Fish Foods, supplement’s and the benefit provided
Completely written with all information by Billy Smith, no outside sources.
Over many years in the hobby I have extensively studied the benefits of Vitamins Amino Acids and Essential fatty acids and the effect they have on overall health, disease resistance and recovery on many species of fish, from scale recovery, to fin repair and then some.
I have provided information to many fellow Hobbyists from around the world and have received overwhelmingly positive responses from many people that have tried some of the stuff I have done. I have been asked to make an all in one information sheet with all of the information so here it is. All my own work tests and trials, from side by side tests of same species with different additives, researching growth, health, recovery etc.
First off, Amino acids (proteins) and lipids (Fatty acids).
Essential for healthy tissue growth and repair, brain development and Fin/scale recovery, without proper amino acids in the diet, fish have a much harder time recovering from tissue and body damage and also have a considerably slower growth rate.
Amino acids are essential for all life, and without them organic life cannot sustain itself. Unfortunately, all flake food is inherently designed to have a long shelf life and contains minimal amino acids and lipids, some amino acids cannot be synthesized by fish on their own and yet are lacking in almost all prepared flake foods. Lysine and methionine are missing in a lot of low grade foods yet are 2 of the most essential due to the overabundance of soybean meal, which is a cheap alternative protein to fish meals. Flake food is also going to be much higher in fillers designed to extend the shelf life, binders such as gluten and wheats are often the first or second ingredient by weight.
Another note is some lesser grade foods contain more pure carbohydrates than proteins as these are much cheaper to add than pure proteins from Krill and fish meals, while carbohydrates are not bad by any means as they are stored for energy, an excess of them can result in a lot of intestinal and health issues. Pellets for any fish while still not the best due to the drying and heating process are much much better overall than prepared flake food, and I personally would never consider using even the best flake over even the worst pellet. Which brings me to my next point.
Commercial pellets very GREATLY in their quality of ingredients, a HUGE disparity exists between the brands. From some of the best ingredient wise such as northfin, to some of the worst such as hikari. To put it in perspective, here are the first 10 ingredients of northfin VS Hikari.
Whole Antarctic Krill Meal, High Omega-3 (DHA) Herring Meal, Whole Sardine Meal, Wheat Flour, Kelp, Spirulina, Garlic, Astaxanthin (Haematococcus Algae), Calcium Montmorillonite Clay, Vitamin A Acetate
Wheat flour, Fish Meal, Soybean Meal, Rice Bran, Gluten Meal, Brewers Dried Yeast, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate Dehydrated, Monosodium Glutamate, Dried Seaweed meal, Garlic
Which of these brands would you choose to feed your fish considering they are the same price.
The ingredients of all fish foods are in order of weight, while all commercially prepared pellets require a binder, the location on the list of ingredients by weight is what separates the brands. Flours and glutens are obviously considerably cheaper to add than meals but some brands add way more than they should to increase overall profits. However some products contain more of a specific ingredient, for instance Northfin krill gold has a whopping 85% whole krill so the binder will be higher on the list, this is an exception to the rule, as most fish foods contain much smaller percentages of specific ingredients.
FISH CANNOT DIGEST BINDERS!
Flours, glutens etc. are simply not digested by fish as they contain very little if any amino acids that can be processed by the fish so they get excreted in waste, this in turn leads to more excrement in the tank and overall higher levels of detritus in not only the substrate but filters as well. Since even heterotrophs cannot break down these products they are there until the tank receives its regular maintenance.
Now on to the good part. Supplements.
Since many essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals found in fish meals are destroyed in the process of making commercial fish foods I have tested many supplement’s from many manufacturers over the years and have done conclusive studies to varying degrees With side by side comparisons of same species same sized fish over the course of weeks to months, from growth rate, to mortalities, birth defects of offspring etc, what I have found is shocking
Now even the best pellets simply do not add up to unprocessed whole or live foods, and I have hit a good balance of foods. Garlic, (taste aside) In particular the Allicin Contained in garlic has had a HUGE impact on health, in particular parasite and disease resistance. It has been used for many years extensively on wild caught saltwater fish as an inhibitor of specific Viruses, and since viruses in fish are untreatable with medications many opt to use it specifically for this reason. I am not sure if any conclusive studies have been done on the subject but in terms of overall disease resistance and mortalities in young fry I have noticed a significant change. I use garlic guard made by seachem in my daily feeding by soaking my pellets in this daily, it is 100% pure garlic extract, however some use pure crushed garlic as well.
Many commercial fish foods add what’s called L-Ascorby-2-Polyphospate, which in simple terms is a stabilized vitamin C. this is NOT the same as true Ascorbic Acid and provides few of the same benefits. Vitamin C is highly unstable and literally gets nuked in the process of making fish foods so a chemical makeup similar needs to be added.
Ascorbic acid (I have another paper entirely on it) cannot be synthesized by any animal and MUST be included in the diet. This is by far the most important Vitamin, it is responsible for overall healthy bone growth. Vitamin C binds aqueous free radicals to help fish recover from illness and most importantly body and fin damage. I have noticed personally the difference just adding True Ascorbic acid to my feeding. Fin regrowth due to aggression has been phenomenal, in a matter of 7-10 days I have watched fish recover from losing almost all finnage to having full fins. I have seen missing scales regrow and heal over in days not weeks, it has almost entirely eliminated bacterial infections alone, even on fish that have already shown signs on infections. Of particular interest is fungus growth attributed to body damage and bacteria without the need for antibiotics such as kanamycin and furans.
For my vitamin C I use a supplement again by seachem called Vitality, it is an Ascorbic acid based amino acid supplement, and has the added benefit of providing several amino acids animals cannot synthesize on their own. I have heard some will literally squeeze an orange into feeding once per week for the needed vitamin C, which IMO should be more than fine
Some amino acids are found in most pelleted foods and few are found in flake foods, however some very important ones are noticeably absent from all but a good mixture of frozen or live foods. As constant frozen and live food feedings can get pretty pricey for most people, some liquid supplements contain these but not all. I use several supplements to provide them all, this is not required but it gives me peace of mind for overall fish health and in particular fast growth for all of my breeding projects.
Vitachem by Boyd contains many essential amino acids along with being a multivitamin, however it is highly concentrated so not much is needed. Biotin, Leucine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Argine, Isoleucine, Threonine, Methionine, histidine and omega 3 aminos are all included in Vitachem.
Another product I use is made by aquaVitro (Seachems Saltwater brand) called FUEL, which is one of my favorite additions because it specializes in trace minerals which are often overlooked by fish foods but are essential in many aspects of health and growth. It would almost be considered an all in one, it contains good amounts of amino acids missing from Vitachem but also has B1-B2-B3-B4 and B12
All of these are liquids that can be mixed together easily, and pellets soaked into them for the absolute best health
I use 2 more supplement’s that are completely optional but great in specific situations.
Reef Roids by Polyp Lab is an extremely protein and fatty acids rich powder than can be mixed into the liquids above to provide a huge boost in protein levels. I use this mainly for growing fish that have high metabolisms until they reach a specific size where metabolism slows down, this has provided a shocking speed to growth on some slower growing fish, in particular Aulonocara and haplochromis Fry and Juveniles.
The last and Final product I use that is optional is Zoo-Plankton by Seachem. It is a red liquid loaded with naturally occurring Astaxanthins for a boost in natural melanin production to bring out some fantastic colors in fish that produce a lot of pigments such as the Cichlid family in general.