How Important is it to Feed Seaweed?

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

Feeding Seaweed Supplements – how important could it possibly be? Fair question and really the only way to answer this is that it depends on what fish you’re keeping. You wouldn’t want to go feeding seaweed or algae supplements to your lionfish tank, however for many of the marine fish you see readily available in your local aquatic store, seaweed is an important aspect to their diet.

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.

A beaker of aquarium water with a sample of green seaweed inside
Dried green seaweed being soaked in aquarium water before feeding

One of the first marine aquariums that I had was a 400 litre reef system (over 14 years ago now). Like everyone starting out in this hobby, I made my fair share of beginners mistakes. 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!

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.

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!

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.

Packaging for green seaweed with a picture of a yellow tang on the front
Green seaweed
Packaging for red seaweed with a picture of an angel fish on the front
Red seaweed
Packaging for purple seaweed with a picture of an angel fish on the front
Purple seaweed

This experience taught me three valuable lessons;

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

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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