Ostrich Fillet for Discus

Discussion in 'Discus' started by Peter, Oct 2, 2006.

  1. Dirk B
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    Dirk B Aquascaper

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    Hi Everyone,

    Although I do not have very much time to write too many emails nor to browse the site, Andre's notification of new members to the APSA site prompted me to look up what was going on in the discus list. As a result I got to this discussion about the ostrich fillet debate.

    As a professor of biochemistry, I guess I have an unfair advantage over the average aquarist with regard to understanding water chemistry, plant feeding mixtures, fish diseases and very importantly fish nutrition. As a result, I notice many contraditions that are not obvious to the average aquarist. I have also followed the German discus literature very intensively over many years and visited many German aquarists over the past 15 years. It needs to be mentioned that a very high proportion of the diet of discus in nature consists of freshwater shrimps, which are high in proteins and apparently some plant components as well. As a result of all of this, I wish to make some comments about the mixture that has been proposed here.

    In making these mixtures, there should be two primary motivations and these are: "correct and balanced formulation, specifically for feeding discus" and cost.

    If I am to mention the second factor first, I would like to know what the production of this mixture did cost, and by that I mean a cost calculated per kg. I think that you might find that the cost of this mixture would far exceed the cost of good suchi in a fancy restaurant. How does this compare to a balanced formulation that can be bought from a reputable dealer?

    The first factor, i.e. that you feed discus a correct and balanced formulation, is also very critical. First of all you need to realize that fresh meat, be it ostrich steak or beef heart contains a high percentage of water, so be careful with regard to statements about protein percentage. Beef heart, as you buy it, contain lots of sinues and fat, which all need to be trimmed off before you can include it in a discus mix. Once you have done this though, it protein percentage will differ very little from the ostrich fillet, so the argument that ostrich fillet is so much better is not the case. However, if you buy beef heart, and cut of all the sinues and fat, you will also see that the actual amount of pure muscle that you have left is only a smaller fraction of what you bought and the cost would be much the same as the ostrich fillet.

    Proteins are made up of what are called amino acids. Every protein's relative amounts of amino acids is different. For optimal growth, certain amino acids are more important than others, and also some cannot be made by the fish or human or aminal and are therefore referred to as essential amino acids. Now to dissappoint you, the amino acid content of any muscle, be it beef heart or ostrich fillet, is far from the what is required in a balanced protein formulation and needs to be augmented with a whole lot of other things for discus feeding. The shrimp meat supplies some to these amino acids, which are the group of sulphur containing amino acids, but these can be oxidised away very rapidly by exposure to oxygen, in other words exposure to air. Spirulina algae powder also contains some other amino acids which also help the mixture to be more balanced. Some of the components can be damaged by light, but it would have to be pretty intensive such as sunlight before it would do real damage. However, all of these components that have been added together have not been checked by a nutritionist to really see if they are balanced and as a result, feeding mixtures such as these are largely unscientific.

    More more importantly, however, is that this mixture is totally deficient of added vitamins. It has now been proven conclusively that the natural immunity of discus to one of their most common parasites, flagellate organisms, is dependent on sufficient vitamin C in the diet (contrary to what you might think, all discus, unless specifically made flagellate free, carry this parasite in their systems). This is currently lacking in the mixture, it needs some natural plant components and/or some added vitamin C, otherwise this mixture is actually bad for your fish. Frozen spinach would help to get it balanced, but would have a bad effect in the binding. Vitamin tablets could be added instead.

    Gelatine will only cause the food to gel, if it is dissolved using heat and that the resulting solution is poured over the mix and mixed in well, then it will set, not if the powder only is added.

    The addition of Tetra bits, I do not understand, as it can really add nothing more to make the formulation balanced, so this can just as well be skipped and you can feed it directly to your fish.

    On the addition of asthaxanthin and cathaxanthin as colourants: Feeding it in beefheart mixtures tends to be very expensive and wasteful as a lot of it goes into the water and not into the fish. These are natural plant products and if added they will enhance the colour of the fish. However, it is not a case of the more you add the better, as only a limited amount can be absorbed by the fish. One needs to feed a small amount constantly with your feed. If you find a decent discus granulate, it should contain the correct amount of these components and this is the best way to feed it to the fish.

    Additionally, one should not feed these mixtures exclusively. Dried foods are the most compact ways of getting nutrients into the fish because they simply do not contain the amount of water that frozen mixtures contain, so every discus ration should contain at least one third high quality granulate or flakes.

    Finally, feeding other foods such as frozen brine shrimps, mysis of fine krill is also very important and a small amount (not more than two feedings per week) of high quality bloodworm, or white mosquito larvae or black mosquito larvae is necessary because these worms have carapaces that are very important as sources of roughage. Contrary to what is often thought, these worms do not have a high nutritive value because of their high water and carapace content.

    I have written articles before on discus feeding and if anyone may want a copy, I now have this information put together as a word document which I could supply to interested parties.

    Enough for one evening....

    Kind regards,

    Dirk Bellstedt
     
  2. Cameron
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    Cameron Green fingers

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    Thanks Professor Dirk

    That's quite informative stuff, I'm sure all the Discus fanatics will love it. In fact I might try the recipe for myself it sounds so tasty :) :)

    By the way, if possible I'd like to add your article in the articles section once it's up and running, do you mind sending it to me please?

    Cheers for now.
    Cameton
     
  3. Peter
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    Peter Algae harvester

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    Hi Prof

    Thanks for this great info, since our last correspondence (a while back on the list) on the dietary issues on discus you corrected me on not having a proper balance diet for which I thank you for, (this is how I learn) and since then have had the best growth rate following your guide lines, bar the recent gulping of frozen mix incident. But from what you have said, I need to learn more.

    What I have since done is quest for more information on offering a good diet, trying to acquire a home mix, meeting the criteria’s needed and agree if the mix is fed as the only food source is bad. The percentages of protein I quoted was advertised on the packaging of the ostrich fillet.
    I try to learn from others before me, to trust and rely on their experience to assist and better myself in my care for discus. This is what’s great about Forums and your Aquatic List.

    I have left out the vitamins, which I add to my mix as well as Ascorbic Acid, as there are so many vitamin variations on the net, which does lead to confusion on what to use and how much of it and felt I could not include this in my post. Having said that, hoping others would see the importance of adding vitamins to their feed could open to discussions, so collectively a good result can be achieved.

    What I have found, that discus are not able to properly digest vegetable matter, such as spinach and peas (scientifically proven)
    http://forum.discusnews.com/discus-sion ... php?t=6707
    and as I understand it, discus are not able to fully utilize this food source and benefit little from it with normal feeding. The adding of vitamins and the usage of Spirulina is important to compensate, but in the same breath I need to learn how much vitamins the discus can absorb to benefit. From what I have read and corresponding with other breeders, on the usage of asthaxanthin, it is preferred, not only for it colour enhancing properties but also mainly to increases the immunity and fertility of the discus. However it used in the colour grooming of discus for competitions, this over usage and the inability of the discus to absorb this, as I understand it causes diarrhea.

    Prof, what I’m truly looking for at the end of the day, knowing that what I’m doing is correct and on the right path in the care of my discus. With respect, I enjoy been corrected on all topics and would love to be corrected as often as possible, this is how I learn and improve what I am doing in hobby, if you could post some articles on this, it would be great.

    lol......this is not an invitation for some to "bust my chops"
     
  4. Dirk B
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    Dirk B Aquascaper

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    Hi Peter,

    My apologies if I may have sounded a very critical, but I have heard so many discus stories over the years, that I get very fed up about this endless amount of inaccurate information and I have tried to contribute to correct information and not this hear say stuff. I am sure that you will also have scratched your head about all the apparent wisdom that is on all the websites and mailing lists. One contradictory story after the next....

    I am glad to hear that you are adding vitamins and in particular vitamin C to your mix, that is very important.

    My main point with regard to the vegetable matter was as a vitamin C source and not of vegetable matter as a protein source. Finely ground and perhaps even parboiled spinach would certainly contain vitamin C which can be absorbed well and some roughage in addition. I fully agree with the article that you refer to with regard to the digestibility of vegetable protein. I would not think that soyabeans would be a good protein source as soya protein is even a problem for humans to digest. As far as protein is concerned meat or shrimp would be a much better source, I agree.

    In principle, I think that ostrich steak is a good substitute, if not better than beefheart. Why I say this is because of a lower fat percentage and because you get away from the chance of hormone contamination in beefheart.

    One thing I forgot to comment about was the garlic, which I agree is very beneficial, but I would prepare it fresh and without the oil. Carnivorous diets in the wild would never contain such amounts of oils or fats and I would be very careful to include them in the diet. However, the advantage of the garlic would be to naturally limit or restrict the multiplication of parasitic worms in the gut. Onoins would also help in a similar way in the diet and allium extracts are for this reason also added to good granulates.

    I am fully aware of the colourant properties of Astaxanthin but as far as claiming that it is a also increases immunity and fertility, I think that the facts are definitely being stretched again. As I know the structure of astaxanthin and cathaxanthin, I just cannot see from my biochemical background how these can be of these can benefit immunity and fertility.

    I will send my article that was published in SA Fishkeeping many years ago to Cameron who can put it into the articles section and I hope this will help in the feeding of your fish.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     

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