At the Greater Cincinnati Aquarium Society meeting a few months ago, one member asked me how I was able to get size on my Guppies. I went through my feeding regimen along with what I fed. It got me to thinking about this subject in greater detail.
I’ve used newly hatched brine shrimp for many years as a first food for newborn Gups and catfish alike. Over the last year, however, I have had real problems with the quality of my brine shrimp hatches. So much so that I’ve been decapsulating what I have instead of trying to hatch it out. I have always had Microworms going as a backup source of food, but that was all I used them for, a backup.
My main food is from Ken’s Fish. I buy the Growth Formula #1 because it is the perfect size for my adults and juvies and it is crushed easily to feed to newborns. It’s 55% protein and 17% fats which makes it good for growing the young and increasing the number of fry born to breeding age females. I go though the fishroom feeding this to all of my fish except for newborn to 2 week old fry. I go back a second time and any tank with fish actively begging for more food will be given another half portion. Twenty minutes later, I’ll feed juvies and newborns some BBS. The reason for this is that the “processed” food travels through the gut at a slower rate than live foods. With the live stuff moving through at a slower pace, more nutritional value is derived from the food.
Here’s where things start getting a bit more interesting. I’m also a member of the IFGA and in the April, 2014 eBulletin, Dr. James Alderson, DVM, wrote an article extolling the virtues of adding Spirulina algae to your feeding regimen. Basically, Spirulina contains some essential amino acids that are necessary for growth and a strong immune system. These essential amino acids cannot be synthesized by the fish and have to be ingested. It also contains phytosterols. These are also important for growth and immune system health as well as promoting intense coloration in your fish. Optimal effects are seen when Spirulina makes up about 5% of the diet. That means 2-3 heaping teaspoons of Spirulina powder per pound of fish food. I purchased some Spirulina powder from Jehmco and started adding it to my staple diet. I’ve noticed a definite increase in the growth rate of my fry and juvies. Color in the adult males seems to also be improved.
When I started noticing the decline in my Brine Shrimp hatches, I started investigating alternative foods to use instead of brine shrimp. My wife bought the book, Culturing Live Foods-a Step-by-Step Guide for Culturing One’s Own Food for the Home Aquarium by Michael R. Hellweg. It was my Christmas present. I found this information on Microworms on pages 56 and 57. “The worms are highly nutritious; they have a nutritional profile similar to that of newly hatched brine shrimp, but with nearly a third more of certain lipids than newly hatched brine shrimp. These worms reproduce quickly and can double their population in just a few days. They can be enriched with various nutritional enhancers such as fish emulsion, which will increase their lipid content, and items like carotine and astaxathin to enhance color pigment development in the fish being fed. These enhancer can simply be added directly to the culture medium, and within two or three days all of the nematodes in the culture will be enriched.”
After reading this, I increased the number of my Microworm cultures. They are inexpensive to purchase as well as maintain. I have at least 4 that I can harvest from at any one time. I have completely replaced the BBS and now use nothing but Microworms for the first two weeks of my Guppies’ lives. They are readily and greedily consumed and growth rates seem comparable to that of BBS. At two weeks, I crush the Growth Formula for the first feeding, followed by Microworms on one day and Decapped BS the next. This gives the Microworm cultures some time to rebound before being fed again. I’m also thinking about “gut loading” the worms using Sprulina powder and seeing if that further affects the growth rate of my fry.
I’ve made one other change in the fishroom. With Blackworms becoming so expensive and hard to obtain, I’ve started raising Grindal Worms. My catfish go into a frenzy when I feed the Grindals and my adult Guppies really like them too. Do some research of your own, take a look at your own feeding program, and see if a few small changes can make a big difference for yourself.
Have a good one!