Back to Homepage: Koivet.comFor Mailorder of your Koi and Pond Pet Health Needs Product Testing and Discussion Dr Erik JohnsonA gentle introduction to ecosystem ponds with Dr. Erik JohnsonDrJohnson.com Koi Pond Fish Health Dr Erik JohnsonKoi Pond Fish Health Dr. Erik Johnson on YouTubeKoi Pond Fish Health Vet Dr. Erik JohnsonKoi Health & Disease: Everything You Need To Know 2nd Edition

Other Resources
Outbound Links



What should you feed your koi? How many times per day? Is Corn really that bad in a Koi diet? What are the most common feeding mistakes people make? What's the best food? Koifoods.com

Assessing and Interpreting A Koi Food Bag Guaranteed Analysis Ingredients
Marketing weasels are pretty sharp. Take the time to learn how to spot some ways that a few feed manufacturers minimize cost and maximize profits.

Assessing an ingredients label

Ingredients labels can be very exciting, or very misleading. 

They can be exciting because they seem to report excellent ingredients and real care and attention in manufacture. Misleading labels use techniques like ingredient splitting and foreign law to dupe the consumer. Come with me to the store and we shall assess a label together in nine steps. 

Assessing the Fish Food Label: Step-By-Step

Assessment 1: Protein source. 

Look for fishmeal, squid meal, whitefish meal, anchovy meal, shrimp meal, blood meal, herring meal, etc as first ingredients. These are the best protein sources for fish and are the ones I recommend. Other proteins, for example if you found a bag of food that showed Lobster meal as the first ingredient, you understand that again, aquaculture protein is best for aquaculture. 

Assessment 2: Purpose of plant material

If you find a food that has NO animal protein, therefore no fish protein, AND it also has TWO plant proteins, then the manufacturer is trying to get cheaper plant ingredients to do what fishmeal should be doing. And Koi feeding results will be mediocre at best. However, if you find a food with FISH MEAL as the first ingredient and THEN wheat germ meal or similar, they are using the plant ingredient for protein AND energy, letting the fishmeal carry the bulk of the protein requirement, which is as it should be. There will be some plant protein in most foods. It's used as a helper, dual-purpose ingredient and it's not to be eschewed. 

Assessment 3: Ingredient Splitting

Look for any ingredient TWICE on the list. 

If you were manufacturing a food and found wheat to be cheaper than fishmeal, you would want to use wheat to save money. But, you know the consumers want the fishmeal to be FIRST on the list. So you split the wheat!

Example: 

Two pounds of fishmeal is less than three pounds of "Wheat". Right? 

So, honestly, that would read: 

Ingredient one by weight: Wheat

Ingredient two by weight: Fishmeal

But what if you did your label based on: 

2 pounds Fishmeal

1.5 pounds Wheat "germ"

1.5 pounds wheat "flour"

I've split my wheat into two "separate" parts and they're taken separately into the label and my Fishmeal is boosted to the TOP of the list. 

Assessment 4: Protein percent.

Let's say a company who is tailoring a feed to the prevailing market-climate wants to use FOUR aquacultural proteins, and tosses in shrimp, kelp, spirulina, and squid meal. That would be AWESOME! But it could jack up the proteins to a level unsuitable for fish, or at least unnecessary (and expensive). The protein level in a decent diet should be about 32-36% ...Partly because Koi can't digest more than that in one pass. I don't know that feeding MORE than that is a "Bad Thing" because fish will simply pass what they don't digest. So, looking for minimums, and recognizing that an outrageously high protein percentage you might be paying for is unnecessary, are the two take-away tidbits on this assessment. 

Assessment 5: Fat content

Find a food between 3-10% Crude fat. Go to the higher end of my range for smaller fish, and closer to 3% for adult fish. 

Assessment 6: Ascorbic acid

Make sure "ascorbic acid", or "L-Ascorbyl-2-Phosphate" or similar is on the label among the trailing ingredients. It will represent a very small part of the diet but it should be added to any milled food. 

Assessment 7: Immune boosters

Some foods are made with immune boosters. These are certainly harmless and they may very well perform as promised depending on what we're talking about. Look for any combination of following putative immune-boosting ingredients like: Optimun, Aquagen, Nucleotides, Torula Yeast, Brewer's Yeast, Bee Propolis, Colostrum, Aspergillus niger, beta carotene, lactoferrin. Don't hang your hat on any particular ingredient as a miracle supplement or life saver - okay? ...but recognize that the addition of these items represents the manufacturer as a little more attentive and knowledgeable, and the food worth a little extra money. 

Assessment 8: Color enhancers

Are there color enhancers in the diet? Look for terms like Spirulina, Bio-Red, BetaCarotene, Canthaxanthin, Marigold petals, Xanthins, Shrimp Oil, Synthetic and Non Synthetic Carotenoids, Color Enhancers...On the label. Generally, the shrimp oil is the most expensive. It performs as well or better than the synthetic carotenoids but either is acceptable. Spirulina cannot push color unless the fish are exposed to sunlight. None of these color enhancers are hazardous to fish but can make a fish with a yellow head YELLOWER and so they say: a fish with a tendency towards pink pinker. No color enhancer can replace the irrefutable contribution of genetics and sunlight to color. 

Assessment 9: Ash content if stated.

Sometimes companies will level with you and tell you the "crap" content of their food. Ash is what's left behind when you incinerate (or the fish digests) the food. It's almost all carbon and mineral. So the higher the ash number, the less likely one is to appreciate it. Generally, when Ash is high, a smart label guy would just leave it off, and they are allowed to because it's not required on fish food bags. 




Subscribe to our mailing list

*Indicates Required Field


HELP! Sick Fish!
Twenty Steps to fish health. You LITERALLY can solve almost any Koi or Pond health outbreak with these twenty diagnostic steps and nothing's hard. But it's not "here's your pill" either. Downloads are available.
DrJohnson.com
More than koi health, this site spans all things animal, by a real veterinarian who shoots you straight.

Fishdoc.co.uk
By Frank Prince-Iles. A UK authority who put this site together some time ago and which is still relied upon as a major source of good Koi and pond fish information

If you need pet information AND Koi pondfish and pond information you might like DrJohnson.com which has everything from pet info, to vet info, to koi and pond fish. It has it ALL! Pet Information.

© 2017 all rights reserved koivet.com (drjohnson.com)