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TOPIC: Fish Food Ingredients What the Manufacturers Do

Fish Food Ingredients What the Manufacturers Do 8 months 3 weeks ago #69722

  • AquaNut
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A big thanks to kmuda for the articles referenced, we hope this video will help others consider what the y are feeding more and really look at the ingredients being used. This wouldn't have been possible without the great articles/

In this video we cover everything you need to know about picking the best fish food for your needs. The truth is that there is no perfect food for everyone. By the end of this video you will learn how to read the back of every bag of fish food. We are going to cover the tricks the manufacturers don't want you to know.

When selecting a fish food, high protein content is not the best way to find a quality feed. Protein content is not the most important aspect, the protein source is. When selecting fish foods and analyzing ingredients it is important to consider where the protein is coming from.

When selecting a food there are going to be primary protein sources and secondary ingredients. All fish food manufacturers are required to list their ingredients in order of weight so theoretically one could assume that the first listed ingredient comprises the largest portion of the food. This is not always the case when foods are listed at wet weight. Wet weight includes ice and things used to ship the fish, It is preferred to look for a whole fish meal, as meal implies it has already been processed and is being listed at its dry weight. When listed at the wet weight, this can lead to inaccuracies. It is possible that once the ingredient is processed and dried it will way significantly less. This means something that was listed first in the ingredients at its wet weight, may move further down the list when we look at the dry weight. Reputable companies will list their products at dry weight and use whole fish meals, rather than just "whole fish"

Many fish food companies, brands and manufacturers will use non-preferred protein sources. These come from things like excess fillers and are low quality bi -products of other industries. These companies chose cheap, easy to access sources rather then high quality protein sources that will provide your fish with the dietary requirements they need. It is important to consider your protein source vs how high the protein content is. In excess and in cases of low quality fish meals and fillers, it can lead to things like fatty liver disease and other health problems.

Another common issue is the use of random fish meal. When not listed at whole, we can assume that the fish meal is not using the whole fish and rather just the scraps, carcasses and leftovers. This does not provide for optimal nutritional value. We would prefers to see the use of a whole "named" fish meal meaning we know the type of fish that is being used and we can assume the whole animal is being used.

By definition "whole fish meal" simply means that you have re-added the oils to the fish that are normally removed during processing. This is where selecting a reputable manufacturer or brand comes into play.

Non-preferred protein sources should be limited when selecting a good quality diet for your fish. Binders are used to create pellets, flake, etc. but we do not want to see this make up a large portion of the food. Many companies will over-utilize them to boost the protein content and lower the cost of the fish food product.Things like product splitting are used to try and make it look like these non-preferred protein sources actually comprise a smaller portion of the food than what is actually accurate. When you see multiple types of the same principle product being listed several times within an ingredient label, this is an example of product splitting. Often this is done with ingredients that are wheat, yeast, soy and corn based. Many of these things are rich in protein and some even bring into question digestibility. These are things to look out for when selecting your ideal fish food.

As much as possible we want to stick with preferred protein sources from things like whole named fish meal (whole menhadden meal, whole herring meal, whole salmon meal) and plant sources like spinach, kelp, spirulina, chlorella algae and other algae sources. We do not want to see the protein sources coming from fillers or mammal or poultry meats. Aquatic meats are what is preferred.

Another factor to consider when buying a fish food is whether there are preservatives used and if so what type. The most common, cheaply produced preservative is ethoxyquin. It can have negative health impacts in certain doses and is better avoided. There are several types used and only one is considered safe. For more info check out the article in the description.

Special thanks to Kmuda for creating this recourse.
Check out The Oscar fish Website & Forum:
www.oscarfish.com/fish-food-analysis.html
Aqua Nut on YouTube
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Fish Food Ingredients What the Manufacturers Do 8 months 3 weeks ago #69723

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Another top vid-really like what you guys do. Nice one :happy:
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Fish Food Ingredients What the Manufacturers Do 8 months 3 weeks ago #69724

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Thank you very much sir much appreciated. This site by far the best index of fish foods I have ever seen, I am very happy to bring more attention to it.
Aqua Nut on YouTube
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Fish Food Ingredients What the Manufacturers Do 8 months 3 weeks ago #69729

  • New Life Spectrum
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Hey, AquaNut:

Taking a look at the forum to check for a response on a post I sent to Kmuda, and I saw this topic on the sidebar, read the post and checked out the video. I left a congrats on the vid, because you did a great job on providing an educational resource, and one -- because it's video -- that potentially can reach people who aren't going to read a wall of text on a fish forum :)

A while ago, we'd actually written about some of these similar issues on our website in the Nutrition Article, which is still there in a revised, updated form (www.nlsfishfood.com/nutrition-articles/facts-fish-nutrition ). A lot of what you mention from the Oscarfish article and your commentary mirrors it!

I also want to invite you to hit me up anytime you want to ask about something from the NLS perspective, btw. There are one or two things I thought I'd bring up, though. And here seemed like a better place for it than YouTube comments :):

I will also mention that everything here is from our perspective, of course, and I'm only addressing us and nothing I'm saying is making any statements about other brands:

- I did mention on the video comment I left that actually, NLS at least is actually perfectly fine to eat by humans. We don't put anything in it that wouldn't be safe for human consumption -- although we do have to legally put that on the label simply because it's classified as pet food. And it wasn't a joke when I said that myself and the crew do regularly taste the pellets during and after production as a form of quality control -- as well as some of the ingredients. For example the Omega-3 oil, which is specifically extracted from Sardines and is used as an ingredient in many for-people salad dressings. Likewise, the Antarctic Krill is the same as the animal, likely from the same harvest, whose pressed-out oil is sold in health food stores for $$$.

- One way of including these ingredients without blowing-out the price is to be willing to take a reasonable profit but be willing to look beyond making the absolute maximum possible in favor of a better product. NLS ingredients make up a fairly substantial percentage of it's final sale price relative to the industry.

- We totally agree with the wet weight/dry weight issue. I did want to say specifically that, except in the case of oil of course, where there is no possible 'dry weight', we are always comparing dry weight-to-dry weight.

- We do say Whole Fish in our ingredients, and it is in fact a whole fish. One item is that we stopped saying Whole Herring or any specific type of fish simply because harvests vary by season and availability. It's single source and cold-water fish from the same region. An example is a couple of years ago, Herring was actually over-harvested and the haul was poor. From a practical standpoint, it turns out to be difficult to keep the ingredients current in regards to species on labels and keeping it accurate. Hence 'whole fish'. Much of this is less important now, as the upcoming formula is using Giant Squid as a main protein (although we are keeping fish, but further down the list). It has higher protein content and less ash, since it doesn't have bones etc.

- Soybeans as a binder that are 'better than Wheat' face one specific problem: GMOs. GMOs are unpopular AND in markets overseas like Turkey and the EU, there is a ban on products that use GMO ingredients (beyond certain trace percentages). In the 21st century, there is no such thing as a non-GMO soybean -- hence it's unuseability for those markets. Personally, I don't agree with blanket anti-GMO positions, but it's the reality that we operate in. We stopped using it a while ago. Also, while soybean theoretically provides a dual benefit of binding AND protein, we are moving away from terrestrial sources as much as possible where there is alternative.

Also, sometimes soybean is used to up the 'protein' without upping the ash content. This is because whole fish, krill, sprulina and other ingredients inevitably create ash when cooked due to shells, bones, etc. even with totally whole ingredients. High protein and low ash content are a warning. Ash shouldn't be super high OR super low.

- Speaking of wheat, the amount we include is what, in testing pellet formulations, we have found is about the minimum we can use and still maintain a pellet with good integrity in water. We have reduced wheat over time as we've developed more pellet formulating techniques. Certain algaes we use also can provide binding elements that allow for wheat reduction.

- Overall, we've been moving toward a goal of eliminating as much terrestrial matter as possible in our foods. For example, substituting terrestrial fruits and veggies in favor of a variety basket of aquatic veg. Of course, items like garlic (and soon ginger) don't have an aquatic equivalent and their benefits are well worth the inclusion.

- We don't use synthetic vitamin K aka the substances listed in your vid (and don't plan to) and thus haven't looked into it closely. One thing in general, however, is that there are often materials that when used in massive doses are toxic, but that is often mistaken for meaning that they are harmful in biologically appropriate amounts. It's one thing to look for when evaluating studies. We overall don't have a position on this, however (as again, not something we use).

- Our position on ethoxyquin, Naturox and other preservatives has been pretty well covered the last few days ;)

Again, great video. While I did think it was worth mentioning a few things here from our perspective, I can't emphasize enough how valuable it was, I think, to expose this information to the YouTube audience, as well as publicize this forum
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Fish Food Ingredients What the Manufacturers Do 8 months 3 weeks ago #69731

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New Life Spectrum wrote:
...We don't use synthetic vitamin K aka the substances listed in your vid (and don't plan to) and thus haven't looked into it closely....

Thanks!!
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Fish Food Ingredients What the Manufacturers Do 8 months 3 weeks ago #69736

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Thanks a lot for the detailed response and all the information. We have always been interested in learning more about NLS.

It's also nice knowing we aren't the only ones willing to sample what we feed to our fish. Thanks for sharing the reason why we do see the warning labels.

It definitely makes sense what you are saying about the fish availability changing and clears up any questions on why it isn't a specific type being listed in the ingredients.

Also, great info on the soybean issue.It does seem like it could be used to inflate protein levels to substitue for lower quality proteins being used. You make a very good point about ash content which is something we didn't touch on in this video. We are going to plan a follow up that is a bit more brief, with the main key points and we will be sure to add in this point,

Limiting wheat and using a greater portion of algae is really ideal. It seems like you are really in touch with the market and great to see all the changes being made.

We are super interested in the new formula that will be offered. It's awesome to see all the positive changes that have been made. It also makes me a bit curious about manufacturers who are said to be totally ethoxyquin free, it seems justifiable that there could be minor trace elements.

Thanks for all the info and your time. It's always great when a manufacturer is willing to listen to their consumer and continue to grow. We are really excited to see the things to come.

If you need any help getting the word out about the upcoming formula we would be happy to try it out.
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Fish Food Ingredients What the Manufacturers Do 8 months 3 weeks ago #69743

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I do need to update my document as it may lead to an inaccurate assumption when reviewing an ingredient label. While soybean would be a preferred filler over wheat or corn, no company uses any Soy product for this purpose. Soy is used exclusively to boost protein content.
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Fish Food Ingredients What the Manufacturers Do 8 months 2 weeks ago #69826

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Is there such a thing as 100% filler free fish food?
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Fish Food Ingredients What the Manufacturers Do 8 months 2 weeks ago #69827

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bluering wrote:
Is there such a thing as 100% filler free fish food?

:welcome:

I'm definitely not a fish food guru but I've done quite a bit of research on what's best to feed an Oscar - I'm unaware of a commercial food that is filler free. Although not the primary reason, it's a reason why I've started making my own pellets/cubes.

That said, I know NLS Algaemax' fillers aren't on the upper end of the ingredient list as is the same with Northfin.
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Fish Food Ingredients What the Manufacturers Do 8 months 1 week ago #69903

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beretta96 wrote:
bluering wrote:
Is there such a thing as 100% filler free fish food?

:welcome:

I'm definitely not a fish food guru but I've done quite a bit of research on what's best to feed an Oscar - I'm unaware of a commercial food that is filler free. Although not the primary reason, it's a reason why I've started making my own pellets/cubes.

That said, I know NLS Algaemax' fillers aren't on the upper end of the ingredient list as is the same with Northfin.

Given the topic, and our contribution to it already earlier in the thread, I thought it would be appropriate to contribute to this 'filler free' question from an inside perspective. Of course, do keep in mind this perspective we're bringing to it is that of a manufacturer of engineered aquarium nutrition:

Agreed there is no such thing as 100% filler-free fish food -- and any claims to the contrary would have to be taken with a huge dose of skepticism. However, this actually applies to DIY food as well. Completely filler-free would mean that 100% of the matter in the food is fully utilizable by the fish (or invertebrate or whatnot). That would mean no excretion at all, since there's nothing that can't be converted, and that doesn't pass the smell test ;) (excuse the pun).

Also, any food that needs to hold-up in an aquarium without immediately dissolving and polluting the water needs some form of binder for integrity. Including home-made gels or pellets. The options are basically starches (probably flour of some kind) and gelatins (or proteins that coagulate, but these are generally not desirable) for both. While I can't speak for other brands (as we don't know the details of their formulas or processes), I will say that we actively try to design the formula with the minimum binder needed to produce a water stable pellet. Extrusion also has the advantage of heat and pressure to help bind with somewhat lower binders.

Fish do actually need carbohydrates, but of course the amounts need to be limited. The type of gel used is relevant and makes a huge difference: agar or other seaweed/algae based gels are far preferrable over gelatin based on terrestrial animals (aka gelatin from cattle which is the most common).

Even whole organisms have "filler" as there are elements that are not utilizable within them, whether mysis, shrimp, algae etc. Plus, the disadvantage of a single 'whole' ingredient for an aquarium is that it lacks the multi-dimensional balance nutrition profile of engineered nutrition. In nature, the constant foraging and grazing, as well as varied intake solve that -- a lifestyle aquarium fish don't (and can't) have.

One of the advantages of a commercial food is that, assuming high quality, it's formulation is based on a tested, proven balance of ingredients in biologically appropriate proportions. To put it bluntly: it's what we (manufacturers) think about all day ;)

Of course, this position sounds super predictable given the source. And it is. But if we weren't confident that pellets are the best solution, we also wouldn't have started the company in the first place. That said, we always encourage people to carefully observe the results on aquarium health on what they feed and come to their own conclusion.
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