What Should I Feed my Fish?

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Fish food pellets in hand close-up. carp, child, closeup

Isn’t it weird that while you’re sitting down drinking a Dr. Pepper and eating a slice of cheese pizza you’re trying to determine the absolute healthiest food to feed your fish? Many fish-keepers obsess over what they need to feed their fish. In this article we will discuss the best brands of food, which types of food to feed to different fish and also brands to avoid. This will only discuss pellets, flakes and freeze-dried foods. Not every single brand will be listed so if you have a specific question, feel free to message me on Facebook!

Before we get started though, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Foods that have ‘meals’ (fish meal, squid meal, shrimp meal, vegetable meal, etc.) as the first ingredient are typically lower quality.
  • Foods that begin their ingredient list with ‘whole’ foods (whole Atlantic krill, whole fish, whole shrimp) are almost always high-quality foods.
  • Using natural ingredients like garlic, real seaweeds, different kinds of algae are all signs that the food you’re looking at is of high-quality. Enriching the food with different vitamins is also a common practice in more expensive fish foods.
  • Some fish, like Figure Eight Puffers, need a specialized diet which is something you’ll need to research on your own.

Below-Average Food Brands:

In no specific order, here are the brands of fish food you often see which I think you should avoid. These foods are typically cheaper and use more fillers and less, if any, premium ingredients. Often times, companies will use fillers like wheat to cut costs. Regardless of what specific food they’re selling, I won’t purchase any food from these brands.

  • Tetra
  • Aqueon
  • API
  • Marineland
  • Wardley’s

Average/Above-Average Food Brands:

These brands of food are better quality than those listed above, whilst some of their foods will use fillers, often times they use less fillers and more quality ingredients. Often times, their freeze-dried products will be enhanced with vitamins whereas the cheaper brands will not be. A good example of this is Hikari’s Bloodworms vs Tetra’s. The main difference is that Hikari enhances their Bloodworms with vitamins whereas Tetra does nothing to them.  Personally, I wouldn’t recommend all of their products (flakes/pellets) but I do use Hikari’s Daphnia, Bloodworms and their sinking wafers amongst other things.

  • Hikari
  • New Era
  • Elive

The Best Fish Foods:

There are two brands of fish food that I’m comfortable saying all of their products are of the highest-quality and will readily try any of their foods. Those brands are New Life Spectrum and Omega One. These foods are significantly more expensive but you get what you pay for, they are made with the highest-quality ingredients like whole krill, whole fish, garlic, kelp, different seaweeds, different algaes and a plethora of vitamins. I use numerous pellets from New Life Spectrum. The Betta formula, Cichild formula, small fish formula, the medicated Hex Shield pellets and many more. These pellets are devoured by all of my fish, help keep them happy and healthy and they do not cloud or dirty the tank in anyway. I also use Omega One’s community flakes, veggie rounds and their Betta pellets. You can’t go wrong with either of these brands.

Now that we’ve gone over which specific brands of food you should buy, let’s talk about the basics of what to feed different types of fish.

Your Average Community Fish:

Many people have kept your common community fish at one point or another, these include but are not limited to, many Tetras, Angels, Barbs, Guppies, Mollies, Platies, Danios, Gouramis, Rasboras, Swordtails, etc. These fish usually aren’t particularly picky about what they eat and for the most part they’re omnivores. A good staple food is something like Omega One Tropical Flakes or New Life Spectrum Community Fish Formula. This diet should be supplemented with treats such as Hikari’s freeze-dried Bloodworms and Daphnia.

Bottom Feeders:

Things like Corydoras catfish, Otocinclus catfish and various plecos are often bought to act as a clean-up crew. However, it’s still very important to supplement their diet. My two favorite foods to feed my Sterbai cories and my plecos are Omega One Veggie Rounds and Hikari Sinking Wafers.


Often times people are more concerned about what their Cichilds eat than other fish for some reason. It will depend on the specific fish you keep but I keep Rams and Appistogrammas and I feed them primarily New Life Spectrum Cichild Formula.  I supplement that diet with a variety of other foods including Hikari’s Bloodworms and Daphnia.


Discus are very expensive fish so I see absolutely no reason to feed them anything but the best, New Life Spectrum Discus Formula or Omega One Discus Pellets. I’ve heard stories where people’s Discus didn’t like these pellets but what I usually find is the Discus are used to eating live and/or frozen foods which are obviously more appealing than pellets regardless of the brand.


While I don’t have any personal experience feeding Goldfish or Koi, if I had Goldfish or Koi I would feed them New Life Spectrum Goldfish Formula or Koi Formula. Goldfish and Koi require less protein and fats and more ash content and veggie matter than your average fish. I’ve also heard great things about Hikari’s Goldfish and Koi food but the ingredients used in New Life Spectrum’s foods look to be higher quality.


I do however have plenty of experience with Bettas, personally, I prefer New Life Spectrum Betta Formula. If you prefer flakes, Omega One Betta Buffet is a good option. I’ve also used Hikari’s formula, I found that the colors and activity level in my Bettas increased when I switched to New Life Spectrum’s Betta Formula from Hikari’s.

Fry/Juvenile Fish:

There a few different foods on the market specifically made for fry, my favorite is New Life Spectrum Fry Starter which is an almost dust-like food that’s high in proteins, fats and vitamins to promote healthy growth. A cheaper, easier to find option, would be Hikari First Bites. While still effective the ingredient list isn’t quite as impressive as New Life Spectrum’s though.

As your fish get a little bit older, I recommend using New Life Spectrum Grow. This is a 0.5mm pellet designed to promote rapid, healthy growth in all sorts of fish. This is also hormone-free.

Soaking Food in Garlic – Good or Bad?

Absolutely a good thing, some studies have shown garlic extract helps combat internal parasites. While I’m not confident in that, I am confident in saying that garlic is a natural immune system booster which will help keep your fish healthy. They also love the taste of it. There are easy DIY methods that are cheaper but I’m not allowed in my kitchen so I use Seachem Garlic Guard. Personally I try to do this at least once per week, sometimes two or three times.

Medicated Foods:

The only two medicated foods I’ve used are New Life Spectrum’s Hex Shield (internal parasites/bloat) and Ick Shield. Both of these are great, I’ve used them multiple times with success. Ick Shield is also the only medicine on the market that I’ve ever heard of that disrupts ich during it’s most dangerous stage, the trophont stage. If you want to learn more about ich, click here!

Final Thoughts:

It’s impossible to cover every single food option for every single fish but I hope that this article not only serves as a guide as to which companies make the best food but it also helps teach you how to read the ingredient list at the pet store and make your own decision as to whether you should buy that food or not. Feel free to message me on Facebook if you want my opinion on a specific food!