With Spring fast approaching here in Norway It got me to thinking what are the best free natural food sources that I can either find, cultivate, grow or source for free that I can provide for my shrimp.
(You can see a summer Update on this idea here )
The keyword here is free so I am not allowed to use seeds or get items from artificial sources that I just couldn’t find where I am.
The collection method is entirely up to you and I think some of you will be shocked at some of my methods of collecting that might only apply to me or people in my location.
So I started to brainstorm the idea of free and what that really meant, free is 100% natural, I did mention cultivate above because I think if you can find something local to you and make more of it with a little bit cultivation then more power to you for finding a great resource.
What soon became apparent when I started to think about my list is mines will be different from yours simply because of the differences in location and the resources available to us because of this.
I do live next to a river that no doubt has a whole manner of goodies I could use from plants that are probably edible to insects and small fish etc BUT in the interest of keeping my Aquariums pest free I will ignore that resource for now.
We are still a meter deep in snow here but things are starting to thaw out so I took a mental walk through my Garden and into the forest to see what I could remember from years gone by on what was available.
We have lots of trees but most of the leaves on them are no good as shrimp food, simple because certain trees sap is toxic to shrimp and I would rather not take the risk, pine trees as an example are evergreens and never lose their needles even in the coldest of countries, this is because their sap has an antifreeze element in it.
This antifreeze would no doubt kill everything in our tanks in a matter of hours probably ..so whatever you find always do a ton of research on it first and if you have multiple tanks only test your new food on one tank at a time.
So here is my list of which I will no doubt add to over time as I discover new things
- Alder Cones
- Dried Leaves
- Dried Branches
BioFilm is one of the ones on the list that is truly free and you don’t have to ever do anything to get it in your tanks because it happens naturally.
You can test this for yourself if you put a leave in a bucket of water for a week and then go back to it and pick it up, the leaf will feel slimy compared to before, this is biofilm.
But you may be wondering what is BioFilm Mark? Biofilm is a complex structure like a matrix that has different types of bacteria, algae, pathogens and all manner of things living in it.
The matrix that forms between the layers can protect the inhabitants from predation and in some cases stop drugs affecting them so its a good idea if you think of this matrix as a kind of biological shield.
This Biofilm just so happens to be one of your shrimps favorite foods and this is where the meaning of giving shrimp GRAZING area comes from, a grazing area for biofilm to grow on.
Of course in an aquarium environment, this biofilm is on everything even when we cant see it, Think of this like a lawn of grass where the shrimp would be sheep that would constantly be eating away at the biofilm to keep it down.
One of the questions I get a lot is Mark how can I increase biofilm in a shrimp tank and the answer would be to give it some food right..and the same applies for us here in the free natural food guide.
But we have to use what is available, Three of the things on our list Nettle, Dandelion, Pollen can all be dried in some way and ground down into a fine powder, this is your biofilm food too.
Just remember to feed this stuff in moderation as you do not want to pollute the tank.
In at Number two on our list is the common European Nettle, I am a big fan of Nettle because it is known for having one of the highest mineral and vitamin contents of any plant in Europe.
Did I mention that the shrimp absolutely love it?
Well they do, The Nettle leaves must be blanched or steamed with the youngest newest leaves holding the most nutrition.
For feeding, I recommend a thumbnail-sized piece for 20 shrimp, if they don’t eat it take it out because Nettle leaves are also used as a organic plant fertilizer.
Another added bonus is that Nettle leaves are antibacterial because they contain formic acid in the stinging hairs, this is actually what makes the sting sensation when you are stung.
This is also why I recommend blanching or steaming over boiling because boiling will take out a lot of the good stuff from the Nettle.
In the spring and summer here in Norway I collect buckets and buckets of this stuff to make my own brand of shrimp food.. not bad for free eh 🙂
Of course, you do get stung a lot but you do get used to it after a while and I have even heard people say its invigorating ..you know you are alive that is for sure.