Introduction: Gel Fish Food
I was concerned with the bowel movements of one of our new goldfish. I began researching a solution to the problem and in the process I came across recipes for DIY fish food. As it turns out, not only did it fix our fishy's problem but the food is healthier and more affordable than traditional fish food flakes. I am sure that over time I will adjust the ingredients to better refine the nutrition but the core process will basically stay the same.
Step 1: Ingredients
Here is what I used to make my food.
(1) 12oz Package Frozen Peas and Carrots - $1.00
(1) 12oz Package Frozen Broccoli - $1.00
(1/2) 15oz Can Pumpkin - $0.70
(1) 6oz Can Salmon in Water - $1.99
(1) 10mg Acidophilus Tablet - n/c
(1) tsp Garlic Powder - n/c
(3) Tbsp Paprika - n/c
(4) Packets Non-Flavored Gelatin - $0.80
I did not include a cost for the Acidophilus, Garlic and Paprika since I had it on hand and I felt that actually finding prices and calculating the cost on these items was irrelevant. :) So, the total cost for this was $5.49 plus tax and my time.
Note: At any point where I mention adding water, I am adding distilled water. Please make sure the water you use is safe for your fish.
Step 2: Cook Frozen Vegetables
I started off by cooking the Peas and Carrots and Broccoli according to the package instructions. The picture shows how I drained off the excess water before processing. It was my intention to keep close track of how much water was going into the mix. Draining the water is not necessary.
Step 3: Process Salmon
I used a smaller chopper to process the salmon. Again, I drained off the water from the can only to add water back in to get the meat to process down fine enough. So, next time I will just put everything from the can right into the chopper.
Step 4: Measure Pumpkin and Powders
I used exactly half of the 15oz can of pumpkin. FYI, the pumpkin was actually labeled pumpkin pie filling. When you look at the ingredients it lists only pumpkin. Look for this. I next measured out the powdered ingredients. In the image, the large red pile is paprika, the off white smaller pile is garlic powder and the smallest white pile is the acidophilus. I pried apart the gel cap to extract the acidophilus powder from inside. I'm not sure if this is sold in a solid tablet form but if it is you will need to grind this into a powder.
Step 5: Bring It Together and Blend
Once you have everything cooked, processed and measured you are ready to bring it all together. I used a food processor to blend everything. I first blended together the vegetables. Next I added in the salmon and pumpkin. At this point, I added 2 cups of water to help allow the mix to blend down into fine enough particles. Lastly I added the powdered ingredients. I mixed all this together until everything was well blended.
Step 6: Mix the Gelatin
The last thing to prepare is the gelatin. I used 4 packets for this mix. I was very unsure as to how much would be enough or too much. I think I got a very good consistency. Feel free to experiment. You can always reheat your mixture and add more gelatin if your mix does not set.
I started by mixing the gelatin in 1 cup of cold water. I let this sit for about 5 minutes. You can see in the picture that it got pretty chunky. I then microwaved 2 cups of water for about 3 minutes or until it started boiling. I poured in the hot water and mixed until everything appeared broken down. The instructions stated to mix until clear but I don't think this would be possible at this concentration.
Step 7: Sinkers or Floaters
The last step in preparing your food is adding in the gelatin mixture. It is at this point that you need to decide if you want your food to sink to the bottom of the tank or float at the surface. If you want sinking food, mix in the gelatin by hand making sure to avoid mixing in too much air. If you want floating food, mix in the gelatin with your blender or food processor. This will blend in plenty of small air bubbles that will cause your food to float (just like Ivory soap). I blended by hand and my food sinks like a rock!
Step 8: Set It and Forget It
Line a pan with clear wrap. Pour in your soupy food concoction and even it out if necessary. Put it in the fridge until it sets. I left mine to sit for about 6 hours.
Step 9: Unmold, Cut and Freeze
I did not transfer my mix from the pan to the cutting board in the best way possible. What I should have done was to loosen the plastic wrap the best I could from the pan, then cover the pan with my cutting board and then quickly flip everything over so that my mix would fall onto the cutting board. I would do this. Just make sure you mix is set or you are gonna have one nasty funny mess (be sure to video). Once you get your set mix onto your cutting board, begin slicing it into pieces that could be considered meal sized relative to your fish. I placed these cut pieces on baking sheets and put in the freezer. Once solid I stored the frozen pieces in a large coffee container. I remove enough food for a couple days of feeding and store it in a small sealed container in the fridge.