Purchasing fish food can be a confusing ordeal, especially when confronted with the multitude of fish foods on the market.
When it comes to choosing the best possible food for freshwater fish, the nutritional needs of the fish should be the primary concern. Ultimately, the aquarist should strive to re-create food sources that the fish would feed on in the wild and supplement anything lacking in the fish diet.
Understanding Fish Food Ingredients
When looking for fish food, be sure to check the ingredients listed on the label. High quality fish foods have high quality ingredients, justifying their sometimes higher price, but it pays to check and make sure.
Low quality foods that lack nutrition contain many unnecessary ingredients or “fillers” that are not typical or even present in a fish’s natural diet. These fillers can include yeast, rice, corn, wheat meal/gluten, oatmeal, potato, and a laundry list of preservatives and additives. Low quality fish foods also tend to be higher in fat and ash content and lower in fiber.
High quality fish foods tend to contain more natural or whole ingredients that more closely mimic the foods the fish would eat in the wild. Look for these kinds of ingredients: krill, herring, squid, algae, spirulina, and garlic. These ingredients, which tend to be less processed than the contents of low quality fish food, contain fewer preservatives and less fat. High quality fish foods also tend to be higher in fiber and contain more protein.
Price and Quality of Fish Food
Many people are discouraged from buying high quality fish food because they tend to be more expensive. Also, these high-end foods are sometimes packaged in smaller containers, suggesting to consumers that the product will feed their fish less. This is not always the case. Many high quality foods, especially pellets and granules, tend to be more dense and higher in protein and whole ingredients, meaning the fish needs to eat less of the food to gain the full benefit. Also, the growth potential and coloration of the fish will be greatly magnified when high quality foods are introduced into the fish diet, as they provide the protein, carotenes, and other ingredients that low-end fish foods lack.
High quality foods ultimately save the aquarist money as they provide desired growth and color while improving the overall health of the fish.
The Importance of a Varied Fish Diet
Nutritious fish food pellets or flake fish food should not be the extent of a fish’s diet. In the wild, fish eat many different foods, and as a result maintain a balanced diet that contributes to good health and long life. Like humans, fish need a varied and balanced diet to ensure proper growth, support their immune system, and bring out the natural vibrance in their coloration.
Aside from high quality packaged food, consider feeding live fish food such as bloodworms, earthworms, mealworms, healthy feeder fish, krill, brineshrimp, crawfish, shrimp, and insects. Depending on the species, the fish can also be fed fresh vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, peas, and lettuce. Many live foods can be obtained as frozen fish food.
Remember, much of fish’s health and appearance strongly depends on their diet. While it may seem expensive at the time, paying a little extra for superior food will save the aquarist time, money, and frustration in the long-term. Provide the fish a variety of healthy foods and they will live a long and happy life.