Many tangs, such as the powder blue tang Acanthurus leucosternon, graze on algae constantly in the wild and should be fed at least three
to four times daily in captivity.
Prepared and manufactured foods are
a good supplement to a whole/natural
food diet. Many of them are nutritionally
balanced and vitamin fortified. All frozen
food should be soaked in a quality vitamin
supplement prior to use.
When selecting manufactured foods,
keep the fish’s natural diet in mind. For
example, avoid buying food that has krill,
shrimp, fish meal, salmon, or any other
meaty products as the first ingredient if
it is to be fed to herbivores like yellow
tangs. Also, if at all possible, select food
that occurs naturally in their wild habitat.
Don’t offer a yellow tang land vegetables
such as lettuce, or a moray eel goldfish or
tadpoles. In captivity, the best diet is one
that closely replicates their natural diet.
Vitamins and supplements should be
used regularly with any diet. Many brands
of fish flakes and pellets are already vitamin
enriched. However, freeze-dried, frozen,
and fresh foods may not be. Freeze-dried
and frozen foods, such as krill, may be
nutritionally valuable and have some
naturally occurring vitamins in them, but
not a broad spectrum of vitamins. The
freezing process is also known to break
down some vitamins, and fresh foods are
not supplemented at all.
Without proper water maintenance,
feeding fish a natural, proper diet can
have disastrous consequences, especially if
frozen/thawed whole foods are used. Whole
foods are rich with naturally occurring fats,
oils, proteins, and other possible pollutants.
It is therefore of utmost importance that
an aquarium is aggressively filtered with
a quality protein skimmer, includes an
appropriate amount of activated carbon,
and receives frequent water changes. These
three parts of a filtration system will do an
excellent job at reducing dissolved organic
matter that will be introduced into an
aquarium every time fish are fed.
In a natural environment, the dietary
needs of the fish that occupy those habitats
are easily met. They have adapted to their
environment over hundreds of thousands of
years, providing them with all the nutrients
they need to not only live, but thrive. In
captivity, the selection of a proper diet is
not only essential to the long-term survival
of the fish, but for maintaining the state of
a beautiful aquarium. D