Some silly questions

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Some silly questions

Post by HomeInTheShell » Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:05 pm

As an aquarium keeper, I've learned that most fish shouldn't be fed beef, pork, poultry and other terrestrial meats since they can easily cause fatty liver and other serious health issues. I'm just curious if there's an explanation why invertebrates like hermies don't have this specific problem. Or do they?

Also, can you feed fish eggs to hermies? I'll soon get some dwarf medakas and if they try to breed as readily as the articles about them imply, I don't think I'll be raising all of the spawns. Of course, if there's a significant risk of parasites or anything like that, I'll just throw the excess eggs away.

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Re: Some silly questions

Post by JoeHermits » Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:41 pm

Invertebrates are better about managing what goes into their bodies than vertebrates are. That’s why fat inverts are so uncommon. The only instances I’ve heard of inverts having diet-related health issues is when their diets are restricted to one thing.

I once heard from an entomology professor who saw an obese hissing cockroach for the first time after a student fed it nothing but (peanut-butter flavored?) crackers for several months.

The fish eggs should be fine if you’re sure there are no parasites or medications involved. Chances of those being present diminish the longer you keep your fish.

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Re: Some silly questions

Post by wodesorel » Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:42 pm

Fish would rarely if ever consume those types of proteins during their lives, so they haven't adapted to be able to eat them as a primary source of food. (Beef hearts notwithstanding in captivity.) Fish eat pretty lean on the whole.

I actually read an article many years ago by two fish vets who said the vast majority of fish they were asked to treat were dying of fatty liver, regardless of diet. Humans overfeed dramatically, and they also thought that the source of the fish and seafood protein played a part as well - freshwater fish being fed marine proteins, and saltwater fish being fed freshwater animals.

In any case, hermits being land animals have adapted to a wider range of food items. Being scavengers they often get scraps and rotten items as well. They're built to get nutrition from anything they eat.

I do think the concept of fat is something that we have overlooked, but mostly because we are making guesses about what and how much they eat. Ease of diet is another - hermits were often purchased as a cheap pet and the costs associated with their enclosure is usually overwhelming once people find out about proper care, let alone having to purchase special foods. However, a wide-ranging diet can also make up for lacking vitamins and minerals, so the occasional non-native food item (ie. pork) should not be harmful.

If anything, I worry that the majority of hermits are being kept on too lean of a diet. They would be getting fatty grubs, seeds, coconuts, fish skins, etc. In captivity we give them fruits and veggies and lean meats and dried de-oiled seafood. I've given mine chunks of beef fat and chicken skins and sardines in oil, and they go crazy for it.

I do wonder if constantly having so much food available to them is doing them a disservice. Most of our companion animals end up unhealthy from being overfed, because we tend to equate food with love and we tend to think animals are starving when they are actually fine. It is really hard to know if a hermit is obese, let alone suffering health problems from too rich of a diet.
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