Fish food comparison

SouthAmericanCichlids
  • #1
So I was interested in what foods are best for your fish so I went through a few foods (only one from each brand, whichever looks the most high quality and is a flake) and found some of the most important things and put them in a chart, the things to now are unhealthy fillers are the following: Wheat products, soy products, and corn products and rice products. I let one flour be accepted as flour is a common binder. Chemical colors have been suspected and seem to be bad for fish, and kelp has most of the vitamins so to know how many vitamins you have to see how low of an amount there is. Coline is good. Looking at the results the best for the fish is fluval bug bites, that was my guess the other was Kens. The second best was Omega 1 imo. Any other things you think I should include? Foods listed afterwards.

Food to right, stat belowFluval Bug bites tropical flakeKen’s premium tropical flakeOmega one Super colorTetraColor® Plus Tropical FlakesCobalt Aquatics Pro Breeder Flakes Fish FoodAqueon Color Enhancing Tropical FlakesTop Fin® Tropical Fish FlakesApi TROPICAL GREENS FLAKESSera San Nature
SpirulinaNo, but alt.YesNo, but alt.Possibly, or at least an alt.YesyesYesyesyes
Astaxanthinyesyesyesnoyesyesyesyesyes
Garlicnonononoyesyesnoyesyes
1st food not filleryesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
First 2 not filleryesyesyesyesnonononono
1st 3 not filleryesnononononononono
More than 1st 3 not filleryesnononononononono
Unhealthy fillers021323120
Chemical colorsnononoyesnonoyesnono
Colineyesnononoyesyesnoyesno
Vitamin Kyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Vitamin D 1yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Vitamin D 3yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Vitamin Ayesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Vitamin EyesyesyesyesYesYesyesyesyes
Vitamin CyesyesyesyesYesYesYesyesyes
B vitaminsyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
# that kelp is on the listN/A9th8th13th9thN/AN/A14thN/A
API® | TROPICAL GREENS FLAKES
sera San Nature | sera
Top Fin® Tropical Fish Flakes | fish Food | PetSmart
Super Color Flakes | OmegaSea®
Ken's Premium Tropical Flake
AQUEON Color Enhancing Tropical Flakes Freshwater Fish Food, 2.29-oz jar - Chewy.com
 
jkkgron2
  • #2
Maybe include Hikari Vibra bites as one of the foods? I don’t feed it very often but my fish love it and it’d be nice to see how healthy it is compared to other fish foods.
 
BigManAquatics
  • #3
That being said...thats all pretty worthless if your fish refuse to eat any of those. The King of the Ring still retains his crown: the food your fish will eat!!!
 
StarGirl
  • #4
Wow you have a lot of time on your hands don't you...lol Good job!
 
SouthAmericanCichlids
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Maybe include Hikari Vibra bites as one of the foods?
I only did flakes.
That being said...thats all pretty worthless if your fish refuse to eat any of those. The King of the Ring still retains his crown: the food your fish will eat!!!
But I can get my fish to eat most foods so I'd just try to pick the healthiest one.
 
BigManAquatics
  • #6
I only did flakes.

But I can get my fish to eat most foods so I'd just try to pick the healthiest one.
I just discovered today my plecos do not like hikari algae wafers. All sorts of leftovers this morning. They do however like the Xtreme version....never a crumb left!
 
SouthAmericanCichlids
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
What's interesting is that, Top Fin Tropical Fish Flakes, which is always ripped on, but it has similar ingredients to a highly praised food like ken's or omega one.
 
Cherryshrimp420
  • #8
What's interesting is that, Top Fin Tropical Fish Flakes, which is always ripped on, but it has similar ingredients to a highly praised food like ken's or omega one.

The 1st ingredient is what matters. Unfortunately "fish meal" doesn't mean much, it can be any part of the fish's body and vary in nutritional value.

Everything after the 1st ingredient may or may not matter... For example, fish meal contains coline, astaxanthin, and many other vitamins in very tiny amounts. So just by using fish meal the manufacturer can list a bunch of other "healthy" ingredients even though they may not be in amounts substantial enough to make a difference.

There are ways to inference the quality of "fish meal" by looking at protein %, fat %, ash % etc. But there are ways to manipulate those values (and they have been manipulated in human foods before)
 
SouthAmericanCichlids
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
The 1st ingredient is what matters. Unfortunately "fish meal" doesn't mean much, it can be any part of the fish's body and vary in nutritional value.
I have always heard this, but why would they only do the bad parts. What are they doing with the rest of the fish lol? And, I think really the only bad things would be eyes and kidneys as I believe they are high in salt and then caffeine. But the rest that humans don't eat is completely our preference.
 
ChrissFishes01
  • #10
Oh, man, I've had some debates about this one!

I'm a strong believer in edibility first, variety second, convenience third, and nutritional value last.

I'm firmly convinced that any fish food on the shelf (at least in America) is more than good enough to keep your average fish healthy. There are exceptions, like puffers, but if we limit it to fish that'll accept dry foods I think it holds up.

If a fish will eat it, it's getting some value from that food. So, if you can get the fish to eat the food (whether it's a guppy, puffer, lionfish, tang, etc...) you're getting some nutrition into that fish and will be keeping that fish alive, at least in the short-term.

Some foods may not have many varied ingredients, and some may be missing or be low on certain vitamins and food groups that may be beneficial to fish. So, feeding several different kinds of food will be good, just to cover all your bases. I like Omega One foods, personally, so I'll feed their freshwater community blend to all of my tanks (freshwater, saltwater, and brackish) one day, their saltwater blend the next (again, to all of my tanks), a handful of their mini pellets, then some of their kelp pellets, etc... Then I switch it up with some Xtreme foods, and every now and then I get a container of the Tetra Color Crisps. I could go on for probably 3-4 paragraphs about the foods I alternate through - but pretty much, I don't feed the same (dry) food two days in a row, unless it's in an auto feeder, and then I mix foods before I load it into the feeder.

If the food is a pain for me to feed, I won't feed that food very often. The one exception is live baby brine - I try to feed it 5 days a week, and have varying success rates on that. But I do keep it hatched out more often than not, and I think that's one reason I tend to have good luck with "picky" eaters (my dwarf puffer, bumblebee gobies, clown gobies, etc...) - even if they're not really loving the dry/frozen foods, they're still getting a few decent live meals a week. I don't think feeding frozen is any more difficult than feeding dry, so I'll usually thaw some frozen foods into a cup and just pour some into each tank once a day, on top of whatever the auto feeder has done in dry foods. Easy enough.

And, fourth, comes nutritional value. I DO look at ingredients, but in general, I don't let it dictate what I feed. I think with the sheer variety that I have, any deficiencies in a certain food would be cancelled out by another food. As far as carcinogenic and "harmful" preservatives go, the concentrations of these things in fish foods is so insanely low that I seriously doubt it's ever caused a fish death. Before we go chasing after companies about the preservatives in their foods, we probably need to get to a point where the #1 cause of death in the hobby isn't sheer human error. I would say that vast majority of fish don't live long enough in aquariums to actually die of a cancer they may have gotten from a food - and after looking into it, I sincerely don't think any foods are causing cancer, at least with the common brands here in the States.

That is an awesome list you have, though. It'd be a useful forum resource to have a ton of different foods laid out in a table like this - with a disclaimer that there are a lot of things everyone needs to focus on improving (veterans and noobies alike) before we get too caught up in fish food ingredients.

Okay, I'll step off my soap box now. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
 
Cherryshrimp420
  • #11
I have always heard this, but why would they only do the bad parts. What are they doing with the rest of the fish lol? And, I think really the only bad things would be eyes and kidneys as I believe they are high in salt and then caffeine. But the rest that humans don't eat is completely our preference.

It can be leftovers from fish processed for human consumption, or it can be poor tasting fish. It can be part of a fish ie head & guts, or it can be the whole fish. The thing is we don't know.... It's likely not gonna be high quality/whole fish because otherwise they would advertise it.
 
ChrissFishes01
  • #12
It can be leftovers from fish processed for human consumption, or it can be poor tasting fish. It can be part of a fish ie head & guts, or it can be the whole fish. The thing is we don't know.... It's likely not gonna be high quality/whole fish because otherwise they would advertise it.
Why is that bad? Fish eat every part in the wild. Certain parts may be higher in nutritional value than others, but having everything in there isn't a bad thing. Guts are very beneficial, and so are brains and bones.
 
Cherryshrimp420
  • #13
Why is that bad? Fish eat every part in the wild. Certain parts may be higher in nutritional value than others, but having everything in there isn't a bad thing. Guts are very beneficial, and so are brains and bones.

That's the point, whole fish is every part and they are not using whole fish. The companies who do use whole fish will usually label it as such eg. some New Life Spectrum, Omega One lines.
 
SouthAmericanCichlids
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
His point is more, that almost all parts are not unhealthy for them. So it's okay for them to eat the other parts.
 
ChrissFishes01
  • #15
That's the point, whole fish is every part and they are not using whole fish. The companies who do use whole fish will always label it as such eg. some New Life Spectrum, Omega One lines.
Your original comment made it sound like you thought the fact that it could be any part of the fish was bad - that's my bad for misunderstanding.

I'll stand by my previous statement. Ingredients don't matter nearly as much as people love to say they do - variety is king, and no matter how good a fish food is, if the fish won't eat it, it's no good to me.
 
SouthAmericanCichlids
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
I'll stand by my previous statement. Ingredients don't matter nearly as much as people love to say they do - variety is king, and no matter how good a fish food is, if the fish won't eat it, it's no good to me.
Variety is best, but my thought is vary with the best foods, and avoid the ones with added chemicals. I have a mix of a ton of foods that I feed. But tbh, every single food I have, has never been refused by my fish.


This is an interesting conversation.
 
ChrissFishes01
  • #17
Variety is best, but my thought is vary with the best foods, and avoid the ones with added chemicals. I have a mix of a ton of foods that I feed. But tbh, every single food I have, has never been refused by my fish.


This is an interesting conversation.
In a perfect world, yes, I'd say varying between 4-5 of the "best" foods on the market would be ideal. I just think "best" is very anecdotal, and that the answer is going to be different for a lot of people.

There's a particular preservative that Omega One uses (Ethoxyquin) that people freak out about. I found a thread on it last year and spent a while researching and digging through papers, and that's how I came to the conclusion that I literally couldn't care less what chemicals are in the foods, as long as they're within safe dosages. They all have their purposes, and while it may be best to have a chemical-free food, I'd rather be able to keep the food around for longer without it spoiling, personally.

Here's that thread: Is omega one dangerous?? | Fish Food Forum | 461909
 
Cherryshrimp420
  • #18
Your original comment made it sound like you thought the fact that it could be any part of the fish was bad - that's my bad for misunderstanding.

I'll stand by my previous statement. Ingredients don't matter nearly as much as people love to say they do - variety is king, and no matter how good a fish food is, if the fish won't eat it, it's no good to me.

Yes in case there's any misunderstanding, whole fish = higher quality. But fish meal you don't know what you get. It can be mostly bone & skin which is not very nutritionally balanced.

It then just comes down to what is defined as "good" fish food. If a fish food is not nutritionally complete & optimal then is it really "good"? If you have to rotate between 4-5 fish foods then are any one of those fish foods really nutritionally complete? How would you be able to tell?

If a single fish food can be fed for the entire lifespan of the fish then in my opinion, that food is better than 4-5 foods that needed to be rotated. Given that fish can live 4 - 10+ years it is indeed a challenge to feed one food exclusively for a prolonged period of time (ie 1+ years). I have done so with a few brands, and I found I was able to feed New Life Spectrum original line and Omega One salmon flakes exclusively for 2+ years each (for neon tetras). But the problem gets complicated because fish food expires over time and loses nutritional value (Also both of those lines no longer exist on the market :D :D ). So for a neon tetra's entire lifespan (8-10 years) I would not be able to feed one food without it expiring...

It would be great to receive more data from other hobbyists.
 
ChrissFishes01
  • #19
Yes in case there's any misunderstanding, whole fish = higher quality. But fish meal you don't know what you get. It can be mostly bone & skin which is not very nutritionally balanced.

It then just comes down to what is defined as "good" fish food. If a fish food is not nutritionally complete & optimal then is it really "good"? If you have to rotate between 4-5 fish foods then are any one of those fish foods really nutritionally complete? How would you be able to tell?

If a single fish food can be fed for the entire lifespan of the fish then in my opinion, that food is better than 4-5 foods that needed to be rotated. Given that fish can live 4 - 10+ years it is indeed a challenge to feed one food exclusively for a prolonged period of time (ie 1+ years). I have done so with a few brands, and I found I was able to feed New Life Spectrum original line and Omega One salmon flakes exclusively for 2+ years each (for neon tetras). But the problem gets complicated because fish food expires over time and loses nutritional value (Also both of those lines no longer exist on the market :D :D ). So for a neon tetra's entire lifespan (8-10 years) I would not be able to feed one food without it expiring...

It would be great to receive more data from other hobbyists.
What I'm saying is that even with some dirt-cheap Top Fin community flake food, you don't have to feed several different foods to keep healthy fish. I like to go the extra mile, so I do, but I've seen plenty of people use one brand of "inferior" fish food and do amazingly well with a large swathe of fish.

I'd still argue your point with "fish meal" is invalid, IMO. Yes, bone and skin may not be nutritionally balanced, but when you add all the other ingredients and vitamins added to the food, it makes it balanced enough. We'll never be able to truly emulate what most fish do in the wild - eating mulm, then going and eating on a dead fish, then hunting down worms, then eating some bugs at the top of the water, then eating some algae, etc... But we can add things into foods to emulate that. Lets say a mosquito larvae gives nutrients "x through z". If we use fish meal as a base in a food, and then add nutrients "x through z" manually, we're essentially emulating that fish eating a mosquito larvae from a nutritional point of view.

Now, how do we know a fish food has everything we could ever want? We can't. So how do we get nutrients "A-Z"? We feed a variety of foods. Even if a guppy doesn't necessarily need to eat a lot of nutrient "n", making sure that we're feeding a bunch of different foods can ensure that it has access to that nutrient if the need arises. And, I personally very seriously doubt most hobbyists (and a lot of researchers for fish food companies) are 100% keyed into the specifics of what each fish needs, so it makes sense to me to feed several different foods to cover any possibility of any food having a deficiency. It also covers possibility of bad batches of food, and expired/otherwise compromised food.

TL;DR - any food is likely to have the core things a fish needs to do well. Feeding a variety of foods is a good way to ensure that fish is getting the absolute best care, and making sure that all the boxes are checked, so to speak.

Getting some other input would be very interesting!
 
Feohw
  • #20
It can be leftovers from fish processed for human consumption, or it can be poor tasting fish. It can be part of a fish ie head & guts, or it can be the whole fish. The thing is we don't know.... It's likely not gonna be high quality/whole fish because otherwise they would advertise it.
That's the point, whole fish is every part and they are not using whole fish. The companies who do use whole fish will always label it as such eg. some New Life Spectrum, Omega One lines.
There are plenty of companies that use whole fish, yet label their products with just fish meal. There are certain definitions set for ingredient panel listings. According to these definitions, fish meal encompasses whole fish meal and "leftover" fish meal. There is no actual definition for whole fish meal. So some companies choose to take it into their own hands, avoid the negative association with the word meal, and label outside of these definitions. Not all do this. It can easily be determined if they use whole fish meal simply labelled as "fish meal" by reading their website and/or emailing them. Or start here.

I'm also one for variety. Most fish foods these days are quite good and are most likely sufficient when fed alone. But on the off chance that one food is lacking in some regard, I like to cover all bases and diversify.
 
BigManAquatics
  • #21
I like to throw variety in for a simple fact. You don't want to eat a bowl of ramen noodles every day for every meal, do you?
 
Cherryshrimp420
  • #22
I'd still argue your point with "fish meal" is invalid, IMO. Yes, bone and skin may not be nutritionally balanced, but when you add all the other ingredients and vitamins added to the food, it makes it balanced enough.

But that's an assumption you are making. We as customers, don't know that it is "balanced enough".

Fish food do not need as strict FDA regulations as human food. When a fish food has "biotin" additive, we don't know how much is added, it could be a lot or it could be almost nothing.

The only reason fish meal is even viable at all is because fish in general has a wide diversity of nutrients so really, we are just relying on it to cover all the bases.

There are plenty of companies that use whole fish, yet label their products with just fish meal. There are certain definitions set for ingredient panel listings. According to these definitions, fish meal encompasses whole fish meal and "leftover" fish meal. There is no actual definition for whole fish meal. So some companies choose to take it into their own hands, avoid the negative association with the word meal, and label outside of these definitions. Not all do this. It can easily be determined if they use whole fish meal simply labelled as "fish meal" by reading their website and/or emailing them. Or start here.

I'm also one for variety. Most fish foods these days are quite good and are most likely sufficient when fed alone. But on the off chance that one food is lacking in some regard, I like to cover all bases and diversify.

Yes always was the wrong word, I'll change it... Again, that's the thing we don't know what part or how much of each fish is used. "Sufficient when fed alone" is a statement that we can test. If someone were to carry out this experiment, I think we would get better answers than just assumptions. Just looking at Fishlore answers and how much variety of fish food everyone feeds, I'm not convinced that any generic brand can be fed alone.

I like to throw variety in for a simple fact. You don't want to eat a bowl of ramen noodles every day for every meal, do you?

That's because ramen noodles is not nutritionally complete for humans. There are foods that are, for example salmon, seal, potatoes with kale etc. You can in theory, eat only those and live a full/close to full life, but on ramen you cannot.
 
SouthAmericanCichlids
  • Thread Starter
  • #23
Though it is an assumption that fish meal is mostly the unhealthy parts, I'll try messaging them, I probably won't get an answer, but I'll try.

Nevermind, I just saw that article where he messaged a ton of people. That was really interesting Feohw .
 
SouthAmericanCichlids
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
This compares pellet brands, this time I took away the vitamins as they took forever to get last time and they were all yes in the end, I've also added a "Filler score." How I calculated this was I took how many down from the first ingredient aren't fillers, for example the first 2 ingredients in fluval bug bites aren't fillers, and then subtract how many fillers there is total, in that case, 2, and then that gives me the score 0. Because if it was just one filler, then it would be higher on the list, as there would be more. For example, if you look at Xtreme and Cobalt, their first 4 are not fillers but Xtreme has 4 fillers and has a score of 0, but Cobalt has just 1, and a score of 3. I'd suggest re-reading my 1st post for other info.

All-in-all, the best was Cobalt, with yes on all of the good things and no on all the worst, and the best filler score and having kelp the highest on the list. Also, just never do TetraColor Tropical Granules, it has bad chemicals and has a filler score of -6.

Food to right, stat belowFluval bug bites color enhancer granulesKEN'S PREMIUM SINKING GROWTH PELLETS 3 MMOmega One Super Color Floating Pellets Tropical Fish FoodCobalt Ultra Tropical Nano BitsAqueon Tropical Granules Fish FoodHikari Tropical Micro Pellets for Small FishTop Fin® Betta Bits Color Enhancing PelletsXTREME COLOR ENHANCER - 1.5MM SLOW SINKING PELLETSTetraColor Tropical Granules

Sera Discus Granules Staple diet​

Spirulina/
Tocopherol
YesNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Astaxanthin/Paprika/Betta-Carotene/etc.YesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
GarlicNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoYes
1st food not fillerYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
First 2 not fillerYesNoYesYesNoYesYesYesNoNo
1st 3 not fillerNoNoNoYesNoNoNoYesNoNo
More than 1st 3 not fillerNoNoNoYesNoNoNoYesNoNo
Unhealthy fillers2321433472
Filler score0-203-3-1-10-60
Chemical colorsNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNo
CholineYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNo
# that kelp is on the list8thN/A8th3rd8thN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A

But, Fluval community bug FLAKES are better than Cobalt ultra tropical nano bits.
 

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