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- There are hundreds of species of aquarium fish, each with unique nutritional needs. After doing some research, we’ve determined the best fish food you can buy, including options for fish with special diets.
- New Life Spectrum Thera+A is our top pick for freshwater and saltwater fish because it uses high-quality ingredients and can feed many different species.
Aquarium fish are a unique pet because they live in a self-contained environment and you can’t directly interact with them. This being said, keeping a home aquarium offers a number of unique benefits over other pets. Having a home aquarium has been shown to reduce stress and lower blood pressure, plus you’ll receive a certain sense of satisfaction from designing, creating, and cultivating a thriving aquatic ecosystem right in your own home.
Like any other pet, aquarium fish require a balanced diet in order to thrive. What many people do not realize is that different species have unique nutritional requirements. You can’t just walk into a pet store, grab a can of fish food, and expect it to work for every species. Different species may require herbivorous, carnivorous, or omnivorous diets and you may also have to account for differences in terms of what level of the tank a particular species swims in.
We’ve done the research to determine the types of diets required by the most popular aquarium fish to bring you our top picks in each category.
Here is the best fish food you can buy:
Updated on 11/04/2019 by Lisa Sabatini: Updated links, prices, formatting, and text.
The best fish food overall
- New Life Spectrum
New Life Spectrum Thera+A uses high-quality ingredients to feed a variety of freshwater and saltwater fish.
Many novice aquarium hobbyists make the mistake of thinking that all fish food is created equal. Not only do different species of fish have different nutritional needs, but different types of fish food offer different benefits. Our top pick for a high-quality fish food that meets the nutritional needs of a wide variety of freshwater and saltwater fish is New Life Spectrum Thera+A fish food.
This New Life Spectrum Thera+A formula combines the brand’s high-density Spectrum Nutrition Formula with extra nutrients and healthy oils to nourish both freshwater and saltwater fish. Made with high-quality ingredients like whole Antarctic krill, whole fish, spirulina, and garlic, this recipe is nutritionally balanced and fortified to support the health, condition, and color of aquarium fish. Plus, it is easy to digest and comes in several different pellet sizes.
Fishtank Advisor includes New Life Spectrum Thera+A in its top 10 picks for the best fish food, commenting that the formula appeals to a wide variety of freshwater and saltwater fish, including cichlids. A review from Home Aquaponics System gives the formula a 4.5-star rating, commenting on its versatility and the fact that the pellets sink slowly enough to make them suitable for fish that swim at all levels of the aquarium.
Pros: Made from high-quality ingredients, easy to digest formula, fortified with color-enhancing nutrients, appeals to a wide variety of fish, suitable for freshwater and saltwater, pellets sink slowly, available in several different sizes
Cons: May need to buy different sizes for different fish, may not appeal to fish used to a flake food diet, may cloud tank water if overfed
The best betta fish food
- Omega One
Loaded with whole fish proteins and color-enhancing nutrients, Omega One Betta Buffet Pellets will help your betta fish look and feel their best.
Also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, betta fish are some of the most brightly colored fish in the freshwater aquarium hobby. These fish are best kept in tanks by themselves (at least for males of the species) and they require a nutrient-rich, carnivorous diet. Our top pick for the best betta fish food is Omega One Betta Buffet Pellets.
Made with fresh Alaskan seafoods, Omega One Betta Buffet Pellets offer unmatched nutrition for betta fish. These pellets are designed to float on the surface of the tank where your betta can easily see them, though they may sink to the bottom as they take on water. In addition to salmon, herring, and shrimp, these pellets contain color-enhancing nutrients to help your betta fish look their best.
Build Your Aquarium includes Omega One Betta Buffet Pellets in its list of the best betta fish pellets, commenting on the quality of the whole fish ingredients and the lack of both fillers and plant-based ingredients (aside from wheat as a thickener). Dr. Fox Magazine also recommends this food, noting that it contains a whopping 42% crude protein and very little ash, so it is unlikely to cloud or pollute your tank water.
Omega One Betta Buffet Pellets are a popular choice among betta fish owners. Customers love the nutrient-rich formula, though there are some comments about the pellets sinking too quickly. As long as you have your betta’s attention at feeding time, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Pros: Made with protein-rich ingredients for a carnivorous diet, includes color-enhancing nutrients, does not cloud tank water, rich in healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, easy to feed
Cons: Pellets may sink too quickly, pellets may break down if they sink to the bottom, may be too large for very young betta fish
The best herbivore fish food
- Omega One
Rich in plant-based protein from fresh-harvested kelp, Omega One Veggie Rounds appeal to a wide variety of herbivorous fish.
Herbivorous species of aquarium fish require a plant-based diet, but that doesn’t mean that you can skimp on protein. Kelp is a high-quality protein option for plant-eating aquarium fish, as long as it is harvested from a quality source. Our top pick for the best fish food for herbivores is Omega One Veggie Rounds because they are made with quality ingredients and appeals to a variety of species.
Omega One Veggie Rounds come in three sizes. Made with fresh-harvested kelp and supplemented with omega fatty acids and other healthy nutrients, this food appeals to a wide variety of fish, both freshwater and saltwater. The food comes in sinking wafers that work well for bottom-feeders and it won’t cloud your tank water.
Pros: Made from fresh-harvested kelp for maximum nutrition, large size prevents wafers from being swallow whole, sinking wafer appeals to bottom-feeders, rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, high in plant-based proteins
Cons: Wafers may not always sink quickly, uneaten food should be removed after an hour to prevent breakdown, may not appeal to surface-feeding fish
The best carnivore fish food
Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze-Dried Bloodworms are freeze-dried to preserve nutritional quality and they don’t have harmful parasites or bacteria.
Many people don’t think of aquarium fish as carnivorous but many of the most popular species are. Betta fish, discus fish, and tetras are all examples of aquarium fish that require a carnivorous diet made up of meat-based foods like worms and other insects. Our top pick for the best fish food for carnivores is Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze-Dried Bloodworms.
Bloodworms are nothing more than mosquito larvae, and they are one of the most popular foods for carnivorous species of fish. The problem with this type of food, however, is that they are often harvested from waters contaminated with parasites. Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze-Dried Bloodworms are guaranteed free from harmful parasites and bacteria, so they are safe for your aquarium fish. The bloodworms are rich in protein and supplemented with essential nutrients.
A review from B4 Best Reviews comments on the bloodworms’ versatility as a meat-based food for all types of tropical fish. The writer also notes that the container features a convenient dispenser top. Desima also reviews the food favorably, noting that the bloodworms are fortified with essential nutrients and the product does not cloud tank water.
Pros: Freeze-dried to preserve nutritional quality, 100% bloodworms plus essential nutrients, free from parasites and bacteria, easy dispenser top, high in protein and healthy fats, appeals to most carnivorous species of aquarium fish
Cons: Should be used as a supplement to a nutritionally balanced staple diet, some fish may not accept freeze-dried foods, somewhat expensive
The best fish food for mid-level swimmers
The Hikari Tropical Semi-Floating Micro Pellets are a nutritious food that appeals specifically to mid-level swimmers.
Different species of aquarium fish tend to swim at different levels of the tank. There are plenty of sinking foods for bottom-feeders and floating flakes for surface swimmers, but mid-level swimmers are often left in the lurch. Mid-level swimmers like tetras and barbs need a semi-floating food – a pellet that floats on the surface for a little while before it starts to sink. Our top pick for the best semi-floating food for mid-level swimmers is Hikari Tropical Semi-Floating Micro Pellets.
Hikari Tropical Semi-Floating Micro Pellets feature a scientifically-proven formula designed to nourish smaller species of fish that tend to swim in the middle level of the tank. These micro pellets are made with fish meal, krill meal, and fish oil as well as dried seaweed, spirulina, and a variety of healthy nutrients to ensure complete and balanced nutrition. Rich in essential vitamins and minerals, these pellets will also help your fish reach their maximum coloration.
B4 Best Reviews describes this food as the “ideal balanced fish food for most tropical fish” and comments that the semi-floating pellet works well for both surface and mid-level swimmers. Best Automatic Fish Feeders says the pellets are rich in vegetable fiber as well as protein and essential nutrients.
Pros: Made with a blend of high-quality ingredients, includes both vegetables and protein, fortified with essential nutrients for balance and color enhancement, small pellet size is ideal for smaller species, sinking pellet works well for surface and mid-level swimmers
Cons: May be too small for larger species of fish, pellets may not always sink quickly, not ideal for bottom-dwelling species
The best saltwater fish food
- New Life Spectrum
Designed specifically for saltwater species, New Life Spectrum’s Marine Fish Formula features high-quality ingredients in a slow-sinking pellet.
Saltwater fish receive a highly varied diet in the wild that consists of both plant and animal foods. A high-quality saltwater fish food formula must appeal to the dietary needs of numerous species without sacrificing quality, and that is exactly what New Life Spectrum Marine Fish Formula offers.
Made with plenty of whole food ingredients, this recipe is highly concentrated and appealing to a wide variety of marine species. New Life Spectrum Marine Fish Formula features quality ingredients like whole Antarctic krill, Ulva seaweed, spirulina, and omega-3 fish oil to provide a balanced diet for a wide variety of saltwater species.
The 1mm pellets sink slowly enough that fish feeding at all levels of the tank have access to it. Fortified with color-enhancing nutrients and designed for digestibility, this food is an excellent all-purpose fish food for saltwater tanks.
The Mandarin Garden commented on the quality of the whole food ingredients and the fact that the formula is hormone-free. The reviewer also notes that the pellets are sized right for fish of all sizes and species, plus, the pellets sink slowly enough that fish swimming at all levels of the tank can catch them.
Pros: Made with high-quality whole food ingredients, fortified with color-enhancing nutrients, made in the USA, slow-sinking pellets for fish that feed at all levels, suitable for all diet types
Cons: Pellets may sink too quickly for top-feeders, fish used to flake food may transition slowly, somewhat pricey compared to other products
The best fish food for algae eaters
Hikari Algae Wafers are scientifically formulated for algae-eating fish and other herbivorous species.
If your aquarium has a problem with algae growth, you might consider adding an algae-eating species of fish such as a Plecostomus to your tank. Keep in mind, however, that most fish will require supplemental feeding in addition to the algae they eat. Algae wafers are an excellent source of supplemental nutrition for algae-eaters and other omnivorous bottom-dwellers and our top pick is Hikari Algae Wafers.
Hikari Algae Wafers are made from a blend of high-quality algae and proteins for balanced nutrition that appeals to omnivorous species of fish. While this food is specifically designed for Plecostomus and other bottom-feeders, mid-level swimmers and even some surface dwellers may pick at the wafers as well. They are generously sized to prevent them from being swallow whole and they sink quickly so they won’t be eaten before your bottom-feeders can get to them.
A review from Fishxperts notes that Hikari Algae Wafers offers the perfect balance of vegetables and proteins for Plecostomus and other bottom-feeders and species of algae-eating fish. Pet Keepers Guide comments that the wafers are generously sized to feed a small school of algae eaters or bottom feeders and they sink quickly.
Pros: Provides a blend of vegetable and protein ingredients, fortified with nutrients for nutritional balance, generously sized to feed a small school, sinks quickly, too large to be swallowed whole, appeals to a variety of omnivorous fish
Cons: Not recommended for surface feeders, uneaten portion should be removed after two hours
The best fish food for bottom feeders
- Omega One
Made with fresh shrimp and other whole food ingredients, Omega One Shrimp Pellets sink quickly to provide bottom feeders with a nutrient-rich diet.
Bottom feeders like Corydoras catfish play an important role in the home aquarium by consuming the leftover fish food that sinks to the bottom of the tank. In doing so, bottom feeders help keep the water column free from detritus and keep ammonia levels under control by consuming extra food before it breaks down.
While bottom feeders will eat leftover fish food and other debris, they still need a balanced diet. Our top pick for the best fish food for bottom feeders is Omega One Shrimp Pellets.
A high-quality fish food for bottom feeders needs to satisfy two requirements. It needs to sink quickly so other fish do not eat it and it needs to be nutritionally rich. Omega One Shrimp Pellets are made with fresh whole shrimp as well as salmon, cod, and herring to provide a protein-rich diet for bottom-feeding species. This recipe also contains natural fats and plenty of color-enhancing vitamins and minerals.
In its review, Aquascape Addiction says these shrimp pellets are loaded with protein and made with fresh shrimp, but the recipe is fairly low on plant ingredients, so you may need to supplement with algae wafers depending what kind of bottom feeders you have in your tank. Pet Keepers Guide liked that the pellets sink quickly enough to make it to the bottom of the tank before they can be picked up by other fish.
Pros: Made with fresh shrimp, numerous protein-rich ingredients, color-enhancing nutrients, fast sinking formula, rich in healthy fats, doesn’t break down too quickly, small enough for most fish
Cons: Difficult to break into smaller pieces, herbivorous species may require supplemental feeding
Check out our other fish gear buying guides
- Wikimedia Commons
Keeping pet fish is something of a science. To build a great aquarium for your fishy friends, you need a good fish tank and a few accessories. Here are the best fish tanks and accessories you can buy: