If you ever end up with a lot of newborn mouths to feed without the time or money to find and hatch large amounts of baby brine shrimp, learning how to prepare steamed egg can be a literal life saver.
With no more than a 15 minute prep time, steamed eggs are nutritionally appropriate for goldfish, easy to make, water-stable for feeding around the clock, and easy on the pocketbook.
After all, although nowadays you're a bit spoiled for choice when it comes to finding great foods to feed your goldfish, it's never a bad idea to look to tradition for inspiration at times!
Even snails love steamed eggs! This one is pretty deft at using his shell to fight off his goldfish friends
My Experience With Steamed Eggs For Goldfish
Early in 2018 Erica and I first came across mention of the use of steamed eggs for feeding young goldfish fry on The Goldfish Council's Goldfish Chat Facebook group.
Then-president Gary Hater was relating his experiences with it, and some of the exciting results he'd had in using steamed eggs. Not only was he getting amazing growth out of his young fish, but his feed bill had dropped a ton!
I was intrigued!
After hunting down the required ingredients, Erica and I whipped them up in 20 minutes with no issues. I'm no amazing cook, but if I could make this without it seeming like a pain to do, I knew we were on to something.
When I started using the eggs as a regular part of our feeding program for young fish (alternating with Repashy Super Gold and Saki Hikari Purple baby pellets), I was very happy with the results.
Steamed eggs even found their usage feeding adult fish, which was a nice perk. It was very useful for settling new fish in during quarantine, perfect for sick fish, and great for heavily populated tanks where I was worried that the more submissive fish might be missing out on food.
Part of a healthy breakfast for everyone! Typical Saturday morning around here, with hashbrowns and bacon for us paired with eggs and Repashy for the fish
Why Use Steamed Eggs For Goldfish
If a food is going to replace things that are typically only available online or from well stocked local fish stores, it has to be easy to make and exceptionally useful.
Luckily, steamed eggs qualify on both fronts!
If I'm moving slowly and would rather be heading for bed, I can get these made in about 20 minutes. Add about 15 minutes more to be cool enough to go into the refrigerator, and within the course of an hour I can have a week's worth of food made, the fishroom fed, and be ready to go to sleep. Even exhausted me can find time for that!
The two things I most appreciate about using steamed eggs is that it dramatically reduces the amount of live baby brine shrimp I have to hatch (which is a bit messy and increasingly expensive), and the baby fish can have something to munch on all day without needing multiple feedings and funking up the water.
Hatching live baby brine shrimp is a lot of work! Here's one of our earlier setups. This was only 2 days worth of shrimp, and the cultures needed to be restarted after each feeding.
If you have to go to work and earn a living (and not many of us don't!), that last part can be the most important argument for egg just on its own.
If you look at the nutritional composition of the food (and Gary did!), you'll find that this is a wonderful, high protein food. That's great for young fish, and means you can safely transition them from their newborn egg sacs to this sort of food pretty quickly after hatching (more on that later).
According to Gary (the retired biologist and goldfish breeding guru extraordinaire!), the food has a carbohydrate content of about 2%, a baseline protein content of 35%, and can be upped to a protein content of 37% by adding freeze dried of frozen bloodworms.
The ability to tweak the recipe to add extra ingredients is something that, for example, owners of fish that develop big head growth (wens) will appreciate, since additives like bloodworms can be very helpful with both wen growth and colour if used appropriately. Other combinations are also possible, if you're creative.
In fact, it's one of the staple foods we now use in our hatchery, and we use so much that we've started buying eggs in bulk from Costco.
Intrigued? Read on.
What You'll Need to Make Steamed Eggs for Goldfish
a large, flat-bottomed skillet or pan with lid
4 ramekins or other short, heat resistent containers
Magic Bullet smoothie maker, food processor or other mixer
vented spatula and rubber gloves (or similar, to remove hot ramekins from water)
plate or drying to rack (to place hot ramekins on)
- tap water
4-5 large eggs
garlic powder (makes fish want to eat it)
sweet red pepper powder or paprika (develops better and earlier colour due to astaxanthin content)
optional: replace red pepper powder (used for astaxanthin content) with actual astaxanthin from opened capsules
optional: spirulina powder (health benefits)
optional: freeze dried blood worms (wen and color development)
optional: vitamin supplement (to balance out possible nutritional deficiencies)
How To Prepare Steamed Eggs For Goldfish
- Place your skillet on the stove top
- Place the 4 ramekins inside the skillet (or other containers that still allow the skillet lid to fit tightly)
- Fill the skillet with water to a level halfway up the side of the ramekins
- Bring the water to a boil that's rolling bubbles well, but not so vigorously that water is splashing inside the ramekins. Should be as hot as possible without this happening, and water can be removed if needed.
- Place skillet lid in a location that's easily accessible
- Set a timer for 6 and a half minutes. This time works well for Calgary's high altitude, and is a good starting point, but you may have to adjust based on your location. If the mixture is undercooked it can always be saved with a bit of use of the microwave, so err on the side of undercooked to avoid rubbery eggs.
- Get largest Magic Bullet container that you have available
- Crack full contents of 4 or so eggs into Bullet container. Make sure that the container is not more than 1/3 full of egg
- Add about 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder for every 3 eggs or so (exact measurements not critical)
- Add about 1/4 teaspoon of spirulina powder for every 3 eggs or so (exact measurements not critical)
- Add about 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper powder for every 3 eggs or so (exact measurements not critical)
- Add 1/2 to 1 cup of bloodworms if desired for every 3 large eggs used
- Fill remaining 2/3 of Bullet container with water (use measuring cup if so inclined to keep ratio of 1/3 egg to 2/3 water)
- Thread mixing end onto Bullet container
- Pulse mixture for no more than a second or two. Mixture should be mixed, but stop short of foam. Very little mixing is actually required
- Start timer
- Quickly fill ramekins with mixture by adding a small amount to each in turn. Try to evenly spread the mixture so cooking is consistent, and ingredients are equally shared out (especially if bloodworms are added). The mixture will separate soon after mixing, so try to work quickly with minimal spills
- As soon as the ramekins are filled, quickly put lid on skillet
- Wait until timer expires
- Slide skillet off burner onto a non-heated area of the stove. Wait 10-15 mins for mixture to set (this step is somewhat optional)
- Take lid off skillet and place in heat-resistant area (sink?)
- Using spatula and/or gloves, remove ramekins from water and place on drying rack
- After 15 mins or so of cooling, check mixture consistency. If it hasn't set into something that is soft but spongy like custard and is more like a liquid, try microwaving the ramekins for about a minute at a time until the mixture sets (adjust active steaming time longer in future). Mixture will be yellow and even if only eggs are used, but may become layered if additives are used (often the top will be green and the bottom white if spirulina is added etc).
- Spoon mixture into a storage container with a lid
- Quickly wash out skillet and ramekins. If you don't do this by hand right away and instead wait overnight or place these into a non-amazing dishwasher, you'll regret the egg which will perma-weld itself onto your items. Do this ASAP even if you're lazy like me.
- When mixture is cooled, feed away!
- Store covered in fridge for about 10 days at most
Make sure that the ramekins are well heated before adding the mixture. Normally boiling them for the time it takes to prep the ingredients takes care of that.
Ramekins being pre-heated while ingredients are being prepared
Ingredients ready to go, and lid removed so the mixture can be quickly poured into heated ramekins
Mixture poured and ramekins actively steaming under heat for 6 minutes or so (30 seconds added to account for pour time)
Finished eggs ready to be removed from water and set aside
How To Feed Steamed Eggs For Goldfish
Be Prepared For the Madness
Fair warning in advance - if you're Type A and vacuum every speck of poop out of your tanks every day to keep them spotless, you might not love this food.
On the other hand, if you love the sight of baby fish getting excited enough to ram a piece of egg hard enough to send fragments flying in all directions, then great!
In a nutshell, it's messy!
With goldfish you don't usually have to worry about it fouling the water however. This partly because its reasonably stable in water (though uneaten bits should be removed within a day if you get too enthusiastic in feeding to avoid growing fungus and bacteria), but partly because they'll hunt down every single piece if left for a few hours to do so.
This isn't a "feed enough to finish in 5 minutes" sort of food like just about every label on packaged food suggests, but a food which allows them to eat slowly and steadily over a much longer period of time.
On the upside, despite the initial visual madness when you first drop it in the tank, you'll probably actually find that the tank needs less cleaning with regular feeding of egg. This is because it doesn't contain the largely non-digestible fillers and binders that are used to make flake and pellet food into a stable shape, and which end up just passing through the fish in more-or-less the same form.
We feed steamed eggs to everyone around here, even the panda cories, cherry shrimp and the world's derpyiest ranchu (we love her, but she's structurally challenged). Not a livestock combination that would work for many tanks, but it's been fantastic for these critters
Steamed egg can be happily fed to adults in my experience (though I wouldn't necessarily want this to be the ONLY food I fed to adult fish for long periods to avoid obesity).
Fish that haven't seen the food before may approach it with suspicion, but I've yet to encounter one that didn't eventually eat it readily within the first few days of feeding.
Steamed egg is useful in a number of situations:
- as a treat
- to build condition on weak or new fish
- to help bring adults into spawning condition
- to support healthy growth if used alongside regular foods
- as an easily digestible (and far more nutritious) alternative to "magic" peas for floaty fish that aren't passing their food quickly enough
- for community tanks where you're not sure if less dominant fish are getting enough food
As with any food, daily feeding amounts should equal about 1.5% of body weight, ideally spread out as 2 or more smaller feedings rather than a single daily feeding. Up to 2% may be used when growing out smaller fish or bringing adults into spawning condition.
This is where steamed egg really shines, and feeding baby fish is usually where most people first get inspired enough to try the recipes out.
A quick tour of some of the baby tanks in the hatchery shows a bunch of happy babies!
Although most of us in the western world are more used to turning to tons of live baby brine shrimp, decapsulated baby brine, or a commercially packaged baby food, steamed egg is very commonly used in other countries to grow out small fish.
As with many things, we're not discovering something new here, we're just broadening our minds and horizons!
Although it will never be a complete replacement for live baby brine, feeding steamed egg will dramatically cut down on both the amount of brine eggs that you'll have to buy AND the time that it takes to hatch them out properly. Given that brine shrimp eggs get more expensive every year it seems, this is a good thing!
In terms of a feeding program, we again give full credit to Gary Hater in inspiring our use of steamed egg. The feeding program I'll list here is our adaptation of his original one listed on The Goldfish Council's website, and I invite you to experiment and find you own version as well!
The timeline below starts from the first day that baby fish emerge from their eggs, so adjust based on how old your own fish are when you start a similar program.
- Days 0-3, no feeding. The hatchlings are working on their egg sacs and often don't even have mouths yet, so any extra food is completely wasted
- Days 4-14, live brine shrimp is added. If you have happy fish with bright pink tummies most of the time, you're doing it right. Multiple feedings are required, and a small amount of salt can be added to the water to extend the lifespan of uneaten baby brine shrimp until they can be found
- Days 15-30, brine shrimp is faded out as steamed eggs are added in. Make sure all food is consumed the same day, and alter your amounts as the fish grow
- Day 31 onwards, lots of steamed eggs with bits of "adult food" transitioned in (Repashy Super Gold, Saki Hikari Purple, Northfin Goldfish 2mm etc)
We're not always home to feed multiple times a day, so the steamed egg allows us to have food in front of the youngsters all the time as they're growing up.
More consistent, smaller meals help to grow fish the best, and "slow release" foods like this end up acting the same way.
Good luck, and have fun cooking for your fish!
Again borrowing from Gary's notes, here are his estimates about the nutritional information contained within the default receipes (not including the spirulina or paprika, FYI).
- Just eggs - about 35% protein
- Eggs with bloodworms - 37% protein
- Bloodworms: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;