How does food equate to health in fish?

Paul B

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I don't know if you noticed but there are an awefully lot of people posting on disease forums. Why is that? Fish in the sea are almost always healthy until someone puts them in a tank. I have been diving since the early 70s and don't remember ever seeing a sick fish on a reef. How many fish refuse to eat while in a tank? Way to many. How many fish live long enough to die of old age in a tank? Very very few. Why is that? I think I know.
The only thing I think I do that may be different from many people in regard to fish health is to feed food every day that has living bacteria in it. Why is that important? It is important because it is the gut bacteria in the fish, and all living creatures that determine the state of health the fish is going to be. Not the water parameters but the gut bacteria. Gut bacteria in fish is directly responsible for the condition of the immune system and the immune system is directly responsible for the fishes health. In humans it is also partly responsible for mental health, moods and the risk of obesity and cancer. It also helps manufacture vitamins such as vitamin B and K. We don't normally think of gut bacteria until we kill it off by either drinking to much alcohol or taking antibiotics. That hangover is partly due to the of dying of bacteria. Antibiotics have the unfortunate habbit of only killing some strains of bacteria while leaving others unscathed. After taking some antibiotics it could take up to a year for our bacterial flora to return to normal levels. I am not sure how quickly it occurs in fish. The study of gut bacteria in humans and to a lesser extent fish has recently brought about some interesting insights. Experiments are being done by transfering gut bacteria from healthy people to people with all sorts of maladys and in many cases the bacteria returns the ill person to health. They found that if they take stomach flora from an obese rat and put it in a normal rat, the normal mouse becomes obese. That in itself is, to me anyway, totally astonishing and opens up an entire new world of research. This even happened to a person. In trying to cure a disease, they took gut bacteria from a healthy person and deposited it into the stomach of a sick person. But the doner was obese. Guess what happened? Not only was the sick person cured, but he became obese also.
Gut bacteria is probably 2/3rds of the mass in the colon of us humans and probably also in fish. They compromise over 1,000 species of bacteria and the population of bacteria is unique and different in every fish. Gut bacteria is largly determined by what the fish is eating including what types of bacteria and in what condition it is in. We (and fish) have ten times more bacterial genes in us than human genes.
We humans aquire gut bacteria from our Mothers as soon as we are born through breast feeding. It is now known that babies that are fed on formula do not have the correct gut bacteria and are at much more of a risk for allergies later in life. Fish fry get their first dose of gut bacteria from the Mother while they are still in the egg and that is how tiny fry can live in a soup of diseases and parasites as they grow.
One reason why so many people have so much trouble keeping fish healthy is because they feed nothing but dry, sterile foods. Dry foods have all been sterilized through the process of drying or they have preservatives added. If dry food had bacteria in it, it would go bad very quickly and most bacteria (like everything else) needs moisture to live. If you feed nothing but dry foods I believe you should add some frozen or fresh food to the diet.
Why can I put fish in my tank from anywhere without quarantining with no fear of a disease while some tanks are ich magnets and no matter what they do, they can't keep fish alive. I think it is due to the correct gut bacteria that my fish get every day through live worms, or frozen foods such as clams which are filter feeders and are loaded with bacteria. Or as many people like to say, I am "lucky" and have been for 40 years. If you are the type of person that quarantines, I believe you should be feeding types of foods that have living bacteria in them. Frozen foods have bacteria in them in a dormant state that should revive as the food warms up. Live foods such as worms, brine shrimp, mosqueto larvae etc are also full of bacteria although some live foods would be better than others nutritionally. Remember we should not only focus on the nutritional value of a food, but maybe even more important, the bacterial population as that is the key to fishes health and more importantly, our own.
For the many people that don't believe in any of this, think it is fantasy or that I made it up because I have nothing to do, just google Gut Bacteria and how it effects health.
 

Paul B

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Yes they are. Some of them are also loaded with worms. But those things are not killing fish in the sea just like the millions of microbes on us also do not harm us, but as soon as we die and our immune system no longer functions, those things have a feast.
Even the parasites have parasites and those parasites have gut bacteria that also keep them healthy.
 

marrone

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Sometime these things do kill the fish in the ocean, sometime they don't. It all depends on the how infected the fish is and the ability for that fish to rid itself of the parasite or parasites. Sometimes it can take a while for a fish to be overcome from a parasite or disease other times it can happen very quick. Do fish die in the Ocean from parasites and diseases? The answer is yes they do.
 
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Paul B

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That is probably true. My purpose in this was not to prove one way or another if fish in the sea die from parasites, worms or boredom, but to shed light on the role of microbes because their role is something we rarely discuss in relation to health and they play a huge role in that which we are just now understanding.
 

frvarugh

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Great read, Paul. I know you endorse worms fully after visiting your worm factory at home :p however, do you think live foods make fish more aggressive?
 

Paul B

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In an indirect way, yes. Live foods should get fish into a healthier condition and if that condition is breeding condition they would be more aggressive as healthy, spawning fish are naturally more aggressive as they are chasing other fish away. My fish are always spawning so they are constantly building a nest and trying to defend it.
 

Charley

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Seems like it would be easy enough to know for sure whether live foods create more gut bacteria. Couldn't an experiment be down with lets say 3 clownfishes in 1 tank, feed all pellet food for a year or 6 mos, and another group same type of fish fed all live food and at the end of the experiment test their stomachs to see which group has the most gut bacteria? Just seems so easy to know once and for all. Of course, my money is on Paul B:)
 

Charley

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Would have loved to if qualified to do so......just seems like a easy thing to do in the name of scientific research for our hobby.....does not seem like this has to be an open ended discussion forever and real curious . Oh well just like Congress the obvious never gets done.. ..sigh
 

Paul B

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I posted this elsewhere but because I am tired, I will put it here also:


When I wrote this (and quite a few other articles/posts) on this subject I knew there were going to be doubters and just plain un-believers so I was hesitant to post it. On some forums, I can't even mention immunity. As you know I got my experience through many years of diving and keeping fish continuously for 60 years. Very little of my experience or Ideas are re-hashed from old posts, rumors or the net as I formed my ideas before those things existed. I am also hard headed, stubborn, old, opinionated and argumentative.
So far no one can explain to me, except by saying I am lucky, why my fish are immune. I "think" they are immune because scientific studies last for a few months or until the money runs out so no one really fully knows why this occurs in the scientific community. Very little time is spent on ornamental fish problems as there is no money in it. My "experiment" on immunity has lasted for decades with no fish becoming infected with anything. I have been on these forums since they invented them and never posted on a disease forum that I remember unless it was an incite or something like Pop Eye which is not an infectious disease. Just in the last couple of years we have been figuring out how immunity is affected by gut bacteria. As EO48 mentioned we get bacteria into the guts of fish no matter what we do, but that bacteria is far from the type of bacteria fish are getting in the sea. Also if we quarantine our fish for 72 days as it sometimes suggested while at the same time feeding dry foods I feel that those fish will always be in a compromised state and you will always have to quarantine because their immune system is not fully functioning. Of course I have no idea how long a fishes immune system can run without an influx of the correct bacteria or nutrients and I am sure all fish are different but I do know as we have just found out that the biggest roadblock to us going on long space voyages will be the lack of new bacteria for the astronauts. They can't just open a window or send out for Pizza. Eventually the bacteria in the gut thins out and some strains will be lost. To me this is the same problem with DSBs but for a slightly different reason. We as aquarists still don't equate fish health with the bacterial variety in the food. I do. I think we will grasp this concept soon as researchers are just now discovering how important gut bacteria is for us. I have put the question out there on immunity and so far I still have not gotten an answer (except that lucky thing) In a few years my tank will be running for 50 years. At that time I may take it down because I will be like 100. If my fish are still immune by then, I think the professors who teach these things will need to think harder. Many people still have the same disease problems in their tanks as we did in the 70s. It has gotten no better and we are still going by the same rumors. To me it is simple. Get your fish immune from everything so you don't have to worry about quarantining and curing fish as there will be no need. As you know, disease threads predominate these forums and there is no need for it. Just my opinion of course and if I offended anyone. They will just have to get over it.
(sorry)
Here is some reading:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290747.php


And one of my articles.
http://www.saltwatersmarts.com/marine-fish-heal-through-slime-3962/
And of course I wrote a chapter in my book on this even though I realize it is controversial.
 
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