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A quality goldfish and koi food starts with quality aquatic based ingredients. Fish derive most of their energy from fats, not carbohydrates (although cereal is needed as roughage). Also the amino acids that make up proteins should be ones that can be easily metabolized by fish. Soy proteins and feather meal that are used by many foods are not the best quality. An analogy I used in another blog to compare amino acid (protein) quality is this: You can achieve the protein analysis of many pet foods with a pair of leather shoes, yet leather shoes are for the most part, made up of un-digestible proteins that will eventually lead to renal (kidney) failure in fish.
DL-methionine is an essential amino acid for producing the “Lionhead” feature in goldfish. High levels of methionine can be found in the vegetable proteins of spinach, green peas, garlic, and Vegetable protein extract which is used in many commercial foods such as Sanyu Koi and Goldfish Food, Aqueon or Hikari Gold. DL-methionine can also be found in fish meal.
It should also be pointed out that no one food should be fed alone (including Sanyu, Hikari, Aqueon or others). A balanced diet for goldfish should also include Spirulina Flakes, and Brine or Mysis shrimp (which have a natural laxative for goldfish). Frequency of feeding is also important, think of goldfish as under water horses (there are differences of course), they are regularly grazing, unlike say a lion. The point is that goldfish have digestive tracts meant for a more vegetable diet and constant grazing, not unlike horses, and if not kept full, they can develop gas (that is also why the brine shrimp and spirulina are important). Another point of note is that most fancy goldfish are very inbred and have poor digestive tracts which make them even more sensitive to a poor diet and intestinal gas.
Try and feed your goldfish at least two or more times a day (if more often, feed less per feeding). Also soak your fish food in water for at least 5 minutes so that it does not float, which will prevent your goldfish from ingesting air (which can cause digestive problems).
Pellets and granules should be at least part of your goldfish diet as these fill the gut much better than most flake foods, thus preventing bloating or worse intestinal issues (pelleted foods tend to be lower in proteins).
Be careful with feeding too much flake food (even the spirulina flake, although this flake does not cause the intestinal gas problems that many flakes such as TetraFin do), and again soak any flake food.
Another point about goldfish is that they often ‘root’ around in gravel or sand so be careful with a size that may get lodged in a goldfish’ throat. If this should happen try and gently dislodge the gravel with a blunt tool (not sharp) such the end of a Q-Tip without the cotton part. This can be fatal if not removed.
Some goldfish keepers advocate not keeping goldfish in tanks with gravel which is definitely a good way to prevent this in the first place, however I have found this rare in tanks with pea sized gravel or sand and I find a bare tank rather boring to look at. Should you choose a bare tank you can add potted plants to improve the décor of your tank.
Please read this article about fish nutrition for more in depth information.
Among high end show quality Koi Breeder in Taiwan and Japan this is considered the "best of the best".
AquaMasters contains Whole Wheat which should be high in your goldfish' diet so as to prevent intestinal distress which in turn can allow for opportunistic internal Aeromonas infections.
The Premium Goldfish AquaMaster Goldfish Diet is a must for any goldfish keeper looking for the long term health benefits from the foods they feed their prize goldfish. As well the AquaMasters Wheat Germ Koi food may be fed to large goldfish, especially larger older and often blind specimens.
Aqua Masters has achieved ISO-9001/9002 Certification, it represents both product and design process controls are recognized worldwide as the leading quality management standard. The company also produces its own seafood including cobia, amberjack, sea bass, grouper, and shrimp to make the high quality koi food.
While Paradigm Ultra Premium Custom Fish Foods does not make a specific food just for goldfish (just as Spirulina 20 below), their custom fish food formulas and uniquely manufactured fish foods still fit in well with any goldfish diet. Paradigm Herbivore or Omnivore would be the Paradigm fish foods of choice for goldfish (although their Graze might be an excellent supplemental choice as well).
This would make an excellent supplemental, but also the main diet, then supplementing with others such as AquaMaster or Spirulina 20.
Spirulina 20 flakes contain a full 20% Spirulina and provide a complete high protein diet for freshwater, goldfish and more. Spirulina 20 also has natural immune boosters as well by virtue of the high content of Spirulina Algae.
This would be the one flake food I would recommend as a compliment to AquaMasters or other pelleted/granule goldfish food.
Hikari is another well recognized leader in fish foods, especially their goldfish and koi foods.
Their popular "Goldfish Gold Pellet Food" is a food I have used personally over the years with good results that has been around quite some time.
Sanyu Vital is a complete diet to provide all necessary nutrition for goldfish and koi with basically the same formula as Hikari (which is also a good quality goldfish diet), except at a lower price.
This food is formulated to meet the diet requirement for goldfish and koi. The raw material used is selected from vegetable based, high carbohydrates and less protein ingredients are easily digested. Feeding this food will result a rapid color enhancement and the various vitamins and minerals added ensure the fish stay healthy and vital.
Although this food contains soya meals (a poor source of protein in fish), it derives the majority of it's proteins from quality sources such as spirulina vegetable proteins and fish meal.
Sanyu Ingredients: Vegetable protein extract, fish meal, soya meals, rice bran, wheat flour, corn meal, carotenoid, lecithin, vegetable oil, vitamin A, C, E and important minerals and trace elements
Pro-Gold is a sinking pellet that includes Krill, Fish, Shrimp, Wheat, Spirulina and Alfalfa as the main ingredients.
Pro-Gold also includes a natural immuno-stimulant to stimulate the immune system and probiotics to support the good bacteria in your goldfish's intestinal track. Plus, all the essential vitamins and minerals to keep your fish healthy.
Saki-Hikari Color Enhancing Goldfish Diet is a health improving diet for all varieties of Premium Grade Goldfish to develop to their best potential! The inclusion of beneficial living microorganisms (Hikari-Germ) offers more complete assimilation, reduced waste, improved resistance to disease and increased growth rates.
Aqueon Goldfish Granules contain only natural ingredients and contain no artificial colors. The colors of the foods are attributed to the actual ingredients in the formula, and help to bring out the natural colors in your fish, while keeping them energetic and healthy. These granules are slow sinking and easy to digest.