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Mine relish flake food and shrimp pellets. I even caught one munching on a bloodworm yesterday. Little buggers :)
 

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Cavan Allen said:
I've wondered if their natural diet includes meaty foods and if any or just too much could be bad for them (somewhat off topic, I know). In other words, is their digestive system equipped to handle it?
The same question has been posed for Loricariidae time and again. Many "reliable" sources assert that plecos are herbivores that are equipped with a sucker mouth solely for the purpose of scraping algae off of rocks, when in reality many species need the amino acids found in meats to thrive. Also, the design of the digestive tracts and the dentitions of some species suggest that they are thoroughly carnivorous.

I give my fish what they will eat, and I find many of them will accept about anything. My SAEs are as happy with brine shrimp as they are with an algae wafer, and I've never had a problem with too much, per se, of anything.

High temperatures (80-84F) will help fish metabolize and pass shrimp and other rough foods better. A breeder I know consistently commits blasphemy by feeding his "vegetarian" Tropheus brine shrimp...something that supposedly leads to the dreaded "Malawi Bloat". His temperatures are consistenly 86F or higher and his fish grow a bit faster than those of other breeders. Variety is essential.

It's also sort of a tradeoff with SAEs, I think. If you leave them to scrounge for algae day in and day out, they're using up a lot of energy and probably won't grow as fast, which in turn may eventually require them to find easier (if less palatable) sources of food (i.e., plants).

I run into similar problems with small fry in large tanks. If they spend too much time running after the food, they tend to not grow as well.
 
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