DIY Reef Chili: Make your own saltwater fish food! How to make frozen fish and coral foods. | BRStv
If you have been following along with the BRS360 video series, you might recall from Episode #3 that Reef Chili was originally a frozen fish and coral food Ryan made at home and was one of the very firsts products to springboard Bulk Reef Supply into what you see today.
After years of requests and significant demand for bringing back the frozen version of Reef Chili, we decided to create a full product line of dry fish and coral foods that would give all of you the tools needed to make your own fish food and coral food mixes at home.
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First, check out the new BRS Foods on our website, in addition to the original dry Reef Chili we now have a variety of different single ingredient dry foods that can be mixed together or used individually to feed both your fish and corals.
You can then use the BRS foods and mix your own frozen food at home to save some money and give your wet pets the best nutrition possible.
Why make your own fish and coral food?
You can create a superior nutrient-dense food that is perfectly tailored to suit the needs of your entire tank which means one food formula to feed everything in the tank; fish, corals and invertebrates. Depending on the cost of the frozen ingredients locally and the exact recipe you need, there is typically a cost savings when it is all said and done, not to mention the convenience of using a single food.
The benefits of superior pet food, in general, is something most vets and pet owners will agree is crucial to a long and healthy life in captivity and this definitely applies to your fish and corals. Nutritious and high quality foods will increase vitality, improve coloration, build immunities to fend off disease, and likely keep your fish alive much longer!
Additionally, different fish have varying nutritional needs and the facts are many of the prepared fish foods available are nutritionally narrow. In order to accommodate these varying nutritional needs, responsible hobbyists will offer a wide variety of foods.
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Whether that is a mix of individual frozen foods, flakes and pellets or one of the high-end prepared frozen foods such as Rod’s Food or Hikari Reef Riot Carnivore, it is the variety of ingredients that ensures the tank’s inhabitants are getting what they need.
The right tools for the job
You will need some tools in order to easily make any of these recipes. It is best to buy the tools and keep them specifically for making fish food. The knives will take a beating and both the cutting board and blender or food processor will carry that fishy smell with it. Trust us, you will not want to use these tools on your own food thereafter.
- Food Processor w/ cheese grater blade
- Cutting board
- Large mixing spoons
- Disposable pans or containers for mixing
- Quality plastic/freezer bags with thick walls or vacuum sealer with bags
Download a .PDF version of the Reef Chili Recipe.
Before beginning, take note of these helpful tips to make the process go smoothly. Work fast, keep all tools as cold as possible and keep ingredients frozen. In order to save time, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl first, then mix the liquids in a separate bowl. This way you can quickly add them to the frozen mix all at once without having to take the time to measure each one.
We are technically making 5 different foods that build on each other and work in progression so you can choose the right formula that is perfect for your tank. After getting the tools together, choose a recipe that works for you and go shopping for the ingredients.
The amounts here will make a total of 4 pounds of frozen food which was designed to make the best use of the liquid ingredients so you won’t have leftovers. You can adjust the amounts just do your best to keep the proportions.
Primary Proteins Mix (Fish Only) - This is the base of all the different recipes and starts with a few ingredients from your local grocery store, two freeze dried ingredients from the BRS line of foods and some high quality pellets to fill in with vitamins.
- Frozen Shrimp 1.5lb
- Frozen Tuna 1.5lb
- Frozen Squid 1.5lb
- Frozen Scallops 1.5lb
- BRS Freeze Dried Krill Superba 3oz
- BRS Freed Dried Mysis 3oz
- TDO Chroma Boost Medium Pellets 3oz
Herbivore Blend - Many reef fish are herbivores, most notably Tangs or Surgeonfish, various Blennies, Rabbitfish and a variety of others. In order to accommodate these species, simply add some seaweed to the Primary Proteins Mix.
- Two Little Fishies SeaVeggies Mixed Flake 60 grams or similar dried seaweed
- Hikari Seaweed Extreme 1.5oz or similar algae-based pellets
Small Active Fish and LPS Corals - Many small and very active fish have small mouths and small digestive tracts with a high demand for energy. This would include the very popular but notoriously difficult to feed Anthias species. You want to mix in small, nutrient-dense particles to accommodate these high-energy fish. These particles are also suitable for consumption by most LPS corals.
Food Supplements (Mature Reef Tanks) - Adding supplements to the food mix has some excellent benefits for both fish and corals. While certainly not required, it is a great idea for biologically established or mature tanks that can handle the additional nutrients and you want to feed your fish the best possible formula for improved coloration, immunities, and growth.
- Brightwell Aquatics AminOmega 60ml
- American Marine Selcon 60ml
- BRS Paracoccus Powder - 2 capfuls
- BRS Spirulina Powder - 2 capfuls
Coral Food - The last list of ingredients are tailored specifically for corals that need the varying small particle size food suspended in the water column to naturally collect and consume. You don’t need to use everything so feel free to mix and match but each one does have a unique benefit.
- Brightwell Aquatics CoralAmino 250ml
- NYOS Chromys 250 ml
- Aqua Edibles Egg Brew 4oz
- BRS Reef Chili 0.65oz
- ESV Dried Phytoplankton - 2 capfuls
- PolypLab Reef-Roids - 2 capfuls
- BRS Golden Pearls - 2 capfuls
- BRS Copepod Powder - 2 capfuls
- BRS Rotifers - 2 capfuls
Preparation and storage
After getting the tools together and sourcing your ingredients it is time to get started. This makes a great activity for local reef clubs or even with your fishy friends. Make a large batch to share and store away for use throughout the year.
Keep everything frozen! Be sure the seafood is clean and pure. No shells or tails on the shrimp or other shellfish and be sure to check the ingredients list to ensure no additional chemicals are added. Sometimes frozen seafood has water which you can break off or chop away but don’t thaw it. Trying to thaw and refreeze the ingredient will result in a mushy paste instead of the desired chunks.
The quality of seafood can vary drastically and every tank is different so approach this with an open mind, take pride in it and understand it may take some experimenting across the board to create the most ideal formula.
Step #1 - Prepare your mixing trays with a layer of ice inside the bottom tray to keep everything cold as you mix it.
Step #2 - Measure liquid ingredients in a separate bowl
Step #3 - Measure dry ingredients in a separate bowl
Step #4 - Chop frozen ingredients one at a time in a food processor using the grater blade. Blenders or traditional chopper blades tend to create mush instead of chucks. If the frozen chunks are too large, chop using the clever and cutting board before going into the food processor.
Step #5 - Add chopped ingredients into the cold trays and mix with liquid ingredients and finally the dry ingredients you measured out earlier. Mix fast with the plastic spoons by hand and keep it cold!
Step #6 - Package into individual flat freezer bags ½” thick or cube trays if desired. Vacuum sealed bags also work great but not absolutely required. Portion into whatever your tank can consume in one month.
Step #7 - Place into the freezer and keep frozen. Share with friends or sell it locally.
The easiest approach for feeding the frozen food is breaking it into small chunks after it has been frozen into a flat sheet. This way you can defrost and distribute into the tank in appropriate portions. 4 lbs of food will likely be well over a year’s supply of food for most of us but it all depends on your tank(s). Most hobbyists feed 2-3 times daily only what your fish can consume within 2 minutes. Defrosting first and target feeding with a turkey baster or syringe works great and helps reduce waste. Turn off filters and pumps during feeding. The benefits of an improved diet take time, don't expect results overnight, and look for the overall health and vitality of your tank’s inhabitants to improve over the following few months.