A Detailed Analysis of Fish Food Ingredients –What to Check and Avoid while Buying Fish Food

///A Detailed Analysis of Fish Food Ingredients –What to Check and Avoid while Buying Fish Food
What to Check and Avoid while Buying Fish Food

When it comes to the analysis of cattle feed, cat food, dog food and other livestock food, there are zillions of documents on the internet the information about fish food is scarce online that is why there is a need for some decent information on this topic. It will definitely fill the void and help those who want to learn about fish food.

Fish food must be free from toxic or potentially toxic stuff. The ingredients must be derived from natural proteins of appropriate aquatic plants or animals. The test tube by-products are not at all suitable for fish’s digestion.

Fish food has been placed quite low on the priority list of pet food business. The main reason behind this problem is the ignorance of the consuming public or allowance of including substandard ingredients. Moreover, not many people take care of the health of fish or its aquarium and the chemicals included in its food also deteriorate their health. An average life of Oscar is 10 to 20 years, but there is not a solitary Oscar who has achieved this life span due to insufficient water alteration and unhealthy environment. It means the fish food is the main potential problem. We must search for the food that do not initiate health risks and must contain suitable protein sources.

Here is a detailed research on what the manufacturers are adding in your fish food and what healthy content must be added to the fish food for longer fish life.

Be Conscious of Proteins

We are focusing on protein when it comes to fish food but not every protein is good. The protein content does not matter as much as protein source does. Melamine was the cause of the pet’s death some years before. Melamine is a chemical that enhances protein level unnaturally. The fish food industry includes proteins in their products at lowest cost regardless of the right source. They are not even concerned about the fact that if proteins of this kind are digested properly into the fish digestive system or not. The ingredient label must read 50% protein not considering that 30% of the protein just passes out of the fish without giving it any health benefits. There are huge stacks of documents claiming the healthy benefits and weights gains these proteins provide however they do not describe the way they affect the lifespan of fish. If you give your toddler zinger burger on a daily basis it will definitely increase his weight but will he have a healthy long life?

The fish pellet that is containing dried years, soy flour, soybean isolate, dried grains, or what germ are few of those protein contents you must beware of. Moreover, always keep in mind that the proteins that you add to your fish tank are transformed into nitrate. So we see the winners, in this case, are only those food manufacturers of fish that take all your cash and give you nitrates to add in your fish tank.

Understand Ingredients List

Let’s evaluate how fish food manufacturers manipulate the ingredients list.

Dry Weight vs. Wet Weight

Food manufacturers must list ingredients according to their weight by law. The ingredient having largest portion must take the first place, the ingredient having second largest portion must take the second and so on. But the weight of the ingredient listed is the one introduced in the development process. This gives an excuse to the manufacturer to manipulate the weight according to their wishes.

Product Splitting

There is another way of exploiting the ingredients which is called product splitting. In this process, a sole product for example Wheat is taken and broken down into multiple components like wheat gluten, wheat mill run, ground wheat, wheat flour and so on. These ingredients in the form of individual components weight are less than fish meal. When combined they can be taken as a primary meal. These broken ingredients play with the entirety of wheat and falsify the ingredients list.

What to seek in Ingredient List?

What to Check and Avoid while Buying Fish Food

Aquatic Protein

Always look for word “whole” in the protein such as “Whole Krill Meal” and “Whole Herring Meal” in ingredient list. This indicates two facts: first the meal product is used as the primary ingredient, and secondly the word whole shows the fish as a whole is used not the scales, bones or skin has been used.

Plant Proteins

The carnivores also need plants in diet. Fish in the natural habitat get this nutrition from the gut content of prey. So look for Spirulina as a chief ingredient listed which is healthy and digestible for even hardcore carnivores.

Plan proteins serve as natural supply of minerals and vitamins so when they are included in the food, they are sufficient for the fish diet, and there is no need for substantial supplementation of synthetic vitamins that is more dangerous for the fish health.

Multiple Proteins Supply

Now fish health requires multiple forms of plant and animal proteins in ingredient list. The mainstream proteins must come from aquatic animals namely, squid, plankton, brine shrimp, krill, herring, and salmon and plants (Vegetable Extract, Algae, Spinach, Kelp, Spirulina) and not come from add-on proteins like corn, soy or wheat products that should be present in 20% and for omnivores and carnivores it must be not more than 30%.

Vitamins Supplementation

A quality food contains all essential minerals and vitamins. The sources of B-complex, vitamin A, C, and E must be present in the list. However, the natural ingredients like spinach, vegetable extract, Kelp, and Spirulina will naturally provide the vitamins in the diet.

Ingredients That shouldn’t be Present on Ingredients List

What to Check and Avoid while Buying Fish Food


This substance is fat preservative found din the ingredient list of your pet food. Ethoxyquin is a most useful chemical that is used to preserve the food due to its low cost. This chemical causes many ailments like birth defects, cancer and liver failure in pets. This substance is allowed only in the ratio of 0.5ppm. If this substance is present on the list of fish food, do not buy that product.

Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)

This chemical is used to lengthen the shelf of pet food. It also reduces the fat spoilage in pet treats. This substance affects kidney and liver function of living beings.

Artificial Coloring Mediators

Using preservatives is a suitable excuse for the food manufacturing industry, however, using artificial mediators and coloring agents is not a valid excuse. Fish is not at all concerned about the color of its pellet or flakes that you feed it. These colors are only used to attract the pet owners. Some of the users take the green color as if it the natural color of the plant portion used in the food. On the other hand, these colors are used to misguide the pet owners and make them buy the product. Avoid products that contain artificial colors as much as possible as they low the quality of fish food and do not take any part for enhancing nutrients as such.

Vitamin K Synthetic

The ingredient mentioned below must be avoided as much as possible if they are present in the ingredient list.

  • Dimethylprimidinol Sulfite
  • Dimethylprimidinol sulfate
  • Dimethylprimidinol bisulfate
  • Supplements of Vitamin K

Meat Meal

There is a lot of chance that the ingredient list having meat meal has parts of dying or dead animals which are extremely injurious to the health of fish.

Poultry Meal

The ingredient list that says poultry meal is more prone to consists of meat leftovers or feathers that directly affect the digestibility.

Bottom Feeder Foods

The foods that read bottom feeder contain lowest quality ingredients. You will always find the ingredients like poultry meal, meat meal or hydrolyzed feathers in the ingredient list of Bottom Feeder Foods.

Ingredient Details of Fish Food

Ideal Protein Sources

The ideal protein sources comprise of primary proteins that come from aquatic plant or aquatic animal proteins like:

Fish Meal

This is a generic term and the ingredient list that states this can contain anything from great quality fish meal to leftover meat. It is better if the fish meal is written as “whole krill meal” so that the user is sure that the fish meal is comprised of best parts of fish and does not contain the blood, skin, bones and scales of the fish.

Salmon or Hearing Meal

The meal produced from the leftovers of salmon or herring comes under this category.

Whole Salmon or Whole Herring Meal

It is a dried product that is manufactured from the whole fish. The generic whole fish product contains the actual flesh and meat of the fish, not just blood, bones, scales or skin. Salmon is an amazing source of omega 6 and omega 3 and astaxanthin.

Whole Herring or Salmon

If you see a whole fish name with a binding agent such as wheat product, then the ingredient list is inaccurate. The whole fish must have a meal next t it only then it is appropriate for your pet’s health.

Salmon Fillet

These are cuts of salmon and are a quality ingredient but come with a warning. The manufacturers can exploit them due to its wet weight.

Krill Meal

Krill is an excellent source of meal that is one of most desired ingredient. The shells of krill have astaxanthin that is a powerful antioxidant. Krill is a source of omega three oils and amino acids.

Shrimp Meal

Shrimp meal is a source of meal however it is substandard than fish meal.


It provides same benefits as that of krill. It is a small edition of krill.

Sea Clams

It is amongst quality food.

Earthworm Meal

This product is made from an earthworm. It accelerates growth, covers protein, stimulates appetites and increases weight. This ingredient is amongst the quality meal.

Algae Meal

This is a dried product which is derived out of blue-green algae. It is inferior to Spirulina Algae. It increases energy levels plus improves the immune system. It contains trace elements, vitamins, and amino acids. This meal has high fiber and low fats.


It provides iodine which is helpful in providing chlorophyll and thyroid functioning. It also provides Manganese, Magnesium, iron, calcium, folate, riboflavin, copper, zinc, pantothenic acid, vitamin c and dietary fiber.

Mussel Meal

This meal is high in protein and a dried product. It is made from the edible meat of mussels.

Non-preferred Source of Protein

Most of the non-preferred ingredients have rich protein contents. However, the issue of these proteins is that it is derived from carbohydrates and starches. Fish have less ability to digest this type of protein. It will make your fish fat and affect its liver that can cause the death of fish.

Brewer’s Dried Yeast

It has 45% proteins and rich vitamin B contents. When used in fish it provides a source of proteins and vitamin supplement. It is somehow an acceptable product.

Corn Gluten Meal

A corn by-product, this ingredient contains medium level proteins. It is also used as an herbicide. This ingredient is used to increase the protein value of fish food yet the digestibility of this ingredient is a concern.

Corn Starch

This is used as a filler and binding agent in fish food. This is not digestible by a fish.

Gluten Flour

It has high protein contents while lower carbohydrates.

Ground Brown Rice

It is added as a protein source and can be considered as a quality ingredient.

Potato Protein

This ingredient is added as an inexpensive source of protein. This protein is derived from potato juice which is de-starched.

Soy Flour

It acts as a binding agent and possesses high nutritional benefits as compared to corn and wheat fillers.

Soybean Meal

It is one of preferred binding agent and filler that have high nutritional benefits as compared to corn and wheat fillers.

End Note

When you find fish for your food in the market, always look for preferred plant proteins and aquatic animal proteins as primary sources of protein. The ingredient list must not have potential toxics or controversial ingredients. Look for essential minerals and vitamins with preferred natural sources. Keep these criteria in your mind and then search for suitable food for your pet fish.



  1. MASIMO Michael December 3, 2017 at 6:25 am - Reply

    Thank you for the information because even like me who want to venture in this project I see some good idea about the all matter. I hope to explore more. In Uganda Africa.

  2. Alice February 12, 2018 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    This would be amazing, if there were a few recommended brands to look at.

  3. Dan July 4, 2018 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    @Alice Northfin, NLS and Omega One.

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