CHRISTMAS TREAT FOR CATFISH

Bristol Aquarium’s shoal of giant catfish are enjoying a selection of special festive treat in the shape of spirulina mince pies.

The giant South American freshwater fish have all been rescued by the Harbourside aquarium, after either being dumped or outgrowing their tanks.

Curator Dan de Castro decided to provide them with their own Christmas presents and created a fish-friendly mince pie using freshwater algae.

“The catfish are almost exclusively vegetarian so we had to come up with a list of ingredients that were both safe and also appetising to them,” said Dan.

“Traditionally we always try and provide some kind of Christmas gifts for the fish and, this year we thought it was the turn of the catfish as they have all been through quite a lot before arriving here at the aquarium.

“There was a bit of trial and error involved before we managed to get the recipe just right and were able to make pies which actually stayed together in the water – but they seemed to go down extremely well with the fish,” he added.

In recent years spirulina has become a popular dietary supplement and is available for human consumption in a variety of forms including tablets.

However humans have been eating naturally occurring spirulina algae, harvested from freshwater lakes for centuries.

There are records of the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican civilisations eating it right up until the end of the 16th century.

Since the 1970s a large industry has grown up cultivating spirulina for commercial use with specialist ‘algae farms’ springing up as far afield as China, the USA, Greece and Pakistan.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, both NASA and the European Space Agency proposed spirulina as one of the primary foods to be cultivated during long-term space missions.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information please contact Tina Patel, David Waines or Dan de Castro on 0117 929 8929.