UMT MOOC: Ornamental Fish Culture - Topic 4: Nutrition of Ornamental Fish - Live & Formulated Feed

One of the key issue faced by aquarist is finding good food source to feed the fishes. Food sources come in two ways, either natural (live feed) or processed (formulated feed). There are quite a lot of breeders that we have met sworn only by live food. For example, for Betta farms or breeders, all sworn by Daphnia as the only food source when starting and maintaining all their spawns.

Live feed consists of plankton, insect, snails, aquatic plants, feeder fishes, and others. Hence, depending on type of fishes, obtaining these food sources can be quite expensive. As fishes need different kinds of nutrients, using only one type of food source may leads to malnutrition. Furthermore, organic food sources may contains parasites or bacteria which can lead to wide spread infection or outbreak. However, live feed is crucial and irreplaceable for feeding hatched fries as these fries unable to identify immovable formulated feed as food source.

Formulated feed comes in many forms such as pellets, flakes, tablets and granular food, freeze-dried food, and vacation food. Looking at any ingredients at the back of packaging will give you the composition of the nutrients of the fish food. The main advantages of formulated feed are long shelf life, balanced nutrients, sterilization, and consistent availability. However, there are three issues. First, this feed type is not suitable food for fries on the first week after hatching. Second, most formulations is targeted for omnivorous (plants and animal diet) fish types. Third, leftover food, if not removed will contaminate the aquarium water and incur frequent water changes.

What is the criteria of perfect diet for fish then? There are five: (1) Water pollution, (2) Supply metabolic needs, (3) Reduce maintenance cost, (4) Improve nutrient digestibility, and (5) Maintain coloration. In other words, a mix of both live and formulated feed.

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