January | February 2012 Feature title: Flaked fish feeds versus pelleted fish feed for the fish

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The International magazine for the aquaculture feed industry

FEATURE in a fish, not just the color red. It should not turn a Yellow Tang or Yellow Labidochromis, orange, which is often caused by excessive use of astaxanthin. Fat content should ideally be below 10 percent to avoid fatty liver disease, except in the case of juvenile fish, which require fat as an immediate energy source in order to spare the much-needed protein for building muscle. show no sign of aging! How long do fish live if their nutritional needs are met? I suspect that in many cases it should be 20 plus years. I also suspect that very few hobbyists have kept the aforementioned species of fish alive for such long periods of time. For some people one or two years would be considered a success story! We are not talking about Damsels, Clown fish, Triggerfish, or other species that are rather easy to keep in captivity, but the marine species that are considered ultra delicate by most hobbyists. Superior food generally produces less waste, hence less pollution in your aquarium. In other words, excess undigested protein,

FEATURE fiber, minerals (ash), will expel through the gills and feces creating phosphate, ammonia, and nitrogen compounds. This is the reason why Kelp, Spirulina, grain and other difficult to digest proteins should keep at a reasonable percentage. Many hobbyists seem to think that they have to add more Kelp, vegetable matter or Spirulina into their fish’s diet, unknowingly adding more pollution to their aquarium. Fish simply cannot utilize all the additional mineral (ash) and fiber. A quality food usually contains ample amount of vegetable matter and minerals. Always remember, what goes in has to eventually come out. ■

Flaked fish feeds versus pelleted fish feed for the fish hobbist
by Pablo Tepoot, founder of New Life Spectrum (Fish Food Forum), Florida, USA and sub-edited by Martin Little, IAF

Maintaining health
Choose a food that can maintain long-term health for years, not months. I have personally maintained numerous Angelfish, Surgeonfish, Butterfly Fish, etc. for over 10 years, and they

While flakes have been the most popular type of food for the past 50 plus years for hobbyists, commercial operations learned a long time ago that pellets are the superior choice for all feeding applications. Pellets are preferred over flakes due to the fact that they are more nutrient dense, and much more stable in water. For species of fish over two-three inches, pellets are clearly the most optimum method of providing nutrition to your fish. Not only can you feed much less on a volume basis, but pellets will also remain stable in the aquarium for an extended period of time. By their very design, flake foods are paper-thin; absorb water very quickly, and


ny discussion that involves fish food deserves a brief explanation on these two types of commercially prepared foods.

"Superior food generally produces less waste, hence less pollution in your aquarium"
while doing so leach out much of the watersoluble vitamins in a very short period. Some studies suggest that once flakes are added to the aquarium, the majority of water-soluble vitamins (such as vitamin C) are leached out of a flake food within 60-90 seconds. This information has been common knowledge in the aquaculture circles for several decades, yet some hobbyists seem to be stuck using outdated and less than ideal methods for feeding their aquarium raised fish. Using pellet food for all feed applications is yet another concept that has been proven in commercial aquaculture since its inception.

In my 35 years of being in the commercial fish business, I have rarely run across an employee who knows how to feed fish properly. It is necessary to have the sense of awareness not to overfeed or underfeed. In some ways it is as much an art, as it is a science. The first rule of thumb is; when in doubt, underfeed! If necessary you can always rectify the situation later by increasing the feed amount. However, if you overfeed, then eventually you can run into some serious problems. While most hobbyists usually overfeed their fish; there are also those that underfeed their fish to such an extent that their fish actually look anorexic. Many reef keepers are guilty of this due to phosphate and nitrate concern. If the fish is truly fat, simply withhold food and feed less. If the fish is too thin, simply feed more. A hobbyist should know that they are in control, not the fish. A healthy fish will always beg for food, but if the fish shows no interest in food, chances are you have a big problem. Either they are sick, or in very bad water conditions. When you feed pellets, the correct size is very important. Large fish can eat small pellets, but if the pellet size is too large for the fish, they will usually spit it back out, or expel a large portion of the pellet into the water column while chewing.

Different sizes of pellets
The key is to use a pellet size that allows the fish to swallow it whole. If you keep a mixture of fish sizes in the same aquarium, you can mix different sizes of pellets to ensure that all of the fishes receive their fair share. Another common mistake by some hobbyists is to pre-soak their pellets, in the

Learning to feed fish
Feeding fish might seem easy, but it is actually one of the most difficult things to teach.

misguided belief that this will aid in digestion and prevent swelling of the pellets inside the fishes gut. This is nothing more than an urban myth created by those that simply do not understand the amount of enzymes and gastric acids that are released by most fish when they consume food. Those hard pellets turn into soft mush in a very short period of time! If a pellet food causes gastrointestinal issues in a fish, it will usually be due to the use of poorly digestible ingredients, such as excessive amounts of grains and grain by-products, not from the food swelling up inside the fish’s stomach. Most importantly, when you pre-soak pellet food, you are allowing nutrients and water soluble vitamins and minerals to leach out into the water. Palatability: Fish are governed by olfactory senses and to certain extent taste buds. Needless to say, unless the fish is attracted to the food, no matter how nutritionally superior it may be, it will be useless. Food as energy intake has to surpass energy output i.e. locomotion, metabolic function, etc, especially in marine fish. Even though they may be eating in an aquarium, they can and often will waste away slowly until they cease to exist. A nutrient packed food will produce substantial growth rate and optimum health. The type of protein used has to be easily digested and absorbed by herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. As stated earlier, fish do not receive an abundant food source in our miniscule aquarium environments. Whatever food you feed, it must provide ample daily nutritional requirements for the fish to thrive. Superior food generally produces less waste, hence less pollution in your aquarium. A high quality fish food should be able to bring out the wide spectrum of natural colors

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26 | InternatIonal AquAFeed | January-February 2012

January-February 2012 | InternatIonal AquAFeed | 27

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