Live . . . from your fish tank: Foods that add zest!

September 5, 2012 - 8:47am

If your angelfish seems a bit sluggish, your gouramis a bit listless, and your red Serpae Tetras pale, then you probably should be examining their eats. The best food regimen for your aquarium fish is one that is closest to its natural diet. That means all fish hobbyists should be offering a menu that includes a variety of foods to their finned pet.

In the wild, fish spend all day foraging for something to nibble on that will nourish them. It keeps them busy. In home aquariums, fish often become lazy or rather dependent upon their keeper, who often over-feeds them. Because of this, behaviors change. Some aquarium fish float motionless all day rather than hunt. Others become more aggressive towards tank-mates when boredom sets in. Aquarium fish fed only a dry staple flake diet can encounter health problems, and most lose their colors so vibrantly displayed in natural waters.

Offering a mix of live foods along with a variety of dry, frozen, and freeze-dried fish foods can improve your wet pet’s disposition and health. Foods to consider:

 Brine shrimp: This crustacean is the live favorite among aquarium hobbyists. Live brine shrimp, Artemia salina, exist in saline lakes world-wide. Their eggs can easily be hatched at home in saltwater kept at 77 degrees Fahrenheit and aerated with a common air stone. Once the eggs hatch, the baby brine shrimp need only be rinsed with tap water before offering them to your fish. Fry love them, too.
 Blood worms: Due to its bright red coloring, the larvae of flies are commonly called blood worms. An aerated container kept damp and cool will keep this live food fresh.
 Daphnia: More commonly called water fleas, Daphnia are actually tiny crustaceans found naturally in all kinds of standing water where they ingest phytoplankton, making them an excellent nutritional supplement for both adult and young fish. Some fry have difficulty eating Daphnia because the water fleas have a hard shell. Daphnia are available in frozen and freeze-dried forms as well as live.
 White worms: White worms thrive best in damp soil, sand, and peat. Fed moist oak flakes, they can grow an inch or more long, making them an excellent fatty treat for fish about to spawn. Other worms to consider: black, earth, meal, glass and wax.
 Tubifex worms: In its live form, this worm has gotten a bad name in the past, having been known as a disease transmitter. Being a known inhabitant of mud below polluted waters, some Tubifex worms may contain concentrations of heavy metals and bacteria fatal to fish. Still tubifex worms are an excellent dietary supplement for fish. If offered live, they should be kept in clear running water for three days before feeding them to aquarium fish. This precautionary process will allow the worms to eliminate any toxic wastes.

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