Fish are simply not just fish! The specimens you see in the aquariums at A World Of Fish come to us from around the United States and all over the world! They come from rivers and lakes; tidal pools and coral reefs; ponds and streams. These fish are an extremely diverse group. With such widely varying origins, it should be no surprise that this diversity is reflected in their nutritional needs. No single food will meet the needs of all species of tropical fish.
Planning a proper diet to meet the nutritional needs of your fish should be as important as the planning of the original aquarium purchase and fish selection. For many hobbyists, diet is often an afterthought. However, diet is equally as important as water quality for successful fishkeeping.
Few species of fish can be neatly categorized as strictly carnivorous (meat eaters) of herbivorous (plant eaters). Additionally, the type of foods fish consume in the wild may vary seasonally and also change as the fish grow and age.
Most tropical aquarium fish are more or less omnivorous, seeming to require, or at least prefer a variety of animal and vegetable matter. However, even though fish may be broadly categorized as omnivorous, carnivorous or herbivorous, few species have exactly the same nutritional needs as any other species.
With the variety of fish foods available, it may seem difficult to determine which are appropriate for your fish. This handout will offer some guidance in helping you to select a rotation of foods. If further information is desired, consult an A World Of Fish salesperson for advice or to point out some suggested books with sections on fish nutrition.
Most basic diets begin with a flake food. A World Of Fish Prime flake or TetraMin Staple flake are examples of a basic flake to form the beginning of your fishes diet. Other flakes should be added to your rotation as the variety of species in your aquarium increases. Several different color flakes are available to help your fishes color stay bright. (Water quality and diet are major factors in faded colors!) Tetra Ruby and A World Of Fish Tropical Colors Plus are excellent examples of color enhancing flake foods.
You will see Goldfish flakes, tropical flakes and marine flakes. While all may seem similar, they are quite different. Goldfish will eat a flake intended for marine fish, but their digestive system will not be able to properly metabolize the nutrients. More importantly, the fat content in a marine flake is high enough to cause serious internal damage to Goldfish. Conversely, marine fish may eat a flake designed for cold water fish such as goldfish, but they will not be getting the nutrients they need. Also, marine fish are generally more active and need a balanced diet higher in protein and fat content than is found in Goldfish flake.
Following a basic flake, frozen brine shrimp is a frequently used food. Until 5 or 6 years ago the frozen food department consisted of brine shrimp and blood worms, when available! As more has been learned about fish nutrition, the selection of frozen foods has exploded. Today, A World Of Fish is proud to carry over two dozen varieties. In addition to brine shrimp and blood worms, glass worms, plankton, krill, beef heart, prawn, silversides, shrimp, mussels and clam are available to give your fish a meaty treat!
There are fresh water and salt water Formula One and Two for a balanced diet for meat and algae eating fish respectively. Angel Formula is blended with sponge included specifically for marine angelfish. Spirulina formula is great for both freshwater and marine herbivores! Heiko Bleher Community Formula is a great food for freshwater community tanks, while two foods from the renowned Jack Whatley, Fry Formula and Discus Formula, have gained high marks for their uses in raising fish fry and the keeping of discus. The Formula line of foods from Ocean Nutrition is available in flat packs or convenient cube packs. All Formula foods have vitamins, minerals, amino acids and trace elements added to enhance nutritional benefits.
The variety of foods available for herbivorous fishes has also been expanded in recent years! In addition to Tetra Conditioning Flake, A World Of Fish carries Spirulina Flake, Tetra Doro Green and Pleco Min, Algae Galore wafers and several frozen foods mentioned above designed for herbivores! The importance of giving an herbivore a large amount of plant matter cannot be overemphasized. It is possible for herbivorous fish such as plecostomus in freshwater or tanks in saltwater to eat "heartily" on other foods and still starve to death from lack of the plant matter they need to survive.
Please refer to the following table for a brief guide to selecting fish foods for some of the most common fish kept by hobbyists. The table shows that an aquarium of varied species of either freshwater or saltwater fish cannot simply be fed one type of food. Neither this article nor the table is intended to be a complete reference to fish nutrition. Rather, it is meant to help you establish a feeding rotation. For further advice on fish nutrition, selected readings, locating the various foods, or nutritional advice for fish not mentioned in this AquaNote, please ask your A World Of Fish Representative.