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Complete Nutrition for Fish

Fish food manufacturers strive to provide nutritionally complete foods that meet specific fishes’ needs and produce minimal waste for all-around success.


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Fish have never had it better when it comes to foods. In addition to not having to worry about where their next meal is coming from—the “food fairy” appears on a regular basis for them—the quality of the foods available are excellent, and more manufacturers are offering species-specific diets.

“More and more companies are coming around to the thinking that not all fish can eat the same food,” said Chris Clevers, president of Hikari Sales USA in Hayward, Calif., which offers a variety of dry and frozen foods for fish. “We have been calling these ‘species-specific diets’ for decades. It’s nice to have our long-standing belief reaffirmed by our competition.”

It used to be there were flakes for most fish and some pellets for bigger fish, like Oscars. Research by aquatic products companies has led to very specific foods for different fishes. Now owners can get high protein for fish that require that, vegetable-based foods for those guys, special foods for goldfish and koi, as well as options for different times of year or temperatures for fish in outdoor ponds.

The top producers of fish for the hobby, as well as wholesalers and local stores, recognize the importance of food in the colors, health and vitality of fish. Many stores feed their tank fish the same foods they sell to customers.

Elive, based in New Berlin, Wis., offers a line of both frozen and dry fish foods with a focus on providing complete nutrition.

“Priority No. 1 was to ensure that our food was as nutritionally complete as possible,” said Matt Allen, vice president of marketing for Elive. “Using quality protein ingredients like whole anchovies, whole shrimp and squid meal was crucial.”

Cobalt Aquatics offers a full line of dry and frozen foods, also striving to meet the complete nutritional requirements of fish, with important ingredients that assist fish in utilizing the foods.

“Probiotic bacteria support a healthy digestive system in the fish by increasing the digestive capability of the fish and nutrient uptake,” said Les Wilson, co-founder and head of marketing for the Rock Hill, S.C.-based company. “This results in faster growing fish using the same amount of food as fish fed without probiotics. And because the fish are utilizing more of the food, they produce less waste, which means cleaner tanks.”

Clevers also emphasized the importance of the ingredients that go into fish foods and reducing waste.

“Higher grades of fish meal offer better protein sources and a uniquely balanced mix of ingredients,” he said. “This allows the fish to utilize more of the food, which translates to less waste and better water quality … all while supporting immune system health.”

From the tanks in the fish store to customers’ tanks at home, experts agree that it is important that the foods the fish consume produce as little waste as possible, with most of the energy from the foods going into the fish, not into the waste stream.

In addition to what is in the fish food, retailers and owners have to get the diet into the fish.

“Blending in proven natural-color enhancers, including red algae, spirulina, brine shrimp and astaxanthin, also was important to us,” said Elive’s Allen. “Whether a flake, granule or pellet, we wanted to make sure the food triggered an aggressive feeding response, and quality ingredients ensures this.”

Providing quality foods that fish eagerly eat and that produce as little waste as possible will contribute to good water quality, successful fishkeeping and solid sales. 


This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Pet Product News

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