Oily Fish, what are they and why are they important for aquarium food products?

John D Hirsch MD

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Manhattan Reefs
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Oily fish are the herbivores of the oceans. They concentrate and store essential fatty acids. They are feeder fish for many of the fish we consume and for the omnivores and carnivores that we keep in our aquariums. They are schooling fish that that are planktonic feeders consuming early in their life cycle zooplankton and as adults almost exclusively phytoplankton. Phytoplankton is the principal source of many essential nutrients, including essential fatty acids, the Omega 3 fatty acids and essential amino acids none of which can be synthesized by animals. Included in this group are mackerel, herring, anchovies, and menhaden, for example. For the health of your reef ecosystem, look for all natural foods that contain some or all of these fish products which are very high in DHA and EPA, the two principal essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are natural appetite stimulators, enhance the immune and inflammatory/healing response and are critical structural lipids for brain, nerve, retina, and sperm. It is a super food! For a great read on this topic, I highly recommend a book by Bruce H. Franklin, ?Most Important Fish in the Sea?. And no, they won?t make your skimmers go crazy.
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