best flake fish food

Last Updated on June 26, 2019

Zoo Med Spirulina 20 Review

Some may consider the Zoo Med line of fish foods a new product. Old school fish keepers in the know will quickly recognize the product labeling and name. These are actually the Aquatrol line of fish foods, used by experienced breeders and fish keepers since 1969. Zoo Med, well known for their involvement in the reptile hobby, decided to branch into the aquatics industry with a line of fish foods. Instead of manufacturing their own, they’ve resurrected Aquatrol, releasing the entire line of Aquatrol products as the Zoo Med line. The only thing that has changed is the company name. The foods are made by Aquatrol, using the same ingredients.

The Zoo Med line of foods utilize home grown quality ingredients. If you review the ingredient list you’ll notice an absence of the controversial preservative ethoxyquin, a clear indication that their “Salmon Fish Meal” is not an overseas product that has spent months (if not years) on boats and in warehouses. In this case, the salmon used in the creation of fish meal is Alaskan Salmon. All ingredients used in the creation of Spirulina 20 are USA products.

As each product listed in the ingredient list is listed at its dry weight, you can trust the list as an accurate representation of the actual ingredients.

Spirulina 20, as its name implies, is comprised of 20% spirulina. The health benefits of spirulina are well documented and while I will not cover them here, let me state that your fish will be healthier, have improved immunity, live longer, have better coloration, and spawn more readily if Spirulina is a component of their diet. You will not find a higher concentration of spirulina in a fish food than you will in Spirulina 20.

Spirulina 20 has become my flake food of choice. I feed it to all of my fish, even moving my 22 year old Kissing Gourami over from using Ocean Nutrition Spirulina Flakes. I prefer this over the Ocean Nutrition product because of flake size, consistency, and Ocean Nutrition’s use of ethoxyquin. If you have Silver Dollars or African Cichlids, this is certainly a food you should try. My Silver Dollars go nuts over it. There is not a fish in my tanks, including even the Oscar (who steals a few flakes from the Silver Dollars), that does not consume this food with relish. This includes Angelfish, Kribensis, Dwarf Gouramis, my Kissing Gourami, and a whole assortment of tetras and livebears. The birth rate of my livebearers has improved and Emperor Tetras, who were beat up and washed out, have become vibrant, active, and colorful after only a few weeks of using this food.

This is a highly recommended product. It’s what a dedicated fish keeper wants in a fish food and to top it off, it’s an American product, made by an American company, made in American, using American ingredients and American labor.

Pros:

Contains 20% Spirulina, the highest concentration of this “wonder-food” I am aware of in a fish food. If you know of a food with higher Spirulina content, please let me know.
Made in American using American Ingredients by American labor working for an American company
Palatability. Fish love it. With some flakes, the fish eat some and spit some out. I don’t have that problem with this food. Even my finicky Angelfish eat this food.
Cost: This remains a relatively low cost food when compared to other quality brands. Big Al’s carries the 4oz (Large Economy Size) for around $8. Even at my Mom and Pop LFS, the cost is around $11 for the same container.
Flake Size: Ocean Nutrition Spirulina Flakes is an excellent food but the flake size is really to small for feeding larger fish such as Silver Dollars. The flake size of Spirulina 20 is perfect for these fish, even large enough my Oscar steals some from the Silver Dollars.
Does not contain Ethoxyquin.Ethoxyquin is a fat preservative found in almost all pet foods that contain fish meal. It’s hard to escape as it is required by law to be included in any imported fish meals. Regardless, despite USDA guarantees of it’s safety (they say the unhealthy affects are “dose dependent”), Ethoxyquin is widely accepted to be a cause of numerous pet ailments (cancer, liver failure, birth defects, and infertility) and has subsequently been banned for inclusion in human foods. It’s absence in Spirulina 20 is a clear indication home grown ingredients are used and is a further indication of a food you can be happy feeding to your fish.

Aqueon Tropical Flakes Review

Before reading this review, stop, go back and read the ingredient list identified above. To state the sometimes overlooked obvious, fish food is the sum of it’s ingredients. Good ingredients, you have a good food. Poor ingredients, you have a poor quality food. The ingredient list of Aqueon Tropical Flakes is very good, border line outstanding.

Aqueon is a relative new comer to the Tropical Fish food market. Expanding out from their “All Glass” roots, Aqueon now has its feet in all aspects of the aquarium hobby. My original assumption was that Aqueon was an American version of Tetra, an offshoot of a conglomerate corporate entity with sub-par products for the less than knowledgeable Wal-Mart consumer.

I could not have been more wrong. While Aqueon is an American company and they are a daughter company to a much large corporate entity, it has become obvious to me that their focus is on manufacturing quality products. The old adage that, if you build a better product, they will come, certainly applies.

Aqueon Tropical flake food is no exception to that concept. Again, review the ingredient list. The use of “Whole Fish Meal” instead of simply “Fish Meal” is a positive sign, as is the use of “Whole Dried Krill” (although I wish the krill was listed ahead of the flour, which is a filler.) “Fish Meal” is usually manufactured out of the inedible scraps remaining after the better parts of the fish are processed for human consumption. The use of “Whole Fish Meal” is an indication those “better parts” are included in your fish flake food, not just the inedible scraps. While I wish Spirulina was higher on the list, it’s inclusion is also a positive sign, as are all of the supplemental vitamins and minerals.

Nor does Aqueon use artificial colors. Perhaps the most significant benefit of Aqueon Fish Foods is the absence of ethoxyquin, a controversial preservative found in almost all pet feed. Since all fish meals imported into the United States must be preserved with ethoxyquin, by law, its absence in Aqueon Flake Food is an absolute indication that this, is, indeed, a United States manufactured product using raw materials that are not imported. I cannot state how impressive this simple concept is and what it means towards the health of your fish. Aqueon knows exactly where their raw materials come from, they know exactly the quality of these materials, and can both ensure and manage the end resulting feed. This is not a claim most pet feed companies can make, let alone manufacturers of fish flake food.

This is a flake food that makes you feel good that you are feeding it to your fish. Even better, you should feel good feeding this food to your fish. Unlike other examples, this is a product that is actually under marketed but assumed by many to be inferior because of the companies quick growth and market reach. This is an incorrect assumption. It is a quality food, using homegrown American raw materials, manufactured by an American Company.

This flake food is a staple in all of my tanks, excluding the Oscar Tank (Oscars do not need to be fed flakes). I feed it to livebearers, Angelfish, Tetras, and Gouramis. The food is readily accepted by all of my fish without the spitting out of flakes that I interpret as the fish not liking the flake food.

Pros:
Quality: I think I’ve covered this above. Not only do quality ingredients result in a quality product, but the fact that Aqueon can track their raw materials from beginning to end ensures they can maintain quality of their foods.

Ingredients: “Whole Fish Meal” instead of “Fish Meal”, “Whole Krill Meal” instead of “Krill (or shrimp) Meal”. The word “Whole” means a lot when it comes to Fish Foods (or any Pet Food, for that matter). Plus, Aqueons use of “Whole Fish Meal” indicates you can trust the sequence of ingredients in the ingredient list as the included products are listed at their dry weight, not their wet weight. So what you see is what you get.

Flake Size: This flake food is a good size for its intended use. If you want to feed this flake to large fish, you need to look elsewhere. This is a perfect sized flake for fish the size of Angelfish and smaller.

Palatability: Fish will devour this food. With some flake food, fish will take them in, find them distasteful, and spit them back out. Not so with Aqueon Freshwater Flakes

Availability: In a short amount of time, Aqueon has managed to extend its reach into every market imaginable. Their foods are available everywhere.

Made in the USA: An American company, with American ownership, American employees, using American raw materials.

Does not contain Ethoxyquin: Ethoxyquin is a fat preservative found in almost all pet foods that contain fish meal. It’s hard to escape as it is required by law to be included in any imported fish meals. Regardless, despite USDA guarantees of it’s safety (they say the unhealthy affects are “dose dependent”), Ethoxyquin is widely accepted to be a cause of numerous pet ailments (cancer, liver failure, birth defects, and infertility) and has subsequently been banned for inclusion in human foods. It’s absence in Aqueon fish foods is a clear indication home grown ingredients are used and is a further indication of a food you can be happy feeding to your fish.
Cons:
Wheat Flour: I wish “Wheat Flour” was lower on the ingredient list.

Spirulina: I wish Spirulina was higher on the ingredient list

OSI Spirulina Flakes Review

While there are many “Veggie Flake” foods on the market, look at their ingredient list. Almost exclusively, the first ingredient in these foods is “Fish Meal”. Since the first ingredient is the primary content of the food, how can these be labeled as “Veggie Flakes”. This particular food fits that category. Advertised as a “Spirulina Flake”, the primary ingredient is “Fish Meal” with the second largest component being “Wheat Flour” (which is an indication that protein in the “Fish Meal” is degraded.) Following “Wheat Flour” we finally come to “Spirulina”. However, the fact that it is listed as “Spirulina” instead of “Spirulina Meal” indicates that it is the wet weight of Spirulina that qualifies it as the third ingredient on the list. Since 80% of the weight of the product will be water and the product must be dried out to be included in the flake, the content of Spirulina in this flake food should actually place it much lower on the ingredient list.

So we have a flake food, advertised as a Spirulina laden herbivore food, whose primary ingredients are actually Fish Meal, Flour, and Shrimp meal, with Spirulina being a minor component.

I have never been impressed with OSI flake foods, although I’ve tried several, and a review of the ingredient list for this specific flake justifies that opinion. This particular flake food basically uses green dye to convince you you’ve purchased a veggie flake. My experience is that my fish will eat the flakes, albeit many get spit out and they are less then enthusiastic when they discover I tricked them with these flakes instead of the good stuff.

In my home, the OSI flakes generally get relegated to the less important tanks, or discarded altogether. For a Spirulina or “veggie flake”, there are much better options. However, the fact that I do have this flake in my home and use it is an indication that it is acceptable food for fish. While there are better, there are certainly worse. So. in a pinch, or as a cost saving measure, these flakes can be used.

Pros:
Availability: OSI Flake foods are available everywhere.

Health Benefits of Spirulina: The benefits of a diet rich in spirulina are well known. Improved coloration and increased disease resistance are amongst the proven benefits. While this flake food over advertises it’s spiriulina content, there is some there. And a diet containing Spirulina is better than a diet that does not.

Texture: These flakes actually hold together quite well, not turning to dust. Unfortunately, it is likely the high flour content that allows for this.

Good Fry Food: The flakes hold together well but they are also of a consistency easily crumbled into a powder for use as fry food.

Cost: 1 oz of this product cost about as much as 1/2 oz of an Omega One Product. Certainly, the old addage of “you get what you pay for” applies.

Cons:
Ingredient List:A veggie flake should contain veggies. A Spirulina flake should contain more spirulina than these flakes. Use of undefined “Fish Meal”, with no additional details available from the company, combined with the heavy use of flour, is an indicator that the primary ingredient of this food is actually low quality processing leftovers.

Tricky Advertising/Marketing:I’ve already discussed the Spirulina content of the food. Companies that perform this type of ingredient list and marketing trickery raise a warning flag for me. Another example is their claim that “All their products are manufactured in the United States”. Great, I love it, I believe 100% in supporting American companies, but where do the raw materials originate from. They likely spent months in Chinese warehouses, then on boats, then in warehouses here, where finally they are purchased as the “lowest bid”. Trust me, following the melamine scare of a few years ago, if the raw materials came from the United States, it would be all over their marketing, not just the claim that the product is assembled in the United States.

Use of Ethoxyquin: Ethoxyquin is a fat preservative found in almost all pet foods that contain fish meal. It’s hard to escape as it is required by law to be included in any imported fish meals. I’m not really sure why it is found in Omega One products as its ingredients are not imported so therefore is not required. But it is an indication that Omega One products are not as “fresh” as their marketing implies. Regardless, despite USDA guarantees of it’s safety (they say the unhealthy affects are dose dependent), Ethoxyquin is widely accepted to be a cause of numerous pet ailments (cancer, liver failure, birth defects, and infertility). To top it all off, as it relates to this specific product, OSI tries to pass off Ethoxyquin as an “antioxidant” (I’m not kidding, go back up and review the ingredients).

Omega One Freshwater Flakes Review

Before reading this review, stop, go back and read the ingredient list identified above. What more needs to be said? Were are you going to find a better ingredient list for a flake food.

Omega One is a trusted name in foods with perhaps the highest quality ingredients of any fish foods on the market. As their marketing identifies, their initial ingredients are of human consumption quality. Their use of whole fish, instead of the standard fish meal found in most other foods, is a very positive indicator of a quality food. “Fish Meal” usually consists of the unedible leftovers after the remainder of the fish has been processed for human consumption. Omega One’s uses “whole fish” in the processing of their foods, not just the left overs. The inclusion of “Whole Shrimp”, “Whole Krill”, and “Fresh Kelp”, as well as an impressive combination of vitamins and supplements, is an absolute indication of a quality product, from a company you can trust, using raw materials from the USA, from an American company.

This is a flake food that makes you feel good that you are feeding it to your fish. Even better, you should feel good feeding this food to your fish, it’s not just marketing.

This flake food is a staple in all of my tanks, excluding the Oscar Tank. I feed it to livebearers, Angelfish, Tetras, and Gouramis.

Pros:
Quality: Omega One is a quality brand and this flake foodt is no exception, using all fresh, home-grown ingredients, not meals imported from China.

Ingredients: The ingredients are what makes Omega One. As mentioned before, Omega One’s ingredients may be of the highest quality available in any fish food. Nuff’ said.

Flake Size: This flake food is a good size for its intended use. If you want to feed this flake to large fish, you need to look elsewhere. This is a perfect sized flake for fish the size of Angelfish and smaller.

Palatability: Fish will devour this food. With some flake food, fish will take them in, find them distasteful, and spit them back out. Not so with Omega One Freshwater Flakes
Cons:
Availability: I purchase most of my fish supplies from FosterandSmithAquatics.Com and they have never carried Omega One products. Nor has my secondary online store of preference (BigAlsOnline.Com), until recently. Big Al’s has started carrying some Omega One products but not this one. However, there has been a recent push by Omega One to make their products more available and I am noticing them in many local fish stores. My PetCo is now carrying them.

Cost: At about $4 for a .42 Oz container, these flakes are more expensive than other quality flakes such as Ocean Nutrition and their non-availability at online retailers such as BigAlsOnle.Com and FosterandSmithAquatics.Com ensure you pay the standard retail price.

Ingredient List Accuracy: We really have no idea what the primary ingredient(s) are. Use of “Whole Salmon”, as opposed to “Whole Salmon Meal” indicates the ingredient is listed at it’s wet weight, 80% of which is lost in the act of drying. This is the case with each meat product in the ingredient list (as well as the kelp). However, having 6 meat proteins listed ahead of the fillers (wheat) are an indication that the primary ingredient of this food is indeed a meat protein, not a filler, even though wheat is split into two products (Wheat Flour and Wheat Gluten). Combined, wheat would appear much higher on the list.

Use of Ethoxyquin: Ethoxyquin is a fat preservative found in almost all pet foods that contain fish meal. It’s hard to escape as it is required by law to be included in any imported fish meals. I’m not really sure why it is found in Omega One products as its ingredients are not imported so therefore is not required. But it is an indication that Omega One products are not as “fresh” as their marketing implies. Regardless, despite USDA guarantees of it’s safety (they say the unhealthy affects are dose dependent), Ethoxyquin is widely accepted to be a cause of numerous pet ailments (cancer, liver failure, birth defects, and infertility).

Ocean Nutrition Spirulina Flake Food

While there are many “Veggie Flake” foods on the market, look at their ingredient list. Almost exclusively, the first ingredient in these foods is “Fish Meal”. Since the first ingredient is the primary content of the food, how can these be labeled as “Veggie Flakes”. Not this one. Ocean Nutrition Spirulina Flakes are a true “Veggie Flake” with the primary ingredient being “Plant Meals” and Spirulina.

Ocean Nutrition is a trusted name in foods. You only have to review their ingredient list to know why and you only have to feed it to your fish to see the results. Their Spirulina Flakes is no exception. I feed this flake food to my Kissing Gourami, Red-Tailed Black Shark, Angelfish, Silver Dollars, and Community Fish, and even the Oscar steals a few flakes when I’m feeding the Silver Dollars. Without exception, it is accepted. The health benefits of Spirulina are well know and unlike other “Spirulina Flakes”, this food actually contains a high percentage of Spirulina.

This is one of those foods that makes you feel good that you are feeding it to your fish.

Pros:
Availability: Many of the chain stores carry Ocean Nutrition products, as will quality LFS’s. It is also available at any of the quality online retailers.

Quality: Ocean Nutrition is a quality brand and this product is no exception, using all home-grown ingredients, not meals imported from China.

Ingredients: Imagine that….. a veggie flake that actually lists veggies and spirulina as the primary ingredients instead of fish meal and corn by-products. Ocean Nutritions approach is similiar to Omega One in that quality ingredients are the primary focus.

Health Benefits of Spirulina: The benefits of a diet rich in spirulina are well known. Improved coloration and increased disease resistence are amongst the proven benefits.

Texture: One negative aspect to other Ocean Nutrition foods is that they are not firm flakes and are known to break apart into pieces too small for anything but guppy sized fish. Not so with their Spirulina flake. Its firm, crispy texture ensures it holds together well.

Cost: For such a high quality food, it is relatively low cost at around $3 for a 1.2oz container.
Cons:
Container Size: I like to buy my food in the largest containers available. This food is only available in a 1.2oz size.

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