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FAQs on Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 1

Related Articles: Foods/Feeding/Nutrition By Bob Fenner Basic Fish Nutrition by Pablo Tepoot & Marine Nutrition, Probably the most overlooked component of proper fish keeping By Aaron Loboda, Feeding a Reef Tank: A Progressive Recipe by Adam Blundell, Making Vegetarian Gel Food for Fish: Five Minutes, Five Easy Steps by Nicole Putnam, Culturing Food Organisms

Related FAQs: 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, Feeding/Food Problems, Products by Brand Names/Manufacturers... & Dry Foods, by Brand: Sera, Spectrum, Tetra, Other BrandsBrine ShrimpAlgae as Food, VitaminsNutritional DiseaseFrozen Foods, Coral Feeding, Anemone Feeding, Growing Reef CoralsCulturing Food OrganismsButterflyfish Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Even excellent foods should not be fed exclusively. Here, Artemia/Brine Shrimp culture at SIO's Birch Aquarium

Marine Feeder Fish Hello Robert, I just got back from the Philippines and I saw a small type of fish that would be a great feeder fish, smaller than silver sides. I read from your book (my favorite) that you lived in the country for awhile and may have seen this (attached). Can you identify what it is???  <Doggone it... after eating so many you'd think I would... Will post your image and hope someone comes forward with the information> If you can't can you recommend me to who can??? Thanks Al Batario
<Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Feeding of fish Hey Bob, I've been reading your FAQ's and I think I'm not as up to snuff on this stuff as I once believed myself to be. I've emailed you in the past several times for various issues but this is something new. First, I emailed you a while ago about a colt coral that had been doing well but had developed a white area along the base of it's stalk. I am happy to say that this is now gone, and the coral seems to have grown again (more than double the size at purchase). This is in my opinion an very healthy animal. <Yes> Now for the not so good. I have some hairy mushrooms that are not doing so good. I followed the advice of my LFS and did not specifically feed these animals. I have had them for a while, and they are dwindling down to little buttons.  <Do feed them...> My h2o quality is good (I'm gonna have a different LFS check it for accuracy) and my lighting is adequate so I think that they must be starving. What should I do (feed obviously) to rectify and save these beautiful animals? <Just the feedings.... perhaps with a vitamin liquid mixed in ahead of time> Also, I have had a fish death. I recently purchased a percula clown (appx 1 1/2" size) from a LFS. It never seemed comfortable and died within a week of introduction. Was this specimen too small?  <No... captive bred clowns are almost always shipped about three quarters to an inch in length... and do fine> At the LFS it acted normally and ate before purchase. This fish was in a system with about 10 other similar sized Perculas. Is it possible that this fish died from "loneliness"?  <Possibly a contributing factor> I currently don't have an anemone. Would it be better to introduce one prior to the introduction of a new percula (my wife's favorite fish). I have read the FAQ's on anemones and their symbiotic clownfish inhabitants. Would you mind making a suggestion regarding the species of anemone that is most suitable for a percula clownfish? Also, should I be concerned with compatibility between my b/w striped damselfish and the clown? I have seen some damsels take up residence in anemones. <All this is posted on the WWM site> Lastly, I have a Kole Tang that is struggling. I think that I have not been feeding him/her properly. I have an abundance of diatom (reverse osmosis coming in the future) algae, and a bit of filamentous algae on my LR. I have been supplementing with brine shrimp occasionally, and about once weekly with Nori. Unfortunately, I just noticed that this fish appears to be losing weight. It may be too late because the animal appeared distressed this morning as I was heading out the door. I feel terrible because all of the things I mentioned should have been prevented. Regarding the Nori, I haven't seen the Kole actually eat any of it. I have one damsel who devours it, a lawnmower blenny who loves it, and my Mithrax crabs (2) are usually the first ones to it. Possibly placing it higher on the tank wall will help the Tang (or his replacement) get a little more.  I currently use a small piece of LR to hold it in place on the DSB. <Yes to placing the Nori strips up high, near the water surface... with a plastic clip> I have been considering making my own food to boost the health of my animals. I have seen some recipes around but was considering blending fresh shrimp, 1 or 2 oysters, fresh fish (is salmon/trout ok, I have lots?) <Yes, very good> , some Nori, and anything else you may suggest. I thought that just blending and freezing this would be better than the commercial stuff out there. I also thought about adding some Zoe drops to the mix. Any help would be appreciated here. I thought I was doing this (reefing) intelligently but I appear to have missed the bus in some important areas.  <Lifetimes of material to be known...> Luckily I have put off buying an abundance of livestock until I had things stabilized. Oh, I forgot to mention, I have 1 horseshoe crab, 1 sand sifting starfish (very cool), 1 skunk cleaner, and 1 coral banded shrimp and they are nice and plump. Would it be OK to add another Skunk cleaner, or will there be territory issues? <In how big a system? Should be okay if more than a hundred gallons> Also, I was thinking of eventually purchasing an anemone shrimp to go with the anemone. Will this animal coexist with a percula clown or will there be issues over territory? <Too general a question... better w/o in most cases> Sorry for the length of this email, I just have a heavy responsibility and I feel that I've failed my dependents. Jason <Study, reflect and be satisfied with your efforts and progress my friend. Bob Fenner>

Just a couple of short questions Hi Bob, I have emailed you a couple of times about (ich, fourline wrasse, stocking) and I look up to you as my saltwater information source. I seemed to have overreacted about that ich problem with my blenny if you can remember with all these questions) I believe now that he just likes scratching on rocks and he never has visible symptoms of parasites. <Ah, good> Anyways, I still have the red lip blenny but I traded the Foxface (needed a bigger tank) for a Centropyge argi. That little angel is doing great, and he is easily my favorite or one of my favorite fish. The blenny and angel are having some aggressive battling. A few days after I first introduced the angelfish my blenny bit him a few times (the blenny bites a number of fish, a cute but territorial little guy). Now my angel, not being a pushover like my Foxface, sees the blenny as a threat. The angel probably about 50% of the day tail wags and slaps the blenny and shows aggressive posture towards him. The blenny gets mad about this territorial posturing and bites the angel more. The fights go on and on........ Is there anyway to stop this fighting? I'm thinking about taking the blenny back as he started the fight and picks on other fishes. <Time will see these two make an uneasy truce for most of the time> Second question, a simple one. Is my food adequate for these two fish? I feed them seaweed selects, Spirulina flakes, Spirulina enriched brine shrimp, formula two, supplemented with Zo? I hear I should be supplementing with Selcon because it has highly unsaturated fatty acids and Zo? Doesn't. Some people claim that without these HUFAs fish get nutritional deficiencies. Is my fish's diet ok? <Highly unsaturated fatty acids are a good idea... what you feed is fine though.... it has appreciable HUFAs.> Thanks so much, this turned out to be a longer email then I thought. <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Bugs everywhere Boy this is getting to be a habit! <Or a Tolkien Hobbit?> Now I think this is a problem but I'm not sure. There are these tiny shrimp that seem to have infested my filter, an emperor 400. They are in the pads and even in the carbon. I was able to get them out of the pads but not out of the carbon.... do you have any ideas as to how to get it out of the carbon?  <Rinse same vigorously in running water in the sink, mixing with your hand in a wide bowl... oh you want to keep them... rinse the bowl over into a fine-enough net. Another possibility, leave the carbon in an open container in the tank... the fish will help clean them out> I tried to pick them out like I did to the pads, but this was an act in futility. I know I want to save as many as I can, I've seen the 6-line wrasse in my tank hunt them down and eat them several times, so I figured the more the merrier, right? And I'm not talking just a couple bugs either, they are everywhere!!!! So if you have any ideas great otherwise these squirmy things will be doomed to the garbage (poor things!) thanks Kim <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Feeding Hi Bob, I'm having trouble feeding my fish. I have a 240 gal FO tank with LR. Anyhow I have a large show Vlamingi tang, full blown show size x-mas island emperor angel, Miniatus grouper, med. Naso tang. every time I feed the fish. I feed my fish diced up frozen formula cubes. My Vlamingi tang hogs all of the food. He's like a eating machine that doesn't stop. My emperor eats, but is slow in getting to the food. He does get some but just a bit. What can I do? Its a funny thing because it seems like my Vlamingi tang NEVER gets full. He's "porky " as well, very thick. <Hmm, maybe get in the practice of feeding the Vlamingi near the surface at one end of the tank, while about the same time "dunking" other food down deeper at the other end for "the rest" of your slower-feeding fishes... Another worthwhile possibility is feeding the tang during the day with green-based foods like strips of human-intended algae on a plastic feeding clip... This may well reduce the fish's appetite. Bob Fenner> Linstun PS. I feed only once a day. Do you think I should feed my fish twice a day. Believe me no food is ever wasted. It gets eaten up in minutes. Thanks. <Yes, twice a day for sure, and do try the strips of algae idea.>

Reef Fish Hi, I was wondering if you could suggest some species of fish that I could place in my reef tank that don't require me to feed them, rather they feed off the liverock or something like that.  <In a very large system... well-established...> I plan on keeping at most 2 small fish for my 60gal reef. I want fish that stay only around 1 inch and that's it. A would like a 6 line wrasse and maybe a Pseudochromis but I am not sure if they will survive on their own without me feeding them. Any input greatly appreciated. -Matt <Hmm, well, you will have to augment these fishes diets in any case... adding a sump as a refugium could help you/them quite a bit. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the FAQs beyond. 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

Can you feed fish too much? Hey Bob, Without effecting water quality of course... can we feed our fish too much? <Yes, with most species, cases> That is.... if a fish gets a little chubby it that bad? <Yes... hard on their metabolisms, organs... same as humans... shortens lifespans... a matter of science> This is the Naso story continued... a guy here is part of the Montreal aquatics society... He has been into FRESH water for 24 years... not salt.. but seems to know a lot.. Plants is his specialty.... <Much crossover knowledge, technique, mentality...> Anyway... his opinion is a chubby fish is not good ..... what do you think? <He's right> I had been feeding my fish about 5 times a day.... really tiny amounts.... really just hoping for Naso to get some. the water quality has remained perfect..... my regime is really a lot of work.... I don't like adding chemicals once every week or two... I prefer to add tiny bits EVERYDAY ( given compatibility of course) as apposed to shocking the residence with big doses..... DOH!!! back to the topic..... chubby fish :) Any opinion on the subject? Regards, Robert <Chubby is out, "fit" is in. Bob Fenner>

Whiteworms and Redworms Hi Bob, Hope this letter finds you well. It's me the HS student studying at Vandy. Well, by the time you read this letter I will most likely be done with my studies at Vanderbilt. Hurray! Anyway, I have some questions for you about live food. What do you think of the Whiteworms and Redworms?  <Delicious and nutritious> I was reading TFH and came across the article on Whiteworms. This article really caught my interest and I began to look for websites that sold these worms. I was wondering have you had any experience with either or both types of worms.  <Yes... have cultured, used both> Would you recommend feeding these to fish like Chromis, clownfish, Pseudochromis, and corals.  <In moderation, yes> I think I want to try my hand at culturing so could you give me your opinion on this matter? Thanks, Eric Ho P.S I noticed someone else was named Eric Ho on one of you FAQ's. That happens to be my name too! Go figure. Well, I will continue studying, thanks <Many people on this planet. Bob Fenner>

Feeding fish I have a 55 gallon cube tank with 7 fish. They include a Niger Trigger (about 3 inches long), a Pacific Sailfin Tang (about 3 inches long), a Bursa Trigger (small), a Dragon goby, a Lawnmower blenny (about 3 inches long), a Valentini Puffer, and a small Scooter blenny. I have been feeding them 2 cubes of frozen food in the morning and 2 cubes in the evening ( the larger size cubes) and sometimes some flake food. I feel after reading your articles that I am overfeeding but when I try to cut back, the fish start fighting with each other and become very disagreeable. However, my water looked better when I cut back. What should I do? Exactly how much should I be feeding??  <Hmm, this is too much in the way of incompatible livestock in too small a system... the lower living fishes will lose out food-wise to the upper, more aggressive ones... and ultimately be consumed by them... You need to choose between an "easy-going" system or a "predator" type one... and likely if the latter, plan on a larger system...> Also, my Valentini Puffer's beak is growing too long. What can I do for her?? <Periodically feed a small, complete shellfish (small, opened)... the Puffer will trim its own teeth. Bob Fenner> THANKS VERY MUCH FOR YOUR HELP!!!!!!! Sandy

Re: Feeding fish (that are not compatible in the same system) I have a 55 gallon cube tank with 7 fish. They include a Niger Trigger (about 3 inches long), a Pacific Sailfin Tang (about 3 inches long), a Bursa Trigger (small), a Dragon goby, a Lawnmower blenny (about 3 inches long), a Valentini Puffer, and a small Scooter blenny. I have been feeding them 2 cubes of frozen food in the morning and 2 cubes in the evening ( the larger size cubes) and sometimes some flake food. I feel after reading your articles that I am overfeeding but when I try to cut back, the fish start fighting with each other and become very disagreeable.  <Yes... a disagreeable mix of species unfortunately> However, my water looked better when I cut back. What should I do? Exactly how much should I be feeding?? Also, my Valentini Puffer's beak is growing too long. What can I do for her?? THANKS VERY MUCH FOR YOUR HELP!!!!!!! Sandy <Hmm, a good idea here to take a few steps back... and reconsider your stocking plan... the types of life you are trying to keep really are difficult to keep together in such a tank as yours... You have some very aggressive feeders that are very capable of outcompeting the smaller, slower bottom dwelling species... and consuming them as time goes on... I would likely trade in either the easier-going ones and/or invest in a larger system to move the "go-getters"... beefing up the filtration and circulation in the new system, and curtailing feedings to twice a day. Bob Fenner>

Tangs/Lettuce, chemical filtrants, learning Hello, I have a couple of questions I need to get an answer on. Is it natural for fish (tangs and angels) to munch on romaine lettuce.  <If offered such, yes> It is not found in the ocean, however, ever tropical fish store here in Massachusetts feeds the tropical marine fish lettuce. I went to the trouble of getting fresh seaweed which they do not touch and I also got Miso, which I soak and my Tank seems to like it once in awhile. So they eat what isn't natural and keep away from what is? <Hmm, much to talk about here philosophically... Miso as a prepared product isn't quite natural... And fishes, like humans "tend to the familiar"... and may know plain romaine better from experience. I have tried to talk people out of feeding terrestrial greens to marines for decades... and goosed Chris Turk, who in turn spurred on Jules (Sprung) and partner Danny, TLFishies, into re-packaging marine algae as foods... see the wetwebmedia.com site under foods/feeding/nutrition, the many Surgeonfish sections...> What does an argi angel look like, I cannot find its picture anywhere. Will he be a good choice for a tank that has an emperor? assuming I can locate one. Is it also called a Cherub fish? <Bad choice for a tank with an Emperor... read, study: http://wetwebmedia.com/centropy.htm Images, info...> Is Chemi-Pure all right to use in a reef tank until I get a protein skimmer and is the Aqua Sea Remora Pro back pack a good brand and choice? <Not the same function, but a help and yes> If Chemi-Pure is ok to use, for how long and how much? Thank you very much again. Thank God for you. <Please read over the activated carbon section. I've heard it stated that the Judea-Christian god helps "those who help themselves"... you should avail yourself. Bob Fenner> Sandy Levy

Best Food for Lion Fish What is the best foods to feed a Lion Fish. It is 7 inches long. <Please see the "Lionfish" and "Feeding Feeders" sections (articles and FAQs) stored on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for this information. Bob Fenner>

Re: help please... not feeding a non-cycled setting Bob, Can you please clarify something for me?  <Perhaps> You said not to feed...even possibly for a few weeks. Don't feed the fish or anything else? They won't starve? <Much less likely in your scenario than that they might well be killed by the present situation of incomplete nutrient cycling... Please read over the section on "Biological Filtration" on the WWM site... and do look into a standard "marine aquarium reference book"... simply asking questions here will not give you enough timely information> I had a scarlet shrimp die today. The ammonia level was up again. Can I change the water too much? <Yes. Too much, too soon will forestall nitrification and its establishment> When I pour water in. the Banggai Cardinal fish thinks the bubbles are food and tries to eat them...so I know he's hungry. Thanks again, Sara <If you deem it necessary or "worth the risk" do feed sparingly... but do understand what you're doing here... and augment the biological filtration in this system... with old filter media, cured live rock, old/established substrate... Do you have a livestock-carrying fish store near you? Other aquarists? Seek their counsel as well. Bob Fenner>

Re: feeding a Naso tang Thanks. Check this site out. http://www.animalnetwork.com/fish/data/foods.asp <Have seen this, heard Ron Shimek present same... amazing what little food value there is in "vital", other noted products, eh? Bob Fenner> Allyson

Re: long term planning (size of tank, foods, mandarin, cephalopod FAQs> The mail maintenance demons ate the original message, but your response to my comment that a 180 tank was not that much larger than a 120 was (to paraphrase) "that I should hang out there more often".  <Bizarre... reminds me of the "altered translation dictionary" skits of comedy teams> I was just curious (not offended, just curious, the short comings of email, you can't hear the tone of my voice) what exactly you meant. Oh, and I agree, your replies aren't short, they're concise. And if you're curious, I'm trying to assure my wife that my hobby won't eat our house. <I understand (methinks) all the way around... half again as big is "bigger" as in "I wish you were about to help me count my money"> And on a whole nother topic, I thought this might apply to the recent posting that mandarin fish take roe, please feel free to snip the next section and post it separately if you'd like. <Okay, will do so, thank you> Re Mandarin Tip: "Hatchling cephalopods require live food. While Sepia officinalis is the only cephalopod species that has been reared through their youth on Artemia, I do not recommend using Artemia unless there are no other options as many of the cuttlefish will die and the growth rates of the survivors will be retarded. Mysid shrimp, small marine fish, amphipods, isopods, and other small live marine crustaceans and fish are ideal first foods. Bill Mebane, a scientist at the Marine Biological Lab at Wood's Hole, has had great success using newly hatched killifish (Fundulus grandis, sorry killifish lovers!) to feed hatchling cuttlefish. Killifish eggs can be ordered from Gulf Coast Minnows; their address is at the end of this article. The eggs can be shipped damp, are inexpensive, and are an especially great option for land locked aquarists. Essentially they are the Artemia of the fish world. I've heard that some aquarium stores are starting to regularly offer live amphipods (also known as scuds, hoppers, or beach fleas) for sale; these are the main food I have using to fed my hatchling cuttlefish. " From Dr. James Wood article on breeding cuttlefish, URL for Dr. Wood's article: www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/tcp/cuttle4.html While I don't have anything but gut instinct to back me up, I imagine that killifish eggs would make good mandarin food if they are taking roe, and easier to get if you don't have access to a market that carries roe. Here's the URL for Gulf Coast Minnows: http://www.bayoubusiness.com/minnows/about.htm Hope this helps! Mike <Hmm, will post on the cephalopod FAQs section, "foods/feeding/nutrition" as well. Again, thank you. Bob Fenner>

Eating questions Hello Bob or Lorenzo! <Hi Deborah, Lorenzo here, as Bob is indeed still underwater somewhere in the Eastern Hemisphere...> I'm writing with two questions today. My first is about my Bicolor Angel. I've been able to secure a very healthy, hand-captured Bicolor Angel. He is young and is doing very well in my tank. He's been there almost a full week and has eaten somewhere around 60% of the brown, filamentous algae that I had in my system (and to think, I had been trying to get rid of this stuff before his arrival). He's constantly picking around the tank, eating this micro algae. I'm genuinely amazed at how much cleaning he's done. I know its him because he's the only added occupant to the tank and the algae has been covering everything for over a month now. Occasionally, he'll pick at the sheets of macro-algae that I put in the tank, but not all too often. My concern is, he's not eating any of the other foods that I've seen recommended for him. I've tried brine shrimp, blended shrimp paste, flake food that was labeled for marine angels, and blood worms (for my other occupants more than him). He touches none of it. The only thing he wants is the algae. He's not at all shy around the other fish, so I don't think he's being scared away from the food. So, my question is, can he thrive on a diet of algae only?  <If he really wants to, yes. Likely he's getting a bit more than just algae, as he picks around on the tank. I have two Centropyge angels that eat a LOT of algae. They eat algae off the glass like freshwater algae-eaters! But they also eat flake.> I'm planning on putting live rock in my tank will this help to sustain him?  <Definitely.> Are there any "favorite foods" of Centropyge angels? I really want him to stay healthy. <Our bi-color eats just about anything, and spends all day picking at all the live rock. Our Coral Beauty is the same, only bigger. The Coral Beauty loves to munch on any variety of Caulerpa roots, and the 'leaves' of Feather Caulerpa.> My second question is a bit simpler. I came home yesterday to find my Red Pencil Urchin eating one of my turbo snails. I had not realized that urchins will eat snails. Is this common?  <Urchins will eat almost anything that moves slowly enough...> Should I worry about the health of the Urchin in doing so? (I don't mean to be callous about the snail, but they're not exactly the focal point of the tank).  <On the contrary, sounds like a tasty, healthy, if expensive little snack.> In general, I've found that Turbo Snails do not fair well in my tank. They usually last about 1-2 weeks. This is the first time that I've seen one get "munched".  <Try a different type next time. And snails will do better in general with some live rock in there. In fact everyone will.> All of the other occupants thrive (2 fire fish, 1 Falco Hawkfish, 1 blue damsel, 1 blue velvet damsel, 1 false percula clown, 1 tomato clown, 1 bicolor angel, 1 Bubbletip anemone and 1 red pencil urchin). Are they "less than hardy" or might this be a sign of problems in my tank?  <Your tank sounds fine. With so many occupants already so well established, be careful not to add too much live rock at once. The inevitable 'die-off' of a percentage of the life on the live rock is an initial load on the system before the rock actually settles in and starts doing it's job. You didn't say how big your tank is. Generally I wouldn't add more than 10 pounds a day to an already established 60 gallon system.> All of my test results are in the very acceptable range (pH 8.2, Salinity 1.023, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 5, Phosphate 0). <That all sounds just fine. As long as Nitrates don't go over 10, you're in good shape.> Anyway, that's all for now. Thanks for any input that you can give. <Always a pleasure, and sorry it took so long to get back to you! I can't believe the amount of mail this crazy Bob guy gets! -Lorenzo> Deborah H. Colella

Re: hippo tang Thanks for the answer. I had looked through the FAQ and Articles, but I missed the picture. There it is though. Thanks for direction. The article mentions gelatin based frozen foods as a source of DOC. I have been using Ocean Nutrition's Formula One and just added Formula Two when I bought the tang. Are these gelatin based frozen foods and should I discontinue using them.  <A tough call... and I do wish I would have convinced Chris (Turk) by now to switch to more user-friendly binding agents than gelatins for his formulated foods> I also plan to add one or two more powerheads, replace two household fluorescent bulbs with full-spectrum bulbs, increase water changes, and try again at physically removing the algae. <Good ideas> Any idea on the trapped gas below the algae? <Yes, oxygen mainly... caught twixt the bio-slime/film layer of the life above> PS. I believe you gave me the wrong URL for "tang heaven". I believe it should have been http://www.ipsf.com/ <Will check this, thanks. Bob Fenner... in Singapore on the way to KL> Thanks again. Jeffrey P. Schulz

Haute Cuisine Lorenzo,  Thank you so much for your reply in Bobs absence...I hope he is having fun! :)  What do you recommend food wise...I have been trying the formula one (which the angel LOVES).....funny he wont eat the brine shrimp...:)...the blenny wont touch it (the formula 1)...  the shrimp and stuff mixed with algae...no one really likes that...I have tried some kind of gel goo that has algae in it but it doesn't break apart...no one but the hermit will eat the Nori...and they all hate the squid.  specific suggestions...I need to get algae in there for the blenny...the scooter eats the brine too! but I want to make sure everyone gets nutrition and lives...btw before I read the web site about the cleaner wrasse...I got one...he was at the LFS for a month before I got him and he seems to be doing well...working on everyone...he also seems to be feeding fine but if he has special diet needs let me know...oh We also feed the hermit crab pellets...he seems to love them is this ok...???  again I thank you ...my wet friends thank you. :)  Gina < I wouldn't stress out too much over feeding everybody the right stuff. All those commercially prepped foods are quite fortified, and the frozen gumbos include so much variety... if they all eat, they're all fine. Actually, you can more easily feed too much - a lot of very successful aquarists only feed their animals 3 times a week...What kind of hermit crab do you have there, that needs pellets? Big one? If it's just a little blue or scarlet legged hermit, you should let him get most/all of his food from scavenging...Cheers! Lorenzo>

Centropyge feeding, live brine shrimp exclusive diets Wow thanks for the quick reply...interesting that we do not need either the plankton or the daylight...anything special for the coral beauty?? you would recommend? also I find the algae blenny ONLY eats live brine...normal? Gina< Lorenzo Gonzalez here, Bob is 'on expedition' somewhere in Asia...> Mine really loves algae of all sorts. Always munching on whatever sort of Caulerpa may be growing (definitely prefers the feather and cup varieties) but she seems to enjoy a little Nori as well - since there is no fresh algae available in our quarantine tanks, she used to engulf Nori and even film algae all the time. <You'll probably find that the algae blennies prefer just a specific sort of algae.  Our 'lawnmower blenny' only eats algae that looks like a lawn! In other words, if it's not filamentous, he's not interested.  On the other hand, he does eat a little flake and frozen. You can almost always, eventually, wean your fish from live foods.  And live brine is NOT nutritious enough for any fish to survive on for very long - so do try to cut back on it in an effort to encourage some 'sampling' and an eventually broadening of the palette..  :-) btw, sounds like a nice show tank! -Lorenzo>

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>

Feeding Filter Feeders, Cooked or Raw? Sorry for the second email--but I had a couple more questions and I've discovered through my own research, in my short stint as a marine aquarium owner, that the people who work at the livestock stores don't really know that much about marine aquariums! <Yes... often the case... a study into the human condition... doesn't pay much... so doesn't attract much in the way of learned, experienced folks... but there is much, much more to "life" as we know... and the non-remunerative compensation... hard to beat.> First, I added two flame scallops a week or two ago. Personnel at various stores told me I don't need to feed them because they're filter feeders and will take care of themselves.  <no...> I've thoroughly researched them on the 'net, and found out otherwise. Someone finally told me that phytoplankton, 2 tablespoons every other day should take care of them. Is this correct?  <Possibly... this species of non-scallop, Lima scabra, has a dismal survival history in captivity...> The also told me that when feeding the phytoplankton, I didn't need to turn off the filter. Shouldn't the filter/skimmer be off for 15-30 min to allow the scallops to consume the food before it's skimmed out? (Based on the other FAQs you've answered, my guess is that the answer is "yes.") <Yes, my friend> Secondly, I also added a bubble coral this weekend and fed it some frozen shrimp, which it devoured. My question here is whether cooked shrimp will provide the required nutrition and not otherwise harm the coral--the only small frozen shrimp I could find at the grocery store were cooked shrimp in the frozen food aisle.  <Better that it's raw> Or should the coral only be fed raw shrimp? (I also add some pieces of shrimp for 3 horseshoe crabs to graze on--whatever is left over, on its way to the substrate, by the 3 bicolor Chromis, blue-tail damsel, and three tangs on the way down.) <Sounds like quite a menagerie!> I have a 115 DAS system with 150# of live rock and approximately 2 1/2 inches of live sand in the bottom. Thanks for your help again! James A. Deets <Be seeing you. Bob Fenner>

250 gallon aquarium foods/feeding Good Morning Robert, How's Everything ,?  <Fine, but do have the upper-respiratory involvement that's going about... Wowzah, am operating in the 20-40% range...> I just wanted to thank you for your advice on my tomato clownfish and my angelfish?  <Oh> I got one more question for you, how often should I feed the inhabitants of my aquarium? as you know I have an adult red Volitans lionfish, an adult longhorn cowfish, a French angel and a Koran angel, a small harlequin tusk, a clown trigger and a juvenile Emperor angel , I've got them eating frozen formula cubes by ocean nutrition? <Okay> I give them the variety cubes in the two pound bags, how often is enough? <Some, twice a day> can I feed every Monday, Wednesday, Friday? or should they be fed everyday if so how much should I feed them? my lionfish also swallows the cubes whole he's humongous? is that sufficient for them or do they need other food to eat? I appreciate your time and consideration in this matter thanks again rob. <Would seek other, perhaps less expensive fare to augment what you have... Silversides, human-consumption intended shrimp, mollusks... perhaps even make my own... as these fishes get larger they will eat you into a/the proverbial poor house. Bob Fenner>

Re: Fish Foods, Brands, branding  <Yes... you know, or I thought you did... that ON's food is made by ex-Tetra worker Denny Crews (along with the other flake foods they make, package in very similar canisters... in Alaska...< Bob, nope, I was not aware of that. can I assume that the frozen food is also made by the same person for ON ? <<Ah, no. Sorry for the confusion... In my attempts at not wanting to impugn friends trade associations I may have inadvertently strayed... Omega One, from Omega Sea make ON's dry foods... Chris makes all his/their own frozen products as far as I'm aware.> ><Ok... you'll likely find they've reverted (for a long time now) back to human-food gelatins... and yes, that their foods are losing mkt share galore to Hikari, among others... and that indeed their foods are not as "good" or economical as others.... < interesting. well they will most likely loose my frozen food business. for the moment I am switching to the flake foods by ON...although I get the impression that your comment above refers to ON loosing their Flake Food business to Hikari ? I have only seen pelleted food from Hikari. <Not likely... ON has good market penetration, good frozen foods per se... However, there are many good competitors... In particular, have you tried Pablo Tepoot's New Life foods? Unbeatable value... very reasonable per unit costs, high, consistent quality... and really apparent benefits (palatability, color, vigor...)... no discernible mal-affects (cloudiness, algal proliferation...). Winners> >Bob F. sorry to have to state it... and not wanting to hear same spread over the Net < don't worry. I am not big on the chat room gossip, and when I write the article for my web site on feeding it will not make any reference to anyone other than my own personal experience via my service business....but I understand and appreciate your concern < s > Jim, Aquarium Design <You are wise in this my friend. Bob Fenner>

So what are you saying (about flake food brands) ? Bob, what are your feelings on the ON Flake Foods ? they don't have gelatin do they ? (not looking for an endorsement, just your thoughts < s > ) Jim <They're very nice... the same (made by) Denny Crews in Alaska <Update, 2003, no longer. Now made by the parent co. SaltCreek(.com)>... All-natural ingredients, fresh, palatable... winners all. Bob Fenner>

Feedings Hi Bob, How have you been? Hope all is well with you . It's been awhile since I have asked you anything so I figured I best send you another question. I want to know what your suggestions would be to grow in a reef to provide a larval stage food supply. I have tons of pods, but it is my understanding that when they reproduce they bypass this stage. <Hmm, not my understanding...> I understand that this is beneficial for many of the corals we keep in our tanks.  <Actually the whole spectrum exists amongst corals, including the species kept by aquarists... some are "catchers" of meaty foods, others almost entirely photosynthetic...> Right now I only have some polyps and some mushrooms. My sand bed is populated with bristle worms , spaghetti worms , some unidentified worms <Many>, copepods, and mini -stars that I can see. The tank has no fish and I am not sure it ever will. If it does it will be , more than likely, one as a center piece. I will intro some shrimp to this tank in about another 2 weeks. It is still a young tank , only up for about seven months now. Any suggestions or thoughts you have , I would like to hear. Thanks again. Jim Bell p.s. Still look forward to seeing you at the Reefland bb. It would be very nice if you were the 1000 th registered member http://www.reefland.com/ Thanks again. <For stocking? Please read over the "Selection" survey pieces posted on the www.wetwebmedia.com site. Have visited your site, very nice appearance, and innovative categories for hobbyists. Bob Fenner>

So what are you saying re gelatin use in foods? < Jules wrote to Jim > >>did you say that the Prime Reef food had a gelatin base? Fenner says at P 131 that Gelatin Based frozen foods should never be used.<< Bob, correct me if I am wrong but most Ocean Nutrition frozen foods do contain gelatin as a binder ? if so why the negative comment towards gelatin ? did you and Chris Turk have a falling out ? Jim Stime Aquarium Design http://www.aquarium-design.com <Hey Jim, nah to any falling out, but haven't chatted with Chris in months. On this issue, he did/has at times used other binding/emulsifying agents (principally alginates... made here in San Diego BTW), but we/I do have a disagreement with the continuous use of gelatin in fish foods... but all else being equal (which it never is), if folks have decent maintenance protocols (water changes, vacuuming, skimmers...), there's little chance of "gelatin deaths". Bob Fenner>

So what are you saying ? >From: "Robert Fenner" <By Bob Fenner> >there's little chance of "gelatin deaths". < Bob, I pondered about your message a bit more..... so is gelatin a resulting maintenance issue or a ( lack of ) nutritional issue ? <Much more a maintenance issue... not much useful as a nutrient to fishes, other aquatic life... but gloms the substrate together... Bob Fenner> * sending this message as I look in my freezer full of Ocean Nutrition frozen foods * < lol > Jim, Aquarium Design

Re: so what are you saying ? >From: "Robert Fenner" <By Bob Fenner> Much more a maintenance issue... not much useful as a nutrient to fishes, other aquatic life... but gloms the substrate together... >Bob Fenner> Bob, that makes sense. I have another customer who uses the ON Frozen foods quite a bit and it explains why her gravel is always got lots of stuff that clumps it together. <Yes... it's the gelatin> so, what frozen food do you like ? <Lines? You know this situation/game Jim... because these msg.s go who knows where am leery of unintentional endorsements... The best are those imported ones from TMC that are irradiated... but most any/all that don't involve gelatins are fine...> Jim, Aquarium Design <Bob Fenner, WWM>

Filter foods Bob, What do you recommend as a good all around filter food protocol for a reef tank that has a wide variety of filter feeders: clams, fan worms, corals (photosynthetic and not), etc. <Really... a very large and healthy plenum and live rock with macroalgae sump/refugium and a dearth of predators there... with either a reverse daylight photoperiod, a very reduced dark phase... or a continuously lit affair. For adding a bit more material... the spritzing with a turkey baster of a liquefied mash of meaty and green material blended ala margaritas with the filter pumps turned off (like for fifteen minutes... with timers so you don't forget to turn them back on again), about twice a week...> I've seen a variety of live phytoplankton (DT's), and dead phytoplankton paste ('Instant Algae' from www.brineshrimpdirect.com), and proprietary foods (from Kent/Coralife/others), but don't really know the relative value of each type. The cheapest is the 'Instant Algae' (dead phytoplankton mixture), but I'm not sure of its effectiveness - although it has the advantage of being sterile (no disease risk). Have you any experience/opinions on the instant algae or the other filter foods? <Too little, but there are independent tests for food value, cost per... posted on some of the archived listservs... see the Links page of the www.wetwebmedia.com site and... keep reading> My main goal is to provide a filter food of maximum nutritional benefit to a wide range of filter feeders w/o causing prob.s with nuisance algae blooms  <I hear ya> - I also want to have a wide range of food 'size' so its consumable by a wide variety of filter feeders. (I'm currently running a Berlin skimmer on a 70 gal aquarium with ozone and UV, and am working on adding a sump with a 12"x12"x12" macro algae section - lit 24 hrs). <Sounds good> Also, what do you recommend for quarantine/dips when it comes to macroalgae that will be added to the tank/sump. <Freshwater dips of about five ten minutes, pH adjusted (with about a teaspoon of baking soda/sodium bicarbonate mixed into dechloraminated water per gallon...> Thanks Again! PS - Bob, I feel like I'm taking advantage of your expertise/generosity by asking too many questions. This is the 4th time I've written to you in the past 2 mo.s, and you've always responded promptly with great advice - this is truly the best source of info I've found (including your book). If I'm abusing your Q/A support, just give the word. Also, have you ever considered some sort of service where people pay a fee (monthly/annual/??) for your advice? That would be something I'd gladly sign up for (and maybe several others). Its so hard to get 'quality' advice on this hobby, at least in Minnesota. Thanks! <Hmm, maybe I'd be able to afford the real Top Ramen instead of those off-brands...? Something to think about. Thank you for your concern, advice. Bob Fenner>

Vitamin C and Trigger. Bob, Referring to the above subject, can we administrate vitamin c ( tablet form for human ) broken in pieces( low dosage ) into the frozen shrimp? Is there any other ways to feed it? I went to the wet market got some clams, cut it open wash and soak in fresh water before freezing it. Is it the correct way to prepare it ? Eager to hear from you. Bye. David. >> <Hmm, yes... and as a liquid prep. either applied to foods or even directly into water (Ascorbic Acid/C is a water-soluble vitamin and marine fishes do "drink" their environment)... I use "human consumption" liquid types (mostly ones intended for babies) and dropper them right on foods a few minutes ahead of offering. Bob Fenner>

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>

Sea urchins and Shellfish (native foods?) Hi Bob, I got some sea urchins from my brother this evening and a large snail ( orange colour shell and stripe body ) from the local fishermen. So I quarantine them in my spare tank with some small fishes I caught from the sea shore last week at my Mum place. I am very anxious to see my clown consume the urchin but have I got to quarantine it for 2 weeks before feeding? Is it a good food for the trigger? Is it very risky to feed life food from the sea, like urchin, shellfish etc? By the way, I will be going to catch pufferfish at the seaside tomorrow with my daughter using hand net call Jala. Hope we will have fun. Got to go now. Have a nice day. Bye2. >> <Actually, you might want to investigate means of causing this specimen (if it's a female... not able to tell externally) to release its gametes (soaking, injecting 5% KCl solution if memory serves, do check)... rather than the one-time cracking it open... and do take care not to pollute your aquarium... not all the "contents" are palatable.> Bob Fenner

Overfeeding You have a very informational site. I have spent hours on it. I've seen many references to "overfeeding" yet, I am not sure I have full understanding of what constitutes "overfeeding."  <Need fully subjective... any more than simple maintenance, minimal growth is overfeeding... poor nutrition from inappropriate foods, pollution from unpalatable ones as well...> I believe I have a lot of organics in my 55 gallon tank due to what I consider to be excessive algae growth on glass and rocks. 2 days ago obtained a remora skimmer to deal with excess organics. Before this addition I had a very small air driven "inside the tank" skimmer. New skimmer has been running two days and is returning lots of material.  But, I still have lots of algae returning on glass. Also have some red slimy over coating algae on my rocks. Think is because of my organics load. <This all takes time... the vast majority of algae and Cyanobacteria is water... and there are rapid rates of "recycling" of nutrients by these life forms... removal of rate limiting organics by skimming, chemical filtrants, biological means... all take time> Hopefully the skimmer will help me. But, how much food is too much? Give a little dry food in am and in evening supplemented with brine shrimp cube about every other day. <Best to measure as you've done... by test kits... and attack nutrient availability and pest algae on all fronts... chemical, biological, predation, competition...> Just recently put some snails and a few sea urchins in and they ARE cleaning the rockwork. However, the red stuff comes back pretty quickly. Even when blown off. Have no other symptoms and all animals do well and eat well. Have about 25lbs of live Fiji rock and the following: Smart light fluorescents HO on about 12 hours a day. small yellow tang clown long tentacle for clown 3 Condylactis cleaner shrimp scooter blenny large hermit, probably 21/2 inches across 2 blue damsels striped damsel 1 brain coral 1 rock with yellow polyps a leather coral a clam. Penguin filter system with 2 bio cartridges, 2 containers for carbon and two mechanical pads 2 powerheads at opposite sides blowing in criss cross direction. Have spent tons of money on this thing and while it is running OK, I think I'd like to see the algae disappear. This isn't the "turgid" kind of red algae", more like an over coating in certain places. Change 10 of water about every week. Don't measure Nitrate. Ammonia and Nitrite, OK. I await your scary verdict. (Overall, most people would think the tank looks just great, so I don't want to give you the idea the thing is trashed. Far from it.) Tank is about 8 months old in MY possession, having been given it from my parents who used it for a couple of years. I transferred it to my home intact. >> <Understand... do look into the use of macroalgae species (principally of the genera Caulerpa and Halimeda) as primary competitors for light, nutrients... Bob Fenner>

Sourcing Alginate Binders Question: Hi....I noticed in FAQ #104 you mention alginates as the best binder for creating your own frozen foods. Where can you find alginates? >> These common emulsifying agents may have to be special ordered through a chemical supply house. If it were me, I'd first take a look through your local "Yellow Pages" directory under the term "Chemicals", and call them for sodium alginate (most commonly used form as food binder). If there is no local source, try a larger) college (the biochemistry, biology departments) and ask them if they have some, can give you their source. Next, I would try the inserting the name: biological supply and alginates in your computers search engines... and following the sources it leads you to. Bob Fenner

Feeding Fishes Dear Bob, I ordered two fish from Flying Fish. I got a Raccoon Butterfly & a Koran Angel (juv.) . What do they eat??? Dumb huh? I have tried the dehydrated algae from fish store. I have also stuck some brine shrimp in the tank. They don't seem to eat either of them. They have been eating the algae off the rocks though. Also, how quickly will these fish grow? How long before the angel changes color? They are beautiful fish. Flying Fish has top quality specimens.  Thank You, Heather  >> The Raccoon is a zooplanktivore... it will eventually accept all sorts of foodstuffs, but prefers small crustaceans (frozen/defrosted, dried, freeze-dried) in the water column... and they eat about night time in the wild.... The Koran (Pomacanthus semicirculatus) has a more cosmopolitan diet, requiring some greens daily, but otherwise gladly eating most all types of foods once it settles in. The Butterfly will be a good four, five inches in six months to a year, the Angel six or seven inches... and it will start changing color at about four inches overall length. These are two great species for aquarium use... and are happy presently doing what they've done for food in the wild... I would just give them time. Bob Fenner

Feeding a Reef Hello I have read and talked to many hobbyist about the age old question feed or not to feed your reef. I watched one tank go down (a friend of mine) on a plankton outbreak after she did one feeding. What is your opinion on it? And if you are pro what do you suggest to feed? >> Most reef set-ups do benefit from some sort (amounts, frequency, mode of application, foodstuff choices) of nutrient addition... But definitely over, or mis feeding is out...  Part of the fun, mystery-intrigue of reef systems is the planning, selection, placement and care of a mix of compatible forms of life... In most settings, due to "boosting" by intense lighting, high temperature... and other factors (competition, predation...), feeding is a must... less energy inputs otherwise not support the types of life (non-photosynthetic... like filter feeders, detritivores, zooplanktivores...) that the hobbyist has placed... Bob Fenner

Non-feeding Queen Angel What's up Bob. you have helped me several times in the past and I am in need of your expert ways one more time. I have a 55 gallon tank with a queen angel, saddleback clown (with Sebae anemone), threadfin butterfly, Cuban hogfish, 3 damsels, cleaner wrasse, several crabs and shrimp, and sea urchins and starfish. wow, I got a lot of stuff in here!! oh, also 50 lbs live rock. everything has been fine and everyone has been eating. yesterday a did a 20% water change and today the queen angel is not eating. its usually the first fish to eat when I put food in. today he went right to the top, looked at the food, which he usually nails, and just didn't eat. he has been in perfect health and was eating yesterday. should I be concerned? did the water change affect it? everyone else was eating today but the angel. >> No worries... maybe the water change, more likely you just having your hands in the tank... has set it off.... It will resume feeding in another day or two, little doubt. Bob Fenner

Where can I get live food? Do you know of any places on the internet where I can get live food for my reef tank? I'd like to get/raise some brine shrimp, or other types of food. I'd love to have a Mandarin Goby, but they require live food, copepods I think. Where can I go to find information about getting these types of things? Will live food make my fish more aggressive? I have a flame angel, Coral Beauty, bi colored Dottyback, and 4 Perculas ( sp? ) clown fish. They all get along for the most part, would live food change that? >> Start with cultures from Carolina Biological Supply... you can find them and similar suppliers through your search engines using keywords like "fish food cultures"... And no to the question, possible problem of enhanced aggression... there should be no discernible difference with these fishes.... including the Perculas. If they're getting along now, they will get along when better fed. Bob Fenner

By the way..... I saw a question on your site from someone looking for a starter supply of copepods & amphipods and wanted to give you a couple of sources. Inland Aquatics (http://www.inlandaquatics.com/detritivore.htm) sells Mysis, amphipod, copepod, etc. packages. Also, Indo Pacific Sea Farms (http://www.ipsf.com/) sells amphipods. Just thought you might like to know. >> Thank you very much for the input... Will send along to FFExpress, and post permanently under "Foods, Feeding, Nutrition FAQs sections of my site, www.wetwebmedia.com... Appreciate it. Bob Fenner

Home-made frozen foods Bob, I'm interested in putting together some frozen foods at home for my tangs, French Angel and trigger. What will work as a gel binder? Is it a good idea to make these foods at home or is it better just to buy them already made? Are there any good articles on the subject? Thanks, Tony >> Good idea... very high cost savings per unit.. and fun to do. The best binder in my opinion are alginates (derived from marine algae)... they are completely digestible by microbes and bigger livestock... Down from there is... nothing! Just blending and freezing your components in little blocks (we, including a few commercial fish food manufacturers, used to do this using "egg-crate", aka Louver that you can buy at large home improvement centers... for overhead lighting... with 1/4" gaps... Lastly, the use of gelatins for human use... some of these are of a dubious destiny in a captive aquatic system... mostly removed by skimmers, and periodic vacuuming of the substrate. There are a few old articles on this subject, as well as a mention in Stephen Spotte's works (see Fish and Invertebrate Culture in Closed Systems), or my Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Bob Fenner

Rotifers Bob, I have often read about feeding various corals live baby brine shrimp and "rotifers". I have only had my salt water aquarium for 15 months so I am relatively new in this field. I have asked several knowledgeable people what rotifers are, and how or where can they be acquired. no one has yet been able to help me. I would appreciate any info that you could give to me. thanks, Dan >> Thanks for asking... always knew those courses in Marine Invertebrate Zoology would come in handy some day... Rotifers are "wheel animalcules"... a big mix (about 1500 species) or mainly freshwater, small (about 1mm) critters that look a lot like ciliated Protozoans... Mostly non-attached... and mostly mis-identified...  What I'm getting at, is that most people call a whole bunch of other organisms "rotifers", sort of like a catch-all name for "plankton"... You can buy cultures of these and other fun to grow and feed organisms and their culture media, vessels... from "biological supply houses"... put this name in your Search Engines... and away you go. One of my faves is Carolina Biological... Bob Fenner

Percula Clown Hi Bob Is it possible for fish to completely eat another? I have a tank with 2 damselfish, a 7" Regal Tang, with some smaller fish. I returned home today to feed my fish and I could not see my percula Clown. I have fed them and it did not surface, and I have checked under all rocks etc. Is it possible that  it has died and the others have simply devoured it? It has looked very healthy and has not been of its food. I did a water  change yesterday and the Nitrite and Nitrate levels are fine. I am wondering to send it off to the X-files. Matt >> Hmm, well the answer is definitely yes... such "mysterious missing, otherwise devoured" incidents do occur... and it's surprising how even "just" microbes and/or cleaner crews can completely consume an animal. Not to be totally discounted is the aquatic Houdini, jumping out trick... check around the tank... and the smiling cat... Bob Fenner

Live fish food Hi Bob! What do you think about feeding live food to fish in a reef tank? I've that live brine shrimp is not a good idea because of the possible introduction of ich. Are there other live foods out there? If so, and if its a good idea, where can a hobbyist get them? thank you for your help! >> Live Brine that has been soaked for a few minutes in freshwater is mostly disease free... And most any of the freshwater live foods are of use to many/most marine fishes... Daphnia, Black worms, Glass worms... And cultures of other live foods can be had through mail order businesses as are found listed in hobby magazines, biological supply companies (on-line, yes)... And even from the occasional "other hobbyist" who is fortunate to have amphipods, caprellids, mysids "just show up" with live rock, refugiums, live algae cultures...  Live foods are a good idea... but may not be as inexpensive as prepared, frozen for what you get... nutrient wise. Bob Fenner

Overfeeding fish Hi Bob! I've written before and have a new question regarding feeding saltwater fish. Is feeding once a day, enough food to fill the fish, considered to be overfeeding? I recently lost a bi-color blenny and a flame angelfish to no other apparent cause. The blenny looked rather fat before he died. I have been feeding nugget, frozen and flake food. My current fish in a reef setting are 3 Chromis, Lemonpeel angel, mimic tang, and 2 ocellaris clownfish. I put Nori in the tank every day for the angel and tang (they love the Nori). Should I switch feeding to once every other day, or even twice a week? I need to know, as I don't want to kill any more fish out of "kindness." Thanks for your advice, and informative column. Jenny Turco  >> Thank you for writing... and I sense that you know the answer to your query... It depends: On the species for instance... Some predators only eat occasionally... every few days to weeks... and so can easily get by on once, twice weekly feedings... But the fishes you list are almost continuous browsers in the wild... and will do much better on being offered something to eat (like the Nori sheet algae) on an almost continuous basis... hence my suggestion to place some healthy live rock for them to sample at leisure and for you to feed them otherwise, at regular intervals, the prepared foods you list... twice a day. Bob Fenner, who's getting the munchies come to think of it

Feeder shrimp Hey do you know of a website or a place where I can order feeder shrimp ghost  or glass. My local fish store won't order them for me. Thanks >> I would buy a kit from Carolina Biological Supply: https://www3.carolina.com/onlinecatalog/login.asp Great people, reasonable prices, good stuff. Bob Fenner

Feeding I understand that overfeeding is a common problem in aquariums. We feed our damsels half a cube of brine shrimp a night and flakes in the morning. We heard that they should spend three minutes eating their flakes and when I timed them it only took 56 seconds. We don't have our reef going yet, so they can't eat off of that. Should we be feeding them more? >> Not necessarily... rather than more, I would encourage you to make the feedings more frequent... and maybe add a piece or two of live rock for them to pick at in-between meals... Smaller amounts more frequently is the route to go with these constant foragers. Bob Fenner

Feeding a Mimic Tang Hi Bob! I wrote to you a few weeks ago concerning my declining calcium level in my 75 gal tank. I stopped adding all buffers, and have my calcium level back to normal! Thanks for your sage advice! Now I have two questions - my coralline algae stopped growing during the low-calcium weeks. Will it start again or do I need to purchase some fresh live rock to kick-start the coralline growth? The second question regards my Mimic tang. I've had her almost 6 weeks and she looks pretty thin to me. She seems healthy, though. All my other fish are fleshed-up well. I feed a variety of foods once a day. The tang eats along with the others, but I'm wondering if I need to supplement with Nori on a clip just as for larger tangs. Is this right? I am concerned about driving up my phosphate and nitrate levels by adding Nori though. I have 9 fish, so I don't want push my overloaded tank over the edge. What to do? By the way, is a 75 gallon tank overloaded with 9 small fish? I have 2 ocellaris clowns, 3 green Chromis, the mimic tang, a pygmy angel, a flame angel and a bi-color blenny. J.T. >> Thanks for writing back. Re the sage, is that the spice? :) Your tank is not too crowded, and yes, I would feed the Mimic Tang (Acanthurus sp.) Nori on a clip for sure. May take a few days to realize what a treat this is, but it will. And, the corallines will come back in time as well, no need to add more rock to re-introduce them. Just steadily improve on alkalinity and calcium... Bob Fenner

Feeding a Shrimp I would just like to know if I should feed my peppermint shrimp. I got him three days ago and he comes out when the lights are off and looks and great. Thanks a lot. Dave >> I wouldn't make any or much special effort to feed him... though they will learn to accept, even fight the fishes for meaty foods... even during "light" times, this isn't essential. Bob Fenner

Feeding a Cuke, et al. Bob, Still working on that new reef tank and wonder if I need to feed my cucumbers anything special. I have two knobby black cucumbers. Also, do I need to feed snails and crabs or does the flora from my 75 lbs of live rock feed them for me?  I am starting a 55 gallon tank and I have 75 lbs of live rock and low intensity lighting (2 actinic bulbs and two daytime bulbs, all 40 watt and 48 inches long). What soft corals can I add that may flourish (doesn't have to reproduce or divide). I also want an anemone and clown fish. Can I do this? Dr. Nunley >> You don't need to feed those snails, hermits, Cukes anything especially. And I wouldn't... just more wastes... And the lamp arrangement you have is fine for most all the hardy soft corals (Order Alcyonacea) and related life (Zoanthids, Corallimorphs...). I'd wait on the anemone for a month or two after the other stinging celled animals are installed. And, yes, you can do this. Bob Fenner

Question: Thank you for all the advice to date. We went back and forth last week about my new 55 gal setup. I went this weekend to pick out my first fish. I was sold on triggers when I want in, but fell in love with the Red Sea Sailfin Tang. Can you please recommend a diet for her? I have been feeding her flakes and brine shrimp, but I have heard that I need lots of algae for her to graze on. What is the best way to go and, also, how do I stay away from lateral line disease. Bob's Answer: Jason, all this and as much more variety and frequency (in small doses) as you can afford. Nori or Kombu from the oriental section of the food store would help, especially if treated with a vitamin supplement, including iodine, and some live rock for picking at all day.

Question: My Marine Betta developed these unusual scars/ulcerations around the eyes shortly after arrival. Local shops have no idea as to whether the problem is bacterial, viral, or diet. I feed the Marine Betta a varied diet of ghost shrimp, Formula 1, and Formula 2 (all soaked in Kent Zoe). The Marine Betta has been affected by this for over a year now but seems healthy in every way except for these scars/ulcerations. I am attaching a photo that I hope might help you to diagnose the problem. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Bob's Answer: Hey Kev, didn't get the photo but have seen this condition on enough Plesiopsids to know about what you're getting at. Broadly termed HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion), this is a 'diseased' condition attributed to everything from stray voltage, to protozoan infection (Hexamita/Octomita mainly), to nutritional deficiency (principally vitamins C, A, D and iodine). I mainly side with the latter, so I'd start soaking foodstuffs (and encourage all others to launch pre-emptory attacks by doing the same) with a preparation that provides these essential nutrients. These can be made for human consumption and are simply soaked into the food (of whatever palatable type/format) just prior to offering. Sometimes the "scarring" reverses itself, and if arrested, the animal(s) frequently live long lifetimes.

Question: I've just purchased a Watchman Goby but I haven't seen him eat lately. I've had him about a 1.5 weeks. I built a little "cave" out of PVC that is stuck down in the substrate, and he seems to stay holed up in there all the time. I have a damsel that snatches up any food I drop in the tank, so I'm not sure the goby is even aware of the food since he stays in the cave all the time. I *have* seen the goby eat, but not in the past few days. I know he has taken flake foods and shrimp pellets, but not lately. I've been told the damsel can go for up to a week with no food & be fine, so I have thought about holding off on feeding until they are both so hungry they have no choice but to come out of hiding. I am new to a marine tank, so any advice would be appreciated. Bob's Answer: Hey James, yeah a few ideas. Do resume feeding and try something a little meatier, like Mysid or caprellid shrimp. And, add some live rock and live sand if possible.

Question: Does Ich / Black Worms pose a problem to my corals and invertebrates. I am going to take the infected fish out but want to know if I should worry about my corals and mainly my clams.. Bob's Answer: Jamie, do you mean Ich (as in the marine protozoan Cryptocaryon) from feeding black worms? Not to worry, mate. As far as I know such an introduction twixt these environments has not been recorded. OTOH, brine shrimp (Artemia) used live and even reconstituted from cysts have been implicated in marine ich infestations... here a freshwater bath protocol before feeding is called for. For those freshwater (and sewage) Polychaetes there is no danger. Just don't overfeed.

Question: Bob, my wife and I have an adolescent Imperator who is suffering lesions induced from poor water quality. We were using a source which contained some metals for about 6 months. We've since switched to a cleaner source and have been using in for the past three to four months. However, over the time we were using the poor water our Imperator developed some severe lesions on and around is facial area. What is the best treatment to help him heal these wounds? We are currently using vitamin supplements with feeding. Also, he has stopped scratching completely since the change to the cleaner water. Bob's Answer: Do check out that supplement packet and make sure it has boodles of A, C, D vitamins AND useable/assimilable iodine. Additionally, want to give a big plug for TMC (Tropic Marine Center, UK) new carbon product. This stuff is amazing and well worth utilizing for removing phenols, scatols and short chain fatty acids associated with HLLE (Head & Lateral Line Erosion) and general water quality lesions... 

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