How to Blanch Сucumbers and Zucchini for Shrimp, Snails and Fish the Right Way.

How to Blanch Сucumbers and Zucchini for Shrimp, Snails and Fish the Right Way.

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.

Cooling down

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.

Proper usage

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.

In general:
– 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.
  Carrots Spinach Cucumber Zucchini
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”.

29 thoughts on “How to Blanch Сucumbers and Zucchini for Shrimp, Snails and Fish the Right Way.

  1. Will the Copper content of any of these veggies cause any problems to Neocaridina shrimps .

    1. Hi Chaz,

      Absolutely not!
      First of all, the concentratin of copper is too small.
      Second, actually, shrimp need some copper for their blood circulation! Read my article about it “How Copper Affects Dwarf Shrimp“.

      Best regards,

  2. what are the best fruits to feed my neocardina shrimp

    1. Hi joshua,

      Personally, I would not recommend to give shrimp any fruits. In general, they contain lots of sugar and bacteria love sugar! It can cause a bacterial bloom, faul your water very fast and change water parameters, if you are not careful.
      Give them veggies. It is safer and they love them.

      Best regards,

    2. Sugar in fruits does cloud water, but if you’d like to try, fresh slice of banana will make a hit, less concern of pesticides too, leave it in 2-5 hours tops 🙂

    1. Hi May,
      Yes, it is also an option.
      Best regards,

  3. Hi i was wondering if after you blanch the veggies, add a few different ones to a blender, and add calcium and then freeze. would it still hold together once i put it in the tank or would it be flying all over the tank? I know you could probably add the unflavored jello to make it a small block but i was thinking this instead of baby food would be nice. I have a 20 gal mystery snail and shrimp tank as well as a 55 gal tetra tank with a couple of rubber nosed pleckos and 4 mollies. would the veggies be good the the big tank too? also i read your information on calcium i was wondering how much eggshell powder for the 20 gal tank would i put in the first time and then weekly with 20 percent water changes? any thoughts?
    thanks for any info in advance

    1. Hi Joanne,
      Personally, I have never tried to combine blanched veggies with anything else.
      Regarding the dosage for a 20-gallon tank.
      It is not a science. There are no equations because everything depends on the setup. Therefore, the optimal dose is always determined empirically.
      Check out your snails – do they have problems with their shells? Do they eat a lot of cuttlebones, tums, etc.? Does it affect their feeding behavior?
      Do not add too much, or, in some cases, it can even change water parameters.
      Start with a pitch of egg powder or one wonder shell / cuttlebones.
      Best regards,

  4. I personally peel, halve lengthwise and de-seed cucumbers and zucchini and cut into about 2″ pieces. I run a brass screw through middle of each piece and toss them in freezer, no blanching. Freezing will soften enough. Pull a piece out of freezer and it sinks right to bottom with screw and thaws in minutes in water, not that fish care because they are on it right away. I have 3 3″ clown loaches, 3 small angels, 2 small plecos, 4 mollies, 3 swords, 2 dwarf gouramis and one mystery snail in 55gal and the zucchini is gone within 24 hours with no mess. I give them a piece about twice a week this way. The blanching and cutting into small pieces is just a lot of extra unneeded work

      Thank you for sharing your experience but I would still recommend blanching. It is safer and makes the veggies tastier.
      Best regards,

  5. I recently bought two golden Inca snails, and a mystery snail but I’ve only been feeding them algae wafers , I’m not sure what else I should feed them any ideas veggie, and fruit wise.

    1. Hi enrique,
      They will eat anything you give them, it can be fish or shrimp food.
      Also, I’d advise reading my article about calcium for snails.
      Best regards,

  6. How do you check the hardness/softness of the aquarium? I have a 70 gal aquarium with a mopani log and added 3 mystery snails about 2 weeks ago… everything was “normal” then I added a Time tablet and all 3 shot to the top of the tank. They have been very active now for the past day, since it has been in there. No apparent interest in it though. One that shot to the top of the tank, I had become worried about, hence why the Tums, he/she had become rather lethargic…now seems to have grown and seems more active. So not certain what is happening. When I got them at the store, they were rather small, now have almost doubled size…and as I sit here, I can see the one golden is cruising up the tank from lower down. The other two seem pretty tucked in up top. …am fixing to add their first meal of blanched veggies. Had plenty of algae wafer and natural algae in the tank before. …what do you think about growing algae on rocks and adding those for meals? (Came across that idea on another forum.) Thank you!

    1. Hi Kendra W,
      I check GH and KH.
      What do you mean by Time tablets? Maybe Tums?
      Tum tablets dissolve VERY fast. As a result, they can affect your water parameters. Therefore, I always recommend starting from small dosages.
      Best regards,

  7. Hi,
    I was wondering how many pieces do I cut up for 6 fishes and 1 (nerite) snail?

    1. Hi Ciera,
      There are no strict rules, the optimal size is usually determined empirically.
      For example, you can start with one piece. If you see that they finished it in 24 hours, you can give them more next time.
      Best regards,

  8. This is exactly what I needed to know. Thanks much from a breeder of inverts.

    1. Hi Liz Streithorst,
      You are welcome 🙂
      Best regards,

    1. Hi Donna Johnson,
      We can use tums for shrimp tanks to provide them with necessary elements (like calcium).
      It is just one of the options.
      Best regards,

      1. So I can put a regular Tums tablet in my aquarium?

        1. Hi Tracy L Clemons,
          In most cases, yes.
          Just make sure that there is no copper in the ingredients.
          Best regards,

  9. Hi Michael,
    My family regularly eats brocolli from microwave steamer bags. Would this steamed broccoli without any other preparation be okay to feed to my 3 otocinclus, if I just set aside a small piece before any salt or seasoning is added?


    1. Hi Jay,
      You can try it but I am like 90% sure that they won’t take it right away.
      But who knows, maybe in your case there will be an exception.
      Just don’t give up. Keep doing it by adding small pieces to train your otos.
      Best regards,

  10. Thank you for this article, veggies are a perfect for my tank with Endlers, Red Rili Shrimp, and Snails all just breeding away.
    Just put on the water to prep some cucumber.

    1. Hi Shawn Watkins,
      I am glad you liked it 🙂
      Unfortunately lots of people think that they need to give their pets only commercial foods and completely forget about natural ones.
      Best regards,

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