February 1, 2013

One of the biggest trends in the aquarium hobby is creating a tank that closely resembles a fish’s natural habitat.

While flake food continues to be an aquarium staple, frozen and live foods have been selling more and more, in part, because companies like Ocean Nutrition and San Francisco Bay Brand started producing frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp and other mixes.

Ocean Nutrition’s line combines the freshness of frozen foods and the completeness of formulated foods. They are a blend of the highest quality, natural ingredients for superior nutrient absorption and high digestibility, according to Huynh.

For example, Ocean Nutrition’s Frozen Formula One and Frozen Formula Two products contain krill, plankton, gel binder, shrimp, spinach, clams, kelp and other types of things fish would feed on in the ocean.

Another long-standing company in the fish food business is Mid Jersey Pet Supply, which has been producing premium foods since 1977, according to owner Ed Rub who started the business with his father.

“Dad was breeding fish and was always looking for foods that would increase growth rate and increase spawn,” Rub said. “That’s how it all started.”

From that point on, the Rubs started producing frozen foods with no fillers. They offer formula foods as well as single ingredient fresh seafoods.

“The benefits are better colors, growth rates, reproduction and longer life,” Rub said.

Right now, Mid Jersey Pet Supply’s best sellers are their IQF (Individual Quick Frozen) products, he said. These foods are frozen, but not produced in blocks like many other frozen products.
“There’s no chopping or cutting involved,” Rub said. “There’s no mess. It’s all about convenience.”

Live Food

It’s not just frozen foods that hobbyists are using to replicate aquatic environments.

Customers come in quite often for the live foods they sell, said James Kennedy, owner of The Coral Connection in Sarasota, Fla., adding they sell just as much, if not more, of it than the frozen foods.

“They’re very good for smaller tanks because they won’t break down,” said James Kennedy, owner of The Coral Connection in Sarasota, Fla. “We sell a lot of tisby copepods, which help keep people’s fish and corals healthy and colorful.”

AlgaGen is a marine biotech company that specializes in microalgae and other live foods that benefit fish health.  They actually grow and produce their own live foods, according to owner Eric Stenn.

“We have one of the largest selections of copepods, phytoplankton, feeder shrimp, and other free-swimming live foods,” he said. “Since these are natural food sources they keep fish healthy and colorful and they don’t foul the water quality of the tank.”

Since AlgaGen aquacultures, it reduces the risk of introducing any disease into a tank, Stenn said. The company ships products directly to fish stores throughout the United States.

– Bill Kolbenschlag

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