Get The Best Food For Your Oscar Fish Based On Ingredient Quality

Oscar fish eat a wide variety of foods in the wild, even some you really wouldn’t expect. 

It’s our job as aquarists to provide them with the best diet we possibly can. In this guide, I want to come away with not only a list of great foods you can feed your oscar, but how to spot high-quality vs low-quality foods.

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
  • Oscar’s 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 Oscars:

  • 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
  • Northfin Cichlid

High-Quality Vs Low-Quality Foods: The First Ingredient is Vital

When looking at foods for oscars, the first ingredient listed will be what the food is mostly made up of.

Low-quality foods will list something like generic fish meal, and fillers like corn or soy first.

Yes, these foods will keep your oscar from starving to death, but they provide minimal nutritional value.

Generic fish meal is the leftovers of fish carcasses after the meat and oil have been removed. It’s the guts, bones and scales, essentially, the trash from harvesting the edible parts of a fisherman’s catch.

Some parts are completely indigestible, like scales, fins and teeth, and will just pass through the fish’s digestion as waste, contributing to the bioload of the aquarium without providing any meaningful nutrition.

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

If generic fish meal is the first ingredient of a fish food, I would recommend skipping it, and look for something that provides higher quality nutrition.

Whole ingredients, like whole fish, shrimp or krill, contain more usable protein than fish carcasses that have been stripped of all their meat.

Here’s an example of high-quality ingredient

As well, non-aquatic fillers like soy and corn can’t really be broken down by a fish’s digestive system, so they just become waste, creating more poop, but providing very few actual nutrients. 

An example of high-quality whole fish meal

Best Food For Oscar Fish Based On Ingredient Quality

Oscars eat an extremely varied diet in the wild and it’s best to recreate this as much as possible in the home aquarium.

Feeding your Oscars a variety of foods will ensure they get all the nutrients they need to be healthy and colorful.

Fluval Bug Bites Cichlid Formula

Bug Bites Cichlid Food is a great way to add in some protein to your fish’s diet. Its main protein sources are black soldier fly larvae and salmon. The larvae helps mimic the insects that most fish eat in the wild. Because of the limited ingredient list, I would use this food as an add-on, rather than a staple.

Click For Full Ingredients

Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae, Salmon, Fish Protein Concentrate, Green Peas, Potato, Wheat, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Dl-Methionine, Lecithin, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine, Vitamin E Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium L-Ascorbyl-2 Monophosphate, Calendula, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Beta-Carotene, Rosemary Extract, Riboflavin, Copper Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Inositol, Folic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin D3 Supplement

Sale
Fluval Bug Bites Cichlid Fish Food, Granules for Small to Medium Sized Fish, 1.59 oz., A6580
Fluval Bug Bites Cichlid Fish Food, Granules for Small to Medium Sized Fish, 1.59 oz., A6580

    Last update on 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    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 color.

    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 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

      Repashy Super Gold

      Don’t be put off by the marketing towards goldfish. Repashy super fold actually makes a great food for most tropical fish, including oscars. It contains a nice balance of high-quality protein sources and plant-based ingredients. This would make a really well balanced staple diet for oscars.

      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 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

        New Life Spectrum Naturox Optimum All Purpose Flakes

        Another wonderful choice for a staple food for your oscars. New Life Spectrum 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.

        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 2024-05-23 / 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. It’s a great option to give to your Oscar a couple times a week and add some variety into their diet.

          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 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

            Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze Dried Spirulina Brine Shrimp Cubes

            These cubes of brine shrimp and spirulina make a great supplement or treat for oscar 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.

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            Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp, Spirulina

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            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 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

              Omega One Freeze Dried Tubifex Worms

              Freeze-dried tubifex worms are another protein packed treat that many fish really like. The individual worms are small, making this food better suited to small and medium sized oscars.

              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 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                Northfin Fish Food Cichlid Formula Slow Sinking Pellets 2mm

                These slow, sinking pellets compact with excellent protein sources, like krill, whole herring, Whole sardines, kelp, and spirulina. This is a great mix of plant and protein food sources that could easily be used as a staple diet for your fish.

                Click For Full Ingredients

                Whole Antarctic Krill Meal (Euphausia Superba), High DHA Omega-3 Whole Herring Meal, Whole Sardine Meal, Wheat Flour, Organic Kelp (Laminariales), Spirulina, Garlic (Allium Sativum), Astaxanthin, Montmorillonite Clay, Vitamin A Acetate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Cholecalciferol, Alpha-tocopherol Acetate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamine, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Choline Chloride, Cobalt Sulfate Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Selenium, Zinc, Rosemary Extract (Rosmarinus Officinalis)

                Northfin Fish Food Cichlid Formula Slow Sinking Pellets (2mm 250g)
                Northfin Fish Food Cichlid Formula Slow Sinking Pellets (2mm 250g)

                  Last update on 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                  Veggies 

                  Oscars do benefit from a bit of vegetable matter in their diets.

                  This might sound weird, but the best way to accomplish this is to give them some frozen peas occasionally. 

                  Yep, I know it sounds crazy at first, but pea protein is actually a major ingredient in a lot of fish foods. It’s a great thing to add to their diets.

                  I feed them to my big cichlids and they go crazy for them. I just grab a few out of the bag and put them in a cup of tank water to thaw them out. The fish gulp them up like they would pellets.

                  Why I Don’t Recommend Using Feeder Fish

                  I know that some people will want to take me to task about this topic. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

                  I really think that the risks involved with using feeder fish far outweigh the benefits. 

                  First of all, it’s totally unnecessary to use feeder fish. There are so many different options out there for protein rich food sources for your fish.

                  Second, feeder fish are notorious for carrying pests and diseases that can infect your Oscar fish. 

                  I’ve seen it countless times on forums where someone’s fish ends up with a parasite and the only possible explanation for it was that it came from feeder fish.

                  Feeder fish are bred, raised, transported and housed under what I consider to be the worst possible conditions. It’s no surprise that they’re often sick.

                  Third, feeder fish are often not that nutritious because they’ve been fed nothing but the cheapest possible filler food.

                  Feeder fish are only as nutritious as the food they’ve been fed. So you’re basically going the long way around to feed your Oscar crap food.

                  Why do all this if it isn’t even that good for your fish?

                  So, the long and the short of it is I don’t recommend feeder fish and don’t think they’re a good option for your Oscar’s diet.

                  Final Thoughts On The Best Fish Food For Oscar Fish

                  Oscar fish eat a wide variety of foods in the wild, even some you really wouldn’t expect. 

                  It’s our job as aquarists to provide them with the best diet we possibly can. 

                  I recommend picking up a few kinds of high quality pellets that you can rotate around to add variety to their everyday diet.

                  Then add on things like fresh/frozen foods as treats a few times a week and occasionally give them some peas.

                  It might take a little more effort to feed this way, but your reward will be a happy and healthy Oscar fish with great color.

                  I hope you find this article helpful.

                  I wish you and your fish the best of luck!

                  Katherine Morgan
                  Katherine Morgan

                  Hey, there! I'm Katherine from Northwest Florida. An aquarium specialist, I've kept tanks for over two decades, enjoy experimenting with low-tech planted setups and an avid South American cichlid enthusiast.

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