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Teach Aquaculture Curriculum: What makes a good fish food?

Craig S. Kasper, Cortney L. Ohs, Brian E. Myers, Frank A. Chapman, Amber L. Garr, R. Leroy Creswell, Carlos V. Martinez, and Elisa J. Livengood

This is Activity 22 in a series of 24 in the Aquaculture Curriculum.The introduction to this series is available at


Today, many people are health conscious. We are more aware of what is in our food now than we were over the past decade. Have you ever wondered what is in the food your companion animals (pets) eat? How about the fish in your fish tank: what is the best food for them to eat? In the class activity, students will examine the water stability of different fish foods and what makes a fish food economical. During this activity your students will learn the answers.

Students will have an opportunity to learn about the composition of fish foods. They will be challenged to explain why the common ingredients in fish food are important and what benefits and problems are associated with feeding fish. By examining several real world examples of animal food from local sources (dog or cat food vs. fish food) students will use their abilities to compare and contrast. Finally, they will use a list of ingredients and formulate a nutritionally complete fish food. Students will formulate an economical diet. This exercise will test students' abilities to think creatively and understand fish food design. The exercise emphasizes the need to be both effective and economical.


Student will be able to:

  1. Summarize the importance of common ingredients in fish food.

  2. Design a fish food.

  3. Measure water stability.

  4. Relate water stability to fish nutrition, fish production, and the environment.

  5. Compare and contrast key ingredients of two feeds.

  6. Describe key ingredients to meet nutrient needs of aquatic animals and terrestrial animals.

Grade Level


Subject Area

Aquaculture, Nutrition


45 minutes + introduction/discussion time

Student Performance Standards (Sunshine State Standards)

03.01 Employ scientific measurement skills (SC.912.E.7.8; SC.912.L.14.4; MA.912.S.3.1, 2; MA.912.S.4.2; MA.912.S.5.1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

06.01 Explain the economic importance of animals and the products obtained from animals (LA.910.1.6.1, 2, 3, 4, 5; SC.912.L.17.11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19; SC.912.L.17.18; SC.912.N.4.2, MA.912.D.4.1).

11.07 Determine why aquatic crops may be more productive than terrestrial crops (LA.910.1.6.1, 2, 3, 4, 5; SC.7.L.10.2, 3; SC.7.L.11.2, SC.912.L.14.7).

11.10 List and describe the major factors in the growth of aquatic fauna and flora (LA.910.1.6.1, 2, 3, 4, 5; SC.7.L.17.1, 2, 3).

15.05 Determine feeding methods and feed aquaculture species (LA.910.1.6.1, 2, 3, 4, 5; MA.912.A.1.4).

Interest Approach

Begin the class with any current story in the news that involves commercial fishing, declining fish populations or general fish nutrition. There are always some! Review the storyline with your students and discuss the importance of fish for feeding people. Make sure you discuss the fact that wild fish populations are declining and will not be able to feed the world population in the near future. Aquaculture production must supply the need for fish in the future. However, for aquaculture to be sustainable, we must feed fish protein and lipids (or fats) from sources other than fish and fish oil whenever we can. At this point introduce the foods that companion animals and aquacultured fish eat: corn, soybeans, wheat, and other products we do not think of as "fish food." This will serve as an excellent segue into the diet-making and fish feed composition activities.

Student Materials

  1. Pencil

  2. Paper

  3. Calculator

Teacher Materials

At end of document in Table 1.

Student Instructions

  1. Following the Feeds and Nutrition PowerPoint presentation, examine an ingredient label from a commercially made fish food.

  2. Explain why the common ingredients in fish food are important to local aquaculture production.

  3. List the ingredients of a commercially made fish food and those of cat food, or dog food, and compare the two lists.

Teacher Instructions

A. Label Comparison


  1. Begin a discussion by having students list common ingredients in their own food and then proceed to list ingredients in animal foods. (Perhaps have them bring in a label from an animal food from home.)


  1. Provide students with a handout with a written description of a fish diet, or have them examine several feed ingredient labels for common fish foods (obtainable from a pet store).

  2. As the students examine the labels, make sure they compare the ingredients in the foods.

  3. Have the students explain why the ingredients might be used in a fish diet.

  4. Have the students write paragraphs analyzing the labels and describing how each ingredient is to be used in the fish feed. Provide prompting questions that require them to list and analyze ingredients. For instance,

"Which ingredients are used as protein sources, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, etc?"

5. Ask the students to suggest several alternatives for the ingredients they identify. This part of the lesson is especially fun, since they can use anything as a substitute ingredient, as long as the item fulfills the nutritional requirement. Also, have students make up a diet using a list of alternative ingredients and then have the class vote if the fish would actually eat the diet. This gets very interesting!

6. Collect the following day and grade on accuracy and effort.

Post Work/Clean-Up

  1. No clean up for this activity.

B. Water Stability


  1. Obtain several samples of fish food, both live (brine shrimp, tiny worms, various larvae, etc.) and commercially made. (If possible obtain a floating fish food and one that is pelleted.)

  2. Have students set up four beakers approximately half-full of water.

  3. Follow procedure outlined in WATER STABILITY LAB SHEET (Teacher's Edition)


  1. During the lab activity make sure that students are recording observations at fixed intervals.

  2. Monitor student progress and ask questions about the characteristics of each fish food.

Post Work/Clean-Up

  1. Wash all containers.

  2. Store remaining bulk ingredients in the refrigerator.

Anticipated Results

Students should be able to:

  1. Explain why the common ingredients in fish feed are important.

  2. Learn the diet composition of commercial feeds for aquatic animals.

These topics can be used when evaluating fish feed, whether the feed is for pets or for agricultural animals. Many economic decisions in an aquaculture operation are linked directly to fish feeds, costs, and dietary requirements.

Support Materials

(all available at

  1. Aquaculture Nutrition presentation

  2. UF/IFAS EDIS Publication VM 114 Fish Nutrition (Francis-Floyd 2002) (




Explanation of Concepts

Math conversions

Animal nutrition


Table 1. 

Teacher materials.



Estimated Cost





Walmart; office supply store

$1.99 and up


Walmart; office supply store

$4.99 and up




Powerpoint presentations: Feeds and Nutrition and Aquaculture Nutrition



Pictures/samples of feed from each animal (pellets, flakes, etc.)



Examples/pictures of and ingredient labels of larval and adult fish foods (algae, daphnia, feeds)

Internet; pet store

$5 and up


Walmart, Carolina Biological Supply (

$20 and up

Weighing boats

Carolina Biological Supply

$16 and up

Fish meal (or canned sardines), corn meal, wheat flour, soybean meal



Mixing bowl, sponge, soap, and water (clean-up)

Grocery store



Publication #FA172

Release Date:April 19, 2018

Reviewed At:August 30, 2021

Related Experts

Ohs, Cortney L.


University of Florida

Myers, Brian E


University of Florida

Chapman, Frank A.

University of Florida

Creswell, R. LeRoy

University of Florida

Related Collections


About this Publication

This document is FA172, one of a series of the School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences, Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date July 2010. Revised December 2011 and March 2018. Visit the EDIS website at

About the Authors

Craig S. Kasper, aquaculture program manager, Hillsborough Community College; Cortney L. Ohs, assistant professor, School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences, Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center; Brian E. Myers, associate professor, Department of Agricultural Education and Communication; Frank A. Chapman, associate professor, School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences, Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences; Amber L. Garr, research associate, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University Center for Aquaculture and Stock Enhancement; R. LeRoy Creswell, Florida Sea Grant regional Extension agent; Carlos V. Martinez, assistant in Extension, School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences, Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences; and Elisa J. Livengood, graduate student, School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Cortney Ohs
  • Eric Cassiano