We do not use live foods to feed any of our fish – even our marines and seahorses. But, why not? Here are four of the reasons:
Firstly, economics: frozen foods are cheaper, without sacrificing nutrition. How much cheaper? Let’s take brine shrimp as an example. When we last sold brine shrimp, our price was $1.50 for a quite generous serve, around 2 to 3 grams of shrimp. A pack of Hikari bio-pure frozen shrimp now sells for $5.95 and contains 100g, so you are getting at least thirty times the amount. To get 100g of live shrimp would cost you at least $45.00, and probably more. Similarly, live worms cost around $2.50 for a 5g serve, while frozen worms cost as little as $3.95 for 100g, so you save about $45.00!
Convenience and variety
Secondly, convenience and variety: There are now many types of high-quality frozen food available to suit the needs of all types of fish. A varied diet leads to better health and vitality, better coloration, and better condition, meaning a higher likelihood of spawning behavior. Because frozen foods keep for several months in the freezer and are so easy to use (all now come in convenient push-out packs) it’s easy to keep some on hand and mix them regularly into your fish’s diets. Live foods, on the other hand, have a very short storage life, typically less than a week, and they must be sieved and cleaned before feeding.
Cleanliness and nutrition
Thirdly, cleanliness and nutrition: One of the things that first put us off live foods was seeing the decline in the quality of the supply. Many batches were of such low quality that we would not even feed them to our fish, let alone sell them to customers! When live foods die off and rot, ammonia and even sulphides are produced, the food rapidly loses any nutritional value, and can pollute your aquarium and cause digestive problems in your fish. Conversely, frozen foods have continued to improve their quality. In particular, we are very impressed by Hikari’s bio-pure range. These are triple purified and cryogenically frozen to ensure the cleanest possible food, with absolutely no risk of any disease. This process also retains all the nutrition. Feeding live fish is something we have never recommended. Cheap fish sold as feeders are often diseased, and feeding them to your fish is the quickest way to spread that disease. Additionally, feeder fish such as goldfish are relatively poor nutritionally, particularly for predatory marine fish. Frozen foods also have added vitamins and minerals for extra fish health and nutrition.
Finally, fish behaviour: There are two aspects to this. Firstly, fish that are fed frozen rather than live foods are less likely to be aggressive towards their tankmates. Live foods promote the hunting instinct in many fish (and in turtles) and make them more likely to attack other fish. Secondly, the high nutritional value of frozen foods promotes spawning behaviour even more than the feeding of live foods. This is due to the reasons outlined above? it is not only the better quality but also the variety available. The convenience of frozen foods promotes their regular use, rather than the sporadic use of live foods, and this regular feeding of high-quality frozen food is what brings fish into spawning condition. Even if you don’t wish to breed your fish, fish in spawning condition show better colour and more interesting behaviours.
Despite all that, we still have some customers who insist they need live foods, but why? We’ve proved that any and all fish can be trained to eat frozen foods, even the fussiest of marine fish, and we won’t sell them unless they are eating frozen food. We’ve even found that some fish are easier to get feeding with frozen food than with life! It is true that some fish that are fed live foods become fussy, but why start? And even if you have a fish that seems to take only live food, it is possible to train it on to frozen. In our opinion, any store that tells you that you MUST feed your fish live food regularly is only doing so to get you back into their store time and again. This is a tactic we don’t agree with, we want our customers to return because of our good prices, friendly service, and honest straightforward advice, not because we’ve conned them into buying something that their fish don’t need.