Variations in the gel food recipe
Once you have the basic gel food recipe and procedure down, you must try and test the flexibility of the recipe. Over the decades of making this I have found out a lot of interesting stuff about what works and what is not worth the time and ingredients. My basic Pantry mix formulation includes tuna in cans, but sometimes canned Mackerel and Salmon are on sale. These are both great, but keep in mind the first time you use it, some fish will taste and spit it out, this is normal activity. Once the fish get used to the change, it is readily eaten.
I grew up in a rather large family and living in the Midwest, fresh fish only came from ponds and the river for the most part. For you folks with no canned experience, canned Salmon and Mackerel (sometimes called Jack Salmon), has broth, skin and small bones. These goodies go in the food processor for easy blending. The broth has fish oil in it, the soft bones grind easily and provide needed calcium and the skin enhances pigments. Try it before knocking it.
There is nothing better in this world than fishing while on vacation. Last September a group of us were in the Pan Handle catching fish. The King and Spanish Mackerel were biting and after we ate fresh caught for a few days we needed a change from the strong flavor. Instead of trashing the fish, we simply baked them and then froze them for future use.
Excess Spanish Mackerel, filet and you can leave the skin on if there are no scales. In the past I have also used Bonita, Hardtails, and Bluefish.
The filets were simply baked on a cookie sheet at 325F (165C) for about 45 minutes, no browning, seasoning or sauces are wanted or needed. These can then be frozen as is. Below is a defrosted bag I used this week as this blog is being written. I go through the filets with my fingers to remove any large bones. Please note, I do not recommend using raw fish, some years ago I had to send out some live Goldfish for necropsy. The bacterial infection they had contracted was a saltwater species of bacteria, since gel food is not boiled, I only use cooked proteins.
Interesting that Spanish Mackerel gel food is very firm and does not generate cloudy-ness to the aquariums and tubs.
The previously cooked filets, have brilliant skin color,and since they are pre-cooked they blend easily.
Above is a picture of Wild caught Mackerel from summer vacation on top of turnip greens.
In addition to fresh proteins, fresh vegetables are generally a welcome addition. My next blog will briefly discuss fresh produce and other additives. Below is a summary of Proteins I have experience with;Protein TypeComment RecommendationsCanned TunaGreat and easyBestCanned SalmonFish are slow to like, but excellentGood, leave skin and bones in mixCanned MackerelGreatGreatCanned CrabGood, fish slow to likeGoodFresh Mackerel (cooked)BestGreatFresh Bonita (cooked)Good, bones to removeGood, do no over feedFresh Walleye (cooked)Great (add garlic powder)GreatChicken Livers (cooked)Do not recommendLethal / no goodEarth worms dry or freshSmall amountsLarge amounts prevent gel from solidifyingFreeze Dried Blood wormsSuperior, however do not blend, mix in wholeGreat and very economical in large packages (Sources: Jehmco.com or BrineShrimpDirect.com)Freeze or air dried DaphniaFairFish do not like itFresh or frozen Ocean shrimp (cooked)SuperiorOften use left over cocktail shrimp from partiesChicken EggsSuperiorAdd raw to food processor
I trust the table above prevents you from going down a messy path, nothing more frustrating than changing up an additive and having your normal gel recipe not solidify.
Hope your fish like the dish!