With more people becoming conscious of the chemicals and preservatives in food, pet parents are turning to home made food as a healthy substitute.
However, questions about the cost, ingredients, safety, and quality of home made fish foods are a cause of concern for some. Is it safe to make your own fish food? How to choose the ingredients based on the fish type and dietary requirements?
Homemade fish food is safe and healthy when all the ingredients are of high quality and the food is made in hygienic conditions. You can customize the food to match the fish’s diet based on the vet’s recommendations.
In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits and risks of DIY fish food and talk about the recipes to make tasty food for your pet fish.
What Is Home Made Fish Food?
Homemade fish food is the feed you make at home using various recommended raw ingredients. Making your own fish food gives you the freedom to carefully cater to the dietary requirements of species in your tank.
Though making fish food at home increases your workload, it makes your fish healthy and may prove cost-effective in the long run. Most importantly, you can get rid of the preservatives and harmful chemicals from your fish’s diet.
The Difference Between Commercial and Home Made Fish Food
Commercial fish food may be readily available, but it isn’t necessarily made for every fish species (despite the claims). The ingredient label on most fish food brands mentions two common items- potato starch and wheat flour.
Though carbohydrates are essential for species like goldfish, there are hardly any useful carbs in fish food. The starch-based ingredients are cheap stabilizers that increase the shelf life of fish food without providing any nutrient value to your pet fish.
Commercial fish food is also high in preservatives, which can affect your fish’s health in the long run. Premium quality fish food is expensive as popular brands charge high rates. You may end up spending more on commercial fish food over the years.
Even though commercial fish feed has a longer shelf life, they lose their nutritional value over time.
Making your own fish food reduces the risk of feeding unwanted carbs and chemicals to your fish. You can also ensure that the protein, vitamins, minerals, and fats in the food are more suited to the fish’s requirements.
For example, goldfish require less protein than betta fish. Carbohydrates derived from plant matter and provided in smaller quantities are more helpful to promote fish health. DIY fish food recipes allow you to replicate what fish love to eat in the wild.
Similarly, you don’t have to add preservatives and fillers to homemade fish food. It will be cost-effective in many ways, though you will have to prepare it yourself. This requires time and energy. Furthermore, homemade fish food will be easily spoiled if you don’t store it properly.
Why You Should Feed Home Made Food to Fish
Buying commercial fish food is easier. But then, we also want the best for our fish. Vets recommend that we should try home made fish food whenever the fish feels stressed or display erratic behavior in the aquarium.
Homemade fish food is the magic wand to make the fish feel better. In fact, a team at the University of Florida did a project on the advantages of preparing our own fish food.
Made Using High-quality Ingredients
The most important reason to make fish food at home is to ensure the quality of ingredients used and hygienic preparation standards. You can get rid of empty calories that cause constipation and lethargy in most fish.
Easy on Your Wallet
Premium fish food is expensive and sold by certain reputed brands. In the long term, you are likely to spend less by following a home made fish food recipe. You can also adjust the quantity of food accordingly.
It’s Rich in Nutrients
Store-bought fish food isn’t good at retaining nutrients. Fish flakes lose their nutritional value when exposed to air. Some commercial food releases the added vitamins and minerals into the aquarium water when dropped into it. Home made food poses no such risk.
You can Customize it to Your Pet’s Liking
You can have full control over what you feed your fish when you make it at home. Plant eaters can have an herbivorous diet with leafy greens and meat lovers can have food made of brine shrimp, pureed meat, etc. Other fish can enjoy a combination of different foods.
Home Made Fish Food Recipes: How to Prepare
There are a few things to know before you start making food for your fish. Similar to different types of human food, home made fish also has to be specific for the type of fish you own.
For example, the standard fish food may not be enough for all tropical species. You also need to finalize the list of ingredients and ensure variety without compromising safety or dietary concerns.
Fish are used to different tastes in the wild and can get bored if you feed them the same thing. Some fish are naturally picky eaters, so it is better to have alternate options. Shrimp, cod, and salmon are the top three ingredients for carnivorous fish.
Gather the equipment needed to make your own fish food. Set aside separate bowls, airtight containers, ice cube trays, etc., to prevent contamination. Wash the equipment thoroughly before and after making fish food.
A blender or a food processor will make your job super easy. Most fish food recipes ask you to make a puree of the ingredients using the food processor. It becomes easy to store homemade frozen fish food and feed your fish.
Make Gradual Changes
Ease your fish into homemade food gradually if it is used to fish flakes, pellets, etc. Moderate the quantities and feed both for a few days. Switch over to homemade food completely after a couple of weeks.
Top 5 Home Made Fish Food Recipes
- Standard Gelatin Home made Food for Fish
The gelatin-based standard fish food is easy to prepare and a favorite with pet parents. Like most homemade fish food recipes, this one is also frozen in ice cube trays to prevent it from spoilage for a few months.
The recipe is suitable for omnivorous fish that eat plants and aquatic animals. Fish eat garlic enthusiastically. Garlic also has antibacterial properties and increases the fish’s appetite. You can add crushed garlic, dry garlic powder, or rub its juice/ oil onto fish food.
- 3 cups of veggies
- ½ cup of seafood
- ½ clove of garlic
- 2 sachets of unsweetened gelatin
- One drop of fish vitamins
- Wash, peel, and cut all the vegetables.
- Cook them (steam or boil) until tender and soft.
- Make a vegetable puree with garlic.
- Make seafood puree separately or combine them together and blend into a mushy mix.
- Add the vitamins.
- Follow the instructions on the gelatin packet to create the mixture (add gelatin powder to hot water and mix to remove lumps).
- Pour the gelatin mixture into the puree and mix well.
- Pour the contents into an ice cube tray.
- Cover with plastic wrap and store in the freezer.
2. Herbivore or Vegetarian Fish Food
Herbivorous fish are plant eaters. These fish don’t require meat proteins to survive. They can live on aquatic plants and algae that grow in their natural habitats.
- Frozen peas
- Unsweetened gelatin
- More vegetables (if available at home)
- Wash and blanch the vegetables to make a puree.
- Add oats to the mush.
- Add gelatin powder to hot water and mix well (follow the instructions on the packet).
- Pour the gelatin mixture into the vegetable mush and mix thoroughly.
- Transfer the contents into ice cube trays or muffin trays.
- Cover with plastic wrap (to prevent discoloration, oxidation, and smell).
- Freeze until necessary.
- Shave or cut off a portion of the frozen food and feed it to your fish.
3. Omnivore or Meaty Fish Food
Some fish species enjoy plant and animal-based food. This fish food recipe provides meat proteins while also including plant-based protein and calories.
- White fish
- Unflavored gelatin
- Vegetables (spinach, green peas, carrots, broccoli, etc.)
- Beef heart
- Cook the vegetables until they are soft.
- Shell the peas.
- Add the cooked veggies, shrimp, and beef heart to the food processor.
- Blend into a thick paste. Make sure no large pieces remain.
- Make a gelatin mixture by mixing the powder with hot water.
- Pour the gelatin liquid into the pureed meat and mix well.
- Transfer into an airtight container or ice cube tray and freeze it.
Pro Tip: Remove only the required quantity of fish food and keep the rest in the freezer. Changing temperatures will cause the food to spoil faster.
4. No-Cook Fish Food
This is the perfect food if you want to feed raw ingredients to your fish. It is easy to prepare and requires no steaming or cooking.
- Peas (fresh, cooked, and unshelled)
- Spinach (washed)
- Chop all raw materials and blend them in a food processor.
- Add a small quantity of water if necessary. This will make the puree smooth and easy to blend.
- Prepare the gelatin mixture on the side.
- Mix both items completely.
- Transfer to ice trays or airtight containers and freeze.
5. High-Protein Fish Food
A protein-rich diet is recommended for omnivorous and carnivorous fish. These meat eaters enjoy mosquito larvae, animal matter, worms, aquatic insects, small fish, etc., in their natural habitats. However, you can feed them a blend of vegetables and meat at home.
- 2.2 oz of raw shrimp (unpeeled and tail removed)
- 0.45 oz of salmon (freshwater or tinned seawater)
- 1.1 oz of spinach (fresh)
- 1.1 oz of green peas (shelled)
- 0.66 oz of carrots
- cloves garlic
- Unflavored gelatin
- Chop all ingredients except gelatin and blend into a puree.
- Add a few tablespoons of water if the puree is too thick.
- Mix gelatin powder into 0.44 gallons of hot water.
- Add the puree to this mixture.
- Cook the contents on a low to medium flame for 30 minutes to an hour. The meat and veggies have to be thoroughly cooked.
- Let the mixture cool down a little.
- Pour into small containers or ice trays and freeze.
But, Home Made Fish Food Isn’t Always Healthy
When it comes to home cooked fish food, you should consider the risks and try to minimize them.
Fish and humans are different. What gives us few calories can be excess for little fish. Green vegetables, though nutritious, are calorie heavy for some fish.
For example, Nano fish need very little food to survive. Homemade food can be too much for them. You should feed them tiny portions.
Lack of Protein Control
It is so easy to add a little extra protein or fat when making fish food at home. This can lead to digestive issues if you are not careful. You have to measure every ingredient with precision. Going by the eye is strictly not recommended.
Goldfish need more carbs and less protein, while betta fish need a high-protein diet (similar to other tropical fish). In such instances, excess protein in DIY fish food can cause swim bladder disorder in goldfish.
Under or Overcooked Food
Cooking fish food at home is a complex process. Overcooked or undercooked fish food will affect their health and lead to several problems. Even the slightest carelessness, such as not washing the ingredients thoroughly, can have adverse effects on the fish’s health.
Seafood like raw shrimp is safe, but peas have to be cooked until they are mushy. Eggs have to be hard boiled. Vegetables and fruits have to get rid of pesticides sprayed on them.
Not Suitable for all Fish Species
Some fish species will fare better with commercial food. Guppies, Tetras, Zebra Danios, and Rasboras are some species with complex nutritional requirements. Replicating their diet using home made food is highly difficult.
Home made fish food is healthy, tastier, and more nutritious for your pet fish if you take the necessary care to buy quality ingredients and prepare the food as per the instructions.
You can have batches of two or more types of fish foods to ensure a varied diet for your pets. Remember to monitor their eating habits and general behavior, as changes indicate an issue with the fish’s health.
What can I add to home made fish food for color?
Spirulina powder or beta-carotene powder can be used to add natural pigments and extra flavor to fish food. Spirulina is a biomass consumed by both humans and animals.
How to ensure exact quantities of ingredients in home made fish food?
Invest in a tabletop scale to measure each ingredient based on the fish food recipe. Don’t add more quantity than necessary.
Can I use agar instead of gelatin?
Absolutely, yes. You can use agar instead of gelatin. In fact, agar is extracted from seaweed and has calcium. It also doesn’t feel stuffy in the fish’s stomach.
Brian wasn’t just another Civil Engineer. His passion for Aquarium life was unknown to many until he decided to showcase it for the world. It seems like he made the right decision after all!