How to make DIY food for aquarium fish
One important aspect of keeping your fish happy and definitely healthy is to provide them with a good balanced diet of foods that contain the correct ingredients that your fish require. Often this can prove to be a costly part of the hobby which is one reason why many keepers prefer to provide their fish with a mix prepared by themselves to provide this. In some cases foods may even be cultured by the keepers so this article will give you the information required to provide this as well hopefully saving you some money as well as keeping your fish in top condition.
Most keepers will have their own recipes that they have developed or even friends and forum members may have passed on their own recipes, on a personal basis I have prepared foods on a regular basis and have found this to be a great way of always keeping plenty of food in stock and have seen the great results as the fish flourish. What you do have to consider is which foods your fish will require, diets can basically be divided into three categories, diets suited for herbivores, carnivores and of course omnivores like ourselves. Herbivorous fish require foods that contain plenty of vegetable matter, carnivores require foods that have high meaty content and as expected omnivores will eat almost any foods offered to them so a mix of meaty foods and vegetable matter are ideal. If prepared correctly DIY foods can be used solely in the diet but I always preferred to add a basic ingredient of commercial foods to the mix to ensure that all vitamins and minerals required by the fish are included, of course you can prepare foods that do not contain all of these but thus type of mix should be fed alongside other feeds that are available on the market.
There are two important things to remember when preparing your DIY fish food, three if you include tidy up the preparation area afterwards! There is no point mixing the food just for it to all break up as soon as it is added to the aquarium, if this occurs then the chances are that most of the food will by sucked up by the filters and basically wasted. A binding agent will need to be added but this is a very easy step, usually gelatine serves this purpose, sheets or the powdered form can be used, personal preference or availability will determine which you decide upon, more recently keepers have also tried using agar agar, the end result will be the same so once again it is just a matter of personal preference.
The second most important thing is that when you prepare the mix you will not want to prepare the food on a daily basis, it is far better to mix a larger amount and preserve the excess for future use. I always freeze the food that will not be required immediately and refrigerate enough for a few days use. It is easy to prepare the food for the freezer, the mix can be placed between cling film and rolled into sheets, this can then be placed on a baking tray and placed in the freezer until frozen, you can then simply break off the amount required for defrosting as required. Another freezing method is to place the excess food into ice cube trays, this allows you to remove a set amount of cubes from the freezer as you need them for defrosting.
I will now add some recipes that I have used on a regular basis, these are only a guideline and you may wish to adjust some ingredients to suit yourself, I did this myself so feel free to do the same, remember there are no set rules apart from making sure that what you feed your fish is actually beneficial to them.
A recipe for herbivorous fish
This recipe has been used on herbivorous tropical and coldwater fish
- 1 part frozen peas
- 1 part chopped carrots
- 1 part spinach
- 1 part cucumber or zucchini
- Spirulina flake
- 1 crushed tablet of childrens vitamins (adult vitamins may be too strong for the fish)
- gelatine or agar agar
The vegetables should be blanched for one minute or placed into the microwave to make sure that they are sterilised and free of hitch hikers. Once blanched they can all be placed into a blender or food processor and reduced to a pulp.
Mix the gelatine/agar agar as per packet instructions and dissolve the vitamins in this mix. Add to the veg pulp and blend thoroughly. Place into an airtight container enough to feed the fish for a few days and place in the refrigerator. Place the excess in the freezer as explained above and save for future use.
A recipe for carnivorous fish
Some carnivorous fish can be fussy eaters whereas herbivorous fish tend to be more easy to please, the addition to the recipe of crushed garlic or even garlic extract added to the following recipe should encourage your fish to find this food irrestible.
For meaty content I tend to start with fish based recipes so either crushed fish pieces i.e. small pieces of fish fillet, chopped prawns, or even chopped cockles or mussels. A combination of these can also be used.
Even though you are feeding carnivorous fish vegetable matter should still be added so as it will still be beneficial so as above blanched peas, spinach, spirulina, or chopped cucumber can be used.
- Gelatine, agar agar to set the mixture
- 1 crushed tablet of children's vitamins
As above the mix should be placed in a blender and then treated exactly as the recipe for herbivorous fish. Larger cichlids will also appreciate the addition of beefheart and chopped earthworms added to the mix, the beefheart should be chopped finely before adding to the blender and any sinewy tissue should be removed so take your time making sure that only lean beef is added. Any earthworms should be housed in newspaper for 24 hours prior to being used to make sure that they have completely emptied their digestive gut.
Of course the above recipes are just guidelines and over time you will adapt them to suit, for omnivorous fish a mixture of the two recipes can be used and will be accepted readily by the fish.
You may think that the original cost seems a bit high for the ingredients but if you make a batch mix and freeze it, the food will last for months and the cost will compare very well with paying out for commercial foods on a regular basis.
Hopefully this article has been of help to you, feel free to ask any questions or leave comments in the comment box below!