Live Food

lion king

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Ghosties, guppies, and mollies, oh my. These are the best, most available, safest, and nutritional choices to feed your predator. If you have a fish you have decided the inclusion of a live in beneficial or even necessary, these are the best options to feed. I can not recommend no other species as I do not have any nutritional or safety information on any other species. I have included these in my predator's diet for 20 years and have kept many species most do have not success.

Ghost shrimp are a euryhaline species that will live from fresh all the way to salt. These shrimp will likely be a Palaemonetes species, for most of us we will find these in the fresh water section of a lfs. If you have access to a marine species that's fine, but after decades I have found absolutely no advantage to feeding a marine variety over the fresh water variety. They just as easily could be the same exact species, just acclimated to a different water source. I routinely find hidden fresh water ghosties crawling out from under a rock weeks after I've fed an observation tank that no longer has an occupant. Any attempts at breeding should be researched on sites dedicated to breeding ghost shrimp, and you must know the actually species, as they will require different conditions. Make sure to feed the ghosties yourself before offering, some call this gut loading, but it's important to have them eating healthy foods. I get a pellet specially made by a lfs so you have to do your own research on a healthy diet for your ghosties. Properly cared for gut loaded ghosties can be a whole fully nutritional food, I have had small predators and picky predators live for many years mostly on ghosties only.

Guppies and mollies, the main consideration for which to choose is size. These are brackish fish that will be found in the fresh water section of your lfs. They are related to the Atherinidae species of fish that many predators eat in the wild. I have found these fish safe and nutritionally balanced, as they say, the proof is in the pudding. I have fed these fish to predators for 2o years, personally I have never seen a disease transferred to any of my predators. I consider these fish to have a similar fat and protein profile and have no thiaminese. I have had predators exclusively eat mollies as they mature and live many years. Just as with ghosties, I have never seen any advantage to acclimating and breeding mollies in full saltwater. Mollies do best in sg 1.010-1013. Guppies do best from 1.003-1.007. If you are interested in a breeding project, check into the sites dedicated to breeding these species. A haigh quality diet for these guys is also paramount, you are what you eat. It is very disappointing to see what most pellets and flake food is made of, so read carefully. There is absolutely no sane reason that aquatic life should be fed wheat and soy products.

ALERT; while breeding projects is not for everyone, myself included, I strongly urge anyone interested in keeping the species benefitting from a live food source, to consider breeding your own. In today's market I can no longer source clean commercial live food sources. Many times your lfs get these from sources with polluted water sources and purposely raised in a chemical soup of sorts. All types of medications which poison the fish and water containing lead and mercury and so much more. I am lucky enough to get local sources of mollies but do rely on commercial ghosties.

ALERT; any saltwater source will be a vehicle to spread disease. It will happen, guaranteed. Even inverts, which most sources will keep plumbed into the same systems they keep their fish. While inverts will be infected with any fish diseases, these disease can hitchhike into your tanks via an invert.

ALERT; I would love to have a natural source but you must understand what species you are actually offering. Disease is not really the concern, disease is caused by humans; the way they collect, house, and transport. A natural live source for grass shrimp would be awesome, but don't think you've scored by collecting minnows or smelt in the local stream or lake. These species will have the wrong fats and be high in thiaminase.

This was a quick write up, I will be adding more as the thoughts arise. Remember to ask any detractors to these recommendations to give you viable, accessible, successful recommendations. Remember many of these species will live between 10-15 in the wild, and one year is not success.

Peace River

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Nice writeup! Great point about the challenge of finding clean sources of food. Do you have any experience collecting the live foods from local waterways (laws permitting of course)?


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good reminder to those of the risks of feeding poor quality, diseased goldfish, guppies and gambusias and even Rosy reds. There's a reasons they are called feeders, based on the low grade to qualify as an aquarium pet

No bones about it! Have you thought about keeping an invertebrate-only tank?

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