Today I am going to tell you how to prepare a cucumber for your fish, snails, and shrimp. Actually, you can do it with other vegetables as well. So, if you want to give your aquarium inhabitants something a little bit more natural in their diet, especially your snails and shrimp, things like zucchini, cucumber, lima beans, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, and etc. I will tell how to do it. It is an excellent choice to feed your bottom-dwellers particularly those that are more of the grazing algae eating type. It is easy, it is quick and it is cheap.
Also at the end of this article, I will give you a table of nutrition value per 100 g. for some products. You will see how rich they are with protein, vitamins, minerals etc. Overall, it is a great way to diversify the diet of your pets.
Cleaning and Peeling
Without further ado let’s start it.
So we have a cucumber or zucchini. First thing, what we need to do is to clean it under tap water to remove dirt and potential contaminants on it. Next, we will peel it.
There are many articles on the internet and videos on YouTube where people usually do not peel vegetables. In my opinion, this is a mistake. An aquarium is a fragile eco-system and there is no need to put it under more risks. Unfortunately, we will never know what chemicals have been added or put onto the peel, either when it was grown or when it is being preserved for the stores.
Like for instance, there were situations when people bought zucchinis from the grocery store and put them into their tanks without peeling. As a result, they had massive die-offs right after that. This is probably because zucchinis were treated with pesticides.
Again there is nothing wrong to put it without peeling first if you know it has been grown without pesticides and it is perfectly safe. Nevertheless, it is easier to take the peel off and do not worry about what is actually on the peel and whether it is safe or not. Safety comes first. In addition, the peel is the last what snails, fish and shrimp will eat. Sometimes they even do not eat that at all anyway.
Remove the seeds (whenever it is possible). It is not that they will cause any problems. It is just because nobody eats them and they can make a bit of a mess in your aquarium.
Once we have done cleaning and peeling, then we will cut it in pieces. Well to be honest, it really does not matter much what type of chunks or slices you do. I prefer medium slices (0,5 cm or 0,02 inch) some people do thick ones. You can do whatever you want for whatever you are deciding to feed.
Prepare some boiling water. Actually, you can put it to boil while you are cleaning and cutting vegetables, just to save some time.
Once the water is boiling then we are going to add the pieces of cucumber into it and blanch them. Blanching means that we will soften them up. As a result, it will be easier for the fish, shrimp or snail to eat them. It will also make them sink to the bottom so they do not float on the surface of the tank.
Important: all vegetables will leech nutrients while they are in the boiling water. Our goal is to prevent it and save these nutrients for our pets. That is why you need to keep the pieces of cucumber in water as little as possible and no more.
Blanching process usually takes 1 or 3 minutes. When you notice that, the pieces of cucumber start changing the color. It is a sign that they have softened and ready.
While you are cooking, take out a bowl and fill it with cold water. If it is possible, put some ice cubes there.
This principle can be applied to a range of vegetables and fruits. However, you have to be cautious of fruits because they have a lot more sugar and it can cloud your water.
An alternative variant of blanching. Fast one.
If you do not have time to mess with boiling water, use a microwave. 15 or 30 seconds will be enough to break down the cucumber that it can be easy to eat.
Prepare an ice bath (a bowl of cold water with ice). If you don’t have ice it is not a big problem. Just make the water cold. Therefore, when the pieces of cucumber are finished blanching we are going to put them into cold water. Once they are in the cold water they will start sinking to the bottom of your bowl. That will immediately stop the cooking process. After that you let them sit there for about a minute or two, let them cool down completely.
Alright, you have blanched the cucumber. Now you can take the pieces out.
Hint: you need to keep the vegetables in the cold water until they are completely cool. If you take them out before that:
1. They will continue to cook from inside and become very mushy.
2. They will float in the tank and you will have to anchor them down with something else.
3. If your vegetables are still floating you can use a fork or a little clip to sink them.
Freezing and Keeping (optional)
It is not practical to prepare only one portion. That is why people usually cook a few ones, which they can use for two, three or more weeks in a row.
You can save it by freezing it. Then you do not have to do anything other than pulling it out and drop it in the aquarium. Generally, if it is frozen, it will sink right away and as it defrosts, the fish or shrimp just eat it up.
Some people do not like the idea of adding frozen pieces into aquariums. Especially when they are quite big. That is why they place them in a small bowl first. Then they fill it with tank water and let it thaw for 3-5 minutes.
1. Use a sealed container for keeping.
2. Before putting them into a container, let the water to drop out. If you let the water get into the container and you freeze it, the pieces will stick together and you will have to chip them later.
How many should you put into the tank? Well actually, there are no rules here. It is just a common sense because it can depend on many factors like:
– Number of fish, snails, and shrimps in the aquarium,
– How hungry they are,
– What else you are giving them etc.
– One or two times a week is going to be more than enough.
– Do not put too many pieces there at once. Do not overfeed them.
– It is advisable to remove any uneaten portions after 24 hours. Otherwise, you can foul the water in the tank.
1. Do not drop it in when it is hot. Because it can cause a temperature change. Let it cool off for a few minutes.
2. Some blanching recipes say to add salt. I do not add salt for a freshwater tank. Salt breaks down the vegetables over time and it makes them mushy. This is very inconvenient. However, this is not even the main problem. By adding salt, you are risking to change your water parameters. This is a very bad idea.
|Nutrition value per 100 g.|
|Energy||41 Kcal||23 Kcal||15 Kcal||17 Kcal|
|Carbohydrates||9.58 g||3.63 g||3.63 g||3.11 g|
|Protein||0.93 g||2.86 g||0.65 g||1.21 g|
|Total Fat||0.24 g||0.39 g||0.11 g||0.32 g|
|Dietary Fiber||2.8 g||2.2 g||0.5 g||1 g|
|Folates||19 µg||194 µg||7 µg||24 µg|
|Niacin||0.983 mg||0.724 mg||0.098 mg||0.451 mg|
|Pantothenic acid||0.273 mg||0.065 mg||0.259 mg||0.204 mg|
|Pyridoxine||0.138 mg||0.195 mg||0.040 mg||0.163 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.058 mg||0.189 mg||0.033 mg||0.094 mg|
|Thiamin||0.066 mg||0.078 mg||0.027 mg||0.045 mg|
|Vitamin A||16706 IU||9377 IU||105 IU||200 IU|
|Vitamin C||5.9 mg||28.1 mg||2.8 mg||17.9 mg|
|Vitamin E||0,6 µg||2.03 mg||0.03 mg||0.12 mg|
|Vitamin K||13.2 µg||482.9 µg||16.4 µg||4.3 µg|
|Sodium||69 mg||79 mg||2 mg||8 mg|
|Potassium||320 mg||558 mg||147 mg||261 mg|
|Calcium||33 mg||99 mg||16 mg||16 mg|
|Copper||0.045 mg||0.130 mg||0.28 mg||0.37 mg|
|Iron||0.30 mg||2.71 mg||13 mg||18 mg|
|Magnesium||12 mg||79 mg||0.079 mg||0.177 mg|
|Manganese||0.143 mg||0.897 mg||24 mg||38 mg|
|I highly recommend to read my article “How to Supplement Shrimp and Snails with Calcium”.|