How I keep fish healthy

Discussion in 'Marine Fish Discussions' started by Paul B, 22 Feb 2013.

  1. Paul B

    Paul B

    Joined:
    7 Mar 2011
    Posts:
    877
    Likes Received:
    98
    Location:
    Long Island New York USA
    How I keep fish healthy.
    Now these are things "I" do to keep fish healthy, not what I think "you" should do, or what my GrandMother did so these are "My" opinions, "my" practices and methods.
    I read so many posts about diseases, fish disappearing, dying, turning colors etc. and I scratch my head and can't figure out why.
    I know many people quarantine, and think they feed well, have fantastic parameters, hand pick their fish, read to them and most of them report that the fish died in a few weeks from one of many malady's.
    This should not be. Most of the fish that we normally keep should live at least ten years, and that is a minimum. Even a simple goldfish can live over fifty years, and thats a goldfish. I have no idea how long fish live but I have had a few fish live over 19 years, two as a matter of fact but many of my older fish I gave away or donated to public aquariums.
    So I feel there is a problem in the way many people keep fish. If you are interested I will tell you what "I" do to keep fish healthy and spawning.
    If you are not interested, you wasted your time and mine by reading this first paragraph.
    Keeping fish in perfect health has always been a goal of mine and after killing many fish, I have it down to a science. It does take some work so if you are real lazy, call up the people that wasted their time by reading this so far and do lunch.

    I wrote about this many times but we are not fish, we are not like fish, we don't have the same digestive system as a fish and we certainly don't have a fishes immune system which is in some respects, actually better than ours. Why is that?
    Well first of all a fish "breathes: water and extracts oxygen through it's gills, (yes we all know that) but the water is actually an extension of the fishes circulatory system. Bet you didn't know that. Whatever is in the water, is in the fish. We breathe air and unless we live in a sewer, the air is cleaner than the water because microbes can't fly and eventually hit the ground. But microbes do swim as do paracites, bacteria, viruses, and probably Paris Hilton's dog.
    A fish has evolved to repel most of these microbes. The slime on a fish is one means of protection as are scales. But the main defense of a fish is it's immune system which works great, in the sea. Not so much in a tank. Why is that?
    Well this is where the problem comes in and why there are so many posts about diseases. Probably 85% of posts are about sick fish.
    Many people feel that if they offer a fish a varied diet, that is the best thing for a fish, right? Wrong.
    Fish don't need a varied diet, they need what they were designed to eat and each type of fish needs a different diet. But there is one thing almost all fish need and that is fresh, unprocessed food. Flakes, pellets and many frozen foods don't fit the bill although a fish can live for many years on that food.

    But do you want your fish to live, or do you want it to thrive?
    There is a big difference. If your fish get, or have ever gotten ich, they are not thriving. If they get fungus, they are not thriving, if they die before ten or twenty years, they are not thriving (that is fish that will live that long, not seahorses, pipefish or many small gobies)
    Fish in the sea rarely get sick. In my 40 or so years of diving I can't remember seeing a sick fish. But in tanks a large percentage of them just look lousy and if you ever saw fish in the see you will notice a big difference between them and a fish in a tank.
    OK anyway, this is what I do. Every day my fish get some live food. They get live blackworms and new born brine shrimp. The baby brine shrimp is only because I have a lot of smaller fish and gorgonians. New born brine shrimp are very nutritious due to their yock sack, but they only have it for a short while so you need to feed them as soon as they hatch.
    I have been using live blackworms for over fifty years and that is how I get my mandarins, bangai cardinals and fireclowns to spawn.
    Also every day they get clams and mysis. That is almost the extent of their diet. Clams are much better than shrimp, octopus, scallop or squid because you are feeding the entire animal and the nutrition is in the guts, not the muscle which is all you are feeding with those other foods.
    When a fish eats another fish you will notice that they eat the belly and guts first. They know where the nutrition is.
    Frozen mysis are good (as a suppliment) but they are mostly shell which has no nutrition because their shell is not calcium like a fish skeleton is.
    Clams contain calcium in their guts.
    I discovered blackworms for salt water fish in 1972 when I was keeping blue devils which were the only fish available except for domino's.
    The fish would live but were always getting ich. After feeding live worms for 3 weeks, one of the 7 blue devils changed to a darker blue and he became a male. The 6 females started to get fat and he started to breed with them. The eggs always hatched, and that was 40 years ago.
    I have been using live worms ever since.
    If it were not for blackworms I don't think I would stay in this hobby.
    Anyway, a spawning fish is a healthy fish as it takes an enormous amount of energy and extra nutrition to develop eggs that could be almost half the fishes weight.
    Spawning fish are in the healthiest condition a fish could be in and that is the condition fish in the sea are always in. Spawning fish do not get ich. In my experience anyway. I personally do not have to quarantine and I have no use of a hospital tank because I know my fishes immune system will protect them.
    Yes I hear all the time my tank is a time bomb and soon it will get ich and I will lose all my fish. That may be, but I can determine the health of my fish from across the room and I can (but do not) put a fish in my tank with obvious ich and nothing will happen.
    DON'T do that, and if you don't have my tank, keep quarantining. It takes years to get to that point and I don't advocate that you change your practices, but wouldn't it be nice if your fish were protected from these things and could live ten or twenty years?
    I also have an automatic feeder on the tank which dispenses soft pellets that I add fish oil to. I am big on fish oil (I even take it myself) and feel it is woefully missing in all commercially sold foods as it doesn't store well and goes bad in the presence of oxygen. To me fish oil is one of the most important things and live worms contain oil. I doubt there would be any decent oil in freeze dried foods. When a fish develops eggs, most of those eggs are almost all oil. A fiahes liver could be a quarter of it's weight and it is almost all oil.
    Of course the best food for fish is whole fish because they get the oil, calcium and nutrients in the exact proportions that they need, but tiny fresh fish are not sold for fish food which is a shame. I have spoken to "Ocean Nutrition" about this but they don't seem interested.
    Again, these are the things "I" do. I didn't say "you" should do them so if you feel differently, don't argue with me. Start your own thread and call it "Paul B doesn't know a worm from Paris Hilton's Dog" or something to that effect because this is only what"I" do. I also run a UG filter but lets not talk about that right now.

    I have also put this picture on here numerous times, so If you saw it already, go read a book. I didn't take this picture, my closest friend a ddive partner took it in the Caymans (I think)
    To the left of the nurse shark are fish fry. That is the main food of reef fish and they eat them every day. Whole fish, or whole worms are the best thing you could feed fish.
    These fry are all over the place in the sea as healthy fish spawn continousely, all year.

    Now remember I live in the USA, I am not sure if you guys have an equivilent to black worms. Ours come from California

    [​IMG]
     
  2. AdS Guest




    to hide all adverts.
  3. pkc

    pkc

    Joined:
    17 Oct 2008
    Posts:
    632
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Brisbane-Queensland-Australia
    Interesting read.
    Fish can live up to 4 times as long at your home potentially as they would in the ocean. I have done that on a small scale and seen an extreme example in Melbourne at a display tank of a buyer of our fish from up here, his emperor angel was 40 years old and had some size yet to attain.
    I like the fish oil bit, because it is a fact and I use this extracted naturally in miniscule amounts due to the affect upon fish of growing to quickly, my tanks are small.
    The ocean has no sick fish from your observations due to predation, you get sick out there and you are consumed very quickly.
    With parasites the water movement with parts per million in the ocean defuses potential for any kind of outbreak.
    This is a huge thing to the hobby-what’s in the water gets into fish; I have been trying to get it into hobbyists head for years and live rock is the biggest poison producer you can add to the aquarium.. The main reason their fish die is due to the massive amounts of water they drink to off set salts trying to osmotically enter their body. They have two organs to remove the salt from it so it won’t harm them. Even that is why you keep salt at the right levels or these organs stress them for over working.
    The drinking of water is why they get the cortisol response (adrenalin poisoning), this kills all marine aquarium fish that did not jump out or were predated, etc. Once cortisol is predominant in the fishes system the immune system fails and parasites take hold as well, that’s why their internal immune system ever so slightly, but mainly the external mucus coatings immune chemicals are now weakened so they cannot fight off ich and velvet, no other reason!
    In my years of all things oceanic and diving for collecting recreationally and commercially, I have seen many sick and dieing fish, but they would have gone down the drain very soon after me seeing them.
    After all, the ocean is literally, one mistake or shows a weakness and it is dead!
    Cool words mate, it all makes sense.
     
    Last edited: 23 Feb 2013
  4. Paul B

    Paul B Thread Starter

    Joined:
    7 Mar 2011
    Posts:
    877
    Likes Received:
    98
    Location:
    Long Island New York USA
    PKC I see you are in Australia, I started my diving career near Sydney in 1971 while I was on R&R from Viet Nam.
    Most of my dives are in New York with a couple of hundred in the Caribbean and Tahiti.
    My reef tank is 42 years old and it took many years to figure out that food is the most important thing for a captive fish to keep it free from disease. As I said my fish live to almost 20 years old and are still alive and spawning. I have no need of quarantine or hospital tank and I feel that is all due to food, specifically live food.
    Anyway, nice to meet you.
    Paul
     
  5. simonmcgill

    simonmcgill

    Joined:
    18 May 2011
    Posts:
    196
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    JHB
    Following
     
  6. Paul B

    Paul B Thread Starter

    Joined:
    7 Mar 2011
    Posts:
    877
    Likes Received:
    98
    Location:
    Long Island New York USA
    Simon, being you are the only one following I will add this:

    A few years ago I posted on RC that I was so sure of my theory that I asked if anyone would like to put an obvious ich infected fish in my reef to see what would happen. No one replied. Now I don't expect anyone to do that to their tank as that is just stupid but "my" tank is an experiment so it is perfectly fine to do this experiment. They inject rats with diseases all the time in the name of science, I use the name of Christie Brinkley but I also do experiments. I can put ich infected fish in my tank and one of two things will happen, that fish will die or get better but never once in 4 decades has the tank become infected with ich. Why is that? Am I just very lucky? Could it be the 10% of NSW I use from the Long Island Sound? Is it my reverse UG filter? I don't think so although it could be any one of those things but I feel it is live foods. I have been breeding fish my entire life and even in the old books from the fiftees by Innes and Axelrod they always mention live foods as the single most important thing to feed to get fish to spawn.
    Later I found out that spawning fish don't get sick. This is also one aspect of fish keeping that is similar to humans. Some human diseases get better when a woman is pregnant. MS (multiple sclorosis) is a disease which my wife has so I know a lot about it, and when a woman has MS, many of the symptoms recede when she is pregnant. Unfortunately they come back after the birth and sometimes with a vengence but the point is that humans and fish are healthier when pregnant.
    Fish can and do stay pregnant all of their lives but only if they are in excellent condition, a condition that takes some time to get them in. :blush:
     
  7. Nemeziz_za

    Nemeziz_za

    Joined:
    25 Sep 2012
    Posts:
    1,584
    Likes Received:
    39
    Location:
    Durbanville, (Cpt)
    Interesting read, and it reminds me to not get caught up in complications and try keep the basics in mind. Subscribed
     
  8. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

    Joined:
    14 Dec 2008
    Posts:
    16,769
    Likes Received:
    582
    Location:
    Sandton
    Great Paul, I agree, I feed my fish everything from spirulina to cod liver oil...
     
  9. Paul B

    Paul B Thread Starter

    Joined:
    7 Mar 2011
    Posts:
    877
    Likes Received:
    98
    Location:
    Long Island New York USA
    Being that it seems at least two of yopu are reading this I will add this that I posted on another forum. If you disagree with it, pour gas on your computer and burn it. :eek:

    Fish oil is never mentioned except by me but I am a common sense type of guy and to me, if a fishes main diet in the sea is fish, and those fish it eats are composed of about 1/4 of their weight in fish oil it stands to reason, to me at least that fish need this oil. Call me dumb but that is what it looks like to me. Oil is also the major component of fish eggs and a fish egg is something that is soon to become a fish so it must be very important but do we feed fish oil to fish? No we don't. Is fish oil incorporated into commercially prepared foods? No it is not as it goes bad even if it is frozen. (and it stinks) As I said a large portion of oil is stored in their liver but why do they store so much oil? A swim bladder could have evolved to be larger to maintain buoyancy so what is the purpose of having all that oil? I have no idea but it must be there for something. It amazes me that I can find absolutely no mention of fish oil in all the books on fish I have ever read, and I read almost all of them. If you read a book on cars, I am sure there will be a chapter on oil and what it does because cars don't function without oil and neither do fish.
    I believe worms contain oil but not freeze dried worms because oil does not dry. I don't think there could be oil in flakes because flakes are also dry and flakes don't stink.
    As for feeding fish eggs, I didn't mention that as I forgot. But fish eggs are fantastic food probably even better than worms. The problem with fish eggs is like oil, you can't store the things. Probably because they are mostly oil. I sometimes feed salmon eggs and those are about 1/4" long so they are a litttle large for most of my fish but corals, especially bubble corals devour them and thrive. Another problem with salmon eggs is that even three eggs in my tank will cause the skimmer to overflow so the eggs must be rinsed very well a number of times. I can only buy salmon eggs in large quantities, like a pint. They are very expensive and last about a week in the refrigerator, then they turn to glue and fall apart. Freezing them doesn't help much as they turn to mush.
    After the eggs turn to snot, the fish don't like them and chew on them like bubble gum but can't get them down.
    I can also buy eggs called whitefish eggs which are much smaller but I have no idea what kind of fish they come from. I also can't store them for the same reason. If I could buy fish eggs in much smaller quantities, like 1/2 oz. I would use them every day.
    Maybe you know a way to store them but I have not figured it out yet. Fish eggs if available are the absolute best food because they are, in essence, compressed fish with every nutrient and mineral a fish needs.

    About leaving a tank fishless or fallow for a number of weeks, I know that works in theory but I would rather my fish are just immune from ich and not worry about that. There is ich in my tank that is living happily I am sure. Even now I am acclimating an arrow crab and a clown gobi. The store I just went to just opened as I got there, it is a very large and popular store and they let me in just before it opened to the public. They were collecting dead fish from their tanks and many fish were obviousely scratching. I know there is ich in their tanks like there is ich in all store tanks although it is usually surpressed by copper. If the store says they don't use copper, I would not believe that as all imported fish carry ich. How do I know? I don't know, work with me here.
    Anyway, the clown gobi I bought is in a small tank and I usually test the salinity of the water the fish came in so I know how long to acclimate it for. This clown gobi was practically in fresh water and I can't even get a reading on it as it is so weak. So much for parameters. In a few minutes I will add that fish to my tank as I have been doing for decades, ich or no ich. If it has ich, it will show in a day or so, then in another day, it will disappear, the ich, not the fish. I really don't know why it will disappear so fast, but it will. I have no reason to believe that this fish will be any different than any other fish I bought.
    I am not saying these things just to disagree with mainstream hobbiests. I am not very argumentative and don't really care how people perceive me, I have my wife for that and she will tell me if I am being an ass.
     
  10. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

    Joined:
    14 Dec 2008
    Posts:
    16,769
    Likes Received:
    582
    Location:
    Sandton
    Great reply
    , I like this as I am the same, alot of logic is missed in this hobby by marketing hype
     
  11. carlosdeandrade

    carlosdeandrade

    Joined:
    24 Dec 2010
    Posts:
    8,230
    Likes Received:
    228
    Location:
    North Riding, Jozi
  12. carlosdeandrade

    carlosdeandrade

    Joined:
    24 Dec 2010
    Posts:
    8,230
    Likes Received:
    228
    Location:
    North Riding, Jozi
    I wonder if we could breed some ourselves??? Is it legal, mmmmmm, freshwater annelid!
     
  13. Paul B

    Paul B Thread Starter

    Joined:
    7 Mar 2011
    Posts:
    877
    Likes Received:
    98
    Location:
    Long Island New York USA
    In Africa? I have no idea, I just write this stuff, it is up to you to decipher it. :biggrin:

    I get them 2 blocks from my house. :whistling:
     
  14. Nism0

    Nism0

    Joined:
    18 Jan 2012
    Posts:
    149
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Fourways
    Tagging along
     
  15. carlosdeandrade

    carlosdeandrade

    Joined:
    24 Dec 2010
    Posts:
    8,230
    Likes Received:
    228
    Location:
    North Riding, Jozi
    :D Deciphering started!
     
  16. sniper

    sniper

    Joined:
    13 Mar 2012
    Posts:
    158
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Johannesburg
    Insightful, I'm Following
     
  17. ChrisRaubs

    ChrisRaubs

    Joined:
    30 Jun 2012
    Posts:
    892
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Pretoria
    Thank you very much for this write up @Paul B !!

    As i'm just getting into keeping marines i have no experience at all, and informative threads like this is my bread and butter!

    If i may ask,

    1) how do you prepare your food - do you cut the worms up, etc..
    2) what amount of food would you say is enough per fish?
    3) What type of fish oil should one use, and how do you incorporate it into your feedings? i saw @dallasg mentioned cod liver oil, where would one typically get the fish oil?

    Once again, thanks for your efforts in compiling this write-up. I've noted through your posts, that you are an experienced guy, always one the willing side to share your knowledge. Thank you for that!!!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  18. Henkie

    Henkie

    Joined:
    16 Sep 2011
    Posts:
    1,031
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Port Elizabeth
    Awesome read! Thanks @Paul B

    I would also like to know where I can get fish oil, do you just soak the flakes, pellets in it before feeding?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  19. Omlette

    Omlette

    Joined:
    7 Nov 2012
    Posts:
    108
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Benoni
    Great read,thanks @Paul B
    Could mixing cod liver oil with the food be an option?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  20. pkc

    pkc

    Joined:
    17 Oct 2008
    Posts:
    632
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Brisbane-Queensland-Australia
    Sounds good mate.
    I did my faui dive cause with Less and Fran at Terrigal dive school just north of Sydney, my brother says we did it in 1969 but I am sure I was older then that. He has a better memory then me though.
    I agree with the quarantine thing and most of what you have typed.
    I use related protists to eradicate and keep away any and all of the ich and velvet protista variations for my tubs and display aquariums. I suppose you could call my tubs quarantine in some ways.
    New York?,isnt at a bit cold around there for diving?
     
  21. Paul B

    Paul B Thread Starter

    Joined:
    7 Mar 2011
    Posts:
    877
    Likes Received:
    98
    Location:
    Long Island New York USA
    I don't cut up the worms as blackworms are small. You can also use earthworms but those are big and you would have to cut them up. I am sure you have those there.

    The clams I freeze and shave off thin slices.

    A fishes stomach is as big as it's eye so you don't need to feed more then that. Fish will eat all the time but if you keep feeding them, they just push out whatever is in their stomach to make room for more food. Their digestive tract is just a tube and not like ours.
    Cod liver oil is fine, I take it myself. I put a couple of drops on maybe 20 pellets and let that soak in overnight then just feed normally. Fish don't like all brands of oil and some fish won't eat it but bubble corals will.

    Yes, diving in NY is cold but the water in the summer gets to about 70 degrees F. Diving here is interesting because of all the shipwrecks and lobsters.
     
Recent Posts

Loading...
Similar Threads - keep fish healthy Forum Date
Fish poo keeps oceans healthy Diving, Collecting and Environmental Discussions 16 Jan 2009
Is there ever a 'right' time to setup. Is there ever a limit to fishkeeping General Discussions and Advice 15 Dec 2014
How to keep a box jellyfish Invertebrates 19 Feb 2014
The Fishkeeper Magazine Competition Winners Competitions 20 Dec 2013
The Fishkeeper Link Competition Competitions 2 Dec 2013
The Fishkeeper Photo Competition Competitions 29 Nov 2013
Why should we keep our fish in breeding condition? General Discussions and Advice 27 Nov 2013