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Last updated: 01/11/2020

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Having fish at home is very common among families these days. They are easy to care for pets that add a nice ambiance to any living room or house. Fish are the type of pets that do not require attention but can bring great joy to children and adults alike.

We’ve made the following guide about fish food, so you can keep your fish healthy for a long time. Having healthy fish is achieved mainly by providing good quality food. In this guide, we will show you which are the best products on the market, the commonly used ingredients, and everything you need to know to feed your fish correctly.

Key Facts

  • The composition of fish food is essential for your fish to maintain good health. You should review your fish tank daily to make sure that the food you are providing is good for your pet’s health. If you notice that your fish is losing color or it is moving slowly, you should review the food you are providing it.
  • When feeding your fish, you must identify the breed in order to provide it with the right type of food. Also, be aware that fish that live in different habitats do not have the same dietary needs.
  • Remember never to overfeed your fish. Fish are renown for continually eating until they die. As their owner, it is up to you to ration their food adequately so they don’t become fat or eat excessively. Also keep in mind that the more food you give to your fish, the more often you will have to clean their tank.

Our Selection: The Best Fish Food on the U.S. Market

Before randomly buying any food for your fish, you should understand what type of food it needs. Finding out which food is suitable for your fish is a very important detail that will determine the quality of life of your fish. Below we have a selection of the best products available for your fish along with a short description of each.

Best Tropical Fish Food

TetraMin Plus Tropical Flakes provide a nutritionally balanced premium staple food, with added shrimp flakes that are suitable for all tropical fish. This is a specialized, high-protein fish meal that ensures these flakes are highly digestible and leave minimal residue in the tank. The ProCare formula mixes highly nutritious ingredients plus vitamins, minerals and trace elements to help support the immune system of your fish.

Best Goldfish Food

Tetra has been revolutionizing and improving fish nutrition since the company’s birth in Germany in 1951. The TetraFin Plus Goldfish Flakes offer premium nutrition to your goldfish and contain extra vegetable matter that helps keep your goldfish in peak condition. This fish food is the best on the market for goldfish as it is pure and digestible with fewer colorants, which leads to less waste and a cleaner, clearer aquarium.

Best Floating Pellet Fish Food

The Tetra Floating Pellets are specifically formulated for all top and mid-water feeding cichlids and goldfish. These pellets are scientifically-developed, protein-rich food that features Tetra’s ProCare formula that supports fish immune system health and does not cloud water if used as directed.

Best Pond Fish Food

Wardley Pond Fish Food Pellets are scientifically designed to fulfill the energy needs of koi and goldfish. If you have a pond, then this is the food that you must buy your fish. We think that this is the best pond fish food because the pellets contain a stabilized form of vitamin C to support a healthy immune system and are light in weight but full of nutrition.

Shopping Guide: Everything you Should Know About Fish Food

When it comes to feeding fish and keeping fish healthy, there is actually more to it than meets the eye. Selecting the right food for the environment as well as the fish breed can be hard enough, let alone knowing how much to feed it and how often. If have got a few questions about feeding your fish, then you’ve come to the right place. In the following section, we will answer the most frequently asked questions among fish owners when it comes to fish food.

mother with her little daughter

Fish are a great pets for children to learn about the responsibility of caring for animals.
(Source: Vadym Zaitsev: 32337331/ 123rf.com)

What is fish food?

Fish food is typically an artificial product made from natural ingredients based on plankton, algae, plants, mollusks, subtypes of fish and other components. In addition to containing these standard ingredients, fish food manufacturers often add vitamins and nutritional supplements to make the food easier to digest.

What types of fish food are there on the market?

Feeding fish can be tricky if you don’t have the right information or have never done it before. The first thing to learn is that there are many different types of fish food on the market, with each type being suitable for one fish breed or another. Below we list and explain the main types of fish food on the market.

  • Flakes: This is the most popular dry food. Almost 90% of fish food is made in this format. Flakes are porous scales that are made from different ingredients and that have the ability to float on the surface of the aquarium. As flakes are produced at high temperatures, unfortunately, the food loses a good part of its nutritional components.
  • Granulated: They are a kind of croquette that can be used to increase the weight of fish. This granulated food is porous so that when the fish digests the grains, it expands in its stomach.
  • Sticks: These are used for large fish, such as carp or cichlids. Sticks have a low density, so they tend to float on the surface.
  • Tablets: These are a way to feed nocturnal fish, such as carp or catfish that live on the bottom of the tank. These tablets are very dense and sink easily to the bottom of the fish tank. The negative side of this type of fish food is that it makes the water very dirty, which requires you to change the water more frequently.
  • Fresh food: There are many pet stores that sell frozen food, such as mosquito larvae, tubifex, shrimp, and cyclops, among others.

Now that you know about the different types of fish food that exists, we want to show you a table so that you can distinguish the types of fish that exist and what their nutritional needs are. When the time comes to purchase food for your fish, you can use this table as a guide:

Type of fish Examples of fish Food requirements
Cold water Neons, mosquito fish, miracles, goldfish, lionhead goldfish and veil tail. Low protein and lots of fat.
Warm water Clownfish, surgeonfish, kissing gurami, butterfly fish, angelfish, and discus fish. Small crustaceans and mollusks (if possible, live food to satisfy the predatory instinct).
Freshwater Killis, betta fish, rainbow shark, zebrafish, telescope fish and koi, among many others. Small insects, algae, and plants.
Saltwater Emperor angelfish, goby, razorfish, dwarf magenta perch, and damsel. Algae, plants, and larvae.

How often do I have to feed my fish?

The common feeding frequency for fish is between 2 and 4 times a day. However, you must look at the type of fish you have in order to determine the correct frequency. For example, small fish, such as cardinal tetra and neon guppies need to eat at least 4 times a day.

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Tip: If you have different breeds of fish in the one tank, you can make combinations of the food you put in the aquarium. There is no issue adding different types of food.

You must also take into account the origin of the animal. As a general rule, if you buy the fish from a pet shop, you will almost always buy a small fish. These fish need to eat more frequently, even if the total amount of food is the same. If you are ever in doubt, consult your vet.

Colorful fishes in aquarium

The food that you feed your fish must be suitable for its species and the type of water it lives in.
(Source: Pavlo Vakhrushev: 39692210/ 123rf.com).

How much fish food should I give my fish?

This is an important aspect to consider as certain fish, such as cold-water fish, eat a lot, while other fish eat very little. The challenge with feeding fish is to balance their nutrition by not starving them or allowing them to gain so much weight that they become obese. The following table can serve as a guide to working out fish food quantities:

Water temperature Amount of food Type of food
Up to 50°F Small amounts every 3 days Rich in wheat germ
50º – 55ºF One serving every 2 days Low protein and low carbohydrates
55º – 59ºF Only one serving a day Less than 25% protein and high in carbohydrates
59º – 68ºF 2 food servings per day 35% protein
68º – 77ºF 2 food servings a day separated into three parts (Morning, midday, and evening) Up to 40% protein and food supplements (ceratonia and vitamins)

Pond fish food

In case you have a pond in the garden with fish such as barbel, goldfish, bream or corydoras, you must ensure you provide the proper nutrition for your fish, in addition to maintaining a clean pond. Modern fish food manufacturers sell fish food that has been made to produce minimal contamination for ponds. They are able to achieve this by producing food that is low in protein and is highly digestible.

To give you an example, think about cheap dog food. If you buy the cheapest dog food, your dog will usually experience a high number of bowel movements. The reason for this is that the digestibility of the food is poor, and in the long run it is also unhealthy for your dog. This is the same with fish, as it’s not only about providing them the right quantity of food but also about the quality of the food that is suited to the fish breed.

Fish Food Flakes

Fish flakes are the most common fish food.
(Source: Ctrphotos: 23240039/ 123rf.com)

Shopping Criteria

Buying confidently comes with knowledge. Now that you know all about fish food, you can start thinking about choosing a product. In the following section, we are going to present the aspects that you should take into account when buying fish food. This way, you’ll be able to make a successful purchase.

Composition

We recommend that you don’t solely focus on the brand of the product, as this isn’t a guarantee of quality. When choosing fish food, you must carefully analyze the ingredients and nutrients that are used to make the product.

Almost all fish food will contain natural ingredients (such as fish, mollusks, vegetables, cereals, yeasts, oils, and fats). There will also likely be analytical constituents in varying percentages, such as protein, fat, fiber, and ashes. Finally, you will find that most fish food contains vitamins A, D, C, and E, as well as organoleptic additives, composed of a series of dyes. All these components are good for your fish.

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Did you know that most fish have taste buds spread all over their bodies?

Lecithin

This is a mandatory ingredient found in all fish food. Lecithin is a generic word used to name a group of fats present in all living beings, both animal and vegetable. Lecithin is composed of phosphoric acid, choline, fatty acids, glycerol, phospholipids, triglycerides, and phosphatidic acid.

A balanced diet for fish should include food that contains lipids, especially for cold-water fish. The low water temperature means that they require food that gives them the energy to move easily throughout an aquarium. Lecithin is usually mixed with fish oil to coat the food.

woman near aquariums with fishes in pet-shop

Fish food contains a good source of vitamins.
(Source: Iakov Filimonov: 21503909/ 123rf.com)

Color Enhancers

If you own a fish tank with koi or goldfish carp, you’ll want to buy fish food that contains a color enhancer ingredient. There are some fish food products that do this by being loaded with natural color enhancers such as astaxanthin (a very potent antioxidant for the skin and eyes). This food compound helps to highlight the colors of gold, orange and red in fish.

Another benefit of color enhancers is that they help to provide vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and beta-glucan (helps your calm your fish), which are two immune system stimulators. In addition to maintaining their appearance, you’ll also be taking care of their health by choosing fish that contains color enhancers. It may be a delicate balance to achieve, but it certainly is possible.

Type of Fish

The type of fish must be taken into account, as a cold-water fish does not eat in the same way as a tropical fish. What’s more, the type of food should be suited to the lifestyle of your pet. For example, if you have a bottom feeder, it doesn’t make sense to provide flakes that float on the surface.

We also recommend that you feed your fish in a way that requires your fish to look for food so that they stay active and perform some exercise. This has the benefit of increasing their brain functions by having to investigate in order to eat.

The loft interior with aquarium

Remember to keep your aquarium clean. This will ensure your fish do not get sick.
(Source: Victor Zastolskiy: 52654388/ 123rf.com)

Waste

This is an important criterion because the food you choose will directly determine how frequently you need to clean the tank. Many people choose the first fish food they see and don’t realize that investing in a quality product will mean less waste.

If the waste of your fish is not well managed, it could have serious consequences for the filter and the health of your fish. In the ocean, this is not an issue as the waste dissolves naturally, but in an aquarium, it is completely different.

Summary

As you have seen, buying food for fish is not exactly “a walk in the park”. You must take into account many factors, as well as being careful with feeding times and quantities. Proper research and a reasonable investment are worth it when it comes to caring for a pet.

Fish brighten up your life and house with their simple company and although having a domestic fish is not like living with a cat or a dog, it has its own charms and benefits. Fish don’t make noises, they don’t stain the carpet, and you don’t have to take them for a walk.

We hope that you thoroughly enjoyed this guide on fish food. If you liked it, please don’t forget to share it on your social networks or write a comment below.

(Source of featured image: Supida Khemawan: 82496758/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Nicholas Falconer Writer & Sports Lover
Writer, translator, and English teacher that enjoys everything related to sports, technology, movies, and travel. If there is a large range of products out there, he'll make sure to find the best options for all types of people and budgets. The most important aspect for him is providing consumers with factual information and an honest opinion, so they can make a successful purchase.