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FAQs on Foods/Feeding/Nutrition, Problems

Related Articles: Foods/Feeding/Nutrition By Bob Fenner & Marine Nutrition, Probably the most overlooked component of proper fish keeping By Aaron Loboda, Feeding a Reef Tank: A Progressive Recipe by Adam Blundell, Culturing Food Organisms

Related FAQs: Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 1, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 2, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 3Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 4, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 5, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 6, & FAQs on Foods/Feeding/Nutrition: Kinds, Amounts, Frequency, Feeding Methods/Techniques/Tools, Automated Feeding, Holiday/Vacation Feeding, Medicated/Augmented Foods/Feeding, Products by Brand Names/Manufacturers... & Brine ShrimpAlgae as Food, VitaminsNutritional DiseaseFrozen Foods, Coral Feeding, Anemone Feeding, Growing Reef CoralsCulturing Food OrganismsButterflyfish Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Keep foods fresh, or stored properly (out of the air, refrigerated...)

... LIFO, Last In, First Out...

The little bit of copper in foods... not a problem.

Watch/observe your livestock, carefully!

Amblygobius Phalaena/Feeding 1/4/10
<Hello mystery writer.>
Read the FAQ, still have a question, Amblygobius phalaena or Dragon Goby.
<Is a Sleeper Banded Goby.>
He pretty much completely cleaned the sand bed within the first 24 hours and the number one issue I've heard of with these guys after my research is that they tend to starve in many tank situations.
<Yes, many are lost in captivity from starvation and jumping out of tanks.
They are continuous feeders in the wild, feeding on filamentous algae, various crustaceans, nematode worms, etc.
They are best kept in reef type settings with adequate fauna.>
Mysid and brine shrimp are the primary supplemental feeding alternatives with occasional meatier fare like squid, clam bits. My concern is that I gave him a cube of Mysid shrimp today and he gulps them into his mouth then does the standard lower jaw vibration filtering process, but then spits out the Mysid via his gills. I'm worried that he is not taking in the food. I'm going to try WWW advice for New Life Spectrum pellets and see where that gets me but I'm worried that he just not getting the supplemental feeding philosophy. Common problem? Not a problem?
<Try the NLS pellets, it may help, but these fish do best in larger reef type systems with a populated live sand bed.
James (Salty Dog)>

Re Amblygobius Phalaena/Feeding 1/9/10
Update, the New Life Spectrum is working great and he eats well now.
Success story there I guess.
<Is a very nutritional product and is actually all I feed. You may want to visit their web site and watch
the video, is truly amazing. Thank you for sharing with us.
James (Salty Dog)>

Dogface Puffer inhaled large piece of squid   9/2/09
I was feeding my fish with a rather large piece of squid.
<Best to cut up...>
My trigger and puffer were taking small bites while I was holding the squid. Then, out of nowhere my Spanish hogfish came out & lunged for it pulling it from my grasp. He let it go and my puffer somehow just inhaled it with one gulp. This happened 4-5 days ago. The last 3-4 days my Dogfaced puffers behaviour has dramatically changed. He just mopes under the rock the whole day. He was quite active before this incident. Has little to no appetite as well. Today I noticed that he does not even open his mouth. Do you think that the large amount of squid he inhaled is causing some type of problem and what can be done about it?
<Really best to just wait... "this too shall pass"... Bob Fenner>

Fishes Losing Color (Inadequate Nutrition) -- 01/26/09 Hi Guys, <<Hey Brian>> I have a 330g reef tank fairly well stocked with 70g sump, weekly 50-60g water changes, ozone, skimmer, Kalk reactor, 4 x 400w HQI MH 20k. <<Cool>> I maintain good water quality and stable conditions. I have noticed many of my fish have slightly lost the vibrant color they had when introduced to the tank, mostly: Lyretail anthias (the male and females), purple tang and Sailfin tang. The color is more faded on tangs, and on anthias the appearance of slight darker spots on them. My blue/green chromis, orange clownfish, and Pseudochromis still have very good color. I have been feeding: Bio-Pure mysis shrimp green seaweed <<Ah! This alone is not enough to adequately meet the nutritional requirements of your fishes and is very likely the reason for their loss of color vibrancy. Food additives can help (Selcon/Selco, Vita-Chem), but these often are abused or simply not provided due to the cost/hassle. Offering a wider selection of frozen foods would also be of benefit'¦but if you do nothing else, I VERY MUCH suggest you add New Life Spectrum pellets to your fish's diet. This pelleted food is very palatable and amazingly nutritious and wholesome. I have a 375g reef display housing five Tangs from four genera. Along with an assortment of frozen foods, I provide daily offerings of the Spectrum pellets and the colors of these and all the fishes are (admittedly'¦my opinion) spectacular>> I have recently switched to PE mysis due to higher protein content (although I am starting to wonder if they get higher simply due to less water mixed into cubes) and brown/green/red seaweeds. <<Still not enough>> Rarely do I use Vita-Chem and garlic additives. <<Okay>> I have also recently stopped using carbon due to suspected involvement w/ lateral-line on my tangs. <<Mmm'¦this will also likely be 'cured' with better nutrition>> I am wondering if this is likely a nutritional deficiency or what exactly is the cause? <<Very much an environmental issue'¦and in this case a lack of adequate nutrition, I do believe>> Thanks a lot as always! <<Happy to assist>> Best, Bryan <<Cheers, EricR>>

Re: Fishes Losing Color (Inadequate Nutrition) -- 01/27/09 Thanks a lot! <<Quite welcome Brian>> What's your opinion on plankton cubes, brine, and bloodworms? Worthless and not beneficial? <<The Brine Shrimp is of questionable value, but both the Plankton and Blood Worms are of benefit>> I'll look for those pellets. <<Please do'¦ The Spectrum food will be of great benefit to the health, vigor, and color of your fishes>> Should I continue Vita-Chem and add Selcon also? <<These can also be of benefit (the Selcon more so than the Vita-Chem, in my opinion). I use both on an infrequent basis>> I always had read brine is useless except to entice feeding initially. <<Depends'¦ Adult Brine Shrimp are mostly water with little nutritional value, but if 'gut loaded' before feeding if live, or freezing by the food manufacturer, they can be of some value. Even so, I don't think they should ever be the primary food source. Regards, EricR>>

R2: Fishes Losing Color (Inadequate Nutrition) - 01/27/09 BTW I failed to mention I feed a mix of Formula One, Two, and Reef Blend w/ an automatic feeder 4 times a day. Does this change anything? <<Mmm, no'¦ Our previous discussion on the color and condition of your fishes would seem to indicate it is still not enough/is not 'doing the job.' Make sure the fish are eating this offering'¦and that you are providing 'enough' of it. And I can't mention this enough, but if this were me, I would replace these with New Life Spectrum pellets in the auto-feeder. Cheers, EricR>>

Blue Throat Trigger Choked to Death on Squid -- 6/4/08 Hi crew, <Hello Wes, Mich with you tonight.> I've asked many a question on WWM before. This time I don't actually have a question but was hoping this could go into one of your many helpful FAQs (though I'm not sure which)? <Will be placed.> I never thought this was a potential hazard because I'd never heard of it before, but just today my blue-through trigger choked to death on a piece of squid. I guess I'm writing this to warn people to cut up fish food to an appropriate size (and also to watch your fish while they eat, which I don't always do.) I dropped in a few small pieces of squid (maybe ¾? square per piece) earlier today for my trigger, grouper, and eel. I only occasionally feed them squid, mostly opting for formula one. At any rate, I didn't' stick around to watch them but did hear some splashing noises from the tank. I glanced over and saw the trigger darting about with a piece of squid in its mouth. I didn't think anything of it. My trigger has always been skittish and will often times dart about for no apparent reason, even when no one's around. I should have gone over to investigate, and I used to come running every time I would hear this ?darting about,? but to be honest, I've since stopped because it just seemed like crying wolf too many times. About 10 minutes later, I walked by the tank and saw the trigger dead on the sand bed with the wad of squid in its mouth. I quickly reached in, pulled the squid out, and tried reviving him in the flow of my powerhead for about 5 minutes. I even tried pumping him gently in the stomach as some sort of strange fish CPR, but that didn't seem to work either. <A good thought and I have done this successfully before. Providing artificial respiration via the movement in and out of the powerhead can work. In my case, the bag broke that the fish was being transported in and the fish, a Sailfin Tang was very cold, it took me over an hour of this artificial respiration but he came back from the dead.> I'm both sad and shocked and feel a little guilty that this happened. But I guess at least I've learned a bit of a lesson, albeit one I never thought was an issue before. So that's my story for what it's worth. <Wes, thank you for sharing your experience and I'm very sorry for your loss.> Cheers and keep up the great work you guys (gals) do. Best, Wes <Thanks Wes, and my sympathy to you, Mich>

Stingray possible food poison?   2/5/08 I had a small to medium Sea of Cortez stingray that I purchased months ago, <Mmm, do you know which species? Some are rather cool-water organisms> living in a 200 gallon custom tank that I built several years ago. The system is a Monaco system which is powered by two large volume powerhead with no stray electric volts. The water quality is pristine and temp stays at exactly 74.5 deg.s and has never been treated with copper. <Okay> I have done extensive research on husbandry of this stingray! And built the tank to suit his lifestyle and needs. Friday I purchased H20 life aquarium food clams on a half shell and with in an hour and a half to two hours the stingray started acting funny and died. <Yikes!> I am wondering if food poison is a common factor in stingray death. <Mmm, not generally, no> And what kind of testing can I do at a lab that would prove that it was the food and not my error in husbandry. <There are some very standard tests done in this regard... concerning the sale of such bivalves for human consumption... to avoid shellfish poisoning...> If it is my mistake I would like to learn from it and educate others so that other stingrays do not need to suffer from eating dinner. Thanks, John Loffer <Could be just a coincidence... did you necropsy the ray? Still have it? If so, I'd freeze the body... do call around if there is a "local" college with a bio./zoo. dept. and ask them re whom you might contact re shellfish poisoning... testing, necropsying the animal... to check for gut blockage, et al. Bob Fenner>

Starving Goby? 9/24/07 I've got a 55 gallon tank with one OC Clown and Royal Gramma along with new resident Brown barred Goby. <Mmm, I know of a Black Barred Goby (Priolepis nocturnus). It has been about 3 weeks since "Digger" has moved in from QT and he had been acting normal sifting sand and totally destroying my hair algae and other algae growth. He still sifts in the sand but could he have eaten all the critters in the sand so fast? <Possible.> I am afraid that he did too good of a job as he appears to be "wasting away". He doesn't seem to be very good at eating food, it's hit or miss with eating brine or flakes. I have just bought algae pellets, shrimp pellets and Tubifex worm cubes to try and entice some feeding. <At this stage, not so sure if he is going to recognize pellets as food.> Not sure if it is working or not. What is a boy to do? What can get this guy to eat something not in the sand. He ate brine fine in the LFS. <I'd try vitamin enriched Brine Shrimp and Mysis Shrimp. They are not that difficult to acclimate as far as feeding goes. Do read here and linked files above, especially  the FAQ's on feeding. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again for your help, <You're welcome.> Brad

Re: Saving a Starving Goby! 9/26/07 Hey Scott. <Hello there!> An update on my starving Citron Goby. I haven't been able to catch and move him to my fuge. I did buy New Spectrum 1mm pellets as suggested (I opted for the $15 formula that is supposedly formulated for picky fish). I searched on-line and also asked for "glass worms" but people at the LFS look at me like I'm an idiot. I decided to try frozen blood worms in addition to frozen Mysis, Formula One and Cyclop-eeze flake, as well as whole freeze dried Cyclop-eeze. Everyone loves the blood worms. <A lot of fish do..> Unfortunately, in spite of feeding small amounts of pellets soaked in Selcon 2-3 times a day on top of normal feeding, my Goby continues to starve. I just can't figure this out. He chases down food like there is no tomorrow, but 9 times out of 10 he mouths the Mysis or worms for a minute and spits it out. The only thing I have seen him eat without spitting is Formula One flake. <Well, then I'd keep feeding the flakes. I'd keep enriching them with Selcon, etc..> I hate for this fish to die. The hard part is that he's not jut sitting around waiting to die--he's active, attempts to eat, seems to enjoy his surroundings. At a loss really. Andy <Well, Andy- I'm wondering about possible internal parasites. Sometimes, these fishes come in with parasites, and need to be "cleaned" internally. I'm wondering if one of the anti-parasitic foods would help. I've used these foods with Meicanthus species in the past with great results! Worth a shot in this instance. Keep trying...Consider putting vitamins in the water, such as Vita Chem...Could induce algae, but it is absorbed through the fish's skin, and possibly even consumed. Can help stimulate appetite. Again- take all necessary action to save the fish! Best of luck! regards, Scott F.>

Grass shrimp   9/25/07 Hi I live on the bay in wildwood NJ, and I want to feed my stingrays grass shrimp, what can I put the quarantine tank to rid them from parasites and disease. So they are healthy to feed the rays? And how long 2 weeks? Thank you michelle <Mmm, don't know that there are any parasites or infectious disease that would transfer to freshwater ray species... is this what you have? Potamotrygonids? Bob Fenner>

Re: Grass shrimp 9/26/07 no, saltwater, Urobatis halleri. do you know of a place where i can order them? certified as disease and pathogen free by the USDA? <Mmm, have never heard of any food for pet-fish (and not Grass Shrimp for human consumption) being certified as such. BobF>

Re: Grass shrimp 9/26/07 oh well then check this out http://liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=2191&N=0 now you have. Drs.Foster always has them they have just been out all summer.... oh well thanks anyway <Oh yeah, Penaeids... take a look at what not having SPF white shrimp has done to the environment, national markets where they're aquacultured around the world... But not Grass Shrimp. BobF> Michelle Newly Acquired Auriga Butterfly Won't Eat -- 09/22/07 Greetings, <<Hello>> I have a 120 gallon, 100 pound live rock, Fish Only tank that was seeded from LR and sand from my former 55 gallon tank (upgraded). <<Neat>> I added a Euro-Reef RS135 PS and a Turbo Twist UV filter to the new setup. My new tank has been setup for a month now with no mentionable problems with NH4, NO3, and NO2 (PH is 8.3). <<Mentionable? If these readings are not zero'¦you have problems if you are introducing fish>> I purchased the first fish for the system, an Auriga Butterfly a couple of days ago (4 days ago). <<After only a month the system is still quite new/raw, seeded or not>> I can't seem to figure out what to feed the critter, as he does not have any interest in the flake or frozen food I offer. I have tried Clams, Shrimp, Flake, Squid and clip-on algae. <<I suggest you try some smaller frozen fare like Glass Worms and Mysis Shrimp'¦and try adding a vitamin enhancement product to this like Selcon as it also seems to stimulate the fish's interest. You can also try 'fresh' Mussels or Clams (served in the shell) from the supermarket>> In fact he stays in hiding most of the time in the same spot in the tank. <<Mmm, this may be a result of its 'newness to the system''¦or a result of the 'newness of the system'>> When he does venture out, I find him grazing on the LR and once on the glass (could be eating Aiptasia). <<Possibly>> I have heard that this Butterfly is hardy, however, I fear the worst if mine does not eat soon. <<This species is quite appropriate for captive care'¦though there's the odd chance you have purchased a specimen that has been damaged during collection/transport. It's not all that unusual for newly acquired fishes to take a while to acclimate/begin feeding. If the newness of the system is not malaffecting the fish (do check those water parameters again as things may have changed with the addition of the fish to this young system), then give my feeding suggestions a try, to include adding a few 'new' pieces of live rock for the fish to browse upon until it acclimates to the prepared foods>> I also have halted purchasing further fish until I feel comfortable with my current situation. <<Wise>> Any suggestions? <<As stated>> Best Regards, Scott B. <<Good luck with your Butterfly. EricR>>

Re: Newly Acquired Auriga Butterfly Won't Eat - 09/24/07 EricR, <<Scott>> Thank you for your advice. <<My pleasure>> I immediately purchased the Selcon additive and added it to frozen brine shrimp. <<And'¦?>> He became more interested and today pursued and ate the offering. <<Excellent'¦but do get the fish switched over to something nutritious soon, like the Mysis Shrimp and Glass Worms mentioned in our previous exchange>> I continue to look into my water parameters and nothing has spiked. NH4 reads 0, NO2 and NO3 read zero. <<Very good>> I will continue to hold off on more fish. <<Is best for now>> However, since I have your attention I have one more question. <<Okay>> Long term with this Butterfly fish which species makes sense to introduce next: Trigger, Angel (love the Regal, but my LFS says absolutely NO), Puffer, Hawkfish, Wrasse, Tang (love the Powder Blue but hear it is hard to keep). Suggestions? <<Hmm, were this me'¦maybe a Christmas Wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus or another Halichoeres species'¦assuming a suitably deep and fine substrate is available), a Longnose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus), a Gold-Rimmed Tang (Acanthurus japonicus'¦and not to be confused with the much less aquarium hardy Acanthurus nigricans), and finally, a Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus, or one of the other Rhinecanthus species)'¦introduced in the order listed'¦and leaving the Angel and the Puffer to a larger system elsewhere>> Thank you again for your continued advice, Scott B. <<Happy to share. Eric Russell>>

Getting Double Saddle Butterfly to eat  - 3/1/2006 Hi Bob and Crew....hope you're all keeping well. <I am, thanks> I acquired a Double Saddle Butterfly last weekend for my 55 Gall FOWLR. <... a small world for this species> I made sure I acclimated him properly and added him to the tank on Saturday afternoon. Only other inhabitants are a couple of Green Chromis. <Can be bullies in such a sized system, tankmate> I was told by my LFS that he would eat pretty much anything..... <Mmm, when in good health, adjusted... yes> I'd done some research on your site first and found out that he is one of the easier to keep butterflies. Anyways after he'd been in the tank for around 5 hours, I added some Mysis for my Chromis and he seemed to have a bit of a go at it as well (I'm not sure if he actually ate any of it because the lights were out). <Not likely to feed the first day or two> Day 2 I gave more Mysis and as soon as it hit the water he was up looking for it, but turned his nose up at it when he saw what it was. Next day I tried again, but added some Garlic Extreme before feeding. He went into a frenzy but again never took any (I also added some very finely chopped Mussel). Day 3 (today) and same...he was actually at the front of the tank looking for food when I came home from work. <Mmm, might have damaged mouth... very common... from capture, transport, bagging...> I'm not overly concerned, because he looks a really healthy specimen. He's about 3 inches and acting fine. I'm off to my LFS tomorrow to pick up some live Brine Shrimp (does this sound OK?) <For periodic use, yes> ....can you suggest anything else to get him eating? <Posted... on WWM...> I've noticed he has a pick at the LR so hopefully he's getting some goodness out of that for now. Thanks in advance Phil P <I do hope/trust you have healthy live rock in abundance as well. Bob Fenner>

Re: Getting Double Saddle Butterfly to eat - Part II    3/2/06 Bob, thanks for the quick reply.... <Welcome> I got the Live Brine shrimp on my way home and added it to the tank. He takes the food in his mouth but then spits it back out. It's as if he wants something else instead (but I don't know what!!). His mouth looks perfectly healthy (no signs of any reddening at all, or obvious damage). <Good> There's plenty of Live Rock in there (about 60lbs, I'm adding another few pounds of cured at the weekend) <Also good> I'm a bit confused over your comment re the bullying in the tank. Do you mean the Chromis might be a bully, or the Butterfly? <The Chromis... though rare for the genus in general (in comparison to many other Pomacentrids), in such a small volume (four feet long is not much running room), even relatively "peaceful" damsels can pester easily-disturbed fishes like most all Butterflies to the point of non-feeding. This being said, it is not uncommon for new Chaetodonts to not feed for a few days after arrival. I would just keep offering an assortment of small meaty foods and observing this specimen. Bob Fenner>

Monosodium Glutamate in Fish Food - Is it Safe?  7/19/06 Greetings WWM Crew, <Cindy> I recently began feeding my Pleco Hikari Tropical Sinking Wafers and now it's the only food she wants to eat.  I read the ingredients and discovered it contained monosodium glutamate.  No wonder she loves this stuff so much, MSG makes everything taste good.  I try to feed my fish only the best foods (although I confess I throw in a few so-so brands, occasionally, for variety).   I decided to read the ingredients on all the brands on my shelf (New Life Spectrum, Ocean Nutrition, Omega One, HBH, Tetra, Marineland Bio Blend, and Hikari).    Every Hikari label I have (Tropical Sinking Wafers, First Bites, and Tropical Micro Wafers) contain MSG.  I get terrible migraines from MSG and know there has been a lot of controversy about it and was wondering what your thoughts are about feeding this to fish? <Not much of a problem if any in aquatic use as far as I'm aware. Is indeed added as an "appetite stimulant", as well as an essential amino acid source (glutamine). Bob Fenner>

Fish Losing Color 10/17/06 Hi Crew. It has been more than three years since my last question was posted here. <Long time no see ;)>  Recently, I have got a 95 gallon new tank to replace my old one.  All my old fishes are doing ok in the last few years. <Good> Some of them have already been with me for more than five years. <Congratulations!>  They are eating well and have no signs of diseases except that some of them have lost their color. My yellow tang is almost a white tang. My blue tang, powder blue tang and flame angel all have similar problem. I understand that three tangs will be too packed in my tank. And I am so lucky that they seem to get along quite ok in the last few years. <Stress from this may be part of your problem, although probably more related to diet.> My question is what sort of food I should feed them in order to bring back their colour apart from maintaining the good quality of water. Thank you very much in advance. Eric <Variety is the key.  Use a high quality pellet as a base, I personally love New Life Spectrum.  Then add to this algae (Nori) sheets, algae flakes, and a variety of frozen foods, Mysid being my personal favorite.  Also make sure your water quality is good, this can also have a big effect.  Hopefully with a little time their color will return.> <Chris>

Sodium tripolyphosphate; Is supermarket shrimp safe for marine fish?  4/5/07 Is the sodium tripolyphosphate found in supermarket frozen raw shrimp safe for marine fish?<I wouldn't use anything with it in it. Depending on what livestock you're feeding, I'd go with frozen krill, or similar, available through your local fish/pet store. Sodium tripolyphosphate, or STPP, is a chemical preservative that has the added merchant bonus of increasing the sellable weight of a product. It also makes seafood taste funny! We don't need it and neither do our little fishy friends!>Thank you for your time.<You're welcome! -Lynn>

Live food for puffers? (03/10/04) Hi, <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> Is there any risk of passing on disease to my puffer if I feed him scallops, shrimp, etc. purchased still alive from my local supermarket? <Unfortunately, yes. Kelly the Puffer Queen once mentioned she'd traced a puffer death to something transmitted via freshwater mussels she'd fed to the fish. You can't assume that any wild-caught food is safe for your puffer. If you do choose to buy the live food, I would suggest quarantining it for a month or so before you feed it to the puffer. Otherwise, freezing the food for a few days to a week should take care of most pathogens, protozoans, etc. that the critters might carry.> Thank you. <Thanks for asking -- I'm always glad to help prevent puffer illness! --Ananda>

Reef feeding question (copper as an ingredient in foods) I have a 120 gallon reef system and have been feeding primarily frozen Formula One for some time.  All species of fish in my tank have done very well on the Formula One.  I recently purchased a new batch and noticed on the label that one of the trace elements listed in the ingredients is copper sulfate.  Should I be concerned about copper buildup in the system?  I've trusted the reputation of Formula One and am not sure what other frozen options should be considered.  What would you recommend? <No problem. The copper amount is of no consequence here. You won't be able to measure it> I appreciate all the help and good advice I find in your forums every week. <Ah, good. Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Thanks, Scott

Starving Goby (1/27/04)   Hey guys- I have a watchmen goby who appears to be starving to death. <signs & symptoms?> the only food I can offer is staple flake enriched w/ Selcon and a refugium (newly set up). <Why not frozen foods?> I read on your articles advising of nutritional deficiency and was wondering if there is anything I can do to nurse sally back to health. thanks again Justin Barstow's <A new refugium is not likely to be putting out anything useful yet. Some of these gobies will take flake/pellet foods. Others will not. Are there competitors in the tank that eat everything before it gets down to the goby? I'd suggest target feeding with frozen Mysis shrimp or other frozen marine foods. The Selcon is a good idea too. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

...about that copper sulfate... Good evening WWM crew!  <Good Evening Teyah!> Hope you all are well. <Just peachy so far!> A couple of nights ago I discovered that some pellets I was feeding my cleaner shrimp had copper sulfate in them. While this doesn't seem to have adversely affected the shrimp, I wanted to discontinue using the product. Prime Reef was suggested as another possible source of food, and indeed I've read/heard lots of good things about this frozen food.  <Comes in flake version as well w/o Copper Sulfate. (At least the plastic jar/jug I have).> Tonight, however, I discovered that one of the ingredients (trace elements) in this is copper sulfate. So... just how harmful is copper sulfate to inverts if given in this form? Since it says right on the package that this stuff is "ideal for reef systems", & given that I've heard of other people feeding it to their shrimp/inverts, that leads me to believe that it can't be THAT bad. What's the word guys? Should I feed it to them or not? Thanks for the advice/time patience! Have a great night! TJ <Well your shrimp should be proud of you for thinking of them and doing such a great job of reading the labels! I wouldn't feed this food or the darned brine shrimp pellets either! Frozen marine meats like those available from your local fish store will do nicely, or frozen or flake foods w/o copper sulfate. Keep reading those labels and enjoy your shrimp! Craig>

Trigger Live Food I have a question regarding Trigger food --- basically I am trying to find a live food to feed my Huma and Undulated Trigger --- my experience is that live food triggers (excuse the pun) a instinctive response in predators that you don't get with frozen, pellet or flake food (just my experience with triggers and Groupers when I had across the street access to crayfish). <You and I's experiences are in agreement>   The reaction when a my trigger is fed a live crayfish or night crawler is noticeably different than when they see a frozen silverside, flake or pellet food.  That leads me to my question --- I have 8 Bearded Dragons <For unfamiliar readers these are lizards> and their main diet is Crickets (farm raised no pesticides) --- now here is the catch --- to gut load the crickets I feed them fish food --- I know you know where I am going with this. Is there a problem with feeding the triggers the gut loaded crickets? --- I already know they will eat them readily my Huma devoured about 12 medium crickets yesterday.  Pros or Cons or absolutely not? <Likely no difficulty... other than the very response, conditioning you alluded to initially. Do you want your fishes to "act mean"? If so, feeding live foods will encourage this. Bob Fenner>

Copper sulfate in food Today I tried to feed Kent Platinum reef pellet food to my fish. My pepp. and cleaner shrimp ate it instead. They loved it! I then read ingredients, and copper sulfate is listed, along with other vitamins, etc... Could this harm my inverts and my copper sensitive porcupine puffer? Thanks for your help, Laura <I doubt that it is enough to harm the fish, although all best are off on the inverts. Nonetheless, with so many great food choices out there... consider and alternative since you have copper sensitive livestock just to play it safe. Kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Frozen Food & Skimming Dear WWM Crew, Hope everyone had a good holiday. I have a question about some frozen foods I had ordered. I decided to stock up on some frozen foods from an online retailer and everything had arrived defrosted. Probably not a good idea to order in 95 degree heat. The Formula One, Two, Spirulina and Angel Formulas were still cool, but they were almost like soup. The clams and squid were pretty much thawed as well. The dry ice was completely evaporated also. I have re-froze everything and it looks fine but I called two pet shops and they both told me to dump it. So, valuing your advice more I'm asking: Can this food be salvaged or should I dump it? <Dump it my friend.> One more question if you would. I started using a Polyfilter about a month ago, and ever since my skimmers produce very little skimmate now. Would I be better off not using the Polyfilter and let the skimmers go to work? <This maybe unrelated. Do try cleaning your skimmer and its pump thoroughly, including a run in a hot water and vinegar bath to remove deposits. This usually vastly improves performance on skimmers that have been running for over six months.> The Polyfilter is not necessary so I'm wondering if it would be better to let the skimmers take the crud out before it has a chance to break down. Thanks in advance, Mike <Have a nice evening. -Steven Pro>

Gelatin-based foods - 2/12/03 Greetings Krewe!!! <whassup G-money?> I continue to have algae problems in my 20 Gallon mini-reef. My water parameters are good - 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrates, 0 Nitrites, 8.2 Ph. I'm changing about 3 gallons per week with pre-mixed and aerated water. <all good> The only abnormal parameter is low Calcium. Will/can increasing Calcium in tank help with algae? <the calcium does not per se (other than long term support of desirable calcifying algae that can out-compete nuisance forms)... however, some calcium like Kalkwasser can precipitate phosphates and raise pH which both immediately inhibit some nuisance algae> What's the best method for this size tank? <likely bigger water changes actually> I have been doing my best to reduce nutrient import. I feed twice weekly with a mix of Formula 1, Formula 2, and Mysis. <The Formula foods are good... but messy> Export is via Remora Pro skimmer and macro algae in hang-on refugium. <awesome> Today's FAQ's have a reply from Anthony in reply to draining frozen food: "Gelatin based foods cannot be treated this way... of course, gelatin based foods are also catch-22 and arguably not the best fare either. Best regards, Anthony" I am doing my best to drain my food, but I'm still having trouble. Are the Formula brand foods gelatin-based? <yep> Am I suffering from gelatin-based food syndrome?? <likely not for the fine skimmer you have can temper it... there is some other nutrient issue at hand IMO. Does the skimmer work well (several cups of skimmate weekly in this case?)> One more quick question - I'm having trouble finding a good method to block large pieces of algae and bubbles from flowing back into the tank while still allowing copepods and other small organisms to return to the main tank. Thoughts, ideas? <not sure... is this an upstream or downstream refugium? Assumedly upstream? At any rate, neither the bubbles or algae should exist... we need to stop them at the source. I fear that your algae is Caulerpa or some other easily fragmented form (even the fine Gracilaria). Do consider a more stable macro in this case like Chaetomorpha> Thanks! -Jeremy <best regards, Anthony>

I love your BOOK! Dear Bob, My name is Sean. I am sort of new at this and thought I knew a little bit but when I finished your book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, I was totally amazed! Wow dude you are BAD! (In the cool generation X'er kind of way!) <Thanks for pumping me up!> I did have two questions though and since I just got off vacation (I read your book two times!) I have not gone through your whole site to find if these have been posted before. <Me neither!>  My first question is this: At one point in the book you mention to stay away from Gelatin based foods and another part about homemade foods mentioned Gelatin. Can you help me to clear this up? <Thanks for pointing this out... yes to trying other emulsifiers, preservatives like alginates... overuse of gelatins can be a "bad thing" (with a nod to Martha Stewart)... but rarely causes problems in systems that are properly maintained (gravel vacuumed, water changed...)> Thanks a million for your great book. I doubly enjoyed my vacation because of it! I would buy anything you write. Have you ever thought of being more specific to name brands of certain Items that you personally use? (i.e. protein skimmers for 125 gallon tanks?) Some of the different types and styles confuse me and I would rather do it right the first time. Thanks again. <Hmm good questions... have listed my opinions to most all makes, models of any gear used in the FAQ sections of our websites pages/articles: Home Page ... and hope to be doing something more in the way of offering such "favorites" in the near future.> Sean >> <Be chatting my friend, Bob Fenner>

Prime reef Have you ever heard of toxicity problems associated with Prime Reef flake foods? <Hmm, no...> Although I can hardly believe it, this food has killed in a spectacular fashion, many of my fish, mostly hawks. By spectacular I mean the fish immediately goes into convulsions, swimming wildly without control until dead a few seconds later. I also lost a Sailfin tang the same way. I've ruled out any other possibilities by water changes, salt mfg. changes and dechlorinator changes. These deaths occurred in different tanks at different times with only one thing in common, the food. All occurred immediately after consuming Prime Reef. If you have any corroborating information please let me know. Thanks. <This is my first exposure with any reports of this sort... have you contacted the manufacturer? Had your food sample tested by a lab? I would do both. Bob Fenner>

Re: potassium and prime reef Hello Bob. I wrote you earlier today describing the violent deaths of many of my fish immediately after they had eaten Prime Reef flake food. As I was reading the ingredient list on the can, I noticed at least two sources of potassium. I soften my water supply with potassium chloride salt to remove the calcium which carries an excessive amount of radium.  <Really? Fascinating...> Do you think it is possible that excess potassium in the aquarium water when combined with the food might have a toxic effect? <Quite a thesis... but no... not likely as far as anything I know...> Has anyone ever studied the effects of potassium on marine tropicals?  <Am very sure there are such studies... an essential nutrient... you could/will cause a stir with adding another "test" here...> Is the amount of potassium found in water softened with KCl dangerous to fish?  <If not dangerous to... than not likely to your livestock...> If you can offer any information I would really appreciate it . Thanks again. <I can only refer you to existing texts on "Fish Foods", encourage you to pursue a search of the scientific literature on toxicity of Potassium, its salts... on aquatic life... go see a college reference librarian with your query. They can/will help you with a computer search of existing knowledge. Bob Fenner>

Quick Question Hi Bob, <Hi there>  I'm swimming in a sea of boxes right now. I am going back and forth between this place and my new place moving stuff. Quick question for ya about fishy stuff. How long is frozen fish food in the freezer good for? <Almost indefinitely... at least several months> How long is Amquel and the like good for? <Even longer...> Trying to figure out if I should move them or just toss them in the garbage... <I'd keep, use both as long as they "don't smell bad"> Thanks! Madison <Chat with you soon my friend. Bob Fenner, just back from FLA>

Thawed Fish Food Mr. Fenner, I've emailed in the past about more serious fish matters, but this is a minor one. I thank you in advance for your help. I seem to have a bad habit of leaving frozen shrimp packages out. This evening, I left a full package of frozen plankton, and a mostly full package of brine shrimp out for ~5 hours. They thawed through, but are packaged in plastic bubbles with aluminum foil sealing them. In the past I've thrown them out, but is that really necessary? <In general not in my opinion. Unless there is obvious "rot" as in smelly decomposition, I suspect marine and freshwater animals encounter such states of "freshness" in the wild> I feel silly about having to ask, but with the frequency I do this, it could get quite costly. Thanks very much, John Sanders <No question asked in sincerity is silly. Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner> John M. Sanders

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