Unlike most human treats, special snacks for your fish can be both tasty and healthy.
Unlike other pets, we don’t often interact directly with our fish. Usually, we are content to observe them living happily in a comfortable tank, unaware of our presence. However, come feeding time you have the opportunity to more directly affect their lives. When you bring your fish a genuine treat, they will be visible excited when you come to the tank, rewarding both pet and pet owner. Fish treats may also function as important dietary supplements if used properly.
Fish treat selection must be highly individualized to your fish species. You should consider three factors when determining which treats are best suited for your fish: nutrition, depth, and parasites and disease.
Each breed and species of fish has its own supplemental nutrient needs. It is important to research the dietary requirements of all of different fish in your aquarium. Choose treats that your fish will not only find tasty, but also meet these needs. Here are some common fish nutritional needs for your aquarium fish:
- Carotene. Any fish with bright, vibrant colors, such as betta fish and cichilids, require ample amounts of carotene to maintain their beautiful shine. Krill and brine shrimp will provide plenty of carotene for your fish.
- Fatty acids. Many tropical fish such as seahorses require certain healthy fatty acids to grow. These can be best found in frozen mysid shrimp.
- Vitamins. Fish require many of the same vitamins for proper metabolic function as humans. Many highly processed flake or pellet food formulas lack these vitamins. Dried algae are a good bet to compensate for this, as well as being highly flavorful for your fish.
Fish are peculiar about at which depth in the tank they will eat at. No matter how tasty or healthy your treat is, your fish will not consume it at the wrong depth. Bottom feeders, such as the upside-down catfish, require food that will sink to the bottom and lay on top of the substrate. These usually come in the form of pellets or sinking wafers. Top feeders, like many traditional fish such as betas or goldfish, require treats that float. These generally come in a wider variety than bottom-feeding treat and include dried shrimp, worms and many frozen foods.
Be very careful about feeding your fish treats that may carry disease and parasites. Some things to watch out for:
- Live food.All sorts of live food can carry disease, from feeder fish to insects to worms to larvae. Any live food can be potentially dangerous to your fish, and you should only buy it from reputable dealers.
- Frozen or freeze dried food. Generally speaking, frozen food is safer than live food, and freeze dried food is safer than frozen food, even though they can all can contain bacteria or parasites. The freeze drying process will generally kill most bacteria in the organism, but some residual bacteria can be left behind. In particular, be wary of freeze dried Tubifex worms, which frequently are infected with bacteria from the fecal matter of other fish.
It is important to remember that treats are, well, treats. They should not be used as the centerpiece of your fish’s diet. Over-eating any treat will harm a fish just as much as it will for a human. Overweight fish can suffer from numerous health problems. Your fish will continue eating as long as you feed it, so it is up to you to monitor how much food is appropriate for a healthy pet.