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Feeding your fish the appropriate diet depends on the type of fish you have, their size and their phase in life. If you are taking care of carnivorous and omnivorous fish, you can feed them live food - an option that can save you money and give you the assurance that your fish are getting all the natural nutrients they need.

Advantages of Feeding Live Food

Using live foods in place of or as a supplement to dry or processed foods has several advantages:

  • The uneaten live food will not begin to decay, which minimizes the filtration problems common in overfeeding with dry food.
  • Live food can be raised or grown in a controlled environment, one without the bacteria often transmitted from fish to fish or from food to fish. Raising or growing live food is often much more economical than buying frozen or processed foods.
  • Your fish will enjoy the chance to exercise their predatory nature.
  • Live foods are rich in necessary nutrients for your fish, such as proteins and fats. They also prevent protein and fat deposit deficiencies and carry the vitamins and minerals your fish needs to stay healthy.
  • Supplementing dry or processed foods with live foods lessens the chance of your fish being overfed.

Live Food You Can Purchase

There are different types of live food available commercially or from specialized growers.

  • Daphnia - These crustaceans can easily be bred in home ponds. Young fish benefit from large quantities of Daphnia in their diet.
  • Tubifex Worms - These worms need to be washed thoroughly before being fed to your fish and must be checked for unhealthy specimens. You also need to keep them in cold running water or they will die. Tubifex worms are a bit controversial. Some owners frown on feeding these worms to healthy fish because tubifex can be parasitic and can cause severe diseases in fish. Some worms can even eat their way out of the fish's stomach. They can also cause boils, gill disorders and early fish death. In spite of this, many owners continue to feed their carnivorous fish with tubifex worms because of the nutrients they provide.
  • Glassworms - These are actually gnat larvae, which are about a half-inch long and transparent. They are an excellent source of nutrients for your medium to large-size fish. Do not place these worms in with small fish, however, because they can prey on these fish. Glassworms can live in the aquarium for long periods.
  • Aquarium Snails - When crushed, these snails are an excellent natural food for your fish. Large fish, such as Oscars, will crack the snails themselves, but smaller fish need the job done for them.

Live Food You Can Cultivate

Culturing natural foods for your fish, especially the very small ones and fish hatchlings, is one way of maintaining a good supply of live food. Here are some examples:

  • Microworms are cultured in low trays of thick oatmeal. These are good for small fish.
  • Grindal worms are larger than microworms. They are bred in shallow boxes of building sand and fed oatmeal paste. Grindal worms are beneficial to smaller fish.
  • Brine shrimp are excellent organisms for small fish fry hatches. Some owners argue that they may not be ideal for freshwater fish fry because of their high levels of salt. Brine shrimp usually come in dried or frozen packages and they can be stored and hatched out when you need them.
  • Infusoria are microscopic organisms thriving in sunlit waters containing organic refuse. Infusoria are the only live food small enough to feed new hatches of fry in smaller fishes.
  • Drosophila, a small type of wingless fruit fly, can be cultured in glass bottles and fed to insectivorous fish.