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.
Asad Khan says
I’ve recently learned about the importance of high-quality foods in reef tanks as I have had two tangs end up with velvet. Thanks for the recommendations!
Paul Kachirsky says
Kelly Tompkins says
I worry about preservatives. I also think I tend to over feed. I do try to diversify. I wonder about cornmeal in flake food.
My next order I may have to try some of these.
Mike Mijarez says
Feeding diversity foods best
robert vice says
I always used the nyos foods and pods and every few days some reef frenzy
ryan mcmillan says
I feed whatever there just fish
Variety is the key!
My fish eat what I eat yesterday they enjoyed a chicken nugget ? no i try to do a diverse diet
I’ve used reef frenzy but usually just the “seamonkeys” lol I raise in a breeding tank.
Joe car says
I totally agree, I was feeding flake food at first and my nutrient level was always super high!
I mix it up with Mysis frozen and a couple of types of pellet food.
Wilfredo Robles says
I mix it up with Mysis frozen,Gamarus, Amphipods, and a couple of types of pellet food.
Richard Baer says
I like the idea of making my own food with fresh seafood from the store. I think adding some of these individual food types would be beneficial since the large pieces of meat aren’t usable by many of the livestock in my tanks.
WOW! Didn’t know this
Michgander reefer says
I primarily feed pse mysis but mix in a fine made blend of krill clam and reef chilli
i try to keep a variety between frozen and freezedried
Matt Blefeld says
I stick to hikari mysis, lrs reef fenzy, rods frozen, and nori
Steven Rodriguez says
I feed my tank mysis shrimp
I have been hesitant but very interested in the value of can o’cyclops.
I diversify. I’m still learning though. Hope to soon be culturing my own Phyto, copepods. I feed frozen cyclopods, mysis and LFS foods. I have some refrigerated items as well, like brine, roe. I have some Selcon. Also have reef roids and pellet foods too.
Christopher Burns says
Dallas Tippie says
I have been using Benereef for a couple of years now and I really like it!
I mix it up with mysis and brine shrimp mostly frozen but occasionally live.
Liz McDaneld says
Love food diversity and so do my mandarins suprisingly
Liz McDaneld says
M Mandarins suprisingly love food diversity
Liz McDaneld says
Good information to have
I like to feed my tank one different type of food every day
Tim kubajak says
Thanks for the great information!
I’ve mostly stuck to pellets, and frozen brine/mysis. Plus coral food. I might try the BeneReef.
any thoughts on the yeast contained in BenePets? I am currently using this product in my reef tank. However, i saw the yeast on the label and wondered..
Wesley Spangler says
SA hatchery pellets are my main food source. I feed frozen about every other day.
Luis Aceves says
Learning more about the hobby with your blog. Thanks.
I try for a good variety.
I usually feed a mix of frozen miss/enriched brine and pellets. The copepod food is interesting.
I usually feed a mix of frozen mysis, enriched brine and pellets. The copepod food is interesting.
Dalbir Singh says