Fish Feeding - Barbs and Loaches
I have a 55 gallon tank that is moderately planted and growing. The tank has 12 Tiger Barbs, 7 Cherry Barbs, and 5 Clown Loaches. (I know the loaches are going to outgrow the tank eventually). The tiger barbs are total pigs with the cherry barbs a close second. I want to make sure the loaches get fed as well. How do you feed the fish so everyone gets there fair share?
My current method is to throw in a couple of sinking pellets for the loaches which the barbs love as well. Then I toss in a couple of algae wafers and then some flakes. This method kind of keeps the barbs busy because they keep heading to the top to see what comes in next. The barbs love the sinking pellets as do the loaches but it is darn near impossible to keep the barbs off of them to make sure the loaches are getting enough.
Does anyone have any feeding suggestions? I would like to get this resolved before I end up with a major algae outbreak from overfeeding.
I have a very similar situation in my 90g with my Botia kubotai and Botia striata, and very aggressive-feeding upper fish like Black Ruby Barb, Congo Tetra and Emperor Tetra.
First, feed the flake foods at one end of the tank and immediately drop in the sinking foods at the other end. If this works, the loaches will quickly learn which spot their food appears.
Use a couple of pellet-type foods (rather than flake) such as the Hikari micro pellets, or the similar by New Life Spectrum. These will sink fairly quickly, and some will get to the substrate. My loaches like these, and even eat them as they fall.
Drop in a couple of sinking food tablets during total darkness once or twice weekly. Even though they are not nocturnal, the loaches will find this in the early pre-dawn, and dropping them in darkness means the upper fish will not see them.
Veggies sometimes work; a chunk of yam, squash, maybe cucumber, blanched. Will need to hold them down, there are tools for this sold by fish stores, or I have used a hollow clay plant pot that aquarium plants sometimes come in, about an inch long, with the food wedged in. The upper fish will likely eat this too, but the chunk can be large enough to ensure the loaches do feed.
I second the Hikari micro pellets. I have been using them for years and they work well to make sure that all fishes have a chance to feed. Hakari used to make a sinking micro, but I believe they only make the semi sinking micro pellet now. Anyway, ~20 to 30 micro pellets equal the volume of a typical 1/3" to 1/2" long sinking pellet. The idea is the food is bite size a disperse throughout the tank giving a good opportunity for the less aggressive feeders. I was having issue with a tank of guppies starving my Cory... solved the problem so well I use it in all of my tanks now.
Thanks to you both. I had never heard of the micro pellets but I believe they will do the trick. I will be hopping onto Amazon and ordering some immediately.
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