Maintaining a saltwater aquarium–especially a really nice one–is a hell of a lot of work. And this is a workload that is added to our already impossibly busy lives. Is it really all that bad to rely heavily on the convenience of prepared foods?
The answer, unfortunately, is probably. There are at least a couple of reasons for this. First, the prep process itself almost always degrades the food in some way. Important components such as vitamins, pigments and fatty acids are lost to heat, oxidation and other insults inflicted during these processes. Will a fish survive on a steady diet of heavily processed spirulina flakes? Sure, in many cases. But will it truly flourish? To be sure, an imbalanced or incomplete diet absolutely will adversely affect the animals’ health and appearance.
It seems that a highly varied diet is most ideal. But, above all, the aquarist should ensure that any reef aquarium diet is not only balanced but also includes all vital nutrients. Undoubtedly, the surest way to accomplish this is to exclusively provide high-quality live foods–from phyto to pods to brine shrimp. That being said, some of us must rely on easy options for the most hectic days. The easiest options, of course, are prepared foods.
When expertly prepared with the freshest ingredients, whole frozen items such as krill, clam flesh, mysis shrimp and silversides are satisfyingly close to the “real” live thing. As such, there is no reason that they should not be included on any aquarium menu. Still, it takes a considerable amount of time to properly thaw and feed these foods; ultimate convenience is the realm of the dry aquarium foods.
There is a price to pay for the convenience. Dry fare is overall least balanced nutritionally as it is the most intensely processed. That does not, however, mean that it is all aquarium junk food; it simply means that if you must use prepared foods on occasion, you should be careful in your selection. For diverse fish, coral and invert species, we suggest the three fine dry and canned products featured below. As well as being eagerly accepted by aquarium animals, each is prepared in a manner that maximally preserves nutritional content.
This product contains bloodworms that are cultured in clean conditions, fed for optimum nutritional value and packaged just when they are most wholesome. They are packaged in a highly palatable moist form (this product never leaves a greasy residue). It is great for training picky, newly imported or severely stressed specimens to eat prepared items. ELOS FRESCO Chironomus may be offered to a large variety of marine and freshwater fish, invertebrates and corals. It is a perfect supplementary food item for green mandarins, seahorses and pipefish. The pickiest fish cannot resist it.
BenePets BeneReef™ is a great food supplement for LPS and SPS corals, soft corals and filter-feeding invertebrates. It is especially useful in systems that house densely stocked corals. Its three to three thousand micron particle size accommodates a broad range of reef animals. This nutrient-dense dry food contains a special blend of phytoplankton and organic superfoods that increase feeding response, coloration, growth and regeneration of stressed corals. It makes a great complement to the 5280 Pods + OceanMagik Phyto Combo Pack. Best of all, it is boosted with active probiotics (e.g. Lactobacillus) that make a great compliment to those in PNS Probio™.
Can O’ Cyclops provides excellent nutrition for small fishes such as captive bred mandarins. It consists of preserved whole copepods. As these are similar in appearance and size to live adult copepods, they promote a strong feeding response. Heavy copepod consumers can gorge on this product between periods of actively hunting for live prey, ensuring that your mandarins are consuming a sufficient number of calories to grow and develop. AlgaeBarn regularly feeds Can O’ Cyclops to their Biota captive bred mandarins; this helps to ensure that their mandarins will accept a readily available and storable dry food. Try some with your LPS corals!
Apples and Orangutans
For sure, when it comes to feeding a reef tank full of diverse, hungry critters, a highly varied diet is a good thing. But variety alone will not support their best health if every item in their diet is deficient in essential vitamins, biofactors, etc. And let us not forget that stressed, ill or plain old finicky fish will not even consider nibbling at items that do not look like their natural food. For these reasons and more, not all prepared aquarium foods are equal.
Your life is super busy. So you don’t have to feel too guilty about using prepared foods–so long as you use the very best products available! A few, such as those described above, are not only suitably nourishing and palatable, but can significantly improve your reef inhabitants’ diets.