I went on to extol the virtues of using the Hagen range of Nutrafin Max foods which have been formulated with a great deal of skill to ensure that they have an excellent balanced nutritional profile, are highly palatable and avoid producing excess waste which can pollute the aquarium environment.
The criteria that Hagen have followed certainly delivers the goods in producing a high quality food in nutritional terms which tastes good to your fishes and is low in terms of waste and therefore low polluting but how does it measure up in a complete feeding regime?
A frequent question I am often asked is "Will my fish do well if fed only with a complete flake food?"
The answer is 'Yes', however, due to the many different types of fish kept and their diverse requirements, I would always recommend providing a feeding programme which is composed of at least one quality flake food, one freeze-dried food and one frozen or live food. Providing a varied diet helps optimise fish condition, colour and disease resistance. When selecting this kind of menu, of course, it's important to also make sure you accommodate adequately for the feeding preferences of herbivores, carnivores and omnivores.
"My fish aren't doing very well and not growing at the rates I would expect, is this due to poor quality food?" is another recurring theme.
Diet is a very important component for efficient growth rates and foods like Nutrafin Max provide quality sources of protein, which are readily digested, together with all the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals to provide a premium diet. Naturally, feeding quality foods cannot always be the complete answer as factors such as regular water changes, filter maintenance and stocking levels are also directly correlated to growth.
Questions on day-to-day feeding, whatever form of foods you are offering, fall into the usual "How often should I feed and when should I feed my fish?"
The best general advice I would offer on how often to feed would be two or three times a day, feeding sufficient to allow approximately 2 minutes for all of the food to be consumed. For many species of fish, though, smaller more frequent feedings are preferable. This facilitates digestion and prevents overfeeding. Some species also may require up to 5 minutes such as most bottom feeders and Discus.
The answer to 'when should I feed my fish' depends again on the species as some are diurnal (daytime) feeders whilst others are nocturnal and there are various other alternatives on this theme. In practice, though, fish quickly become accustomed to any feed timing regime you decide.
I always recommend feeding approximately 30 minutes after lights are turned on and at least 30 minutes before they are turned off. One or two additional small feeds may be given during the day and are especially beneficial for active species. Whatever feeding pattern you choose the main thing to remember is always ensure that all of the food is consumed.
Following a very narrow feeding regime can give rise to problems and I'm often asked questions such as "My fish love live food, should I feed it exclusively?" or "My Goldfish love wheatgerm and appear to be full-bodied and healthy, is this a good food for them?"
Whilst feeding live food exclusively may seem to be a good idea, it can easily lead to nutritional deficiencies. Good quality dry food formulations on the other hand, contain a far higher nutritive value per weight of food. Dry foods therefore form a better core diet mainly due to the protein and vitamin content.
Products like Nutrafin Max provide fully stabilised and encapsulated vitamins, resulting in effective concentrations and availability. Live foods are excellent if they come from a clean, disease free source but are better used as treats rather than a staple diet.
To answer the second question, Goldfish are greedy feeders and just like us they like foods with a high fat content. Wheat germ is a good supplement in autumn to fatten up pond goldfish for their winter hibernation but contains a fat content far in excess of what pond or aquarium Goldfish require when they are active. Feeding wheatgerm in place of a good dry food staple diet will result in fatty deposits, which will shorten their life span considerably.
Taking another common theme, at one time the range of dry foods was very narrow and the economics of producing a wide selection of speciality foods deterred many manufacturers from offering more than the basic staple diet foods. Hagen have broken this mould completely with their highly comprehensive range of Nutrafin Max foods which leave little left to be desired.
Let's look at some more frequently asked questions relating to special feeding requirements.
Case 1 "I have problems keeping bottom feeders such as Corydoras and Plecostomus successfully for any length of time, why?"
One of the first things to ensure when keeping bottom dwelling fish is proper nutrition. Bottom dwellers often cannot obtain enough nourishment in a mixed community aquarium simply because mid and surface feeders are present and take the lion's share of any flake foods fed.
Whilst bottom feeders do keep the bottom of the tank clean searching for food, they do not feed on fish waste. However, their feeding activity does lift the waste into the water column and filter currents are able to deliver this to the filter.
To prevent your bottom dwellers becoming undernourished try feeding Nutrafin Max Sinking Complete Food Tablets or Spirulina Algae Tablets.
Both Corydoras and Suckermouths feed readily on tablet foods and both Nutrafin Max Sinking Complete Food Tablets and Spirulina Algae Tablets contain colour-enhancing ingredients. The Complete Food Tablets are formulated using P.D.P. (Pre-digested Plankton) which is made from fresh Krill and contains high levels of astaxarlthin to enhance fish colours and the Spirulina Tablets are very high in a variety of carotenoids (pigments) allowing enhancement of a whole range of colours.
Case 2 "My Discus do not eat dry foods, what am I doing wrong?"
Discus, of course, are not the easiest of subjects to keep and it's essential to make sure, first of all, that water temperature, water chemistry and tank mates are suitable. Secondly, make certain that no symptoms of disease are occurring.
If all conditions are acceptable, start by mixing approximately 10 to 20% dry food with a readily accepted frozen food. Slowly increase the percentage of dry food until your Discus are consuming feedings of dry food up to 75% of the food offered. A highly suitable flake food to mix with your Discus's favourite frozen food is Nutrafin Max Spirulina Flakes. Spirulina contains highly beneficial substances that will significantly contribute to healthy skin and fins and beautiful colours.
Case 3 "I rely on an automatic feeder and many of my fish prefer to feed at middle and bottom levels, how do I properly feed my fish?"
Water column feeders usually require a small gauge food that slowly sinks through the water.
Nutrafin Max Micro Granules are the perfect solution. As the granules are distributed, some slowly sink and ensure that all fish are effectively fed.
In addition, as the automatic feeder slowly empties, granules disperse much more effectively than flake foods.
Another topical subject is colour-enhancing foods. These are now a common feature and you could be easily lulled into a false sense of security in using one of these products when your fish are poorly coloured instead of establishing the root cause. Water quality, temperature and aquarium conditions must be excellent for your fish to show their true colours and no amount of colour enhancing foods will counter-balance deficiencies in these areas.
Colour enhancing foods can, however, be an excellent additional strategy once you have satisfied water parameter deficiencies and you can obtain good results using Nutrafin Max natural colour enhancing foods. Nutrafin Max Colour Enhancing flakes contain R.A.P. (Red Algae Pigment) a natural substance rich in astaxanthin (natural lipid soluble pigment).
Nutrafin Max Spirulina Algae Flake and Tablet foods also contain a natural source
of a number of pigments, allowing the
efficient development of a variety of
colours in your fish.
Case 4 "I have a Siamese Fighting Fish male which can have brilliant strong colours at times, how can I ensure it maintains its coloration permanently?"
Nutrafin Max Colour Enhancing Betta Food contains pigment enhancers that would be perfect for your Siamese Fighter.
It's also high in protein to meet the nutritional needs of your Betta and includes freeze-dried blood worms as a special treat.
As you can see Hagen's Nutrafin Max development programme continues not only to maintain the standards of excellence for which these foods are known but through constant review of nutritional studies and trends) in Aquaculture continuously improves, refines and extends the Nutrafin Max products range.
I shall be providing you with further news with respect to developments in Nutrafin Max products in the future and important feed back with respect to the day-to-day wide scale use of these products from hobbyists world-wide.
FIVE TOP TIPS FOR FEEDING DRY FOODS
Purchase the amount of food your fish will consume in approximately 3 to 4 months. This will ensure availability of the stated vitamin content and superior freshness and palatability.
Look for a 'best before' date on Nutrafin Max cans. Although their shelf life is long and the vitamins in Nutrafin Max products are stabilised, once the can is opened air, light and humidity oxidise and begin to reduce the vitamin content.
Keep dry foods in a cool dry place and make sure the top is properly closed.
Keep dry food away from moisture and try not to handle food (especially with wet hands).
Use a feeding ring because it helps prevent waste and stops food from entering the gravel and the filter.
Re-published from the FBAS Bulletin by kind permission of the author
Please visit www.hagen.com for details of Rolf C.Hagen products
Last updated March 2005