By Gary Hater
In North America and much of the EU, raising fry has become a regiment of hatching brine shrimp and gradually converting to gel food, frozen food, or micro pellets. Recently on Facebook I saw a video on raising young fry with steamed chicken eggs in the Chinese tradition. After searching the internet for steamed egg recipes, recipes for people that is, and looking at my personal goldfish library for references to steamed eggs, I decided to run my own “steamed eggs for fry” trial for a couple of months. I see advantages over small pellets and gel food. This article, is an update, the learning will continue, just like with gel food variations I have done over the years.
Why Steamed Chicken Eggs:
- Base recipe is easy to make without special ingredients, also quick at about 20 minutes total
- Stores in the refrigerator for about 10 days
- Fry can feast for hours without fouling the tank
- Fry growth rate is superior and less expensive than live brine shrimp and pellets
- It is really easy to augment and tweak with specialty items to get better colors, faster wen growth, and excellent nutrition
Above, fry eating steamed egg after initially being started on live brine shrimp (approximately day 14 of feeding).
Raising Fry with Steamed Chicken Eggs
The goldfish eggs hatch and the fry cling to the mops, or container walls. After the egg sac is adsorbed the fish begin to swim and are ready to eat. First meals are typically live brine shrimp. Fourteen days after their first meal they are ready for the addition of steamed eggs. Below is a typical program in fry life, whilst feeding steamed eggs;
- Days 0-3, no food.
- Day 4, a small amount of live brine shrimp is added. You can see if they are eating, the shrimp is bright in their stomachs.
- Days 5-14, shrimp is added in ever increasing quantities. Water is typically changed daily.
- About day 14, brine shrimp is decreased and steamed eggs are added in small amounts initially and replaced as needed.
- By day 25, Brine Shrimp is optional and fry are getting a heaping teaspoon of Steamed Eggs for every 50-100 fry.
- By feeding day 30, fry are an inch (2.54cm) long.
Step by Step Preparation Procedure
You need the following:
- Large skillet or pot with a lid.
- 3 extra-large or jumbo eggs (smaller eggs will require more eggs).
- 4 – Ceramic Ramekins, or squat coffee cups.
- Measuring cup.
- Boiling water.
- Garlic powder.
- Food Processor or mixer.
- Optional: freeze dried blood worms
Water is added to the skillet after the ramekins are put in place. Be careful the water is half way up the outside of the china.
- Water should be only half way up the side of the ceramic ware so you do not get splashing into the containers.
- Bring to a boil while you are mixing the ingredients.
- The cups or ramekins must get steaming hot before the mixture is added. The egg dishes must not be too big or they will not get steamed properly.
- If using coffee cups the pot or skillet must be deep enough so that the lid fits tight, below.
- Crack three eggs into measuring cup, and record the ounces of raw eggs. Extra-large eggs are typically 2 ounces each.
- For every ounce of raw eggs add two ounces of water.
- Add a quarter teaspoon of garlic powder and blend thoroughly.
- While eggs and water are the main ingredients, a ½ to 1 cup to a cup of freeze dried blood worms is optional.
- Over beating can result in foam, after the initial mixing it is best to pulse the mixer.
Eggs, water, a dash of garlic powder and optional dried blood worms, above.
After mixing and preheating the ramekins, the mixture is added quickly, next photo below.
- It is best to fill each ramekin ½ way and then go back to the starting point, this allows for the blood worm to be better distributed.
- Once in place, a spoon is used to slowly mix one last time.
Notice the water is boiling as the mixture is added.
Continue filling quickly, otherwise all the good particulates settle, see next photo below.
- Material is watery and foamy. After making about thirty of these you learn your blender or food processor and you can make it with less foam.
- If you use the blood worm option, parts of the mix stratifies as it is poured. I have also tried other additives like canned tuna, decapsulated brine shrimp eggs, powdered fish food, and paprika (for color).
After filling the material is ready to steam, so put on the lid and start your timer, see next photo below.
- Steam vigorously for four minutes.
- My best batches develop uniform bubbles in the egg custard that break and steam during those four minutes.
- At the end of four minutes, turn off the heat and slide off the burner, now let the mixture steep for another 13 minutes with the lid on.
- Then remove from the water bath and let them cool to room temperature.
- As soon as thy cool slightly, cover each cup/ramekin with plastic wrap or foil, or slide the container into a sandwich bag..
- Refrigerate after covering and cooling.
So, after 17 minutes’ total, 4 steaming and 13 sitting, you have a finished product, “Steamed Eggs with dried Blood Worms”. Yummy, Yummy! For fish that is! See photo below.
- The finished product is soft, wet and spongy, but not runny. It is much like pudding.
- The mixture is a pale yellow and is a uniform consistency if just eggs and water as the macro ingredients.
- If dried blood worms are in the mix, the food often becomes layered, this is acceptable.
- The photo below has the ground blood worms that are stratified on the top of the mixture. The brown crumbs on the bottom scrap off easily.
When fish are 17 days old or 14 days of feeding brine shrimp, I start adding SE mixture twice a day. The fish are about 7/16”. Sometimes I break it up a bit. By day 30 of active feeding, the fry hang out waiting for it to be delivered.
Some Notes to guide you along as a fish Chef!
- Once they eat a batch, add more. Continuous round the clock feeding works well with this material.
- Changing water daily is best.
- Siphon off the residuals or use a tight net, like a brine shrimp net for removing fecal materials.
- Young fish at 4-6 months still really enjoy this material. Users are often shocked by the lack of fecal matter produced. No filler in eggs.
- Leave leftovers in the tank. Anything that is left in the tank after 10-12 hours must be removed. Steamed eggs will grow bacteria and fungus very quickly.
- Forget that this food is perishable. The steamed egg refrigerated product has very little odor, if this changes, throw it away. Present record for refrigeration is 10 days.
- Freeze. Freezing for later use does not work.
Steamed Eggs or Gel Food the Advantages of each!
- Simple quick and easy to make, 20 minutes total time.
- Easy to make for the small hobbyist.
- Mostly for fry and young fish.
- High protein growth food, only 2% carbs.
- Note, it may be perfect for fish that are slow to eat and fish that were previously sick or shocked from shipping. Extremely easy to digest.
- Used as a supplement to live brine shrimp, steamed eggs decreases the high cost of raising fry.
- Perfect for extending the feeding time for young fish.
- Can be simple or quite complex.
- Lack of high heat allows for adding vitamins and antibiotics.
- Perfect for adding conditioning foods like wheat germ.
- Great for adding coloring agents and trace minerals like calcium and potassium.
- Often used for grooming.
- Long term storage in the freezer available.
- Easy to make as a low protein mixture.
- Easy to keep as a homogeneous mixture (it doesn’t settle out).
Sometimes it is best to estimate the nutritional content of the food supplied when making homemade dishes. In the recipe above we are using a small amount of dried blood worms (1 ounce) and six ounces of chicken eggs. With just eggs the mixture is about 35% protein and with the blood worms we are at about 37% protein. See the references below;
- Blood Worms:49-60% protein depending on the species of Chironomid
- Zoo Biology 33: 221–227 (2014) Chironomidae Bloodworms Larvae as Aquatic Amphibian FoodMojdeh Sharifian Fard, Frank Pasmans, Connie Adriaensen, Gijs Du Laing, Geert Paul Jules Janssens, and An Martel;
- Chicken eggs ae about 35% protein, 63% fat and fatty acids and 2% carbohydrates
- http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg- products/111/2#ixzz4avra4cKc
Summary and Comments:
- Steamed Eggs are a easy method of producing a nutritional food for fry and young fish that has largely been omitted from modern day fish keeping in North America.
- This is not a replacement for live brine shrimp or gel food, but rather a way to rapidly raise young fish quickly. Without a blood worm supplement the protein content is about 35%, with the addition of blood worms the protein content goes to about 37%.
- The Steamed Egg is soft, wet and spongy, perfect for young fish, it may also be effective to bring back fish that are stressed from shipping or diseases.
- Updates are planned as we gain experience with the technique.
Gary Hater has been raising and breeding goldfish since 1980. He is a mostly retired professional biologist.
Currently Gary is President of The Goldfish Council and he is breeding about 14 varieties of goldfish. His hobby and passion for goldfish is best described as large. Contact through TheGoldfishCouncil.org