Cheap Tricks: Food Storage Solutions

Michael Marcotrigiano - New England Fancy Guppy Association
first published in the IFGA eBulletin May 2009 issue
All rights reserved

Fish meal, wheat meal, stinging nettle meal, spirulina, algae meal, sea algae meal, shrimp meal, krill meal, vitamins…. These are some of the ingredients in one of the fish foods that I use. When you think about it, most of them do not have an especially long storage life in a hot moist environment like a guppy room. Has your food ever clumped together or become moldy. Grant it, most of us do not store an entire pound of food in the fish room but even food inside your little containers can go bad fast, especially if moisture gets in. Since we tend to treat our fish better then we treat ourselves we should ask ourselves if we would eat a breaded fish stick that sat in our sauna for a month. Even if fish food does not go bad enough to harm your fish the potency of the ingredients is likely to decline in moist warm conditions.

My solution the food safety is inexpensive food safe desiccant packets.

 

 Small containers of guppy food inside my fish room, each with one or two desiccant packs

Since most guppy breeders are not spring chickens you may have seen these packets in one of your prescription medications where they are added to make sure the medication stays as potent as the day it was made. You can save these and reuse them since these would be “food safe”. Alternatively, these packets are available commercially and I find them very useful to include in my fish room food containers. Just make sure you get food safe types. Usually they are white membrane liners (e.g. Tyvek) with a silicon based desiccant crystal. Do not get clay based packs since they can get clay dust in your food.

How long to the packs last? Well, technically forever if they are “recharged”. At some point, depending how much moisture they get exposed to, they will stop absorbing water. The solution is simple. Preheat your oven to 150F on a day your spouse is not home or remember to say “I’m making fish for dinner tonight” and have a plan to prove it! Place them on a piece of foil and put them in the oven for 20 minutes. Then remove them and immediately put them in a dry jar with a tight lid. They are now as good as new. If they get really bad (dirty with fish food) just replace them once every few months.

At the time this article was published you could buy these desiccant packs on ebay by searching “silica gel packs” or from web pages like these:

http://www.silicagelpackets.com/

http://www.jakesmp.net/CSD_Silica_Gel/CSD_Silica_004_M.html

Do not worry if the pack says “do not eat”. That does not mean it is dangerous to your fish food or you. It means you should not eat the desiccant or its package!

Prices vary widely so shop around. Some low volume dealers are a real rip off. You should be able to get them for about 10 to 20 cents a piece depending on how big you want them and how many you order. They are much cheaper in bulk. Perhaps your club will choose to buy them and distribute them among members.

As for the larger portion of your food, it is best stored frozen. If stored in the original pack it usually winds up spilling onto the icy freezer shelf straining your marriage and making the defrosting freezer smell like bilge. I have found that wide mouth drink containers are the best storage containers for my freezer. I use a plastic funnel to fill them and they fit nicely on the door of the freezer. The food pours out easily into your smaller container. The most rugged container I have found is for “Honest Tea” (which buy the way actually tastes like tea and not sugar water) but I’m sure Gatorade or the like would do.

 

 Freezer shelf door with decapsulated brine shrimp eggs, golden pearls, and Ken’s tropical fish flakes in ice tea containers.

The above inexpensive methods assure me that my expensive foods pack the power that they are suppose to pack and that they remain nutritious and safe all the way to the last crumb.
------------------------------------------------------------