When I started researching what foods to put into my gel food the amount of information was overwhelming. Was I really ready to become some kind of amateur goldfish nutritionist?
I had to ask myself "why am I doing this?" and the answer was because I wanted the best food for my fish. I wanted to feed them organic, live plant based foods as a supplement to pellets. I wanted to vary the ingredients occasionally while still ensuring that their nutritional needs were being met.
I would see a dozen recipes for gel-food that included spinach and broccoli, then read somewhere else to avoid spinach and broccoli. Giving my fish fruit treats sounded fun for us both, but then I read that they couldn't digest sugar well. It was clear that I would have to educate myself somewhat if I was going to have my own opinions on this apparently confusing and controversial subject.
I'm new to making gel-food, and no expert. "I'm only 10 minutes ahead of you", as my IT colleague used to joke when I'd ask him a technical question. Or you might be a biologist in a fish-lab somewhere - and are -ing your way through my goldfish food blog. I'm just posting this as a trail of breadcrumbs marking my path on what I find interesting, confusing or useful.
You can cut the set gel into any size or shape you'd like. Go to: STEP 1
I use an easy cross-hash, resulting in irregular cubes about 2 cm x 2 cm or 3/4" cubes.
After cutting, I fill 3 16 oz containers and freeze. The food will keep for several months.
START GEL FOOD STEPS HERE
Ever made fudge?
I've spread the gel like icing on some parchment paper to a uniform thickness. You can go thinner if you'd like smaller pieces. It took about 2-3 hours to set here, but trust your fingers- you might live in Canada. If it feels like you can cut it with a knife and the pieces hold their shape you're done.
If you're not lucky enough to live in Canada, you may want to put your gel in the freezer for about 20 minutes to help it set faster.
The water needs to be boiling to set the gel, but you probably don't want to heat up any fruit or frozen ingredients you plan to add. This is the time to add any mashed fresh fruit, blood worms or frozen brine shrimp.
Avoid feeding your fish too many fruits with a high sugar content. If you have a pond, you might enjoy watching them play with a slice of orange occasionally. The vitamin C is healthy.
A small amount of fruit incorporated into the gel food probably improves the taste. However goldfish don't digest sugar very well and too much fruit can cause digestive issues. If you think your fish has constipation or other digestive disorders you may want to avoid fruit entirely.
Think babyfood here, and remember to remove any skins and mash the fruit well so that there are no chunks larger than their mouths. Here is a list of fruit that is safe to feed your goldfish in small amounts:
This recipe makes 2.6 pounds of fish food (1180 grams) which fills three16 oz containers for freezing. Only 4 ounces of that is fruit, or about 10%. In this case the fruit was a baby food jar of apples and apricots and no fresh fruits were used.
In this recipe I used four small blood worm packs as shown above, thawed briefly and chopped with scissors. I used 15 grams of frozen brine shrimp or about one quarter of the package shown above.
You’ll have at least 1.5 cups of reserved water. Add enough filtered or bottled mountain spring water to make 2 cups.
Heat in pot with 2 tablespoons of agar agar until boiling. Reduce heat and barely simmer for 5 minutes until agar thickens.
Add the 2/3 cups(70g) of Repashy's Soilent Green. Mix well while still on heat. Remove from heat and immediately mix with your homemade vegetable, fruit and grain mash.
Mix again in food processor IF you have room AND it is cool enough. I ended up using the big mixing bowl of my stand mixer to incorporate the hot gel with the veggie mash.
In a food processor or mixer purée the carrots. Then add the split edamame and the ½ roasted red pepper.
Keep processing, you’re aiming for baby-food consistency here. You don't want to see any chunks larger than your smallest goldfish's mouth. If necessary use a ricer or masher, then process again.
carrots, roasted red pepper and edamame
Next, add the cooked oatmeal, green leafy veggies, mashed or roasted garlic.
I then added 2 sheets of nori soaked briefly in reserved water and chopped fairly fine. Process well.
Nori (dried, no salt. The kind they wrap sushi in) 2 sheets – dipped in reserved water, cut small before processing
Wheat germ 1/8 c. IMPORTANT for Fall-Winter-early Spring feeding
Garlic – 4 large cloves, crushed or paste from roasted garlic (for immunity and to help them locate food)
Bonito flakes ¼ cup (to help them locate food and for taste)
Chilean fish oil OmegaBrite pills, 2 drained (omega 3, 6 & 9)
Koi Clay - 2 tablespoons of Ultimate Koi Clay (for digestion)
Krill - Freeze dried and chopped as finely as you can. 1/2 cup
Organic baby food - 2 small jars. I choose garden vegetables- peas (for digestion), apples & apricot (for taste)
Add each ingredient one at a time in order of it needing to be mashed.
You're aiming for a thick consistency like this:
Make sure you give your mixer, blender or food processor's motor a breather if it starts to get hot.
Bring 450g / 4 cups of bottled spring or filtered water to boiling.
Add 1 med organic carrot (125g) and 170g of organic edamame in pods/ or ½ cup shelled edamame (75g)
Boil both vegetables at least 15 minutes or until very soft.
Reserve hot water by straining and remove the vegetables.
Using the reserved water boil 1/3 cup (30g) of dry traditional oatmeal (not instant) and the green leafy vegetables you've chosen for 8-10 minutes. I used kale and mustard greens, removing the stems, and about 15g spinach for a total of 60g of dark green leafy vegetables.
You can continue to cook the carrot in this water if it is not yet baby-food soft.
Strain and reserve vitamin-rich hot water for the gel later.
Cooked kale and oatmeal, strained.
While the oatmeal/kale mix cooks, remove the kernels from the edamame pods, then remove the membrane around the pods. You’ll be left with about 60g of “split” edamame halves.
I put 1/2 a red pepper in the toaster oven at 425F until the skin turned black and blistered, about 35 minutes. Let cool and peel away the pepper skin completely.
A few days before I'm going to make gel food I start collecting the fresh ingredients like kale. Take stock of what you're going to use and pull it off the shelves. Check the ingredients in your fridge/freezer.
If I'm missing anything it might mean a trip to the store. You don't want to discover that you're out in the middle of mixing up a batch. For example, in this case I had edamame but it wasn't organic. I needed to buy wheat germ as well.
This is also a good time to decide what exactly you're going to add to your gel food and why.
Many goldfish owners add fresh or canned fish to their gel foods. If your fish are outside in a pond, they may not need the extra protein. Agar agar is supposed to be good for fish with swim bladder problems. If you don't want your goldfish to lose the natural carp fry olive-metallic color, you may want to avoid commercial and natural foods high in carotenoids like beta-carotene, astaxanthin and canthaxanthin.
I'd like to share how I make homemade fish food with you.
My recipe evolved from doing research on the Internet, looking at what others were doing and then just trying it out. Hopefully you'll be inspired by how many ingredients you already have at home to whip up a variation of your own. Whatever happens, you'll have some nutritious food for your fishy friends when you're done.
What my fish eat: