Picking The Best Food For Flowerhorns To Maximize Growth, Color & Health

If you want to maximize health, color, and growth a balanced, high-quality diet is your goal. After reading this article, I want you to come away with the knowledge of how to spot the difference between high-quality and low-quality foods (the key is the first ingredients listed).

I’ll also share my favorite commercial foods available for flowerhorns.

Key Takeaways

  • First ingredients listed are the most important
  • General fish meal = Low-quality
  • A little wheat to help bind fish food together is okay
  • Specific fish meal is acceptable
  • Whole fish as the first ingredient = highest-quality
  • Flowerhorns need a variety of animal proteins and plant foods
  • Spirulina is a great color enhancer for blues and greens
  • Shrimp, krill, and marigold are great color enhancers for reds, yellows and oranges

Foods which fit this for flowerhorns:

  • Omega One Large Cichlid
  • Repashy Super Gold
  • New Life Spectrum Optimum Flakes
  • Spirulina 20 Flakes
  • Hikari Spirulina Brine Shrimp
  • Omega One Freeze Dried Tubifex Worms

How To Analyze Food Ingredients For Flowerhorns

Flowerhorn cichlid with bright orange hump and white body swimming in tank

First thing you should always check the ingredients. Even “name brands” (like Tetra) actually contain lots of fillers flowerhorns just don’t process and provide minimal nutrition.

The key thing here is to look at the first ingredients listed on the packet. The first items listed are what the food is mostly made up of. So let’s look at what to avoid and what to want to see.

Low-quality Ingredients to Avoid

Some of the highly common fillers in fish foods are fish leftovers, such as scales, skin, guts, and bones. They sound bad because they are, so try to avoid them at all costs

Here is an example of low-quality fish food you should avoid

Also, try to stay away from filler grains such as wheat, corn, and soy. The problem with terrestrial grains and legumes is that they’re not meant for aquatic animals. Although, don’t be worried if the foods contain these. They just can’t be the first ingredients listed on the packet.

High-quality Ingredients You Want

The first thing on the list should be whole fish or crustaceans. These are the highest-quality source of protein for flowerhorns. Also, look for spirulina, easy-to-digest blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria that are packed with protein and vitamins.

Worms are another great source of protein. Black soldier fly larvae are perfect for insectivores like flowerhorns that can’t digest exoskeletons because they don’t have any. They’re also a source of protein.

Best Foods for a Flowerhorn Cichlids

Omega One Super Color Sinking Cichlid Pellets, 4mm Large Pellets

This is another great food from Omega One. Packed with salmon, whole herring, whole shrimp, and kelp, they also contain marigold extract that can help enhance orange and yellow colors.

Click For Full Ingredients

Salmon, Whole Herring, Wheat Germ, Wheat Flour, Whole Shrimp, Pea Protein, Rice Bran, Wheat Gluten, Herring Oil, Kelp, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin E Supplement, Mixed Tocopherols, Marigold Extract, Niacin, Inositol, Astaxanthin, Canthaxanthin, Riboflavin, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement

Omega One Super Color Sinking Cichlid Pellets Aquarium Fish Food, 4mm Large Pellets, 9 oz
Omega One Super Color Sinking Cichlid Pellets Aquarium Fish Food, 4mm Large Pellets, 9 oz

    Last update on 2024-04-08 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    Repashy Super Gold

    Don’t worry about Repashy super gold being marketed towards goldfish. It has a nice balance between high-quality protein, sources and plant-based ingredients suitable for flowerhorns. I highly recommend it and it makes a really well balanced staple diet.

    Click For Full Ingredients

    Krill Meal, Spirulina Algae, Black Soldier Fly Larvae Meal, Chlorella Algae, Squid Meal, Dandelion Leaf, Seaweed Meal, Whole Egg, Pea Protein Isolate, Rice Protein Concentrate, Banana Powder, Brewer’s Dried Yeast, Mussel Meal, Mango Powder, Lecithin, Locust Bean Gum, Citric Acid, Stinging Nettle, Garlic, Ginger, Cinnamon, Dried Kelp, Phaffia Yeast, Dried Watermelon, RoseHips, Hibiscus Flower, Marigold Flower, Paprika, Turmeric, Salt, Calcium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (as preservatives), Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Methionine Hydroxy Analogue Chelate, Manganese Methionine Hydroxy Analogue Chelate, Copper Methionine Hydroxy Analogue Chelate. Vitamins: (Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D Supplement, Calcium L-Ascorbyl-2-Monophosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Beta Carotene, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex)

    Repashy Super Gold Goldfish and Koi Gel Food 6 Oz JAR
    Repashy Super Gold Goldfish and Koi Gel Food 6 Oz JAR

      Last update on 2024-04-08 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

      New Life Spectrum Naturox Optimum All Purpose Flakes

      These flakes are made from Protein sources, like krill, squid and whole fish, as well as great plant-based foods like a mix of seaweeds, kelp, spirulina, marigold and algae. They make a great staple diet for flowerhorns.

      Click For Full Ingredients

      Krill (Euphasia superba), Squid (Dosidicus gigas), Whole Wheat Flour, Fish (Brevoortia tyrannus), Garlic, Fish Oil, Seaweed (Ulva latuca, Undaria pinnatafida, Euchema  cottonii, Euchema spinosum, Chondrus crispus), Green Algae (Chlorella pyrendoidosa), Kelp, Ginger, Astaxanthin, Spirulina, Marigold, Bentonite Clay, Sea Salt, Vitamin A Acetate,Vitamin D Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement,Vitamin B12 Supplement,  Niacin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride,Calcium Pantothenate,  L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Vitamin C), Choline Chloride, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Cobalt Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Tocopherols (a preservative)

      New Life Spectrum Naturox Optimum All Purpose Flakes 90g Fish Food
      New Life Spectrum Naturox Optimum All Purpose Flakes 90g Fish Food

        Last update on 2024-04-08 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

        Zoo Med Spirulina 20 Flake Fish Food

        Spirulina 20 has always been one of the foods that I rotate around for my various aquariums. It is a good mix between animal based ingredients and large amounts of spirulina, which is packed with all sorts of different nutrients. I’ve always had good growth from this food.

        Click For Full Ingredients

        Salmon Fish Meal, Spirulina Algae Meal, Soy Flour, Wheat Flour, Corn Starch, Dried Krill Meal, Shrimp Meal, Plankton Meal, Lecithin, Vegetable Oil, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (stabilized Vitamin C)

        Sale
        Zoo Med Spirulina 20 Flake Fish Food, 4-Ounce
        Zoo Med Spirulina 20 Flake Fish Food, 4-Ounce

          Last update on 2024-04-08 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

          Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze Dried Spirulina Brine Shrimp Cubes

          These cubes of Brian shrimp and spirulina make a great supplement or treat for fish. There are not enough varied ingredients for it to be a staple diet but this is a great protein and vitamin rich add-on that most fish really like.

          Click For Full Ingredients

          Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp, Spirulina

          Sale
          Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze Dried Spirulina Brine Shrimp Cubes for Pets, 0.42-Ounce
          Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze Dried Spirulina Brine Shrimp Cubes for Pets, 0.42-Ounce

            Last update on 2024-04-08 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

            Omega One Freeze Dried Tubifex Worms

            Freeze-dried tubifex worms are another protein packed treat your flowerhorns will love. The individual worms are small, making this food better suited to smaller flowerhorns under 5 inches.

            Click For Full Ingredients

            Freeze Dried Tubifex Worms

            Omega One Freeze Dried Tubifex Worms, 0.85 oz
            Omega One Freeze Dried Tubifex Worms, 0.85 oz

              Last update on 2024-04-08 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

              Vary The Diet For Flowerhorns

              All the foods I’ve shown you in this article have high-quality ingredients, so be confident going with any of my recommendations.

              What I would say is, get one type of food that’ll be the staple diet. Omega One super color sinking pellets are my top choice for this. Then get some spirulina based foods and freeze dried foods as occasional treats for once or twice a week.

              Christopher Adams
              Christopher Adams

              Hey there, my name is Christopher, and I've successfully ran freshwater aquariums for the past few decades. The mission of this site is to make it simple for anyone to run their own freshwater aquarium.

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