Want to know how the goods on sale really perform? We put them through their paces so you can sort the good from the bad...
Sera Fish foods
More info: www.sera.de
For those unfamiliar with the Sera brand, it’s a German company which has been producing excellent quality foods for decades.
The Nature food product range looks like a haphazard collection of various tablets, granulates, flakes and crisps at first, but a closer look reveals a varied and almost complete diet for many aquatic creatures.
You’ll find insect meal based products (Sera Insect and Pond Insect), natural coloured staple foods (Vipan and Vipagran), Spirulina-enriched tablets (Spirulina Tabs and Plankton Tabs), green-matter rich algae crisps (Catfish chips) among them, even treat mixes with actual freeze-dried organisms (GVG Mix).
My favourite product in the range is the Sera Micron fry food. It’s a green coloured, finely powdered food that contains zooplankton and 51% Spirulina, and the high protein (55%) makes it an ideal for newly hatched fry. The good news is that they are happy to accept it, as the small particles remain suspended for a long time, resembling real plankton. I have used this product as a starter food for tiny Zebra danio and Celebes rainbowfish fry with great success.
I (and more importantly my livestock) also like the Sera Insect Food, with all of its animal protein originating from sustainable sources, using Mealworms. This food also has a high protein content (55%), which may be too much for herbivores, but this makes it great for growing young fish or conditioning breeding stock.
For a slightly lower protein content, the Vipagran staple food soft pellets could be great for mid-water feeders or the Vipan Nature Tropical Flakes for surface dwellers. Both contain insect meal and probiotics to provide nature-close nutrition.
If you keep Corydoras and other bottom feeders, the Sera Viformo tablets must be on your shelf. For vegetarian fish you could choose the veggie Spirulina tablets with 24% Spirulina content, or the Catfish chips with lots of rough material to rasp on.
Sera GVG mix
Analytical constituents: Crude Protein 47.3%, Crude Fat 7.0%, Crude Fibre 4.0%, Moisture 5.0%, Crude Ash 11.8%.
Sera Spirulina Tabs
Analytical constituents: Crude Protein 38.9%, Crude Fat 7.9%, Crude Fibre 6.9%, Moisture 5.9%, Crude Ash 9.8%.
Sera Plankton Tabs
Analytical constituents: Crude Protein 40.2%, Crude Fat 8.3%, Crude Fibre 6.9%, Moisture 5.9%, Crude Ash 13.8%
Sera Catfish Chips
Analytical constituents: Crude Protein 31.2%, Crude Fat 7.2%, Crude Fibre 4.9%, Moisture 5.0%, Crude Ash 6.5%.
Sera Insect Food
Analytical constituents: Crude Protein 55.0%, Crude Fat 8.1%, Crude Fibre 6.7%, Moisture 6.6%, Crude Ash 4.7%.
Analytical constituents: Crude Protein 48.8%, Crude Fat 8.0%, Crude Fibre 2.9%, Moisture 5.0%, Crude Ash 10.7%.
Analytical constituents: Crude Protein 41.3%, Crude Fat 8.1%, Crude Fibre 3.5%, Moisture 5.0%, Crude Ash 5.5%.
Sera O-Nip Treat
Analytical constituents: Crude Protein 37.9%, Crude Fat 8.5%, Crude Fibre 7.1%, Moisture 6.3%, Crude Ash 10.8%.
Analytical constituents: Crude Protein 56.6%, Crude Fat 7.2%, Crude Fibre 9.7%, Moisture 6.0%, Crude Ash 10.3%.
Sera Pond Insect
Analytical constituents: Crude Protein 41.0%, Crude Fat 5.8%, Crude Fibre 3.8%, Moisture 6.9%, Crude Ash 3.4%
Ziss Aqua ZH-2000 Artemia Blender
Tester: Gabor Horvath
Test duration: 6 months
RRP: £39.95 for the blender only or £59.95 with heater and airpump,
£9.49 for one EZ Sieve
More info: www.zissaqua.eu
Feeding newly hatched brine shrimp nauplii to your newborn fish-fry is often a must for successfully raising the juveniles — it’s rich in nutrients, readily available and easy to hatch.
I have used a range of manufactured Artemia hatchers in the past, but I’ve always returned to my simple DIY version made from upcycled PET bottles. Until now, anyway.
Hatching Artemia is a relatively straightforward process. You need a conical shaped vessel filled up with salty water, good aeration, appropriate temperature and some light. It all sounds simple, but many existing hatchers fail in practice.
Firstly, most commercially available hatchers are for aquarists who need only a very small amount of nauplii. The volume of these hatchers is often under half a litre. The ZH-2000 can hold two litres, for a more significant quantity of Artemia. If you need less you simply add fewer eggs to the hatcher.
I found that the hatching rate is better in less crowded situations.
A big advantage of the increased size is that Ziss’s Artemia blender is easy to clean, and even large hands can access the bottom of it.
The eggs need oxygen rich, turbulent water. The ZH-2000 has a built-in air diffusor that, when connected to an air pump, provides sufficient aeration.
Many Artemia hatching attempts fail due to the low hatching temperature. At low temperatures the process is very slow and the hatching rate is low. At 24°C it takes 28-36 hours, so you would need multiple hatchers for a daily supply. I keep my hatchery in a 29°C water bath, which gives me less than a day hatching time. One of my previous hatchers had suction cups to attach it inside a fish tank, but after one of the cups failed and the whole content of the hatchery poured into the aquarium, I threw it out.
The ZH-2000 has a practical handle, so you can simply hang it in a tank, using the water in the aquarium to keep the hatchery warm. If you don’t like the sight of a big plastic jug within the aquarium, then the Artemia Blender has space for a heater and a sturdy stand to hold it securely, so it could work as a standalone device. If you would like to use this configuration you can purchase the ZH-2000 as a kit with a heater and an air pump.
Once the hatch is complete you need to remove the nauplii. If you switch off the air the new-borns will sink to the bottom and most of the eggshells will lift to the surface.
The tap at the bottom of the ZH-2000 allows you to easily remove the hatchlings. I have attached a piece of pipe to the tap so I can use the separately sold Ziss Artemia EZ Sieve (0.10mm) to filter out the nauplii. The EZ Sieve is available in four sizes (0.10mm, 0.13mm, 0.18mm and 0.22mm) and a perfect toolkit to provide your fish fry with the appropriately sized food.
I have been using the ZH-2000 Artemia Blender for over 6 months now and during that time I have never thought of returning to my DIY kit. It’s perfect for regular fish breeders and also marine keepers using Artemia — a must have if you take your hobby seriously. Although it’s not cheap you will get a very high-quality product — the Ziss Aqua name is a guarantee to this.
Functional lid system
The ZH-2000 lid holds both the airline to tumble and aerate the eggs, and a thermometer.
A tap is built in to the base, allowing easy removal of hatched nauplii, while unhatched eggs will float at the top of the hatchery.
Well-designed and high-quality equipment for fish breeders. Very practical and easy to use. To bring the most out of it use it together with the Ziss Artemia EZ Sieve.