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Assessing the Fish Food Label: Protein

Shrimp meal is one of the very highest quality proteins in Koi food

Assessing an ingredients label

Ingredients labels can be very exciting, or very misleading.

They can be exciting because they seem to report excellent ingredients and real care and attention in manufacture. Misleading labels use techniques like ingredient splitting and foreign law to dupe the consumer. Come with me to the store and we shall assess a label together in nine steps.

Assessing the Fish Food Label: Step-By-Step

Shrimp meal is one of the very highest quality proteins in Koi food
Shrimp meal is one of the very highest quality proteins in Koi food

Assessment 1: Protein source.

Look for fishmeal, squid meal, whitefish meal, anchovy meal, shrimp meal, blood meal, herring meal, etc as first ingredients. These are the best protein sources for fish and are the ones I recommend. Other proteins, for example if you found a bag of food that showed Lobster meal as the first ingredient, you understand that again, aquaculture protein is best for aquaculture.

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Laguna Color Enhancing Goldfish & Koi: Worse than “Meh”

Laguna Color Enhancing Goldfish & Koi Floating Food, 2.2 lb

Averages $7/lb !! (There are so many foods twice as good for less.)


One aquacultural protein in the top four ingredients, and only one split ingredient (wheat). Feather meal isn’t ideal because of it’s amino acid lopsidedness. Has spirulina and no color enhancer. No probiotics. Unable to tell if cooked.


Wheat, Fish Meal, Wheat Germ Meal, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Blood Meal, Hydrolyzed Feather Meal, Fish Oil, Dicalcium Phosphate, Spirulina, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Menadione SodiumBisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K Activity), Folic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Choline Chloride, Cobalt Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate.