Beefheart Recipe

Beefheart Recipe


By Fred Goodall
Updated 11-05-2002

The following mixture is based on information from several web sites, peer reviewed studites and personal experience. Where possible I provided the links directly to the articles, in other cases I could only give a link to an index. The published studies are footnoted after the links index.

For each ingredient I will note a number which relates to a link to the article / study that explains my reasoning for using that ingredient or leaving it out of the mix.

Contrary to popular Internet myth, the National University of Singapore is not a " phony university " or a " low quality diploma mill ". In fact many of the top Doctorates in Aquaculture take the " graduate program " in Aquaculture at the NUS and go back and teach at universities in the USA, Canada, Germany, etc, etc. As a result of their work in clinical fish studies and the interest in Discus by one of the staff PhDs, discus have gotten very exacting, scientific studies at NSU. Some of the recently completed studies include : genetic typing, identifying the genetics of the colors of discus and feeding studies regarding growth rates of feeds, protein uptake, chemical analysis of nutrient uptake, protein uptake of fry, age fry can metabolize protein other than parent fish slime. There are also ongoing esoteric studies on Discus genetics and Discus breeding. Unfortunately not all of these studies are posted to the NUS web site.

My mix is ground in an old fashioned meat grinder, as the food processors and blenders get the meats to fine for adults and the fineness just adds to water pollution in the tanks. I cut the meats into small chunks and grind them once, add the dry ingredients, and grind that mix twice more, average size of the pieces in the mix: 1/8 inch ( 3mm ) . I leave out spinach, fruits and other vegetables even though discus eat them; they can not metabolize them 2, 6,10 I use beefheart as I live in the USA and BSE ( Bovine Spongiform Enchephalopathy, Mad Cow Disease ) is yet to be found in any of our cattle 3 and is high in protein, rich in minerals, vitamins, amino acids, lower in fats than other organ meats and is cheap 4. As a source of omega3 fatty acids I use Cod, Salmon, Sole or if it is in the local store, Herring 4. To aid in processing any fat in the beef meat and to provide missing lipids, I use lecithin 5. Instead of using commercial vitamins 7 and shrimp for astaxanthin, I use spirulina powder 9 from the health food store. I use garlic for the reason Mr. Wattley wrote about 8 and because I find it acts as an " attractant " for my discus.

A recently published study has shown the discus fish possess digestive enzymes that match the "profile" of carnivorous and omnivorous fish and not herbivorous fish.10 Within this study they used 3 separate testing methods to determine the enzymes present in the stomach and intestine of discus.10 They found Serine protease, Trypsin, Chymotrypsin and Metalloproteases.10 The level of Chymotrypsin and its location in the discus digestive track indicate that discus may be able to digest some plant proteins but not all plant proteins and not in a high dietary level.10 This study's results also fit in with another, earlier dietary study on discus feeds and growth on those feeds.

This earlier study found that discus need a dietary protein level above that of carp and similar fish and actually grew best with a dietary protein level matching that of carnivorous fish like brown trout.11 This study fed a food measured in protein content ranging from 35% to 55% with 5% increments to the protein content. Fiber, fat and "ash" were also controlled and measured.11The best growth rate was on a diet of 45% to 50% protein with fiber at 1.5% and fat at 8.25% and "ash" at 4.9%. This study on dry feeds and growth rates and average weight gain was conducted over 12 weeks to determine growth on the various percentages of the nutrients in the feeds.11 The nutrient uptake was determined by molecular analysis of the enzymes of the discus, post mortum.11

The Ingredients :

  • 2 lbs. of beef heart trimmed of fat and tissues
  • 1 lb. of fish
  • 5 - 7 cloves of minced garlic 
  • 2 tablespoons of lecithin
  • 1 tablespoon of spirulina powder

Use paper towels to dry the meats of their juices, cube the meats ( about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches, 2.54 - 3.8 cm ) , grind once ( medium setting ), add the dry ingredients, pass that mix through the grinder up to two more times. Once I started using a grinder instead of a processor or blender, the meats did not liquefy and I had no need to add gelatin or dry foods to bind the mix. Again, you want to end up with pieces of meat no larger than 1/8 inch ( 3 mm ). Your mix may need one of those binders. Spoon into plastic freezer bags and flatten out the mix until it is thinner than a 1/4 inch thick. Press out all the air you can and freeze. There are as many ways to feed the beefheart as there are ways to make a mix. Experiment and go with what works best for you and your fish.

  1. NUS
  2. The influence of dietary carbohydrate and fiber on growth of discus (Symphysodon)
  3. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)
  4. 4 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 1999. USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 13. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, Link 1 (click on search and type 13321 in the search field and then report) and Link 2
  5. A vitamin cocktail for fish, Aquarium fish, too, require vitamins. Dr. Rudolf Lorz, 
    "Aquarium Heute" 2/97
  6. "DISEASES OF FISH" 12 August 1996 Robert B. Moeller Jr., DVM, LTC, VC, USA Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 1999. USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 13. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, click here (click on search and type 11667 in the search field and then report)
  8. "The Use of Garlic Against Tapeworm in Discus" Jack Wattley
  9. CYANOTECH Technical Bulletins, Spirulina.
  10. Alexander S. C. Chong, "Partial characterization and activities of proteases from the digest track of discus fish (Symphysodon aequifasciata)" Aquaculture 203 2002 pp. 321 - 333
  11. S.C. Chong, R Hashim & A.B. Ali "Dietary protein requirements for discus (Symphysodon spp.)" Aquaculture Nutrition 2002 6 pp 75 - 278

Fred Goodall

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