Freshwater Fish Food Selection Guide

Freshwater Fish Food Selection Guide

It is imperative to select the appropriate diet for your freshwater fish. This is essential not only for fish health, but also for coloration, growth rate and breeding.

Here we’ve provided a selection guide for common premium dry diets. We’ve stuck to general-purpose formulas that can be used as the staple diet in a tropical community tank. We’ve also provided a synopsis of common frozen foods and added a few notes on live foods as well.

Premium Staple Flake and Pelleted Diets

Dry food preparations, usually in flake or pelleted form, should be the staple component of your freshwater fishes’ diet. A dry preparation is easiest to feed, and the premium brands meet most of the nutritional needs of omnivorous fish species.

Here we’ve provided a review of some of the most common brands, and also the ingredients list for each such that you can easily compare.

New Life Spectrum

New Life Spectrum is one of the better premium pelleted diets on the market. Aquarists report that it’s palatable, keeps fish healthy, and has excellent color-enhancing properties. It also promotes the growth of juvenile fish.

The pellets are slowly sinking and take hours to dissolve, such that they don’t pollute the water column. The manufacturer also guarantees that fishes’ color will be improved within 10 days of feeding!

New Life Spectrum comes in several different formulas including small, large, community and all-purpose formulas. The main difference between these formulas is the pellet size, as the ingredient lists are similar. There is also a Ther-A Formula for sick or newly introduced fish.


Whole Antarctic Krill, Whole Fish, Whole Wheat Flour, Ulva Seaweed, Chlorella Algae, Beta Carotene, Spirulina, Kelp, Garlic, Alfalfa, Scallops, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Wakame Seaweed, Spinosum Seaweed, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Niacin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Calcium Pantothenate, L-Ascorby-2-Polyphosphate (Vitamin C), Choline Chloride, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Cobalt Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, and Manganese Sulfate.

OmegaOne Freshwater Flakes

Packed full of whole fish ingredients, OmegaOne is great for picky eaters. Aquarists report that fish fed OmegaOne have good color and growth. However, OmegaOne contains the preservative Ethoxyquin, which may be harmful, and also artificial coloring.


Whole Salmon, Halibut, Black Cod, Whole Herring , Whole Shrimp, Whole Krill, Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Fresh Kelp, Lecithin, Astaxanthin, L-Ascorbyl-2-Phosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Natural and Artificial Colors, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Folic Acid, Biotin, Inositol, Tocopherol (Preservative), Ethoxyquin (Preservative).

Hikari Tropical Food Sticks

Hikari is a well-respected brand of fish food, and for a good reason. The ingredients are high-quality, and most aquarists report excellent results with Hikari foods.

It’s important to note that Hikari contains fish meal as its first ingredient rather than whole fish. However, Hikari uses a white fish meal, which is comprised of Pollock, hoki, hake, blue whiting, and cod, and has a higher protein content than a generic fish meal.


Fish meal, krill meal, wheat flour, alpha starch, flaked corn, rice bran, brewer’s dried yeast, enzyme, canthaxanthin, asyaxanthin, L-lysine, DL-methionine, and vitamins and minerals including stabilized Vitamin C.

ZooMed Plankton Fish Food Flakes

ZooMed isn’t as common, but gets excellent ratings in ingredients analysis. We, therefore, thought we’d include it to bring a little something different into the mix.

The first ingredient is a salmon meal, which is probably comprised of skin, bones, and organs. However, the protein content is quite high, and salmon skin contains color-enhancing carotenoids.


Salmon Fish Meal, Plankton, Soy Flour, Wheat Flour, Brewers Dried Yeast, Corn Starch, Dried Krill Meal, Shrimp Meal, Plankton Meal, Lecithin, Vegetable Oil, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascor.

Source for Ingredient Analysis

Finally, in this section, we’d like to acknowledge an excellent source for ingredients analysis, oscarfish.com. This is one of the most comprehensive sources out there, so we highly recommend checking them out.

Frozen Foods

Frozen diets usually consist of whole foods, so are very nutritious and excellent for picky eaters. They’re also great for administering oral medications – just add some Garlic Guard to enhance the flavor.

However, it should be noted that frozen diets are generally not as nutritionally complete as a quality dry food preparation, so should not be used as a staple diet. Frozen foods also pollute the water column, so should be removed quickly if uneaten.

You can usually find these at your local fish or pet store. Some of the most common frozen foods include mysis shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, baby brine shrimp and mixed preparations such as San Francisco Bay’s Freshwater Lunchbox.