Is there anything to color enhancing fish foods?
Do they enhance the color of your fish or are they just an excuse to charge you more for normal the food?
Well, most aquarists seem to think they do enhance fish colors, and so do I, albeit with a generous pinch of salt.
Most of these foods contain carotenoids, which promote color development when used correctly. However, color enhancing foods should not be used as a staple since they are rarely nutritionally complete and can actually cause deficiencies in your fish.
Another thing to note is that natural color-enhancing foods like carrot or krill are occasionally better because they work OK (albeit slow), and are not induced with high levels of organic pigments that might cause residual problems in aquarium fish.
There is also the challenge of getting color enhancing fish foods to replicate the accurate (natural) color of fish in aquariums. As much, it’s not uncommon to have individuals with faded skin shades or uneven color patches.
Be that as it may, a good grasp of how color enhancing fish foods work will help you make a better decision, and for that reason, I’ve made this article to ease your strain a little.
A disclaimer if I may:
Please note I’m not a pet veterinarian or any sort of animal physician, I’m only a fish-keeping enthusiast sharing notes from my experience and several hours of research. I would therefore recommend you do a little more research or consult your local fish expert, over and above the scope of this article.
Plus I have no affiliation to any of the products I’ll mention in the post..
Please read on.
How Do Color Enhancing Fish Food Work?
In a nutshell, color-enhancing fish foods have carotenoids, which are synthesized by a variety of plants and micro-organisms, then incorporated in the diet to enhance hue and shades on ornamental aquarium fishes.
Fish in aquariums have over time become part of home decor with pigmentation being one of the major attributes for their acceptability by hobbyists.
The coolest, most colorful tropical fishes usually fetch higher prices in the markets with colorful species like Lake Malawi cichlids and discus fish costing quite an amount.
So, how do color enhancing foods help improve a fish color?
Essentially, organic carotenoids are responsible for the pigmentation in ornamental aquarium fish, but fishes are not able to synthesis these color pigments on their own, hence depend on diet for carotenoids fulfillment.
Meaning, when you feed your fish well-formulated color enhancing foods, you should see your fish gaining a nice glow on the skin akin to its base hue.
The rate of change on your fish color will mostly depend on the food formulation and the number of carotenoids in the diet.
And where do fish foods get these carotenoids from?
The coloring agents used in fish food are synthesized (naturally) by some plants, algae, and micro-organisms with a variety used in the aqua industry. These plants and micro-organisms products are thus incorporated in fish foods, and on to your fish to impart color for the muscles and fish skin.
Even so, there is a long-running challenge in replicating the accurate natural color of fish in aquariums, with some having faded or uneven shades.
Thus far, it’s only products enhanced with carotenoids that have performed effectively and consistently.
For this reason, let’s see several well-formulated food products you can use to enhance aquarium fish colors you ask?
Best Fish Food For Color
As I’ve mentioned above, fish foods enhanced with carotenoids yield the most effective color enhancement in aquarium fish, with the most successful being a keto-carotenoid called Astaxanthin.
This pigments has shown marked improvement in the colors of most brightly colored ornamental fish species like tetras, cichlids, gouramis, goldfish, and zebra danio
Therefore, it well advised to cosider the best color enhancing fish foods to be those with added carotenoids, more so Astaxanthin.
Below of is a quick list of 5- Best color enhancing fish food based on their formulation and overall color pigments composition.
#1 — Omega One Super Color Flakes
Omega one is one of the best brands of premium fish food with whole salmon in flakes as the top ingredient.
Omega’s super color flakes are good color boosters and are nutritionally balanced with enhancements in the form of elevated beta carotenes derived from salmon skin.
You will also get omega one color fish foods that are formulated for specific species of tropical fish like cichlids, neon tetras, and platys.
#2 — Hikari Vibra Bites
Hikari Vibra bites are bloodworm-mimicking food for freshwater- tropical fish from another reputable brand.
The bites bring out the color and vibrancy of carnivorous-fish, but over and above, the food also include mealworms and other carefully selected ingredients to ensure palatability.
The balanced formulation offers all the nutrition that a live diet would, without the risk of bacteria or parasites, the ingredients include krill meal which is a major source of carotenoids in many fish foods.
Another advantage of Hikari Vibra bites is that they are accepted even by finicky fishes like disucs and dwarf puffers.
#3 — New Life Spectrum Pellets
New life spectrum pellets provide a diet akin to a fish’s natural diet and are also formulated to improve color and fish health, that is according to the manufacturer.
Some pellets are even formulated to specifically intensify certain colors such as red pigmentation in ornamental fish.
The nutritionally balanced pellets are made with easily digestible whole-krill and herrings proteins as the base ingredients and enriched with a diverse range of vitamins and minerals some of which promote coloration as well.
That said, the brand new life spectrum is equally as reputable as Hikari and Omega one, with overall good quality products made by experts with a long experience in the fish food formulation.
#4 — Omega One Freeze Dried Bloodworms
Omega one bloodworms are genuine larvae of midge flies and not mosquito larvae, which means their color enhancing ability is superior.
Their high protein content also makes them effective as a condition food for breeding tropical fishes.
Since bloodworms are meaty foods that fish enjoy, and with this product being bacteria-free, you can feed your fish omega one bloodworms as occasional treats even when the intent is not color enhancement.
I recommend omega one freeze-dried bloodworms, especially if you are keeping discus fish as they have a picky reputation.
#4 — Hikari Algae Waffers
When keeping hard to feed plecos and other algae eaters, you’ll want a vegetable-based meal that will also enhance your fish colors.
Hikari was the main originator of such a diet, which is made of high-quality ingredients hence loved by most bottom-dwelling fish.
Hikari algae wafers break up in the water providing your fish with healthy nutrients and make the fish colors brighter. Even though the base ingredient include fish meal, wheat flour, cassava starch, and dried bakery products, krill meal and spirulina is also incorporated for extra carotenoids for your fish color.
Color Enhancing Fish Food For Cichlids
Cichlids are arguably some of the most, if not the most, colorful tropical fish kept in home aquariums. Right from South America cichlids that include dwarf types such as German blue ram and bigger ones like discus and freshwater angelfish.
To African cichlids especially those from Lake Malawi and Tanganyika including peacock aulonocara and mbuna cichlids, all with brilliant colors excitable for both beginner and experienced aquarists alike.
Even so, if cichlids are not well cared for in captivity, they can quite easily be drab and boring when displayed in tanks.
One way to make sure this does not happen is feeding your fish the right diet, especially one rich in carotenoids.
So, what food should you offer your cichlids for color?
First, I recommend your stick to high quality premium foods formulated by reputable manufacturers. As I mentioned before, Omega One, New Life Spectrum, and Hirari are undisputably the big boys, with most of their food well balanced both for proper nutrition and color enhancement in cichlids.
Preferably, look for cichlid foods with a base meal that is rich in color enhancement pigments such as krill, bloodworms or, as in the case of Omega One fish foods, salmon.
Also, some food makers have feeds formulated to enhance colors, even specific shades, in cichlids, in pellets, flakes food forms, and what have you.
Below are several cichlids food I would recommend if you are looking to enhance your fish’s color.
- Omega One super color sinking pellets: Enhanced with elevated levels of beta carotene from salmon skin
- Hikari cichlids gold pellets: High in beta carotene
- New Life Spectrum cichlids formula: Krill based
- Fluval bug bites for cichlids: Contain nutrient rich black soldier fly larvae and whole salmon
- Aqueon color enhancing cichlid pellets: Made from a blend of marigold, chili powder, and astaxanthin which promote brilliant color in fish