Author: optimal

Developing our Fish Feeds – Part 1

Introduction

Optimal Fish Food endeavors to provide transparent dialogue, innovative solutions, and performance-based fish feeds that promote fish health and longevity. Throughout our journey, we cannot express our gratitude to all of you who have supported us, continue to support us, and provide us with great feedback, comments, information and observations.

We receive a lot of questions every day, and we are delighted to share what we can. In an effort to address some of those questions more openly, we are going to start a series to share how we go about developing our fish feeds.

We are continuously updating our feed formulations based upon the very latest of research—both internal and external—so our feeds are always at the forefront of discovery. We feel that if our feeds are not changing, then they are stagnant, and therefore they are not advancing the latest in nutritional advancements. However, we do not “experiment” on our customers and their fish. Instead, we work internally to test our feeds and then release them to you AFTER we are confident that they will provide good results. In contrast to other feed manufacturers that may want their feeds to “never change”, our feeds will continue to evolve so as to incorporate the very latest proven advances in nutritional know-how and expertise. This is our commitment to our customers.

Starting today, we will begin a series of posts in which we will dive into some of the behind-the-scene details of how Optimal Fish Food is made. We will talk about things we are doing differently and discuss the many moving components required to produce fish feed ranging from ingredient selection, to extrusion technology, to feeding trials.

Join us as we dive into some deeper aspects of how Optimal Fish Food is reinventing fish food and why we stand so confidently behind our product.

What’s left to learn?

The short answer:  A LOT.

There are many components that go into creating fish food.  In very broad strokes making feeds requires understanding the true nutritional requirements of various fish, selecting feed ingredients, formulating them into diets, and manufacturing the pellets. Each of those broad categories carries a multitude of decisions and complexities.  Throughout this series we will touch on a number of them, but a good place to start is a quick history lesson.

From their origins before the 1950’s when fish were usually fed raw protein like horsemeat, aquaculture feeds have progressed immensely over the past 50 years.   However, even at the present time, the compositions of feeds for different fish in various countries varies widely.  A strong focus on improvements in feeds for carnivorous fish like salmon and trout initially relied on very high inclusions level of fish meal—fish eat fish.   However, beginning in the 1990’s there was increased focus on environmental sustainability, as well as the increased knowledge of actual requirements of specific nutrients (ie amino acids, fatty acids etc) that were accumulated via intensive governmental funding by aquaculture-focused countries (like Norway) as well as the US to support aquaculture programs at academic institutions to develop better formulated fish feeds.  Such efforts have been enlarged and augmented by private companies based on a combination of commercial aquaculture experience and laboratory studies.  In fact, there has been more knowledge discovered and tested about fish nutrition, gut biology and feed manufacturing techniques in the last five years than there have in the previous twenty.  The pace of understanding and potential improvements in fish nutrition and feed developments is accelerating not slowing and certainly not stopped due to the fact that we know most of what there is to learn about these areas.

Our industry has now progressed to the point that aquafeeds are specifically formulated for particular species of fish, optimizing not only protein and fat levels, but also, specific amino acid requirements, specific fatty acid requirements, and specific levels of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for optimal growth and health of a wide variety of cultured fish species.  Unfortunately, the “depth and breadth” of that knowledge differs depending on the market demand for specific fish species.

Many traditional fish food formulators employ a practice called “low-cost formulating” which is pretty much what it claims.  Since many ingredients that go into fish feeds are commodities, their prices can be fairly dynamic.  In order to ensure a set margin, companies are encouraged to change the ingredients to minimize the costs.  Although the diet may stay a fixed percent protein, the ingredients mixed together to achieve it can be vastly different.  We will expand upon this in our next post!

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4th of July Special

4th of July Special: 4 Bags of Optimal Bluegill Pond Food for only $185

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Five Benefits of Feeding Fish with Automatic Fish Feeders

by: SOLitude Lake Management

Written by Industry Expert, Aaron Cushing, Fisheries and Wildlife Biologist and Environmental Scientist

Regularly feeding the fish in your lake or pond with an automatic feeder can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Many waterbodies are lacking a natural food source or don’t produce enough natural food to support the desired predator population. And while not all species eat fish food, every fish in your lake or pond will benefit from the additional food source. Here are five reasons to consider adding fish feeders to your lake or pond this year:

5. Fish feeders are flexible, dependable and come in multiple sizes to meet the exact needs of your aquatic ecosystem.
They are solar powered and operate on timers so they can easily be placed in almost any location on your property. Feeders can be installed on the shore, on a dock or on a float. Quality feeders require minimal maintenance and can last a lifetime.

4. Feeders create a great fishing location to take children and families anxious to catch fish.
Preset timers allow for a reliable and predictable feeding schedule, and this predictable food source causes fish to congregate. Feeders allow you to observe your fish feeding every time while creating a reliable fishing hole, making them great additions to either your private waterbody or community shoreline.

3. A wide variety of species eat fish food.
Forage species, such as Fathead Minnows, Golden Shiners, Gizzard Shad and Bluegill, as well as ornamental fish such as Goldfish and Koi, all readily take to fish feed. Predators such as Channel Catfish and Trout naturally consume pelleted feed, while others such as Largemouth Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass can be trained to eat feed.

2. Fish feed is a great way to support the base of the food chain and to help maintain a healthy fish community.
In most lakes and ponds, beneficial plankton is lacking, limiting the food available for the waterbody’s small forage fish. When there are not enough small fish to feed on, the big fish go hungry. When the forage base is healthy, the fish population is better balanced and this helps improve the entire aquatic ecosystem.

1. Pellet fish feed is the most cost-effective fisheries management approach to growing fish.
Given the efficient conversion rate, fish feed is a less expensive option when looking to support your lake or pond’s forage base or feed-trained predators. Approximately two pounds of quality fish feed will convert into one pound of fish growth (with an even better FCR with Optimal Fish Food), whereas ten pounds of stocked fish will convert to one pound of fish growth. This provides an opportunity for rapid fish growth, allowing predators to put on several pounds of weight in one growing season.

Fish feeders ultimately help balance the lake or pond’s predator-to-prey ratio. When the lake or pond’s fish population is balanced, the entire ecosystem will benefit from the productivity.

Fish Feeders

Last Chance to Enter!

Submit your BEST big freshwater fish photos and win big prizes

This is SOLitude Lake Management’s final call to all anglers! They will be choosing our Big Fish Photo Contest finalists next week, so now is the time to send us your photos.

The grand prize winner will receive their choice of an MB Ranch King Fish Feeder with a Customized Bag of Optimal Fish Feed or a comprehensive Electrofishing Survey of their lake or pond, including a ride-along with an experienced SOLitude Fisheries Biologist.

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