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Like his namesake feline, the jaguar cichlid is an enthusiastic carnivore. In the aquarium, a carnivorous diet can create challenges. However, you can wean your jaguar cichlid onto prepared or dry commercial foods a number of ways. Even after you get your jaguar cichlid to take prepared foods, make meaty foods a frequent part of the diet to ensure good health.
Selecting Prepared Foods
Manufacturers make many formulations of prepared foods. But you can narrow the selection down quite a bit when picking foods for a jaguar cichlid. Flake foods, more appropriate for smaller cichlids, just aren't substantial enough for these fish. Instead, use pellet or stick foods. Many pet shops will carry larger pellets specifically formulated for large cichlids. Select a pellet or flake food formulated for carnivores, since jaguar cichlids mostly eat other animals in the wild, unlike many large cichlids, which tend to be more vegetarian.
You may initially have trouble getting a jaguar cichlid to eat prepared food. Normally, a cichlid will prefer live, frozen or freeze-dried foods. You have to trick your fish into eating pellets. To pull this off, feed your cichlid at the same time every day. Your jaguar cichlid will learn to associate your approach with food, and will probably eat whatever you throw into the tank around that time of day. If this doesn't work, try feeding the pellets alongside more preferred foods. The jaguar cichlid, an enthusiastic eater, will probably learn to take the pellets.
A staple food is the main food you feed a fish, the base diet. For most smaller fish, a flake food nicely fills this purpose. However, you should keep your jaguar cichlid's a bit more diverse. You can usually feed flake or pellet foods, but occasionally feed live, frozen or freeze-dried foods to make sure the cichlid is getting adequate nutrition. Try feeding staples most of the week, with one or two days consisting of "treat" days where your cichlid gets other foods. Most fish also benefit from a fast day, a day when you skip feeding to help the fish clear out his digestive tract and avoid constipation.
What Else to Feed
The jaguar cichlid eats fish, insects and crustaceans in the wild. On the treat days, you can feed your fish any of these foods, so long as they are large enough for the cichlid. Live feeder fish can be problematic, and alternatives exist. Instead, you can feed fish meat from the grocery store. You can also feed live crickets or feeder shrimp by dumping several into the fish tank. The exact amount to feed will depend on the size of your cichlid. Keep their diet as diverse as possible to make sure they get all of the nutrients they need.