by Robert W. Bly, founder, AquariumDetective.com
Many tropical fish owners view feeding the fish as a routine chore, which is a shame, because feeding your fish can be the most enjoyable part of the hobby - and indeed, one of the more relaxing parts of your day.
Variety is the spice of fish life
After 4 decades of fish keeping, I am convinced that fish stay healthier and livelier when there is variety in their diet.
Flakes are the staple of my fish's diet. I use a quality TetraColor flake, crumbling the flakes between my fingertips a bit before dropping them into the tank, so there are pieces sized properly for my smaller fish.
I buy pellets to add variety, but my fish seem to like flakes better. Even my large African cichlids preferred flakes to cichlid pellets.
Fun with frozen
I vary the diet of flakes and pellets with frozen and live food. For frozen, I use brine shrimp, which I feed to the fish in two different ways.
One way is to drop the frozen cubes in a plastic cup of warm water and swirl them around until the cube melts and the individual shrimp float free. I then dump the cup into the tank. The flow of current in the tank pushes the brine shrimp so they move as if they were alive, and the fish respond eagerly.
My other method is the "brine shrimp piņata." I dump the frozen shrimp cubes directly into the tank, where the current flow pushes them in a circular pattern. As the cubes melt, brine shrimp break off, and fish eat them.
Large fish attack the cube directly. The force of their attack knocks more shrimp off for the others, and the attacker is rewarded with a bigger bite. When the cube has melted sufficiently, the next attack breaks the cube apart like a bursting piņata, and all of the fish feast.
Thriving on live
I have to go to the fish store weekly to get black worms for my teacup stingray, which only eats live food. So I always pick up a couple of portions of live brine shrimp too.
My community fish love both the black worms and the brine shrimp. I don't like tube worms, though: they clump together and sink to the bottom, where they are sometimes ignored.
Lights on in the morning
I feed my fish twice a day, each feeding no more food than the fish can consume in five minutes.
My morning begins with my feeding fish in all of my tanks. I turn the tank light on and immediately drop the food in. This fish have therefore become conditioned, and will rise to the surface whenever the light is turned on.
I feed the fish again at night after work. For relaxation, I pull an easy chair in front of our big 92-gallon corner tank and watch the fish feed every evening.
It's a good chance to observe the fish as they are most active and appreciate the variety in the tank. I can also see if anyone is missing and got sucked into the filter by accident.
In our busy lives, many of us overlook the fish and fish tank that once gave us so much pleasure. Watching the evening feeding is a chance to recapture some of that enjoyment, and it takes just 5 minutes of your time each day.