Feeding the Fry of Livebearing Fish

one week old guppy fry
Guppy Fry - 1 week old

There is hardly anything more satisfying in the aquarium hobby than having your fish produce healthy fry. Baby fish are adorable. Fry must have the proper nutrition in order to survive and to grow into healthy adult fish.

Livebearing fish, such as guppies, swordtails, platys, and mollies, typically reproduce often, and their fry are born fully developed and ready to eat. You should feed your fry small amounts of food frequently. Their stomachs are very tiny and they can only eat a little at a time. However, their stomach won't stay full for long and so they need frequent feedings.

Because the fry of livebearers are fully developed, they can eat newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia salina) as soon as they are born. Newly hatched brine shrimp (also called brine shrimp nauplii) still contain their yolk sac and are more nutritious than adult brine shrimp, plus they are small enough for the newborn fry of livebearing fish to eat. I also feed my livebearing fry commercial powdered food for fry to make sure that they are getting the proper nutrition. Brine shrimp are nutritious, but they don't contain all of the nutrients that fish, especially fry, need. I wouldn't recommend feeding your fry ONLY brine shrimp.

If you find hatching brine shrimp to be cumbersome, and it often is, you can now buy instant baby brine shrimp made by Ocean Nutrition. It comes in a small jar. You just put a very small portion into your tank and you can watch your fry eat. My livebearing fry loved it. I gave some to the adult fish and they also loved it.

instant baby brine shrimp package

The instant brine shrimp floats for awhile and this gives your fish time to eat it (the baby brine shrimp aren't alive in the instant product). You don't want to put too much into your tank at once because it will spoil your water quality if there are uneaten brine shrimp left behind. Once you open the package you can keep it in your refrigerator for 6 weeks and then you must discard it. There is a lot in the jar and so most likely you will not be able to use it all in 6 weeks. A little seems go go a long way, as the brine shrimp nauplii seem to be really concentrated in this product.

instant baby brine shrimp open jar

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I gave this to my guppy fry and they grew into large-sized (for guppies), colorful fish. In fact, the fry have produced several broods of their own since I first wrote this article. So I would have to say that the fry fared well on the instant brine shrimp. I also fed them powdered fry food, but they seemed to do very well with the addition of the instant brine shrimp.

While the instant brine shrimp may not be quite as good as giving your fry live baby brine shrimp, it is a lot better than only giving them powdered flake food. Although live baby brine shrimp is probably best, the instant baby brine shrimp is a good alternative food for baby fish, and even adult fish.

If you want to hatch your own brine shrimp you can buy special brine shrimp hatcheries and eggs, which aren't too expensive. The instant brine shrimp is usually less than $10 a jar.

As the fry get a little older I usually crush up other dried foods (such as various kinds of flake food, bloodworms, ect.) into pieces small enough for the fry to eat. I believe that feeding fish as varied of a diet as possible leads to the best health and growth.

The instant brine shrimp is nutritious and so easy to use. However, a little goes a long way and so you need to be really careful about overfeeding when using this product. Because this product is so concentrated it is really easy to overfeed. If you overfeed you will ruin your water quality and you certainly don't want to ruin the little ones' health in the process of trying to feed them nutritious food.

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