Home | General | Feeding Canned and Live Insects to Marine and Freshwater Fishes – Part 1

Feeding Canned and Live Insects to Marine and Freshwater Fishes – Part 1

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Anyone with an outdoor swimming pool is aware of the vast numbers of insects that continually crawl into or alight upon the water.  If you now consider how many billions of terrestrial insects find their way into the world’s fresh and marine waters each day, you will quickly realize that fishes have ample opportunity to consume a food item that is not usually included in captive diets (and lets not forget about the millions of aquatic insect species).  Small wonder that earthworms, crickets and waxworms are among the most effective fishing baits known.

An Overlooked Resource

However, while the sale of live and canned insects to reptile owners has long been a booming business, aquarists have largely disregarded insects as a food source for fishes.  Even well-known insect specialists such as African butterfly fishes (please see photo), mudskippers and archer fishes are rarely provided with the invertebrate-rich diets they favor.


My Introduction to Insects as Fish Food

I first became aware of just how much fishes favored insects quite by accident.  As a youth I constantly experimented with mixed species “shoreline” type aqua-terrariums…green treefrogs living on branches above guppies, bronze frogs with pumpkinseed sunfishes and so on. 

 I noticed that crickets which fell into the water were set upon ravenously by whatever fishes happened to be nearby.  Dead, water-softened crickets elicited a feeding frenzy among even the most “peaceful” of fish species, such as guppies, Cory cats, platys and swordtails.


Using Live and Canned Insects

I soon found insects to be eagerly accepted by many typical (and untypical!) aquarium fishes, including freshwater, marine and brackish species.  I continue to use substantial numbers of insects as food for a wide variety of fishes, and believe that the vigor, color and health of many has benefitted as a result.  Increased feedings of insects and similar foods may also be useful in bringing certain freshwater species into breeding condition.

  Canned invertebrates offer a convenient method of providing your fishes with valuable dietary variety.  Next time we’ll take a look at their role in fishkeeping and some other examples of insect-feeding among wild fishes.  Until then, please write in with your questions and comments.  Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.


Further Reading

The archer fish feeds almost entirely upon terrestrial insects, knocking them from vegetation with well-aimed jets of water.  By specializing so, it is able to exploit a unique food source in a habitat teeming with competing species.  The Friends of the National Zoo has posted information on their care in the zoo and natural history at http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ThinkTank/Animals/ArcherFish/default.cfm.

Please see also the following article on our blog – Archerfish: Aquatic snipers for husbandry advice.

Image refereneced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Toniher.

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About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.