omnivores and consume a variety of foods in nature. In the
they will eat many different foods and a diet that provides them a
variety of healthful foods is fairly easy to provide. Many
have a reputation of needing live food for survival. The truth is that
almost every fish will learn to eat the foods that are
However, live food is always relished and the frequent feeding of live
food helps to insure success.
Wild fish are often more demanding of
live food that tank
raised. However, many dwarf cichlid breeders exclusively feed live
foods and the fish they produce are often slow to convert to prepared
foods. These fish will generally convert to high quality frozen food if
they go a period of time without receiving live. Once they are
accustomed to feeding on frozen food the conversion to prepared is
usually a matter of patience.
It is important that your fish receive an
adequate supply of
food that has good nutritional value. In most situations your fish will
thrive on two feedings a day, morning and evening. Initially it may be
hard to determine the right amount of food to feed and you should err
on the side of too little until you know your fish and their
consumption. Do not think that you must feed your fish on a precise
schedule. In nature they tend to go through periods of plentiful food
when feeding is easy, and periods of scarce food when they might go
weeks without feeding. In fact, mature fish that are slow to breed can
often be triggered by a fasting period of one to two weeks followed by
massive water changes and good food.
If you want to have happy dwarfs you
as often as possible and for successful fry rearing live food is
critical. There are a number of different types of live foods that are
fairly easy to procure or produce for feeding to your fish.
- The staple live food for many aquarists is brine shrimp.
Adults of this small crustacean can be purchased in many pet stores and
the newly hatched nauplii are excellent food for fry and small fish. As
previously mentioned, it is possible to buy adult brine shrimp in many
pet stores. As I have little experience in keeping and feeding adults I
will leave you on your own for additional information. Hatching brine
shrimp eggs is an activity that you should at least attempt if you want
long term success with dwarfs.
- White worms are an easily cultured food source. They can
be raised quite easily and large quantities can quickly be produced.
However, it is best to be careful about feeding these worms. Your fish
will love them and greedily stuff themselves on them. However, white
worms are fatty and too rich for many fish. I always have white worms
around but rarely feed them to my fish more than once every other week.
- These tiny worms are smaller than newly hatched
shrimp. They are easy to culture and make a great food for newly
hatched fry. They live in fresh water for hours so a little overfeeding
will generally not be a problem. Although adult fish will feed some on
white worms, they are a very small food and adults cannot
them a staple of their diet.
(Tubifex Worms) - Black worms and the closely related
tubifex worms are found in a variety of water types around the world.
Although they inhabit all water types, some species thrive in water
that is full of harmful bacteria. When fish eat the worms from these
sites they will often develop significant diseases. Fortunately, today
most of the black worms on the market are clean and a good food
source. Some pet stores carry them and they can be a great food for
your dwarfs. However, I recommend that you ask the shop to make sure
that the worms come from a reliable supplier As with white worms, I do
not recommend a steady diet of these worms. However, they can be a good
There are many additional live foods
that make good food for
certain situations. Many different live food cultures can be purchased
from specialized sources. In addition, depending on where you
live, you might be able to collect live foods locally. However, I will
leave that discussion for another time.
There are a variety of frozen foods
that offer high quality
nutrition and are easy to store and handle. Most of the frozen foods
available will be eagerly accepted by your fish. I usually put frozen
foods directly into the tank and let the fish feed on them as they
thaw. Others recommend thawing the foods and even rinsing them before
serving but my method works for me. I do find that there are foods I
prefer and first on the list is blood worms. These are not actually
worms but the larval stage of a fairly large midge-like insect. They
are the shape of a tiny red worm and their wiggle in the water is
rather worm like.. As a frozen food I find that they are usually of
high quality and provide good nutrition for my fish. Blood worms
maintain their shape and size after freezing and make a good mouthful;
for most dwarfs. By contrast, I find frozen brine shrimp to be less
satisfactory. Live shrimp are mostly water and have a rather thin
shell. When frozen they tend to crush and after thawing there is often
little but water and shell - with all of the nutrition in the water.
Most pet stores carry a variety of
They have a
good storage life if you take care of them. Many foods are now
available in prepacked servings which can be very convenient if you
can feed an entire portion to a single tank. This can be a problem is a
tank with just a pair of small dwarfs. Always try to inspect the frozen
food at the store if possible. It is important that the food remain
frozen. I have seen frozen foods that have thawed in shipment that have
been refrozen and sold. You might not be able to tell for sure but
generally you can tell if the food looks like it has been around too
Prepared foods are the flakes, pellets and other
packaged foods that are commonly sold at all pet stores. They have been
a standard in the aquarium hobby for many years but todays products are
far different from the flakes that I fed my first fish many years ago.
Good quality prepared foods are nutritious and can make a staple
diet for most dwarfs. By good quality I mean food that is fresh and
produced by a reliable source. As with most things there are prepared
foods available at various prices and in many different formulations.
is always best if you feed a variety of different
prepared foods and
rotate their feeding to your fish. I recommend that you purchase small
sizes of prepared foods. These foods last a long time if you
rotating and the food in a large container will be very stale before it
is all fed.
Recently I have been using a food from Tetra called Micro
fish seem to love it and it is very high in pigments that bring out the
reds in fish.
One of the ingrediants of micro crabs a
cyclop-eeze which is a tiny crustaceon that is known as a great
nutrition source for fish.
I have been feeding this to my
fish two to three times a week and I believe it is a great supplement
to their diet. I have really noticed improved colors in some
fish since I started using it.
I order my MicroCrabs online
- Flake food has been the standard fish food for many years.
Today's flakes are nutritious, hold together well in thewater and are
convenient to store and serve. There are many different formulations
for flake food with everything from vegetarian to earthworm
flakesavailable. I personally do not feed flake food. Most of my tanks
chocked with plants and house bottom feeding fish so floating flakes
are of little use.
- Pellets come in all shapes and sizes. Some float while
others sink and there are many, many different formulations. I feed a
lot of different sinking pellets to my dwarf cichlids, especially
brines shrimp and spirulina pellets. I like that pellets will hold
their shape, allowing fish to pick at them for extended feeding.
Other Prepared Foods
- Some of the other types of prepared
very similar to flakes and pellets. Algae wafers, color bits and the
like are very similar. Freeze dried foods provide a good source of
nutrition. However, I find these difficult to feed as they float and as
described above, I do not like floating foods. There are prepared foods
that are preserved natural insects. One new type is a gel that you
drip into the water and other new foods are sure to appear. All of the
foods offer good choices for feeding your fish. Be sure to have several
choices for your fish and they will do well on prepared foods.
Live frozen or prepared foods are all
good choices for dwarf
Provide quality food fed once or twice a day and your fish should do
very well. We've looked at water and food, two of the basics that
must be addressed for successful husbandry. In part three you will
learn about good habitat.
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