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Thread: Fish Food: The Real Deal

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    Default Fish Food: The Real Deal

    Hello, my name is Daniel, I'm 16 years old, and I love fish. I keep African Cichlids, Cats, Discus, and some South American fish as well. For about the last six months, I have been writing an article about fish food for the OCA. So before I turn it in to the President of the club, I thought maybe some of the people here would enjoy a sneak peak of my article...Fish Food: The Real Deal.




    If you have ever been to an aquarium store to buy fish food you probably have noticed that the choices are endless. Not only are there many brands, but many formulas within those brands too. You may have also noticed that Tetra usually takes up a good percentage of the fish food isle. So the question that needs to be asked is, which fish food is the best? Unfortunately, I will not be answering that question because I am in no place to answer it. What I will do is give some history and objective evidence about some different fish food companies so that you can make a decision as to what food works best for your fish. I have decided to talk primarily about Tetra, Omega Sea, Marineland and New Life International Spectrum fish foods. I know that there are other brands besides the ones mentioned, but I feel that these four deserve the most recognition. In addition, all the information that will be discussed regarding these companies is based on information given to me from people I have interviewed.
       Before I talk about the different companies, I should probably talk a little about the “Guaranteed Analysis” that can be found on the fish food container. The Guaranteed Analysis is an analysis that is guaranteed by the fish food company that makes the food. The reason there is a Guaranteed Analysis is because the government has standards for fish food that must be met by the food’s maker. Now that I got that out of the way, I will discus the different aspects of the Guaranteed Analysis.
       Crude protein is simply how much protein is put in the food. Needless to say, some fish need more protein than others. For example, if I were feeding a Tropheus I would probably want to feed it a fish food that had a low amount of protein in it. On the other hand, if I were feeding a fish like a Red Devil, I would want to feed a food that had more protein in it. Each fish is different and therefore needs different requirements in the food that we feed to them.
       The percentage for crude fat gives us an idea of how much fat is put into that food. Again, we have to take a look at the type of fish that we are feeding. If you have a younger fish and you want it to grow faster, you might want to feed a food that has more fat in it than if you have an older fish which would need less fat. Another aspect of the guaranteed analysis is crude fiber. Fiber helps the fish with its digestive system. Fiber is put in the food for roughage. Too much fiber could make a fish sick. That is why most fish foods keep their crude fiber under 5%.
       Have you ever wondered how nutritious the mixture is in your fishmeal? A good way of telling how nutritious your fish food is is to look at the amount of ash in it. In general, ash refers to the amount of “by-products” (or shell parts, heads, etc.) used in a food product. For instance, some fish food companies may want to use shrimp, krill, even lobster in their food but find that it can be very costly. So in order to have the “attractant value” (smell and taste that draws the fish to the food) that is received from these products, but not has to pay as much for the whole animal that should be used, they will use the by-products. These by-products give the smell and some of the taste, but you don’t generally receive half of what the nutritional benefit should be. My suggestion is that if you see that your fish food has an ash content above 12%, it probably isn’t a good idea to use that food. In fact, the lower the ash content the better.
       Last but not least, I need to talk about phosphorous and moisture. All you really need to know about phosphorous is that it should be between .75%-1%. The reason is that the more phosphorous you have in your tank will also grow more algae in the tank. As far as moisture goes, that should generally be under 10%. Anything above 10% and you could have problems with molding and you could also have a problem with bacteria development. The reason is that when fish food is made it starts out with a batter. The process of cooking and then the process of dehydration is there so that the water is taken out of the food because if you have too much moisture you will more than likely have the problems mentioned earlier. Now, lets take a look at some of the great companies I mentioned and their fish foods.
       I think that since Tetra has been in business the longest, it is only right to talk about their company first. In 1951 Dr. Ulrich Baensch founded Tetra. Tetra was one of the first companies to make a fish food formula so that you would no longer have to feed your fish live food. Before founding the company, Dr. Baensch was a huge hobbyist. I wasn’t able to get an official answer, but Tetra probably got its name since Tetras were one of the most popular fish back in the doctor’s day. Dr. Ulrich Baensch is also the author of some famous fish books. He is currently enjoying his retirement.
       The next company that I would like to talk about is Omega Sea. Denny Crewus founded Omega Sea in 1998. Out of all the companies that I am going to talk about, Omega is one of the most interesting companies...to me anyway. Before he founded Omega, Denny was a national sales manager for Tetra. He was even a commercial fisherman at one time. These two jobs are the main inspiration for Omega using fresh ingredients in their food. As far as I know, Omega is the only company that makes their food in Alaska. This is beneficial to the company for a couple reasons. First of all, they can do their own fishing instead of having to have ingredients shipped. (They use a thirty-year-old fishing boat that is made out of fiberglass. They call it, “The Gamblers.”) Not only does this keep costs down for not only Omega, but they pass on “cost savings” as well. Also, because the “catch of the day” doesn’t have a long way to travel before getting to the factory where it will be turned into fish food, Omega only has to process their food once! (The more you process food, the more nutrients you take out of the food.) In addition to using extremely fresh ingredients, Omega Sea puts Omega 3 fatty acids into their food. These fatty acids are good for fish...hence the name “Omega.”
       Even though Marineland has been around almost as long as Tetra, they just introduced their fish food in October of 2002. Before Bob Sherman founded Marineland in 1967, he owned a chain of pet stores. Marineland is a privately owned company than now employs over 500 people. In addition Marineland also owns such companies as Perfecto and Jungle Talk. Marineland’s philosophy is to make the aquarium hobby as easy as possible. This is obvious with all of their products including their fish food. As far as I know they are the only company to design a container that allows you to shake food into the tank much like you would salt and pepper your food. Dr. Tim Hovanec is the one who developed the formula for the food. He has been keeping aquariums since he was six years of age and was also the President of the American Cichlid Association at one time.
       Finally I would like to talk about New Life International. New Life International is a small company compared to the others previously mentioned. Even if you are not familiar with their line of fish food, Spectrum, you are probably familiar with “Cichlids the Pictorial Guide, Vol. 1” and “Cichlids the Pictorial Guide, Vol. 2.” Pablo Tepoot started his business over twenty-five years ago and it has been growing ever since. However, Spectrum didn’t come out until four to five years ago. Spectrum was designed primarily for African Cichlids and to keep salt-water fish alive. Spectrum gets its name because of the amount of color it helps to bring out in fish.
       Not only do Pablo and his son Ian publish books and make Spectrum fish food, but they also have the largest fish farm specializing in African Malawi Cichlids in the United States. Located in Florida, New Life International proudly has two five-acre farms in which to raise their fish. The two farms together total 130 ponds and over 1,000 aquariums! Needless to say many people want to buy fish from Pablo, but the minimum order is $2,000. Nevertheless, if you feed Spectrum fish food to your fish they will look like they came from this incredible fish farm.
       So what is the final analysis? Well, hopefully now that you have some basic knowledge of fish food and some of the companies that make fish food, that long isle of fish food shouldn’t seem so intimidating. In addition, if you only walk away with one thing from this article, let it be this. A fish’s health is much like our health, it depends greatly on what we as the owner’s choose to feed them. With that in mind, take the time to plan a nutritious diet for your fish...it will show in the end.

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    Daniel,

    Thank you for the article. very informative. Have you done any research on the vitamin & mineral content of the food? It would be interesting to see how these companies differ in that respect.

    Thanks again.
    O.

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    I really don't know too much about the vitamin part of the fish food. I questioned it a few times and the general answer was, "you can see how much vitamins are in the food." I plan to do more research later on, but for now I need a little break from "fish food."

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    Understandable! Thanks for the info. Looks like it's going to be a great article!

    O.

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    Thank you, the complement really means a lot.

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    Daniel congrats on your research as I too have the passion of balanced nutritional diet for Tropical Fish. Nicely written and informative... ;D

    A-

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    Hi Daniel,

    Nice write up! Thank you for sharing it. I will sticky this for a while here!

    -al

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    Good article man. Try publishing to TFH, worth a try.


    Bruce

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    8)

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    Hi Daniel,

    and welcome to simply!

    that was a great article and very enjoyable read, I think your a very talented aquarist, and I hope next time I pick up a FAMA or TFH, I'll get to read something from you!

    Just want to ask if any of your research took you to the aquaculture and fishfarming industries?

    again, good job Dude!

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    Fantastic write up! thanks for posting it! Keep pursuing your talent writing articles! It is a gift seldom realised!

    Good work!

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    Thank you for the complements!!! As for the question about did my research take me to the aquaculture and fishfarming industries, the only place it did take me was to New Life Internationial. But, maybe a write up on the aquaculture and fishfarming industries would make a good article in the future! However, I need about a month before even considering doing more research (even though I did have fun writting this article). I did send my article in to TFH and Aquarium Fish, but I don't think I will get anywhere. I just don't think magazines like that would be interested in a little tiny article that I wrote. To be honest, I like my article, but I feel it could have been better some how. Well, in the great words of Forest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    You'd be surprised! if you beefed it up with a conclusion based on facts, a few pictures of the foods they may very well accept it and publish it!

    Remeber the old addage, "you never never know if you never never go!"

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    Why true Chong.

    Great job Daniel.

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    Default Re:Fish Food: The Real Deal

    [quote]Very nice thread going here, too.

    So I thought i'd interject my post from the Omega food
    topic in here also:

    Quote Originally Posted by "Bernie"
    Let me throw one or two more factors into this hopper, since we have some
    "food enthusiasts" following this thread...


    When animal proteins are first exposed to heat (processing), the cells burst, mixing their contents and then "gelling" them together in a process
    called "binding". Fish foods that use fish meal, PDP or other processed
    protein ingredients have lost alot of the "quality" by using large amounts
    of plant starches as binders which are not only much less nutritious, but less attractive or appealing to the fish.
    Omega uses a "natural gel" made up of undenatured (un-processed)
    animal proteins.

    The high ash content of much of the foods are a result of using large
    amounts of grains and yeasts (again, adding very little nutrition).

    Omega uses kelp and algae instead and is able to keep the ash
    content under 2%.

    Vitamin retention--- Foods that use plant binders (like the meal makers);
    do add vitamins. Problem is; the binders are water soluble; therefore
    the vitamins begin to leach out into the water often before the fish get
    to consume enough.
    Omega's use of un-denatured marine proteins in a natural gel ARE NOT
    WATER SOLUBLE and therfore the fish get to consume the full amount
    of vitamins added.

    Bear with me...for one more point.

    Let me touch again on color enhancers..... as this area is something I,
    myself, was unaware of until we started with Omega.
    Fish skin, particularly salmon which contains silver, yellow, blue and red
    caratenoids offer the highest useable level of color enhancers possible.
    Unlike shrimp and krill who's high level of caratenoids are mostly
    "UN-USABLE" due to its poor digestibility; ... the skins of fish can be
    fully utilized and digested thereby helping fish reach their "peak" coloration.
    The dark flecks visible in the Omega flakes are, in fact, tiny pieces
    of finely groundfish skins which are included in the fresh, whole fish
    ingredients of the Omega flake.


    OK.... we're done for today!!

    See ya all

    Bernie

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