TIP from FNM: Fish Food Nutritional Composition


  • Do not feed the fish more than what they can eat within 2-5 minutes, once/twice a day and when possible, stick to a schedule, this will ensure that your fishes are happy and healthy

Nutritional Composition of Fish Diets 

  1. Protein
  2. Fiber
  3. Fat
  4. Carbohydrates
  5. Minerals
  6. Vitamins

1. Protein

  • Mainly, fish diets tend to be very high in protein. Foods for fry and fingerlings often exceeds 50% crude protein.
  • As growth rate decreases and fish age, protein levels in their diet are decreased accordingly.
  • Protein levels on grow-out diets often approach or exceed 40% crude protein
  • While maintenance diets may contain as little as 25-35%.

2. Fiber

  • Small quantities of fiber aids digestion, however they should not be too high
  • Carnivores are not able to digest fiber well, and hence should not have more than 4% in their diets
  • To remain healthy, herbivores should have between 5 and 10 percent fiber in their diet

3. Fat

  • The composition of fat in fish diets should be low.
  • Even carnivores fish require less than 8% in their diet
  • Herbivores fish require less than 3%
  • Excessive fat in diets will lead to accumulation and may damage the liver, and can potentially result in disease and early death
  • Fish faces difficulties when dieting hard fats such as those in beef
  • Polyunsaturated fats such as those in brine shrimp are mostly digestible and is useful when conditioning fish for breeding 

4. Carbohydrates

  • Fish do not need large amount of carbohydrates in their diet. Too much of it can prevent proper growth.
  • The danger of higher percentages of carbohydrate is that it results in reduction in other essential nutrients. This is exceptionally true for young fishes, which requires high levels of protein
  • Adult fishes can tolerate as much as 40% carbohydrate in their diet without ill effects.
  • Most of the carbohydrate in fish food is in the form of starches which is used to bind the food and prevent it from rapidly disintegrating in the water.

5. Minerals

  • It is important for healthy bones, teeth and even scales
  • The important minerals that fish requires are calcium and phosphorus
  • They also require small amounts of iron, iodine, sodium, zinc, magnesium, copper, potassium
  • Calcium is found in hard water while phosphorus is found in live plants
  • If the tank's environment is soft water and artificial plants are used, fishes should be supplemented with food containing minerals in their diets
  • Bone or meat meal is a good source of both calcium and phosphorus
  • Minerals have a long shelf life, and can be found in adequate quantities in good flake foods

6. Vitamins

  • Unlike minerals, vitamins are not stable in prepared foods
  • Flake foods have adequate vitamin content initially, but it deteriorates rather quickly
  • Storing it in the freezer will prolong the vitamin content, but it is best to buy only what you will use within one or two months
  • Key vitamins which is required for good health are A, D3, E, K, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, H, M and inositol
  • Important vitamins for normal growth are B1, B2 and B6
  • An adequate amount of Vitamin B3 is required for good digestion
  • Vitamin C is also needed for healthy bones and teeth
  • Key factors in metabolism are both vitamin B5 and M
  • The reduction in the formation of blood cells due to lack of Vitamin H can cause anaemia
  • Deformities and stunted growth in young fish can be caused due to lack of Vitamin A
  • When fish are stressed, there is increased need for Vitamin A
  • Key factors are Vitamin E and A to maintain fish for top breeding condition
  • The essential vitamin for fish is Vitamin C, and most species tested are not capable of synthesising their own.

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