The Use of Live Feeder Fish in Saltwater Aquariums

Although most fish you house in your aquarium are likely to be carnivores, they do not necessarily need live fish to thrive. With an assortment of different alternatives, it is possible to replace the need for live feeder fish, with frozen alternates, such as bloodworms or brine shrimp. Some of these fish can also be lead to consuming pellets and dry fish foods, which tend to be enormously convenient and typically inexpensive. Depending on your preferences, you may wish to follow the more convenient approach, but there are some fish, which will stick true to their piscivores nature and eat other species of fish, whenever they get the chance.

Types of Carnivores

There are some species of fish that will only act on their instincts when it suits their needs. Angelfish fit this category to perfection, although many hobbyists have conditioned their fish to frozen foods. When giving the opportunity, these fish will snatch up and eat smaller fish.

At the same time, there are certain species, which can be adapted to alternative diets in a much easier manner. Needlefish, Gars and Oscars tend to fall, within this category. In a wild setting, these species seek out and consume a variety of prey. However, in the aquarium, these fish will be readily accepting of frozen diets consisting of earthworms, bloodworms, and other frozen morsels.

And finally, you have fish species that are strictly predators, yet have been conditioned to consume fewer live fish. In general, these fish are almost impossible to train and will almost always revert back to their predatory ways. Leaf fish, livebearers and stonefish all fit within this specification.

The Benefits

Overall, the biggest benefit of feeding your fish other fish sways toward the convenience factor. Attempting to adapt a specific species to an alternative diet can be frustrating and time-consuming. By relying on their original lifestyles, the hobbyist will have very little difficulty getting the fish to feast. At the same, obtaining alternative foods can be extremely difficult. While most specialty stores maintain an assortment of smaller fish, they might not stock bloodworms, river shrimp or earthworms. Purchasing the smaller fish is typically inexpensive and less difficult, which may sway your opinion.

The nutrition factor is another concern. Many aquarists strongly believe in the power of a live fish diet. This also allows the predator fish to revert back to its wild behavior, which can stimulate it and improves its wellbeing inside of the aquarium.

Some Disadvantages

Overall, feeder fish tend to be raised in terrible conditions, which can cause their immune systems to break down. When this happens, they’ll become more likely to develop diseases. Introducing these fish to your aquarium, once they’ve contracted a disease, can have a negative impact on your predatory fish. Since feeder fish are usually not cared for in a proper manner, they tend to be malnourished. This can reflect negatively when the predator consumes them. You obviously don’t want a Fuzzy Drawf Lionfish, which has become unhealthy, because it has consumed malnourished feeders.

Common Predators and Best Practices

Within the saltwater aquarium, it is likely you’ll want to experiment with Groupers, eels, and triggers. Just remember that these are common predators that required strict diets. Still, it is generally best to stay away from the traditional goldfish. Although this is the easiest food, it isn’t natural and can cause problems. Instead, it is best to feed them natural foods, including shrimp, clams squid, and scallops. This will help to keep your fish healthier and keep their colors shinning nice and bright.


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