When you’re looking for the best cichlid food for color and growth, it helps to know a little bit about how these beautiful fish live in the wild.
Diet is important to all fish but it’s extremely important for cichlids for several reasons.
First, because cichlids should always look and feel their best. Second, because the groupings of cichlids we put together in aquariums don’t always occur in nature.
That means you have to be extra careful to make sure each group gets the food they need.
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The 10 Best Cichlid Food for Color & Growth Healthy
When it comes to cichlid food, there are a few recipes that really stand out above the rest. These foods are all formulated to give your cichlids the nutritional ingredients that they need to stay healthy, grow strong, and keep their colors vibrant.
|Tetra TetraCichlid Balanced Diet Flakes Food for Cichlids
|Omega One Super Color Cichlid Pellets Small Sinking
|Small Sinking Pellets
|Hikari Cichlid Gold Floating Pellets
|New Life Spectrum Cichlid Formula 1mm Sinking Freshwater Pet Food
|Aqueon Cichlid Food Pellets
|TetraCichlid Cichlid Crisps Advanced Clear Water Formula
|API Fish Food Pellets
|Northfin Cichlid Formula Pellet
|Fluval Bug Bites Pellets for Cichlids
|Royal Pet Supplies Inc Zoo Med Spirulina 20 Flake Fish Food
Cichlid Food Reviews
1. Tetra TetraCichlid Balanced Diet Flakes Food for Cichlids
This cichlid food from Tetra is made of a perfectly balanced mix of vitamins, biotin, omega-3 fatty acids, and immune system boosters to help your fish grow strong, fight disease, and weather stress. It also enhances color so your fish look as good as they feel.
These flakes are for top and mid-water feeding cichlids and the high-protein, easy-to-digest formula helps satisfy your fish while also keeping the water cleaner and clearer. They stay together and don’t fall apart when the fish eat them in the water.
2. Omega One Super Color Cichlid Pellets Small Sinking
Omega One pellets have balanced nutrition that not only helps your cichlids thrive, but it also enhances their colors, too.
Plus, they think it’s delicious.
This formula contains higher levels of better quality proteins. Omega-3 and -6 help boost their immune systems and help them live a longer, happier life.
Color enhancers in this food come from the natural pigments in the salmon that’s added to the formula.
These pellets sink and are great for middle to bottom level feeders. One more thing, they were formulated so that they won’t cloud the water.
3. Hikari Cichlid Gold Floating Pellets
These floating pellets from Hikari let you monitor exactly how much your cichlids have eaten. The best feeding pattern for them is to eat smaller amounts more frequently.
By being able to see if anything is left behind, you can better judge if they’re getting the right amount of food. If there is anything left behind, don’t worry – it won’t cloud the water.
One of the great things about this food is the unique blend of nutrients. It’s rich in beta-carotene and NS Germ to bring out the natural bright colors of your fish.
Plus, the high protein levels improve growth rates, and stabilized vitamin C boost immune system health and. That’s not all, there’s also vitamin E to increase amino acid levels. Your fish get a higher feed efficiency with this food than other comparable blends.
4. New Life Spectrum Cichlid Formula 1mm Sinking Freshwater Pet Food
Next up is a great blend from New Life Spectrum. This is a highly digestible formula that contains a lot of natural and delicious proteins your cichlids will love. It includes South Antarctic krill, herring, squid, and mussels.
Because cichlid like variety, there’s also a lot of natural plant ingredients, too. Some of these include seaweed, kelp, algae, as well as a mix of fruits and vegetables like spinach, red cabbage, peas, broccoli, kiwi, and apple, just to name a few.
These all-natural ingredients also add color enhancers that bring out the beautiful colors of your fish.
5. Aqueon Cichlid Food Pellets
Aqueon pellets are slow sinking and provide balanced nutrition for your cichlids’ health and to help them look beautiful. It contains all-natural ingredients that even the pickiest cichlid will love, like krill and squid.
In fact, it’s 42% protein which gives your fish the fuel they need to grow strong and healthy.
Another good thing about these pellets is that they don’t contain any artificial colors. While your fish will look bright and gorgeous, all of the enhancement comes from the natural ingredients, which means it’s completely safe for the fish.
6. TetraCichlid Cichlid Crisps Advanced Clear Water Formula
This cichlid food from Tetra is can be used as a staple in your fishes’ diet. These crisps are bigger and thicker than typical flake food, ideal for top and middle feedings cichlids. Their uniform size makes it easy to keep track of feeding, too.
Each crisp has a small circular green center surrounded by a beige ring. The green is concentrated algae extract while the beige contains dried krill and shrimp. Each crisp has the protein and fat your cichlids need for all-around health and nutrition. Best of all, they’re neater and easier than live foods.
One of the great things about this product is the clear-water formula. It creates up to 35% less waste because your fish are able to use more of it and, despite the high fat and protein content, it won’t cloud the water.
7. API Fish Food Pellets
If your cichlids are at least five inches long, check out this pellet food from API. These floating pellets have the nutrition that large cichlids need and use a wide range of natural ingredients your fish are going to love.
These protein-rich pellets are formulated for top-feeders. They float on the surface and were made with palatability in mind. With garlic for taste, squid, and menhaden for protein, and banana and peas for increased digestion, this food has everything you need.
Why is it important that you feed your cichlids good-tasting food? Simple – less uneaten food is left behind when they eat more. Plus, it’s easier to digest, producing less waste. API pellets make it easier to maintain proper ammonia levels and keep the water clean.
8. Northfin Cichlid Formula Pellet
Northfin’s pellet formula’s primary ingredients are whole Antarctic krill meal, organic kelp, spirulina, and herring meal, which is high in Omega-3 DHA. It’s filler-free, bi-product free, pigment-free, and hormone-free. In other words, they’re a great choice for your cichlids.
Because there are no additives, the pellets are easily digestible and deliver more nutrition right to your fish, enhancing health and color. These slow sinking pellets also have garlic added for taste, encouraging your fish to eat every last one so there’s less waste.
This formula is available in three different sizes – 1mm, 2mm, and 3mm – so you can choose the one that works best depending on the size of your fish. Plus, it comes in packages of 250 g and 1kg which means you can order in bulk if you want to.
9. Fluval Bug Bites Pellets for Cichlids
This formula from Fluval is for highly active cichlids. Its primary ingredient is nutrient-rich Black Soldier Fly Larvae plus it contains the whole salmon which is rich in Omega 3 and 6. This formula is great for conditioning and healing which is something you might need if you have aggressive fish.
Another great thing about these pellets is they’re easy to digest thanks to ingredients like peas, potatoes. They don’t contain any fillers, artificial colors, or preservatives and are made in small batches to ensure quality and freshness.
These pellets are available in small granules for small to medium-sized fish and large for medium to large fish. Plus, they’re slow-sinking so your fish can eat them at whatever water level they feel comfortable.
10. Royal Pet Supplies Inc Zoo Med Spirulina 20 Flake Fish Food
The first ingredient in this fish food from Zoo Med is salmon fish meal so you know it’s rich in protein, vitamins, and fats your cichlids need to stay healthy. But what really makes this food special is spirulina. This isn’t the only food on our list that has spirulina but it does make extremely good use of it.
Spirulina is blue-green algae that are 65% protein and packed with essential fatty acids, particularly gamma-linolenic acid which reportedly has anti-inflammatory properties and can help maintain your cichlids’ health.
Other benefits of spirulina include color-enhancing beta carotene and seven major vitamins. That’s not all, this flake food also enhances breeding. Spirulina is said to improve egg production, hatching rates, and helps younger fish survive.
What is the Best Food for Cichlid Fish?
Tetra TetraCichlid Balanced Diet Flakes Food is the best food for cichlids. This scientifically formulated blend is high in protein and packed with vitamins and nutrients for long, healthy life.
Plus, it has Omega-3 fatty acids for energy and growth and Biotin to keep up a healthy metabolism. It also enhances the natural colors of your fish.
These flakes are for the top to mid-water feeding cichlids and stay together even when the fish are gobbling them down. That means cleaner, clearer water so your fish can continue to thrive.
Feeding Cichlids FAQ
1. How Often to Feed Cichlids?
It’s recommended that you feed your cichlids 2 to 3 times a day. The rule is to feed them as much as they can eat in about 2 minutes without leaving anything behind. It’s still very important not to overfeed them.
Your cichlids should always appear to be hungry when it’s time to eat. In other words, if they aren’t excited by the food and trying to eat as much as they can, something could be wrong. Either you’re overfeeding them or they may be unwell.
In addition to nutrition, another important reason to make sure you use the proper feeding schedule is to control aggression. In nature, cichlids are competitive about food because they live in relatively dense areas where it is not always abundant.
By giving them a good supply of food in your tank, you can eliminate any tension among your fish.
2. How Much Food to Feed Cichlids?
As we mentioned, cichlids should be fed in small amounts, 2 to 3 times a day. This is the best way to match their natural eating patterns. There’s no set amount, really, just give them enough food so they eat steadily for 1 to 2 minutes. The way you can judge if they’re getting too much is if they leave a lot of food behind after this time period is up.
Cichlids come in a lot of different varieties. Some are primarily herbivores but eat some small invertebrates. Others eat organic materials and some are predatory and don’t eat many plants at all.
That’s why the recipes for these foods are so varied and contain a little bit of everything. The majority of them is comprised of protein but there are fruits, vegetables, and marine plant life included in the mix as well.
If you have a mix in your tank, you have to make sure you give everyone what they want. Most of these foods will work since the recipes are so inclusive. That said, you should treat your cichlids every once in a while depending on the diet they eat in the wild.
For example, brine shrimp and bloodworms are a good treat for carnivores while herbivores love some spinach or lettuce every so often.
3. How to Feed Cichlids while on Vacation?
Healthy cichlids can go about 7 to 10 days without food. So, if you’re going to be gone for a long weekend or about a week, you don’t need to worry about it. Some people fast their cichlids occasionally, usually on days when it’s time to change the water and clean the tank.
Just make sure that they’ve eaten in the days leading up to your trip and they’ll be okay for a short period of time.
For longer vacations, it gets a little trickier. One option is to have someone pet sit for you. Ask a friend or family member who you trust to come to your home to feed your cichlid for you.
Make sure you write out clear instructions, especially if you plan on adding in special treats to their diet while you’re gone. It might also be a good idea to have the pet sitter observe you doing a feed or two in order to show them how to judge when the fish have eaten enough.
You can extend the time needed between feeds by lowering the temperature of the tank a few degrees. This will slow the cichlids’ metabolism a bit so they don’t need as much energy. Another thing you can do to manipulate the environment is set the aquarium lights on a timed schedule so that the daylight period is a little shorter. They typically don’t eat at night so it will be easier for them to adjust.
Automatic feeders are another option. You’ll have to make sure that it can cover the whole amount of time you’ll be gone. Some higher quality feeders can be programmed to dispense food for up to 2 weeks.
Vacation feeders are sometimes used with other fish. These are essentially large blocks of food that slowly disintegrate over time so dispense food slowly. This is not a good option for cichlids. First of all, what’s available might not be what your fish are used to eating.
If they don’t like it, it will just end up contaminating the water while you’re gone. Secondly, cichlids are a little greedy. If they do like it, they’re likely to eat as much as they can as quickly as they can which can make them sick and won’t sustain them through a long absence.
4. What Foods Can You Feed Cichlids?
We’ve touched on this a little already, but there are some things you can feed your cichlids right from your own kitchen or garden. This is the perfect way to give your cichlid an extra treat for a special occasion.
Green vegetables are great for some varieties. Broccoli, spinach, peas, and cucumbers are all good choices as they somewhat replace the natural green algae that they would get in the wild. Finely chop them or blend them.
You can even freeze them into ice cubes for a quick and easy way to give your cichlids a treat. Cucumber should be weighed down so it sits on the bottom of the tank. You can even finely chop garlic and add it in with the other veggie blends.
Use meats with caution, feeding it to your fish only once or twice a week to avoid digestion problems. Prawns and brine shrimp are great choices for some breeds. Before you introduce any meat, make sure you know the kind of cichlid you have and whether or not they’re a meat-eater.
Foods like these should only be used as supplements to the cichlid food you’re using. The recipes that were developed to make the best cichlid foods were carefully put together and provide all the essentials they need. Additional foods should only be used as an occasional treat.
When choosing the best food for cichlid growth, it’s really important that you know the variety of cichlid you have very well. Do your research so you know exactly what your fish needs. What’s good for a carnivore isn’t always the best for a cichlid with a plant-based diet. This is most important when you’re adding supplemental greens and meats.
All of these food options are well-rounded and provide your fish with the specific nutrients they need to thrive. The natural ingredients also contain just what the cichlids need to have the most vibrant colors possible. Remember, research the cichlid you have to make sure you know what the specific dietary requirements are before you decide on a diet. That’s really the best way to keep your tank happy and healthy.