Art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2017


Monday, September 8, 2014


Notes on commercially produced goldfish dry pellet food and its ingredients -  

In the distant past, I used to buy fish food based on the decorative appeal of the packaging. The showier the fish picture the more I liked it. Well, that time has long passed and I learned to read and UNDERSTAND the ingredient list to choose a better quality food, which also applies to the food I eat. High quality goldfish pellets can be quite expensive and it is a good idea to give this matter serious attention and determine whether the claimed quality is worth your money.

Of all major dietary components like proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins, proteins deserve special discussion. They must comprise the bulk of the pellet food and are one of the most expensive ingredients. Adequate amounts of protein are also the most important requirement in goldfish nutrition. However, not every protein is equal. The best digestible and easily assimilated by the goldfish body proteins are marine animal proteins derived from fish, krill, shrimp, squid, etc. But, unfortunately, due to the rising costs of marine products, goldfish food manufacturers learned to add cheaper and less desirable wheat, soy or corn proteins to balance the costs. Although, plant proteins are also necessary for goldfish, they should be looked at as supplemental to marine animal proteins due to a different amino acid profile. By all means, pellets where wheat, soy or corn products are listed as first ingredients should be avoided as a staple diet; and pellets where marine animal products are the first ingredients should be given a preference. 

DHA - docosahexaenoic fatty acid (omega-3 group)
EPA - eicosapentaenoic fatty acid (omega-3 group)

But don't be fooled by the label. Manufacturers have learned to tell the customer what the customer wants to hear. For example, how will you mix 2 parts of wheat and 1 part of fish into the formula and still list the fish as the first ingredient? Duh! You split 2 parts of wheat on 1 and 1, and call them different names. So, for example, the list will start with the fish meal as the first ingredient, followed by 2 wheat ingredients, wheat flour and wheat germ meal. In reality it means that you are feeding your goldfish mostly wheat products. 

Look at the label of the popular and not so cheap brand Saki-Hikari. Out of the first eight ingredients of Saki-Hikari Goldfish Color Enhancing Sinking Pellets (purple bag) six are wheat and soy products, with the first ingredient "fish meal". It makes you think that Saki-Hikari (purple bag) pellets have fish meal as a main ingredient, while the true bulk ingredient is wheat and its products. 

Furthermore, "fish meal" does not necessarily mean the whole fish with all the good parts. Often, fish trimmings, offal, bones and fish pressed for oil are used to produce fish meal for animal consumption, thus resulting in a poor quality ingredient. On the other hand, ingredients listed as "whole fish meal" or when the fish is identified (ex. whole herring or whole salmon) will indicate higher quality goldfish food with better ingredients.

I am always on the search for better quality goldfish pellet food, and especially for ranchu that is hard to come by. So far, in my opinion, Ranchu Kizoku D Sinking Pellets (a.k.a. Japan Ranchu Lord D Sinking Pellets) and better yet Azayaka Ranchu Sinking Pellets formulas are the winners. And surprisingly, the cost of these foods is no greater that of Hikari brand, although, Hikari goldfish food is heavy on wheat products and fillers.

For those interested in learning more about goldfish nutrition and feeding in general, here is an excellent article by Stephen M. Meyer "Feeding Koi and Goldfish" on FishChannel website.