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You need to know about Quality Fish food. How?

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Quality fish food for aquarium fish

We all like Junk food. Most people are addicted to Junk food resulting in lots of health problems in the long run. In the same way when you feed your aquarium fish food with trash from the market or simply very low-quality food? What happens? Your fish is going to suffer and finally die from the disease. I remember a person posting in a group about some fish food? Since there were no ingredients mentioned on the pack, I asked him a simple question “ what are the ingredients of your fish food” I was surprised that he did not know especially being a seller. He ignored my very basic question. For me it was a serious issue, maybe for others, it was an alternative and cheap fish food.

Oscar - Canivorous
Oscar - Canivorous

Fish food has been my favourite subject. I strongly recommend quality fish food. Sometimes I wonder, Why Aquarists do not ask questions about fish food? They blindly trust the seller. 80% of sellers do not even know to read the ingredients and this is very sad for the hobby. Lack of knowledge results in promoting low-grade food? Quite often food is promoted as “one food for all fish”. Sometimes the image on the bottle is very compelling and most Aquarists fall prey to sweet-talking by the seller. Do you know the proteins in the food are very important for the fish's health? Carnivorous fish require higher protein than herbivorous fish. I had experimented once with African cichlids in the tank.

The tropheus got Malawi to bloat by just eating more protein food .

Tropheus-Dubosi needs Veg Diet. They suffer from Malawi Bloat if fed protein diet

What was missing was the Veg diet? So each species require different dietary need.

That is why they say “Don’t mix the species”. Research the fish before venturing into a fish shop.

Swim Bladder Disease  Goldfish
Swim bladder disease

The fish food must be digested well to prevent the buildup of intestinal gas, kidney failure, and infections such as swim bladder which has become so common in the goldfish. Dropsy is resultant because of low-quality feed. How many of you know that inking pellets are better than floating pellets when it comes to Goldfish food, yet aquarists will buy floating fish food. When the goldfish has floating pellets of food, it gulps air along with it resulting in swim bladder disease if fed for a longer duration.

What to look into fish food? And why some food is expensive than others?

Fish require fats for energy and amino acids. Even carnivorous aquatic diets must contain vegetable matter like spirulina. Too much high protein without veg ingredients will result in excessive ammonia and increase the pollution in water. Veg helps in digestion. Uneaten fish food will destroy the aquarium ecosystem by polluting the water resulting in ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate issues.

Types of Fish Food

Flakes for Fish
Fish food - Flakes
  • Dry food:- Dry fish food comes in the form of pellets and flakes. They are either floating or sinking pellets or even small food sticks. You can choose accordingly as per the species in your tank. One big disadvantage of the flakes over the pellets as I have experienced is that it needs to be consumed within 45 days of opening as it loses their freshness and in some cases become powder and need to be thrown out.

  • Frozen food:- some Aquarists feed their fish frozen like prawns, bloodworms, shrimps, and mussels. Fish love this food. I remember giving this food as treats


  • Live food:- Aquarists give their carnivorous fish crickets, live brine shrimps, and feeder fish (be careful when you feed them to your fish. Get it from a trusted source. It’s risky to buy from an unknown source as chances are there to pass on some sort of virus or disease if they are infected. Better to feed these feeder fish only after quarantining them feeder fish for at least three weeks). Please be aware of the feeding of live blood worms. This is the cause of several diseases as it might contain viruses and bacteria that can harm the fish. If the source of the blood worms is contaminated your fish will suffer from a stomach infection.

  • Freeze-dried:- Most carnivorous like this food. Example Mysis shrimps and tubifex worms.

Bristle Nose Pleco loves Cucumber
Bristle Nose Pleco loves Cucumber
  • Greens:- Essential fiber comes from the Greens like lettuce, spinach, Zucchini, and, cucumber. Pleco loves to munch on lettuce and cucumber. Feed them at night because they are most active during that time as they are nocturnal. Feed them before putting the lights off.

  • Insect-based fish food: This food is accepted by many fish. The logic is that fish live on insects in the wild. Some companies like Fluval have come up with bug bites, a product where the main ingredient is the larve of the Black soldier fly is fed for around 14 days with food fruits, and vegetables and then dried up, mixed with some premium ingredients like salmon, essential vitamins, etc and processed from a single source in Canada. Thus ensuring the highest quality. Taiyo group has also introduced their bugs in line product. You can check their ingredients and go for it.

taiyo Bugs-In
Taiyo Bugs-In

Nutrients to be considered.

Amino Acids, Fatty acids, and carbohydrates

These nutrients are a must in fish food for maintaining adequate health and well-being in a fish. Amino Acids are the basic component of proteins. Proteins are different for numerous species. The carnivorous and herbivorous requirements for proteins are different. Discuss needs a high level of protein when they are babies and gradually the intake of the proteins should be much lesser when they are adults. The Malawi African cichlid's dietary required protein level must be lesser than 40%. The Mbuna variety of African cichlid from lake Malawi should contain more of a veg diet.

Fatty Acid is the main source of energy and it also helps in absorbing the vitamins. Fatty acids help skeletal muscles and energy to the heart.

Carbohydrates are also important but not greater than amino and fatty acids. It is mainly incorporated through plant protein.

Now let's look into more sources in fish food, Aquarists come across a fish meal, Shrimps, Krill, squid meal, soya bean, Garlic, spirulina, and other ingredients are written on a fish food product

Squid meal: You must have noticed on the labels of premium fish food squid meal written, that this is a highly digestible protein source. Squid meal provides amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and some amount of cholesterol suitable for fish fry and young fish.

Spirulina:- Is a plant protein that contains vitamins, beta-carotene, color-enhancing pigments, amino acids, minerals, and, essential fatty acids. In short complete nutrition.

Shrimp meal: when dried and grounded is a natural source of pigmentation that enhances the desired color in the tissues of fish. It is also a supplemented source of protein.

Fish Meal: Fish such as salmon, and tuna are used in some fish food. It can be a whole fish meal or just fish meal associated where the fishery wastes are added more to the making of fish meal. This is a very important indicator of fish food. Most of the product labels are not clear whether it's a fish meal or a whole fish meal meaning that the leftovers like bones, scales, fins, heads, and other waste are not added. Quite often when its whole meal , ti will specify which fish is used for example, it can be a salmon meal or a tuna meal or a sardine meal. Mostly the fish is harvested with the sole purpose of manufacturing fish feed and derived mostly from a single source and single species. This is the quality at its best, especially in premium food like NLS (New Life Spectrum) and Northfin.

Whole wheat: These are fibrous carbohydrates that aid the passage of food and waste products through the gut for fish such as Goldfish and KOI. Carbohydrates are a natural source of Vitamin E and promote growth and enhance coloration.

Brine Shrimp: These come in the form of eggs or freeze-dried. A source of protein, and color enhancer, and also acts as a natural laxative in the fish digestive system.

Soya bean meal: Soy meal is used as an alternative source of protein to the fish meal. But be careful some studies have shown even lesser than 30% soya bean meal can cause internal damage, Soybean meal should not be the top 3 ingredients in the list mentioned on a product.

There are many fish foods in the market. It is often seen that hobbyists tend to go in for very cheap food available to cut down on the cost. More importance is given to the fish than to the feed. If the fish is not getting a proper diet it results in a Sunken belly, swim bladder disease (commonly found in Goldfish), and also dropsy, filtration gets clogged if the food is uneaten, Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate issues due to polluted water.

Premium Quality fish foods

Premium foods are available in the market such as NLS ( New life spectrum) and Northfin in the Indian Market. These foods are great for fish as it does not contain artificial colors. It is healthy food and there are videos available. Some medicated foods from NLS had made quite a mark in the hobby. My favorite food was the Veg diet from NLS. I found out it is a total complete veg diet food as its top five ingredients were all veg ingredients. I use to feed it to my mbuna African cichlids. The Northfin cichlid formula had an amazing effect on my african malawi cichlids, especially on the haps and peacocks. Natural colors and amazing food relished and eaten within 2 minutes by my 36 African Malawi cichlids. I use to feed Hikari excel before Northfin and NLS. But, the quality of my fish health was not up to the mark in the long run. The coloration was not an issue may be due to artificial colors in the food. I did not find the Hikari cichlid excel food as a balanced diet for my cichlids.

Sometimes, due to the unavailability of premium foods in the market, the other best thing that can be fed is fish food from Ocean Nutrition for cichlid like cichlid Omni flakes, Cichlid veg diet, Cichlid Omni pellets, Brine Shrimp flakes, Spirulina flakes which contain a lot of proteins. Ocean Nutrition is made in Europe and is super beneficial for fish health. Tropical is another European brand with awesome ingredients in the form of pellets. I have experimented with Tropical on my flowerhorn. Good head growth and excellent energy food help in digestion. I have tried the young Flowerhorn fish food with amazing results. Azoo has a brand that is fast catching up in the Indian market as budget-friendly fish food.

There are other foods in the Indian market which are budget-friendly like Tetra bits, Taiyo, and optimum. Please read the ingredients of this food before buying. In the end, it’s the customer who needs to think about what to feed and how serious is the hobby. I have already highlighted what to see in the food. It’s up to the discretion of the reader to go in for the right food for its fish. Grow your fish well.

You will come across very colorful fish especially the African Cichlids when they are small. It is very unlikely in the wild to get colors in small fish of 2 inches. The gullible buyer is left disappointed when the fish loses its color after a month as the fish was fed on artificial color hormones. This unethical means of coloration is going on and sadly some breeders are indulging in this practice to make a quick buck at the expense of the health of the fish.

African Cichlids Peacock
African Cichlids Peacock

Loss of color can also be due to stress factors in the aquarium due to constant chasing by the dominant fish. I have seen it happening in my cichlid aquarium. I had introduced a nice-looking Blue peacock into the tank which had lost its color due to stress but regained its color as soon as I removed the dominant male from the tank. There are other factors too mostly the males are more colorful than the female.

The Diet of the Fish should also vary. The Aquarist can opt for pellets, Flakes, and Frozen food during the week. If your fish is carnivorous, give the fish more high protein and also a veg mix diet which can help in digestion. Omnivorous as the name suggests, a good mix of veg and non-veg diet is good. For herbivorous, a high level of veg diet as main ingredients is necessary.


· Do not feed pellets and flakes together.

· Please research the fish before implementing the diet plan. Food not eaten for more than 5 minutes needs to be taken out.

· Any food which creates lots of “POOH” is unhealthy food. So watch out for these signs. Quality food will not be wasted and fish will enjoy every treat that you feed.

According to research done by "Journal of Fisheries & Livestock Production," Belgium states that the composition of the food for most of our Aquarium fish (Freshwater and Marine) is ideal when a high % of digestible proteins, many essential amino acids, and fatty acids, vitamins A+B+C+D, trace elements, and minerals are present.

Myth: Premium food is expensive

  • Most the Aquarists give too much cheap, inadequate food. They tend to give a large amount of food to make their fish happy.

  • Every time a hobbyist goes towards the aquarium the fish will come to the surface, then more food is given to them. The aquarist thinks that "the fish is begging for food". so more cheap food is dumped in the water.

  • Feed your fish one time or at most twice a day with high-quality food. Fish have small mouths compared to other pets like dogs and cats.

  • The price of food mainly depends on its ingredients. Good quality food is produced using fresh wild fish as the main ingredient, it's very rich and healthy, Krill, squid meal, good digestible fish oils with high content of Omega-3 and low content of cereals. thus, the fish oil energy value is more than twice of carbohydrates.

  • That means the pellets with high energy value and digestibility the user saves around 50 to 60% of the amount he would need to use if feeding with other conventional foods.

  • The pollution in the Aquaria produced by excrements is notably reduced and above all, fish will be healthier and stronger, and less prone to catch the disease.,

Poor food Quality

  • Skinny fish, Sunken belly disease are caused by Poor ingredients, lack of high nutritional value, and cheap food. Low-grade food affects fish health and they normally die sooner..

  • Cloudy and messy water. Water stinks think about the fish.

low quality fish food and cloudy water
Cloudy water because of low-quality fish food. Do you want This?
  • All these low-quality food leads to bad organs on account of low immunity. The fish suffers from infections. No medicine cures fish at the final stage. The Aquarist blames the medicine, but will not change the food to high-quality food.

Lastly, before I end this article one word of proud advice is “ tell the seller to mind his own business “ because you have been informed by aquafishcare and know what you are looking for in fish food. So go out and get the best quality food and get assured that your fish will be healthy and happy.

Inspirational video: How to make your fish food from the King of DIY.

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Author :- Sunil Dcosta (

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