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In Support Of Agar Agar


dnalex

A few months ago, I remember reading some exchanges between Lola_Granola & Captain Findus Goldfish about the use of agar agar as a substitute for gelatin when making gel food. About a month and a half ago, I PM'd CFF about this and to ask for her suggestions on how much agar agar to make. I'm happy to report here that using agar agar as a gelatin substitute has been a great success. I highly encourage using it.

To back up a little bit, a lot of us here, after some time using commercially bought foods, have also made our own gel food, to supplement their pellet diets or sometimes to replace it entirely. The reasons are manyfold. First, it can be cheaper to make gel food than to buy pellets, especially because pellets need to be replaced every half year or so. Secondly, when you make your own gel food, you have total control over what goes into the good, as well as the exact composition of your food. Lastly, as many goldfish keepers have found to their dismay, sometimes the commercially available staple food causes issues with floatiness, etc. Gel food certainly helps with alleviating this problem!

So why agar agar, and what the heck is agar agar? Essentially, agar agar is a natural product derived from seaweed (red algae) and has some very similar properties as gelatin, which is animal collagen. The problem with gelatin based gel food is that sometimes it does not help with the floatiness, but actually can make it worse. I had this problem when Ulquiorra became almost permanently stuck butt up at the surface and had to struggle to get down for food.

Enter agar agar. As a seaweed type product, one can argue that it is a lot more goldfish friendly than animal collagen. Agar agar is also 80% fiber, so it is also a great natural laxative. So far, after over a month of switching to agar agar, I can tell you that my fish are totally happy. Ulquiorra's issues have largely disappeared, and my fish poop very regularly lol. I can't recommend this product enough.

You can buy agar agar at places like Whole Foods or any Asian grocery store. You can substitute agar in the exact same amount as what was called for with gelatin in your recipe. Agar agar actually solidifies a bit more strongly than gelatin, so your food will hold even better. Or you can decrease the amount used to suit your preference.

In any case, for those of you who are using agar agar or have used it, please add your opinion. Thanks!

Alex :)

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thank you sooo much for this post!! i think i really wanna try useing agar agar IF im able to find it that is!!

would also love to hear everyones opinions of useing it also!

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I keep wanting to try agar agar instead of gelatin, but every time I have gone out for gel food ingredients I haven't been able to find any and just end up getting gelatin!

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Quick question... How exactly is Agar Agar pronounced? I don't want to walk into a Whole Foods and ask where the Agar Agar is, and sound like a complete doofus...lol

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Quick question... How exactly is Agar Agar pronounced? I don't want to walk into a Whole Foods and ask where the Agar Agar is, and sound like a complete doofus...lol

I pronounce it like the word augur, but it can also be pronounced as a-gar. :)

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Quick question... How exactly is Agar Agar pronounced? I don't want to walk into a Whole Foods and ask where the Agar Agar is, and sound like a complete doofus...lol

ohhh good point!! about a year ago i got a book on mixology and wanted to try some of the more exotic alchols but for the life of me couldnt pronounce some of the names so going into a liquor store and asking for things like creme de cocao (found out its not pronouced like coco :P) and creme de noiyex (STILL cant get that one right!)

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Whole Foods should have it...ask for agar agar first. If not successful, try asking for kanten, or Japanese gelatin...(those are some of the terms used on the Whole Foods website) :)

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we unfortunately don't have a whole foods here :( which is such a bummer, but I will have to try our local health food store, that's probably the one place I haven't looked yet.

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Do you have Asian grocery stores near you? They are almost certain to have it, as it is in a lot of Asian dessert recipes. Also, you can order it from Amazon, but I understand it can be expensive there. The health foods store is a definitely possibility :)

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We do have an asian grocery store actually! I have only been in once, but that is a great idea, I wouldn't have thought of that :)

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Is it where the gelatin would be?

Good question. I don't know, since I get mine from the Asian groceries. I think Kulukan gets hers from Whole Foods, so hopefully she'll see this and tell you where exactly.

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I feel like you can get it by the seaweed stuff. I can buy it bulk here, though I still haven't tried it. I will next time. The smell of gelatine makes me want to throw up and it really freaks me out.

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Yey I am so happy it worked for you too! :clapping:

Ever since I switched about 5 months ago I have had been very satisfied. Einstein who was an -at the surface belly up- floater shows NO signs whatsoever! Not even in his swimming :) Everyone else really benefitted too. We are pretty much floater free here lol. And I am rather happy not to have to buy gelatin anymore.

As for the Agar I would suggest you guys get the powdered one. I find it easier to dissolve.

* Remember - add about 1teaspoon per cup of food to your choice of COLD veggie and protein compote (I just mix everything in a smoothie maker) - put in a pot and bring to a boil - MIX MIX MIX for 3 minuted keeping it bubbling and pour in gel food container right away :)

- Also, Agar is super great because you can let it cool and still add stuff afterwards. I add Omega 3 fish oils and sometimes probiotics. You can just mix whatever you want inside and it will re-solidify right away :D

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Thanks for the great post, Alex. I will definitely look into it :)

EDIT: If I walk into one of these stores and can't find the product and need to ask for it: how the heck do you pronounce this in English? :rofl

Edited by Oerba Yun Fang

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Fang, :rofl

I will take a pic of the agar agar packet I have here. It may not be exactly the same at all the Asian stores, but they'll get the idea lol.

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In whole foods the agar agar is in a little plastic pouch in a funny little seaweed/sushi section.

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The first a is pronounced "ah" and the gar rhymes with car.

This is a horrible confession, but I can't make gel food. My first batch was perfect. The second failed to gel, so I remade it with more gelatin twice, and while it held together after a fashion, it was more like a paste than a gel and fouled the tanks and filters horribly. I got some agar to make the third batch and it failed to gel. I reheated and added gelatin twice before it sort of gelled. The fish don't really even like this batch. They'll eat it, of course, but prefer anything else.

The sad thing is that I'm a good cook and have made agar medium in the laboratory for many years without any problems. Of course, there I had an exact recipe. Captain Findus Goldfish, your instructions look very good, but what is the weight of the agar you add to one cup of puree? I don't know how to measure a teaspoon of of this shredded stuff.

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I will check the weight for you tomorrow :)

I think the important thing is the mixing and heating for the right amount of time. It should work no issues.

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Shakaho, I'll PM you my recipe. :)

It's funny, I would never have thought I'd be promoting the use of agar for anything other than culturing bacteria :rofl

I'm very happy my agar plate pouring days are over ;)

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is agar the same stuff that I swabbed bacteria onto in my microbiology class?

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is agar the same stuff that I swabbed bacteria onto in my microbiology class?

Yup. The microbiology/reagent grade stuff is purer and more expensive.

Edited by dnalex

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Actually, agar was the gelling agent in the stuff you swabbed your bacteria on. If you also used broth cultures, the broth used there, gelled with agar, was was used to make the agar plates and slants -- gel food for bacteria. Unlike gelatin, agar itself is non-nutritive to almost all organisms. (There are a few kinds of bacteria that can digest the stuff.) It just provides fiber.

I like candy gelled with agar. I always took some to class for the students to sample when teaching about culture media. :)

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Actually, agar was the gelling agent in the stuff you swabbed your bacteria on. If you also used broth cultures, the broth used there, gelled with agar, was was used to make the agar plates and slants -- gel food for bacteria. Unlike gelatin, agar itself is non-nutritive to almost all organisms. (There are a few kinds of bacteria that can digest the stuff.) It just provides fiber.

I like candy gelled with agar. I always took some to class for the students to sample when teaching about culture media.

Yup. You gel the agar with different kinds of "food" to support growth of different kinds of bacteria.

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Great post Alex!

I made some gel food using agar agar one week ago. And it's been a success so far!

I tried agar because Clementine was getting floaty on all commercial food and she was starting to get floaty on my gel.

Then Tangerine was also starting to become floaty. This floatiness only happened after eating, it seemed so obvious it was something to do with what they were eating.

I really needed to try to fix this and I remembered reading about Agar Agar here at Koko's.

Well, I'm so happy to say there hasn't been any floatiness for any of my fish since they've been eating the gel made with agar.

I found it at a health food store. It is the flake variety. I could not find the powered. But I didn't have any trouble using the flake. It gelled nicely.

The package has directions, and it said once it comes to a boil, to lower the heat a bit and cook for about 5 minutes. Then I added my other ingredients.

It worked for me and the fish seem to love it.

Another reason to thank Koko's and the people here who brainstorm and come up with these great tips.

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