I received an interesting question via email from one of you. The question is pertaining to homemade fish food. Below is the screenshot of the email.
I thought this is a very interesting topic among aquarist and have decided to dedicate a post specifically for homemade fish food.
Why homemade fish food?
Why would somebody bother to make fish food by themselves when they can simply go to the local store?
This seems like a good question to start with.
To begin with, it is cost effective.
While making your own fish food can cost more at first, if you buy your ingredients on sale, the same amount of fish food prepared at home as compared to bought in the store can be up to three times less.
Secondly, try to avoid arguments against homemade food perpetuated by the pet food industry.
One of the main arguments is homemade food does not provide everything the fish needs.
This is pretty absurd given the fact that some of the heat-processed food these companies produce can lose key vitamins after spending approximately 30 seconds in heated water.
This is not to mention the presupposition fish food manufacturers rely on—the same nutritional requirements are equal for thousands of species of fish.
One of the last reasons would be the fact of having total control of what your fish eats and it is always as fresh as it can be.
What should you begin with?
The very first thing to do after deciding to make a portion of homemade fish food is to check the ingredients list on a ready-to-eat fish food package.
Needless to say, every fish has its own preferences and you cannot prepare food, for instance, cutting shrimp into pieces larger than your fish’s mouth, because the fish cannot swallow it.
Do some research on your particular species and look for the variety of food it consumes in its natural habitat.
Whether your fish is an omnivore, carnivore, or herbivore, you should buy the fish, shrimp, scallops, or other water creatures regarding the concrete species you keep.
Chop the ingredients into small pieces and mix it all in a deep jar to make sure you have a homogeneous mixture; in order to adjust the mixture to your fish’s needs, add some vitamin nutrients, worms, other sorts of fish, squid, oysters, clams, and vegetables such as carrots, spinach, or kale.
Also, make sure that the food isn’t too greasy (if, of course, your fish does not have special lipid requirements, as in the case of Swordtails) or it might contaminate the water in your tank.
Once you have mixed all the ingredients, start putting it into freezer bags and flatten the food in the bag so the food in the bag is a quarter of an inch thick plate.
This is important because you can easily snap a piece off the frozen plate and drop it in the aquarium.
Feeding your fish to become more colorful
Some aquarists may also want to include ingredients to help the fish acquire brighter colors.
This is possible by adding carotenoids (which are known for color enhancing properties) directly to the mixture, instead of waiting for your fish to absorb it from shrimp, algae, maize, yellow bell pepper, egg yolk (according to some experts eggs should be precooked, and avoid large quantities due to high fat percentage), which are actually less popular ingredients (except algae and shrimp) for fish food.
Feeding your fish human food
You can add some of the food originally meant for human use, such as beef heart, garlic, food supplements, gelatin-based homemade foods, terrestrial plants (including herbs), etc. to your homemade fish food.
However, know the risks and instructions involved when adding these to your food.
Beef heart is a nice source of protein (18%), cheap, and commonly available, yet, you must cut out literally all the fat from it because fish have a hard time processing mammal fat, which can lead to certain diseases.
As far as vitamin supplements, pay attention to the to size and weight of your fish, for you can very easily overdose.
Due to the high concentration of starch-based carbohydrates in some plants and cellulose binding, terrestrial plants are not as good for fish as they are for us; avoid or limit ingredients like bananas, sweet potatoes, and corn.
In reference to herbs, scientists still do not have a clear theory as to what type of herbs are good for fish, if any.
What is clear is that fish most efficiently metabolize algae, spirulina (cyanobacterium consumable by humans and other animals.), spinach, and green peas.
Different fish species and their diets
The main difference between a carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore fish diet is the amount of animal origin food compared to that of plant origin food.
Many experts agree carnivores should have approximately 75% meat and 25% vegetables; omnivores 65% meat and 35% vegetables; and herbivores 60% vegetables and 40% meat in their diet.
When deciding whether to make your own fish food or purchase it from the store, take into consideration the species of fish in your aquarium and their dietary needs.
Though a daunting task, making your own fish food can save you money and will increase the longevity of your fish.
So my final verdict is to go for homemade fish food if and only if you know what you are doing. If not, just stick to ready-made food from your fish store.
PS: Feel free to send me an email with your aquarium questions.