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aF4 Food Preparation Guide

Congratulations on your new aF4! Before you load your aF4 for the first time, we recommend you watch our step-by-step video guide covering proper food preparation for the aF4.

1. RSW Technology

RSW technology or (refrigerated seawater technology) is a commonly used practice in the commercial fishing industry. Technology adopted by inD aquatics has adapted this commonly used commercial fishing practice from large scale use aboard ships to a smaller form factor in the aF4. By chilling saltwater down to 0℃ or just below, we are able to reliably store frozen fish food for extended periods of time without risk of spoilage. The added benefit of this method is that the slurry form allows for measured feeding through our large diameter peristaltic pump system.

2. Helpful Tools

There a few tools that can make preparing your food for use in the aF4 a much easier experience.

1. Silicone Lid - We've made a specially designed lid to keep food stored in the reservoirs fresh while thawing at refrigerator temperatures. Additionally, these lids protect against gross spills if the reservoir tips over.

2. Spare Reservoirs - Using Spare Reservoirs, you can stage food for reduced downtime when re-loading the aF4. This is especially handy if you intend to have a fish sitter swap reservoirs while on an extended vacation. The reservoir package includes lids for each reservoir as well.

3. Reservoir Holder - This product compliments the spare reservoirs and helps keep your reservoirs organized if you're staging them in the freezer or storing them in a cabinet. Prevents accidental tip overs too!
We offer a package deal on the spare reservoirs and the holder if you'd like to save some money!

4. Dedicated Cutting Board and Knife - We recommend using a dedicated cutting board and a sharp knife for fish food. This will save you arguments at home if you avoid using your kitchen implements on your fish food!

5. Baster with Measuring lines - The reservoirs have mL markings on the side of them, but a baster can make loading easier by allowing you to be certain of the amount dilution you're putting into the reservoir. If you plan to load the reservoir without removing it from the aF4, a baster makes this much easier.

3. Dilution Guide

The aF4 operates using RSW technology and as such we HIGHLY recommend diluting your food with high salinity salt water only! If you choose to dilute with freshwater - utilize position 3 or higher on the temperature settings.

We recommend diluting your reservoir with 20-30mL of high salinity saltwater.

The majority of cubed food is made using fish food items and some reverse osmosis water. Therefore, when diluting cubed foods - overcompensating with high salinity salt water (1.026 to 1.030) will help you achieve a slurry that is not in danger of freezing over.

Tip: When using position 2 or higher on the temperature settings, you are safe using pure cubed food with little or no dilution. This will result in a dense quantity of food being dispensed and possibly some icing on the surface of the reservoir but typically will not affect the operation of the aF4.

When using the snowflake setting, be sure to use high salinity water for dilution, using freshwater on the snowflake setting will likely result in the reservoir freezing solid and causing a failure to feed.

4. Quick Load

Using position 2 or higher, you can set the aF4 up quite quickly.

1. Add 20-30mL of high salinity salt water to the reservoir.
2. Add desired quantity of food to the reservoir.
3. Close the lid and power on the aF4, the food will have thawed enough to feed within 24 hours.

Note: Position 2 should keep food fresh for approximately 8-10 days. When filling using this method, the max quantity is about 20-25 cubes.

5. Max Fill Loading

The aF4 is capable of holding a minimum of 50 cubes of food. In order to achieve this quantity of food - you need to allow thawing.

1. Fill the reservoir with as many cubes as you can fit inside. Cover with reservoir lid and allow time to thaw in the refrigerator.
2. Once the cubes added in step 1 have thawed, repeat step 1.
3. Once the cubes added in step 2 have thawed, repeat step 1.
4. Add 10-20mL of high salinity saltwater for dilution.

Tip: If you don't have time to thaw in the refrigerator, thawing in the unit on setting 5 or at room temperature is acceptable however this will reduce freshness duration. Thawing at room temperature is okay for approximately 4-5 day durations.

6. Max Duration Loading

The aF4 is capable of keeping food fresh for a maximum of 21 days under ideal conditions. We only recommend attempting maximum duration loading when absolutely necessary.

Max Duration Conditions
1. Food has never reached a temperature above 3 ℃ or 37℉. Additionally, the time stored at 3 ℃ or 37℉ is less than 24 hours.
2. Sterile, High Salinity Saltwater (1.026 - 1.030) is utilized for dilution.
3. ❆ Snowflake setting is utilized on the aF4.
4. Ambient temperature around the aF4 is 24℃ or 75℉.
5. aF4 Reservoir, tubing and solenoid has been properly cleaned prior to use.

Max Duration Loading
1. Ensure the aF4 Reservoir, tubing and solenoid has been properly cleaned prior to use.
2. Add sterile, high salinity saltwater (1.026 - 1.030), 20-30mL.
3. Thaw desired quantity of food in refrigerator at 3℃ or 37℉. Do not keep the food at 3℃ or 37℉ for longer than 24 hours.
4. Power on the aF4, select the ❆ Snowflake setting and wait 1-2 minutes with the lid closed for cooling plate/chamber to get cold.
5. Place the reservoir in the aF4 and close the lid.
4. Ensure the ambient temperature around the aF4 is 24℃ or 75℉.

7. Sheet Food Preparation

The aF4 is capable of feeding sheet food and other large particle size foods such as krill when properly prepared. We highly recommend monitoring your aF4 the first few times you use sheet food as clogs may occur if the food has not been adequately prepared, limiting the function of the aF4.

1. Remove desired quantity of sheet food from package and place on a clean sterile cutting board.
2. Chop the food into small cubes to ensure that the large particles of food have been reduced to a size capable of fitting through the tubing of the aF4.
3. Dilute with 30-40mL of water or more. Varying levels of dilution may be required depending on the food used.
4. We highly recommend testing the mixture using the "feed now" function several times before allowing the aF4 to run on your aquarium unattended when loaded with sheet food.

8. Additive Use

The aF4 is capable of storing additives that require refrigeration and dosing them into your aquarium along with your food. While not as reliable as measured dosing of phyto or marine snow type additives - it can be a helpful boost to your aquarium.

Additionally, you can utilize the aF4 on hospital tanks and dose your food with medicines, garlic, Selcon and other additives that should be absorbed into the food.

9. 21 Day Freshness Disclaimer

Achieving 21 days of fresh fish food with the aF4 requires adhering to specific conditions to attain that duration. Failure to meet all conditions will reduce the duration that the aF4 maintains fresh food.

Max Duration Conditions
1. Food has never reached a temperature above 3 ℃ or 37℉. Additionally, the time stored at 3 ℃ or 37℉ is less than 24 hours.
2. Sterile, High Salinity Saltwater (1.026 - 1.030) is utilized for dilution.
3. ❆ Snowflake setting is utilized on the aF4.
4. Ambient temperature around the aF4 is 24℃ or 75℉.
5. aF4 Reservoir, tubing and solenoid has been properly cleaned prior to use.

Failure to achieve and maintain all of the above conditions may result in a lower than 21 day freshness duration. We highly recommend planning your aF4 use around a 7-15 day use duration as this will greatly reduce any chance of spoiled food entering your aquarium.

A power outage during food storage will significantly decrease food storage duration. We recommend refreshing your food reservoir as soon as possible, anytime a power outage of greater than 60 minutes occurs.

Signs of Spoiled Food
*An oily surface in the reservoir.
*A rancid, "smellier-than-usual" smell in the reservoir.

10. Tips and Tricks

  • Try mixing and matching different types of food to vary your fish's diets. We like mixing mysis with spirulina enhanced brine shrimp!
  • Add some additives! We like to add a couple doses of Selcon™ into every reservoir.
  • Great for hospital tanks, add your food by weight, add the appropriate amount of medicine, allow it to soak for 24 hours in the aF4 and feed your fish the medicine they need to get through quarantine or beat whatever is ailing them.
  • Don't want to add the murky liquid thats part of cubed food? Strain your food and get rid of it! Replace the strained liquid with high salinity salt water and feed a much cleaner food to your aquarium. This will reduce nutrients added to your aquarium and make this daily task a once a week task!