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Rainbow Sharks will eat anything: live food, frozen food, algae, even detritus, smaller fish, vegetables, and of course wafers, pellets, and flakes. As a fish keeper, you would want the best for your pet to keep it healthy.
Tropical flakes are good sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals for fish. However, flakes lose their nutrients as they sink to the bottom. Since Rainbow Sharks are bottom-dwellers, they lose out on a lot of needed nutrients if all they’re fed are tropical flakes.
Plus, other fish might eat the flakes before they get to your Rainbow Shark.
Can Rainbow Sharks Eat Tropical Flakes?
So yes, tropical flakes are okay for Rainbow Sharks to eat. But it shouldn’t be the only food it’s eating. So as much as possible, offer your fish a variety of proteins and plant matter.
Tropical flakes usually contain protein, fat, Vitamins A to E, and some minerals. Some brands are easier to digest than others, and some are meant to float longer. They’re the most popular type of fish food sold in the market as they claim to be nutritionally balanced. A fact that some hobbyists take to heart as it’s the only food they feed their fish.
Here at Explore Fish World, we advocate for fish health. That means not sticking to just one type of food. While tropical flakes are nutritious, there are lots of other kinds of food available that are also good for your fish.
Sometimes, though, it’s getting the Shark to eat them that’s the issue.
The Rainbow Shark’s Eating Habits
Most Rainbow Sharks don’t eat quickly. They like to nibble instead. Sometimes, they may be shy especially if they’re new and still adjusting to the aquarium.
The Rainbow Shark’s eating habits are influenced by its loner personality. While your other tropical fish might be gathering in anticipation long before you put the first bit of food in, your Shark might prefer to hide in its cave or tunnel instead. Or it may chase all other fish away so it can catch more food for itself.
But if your Shark doesn’t go crazy over food as your other fish do during feeding time, it’s no reason to worry unless all the food has been taken up by its tankmates. This can be a concern if all you’re feeding it is tropical flakes. It might be better to give it sinking pellets and algae wafers (the quick sinking variety) instead as these are specially designed to reach the shy bottom dweller.
Moreover, some Sharks like to feed at night instead. If it’s the same for your fish, you can leave food in the evening but make sure to clean up leftovers in the morning.
The truth is, Rainbow Sharks can survive on almost anything. There have been some fishkeepers who reported their Sharks missing and then finding out later that the fish buried themselves under the substrate surviving on leftovers, detritus, and algae. The only time they were discovered was when the tank had to be thoroughly cleaned.
And after all of this hiding and scrounging, their Rainbow Sharks were all reportedly still very healthy.
If you don’t see your Rainbow Shark eating, don’t panic. As long as he’s not getting skinny or weak over time, he’s fine. If you put in too much food only for it to go uneaten, this will pollute your tank quickly, and all your fish will suffer from it.
But if your Shark is not looking very healthy, make sure you offer it different options on the menu.
How Do I Feed My Rainbow Shark?
The best way to feed your Rainbow Shark would be to give it food once a day. If he likes flakes, alternate these with other kinds of food for variety. Offer vegetables, too, like a blanched pea, spinach, or a piece of fresh or boiled zucchini.
Remove uneaten food from the tank to avoid ammonia and nitrite spikes and clean your tank regularly. Uneaten vegetables can be removed after 5 or 6 hours.
Shell the pea and remove the seeds in vegetables before serving.
Each Shark is different. Some become obsessed with sinking pellets, while others wouldn’t even touch them. You may find your fish liking a certain kind of food (tropical flakes included). Most of the time, it will stick to its favorite.
If you’re having problems with your Shark’s health, try lacing healthy food with garlic juice. Or you can try a pre-prepared food that contains garlic. One of these is New Life Spectrum Naturox Optimum, a type of garlic-enriched fish food that your aquarium friends, such as your Rainbow Shark will surely love.
How Do I Keep My Rainbow Shark Healthy?
Variety is key to any fish’s diet. While tropical flakes are convenient, not messy, not smelly, and healthy, there are benefits to other types of food, too
Offer your Rainbow Shark different kinds of food to supplement its omnivorous diet.
Tip #1: When you give them vegetables (such as zucchini or cucumber), slice up some pockets and stuff some of their favorite food in between. Then anchor it down with a stainless steel fork, a bamboo skewer, or a stainless clip attached to a suction cup.
This method has a double purpose: to make the Shark eat different kinds of food and to sink healthy food quickly.
Tip #2: Try sinking pellets instead. These are more accessible to your Rainbow Shark and will retain their nutrients longer than flakes would. Tubifex worms and brine shrimp also sink quickly.
Tip #3: Crustaceans enhance the coloration of your Rainbow Shark. This is one of the benefits of variety and live food. The fresher the food is, the healthier your fish will be. Bright colors are a sign that your Shark is healthy and happy.
If you can’t find fresh shrimp you can use freeze-dried shrimp. When using this, put a few pieces on a cup of tank water and soak them for a couple of minutes. This will help them sink faster and make it easier for your Rainbow Sharks to eat.
Be careful not to forget the soaking shrimp though, as it they will stink horribly if left for more than a day.
Tip #4: Hand-feed your Rainbow Shark if it looks like its health is dwindling. If you think the food isn’t reaching them, stick your clean hand in there with a piece of pellet or tubifex worm and let it peck on it until it’s satisfied. Protein-rich food should help it gain weight quickly. You can soak it in garlic juice to make it more appetizing.
Make sure the environment is calm and peaceful and your hand isn’t twitching or making sudden movements when you hand feed. You can pinch the food if it’s large enough or place it on your curled fingers. Handfeeding makes it easier to remove leftovers once the Shark is satisfied and has lost interest.
Unless it was sick, the Rainbow Shark will eat whatever it wants whenever it wants. Although it may love tropical flakes, you should try feeding it with a variety of nutritious food with consideration to its omnivorous nature.
Otherwise, there’s nothing to worry about. The Shark’s coloration and active behavior will always be its best health indicator.