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How to save money on food for your goldfish in the fish pond

As all fish keepers well know, this hobby can prove to be expensive at times so any way of saving a few pennies is usually appreciated, certain items of equipment can prove to be inferior if less quality goods are used but one item of the budget that we can be thrifty with is the cost of feeding our fish in the fish pond or even an aquarium.

The tips that follow are not designed to completely replace all commercial foods in the diet of the fish but they can make for good substitute meals and provide variation for the fish so that they never lose interest at feeding times.

Some of the ideas may surprise you as for some reason it is often believed that goldfish should be fed a diet based on vegetable matter only, this fact is not the case as meaty foods can also be supplied to them and they are consumed with relish.

Everything that is listed below has been given to my fish with no detrimental effects to their health and they thrived and grew ( and grew!!), some of the foods may need a strong stomach when it comes to chopping them into sizeable portions but, believe me, you soon get used to the task.

Shrimps

Frozen shrimps can be purchased in any high street supermarket and when bought in bilk can last for months in the freezer. Only defrost the amount that you are going to give to the fish and only allow a defrost time of a few minutes, do not run the shrimp under a hot tap to defrost as this can encourage all sorts of bacteria to multiply. It is best to put them onto an old plate or dish for a few minutes and then chop them into small pieces, you can use fresh shrimp if you prefer but this will increase the outlay and you also have the task of de-tailing them.

Earthworms

What cheaper source of food can you have than the earthworms from your own garden. They are easily dug from the soil and some keepers will even set up a wormery to provide a constant source. In their ordinary state they could add bacteria from the soil so they will always require washing before being fed and one important step to follow is to cleanse out the digestive system. I have found the easiest way of doing this is to place the worms in a container full of newspaper for 24 hours, left to their own devices they will naturally purge out any matter from their digestive system ready for feeding to the fish. You must chop them into smaller pieces (this is the squeamish part that some people do not like performing), I put aside an old pair of scissors solely for this purpose and if sharp the task is easy.

Bloodworm and Mosquito Larvae

These require no preparation apart from a good rinse prior to feeding to the fish and can be harvested very simply by anyone in the warmer summer months. Some larvae will be found naturally in the fish ponds, the fish love these anyway so are probably eating them without you even knowing, topping up the supply will do no harm at all. To harvest these you need nothing more than a clean bucket or deep dish that can be left outside and undisturbed during the hours of sunshine. Leave the bucket outside and allow it to fill with rain water, do not use mains water unless it has been de-chlorinated as this will affect the growth of algae in the bucket. At the start of spring/summer the bucket can be left in direct sunlight but as the temperature peaks in mid-summer it is best to move it into a shady area. Allow algal colonies to develop in the water, this is a food source for the larva and will encourage the mosquitoes and midges to lay their eggs there, keeping the water clean will affect your success.

The eggs will be laid at the water surface and the larva will hang upside down when first hatched, this is the best time to feed them to the fish as they will not eat away at your larval colonies, leaving them there for the next crop of eggs. The larva can be netted, rinsed and placed directly into the fish pond to the pleasure of the fish.

If you find that there are too many larva for your requirements try placing some in an ice cube tray and top this with rain water and place in the freezer. The cubes, once frozen, can then be used in the cooler months once the mosquitoes stop laying their eggs, this practice is quite common with aquarium keepers.

Vegetable matter

To keep the diet balanced, your pond fish will also require vegetable matter, the most obvious choice for this has to be blanched peas, they act as a natural laxative so as well as supplying nourishment to the fish they will also help to keep the digestive system clear. Another popular choice with keepers and fish alike is broccoli, this also needs to be blanched before feeding as does cabbage, even carrots can be blanched to feed the fish. They all need chopping down to bite size pieces before offering them to the fish.

For those of you not familiar with the process of blanching, it is simply a matter of dropping the vegetables in boiling water for a minute, this process will soften the vegetables as well as killing off any potentially harmful bacteria. The more recent method is to place the vegetables in a microwave for a few seconds, the final result will be the same. The only foods that I would not recommend feeding the goldfish are animal meats, these contain lipids which are fats and the fish cannot digest these.

More recently some keepers have been preparing their own gel foods, as the name suggests, gelatine is used to bind a mixture of ingredients. Using gelatine prevents the mixture from breaking down too quickly and keeps the mixture together while the fish nibble away at it.

A mixture of the above is fine so a typical mix would involve adding the prepared gelatine (either sheets dissolved or the powder) and then add chopped shrimps or blood worms, chopped down to size. To this you can also add chopped down vegetables, some chopped fruit, and for digestive aids, add some wheat germ that has been softened by being slightly boiled.

To aid the fishes health I also used to add a crushed tablet of children's vitamins and the secret ingredient is some garlic extract, fish find this irresistible.

Garlic serves many purposes in the fishes diet, it reduces the cholesterol levels in the fish as well as lowering their blood pressure, the added bonus with using garlic is that it also serves to build up the immune system of the fish giving them the strength to fight off any potential disease issues.

Once your Gel mix is complete it can be made into sheets and then cooled to set, any excess can also be frozen for future use, making a larger batch reduces the workload each time and can supply you with food for a couple of months.

All of the foods suggested above are just to show you how you can economise, fish are quite safe eating any vegetables that humans consume so if yo wish to digress from the above then do so , the fish may enjoy other vegetables more than others!