Experienced aquarists know that the vitality and vibrance of aquarium fish hinges not only on a clean environment but on the quality of the diet you provide for your fish. Flake and pellet foods have been long time aquarium dietary staples and frozen foods are popular for their nutritional value and variety, but a couple new kinds on the feeding block are gaining in popularity – gel foods and frozen “IQF” foods.
“IQF” – Individually Quick Frozen
The most common varieties of frozen foods have long been cubes or flat packs. Cubes have been a convenient way to thaw small portions of smaller food items like brine shrimp and plankton, but larger food items have only been available minced or in flat packs where they have to be broken apart to thaw. Great if you need a larger quantity of food thawed at a time, but what if you only need a couple pieces? Enter the new lines of Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) foods. Instead of being frozen in a block or solid package, each item is frozen individually, kind of like the frozen vegetables you might buy at the supermarket for your own table. Many of the same items that have traditionally been available in flat packs are now being sold as IQF products, allowing you to choose single items from the container as needed instead of thawing a chunk that you may not be able to completely use right away. While small items like brine shrimp, mysis, worms and planktons are not sold in this way (yet), food for your larger predators is becoming readily available from companies like Pro Salt and H2O Life. Check your LFS freezers for items like krill, silversides, clam, crab clusters and more.
Once only available homemade and to professional institutions, gel foods are becoming more common and accessible to the average hobbyist. Instant Ocean has released a new line of gel foods in single use packets that don’t require any refrigeration or freezing – just tear open a packet at each feeding. They also have grazing blocks to promote the natural grazing behaviors of fish like butterflies, tangs and angels. Gel foods can provide the same varied formulas and extra nutrition of frozen food with the convenience of flakes and pellets – no thawing or rinsing required. While mostly targeted for marine aquariums at this point, some formulas can also be used with some freshwater fish and more varieties of gel foods are sure to be on the horizon.
These new foods on the market are sure to revolutionize the way we feed our aquariums. The nutrition and delivery methods of food for aquatic species is advancing as quickly as the technology for the rest of the aquarium, and is certain to keep growing. Keep your eyes open for these new advancements in a store near you and at Thatpetplace.com!