Most commonly, fish food can be divided into 3 main categories:
- Manufactured food: This includes floating and sinking pellet, granular and flake food.
- Freeze-dried feeds: Worms, larvae, brine shrimp and krill etc.
- Live foods: Maggots, fresh insect larvae, live worms, and feeder fish - all come under this category.
Flake food refers to a kind of food that is most commonly eaten by both marine as well as tropical freshwater fish. This is ideally suited for top dwellers and mid-water fish. Once the flake food has settled down, it can be eaten by the bottom dwellers too. If your aquarium consists of bottom dwellers mainly, it would be a good idea to pre-soak the flake food so that it will sink to the bottom as soon as it is introduced into the water.
Flake foods have evolved over the years and come much closer to providing for all your fish's nutrient needs. They are an excellent source of various minerals too. They are easy to keep and have fairly long shelf lives. They come in various flavors. You can even get different kinds of flakes in one can. This is a great way to feed wholesome food to the fish. Drop a pinch or two of the flake into the water and observe the rate at which this is eaten. Then you can decide how much needs to be put in the next feeding.
For vegetarian fish, there are vegetarian flakes available, such as algae flakes. One serving of algae per day is enjoyed by almost all fish except for predatory fish. For the bottom feeders, you probably should go in for algae wafers and discs. If a disc has not been eaten within 24 hours, it has to be removed otherwise it will start putrefying in your aquarium, and releasing toxins.
An unfortunate truth about flake food is that the nutrients in the flake food get deteriorated quite quickly. So, it is important that you buy only as much flake as you need for a month or so. This will also allow you to check out the various varieties as they become available. Always buy more than one variety and rotate your feed. The fish too get bored of eating the same stuff everyday. A good flake food is one that meets the needs of most of the fish in your community aquarium.
If you have larger fish in your aquarium, they will prefer to eat something larger than a tiny flake. After all, they have larger mouths, and naturally, they'd prefer to eat something bigger. Sinking or floating pellets are therefore a better choice for larger fish. Pellets come in various sizes and shapes, suited for fish of different sizes. Granular feed needs to be used only if your bottom feeders are not getting enough sunken flakes or seem hungry. Bottom dwellers often need to be fed separately, so granular food is ideal for this kind of fish.
Besides flakes and pellets, there are also freed dried foods like Tubifex, krill and river shrimp.
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