Alright, I promise. Sabrina here, today>  After reading all of questions and answers, I realize I am a complete amateur at this. I don't really even know what some of these things (abbreviations) stand for'¦  <No sweat - got to start somewhere, eh?>  Here is the situation'¦..My tank is 29 gallons, with 4 fish. (one 4 inch gold fish, one 1.5 inch fantail gold fish, one 1.5 inch calico(?) gold fish, and one 2 inch "white" fish that always looks like it is trying to kiss everything).  <Try looking up "kissing Gourami", "Helostoma temminckii" - might that be your fish?>  We were away for the week and the fish were taken care of (fed) by the neighbor. When we returned the fish (except for the "white kissing" fish) were lethargic, and their fins look shredded. I don't see any small white spots except for one big one on the fantail gold fish. Of course the neighbor has no idea what happened. I have never had any trouble with my tank before and have had it for 4 years. I clean the rocks once a month..  <Might consider doing this and a partial water change more often, perhaps twice a month>  ..and change the filter cartridge about every 3 weeks. I immediately changed out about 20% of the water and added "Fungus Clear" as directed by the only pet store in town.  <This, I'm assuming, was for the 'big white spot'? I'm not sure the fungus clear is your best option for this. Can you describe this spot more? About how large is it? Does it look fuzzy? Does it look like an injury? Does it look like it's on the outside of the fish, or is it like it's eating into the fish? Is it kinda cauliflower-like? Red or bloody? You might be able to find helpful info here: http://www.fishdoc.co.uk/disease/diseasehome.htm . Beyond that, the best I can recommend for treatment without further details would be a good antibiotic like Kanamycin (Aquatronics manufactures this as "Kanacyn"), or Nitrofurazone (Aquatronics "Furacyn") or a combination of the two (Aquatronics "Spectrogram").>  I added 3 tablets (1 per 10 gallon) and removed the filter cartridge. After an hour the fish really seemed to perk up and start swimming instead of just kind of floating through the water. However, tonight (6 hours later) they all seem to be slowing down again. Sluggish, lethargic.  <A larger water change will help, I'm sure>  These are fish my children won from the county fair. The 4 inch fish is 6 years old. My kids are very sad. Of course they think MOM can fix everything so I am trying to give it my best shot!!  <Well, with all due luck, this is fixable!>  I have a filter for a 20-40 gallon fish tank, a heater, and an aerator (18" bubble curtain). I check the water with "Quick-Dip 5-1 test strips".  <The test strips really aren't the most accurate things out there; you might want to consider investing in liquid reagent type test kits>  Currently, my tank is 80 degrees, nitrites "0", hardness 100 ppm, alkalinity 80 ppm, pH 6.8. The nitrates, according the color chart, are about 160. (Very, very, very bright pink).  <Holy Mackerel! That's a *very* high nitrate reading. I think you can probably bet your neighbor overfed the fish by a great margin - one way to avoid that is to prepare the fish food for each day in one of those pillbox type things with the days printed on top - then you'll know the fish will only be getting "X" amount, and no more, each day. For now, though, it's imperative that you do some water changes to get those nitrates down, I'd do 50% right away and another 50% tomorrow, too. Please be sure to use a dechlorinator/tapwater conditioner.>  I have not ever checked ammonia and actually don't even know how to go about it.  <You can find test kits at the local fish store - again, the strips are rather inaccurate; better to go for the liquid type tests>  I don't know of anything other than 20% water changes. Should I continue to make water changes? If so, how often?  <As above, I'd increase your regular water changes to twice a month instead of once, and do some big ones right away to drop the nitrates.>  Should I keep the filter cartridge out or put it back in?  <If you are medicating, keep the carbon-containing cartridge out of the filter. If it is possible to remove the carbon from the cartridge, do so, and put the cartridge back on.>  Should I raise the temperature?  <No - certainly not - goldfish are coldwater fish; a temperature of 65-70 degrees is much more reasonable; higher temps might make them more susceptible to illness - but the temperature is also going to be partly dependant on the 'kissing fish' - which might not be ultimately compatible with the goldfish, mostly due to this temperature issue.>  Should I use freshwater salts?  <Not a bad idea at all - I'd go with one tablespoon per ten gallons. Remember not to add salt when are only adding water lost due to evaporation - salt does not evaporate.>  As I said, I am definitely an amateur, so any suggestion at all would be an improvement. I am desperate to save my fish.  <Feel free to let us know if we can be of further assistance. Wishing you well, -Sabrina.>  Holly Cluxton 

Where's the beef? I have a red tail catfish in a 125 gallon tank with three snakeheads and a Pacu.  The red tail cat has been doing fine until recently.  The fish has not eaten for about 3 weeks now and it's belly is swollen as if it has gorged itself.  I have changed the water and checked ph levels. <Have you checked ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, as well?  These are important.> The day I changed the water the catfish's belly appeared to have returned to normal size however the next day it was again bulging.  There are no smaller fish in the tank for it to have eaten.  The catfish is approximately 8 or 9 inches long.  Do you have any idea what might be going on?  The last time the catfish ate was raw red meat that it had scavenged while I was feeding the snakeheads. <Yoinks!!  Don't feed your fish red meat (or poultry)!!  This can result in extremely serious, and sometimes irreversible, nutritional deficiencies/disease.  Not a safe practice at all.  The saturated fats in red meat and poultry are indigestible by fish, and will build up in the liver.  This is often eventually fatal, and can have no outward signs.  There is no treatment for fish with this condition, other than rectifying the diet of the fish to prevent further damage.> Is it possible that the catfish is unable to digest this? <I think that's at least part of the issue - again - red meat is bad for fish.  Please try to get your fish onto a safer diet; there are lots of recipes online for do-it-yourself seafood mixtures, and plenty of frozen meaty foods available as well.  Granted, a big ol' hunk o' cow is cheaper - but it'll do in your fish in the long (or short) run.  Now - on to fixing your catfish.  With all due luck, he's simply constipated, but yikes, he hasn't eaten in three weeks?!  And he's still bloated?!  That's pretty amazing.  What are you offering him?  Are you absolutely positive that no food is escaping the snakeheads and Pacu and getting caught somewhere where the Redtail might snap it up when you're not looking or at night?  Try feeding him with earthworms (if he accepts them, it may help to clear any blockage in his gut), or try a bath of Epsom salts, at a rate of 1 teaspoon per 4 gallons in a hospital tank, and raise the temperature a few degrees.  Good luck to you  -Sabrina>

Please Help.   <Sabrina here, I'll certainly try> I was doing very well with my well planted 10 gallon tank for six months until I added a bristle nose Pleco and fed it zucchini. (microwaved).   <no reason to microwave; give it to him fresh, it'll be healthier for him that way>   I also had four tiger barbs.  PH 6.8 maintained with combination tap water (treated with conditioner) and distilled water because our PH is too high otherwise.  We also condition the water with peat. <sounds good> First, after we used a piece of uncooked zucchini we had a bloom (white).   <probably a bacterial bloom.... did you remove the uneaten zucchini?  If it stays in too long, it can foul the water> Ammonia started to increase so we did a water change of about 30 per cent, added Ammo Lock and some cycle and some Clear biological water clarifier. <the water clarifier is probably unnecessary; I've never used any, myself, I just rely on water changes> It all seemed ok after a couple of days.  We then used some cooked zucchini for the Bristlenose. Within two days the ammonia has soared to over 5.  The nitrites are between 0.3 and 0.5.   <Yeowch!> have done two 33 per cent water changes and the ammonia is not decreasing!  Even right after a water change it appears to be the same. I do not understand why!   <you're still using the Ammo-Lock, right?  That will register ammonia on an ammonia test, even though there's no harmful ammonia in the tank any more, so it's kinda tough to tell> I have lost one Barb.   <could have been the initial ammonia spike> The other three seem ok and the Bristlenose seems ok too.   <good> I did a big gravel vacuum today to ensure any left over food was not rotting. (particularly zucchini).   <good> I added some more ammo lock and a double dose of Cycle. A friend suggested some stress zyme. I know the fish cannot survive such high ammonia.   <the ammo-lock's almost definitely the culprit on why you're registering ammonia on your test; I think it says it'll do that somewhere on the bottle, too, if you want to check> I also know that if I keep doing water changes then I may just be prolonging the ammonia "spike".   <what with the ammo-lock, you may already be well past the spike, just keep an eye on nitrites, and if you feel the need, keep up with water changes, but omit the ammo-lock, and see if that ammonia value goes down> I have stopped feeding the fish for a couple of days. <won't hurt, but probably unnecessary since most of this is probably attributable to the ammo-lock> What caused the spike?  Was it the zucchini or just the addition of the Bristlenose? <my bet is that the zucchini was left in too long.  I usually drop a piece of veggie in for my Plecs right before bed and pull out any leftovers right after I wake up.  Also, cooking the veggies in the microwave will cause them to break down faster and foul the water far more quickly.  Try a smaller piece of zucchini, and if your Plecs willing to eat while you're awake, when he seems done with it, pull out the remainder; otherwise, try dropping it in right before bed and pull out the leftover first thing in the morning.> What should I do now. ?  It was all going so well until now.   <with all due luck, you'll be back to normal in no time> Thanks <sure thing>

Eat, Don't Kiss! Hello to all at WWM, <Hello! Ryan here> I bought 2 pink kissing gourami's 4 days ago and have them in QT by themselves but they are not eating.  I've tried reading over all the faq and am still at a loss.  They are in an established tank and all my water parameters check out okay.  I haven't noticed any white spots or any other obvious signs of illness only that they hang out on the bottom of the back of the tank.  I've tried offering frozen blood worms and brine shrimp.  Also I got some zooplankton all to no avail.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. <Amy, are there adequate hiding places for them to feel safe?  I like to keep a piece of PVC or some fake plants in my QT to reduce stress.  Was the brine you offered live?  If not, try that.  Brine shrimp are a poor substitute for real food, but seem to get almost any fish eating.  Small live worms may do the trick as well.  These fish are generally very hardy with an appetite to match-could you contact the LFS which sold you the fish and find out what they were eating previously?  Good luck!> Thank You, Amy

Re: Established Tank - need more friends :) I have another question - so I thought I'd just reply here. <Not a problem, Ronni here with you this AM> What are your opinions on those automatic feeders? We'll be gone for 11 days this summer, and want to make sure the fishies don't die :) ~Bill <I have no personal experience with them but have heard good and bad. The one thing everyone agrees on is that if you use one, set it up several weeks before you leave and monitor it closely to make sure it's working properly. Another option if you have someone watching your house is to pre-measure the daily food into little cups (disposable plastic Dixie cups work great) and label each one with the day it is to be fed. Set these on or near the tank so all the person has to do is dump it in the tank. I've done this several times and have never had fish loss this way. It only works though if you're using dry food and you can trust the person to actually do it. :o)>

Re: freshwater morays   I have just purchased 2 freshwater morays and have them looking well so far but have a dumb question. How do you use the worm feeder cone? I bought the cone and worms yesterday but can't seem to find any literature on using them. <Go to the manufacturers' website and see if they have any info on using it there. You might also search http://www.wetwebmedia.com for worm feeder cone and see what you can find. Ronni>

SW Food for FW Fish I have a question. I have 2 big packages of Formula One frozen fish food. I bought it for my meat eating Saltwater fish. Can it also be fed to my freshwater fish like Black Ghost Knifefish or Blue Brichardi or African Cichlids? <I would not make this their feeding staple but if you're just trying to get rid of the food, try it. If they eat it, great. The food won't hurt them> I know they eat vegetables but was wondering if for the meat part of their diet can they eat the formula one. Are these foods interchangeable of just for Saltwater fish? <Normally, aquarists like for SW to eat food from their SW environment and FW to eat food from their FW environment. But a little won't hurt. David Dowless>

Freshwater food Sorry but I forgot to ask you something in my first e-mail What is the better frozen foods to feed freshwater fish Tetras, Guppy and Platy. I am now feeding flake food and this Sally's frozen brine shrimp. But I have heard that frozen brine shrimp is not the best way to go and also how many times a week should I feed frozen foods. Also just bought some livebearer food which is a mixture of flakes and Tubifex worms is this stuff any good? Or better yet what do you fellas suggest that I feed them? Thanks again guys  Bill <Hey Bill, personally I like frozen food, not necessarily frozen brine shrimp.  There is a large variety of frozen food out there.  Check out the link below for more information. http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfoods,fdg,nutr.htm Best Regards, Gage>

Frozen Mysis shrimp As you can see I originally sent this on Dec 21.  Judging from my MS Outlook the mail did get sent however,  I have not received a response and I know you respond promptly.  I'm not sure what happened, but  I am trying to send it again. <not sure... may have got through and a glitch on our end. You are correct though... we do aim to answer promptly when possible!> Judy Happy holidays all, <and to you in kind> I just bought a package of cubes of frozen Mysis shrimp to feed my freshwater fish (platys, molly, Betta) to supplement the flake food they eat regularly (they seem to love it).   <mysids are indeed very nutritious> My questions:  (1) is this healthy for them or is it like giving them junk food?  They seem to love it <do read the protein content... fairly to very high for a frozen food. Adult brine shrimp however is complete junk food... a hollow barren animal. Frozen foods in general (excluding brine shrimp) are necessary for most fishes as they provide vitamins not available in the baked dry foods (pellets and flakes)> (2) How often should I provide this food?   <3-5 times weekly minimum. A small amount daily would be nice> (3) the shrimps fall to the bottom very quickly <feeding too much or too fast. Try smaller portions that can be consumed quicker> and this bothers me for two reasons, first of all the fish don't get a chance to eat as much as they would if the shrimp stayed suspended for a little longer and secondly, I imagine the uneaten shrimp will decay and reduce my water quality faster than if they weren't down there rotting away.  Are these legitimate concerns? <legitimate and correct> And lastly, this is  dumb question, but I'm hoping maybe there is a technique - is there any way to keep the shrimp suspended in the water for a little longer? <wringing the pack juice/water from the thawed meat may help somewhat (squeeze through a white nylon fishnet, or cheesecloth> Can I mix it with something?  Put them in a net? Other ideas? Thanks for your help. Judy <best regards, Anthony>

Beef liver as food? Hi! Just want to ask if beef liver is ok as food for Oscars and Bichirs. I bought it by mistake, and I read a book by Dr. Axelrod saying its ok. How do I prepare it? I plan to boil it after removing the fat, then mixing it with pellets before freezing it again. Is this ok? Thanks a lot! John <livers naturally and necessarily contain high concentrations of metals. They are also very difficult (like beef heart) for fishes to digest (a very unnatural food). Other natural aquatic foods are more nutritious (higher protein like PE Mysis shrimp and krill at 70% protein!) and much easier to digest. I do not recommend liver or beef heart to fishes. Best regards, Anthony>

Flake Food Hi again - I was wondering about the dried flake food that I use to feed my Great Danios and Harlequins. Should the flakes be broken up into smaller pieces (so that it's easy for the harlequins to eat), or is it better to let them float at the top of the tank? <Your fish are more than able to tear apart the flake food. I would leave as is to avoid breaking up too small such that the fish avoid the tiny particles and these end up in your filter.> Thanks, Leslie Ann Roldan <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Home made food for freshwater fish Hello All, I hope everything is going well. I have decided that it is time for my fish and I to take our relationship to the next level. I would like to start making home made food for them. I have checked out Bob's recipe in his book, and am looking for some ways to tweak it for my freshwater fish. In my tank I have Angels, glass cats, lots of Corys, two tiger Plecos, a spotted high fin Pleco, a pit bull Pleco (are some Plecos more the scavenger type, as opposed to algae eaters?), Pristella tetras, and bleeding heart tetras. <Grind, chop very fine...> I am thinking of adding blood worms to the mix, how about some night crawlers? <Yummy!> As far as greens go is spinach a good idea, or what about some dandelion greens, my tortoises sure dig that stuff. <Spinach is better for fishes> What do you think would be best for them? I may need to just make a mix for the carnivores and keep feeding the algae eaters algae wafers. <Good idea> Would a similar mix work for my fancy goldfish, possibly a little heavier in the green department? <Yes... and less protein overall> Any information would be greatly appreciated. <You may well end up writing a/the article here... do keep good notes on your experiments> Best Regards, Gage Harford BTW, my reef tank is doing well, and in a funny twist of fate I am now working at a LFS to keep me busy while I wait for this tech stuff to turn around, HA. <Outstanding. Bob Fenner>

Re: Home made food for freshwater fish Well my friends, I must say that the first attempt at home made fresh water fish food was a spectacular failure. The angels were interested but were quick to spit it out, and did not give it a second chance. Hopefully the scavengers will like it. So here are today's ingredients: spinach fresh raw prawns albacore tuna blood worms freeze dried crickets Kent Zoe and Zoecon for vitamins and stuff Xanthan gum to bind it together <Sounds good to me... likely just unfamiliarity working against you at this point> I think on the next try I will leave out the Xanthan gum, it was an organic thing to bind it so I figured I would give it a shot. I will also leave out the albacore and add the night crawlers. What do you think? <Worthwhile to try> Needless to say, I have plenty of turtle food. Best Regards, Gage Harford <Keep good notes... and sending them along. Bob Fenner>

INFUSORIA TABLETS!  Good Morning! Quite a few years ago when I was growing up in Chicago, Illinois, the pet shops were selling tablets called "Infusoria Tablets". You would put these in a jar of water and all kinds of natural food critters would hatch, just like "Live Rock". Daphnia would also hatch out of these tablets.  <Wow, I remember back... and it was quite a few years back... like a few decades, yikes!> I live on the Central California Coast and am not having any luck locating this product. Have you heard of this product? <Not made by anyone any longer as far as I'm aware. But we can make our own "infusoria" cultures with a bit of boiled old lettuce, straw let to soak in water... and time going by, letting it sit in the sunshine... No Daphnia this way though> If you know if this product is still available, can you give me a link to be able to obtain some. Would like to be able to use this product again to feed my fresh water fish. Thank You! Rudy <Be chatting, Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia.com>

Re: INFUSORIA TABLETS! Hi Bob! Thanks for the input. Gosh it really is decades ago! How does one get daphnia eggs or cultures to grow??? Any input would be appreciated! <Glad to try to answer... starter cultures, populations of Daphnia species can be collected in many places or purchased from supply houses (the fish magazine classifieds also have some listed). They're easily grown in a "kiddy pool" outside, feeding them "green water" which can be produced in the pool or in jars, a spare aquarium. Some folks make the green water with dried plant material soaked in water, others throw a pinch of complete fertilizer in to spur it along. Bob Fenner> Thanks Rudy

Homemade Food Anthony or Steve: I have a pair of Bolivian rams (Microgeophagus altisponsa) in a heavily planted ten gallon with a pair of pygmy Corys (Corydoras pygmaeus). I will hopefully add another 4-6 pygmy Corys in the next few weeks, but no other fish. I have had the male Bolivian ram for about a year but I just purchased the female. She is pretty skinny (I think they had forgotten she was in the tank at the LFS; they certainly didn't know what she was) and he is just recovering from a bout of HITH (I have learned my lesson about going to college and leaving my fish at home). Anyways, I hope to eventually breed the Bolivians, so I want to get their weights back up over the next few months. Right now they are eating Omega One Natural Protein Formula in the AM and vitamin-soaked (Zoe and Zoecon) bloodworms, brine shrimp, and Whiteworms in the PM.  <the Whiteworms will fatten them up quick, the brine shrimp is useless, and some more larvae would be nice for roe production in the female like frozen glassworms> The female eats really well, but the male and the Corys are more reluctant. I make homemade mouse food so recently I decided I would like to try doing the same for the fish so I will have a good fresh food to use in addition to prepared foods. I checked out the recipe in TCMA, but it is for SW fish. Would it still be adequate for FW fish?  <yes... very much so. Just adjust for your specific fishes needs (like adding more bloodworms, Daphnia, glassworms, etc)> Is there a recipe for homemade food that would be healthy for both FW and SW fish?  <its not FW vs. SW, but rather herbivore, omnivore and planktivore (or piscivore for the predators <wink>)> For that matter, my fiancé© and I use a vitamin supplement for the FW and SW fish, do we need to buy one for the FW tank and one for the SW (i.e., is there really any difference between FW Zoe and SW Zoe)?  <little or none as I understand it> Also, is there anything special I can do to encourage pair-bonding in the Bolivians?  <yes... play Luther Vandross music by candle light> Thank you so much! <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Fear, Fish Behavior I have a 5.5 gallon tank with 4 balloon mollies and two bumblebee gobies. The Nitrite levels are good, the ammonia levels are good, I have added salt to the water, and the pH is fine. The mollies eat fine, but the gobies just seem to hide, and are not eating. I do feed live foods as recommended. Is there a chance the gobies are afraid of the mollies, and thus want to keep a low profile? Thanx. James Kim <in such a small tank, yes... the gobies may simply be intimidated by the activity of the more assertive fish. But admittedly, they are not gregarious fish to begin with. Anthony> PS How long before the gobies die? <shouldn't let them go more than 5-7 days without food. Do move them to another tank or trade them back, please>

New 20 Gallon Freshwater Tank Hello Robert, I had a couple of question being a first time fish owner. I have a 20 gallon freshwater fish tank. <Okay> At what temperature should I keep my fish tank at? <The mid to upper seventies F.> How often should I feed my fish (I have (4) iridescent sharks, (2) angel fish, and those little neon fish, along with some (2) Buenos Aires Tetras) <Twice a day... or three times... A good practice is to "feed your livestock" before feeding yourself... And to take a bit of time while doing the same, to carefully observe... make sure all are getting food> I also noticed my fish tank gets "cloudy", I have black pebbles on the bottom of the tank. What can I do to make the tank clearer? <Many things. How long has your system been up/running? At first, many tanks get cloudy, as various microbe populations are "settling in"... take care not to overfeed during this time. Is your filtration adequate? Do you utilize at least some live plant material? You should... all these and more will help clear, and keep your system clear.> How often should I change the water, if so, how much water should I change at one time? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm and the links beyond re general maintenance> And finally, Should I put live plants in the tank? <Definitely. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plttks.htm and the FAQs beyond> I appreciate your time and response, my email address is or by just replying to this email. thank you <Welcome to the ever-fascinating hobby of aquarium keeping. Bob Fenner>

Feeding Cichlids Black worms, my opinions (what else do I have?) Dear Mr. Fenner: Just curious, I have a 135g. freshwater tank with cichlids of various types, have been feeding them flakes, pellets, fresh veggies, and at nighttime live black worms as a snack. I just read that you should not feed cichlids black worms, what is your opinion on this? <There are incidences of positive correlation with their feeding, especially to Great Lakes African Cichlids... and disease/digestive problems... for non-Africans, occasional use, I would not worry> They seem to love them, and I only feed what they eat right away. None settle to bottom of tank. Have the black worms for my elephant nose fish.  <The Mormyrids really enjoy these...> would appreciate your opinion on this matter. Sincerely, Shirley <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Blackworms Thanks for your opinion on the blackworms, I will only give them to the cichlids on rare occasions now. Do you have any information on how to raise them myself? Thanks for all your help this this and past questions. Sincerely, Shirley <Blackworms? Yes... and must need write these "live fish foods" pieces up as articles and site: www.WetWebMedia.com material. Please do keep after me here... as will try to address the culture of these annelids in a month or so... Bob Fenner>

Baby Guppies, Daphnia for food? I have 9 baby guppies, they are 2 weeks old. I recently bought some live daphnia for my main tank, I tried feeding some of the smaller daphnia to the babies but they weren't interested. Why is this?? <Likely unfamiliarity with the food, or the food being too big for the young to ingest... try some smaller fare for now... even just ground-between your fingers dry food till they're a bit larger... And take care to not offer Daphnia too often or exclusively... as it has a laxative effect if so. Bob Fenner>

Culex Dear Robert, Could you please tell me how to attract these common black 'mozzies' to water so that I can 'fish' them out and feed to my fish.  If you know, do you know how to do it using clean and crystal CLEAR water? Last time I went 'fishing' for these guys, they all hid in the dirt.  I heard that beetle juice attracts them but please tell me another way.  Please reply at your earliest convenience  Thanks a lot,  Keith  >> I used to gather same by mixing some milk (going bad... is better) in warm water in a wide-mouthed jar (large plastic pickle ones are my fave) and setting them outside in a wind-free area... Just make sure and check on the egg rafts and "wigglers" lest they hatch out and get you into trouble. Bob Fenner

Culex Dear Robert, does the milk need to be going bad? What ratio should it in (milk: water)? In Liters if possible Thanks a lot  >> Not necessarily bad... it will go that route in short time, and just an ounce or a couple of teaspoons per liter or so. Bob Fenner

Thank you for taking time to read my question! Do Redtail sharks eat algae or flake food? My two small redtails are not coming up to eat the flake food like my other fish; they just swim around and eat the algae off of the plants. Is this normal? Thank you for your time! æ~Ty~æ >> Redtail sharks (Labeo bicolor) will gladly eat all types of fresh, frozen, live and prepared foods... but relish algae of many types. Look into a flake type of more vegetable material to augment your existing one. Bob Fenner

Feeding Times When is the best time of day to feed the fish in my freshwater aquarium? >> A couple of times a day for a broad mix of livestock. An hour or so after "lights on", and at least an hour before their "lights end" period... giving the organisms a bit of time to awake and towards the eve, to find, ingest most of the offered foods. Bob Fenner

hi, I just got a clown loach, do have any advice on trying to get them to eat? I also have a guppy, penguins, I call them head lights, white clouds, neon tetras, algae eaters and 2 frogs. I was also wondering if you had any advice on how to keep them alive, because whenever I change the water a fish died. Thanks, A fish lover >> Hmm, loaches really need high protein food, delivered right down to where they live... on the bottom. Try some sinking pellets as a regular food, with occasional feedings of frozen (or live) black worms, blood worms (which are actually insect larvae)... even frozen (defrosted) brine shrimp...  Your frogs also need plenty of meaty fresh or freshly defrosted frozen foods... be careful not to overfeed the tank with these foods though... And regarding your comment of losing fish and water changes. Only change about one quarter at most in any given week. And make sure the new water is treated (with a tap water conditioner) to remove sanitizer... and check to assure the new water is about the same temperature as your tank water. Bob Fenner, also a fish lover

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