How important is it to feed seaweed?

posted in: Cornwall Aquatics, Dry Food, Seaweed, Tangs | 0

If you are a marine fishkeeper, you may have questioned “how important could it possibly be to feed seaweed”? It’s a fair question and really the only way to answer this is that it depends on what fish you’re keeping. For example, there would be no reason to feed seaweed or algae supplements to a tank full of predatory lionfish. However, for many of the marine fish you see readily available in your local aquatic store, seaweed is an important aspect to their diet.

A reef tank with a yellow tang maintained by Cornwall Aquatics & Aquarium Services home

Tangs and angelfish

For tangs, and the majority of angelfish, algae and seaweed is an essential. Many of these species spend the majority of their day on the reef readily grazing on all of the algae and seaweed naturally available to them.

Seaweed aids these species metabolism and provides essential vitamins, minerals and roughage that these fish have evolved to rely on. There are very few tanks capable of providing the amount of algae and seaweed these fish need in their diet to keep them healthy and well fed so it is important to add a selection of these foods in to the aquarium.

Make sure your fish eat their greens!

Formulated for herbivorous marine species, Vitalis Algae Flakes include a uniquely tailored blend of nutrient rich marine algae. Their distinct green colouration emulates particles of seaweed found naturally in seawater.

Each of the Vitalis flake food diets have unique large flake formulation. This is for feeding diversity. It enables you to crush the flakes to suit the size and number of fish in your aquarium. In turn you should see improved water quality because of less waste in the water.

Algae flakes by Vitalis a green food for marine algae loving fish
Green food for marine fish
and invertebrates
A group of five tangs, a type of marine fish, that live in the aquarium at Cornwall Aquarium Service's office

Learn from Nathan…

One of the first marine aquariums that I had was a 400 litre reef system (over 17 years ago now). Like everyone starting out in this hobby, I made my fair share of beginners mistakes.

My first dream fish

One fish that I had always admired and dreamed of keeping myself was a Yellow Tailed Purple Tang. There had been one in my local aquarium store for months (probably because these fish are not the cheapest). It looked awesome, my tank had been set up for a couple of months, which I now know is not long enough for this fish. I was so keen to buy it, when pay day came around the shop was my first stop.

I had the fish in my tank for a few weeks and I was so happy, it had the same relationship with frozen brine shrimp and mysis that I do with pasties, it just couldn’t get enough!

Things took a turn without seaweed

A few more weeks went by and I began to notice it was starting to lose a bit of colour. I thought ‘I’m sure it’s just going through a phase’. However, I kept a close eye on it.

Another week passed and it was looking really washed out and starting to noticeably lose weight. I started to get really concerned so I took a sample of water to my local store for a test and had a good chat with them.

should I feed my fish seaweed?

Asking the ‘marine guy’ for advice

After the test came back all clear I began the conversation with the ‘marine guy’ and the first question he asked was what food was I using. I replied “well, the flake that I had been recommended by yourselves and plenty of brine shrimp and mysis”. He looked at me and said “what seaweed supplements are you feeding” I replied “well none actually, why, does this fish need it?” to which he looked at me as if I was standing there slapping myself with a salmon!

A beaker of aquarium water with a sample of green seaweed inside

Eventually he replied with something along the lines of “Yes mate, I’m amazed the tang has lasted this long without it”. And behold, after about a month of feeding my purple tang on the seaweed recommended to me (as a daily supplement), as well as the food that I was already feeding the rest of the tank, the fish had all of its colour back and began to put on weight.

This experience taught me three valuable lessons;

  • Do your research before you buy any aquarium fish
  • Ask the right questions to people who really know what they’re talking about
  • Just because the fish is eating doesn’t mean that its eating well and on its healthiest diet

Conclusion: feed seaweed!

It wouldn’t be a good idea to live on only pasties everyday, no matter how much some of us would like to!


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