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Foodstuff offered to our fish

by George J. Reclos, Frank Panis, Francesco Zezza and Thanassis Moschou

This is a cumulative work showing what we have found to work better for the fish we keep. Before going on, there are a couple of things that you should keep in mind while reading the tables that follow.

1. We have not tried every single food which is in the market today, so those are the ones which worked well for us while there may be far better foods out there which we have not used yet.

2. One food may be good for one particular species in the tank of one hobbyist while the same species in the tank of another hobbyist may not touch it. Furthermore, the distinction between "like the food" and "eat it", although subjective, is an important one. "Like" it means that the fish will try to get as much of it as it can as quickly as possible. "Eat it" means that the fish will finally eat it although it may take some time and only after it makes sure that its favorite food will not hit the water.

3. Please note that most cichlids, especially the large ones, will stick to one type of food and will not accept any other type unless starved. This is not the correct way to feed them for many reasons. To avoid this, you can offer them a combination of 3 or more food types on a daily basis and 1-2 additional food types 1-2 times per week. Ideally, the fish should not be allowed to feel "full" if it goes for one of the food types only. It takes practice but it can be done.

4. Always take into account that smaller / weaker fish will not go to the surface so you should take care to add food that sinks quickly which will allow them to eat while the larger / stronger fish in the tank are busy eating near the surface of the water. When growing fry, it is essential to make sure that all the fry are able to take the larger sized food before discontinuing the smaller one. If in doubt, offer both of them.

5. Do not overfeed. Fish should be chewing all the food offered to them in less than 5 minutes. Uneaten food should be removed especially if your filtration system is barely efficient and there are no catfish in the tank. It is recommended to starve your fish at least once per week (not the fry or juveniles). Your adult fish should be fed once daily. The younger the fish, the more feedings per day should be offered. For fry less than 1 month old, this may be as many as 7 feedings per day, evenly spread during the light period.

6. You can save a lot of money if you buy the larger food packs. Most common food types are now offered in 10 liter packs which are almost 60% cheaper when compared to the smallest packing size of the same food. Some points to be taken into account: a) the large packs carry an expiry date on them (or they should). If you can't consume all of it before the expire date, it is better to use a smaller size or share it with a fellow hobbyist, b) all commercial dry foods are very sensitive to humidity which may destroy / deplete their nutrients or even become the host of microorganisms. It is better to open the large pack and transfer the food you will need for 7-10 days in smaller packs (you can use old empty food cans for this).

7. If you want to feed your fish with live food, you can look around you. Earthworms are everywhere, mosquito larvae will be in every water body left out during the winter months, algae can by cultivated in outdoor small tanks etc. In any case, it is very important to ensure that the live food will not be the carrier of pathogens, which is a very good reason to have your own cultures.

8. Last, but definitely not least, make sure that you are feeding your fish the right stuff. As an example, feeding vegetables to carnivore fish is a mistake which will have a direct impact on their well being.

George & Francesco

Food (description / commercial name)

Physical form

Fish that love it (primary selection)

Fish that eat it

Comments

Liquifry 1

Liquid suspension

Fry (0-10 mm)

 All egglayer fry / algae

 Ideal for first food and to promote infusoria growth.

Baby Star 2

Liquid suspension

Fry (0-10 mm)

 All egglayer fry

 Ideal substitute for Artemia.

Protogen

Pellets (sinking)

 

 All egglayer fry

 Dried infusoria cultures

Baby Star 4

Liquid suspension

Fry (over 8 mm)

 All egglayer / livebearer fry

 As a second food for fry - change from #2 at about 45 days.

Tetra baby

Powder

Fry (0-10 mm)

 All egglayer / livebearer fry

 Start at 30 days keep till more than 3 months.

Dr. Bassleer (small)

Small pellets (sinking)

Fry (over 15 mm), all juvenile cichlids (especially Madagascan cichlids), livebearers.

 

 Start at 2 months, keep till more than 6 months. Make sure all the fish can take it - else keep on offering powder food.

OSI Cichlid pellets

Large pellets (floating / sinking)

Paratilapia (all; over 10 cm), Cichlasoma pearsei, P. managuensis, P. menarambo

 All cichlids

 Excellent all around food.

OSI shrimp pellets

Large pellets (sinking)

Paretroplus maculatus, Pseudoacanthicus adonis, P. leopardus, Synodontis decorus, S. angelicus, S. notatus, Scobiancistrus aureatus, Platydoras costatus.

All cichlids and most catfish

 As a snack, every 3 days.

Tetra bits

Small pellets (floating / slowly sinking)

All cichlids, except the very large ones.

 

 Promotes the red colors significantly. Available in large quantities.

Tetra Arowana sticks

Large pellets (floating / sinking)

Parapetenia managuensis

 All large cichlids.

 Excellent food for large predators.

Blue Line Grade 122

Small pellets (sinking)

All juvenile cichlids (especially Madagascan cichlids).

All cichlids and most catfish.

 Especially suitable for sand shifters (e.g. F. rostratus, Paretroplines etc.)

Blue Line Grade 58

Small pellets (sinking)

Fry, all juvenile cichlids (especially Madagascan cichlids).

 

 

Tetra Prima / Discus

Small pellets (floating / slowly sinking)

S. discus, S. aquefasciats, Pterophyllum scalare, all cichlids.

 

 

Tetra Prima / for blue Discus

Small pellets (floating / slowly sinking)

All blue Discus

 

 

Tetra Prima / for red Discus

Small pellets (floating / slowly sinking)

All red / orange discus.

 

 

Tetra Min Pro

Flakes (floating / slowly sinking)

 

 All cichlids

 Offered for more variety

Ginger  Brine shrimp flakes

Flakes

 

 All cichlids

  Offered for more variety

Ginger Cichlid-gro flakes

Flakes

 

 All cichlids

  Offered for more variety

Ginger Color flakes

Flakes

 

 All cichlids

  Offered for more variety

Ginger Brine shrimp sinking pellets

Large pellets (sinking)

 

All cichlids and most catfish

  Offered for more variety

Ginger Marine flakes

Flakes

Most mediterranean marine fish

 

 

Premium flakes with earthworms

Flakes

 

 All cichlids

  Offered for more variety

Tetra Shrimp pellets

Large pellets (sinking)

 

All cichlids and most catfish

  Offered for more variety

Tetra tips

Vacation tablets

 small fish

 

 

JBL premium tablets

Sinking tablets

 Catfish

 

 

Hikari Cichlid bio-gold

Pellets (slowly sinking)

 All Malawi cichlids

 All cichlids

 Excellent food.

Frozen shrimp

Frozen food

Paratilapia polleni, P. sp. “Andapa”, Cichlasoma pearsei, C. nigrofasciatus, Malawi haps, Malawi m’buna, Juveniles of most cichlids (20-40 mm)

 P. managuensis, some catfish

 Once per week - should be cut in small pieces otherwise most fish will ignore it.

Frozen mussels

Frozen food

Juveniles of most cichlids (20-40 mm)

 Most cichlids, Paretroplines

 Once per month - should be cut in small pieces otherwise most fish will ignore it.

Mussels (live)

Live food

Octopus vulgaris

 

 Keep alive in a separate tank.

Fish (frozen)

Frozen food

Octopus vulgaris.

Paratilapia (all)

 Once per month

Earthworms (live)

Live food

Paratilapia (all)

 

 once / twice per week

Mosquito larvae (live)

Live food

Fry (over 10 mm); all livebearers, all small fish, Juveniles of most cichlids (20-40 mm)

 

 Use your own tank to raise them - do not collect them from water bodies you can't trust.

Aquatic snails (live)

Live food

Paretroplus maculatus, P. menarambo

Paretroplus damii, P. nourissati

 Once / twice per week - keep your own cultures.

 Code: Blue > Offered to Madagascan cichlids Yellow > Offered to fry

Frank

Food (description / commercial name)

Physical form

Fish that love it (primary selection)

Fish that eat it

Comments

Dr Bassleer Biofish food

granulates M and XL

All my adult cichlids

All the fish

Now my main cichlid food again. XL granulates are fed to the Malawi cichlids, M granulates are fed to my SA cichlids.

JBL Grana cichlid partially sinking granulates All my adult cichlids All the fish Was my main cichlid food. Should come in larger packages for convenience and cost reasons.

JBL Novo Tab

sinking tablets

All my pleco's

Pleco's + cichlids

Food for all fish.

JBL Novo Fect

sinking tablets

All my pleco's

Pleco's + cichlids

Food for herbivore fish.

JBL Novo Plecochips

s(t)inking tablets

All my pleco's

Pleco's

Contains 10% wood what should beneficial for the digestion of most pleco's. Smells more than the other foods though.

JBL Novo Tom

Powder

Fry (0-10 mm)

Fry

Fry raising food that contains artemia. Works great in my opinion.

Tetramin Pro Flakes The smaller fish in my South-American tank All the fish Basically not needed , but I want to grant the small fish to have their own specific food too.

Thanassis

Food (description / commercial name)

Physical form

Fish that love it (primary selection)

Fish that eat it

Comments

General comment:  Actually none of my fish “loves” it’s food (the cichlid way), with the possible exception of the Pe maculatus and my home-made food. I just use the terms here only to indicate a relative preference. After keeping them for seven months I learned that madagascan cichlids can be really picky…

“My concoction”

Gelatin cubes, chopped as needed

Paretroplus maculatus

Paratilapia sp. “Andapa”

It is nothing of a novelty, just another home prepared food. Shrimps, mussels, squid, pear, broccoli, spirulina commercial food, human consumption purposed multi-vitamin capsules, all mashed into pulp, mixed with gelatine dissolved in hot water and poured into ice cube molds, and put in the freezer. This ice cube form is rather important IME. If you try to “cast” the gelatine in a slate-like form, you’l have a hard time breaking a piece the size you wish later.

Frozen shrimps (thawed)

Chopped shrimp

Paratilapia polleni, Paratilapia sp. “Andapa”

Paretroplus maculatus

Whole, peeled, frozen shrimps (1-4 cm size) purposed for human consumption (again), thawed and finely chopped. This latter is a detail of importance, as I found that if the shrimp ain’t   *finely*   chopped, fish will ignore it. Strangely enough, I might add, at least for a cichlid. You may try to mash the thawed shrimps in a food processor, and end up with a paste very firm that holds its consistency in water pretty well, that is better accepted by fish and that is very concentrated I must add. I have not tried to preserve it though, as it was already frozen and thawed (at least) once.

Tetra Bits

Granules

Paratilapia sp. “Andapa”

Paretroplus maculatus

-

Wardley’s cichlid crumbles (and such)

Granules

Paretroplus maculatus

Paratilapia sp. “Andapa”

-

Dr Bassleer

Small Granules

Paretroplus maculatus

Paratilapia polleni, Paratilapia sp. “Andapa”

-

We would like to note that MCH is not sponsored by any company or individual. The use of commercial names was essential for this article.

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