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In this article, we’ll discuss What Fish Food Is Made Of, how they make it and all the tasty ingredients found in the most popular fish food brands.

If you are one of the more than seven million people with a fish tank in your home, you know that one of the best times every day is feeding time.

It’s fun and rewarding to watch your slippery little friends dart around while frantically nipping at the flakes and sticks of fish food.

Fish in the wild hunt for the food they prefer, and that’s healthy for them. As a responsible fish owner, you want to make sure that the food you give them is tasty, attractive, and nutritious so that they eat well and live longer.

You can select from among a variety of foods, including these most popular choices:

  • Flakes are the best known and most popular for surface feeders and middle feeders.
  • Crisps are denser flakes.
  • Pellets are versatile and can float, sink slowly, or sink quickly to accommodate all your fish.
  • Stick-on Tablets are fun because you can stick them to the side of your tank and watch the fish eat.
  • Wafers are large and sink to the bottom to be picked apart.
  • You can also get freeze-dried or frozen food, even a vacation block that will slowly release food over time when you’re away.

You have all these convenient choices clogging the shelves of your local pet store, but don’t you wonder what you’re feeding your pet fish?

What is fish food made of

The answer may vary from brand to brand, but most fish food contains up to forty ingredients. These ingredients are designed to keep your fish healthy while being attractive and tasty.

Your fish really likes this stuff, even though it’s being served in a small tank instead of out in the wild.

Aquarium Maintenance Checklist [Free Guide]

Let’s take a look at the most common ingredients.

Fish meal

Fish meal delivers protein, energy, and vitamin B to your fish.

It’s made using small marine animals with high bone density and high oil content – fish that are typically not used for human consumption.

These animals are cooked, pressed to remove excess oils, dried, and then ground up so that they can be cut into flakes.

Shrimp meal

Shrimp meal provides your fish with protein and acts as a natural laxative to aid with digestion.

It’s made from the undecomposed waste of shrimp that is processed by drying it out and then grinding it up before mixing it with the other ingredients.

Squid meal

Squid meal supplies your fish with amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and cholesterol.

This sounds especially yucky, but fish love it – squid meal is made from a squid’s internal organs that have been discarded by the canneries.


Earthworms are nutritious. They contain protein, fat, carbohydrates, and lots of minerals and vitamins that are essential to your fish’s health.

Like the other ingredients, earthworms are dried and then ground up.


Spirulina is a sort of fish superfood.

It’s blue-green plankton that helps your fish boost its immune system and gives a big assist to fight off diseases and bacteria because it’s loaded with plenty of vitamins and minerals.

It delivers vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, and E. It also contains beta carotene.

Other ingredients

There are too many possibilities to go into detail, but rest assured that extra vitamins and minerals are added to the mixture, often along with wheat flour, soy, and paprika oils, and fish enjoy different colors, food coloring.

Further reading: What Can Fish Eat Besides Fish Food

How do they make fish food?

We’re discussing dried fish food in this article because it’s the most popular and available product on the market.

It doesn’t matter which of the several popular forms it takes – flakes, chips, pellets, wafers, etc. -, all that changes substantially is the size, shape, and density of the finished product.

Let’s talk about flakes and sticks.


Remember all those delicious, dried ingredients we talked about earlier?

  • The first step in the manufacturing process is to mix them in large tanks and introduce additives to create a slurry or mash.
  • The mash is poured onto a series of rolling drums. The drums are heated to cook the mash.
  • The material is then placed on a sheet to dry.
  • Next, the dried sheet of fish food is cut into pieces.
  • The pieces are tumbled to mix them and also break them into smaller pieces.
  • Conveyors carry the pieces onto screens of various sizes that separate them into small, medium, and large flakes.
  • The flakes are then packaged.


You’ve probably fed your fish little rods of food. These are called sticks and are a very popular form of fish food.

The manufacturing process for stick food is similar to how flakes are made.

  • They mix the ingredients to create a mash.
  • The mash is pressed into spaghetti-like strips.
  • The strips are cut into manageable, bite-sized rods or sticks.
  • The sticks move on to be packaged.

One food for all fish?

Fish can be like people – they can have taste and appearance preferences and different nutritional needs.

The technical term for your fish tank is the water column. You can think of it as the top layer of water, the middle layer of water, and the lower water level.

Different fish feed at different levels of the water column.

Consequently, the weight of the food may determine which fish will eat it.

You should also consider if your fish are meat-eaters (insects and other fish), plant-eaters, or will eat just about anything or anyone.

Dried fish food selection is extensive, so you won’t have any problem finding what’s right for your fish.

Size matters, too, because you can’t feed large food to small fish.

Further Reading: How Often Do You Feed Fish

Video: How Fish Food Is Made


Your pet store features dozens of fish food types and brands. They are manufactured to provide the nutrition, vitamins, and minerals necessary to keep the fish in your fish tank happy and healthy, regardless of the kind or size of fish you own.