Cultivating Live Foods for the Saltwater Aquarium
Learn about 4 common live foods you can potentially cultivate on your own.
Just about every type of saltwater fish, coral, or invertebrate enjoys some live food once in a while, and a few creatures are so picky they will not tolerate anything but live food. While you can purchase quality live saltwater fish food from a variety of sources, including Aquatic Fantasy, you can also raise some types of live foods yourself. Here is a brief overview of the 4 most common options.
Amphipods and Copepods
One way to provide a source of live food for your fish and invertebrates is to grow a population of tiny amphipods and copepods right in your aquarium. The simplest way to do this is to get a friend to give you a sample of live rock or sand from one of their aquariums that already has a good population of amphipods and copepods, as it will almost certainly come with hitchhikers. If you have a lot of fish that like to eat these little critters, or your main aquarium is not warm enough for them to thrive, you may need to set up a special aquarium entirely dedicated to growing amphipods and copepods.
While too much microalgae can cause serious problems in your saltwater aquarium, some species of macroalgae can be beneficial. Unlike their smaller-celled cousins, these larger types of algae can serve as a welcome food source for herbivorous fish like tangs and angels, without overrunning your aquarium, clouding the water, or growing up over the glass. Macroalgae can also help naturally filter aquarium water to remove phosphate and nitrogen from fish waste. Some types look pretty cool in your tank and can provide shelter for fish and invertebrates too. Popular macroalgae for saltwater aquariums include Halimeda, Caulerpa, and Chlorodesmis.
Brine shrimp are an extremely common live food for aquarists to raise at home. All you have to do is purchase some dried brine shrimp eggs and hatch them in a small tank or container equipped with an airstone and perhaps a heater to keep the water around 75 to 80 degrees. You can siphon the adult shrimp out of the tank with a turkey baster and then squirt them right in front of the creatures you are trying to feed. Many different types of saltwater fish, corals, and anemones will love snapping up brine shrimp.
For feeding larger carnivores like lionfish, eels, and anglers, you will need a larger live food. These critters all enjoy eating small live feeder fish to satisfy their predatory instinct. Though it might seem odd, the best feeder fish for your saltwater aquarium are actually freshwater fish such as goldfish, guppies, and mollies. Why? Well, if you raised your own saltwater feeders you would risk introducing marine diseases into your tank at every feeding. But with freshwater feeders, there can be no disease transfer from tank to tank.