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Related Articles: Foods, Feeding, Aquatic NutritionBasic Fish Nutrition by Pablo Tepoot

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Dear Crew I have few Question on CR6 & CR8... Searching for color-enhancing ingredients in fish food    9/16/13
Dear Crew,
                I am a discus lover and hobbyist. I have question on CR6 & CR8. those product manufactured by White Crane Aqua Thailand.
<Can't make out much that's useful on their site re: http://www.whitecranev88.com/en/shop/product/features/10
 But I want to know what Basic Color enhancer they use in those two product?
<They might tell you if you contact them; but I don't see MSDS sheets or such re their lines>
Carophyll Red & Carophyll Yellow these two Color enhancing Substance they used in their product or any other chemicalized formula or Hormone.
<Claim these are sex hormone free. Likely so... as powders... expensive>
Please let me know about the Product composition. And if there is any Other color enhancing elliment expt ASTAXANTHIN. CAROPHYLL. please let me know pn that too.
<Sorry; you'll have to contact the manufacturer re. Or better time spent, search (computer) out your own bibliography. Some notes re how here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm
<I would search for Symphysodon color enhancers, foods>
Bob Fenner> 

Food for Live bearers et al.   4/16/11
<Hi there John>
We have a product here called Tetra Veggie, which is recommended for live bearers and gold fish. It does have 48% protein and Spirulina 108 G/KG. It is great for the two platies, but I am wondering if it is ok for the five zebra Danios in there also?? Is it ok for the Danios because of the protein or is it a live bearer food? Thank you!!
<This product is fine for all the fish types/species you list. Bob Fenner>

Aquamax and Silvercup Fish Food  - 4/1/10
Thank you for your website. I have found it very very helpful.
<Good to know.>
A local farm supply store ordered in four 50 pound bags of Purina Aquamax 600 (a year ago). The person never picked it up. They have offered it to me for $15.00 a bag. They were asking $30 but when I discussed the loss of nutritional value with them they cut the price in half. My question is twofold:
Would it be safe to feed year old fish pellets? I realize they may not be as nutritious as when packaged, but would it harm my fish? If it would not harm them, can I run them through my magic bullet to make the pellets smaller pieces?
<Provided the fats haven't gone rancid, no, it's unlikely "old" pellets will be dangerous. Most fish foods should have a use-by date on them somewhere, and assuming the cartons haven't been opened, that should apply here. Obviously once a carton has been opened to the air, then moisture gets in and the food goes stale and potentially rancid.>
The size they are as manufactured I would consider feeding to my large Oscars, jack Dempseys, Aztecs and Koi. If I can process them down to a smaller size I would like to feed them to my cichlids. (Brichardi, Christmas Fulu, Hongi, Electric Yellows, Electric Blues, Chocolate Cichlids, Red Empress, Jewels, Kribs [and no, they are not all in one tank, I maintain 20 tanks and they are either species tanks with just one species or with some compatibles and a big enough tank a Malawi, Tanganyikan, Victorian, South American tank.
Here is information on the ingredients, etc:
Purina Mills Aquamax Grower 600 50-lb Bag 9/32 7.1 mm Extruded Floating Protein: 41% Fat 12% Fiber 4%
Product Description: Aqua Max Fish Diet is a floating feed Complete for Catfish, Tilapia, Trout, Hybrid Striped Bass Yellow Perch and Red Drum.
Ingredients: Fish Meal, Soybean Meal, Ground Corn, Poultry Meal, Fish Oil, Wheat Middlings, Hydrolyzed Poultry Feathers, Corn Gluten Meal, Blood Meal, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Dimethyl pyrimidinol Bisulfate, Choline Chloride, Calcium Pantothenate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphoshate (source of Vitamin C), Thiamin Mononitrate, Biotin, Folic Acid, Cholecalciferol, Riboflavin, nicotinic Acid, Di-Alpha Tocopheryl Acertate, Vitamin A Acetate, Ethoxyquin (A Preservative), Zinc Oxide, Cyanocobalamin, Dl-Motioning, Manganous Oxide, Ferrous Carbonate, Copper Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Calcium Carbonate, Cobalt Carbonate.
I am a little concerned about Hydrolyzed Poultry Feathers in the formula, wondering if that can hurt my cichlids?
<No. All this means is that these are battery hen carcasses that have been stripped of sellable meat (breasts, legs, perhaps wings) and then mechanically processed into protein powder. It's much the same stuff that ends up in cheap chicken products like chicken nuggets. Hydrolysis is the process whereby the proteins are broken down in various ways, releasing water (i.e., hydro + lysis).>
They also have one fresh bag of:
Purina Mills Aquamax Fry Starter 100 50 lb bag 1/32 .08mm Crumble Sinking Protein: 50% Fat 17% Fiber 3%
I was thinking of trying this for my smaller fish, guppies, swordtails, etc.
<Again, should be safe if unopened and within the use-by date.>
I have been feeding Nelson's Silvercup Scientific #3 and my fish have done very well on it. But with the cost of shipping, it is $100 for a 50 pound bag. I will be needing to order food soon (I have 20 tanks) I also make my own frozen vegetable based food, raise red wrigglers and culture white worms, microworms, banana worms, water worms, wingless flies, confused flour beetles. I like to offer my fish a varied diet and they seem to like their conditions as they spawn frequently and raise healthy fry. I do not overcrowd my fish and am very careful to only keep species together that are compatible and are in the same area in the wild. I do 10 percent water changes two to three times per week.
I hope this is not too lengthy, but I wanted to give you sufficient information for my query.
<No a problem!>
Thank you for your time.
Below is info from the Purina Aquamax website.
According to the Purina website, the shelf life is 12 months...it has been stored in the feed store's warehouse, unheated..so it has been below freezing for at least the last five months.
Q: What is the shelf life of Purina fish feed?
A: Purina fish feed will stay fresh for up to 12 months, providing you store it properly. Be sure to store your feed in a cool, dry area that has good ventilation to prevent mold, vitamin loss and contamination by disease carrying insects or rodents. When properly stored, the vitamin availability in Purina feeds is guaranteed for 12 months.
However, we recognize that high relative humidity in certain regions of the country may reduce the shelf life of the fish feed. When it is not possible to store feed in a dry and cool area, the shelf life may be reduced and should be taken into consideration.
<Correct. The freshness statement is more a legal obligation that anything else, and will depend on environmental conditions. If kept cool, dark and dry, dried foods should stay useful (i.e., nutrient-rich) for the quoted length of time. Realistically, under those favourable conditions they probably remain useful for considerably longer. But under poor conditions fats go rancid quickly, and vitamins quickly break down. So while the calories may still be there, the other nutrients won't be. My advice here would be to use "old" foods sparingly, perhaps no more than 50% of the total diet, and be sure to use other, definitely vitamin-rich foods the rest of the time. Cheers, Neale.>

Response to Neale Monks comments... FW fish (et al.) foods/Spectrum (RMF, feel free to chime in) - 2/7/10
With regards to .....
Re: Picky Eaters, N. Am. Natives
(comments on Bob's PowerPoint show about fish foods) 4/16/09
With all due respect to Neale Monks, not only will many North American natives eat pellet food (specifically New Life Spectrum food) many owners of these native species (such as myself) feed this food exclusively.
<At least one of the species listed by the querier, Enneacanthus gloriosus, is notoriously fussy, and really does need live food (if my experience of Enneacanthus chaetodon is anything to go by).>
I'm at a complete loss as to why Neale would state; "Even if they do, it shouldn't be the staple".
<Multiple reasons, but the main is simply my maintaining a variety of foods, you avoid fish either becoming bored of one thing.>
My Lepomis megalotis (Longear Sunfish) are fed New Life Spectrum food exclusively, and I seriously doubt that one could find healthier specimens swimming in the wild.
<Indeed. Not arguing that some fish can do perfectly well on pellet foods. But I personally don't recommend it. If nothing else, providing some fresh green foods in the diet avoids problems with constipation, which if you look over the messages we get here at WWM, is a fairly common problem.>
Pellet foods such as New Life Spectrum are far more nutritionally complete than any of the foods that Neale mentioned,
<Yes, but that's true about the food we humans eat too: no single food is complete. I do stress VARIETY, for example augmenting pellets with earthworms, brine shrimps, spinach, cooked peas, bloodworms, chopped seafood, etc. While any one of these fresh or live foods might lack something, the mixture balancing out in the end. In other words, precisely what medics tell us we should do with out own diet: a little bit of everything, and everything in moderation. Very few medics recommend people take vitamins; instead, they stress people have a healthy, varied, diet. I do have some ethical issues with pellet foods to do with the use of fish meal and chicken meal, but we'll put that to one side for now.>
and while every native species may not be successfully trained to eat pellets or flakes, those that do have amazing color, superb health, and will breed on a continuous basis.
<No doubt. But not all the species listed by the questioner fall into that category.>
With regards to http://www.wetwebmedia.com/foodsppt4.htm , I would suggest that perhaps you ask Bob what argument he was attempting to make, as I'm rather certain it had nothing to do with "general fishkeeping", as Neale
<I cannot speak for Bob.>
Bob Fenner has seen the results first hand of feeding New Life Spectrum exclusively, and with species of fish that make keeping most North American native species seem like mere child's play. (ask Bob about Pablo Tepoot's
<<Seeing is indeed believing, and I have fed my own fishes (African Cichlids and Fancy Goldfishes, Corydoras, Odd Livebearers... Spectrum almost exclusively... since there was such product. RMF>>
<Not arguing that either of these gentlemen should keep their fish my way.
Merely offering advice to that particular querier.>
Whether a fish is wild, or what that a fish eats in the wild, seems to make little difference once that fish ends up in a glass cage in captivity, if
it is fed a well balanced nutrient dense food such as NLS.
<Actually, I'm not sure that this is true. Fibre and ash content are very important, and these aspects are often overlooked in dried foods. Marine fish are often carnivores, but many, perhaps most, freshwater fish are omnivores, so some plant material is important. Barbs, livebearers, most cichlids, Synodontis, Plecs, Corydoras are all examples of fish that feed extensively on algae and decaying plant matter in the wild. I think that's important to acknowledge. I'd argue much the same holds for herbivorous marines such as Angels and Surgeonfish, and I cannot image keeping either of those without at least some plant matter in their diet, regardless of how "complete" the flake food offered might be.>
<<Neale, if you have occasion, visit the London Aquarium... they feed Spectrum to almost all their marines... The product is nutritionally complete and amazingly palatable... yes, even for Acanthuroids>
Whether that fish eats tunicates in the wild (such as Moorish Idol), sponge (such as Majestic Angel) coral (such as Parrotfish), algae (such as Clown Surgeonfish), or fish, (such as Volitans Lionfish) .... the single common denominator amongst all those species is, that in captivity they will all thrive on an exclusive diet of New Life Spectrum fish food.
<I'd argue this in the case of Surgeonfish, which in my experience do immensely better when given access to suitable green foods. But I'm not holding myself out as a marine authority since that side of the hobby doesn't interest me very much. I write here on the topic of feeding freshwater fish.>
Is Spectrum unique in this? I would have to say yes. I know of no other commercial pellet or flake food on the market that will keep fish such as some of the marine species previously mentioned thriving for "years" in captivity.
<It's not a brand I've used, so I can't comment on its quality. I will accept that some foods, like Tetra and Hikari foods, are highly palatable to a wide range of fish, and seem to keep them in good health.>
Kieron Dodds, from Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine wrote an article on the Moorish Idol in 2008, titled; "Still Impossible After All These Years - Keeping Moorish Idol". He clearly admits that the main intent of his article was to discourage anyone from acquiring this species, as he feels that Moorish Idol have almost no chance in being kept alive in captivity beyond a very short duration.
At one point in the article he states "Pablo Tepoot is perhaps the single individual who has had the most success with this species" - unfortunately Pablo lost his last group of Moorish Idol to an electrical failure during a hurricane, at that point Pablo had kept them thriving in captivity for 5 years. Something that most people would have considered impossible 15 or 20 yrs ago.
<I'm sorry to hear of this incident. A remarkable achievement.>
<<One of many I can relate. I've been to Pablo (and Carol's) home a few times in Homestead, Fla... and seen the "plant" where the foods are made, packaged... used the food/s extensively for years, seen them in use in dozens of countries around the world. Like a few other brands in our interest (e.g. PolyFilter), this food is "the real thing". I rarely "do" such "endorsements" but I will state that Spectrum brand is excellent. RMF>>
If feeding the same pellet day in and day out equates to my being a "casual fishkeeper", as Neale Monks suggests, then I guess that places me along side some pretty good company!
<Nope, you're misunderstanding me. A "casual fishkeeper" is someone who considers their fish just a pet, not a passion. Someone who buys a few colourful fish from the shop, and does their best to keep them alive.
That's my audience. For the most part, aquarists keeping a community of Platies, Corydoras, Danios and a Plec catfish will do best offering a mix of a good quality flake, some wet-frozen foods like bloodworms and Artemia,
and some suitable green foods such as blanched lettuce or cooked peas. Hope this clarifies things. Cheers, Neale.>
<<I thank you for both your comments. BobF>>
Re: Response to Neale Monks comments (RMF, feel free to chime in) - 2/8/10
I believe that part of the problem is that you are not at all familiar with New Life Spectrum products.
<I don't have shares in the company, no, and I've not used them. Honestly, I use hardly any dried foods. Perhaps a pot or two a year. Almost all my fish foods come from the grocery store, my back garden, or the freezer.>
I am not advocating that fish should not be consuming plant matter in their diet. All NLS products do in fact contain kelp, seaweed, Spirulina, several micro-algaes, along with a plant & vegetable extract.
<Ah, well, "extract" does mean fibre; indeed, usually means the reverse.>
Personally I shy away from vegetables sourced from terrestrial matter due to the anti-nutritional factors involved, especially those that are in a raw uncooked state - such as peas, but that's a whole 'nuther discussion.
<And irrelevant to freshwater fish, which is what I'm talking about. Most plant material in freshwater ecosystems comes from terrestrial sources: bog plants, forest leaves, fruits, seeds, etc.>
Your argument about fish becoming "bored" is a rather weak one, especially if your target audience is the casual fishkeeper, such as you stated in your response.
In captivity, many marine Butterflyfish that only consume coral polyps in the wild, would rather starve to death than switch food. Harlequin Shrimp eat only the feet of the Starfish, Monarch Butterflies (caterpillar) only eat milkweed, and Koala Bears typically only eat Eucalyptus leaves. Are they all dying from boredom?
<Actually, specialists like these are the minority situation. Most animals most of the time feed on a great variety of things. Do spend a little on Fishbase reviewing "Food Items" for example.>
I think not.
At 50+ yrs of age I can't say that I have ever seen Platies, Corydoras, Danios, or Plecos (even wild caught specimens) become bored with their diet, if it is in fact a nutritionally complete diet.
<Perhaps not. But at the same time, including green foods in their diet is a good thing. I think we're at cross purposes here. I'm not saying you can't keep fish feeding them nothing by Goldie Fish Flakes every day, but at the same time, there's nothing to be lost by offering a variety. And it may do some good. Costs nothing, so what's to lose? Besides, my Pufferfish aren't that impressed with flake! And things like Panaque need wood. So there are plenty of exceptions.>
(or any species of fish that the "casual fishkeeper" would be inclined to keep)
<If you say so.>
Did Robert T. Rickett's Figure 8 (Tetraodon biocellatus) puffers get bored from eating nothing but snails for 10-15 years? Hmmmmm.
<"Snails" is a class, Gastropoda, not a single species.>
Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that fish do require a varied diet, but if one single food is made from a *wide variety* of high quality raw ingredients, the varied diet that you speak of can indeed be found in one single formula of fish food.
<But without fibre, which is important. Few "complete" diets include fibre
in adequate quantities, which is why we see so many constipated Goldfish!
Look, each to their own. I'm not saying everyone should keep fish my particular way. But I am saying that way I was describing works, is safe, and is inexpensive. You and I are (I'm assuming) reasonably expert fishkeepers, so we've no doubt developed our own habits, good and bad.>
If I took all of the various raw ingredients found in your typical *wide variety* of fish foods, and created a food that contained all of these various ingredients in a proper ratio and balance, would it not be the same as feeding all of these foods separately?
<Perhaps, but fibre for the herbivores, shell for the puffers, wood for the Panaque -- all these things are more easily provided fresh. Plus, hand feeding my puffers and pike characins little strips of tilapia fillet and prawn is simply more fun than throwing in some pellets. As I say, each to their own.>
If only high quality premium ingredients are being used, in many cases that single food might actually be much better for the fish. (as everything is fed in a controlled balance)
<May well be.>
You are looking at this all wrong, this isn't just one single food stuff, it's a single formula of food, made up from numerous raw ingredients - my fish are eating every bit of the nutrition that your fish are, I simply discovered an easier way to get the job done! No constipation, and no diarrhea!
<If you say so.>
You now state that you can't speak for Bob, yet that is precisely what you did when you inferred that Bob's PP presentation on fish nutrition, and New Life Spectrum, was an argument made in regards to "general fishkeeping".
I can assure you that there are hundreds of species of fish being fed New Life Spectrum, many exclusively, that fall FAR from the scope of general fishkeeping, or are kept by casual fishkeepers. Some of these fish can fetch hundreds/thousand+ dollars, for a single specimen!
<Good for them.>
A recent comment posted by Bob with regards to New Life Spectrum .....
NLS Pelletized Food FYI 1/6/2010
Was reading one of the posts today re a gent feeding NLS pellets to his fish. I really cannot say enough about the product. All my fish are eating the NLS pellets and they are certainly more colorful and healthier looking than I've ever seen them. This is the only food I feed now and was reluctant to do this as I believe in variety, but the results certainly eased my mind as well as my wallet. I may add variety down the road, but so far it certainly appears the nutrition level is present.
<I do hope that folks reading this will realize our sincerity... This product is... amazing. Fully nutritious, and obviously... delicious... to fishes (watch out Longfellow). Have seen it in use, and used it almost exclusively myself for years. BobF>
I'll let Bob explain to you how Surgeonfish do after being raised exclusively on New Life Spectrum for over a decade.
You stated; "It's not a brand I've used, so I can't comment on its quality."
...... which is the only real point that I am attempting to drive home.
As a long time reader of Bob Fenner's, and the entire WetWebMedia site, NLS fish food is one of the few commercial products out there that is constantly been endorsed by the WetWebMedia crew. There's a reason for that, and considering the fact that you've never used it, you might not want to knock it, until you have given it a proper go. :)
<Fair comment. But at the same time, I'm not feeling the loss, either.>
In my humble opinion, suggesting that someone keeping native Sunfish shouldn't feed NLS as that species staple food, certainly wasn't doing them any favours.
<Or any harm, either. Moreover, good luck trying to get Enneacanthus to eat any kind of flake food.>
Just a little something to keep in mind ....... much of the scientific wisdom today, began as the heresies of another time.
<Nordrhein Westfalen? Cheers, Neale.>
<<Again, I thank you both for your civil discourse here. And I DO encourage Neale to seek out, try Spectrum... of appropriate size pellets et al. with his fish stocks. It has been my experience that in a remarkably short number of trials, ALL fishes take this food. Really.

Re: Response to Neale Monks comments (RMF, feel free to chime in)   2/9/10
I take no issue with you feeding your fish whatever you desire, I only question why you would recommend to someone that is already feeding a high quality food to their fish (Sunfish), one that the fish are already readily accepting & eating, and one that is highly recommended on this site by most of the various crew members, that it shouldn't be that persons staple food for that species of fish?
<I offer advice on the basis of personal experience rather than by channeling the opinions of other people. In this case, both my personal experience, and my training as a zoologist, leads be to be prejudiced towards offering a variety of different foods rather than one single food. I'm willing to be convinced that a single dried food can be worthwhile; I'm just not convinced yet. If I can offer an analogy, it's the argument that a single pellet feed is better for farmed chickens than allowing them to peck about the farmyard on whatever they want. In simple terms of feeding behaviour, yes, battery chickens will eat constantly, and yes, they grow very quickly. But there's a difference in the taste of farmyard chickens compared to battery chickens, which would seem to imply that their bodies react differently to mixed foods versus complete foods.>
I can understand offering alternative food stuffs, especially considering the Enneacanthus, but to simply discount alternatives due to your personal beliefs and/or feeding methods seems a bit over the top to me.
<Fair enough. But as I say, my approach is to tell people what's worked for me, not what someone else has told me. If you can convince me one particular brand of dried food is a perfect food for aquarium fish, then so much the better. I will bear that in mind.>
I'm not attempting to tell you or anyone else how to keep their fish, and as a forum advisor I personally find it rather cavalier that you would take it upon yourself to judge the quality, or discount the use of a pellet food that you yourself have never even tried.
<Not cavalier at all; quite the reverse. As I've said repeatedly, my aim is to tell people what I know works most of the time. It would be hypocritical of me to recommend people do certain things if I have no idea how good or bad that advice might be.>
Taking that attitude is only going to leave the hundreds/thousands of hobbyists that DO feed pellets and/or flake food as their fishes staple rather confused, and believing that they are doing something less than ideal for their fish, which couldn't be further from the truth.
<In your opinion.>
The vast majority of freshwater fishkeepers are simply not going to provide their fish with bog plants, forest leaves, fruits, seeds, etc, nor do they need to in order to keep their fish thriving in captivity. To state otherwise is downright ridiculous.
<I didn't say you need to feed your Severums leaves flown in from the tropical rainforests of South America! But I do believe you need to provide them with some green foods, whether tinned peas, cooked spinach, or whatever.>
I don't need to spend any time on Fishbase to have a solid grasp as to the nutritional requirements of freshwater fish, but thanks anyway. <sigh> I have already covered the *wide variety* concept, and how that can be fulfilled by a single product. (by using a *wide variety* of ingredients) I have also kept goldfish, numerous species, and fed them New Life Spectrum exclusively without a single constipation issue.
<Good for you.>
NLS contains fibre, and obviously in adequate quantity or myself & many other goldfish keepers would have had issues with their diet long ago.
<And yet me get lots of messages from people keeping constipated Goldfish, and in turn I recommend they feed them some cheap aquarium plants or cooked peas. I make no apologies for that. It's a workable solution that's easy to understand and doesn't demand people buy one particular brand of food.>
I've fed the same food to some of the most herbivorous cichlid species on the planet, such as Tropheus moorii, and Tropheops macrophthalmus. These fish are known to get bloat by even looking at them the wrong way, yet never a single gastointestinal issue in mine or my associates tanks. i.e.. No Constipation!
The reason that many commercial foods cause gastrointestinal issues in certain herbivorous species is due to excessive amounts of poorly digestible grains & grain by-products, not from a lack of fibre. Take a closer read of some of the ingredients used by the 2 brand names you mentioned, to a can of NLS. Ingredients such as corn flakes, dried bakery products, potato protein, soybean meal, ground rice, feeding oat meal, and MSG, will certainly never be found in a jar of New Life Spectrum.
<I'm glad to hear it.>
<<"Snails" is a class, Gastropoda, not a single species.>>
Touché Neale, but I'm rather certain that within the various species used & fed in captivity by Robert Rickett's to his puffers (if in fact more than one species was indeed fed), the basic nutritional content (amino acids, lipids, etc) would have been near exactly the same. If I'm not mistaken one of his Figure 8's survived 16 years in captivity on that diet, and that diet alone.
<I don't think he only fed them snails, and 16 years is very unusual for this species, just as humans living to 120 is pretty uncommon! Most don't live that long, and it's not because they're necessarily kept badly, any more than the fact most humans don't get to be 120 isn't because they live bad lives.>
You keep mentioning Panaque, as though these fish won't survive in captivity without wood. Are you certain of that?
<The science is debated, but Jay Nelson and Hiro Nonogaki have performed experiments where Panaque put on weight when fed nothing but wood, while Hypostomus fed just wood lose weight. Wild Panaque have guts filled with wood chips, and there's some evidence their guts contain bacteria that break down wood. Nonogaki further observes that Panaque in captivity are short-lived if given a high-protein diet. He's looked at a large number of specimens that died relatively young under aquarium conditions, and a common thread is fat deposits around the internal organs lacking in wild fish. He recommends a low protein diet, primarily wood and vegetables. Certainly, my own specimen mostly gets plant-based foods including wood, and she's 16 years old now and seemingly in good health. On the other hand, there are other researchers who argue than Nelson and Nonogaki are mistaken. Donovan German argues that Panaque are simply detritivores, and that the experiments performed by Nelson and Nonogaki weren't sufficiently rigorous.>
Can you provide any research papers that prove this to be the case?
<I'd encourage you do to the research yourself. The names of the researchers are above. I long ago added some references to the Wikipedia article on Panaque, so that's a starting point.>
While many Plecos may be able to readily consume wood, I believe that what they are really after is the microfilm that is found growing on the wood, and not the wood itself.
<Perhaps not in the case of Panaque.>
If you feel this to be a life threatening issue for the fish, the easy work-around to that is simply keep some bog wood in the tank.
The gut analysis of Tropheus moorii in some studies will show large amounts of sand & detritus, yet just as a wood eating Panaque, I think it's safe to assume that this is nothing more than a by-product while this genus scrape the Aufwuchs from sun up to sun down.
<In Panaque is apparently is wood chips, not detritus. Their unusual teeth do seem more heavy duty than the rasping teeth of Hypostomus.>
I'm quite certain that if one was to keep a colony of Tropheus in captivity in a tank with a sand substrate, and offered them nothing more than algae, and the waste produced from that diet, you'd soon find out that Tropheus require far more than algae, sand, and detritus to keep them in optimum health.
Studies of SA stingrays have shown these freshwater fish to contain plant litter when their stomach contents have been examined, which was concluded to be related to the "accidental ingestion" of these items while using suction to capture their prey. I don't know of a single freshwater stingray owner (and I know quite a few, including several breeders) that feed their rays leaf litter, etc, in order to mimic their "natural" diet in the wild.
<Actually, the "accidental ingestion" of plant material is extremely important to carnivores. It's widely observed that the chyme, the partially digested plant matter in herbivore guts, is eaten rather than rejected by carnivores. Indeed, carnivores tend to eat the guts before they eat the meat. If you keep cats, and your cats catch birds, you'll find the birds are eviscerated and the wing muscles -- the white meat -- is often left untouched.>
Please do not take this discussion as my way is better than your way, that is not my intention. I am merely pointing out that like most things in this hobby there are many ways to get the same end results.
In the future you might want to consider that before slamming the door on something that others choose to use or do, especially when you have personally never given that method or product a fair evaluation in your own set ups.
<As I say, I prefer to quote from personal experience. Should someone send me a sample of a particular brand of flake food, I'd be happy to try it out.>
And with regards to "feeling the loss", it's difficult to miss something that you have never experienced. :)
<Would encourage you to frame your argument in favour of dried foods via an article, perhaps for Conscientious Aquarist. As editor, I'd be more than happy to run such a piece. Cheers, Neale.>

Feeding New Life Spectrum Exclusively?   2/9/10
Hello Crew,
<Hello Judy,>
I feel obliged to shed my lurker status and chime in on the New Life Spectrum debate. While I have no doubt NLS is a fine food, (I feed it to my Cichlids, but do augment with a wide variety of wet-frozen and green foods)
I must side with Neale here.
One of the reasons given by the inventor, Pablo Tepoot, of this food, is that pet dogs and cats are often fed dried food, usually a single brand, exclusively. I subscribed to this theory as well, feeding my two cats the premium (most expensive) brand available at my veterinarian's office, and heeding the dire warnings on the cat-food packages against switching foods suddenly. During the final years of my cats' lives, they succumbed to a series of intestinal maladies, including cancer, which finally claimed them.
My vet confided, during their illness, that she no longer recommended feeding dried foods exclusively (even though we were surrounded by vast quantities of the stuff), and recommended a mixed diet of mostly meat, certain vegetables, and canned food.
<Indeed, this is true. Especially for older cats. But one vet friend of mine explained it thus. We give pet cats and dogs far more digestible protein than they'd get in the wild. Instead of a mix of fur, feathers, meat, and guts, we just give them the meat. So their kidneys have to work much harder to process all the surplus urea, and effectively their kidneys wear out faster. That's why failing kidneys and eventually renal failure is so incredibly common in old cats. Ideally, we'd cut down the protein in their diet dramatically. It sounds gruesome, but serving up a whole mouse,
like you'd do for a pet snake, would actually be better. With dogs at least it's pretty easy to add pasta, carrots, and other such things to their diet, since dogs are omnivores, like us, and can digest all sorts of things. But cats are really, really fussy.>
I was grateful for her honesty, for this new diet did indeed help (projectile vomiting is not one of the more fun aspects of cat ownership).
I realize that this anecdote is hardly a scientific study; my point is that some veterinarians are now recommending *against* the exclusive dried-food diet for pets, even though they make a tidy profit from selling it.
<I suspect your vet is not in a minority position here.>
If a single dried-food diet was feasible, why has nothing been invented for humans? Precisely for the reasons Neale stated: fibre, and the safety net that a varied diet offers in terms of vitamins and other intangibles we have yet to discover (plus, humans wouldn't stand for it).
<Yes, I agree.>
Sure, it's easy to drop in a bunch of pellets, and my fish do love the NLS food, but I will continue to feed them a varied diet. And the new cats that I'll be getting from the shelter in a month or so will see a lot of variety as well.
<Good luck with your new cats! I'm quite a fan of cats, and have been owned by various Siamese, Burmese, and ginger moggies over the years.>
<Thanks for writing in. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Response to Neale Monks comments (RMF, feel free to chime in)  2/9/10
I see, so your position is to sway anyone that is already successfully feeding their fish (whatever) - to your method of feeding. At least we've cleared that up. Meanwhile back at the ranch my Lepomis megalotis are thriving on the very food that you scoffed at (as a staple part of their diet) in the original comment. Hence my reason for joining this discussion, to offer another point of view & let the reader/s draw their own conclusions.
The problem with your chicken analogy is that I'm not talking about a generic farm feed, no chicken farmer (or commercial fish farmer) on the planet could afford to feed the quality of pellets that I feed my fish. Not even the creator of New Life Spectrum can afford to feed his farm fish his premium line of food in all of his ponds & vats. (the commercial portion of his operation) Commercial farms are in business to move product, and make money, not to feed millions of hungry mouths the most optimum diet for overall health & longevity. Feed costs on a commercial farm can equate to as much as 60-70% of the total operational costs. The majority of casual fishkeepers need not be overly concerned with the same logistics, and can provide highly nutritious feed without breaking the bank.
My goal is not to convince you that one way is better then the next, it seems clear to me that we are well beyond the point of no return in that matter, but to suggest to the readers such as you have, that a species of fish such as L. megalotis (that is pretty much bullet-proof) should not eat a high quality pellet food as its staple, I personally find ludicrous. While you may have a degree in zoology, your target audience, the casual fish keeper, typically does not, and generally do not understand how complex their fishes nutritional needs truly are. (see more on this below)
Your advice is based on sound reasoning, that being feeding a "wide variety" reduces the chance of the fish not receiving certain nutrients, such as if one fed a single food stuff.
My advice is based on the exact same principle, but in a much more controlled manner, especially for the casual fish keeper. My way removes most of the guess work for the casual fish keeper as well as for the advanced fish keeper) who does not have a solid understanding of amino acids, lipids, fibre, vitamins, trace minerals, etc. Note that I have never suggested that one cannot, or even should not supplement a pellet food with fresh/frozen if they feel the need. Having said that, IMHO solely feeding a "wide variety" of fresh/frozen foods is in many cases nothing more than hit & miss for most hobbyists. Whilst amino acid & fatty acid requirements are typically easy to meet (and obvious as the hobbyist will notice growth in the fish), ensuring that the rest of the fishes nutritional requirements (and in the proper balance) are met is not so easy, and in many cases a lack thereof is not so easy to spot, especially for the casual fishkeeper. As an example, if one was to feed too much mussels (a food that you personally suggested) this could lead to a B1 deficiency, as certain sp. of mussels are known to contain thiaminase. Tubifex have the potential to harbor numerous pathogens, and is a food that I personally would avoid at all cost. Even earthworms have the potential to contain toxins and should never be used unless one is 100% certain that they come from a source where pollution, herbicides, pesticides, etc are not found. While I'm sure none of this is news to you, as you have stated previously here on this site that "all live foods come with some degree of risk", this may not be common knowledge amongst all casual fish keepers.
<By the same token, an open carton of dried food runs the risk of oxidisation, moisture damage, vitamins decomposing, and fats becoming rancid. Nothing is risk-free.>
When I initially questioned your reason for poo-pooing the idea of feeding New Life Spectrum as the main staple for the OP's Sunfish, you stated the main reason being that by maintaining a variety of foods, you avoid fish becoming bored of one thing. With regards to Robert Rickett's longevity trials on his F8 puffers, he has stated publicly that all of those puffers were >95% snail-fed to keep consistency through the trials. All of the fish were fed in-house tank-raised common pond or Ramshorn snails, with the F8's kept in brackish conditions living 12-18+ yrs. My point was simply that for the casual fish keeper, having a fish become bored of a nutritionally sound food, that appeals to both their olfactory senses and taste buds, will be a very rare thing. That's not just an opinion, but a fact.
<If you say so.>
Your comment about Panaques simply proves my point, the science is debated, with no clear conclusion to anything, yet you boldly state; "things like Panaque need wood". I would also argue Nonogaki's conclusion that Panaque in captivity are short lived if given a high protein diet, at least with regards to the protein causing fat deposits.
<That's something to take up with that research group.>
In aquarium raised fish, fat deposits found in & around internal organs are typically caused by excessive lipids &/or carbs, not from excess protein, which is typically simply excreted by the fish.
<Surplus protein can become fat too.>
Again, his conclusions aren't based on science, unless you want to hang our hat on junk science.
<He has a PhD, and has published his research. It isn't "junk" science. May be wrong, but then so was Newton. Doesn't make Newton junk science either.>
I'm certainly not saying that a high protein diet is ideal for a Panaque, only that there is no hard data that proves they require wood as part of their diet.
<There's little hard data on anything in ecology. It's mostly broad brush stuff, with some probabilities thrown in.>
The pellet I feed (NLS) contains ample algae/greens, so again, this becomes a non issue, and if one keeps drift wood in the tank even the Nonogaki's of the world should be able to rest easy.
<<Actually, the "accidental ingestion" of plant material is extremely important to carnivores. It's widely observed that the chyme, the partially digested plant matter in herbivore guts, is eaten rather than rejected by carnivores.>>
I never argued that point, but you seem to be repeatedly missing mine. That being that if a pellet food contains a *wide variety* of plant matter, there is no need to feed additional plant mater.
<No flake food will have the sheer bulk of fibre that fresh plant material has. This is like saying apple juice has the same fibre content as a whole apple.>
What you are arguing about, I'm already doing, and have been for many years. (as have many other advanced aquarists world-wide) I'm simply supplying that plant matter in a different manner than you are. (sans the water!)
<Even if you dried out the plant food, it'd still be more bulky, and less protein rich, than the equivalent volume of flake food, surely?>
With regards to writing an article, there's already one posted here on Bob's site that covers everything that I could say, and more.
FAQs on Foods & Feeding, Nutrition for Freshwater Systems
Related Articles: Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Basic Fish Nutrition by Pablo Tepoot
<May well be a fine article.>
BTW Neale, after reading the following response I'm a bit confused as to your sudden stance against pellets and/or flakes?
... Hi, which worms are nutritious and cheap? FW fdg.... 12/5/07
<Contradiction in terms. Nutritious, safe food by definition is more expensive than useless, disease-risky food. If you're talking about all-round value for money, it's hard to argue with (wet) frozen bloodworms. Most fish love them. All live foods come with some degree of risk, with the possible exception of brine shrimp, but essentially they're a gimmick for 95% of the freshwater fish sold. We use them because it's fun, not because the fish need them. So if money is an issue, skip live food and concentrate on nutritious frozen and prepared foods.>
About how much are they?
<Over here in England, around £2-3 per package.>
Also, how many and how often should I feed my fishes?
<I use one block (about a tablespoon of worms, I guess, when thawed out) for a busy 180 litre community tank PLUS two lightly stocked 30 litre tanks. Per day. In other words, not much food is required. Far less than inexperienced aquarists often suppose.>
I have 5 Danios, 2 swordtails, 1 platy, 2 balloon platy, 3 loaches, and 1 Bristlenose Pleco that live in a 50 gallon tank.
<None of these fish *need* bloodworms. Flake plus pellets will do for all of them, and the Platies, Plec, and Loaches will further appreciate (REQUIRE!) algae-based foods for good health, such as Algae wafers.>
Last, how do I take care of the worms and is it easy to breed them without having to buy another 50 gallon or so tank?
<Don't bother.>
Thanks for your advice and tips.
<Cheers, Neale.>
<Not at all sure what you're getting at here. I've often written that frozen brine shrimp are nutrient-poor, though fibre-rich, and shouldn't be used exclusively. But mixed with some other food items, they're useful and readily taken by many types of fish. As for the comment about flakes and pellets, I've written hundreds if not thousands of replies here, and I really can't pretend to be 100% consistent. If it makes you feel better you tripped me up on my own web of illogic, then great, well done you.>
P.S. If your feeding recommendations of various frozen/live foods is simply based on "having fun", you might want to mention that in future responses.
<If you think so.>
<Thanks for writing, whoever you are (perhaps it's just me, but I find it hard to warm to people who write long letters but don't share their name!). I think it's great you consider certain brands of fish food complete and perfect for all types of fish. And maybe I'm wrong about being cool about that idea. But all I can do is tell people what I've learned and experience myself, and if I'm wrong about this one thing, I can live with that. It's not like I'm telling anyone anything dangerous to their fish by recommending a variety of foods, so if it's that one message about Lepomis that got up your nose, then fine, you're right, I'm wrong, and you get to walk away and say you beat me. In the meantime, I'm done with this discussion, and with the limited time I have to spend here at WWM -- I volunteer for around an hour a day helping Bob take care of the freshwater queries -- please forgive me if I decide to concentrate on the sick Bettas, Goldfish and other such things that come my way. I'm just a nice guy trying to help out. If you think Bob should revoke my credentials, then go ahead and "speak to my supervisor". Cheers, Neale.>
>Heeee! Thanks Neale. RMF<
Re: Response to Neale Monks comments (RMF, feel free to chime in)  2/9/10
No worries Neale, I'm a nice guy too, and trust me if I posted my full name, it wouldn't ring any bells for you.
I don't have any formal training, schooling, or letters following my name. In the grand scheme of things I'm "Joe Nobody", just someone with perhaps an above average passion for the fish that I keep.
Having spent thousands of countless hours doing exactly what you do here, I can relate to time being a factor, and I do appreciate the time you spend helping Bob, as I'm sure countless others do as well.
<I certainly do>
I was merely attempting to make a point, which I believe that I have accomplished.
<Oh! And if you should find yourself w/ spare energy, time... Please consider joining us, the WWM Crew. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

New Life Spectrum Foods  2/10/10
Just a vote of support to my fellow crewmember Neale Monks here, as I feel his logic is inescapable. Of course many people have had some success feeding just this one food, but to provide a varied diet to fishes and animals in general really is hard to argue against, and whoever the querior was seemed to me to have an 'axe to grind' about something. Personally, even with all the recommendations, I will always feed my fishes a varied diet, that includes a decent pellet as part of it. This just seems logical to me, and over a 20-30 year lifespan of many fishes this has been proven by mother nature herself to work a thousand times over. I wonder how many of the fishes fed exclusively on this food have lived that long yet for us to see the results.
Just my 'two penneth worth'
<Thank you for your input Simon. BobF>

Re: Feeding New Life Spectrum Exclusively? - 2/10/10
Hello Crew,
<Hi Judy>
Again I feel compelled to de-lurk here. If "NRW" could assure us that he does not have a financial interest in New Life Products, his arguments would have more credence. (I find it a bit odd that an aquarist with no financial interest would debate with such vehemence and have such in-depth knowledge of the product. Reminds me of big drug
companies sponsoring their own studies; it's important to know who is behind the claims). After re-reading the label on the New Life Spectrum pellets that I feed my Cichlids, I see that the third ingredient is wheat flour; NRW states that "Ingredients such as corn flakes, dried bakery products, potato protein, soybean meal, ground rice, feeding oat
meal, and MSG, will certainly never be found in a jar of New Life Spectrum." Wheat flour seems to fall in that category somewhere.
Soybean isolate is also on the ingredients list. The label also states "For best results, feed New Life Spectrum exclusively." I'm always a bit nervous when I'm told by a company to use their product exclusively.
I'm going to go and be rebellious now and feed my Cichlids some peas or maybe even some (gasp!) Hikari Cichlid Excel pellets. Hope the NLS police aren't watching!
<Thank you for chiming in here Judy. Your intelligent remarks are appreciated. I will state that though the co. owner/mgr. Pablo Tepoot and I are friends, I have no financial interest (the co. is solely owned by Pablo) in the business, but do "endorse" (use and spout off) re the food. I have found it first hand, and through observing several others use, to be excellent. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

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