I've been using Aquarian Flake Food for years. Unfortunately, about a year ago, Mars Pet Products stopped marketing Aquarian Flake Food in the United States. I heard that it had to do with regulatory issues.
Finding a good replacement food hasn't been easy. So, what am I looking for?
- Large flakes size for my larger fish, but easy enough to crush for fry
- Readily accepted by both fry and adult fish (they want to eat it)
- Available in bulk for lower price
- Vitamin Fortified
- Good grow-out rates for fry
- No bloat or other problems (obviously)
At this year's American Cichlid Association Convention, I picked up a couple of cans of food that I had not seen before: New Life Spectrum Optimum Fresh H20 Flakes. I was already familiar with New Life Spectrum Foods and have been using their pellets on and off throughout the years. Their pellet foods are so popular that many hobbyists generically use the term NLS to refer to the product.
At first glance, I wasn't sure this would be a great cichlid food as the primary ingredients are heavily based on protein rather than vegetable products and the protein content of this food is a whopping 49%. That said, I primarily use flake for fry and juvenile cichlids and for my livebearers. Young cichlids can tolerate higher levels of protein in their diet. In addition, I generally vary what I feed my fish, rotating in a good spirulina flake.
NLS Optimum Fresh H20 flake contains garlic which helps to prevent intestinal parasites and is a color enhancing flake. It even has ginseng as an ingredient. This food has a fiber content of 4% which is about on par with most other brands of non-vegetarian flakes.
Ingredients and Nutritional Breakdown
Crude Protein (min) ......49%
Crude Fat (min) ......8%
Crude Fiber (max) .....4%
Moisture (max) ......9%
Ash (max) ......10%
Vitamin A (min) ......8000IU/kg
Vitamin D (min) ......2500IU/kg
Vitamin E (min) ....200IU/kg
Whole Antarctic Krill Meal, Whole Herring Meal, Wheat Flour, Whole Squid Meal, Mussel Meal, Algae Meal, Garlic, Soybean Isolate, Beta Carotene, Spirulina, Vegetable and Fruit Extract (Spinach, Broccoli, Red Pepper, Zucchini, Tomato, Pea, Red and Green Cabbage, Apple, Apricot, Mango, Kiwi, Papaya, Peach, Pear), Ginseng, Vitamin A Acetate D-Activated Animal Sterol (D3), Vitamin B 12 supplement , Thiamine, Biotin, DL-Alphatocophero (E), Riboflavin Supplement , Niacin, Folic Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, L-Ascorby-2-polyphosphate (Stable C), Choline Chloride Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Cobalt Sulfate , Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate.
How does it work?
NLS Optimum Fresh H20 flake has worked very well for me. I've seen great growth rates for my cichlid fry. It can be a real challenge to migrate fry from baby brine shrimp to flake, but this food is so appealing it hasn't been a problem. My livebearers seem to have shown the greatest benefit. I've seen increased spawning from mollies and goodeids and superior color.
I liked the food so much I bought a 1.76 pound tub from Jehmco. I keep the large tub in the freezer and only take out what I need each week to feed my fish. A complaint about the bulk packaging is that it is really hard to open, especially when cold out of the freezer. I transferred the flake to another container with a screw-top lid.