Flake foods aren't exactly what a fish would find in nature. However, dry foods do provide the nutrients fish would find in a natural diet, along with supplements to ensure good health. Here’s what you should consider when choosing flake foods for your fish.
Look For Protein
Protein is the essential nutrient in the fish diet. However, like all good things; too much, too little, or the wrong type of protein can pose problems. The best protein comes from; you guessed it, other fish. When choosing a flake food, look for fish meal, shrimp, and other seafood on the label
Keep it Fresh
Nutrients in flake food deteriorate over time; in fact they deteriorate rather quickly. It's best to only buy what you can use in one month or less. Select a variety of flakes, and rotate for each feeding. This gives you a higher chance of supplying the proper nutrients, while introducing variety into the diet.
Some manufacturers package several types of flakes in a single can. All you have to do is twist the top to get a different selection. It's a great way to offer your fish variety without purchasing multiple cans of flakes. I highly recommend trying one of them.
Not Just for Vegetarians
Some fish only eat vegetable matter. For them it's critical that you provide foods such as Spirulina (algae) flakes. However, you'll find almost all your fish will enjoy a serving of algae. Flakes are ideal for top or mid level feeding fish, while algae wafers and discs work best for bottom feeders such as plecos.
Take care when feeding algae discs. Feed only one disc at a time and observe how long it takes your fish to eat them. If the disc or wafer hasn't been consumed within 24 hours, remove the remainder so it doesn't foul the tank. If it is consumed quickly, its safe to feed more than one disc at a time.
Pellets and Sticks
The larger the fish the larger it's appetite - and its mouth. Naturally large fish prefer something larger to eat. Floating and sinking pellets or sticks are a good choice for larger fish such as cichlids. You will find them in various sizes, designed to match the size of the fish. Become familiar with what your fish eat in nature. Some large fish, such as the Silver Dollar, are vegetarians even though they look like meat lovers. Be sure to offer them some vegetable pellets.
In addition to flakes and pellets, there are also freed dried foods such as krill, tubifex, and river shrimp. Although I've found that river shrimp don't appeal to a large number of fish, tubifex seems to be popular across the board.
Tubifex generally comes in cubes, which I cut in half with a clean table knife. Press each half firmly to the glass on either side of the tank. This gives smaller fish a chance to compete with the larger fish for the food. You'll enjoy seeing them tear into it - they almost look like a pack of wolves.
A word of caution - when introducing new foods, watch closely to see if it's eaten. Any uneaten food should be promptly removed from the tank, or it might foul the water.
Feed your fish a varied flake selection, as well as a variety of live food and you can't go wrong. Your fish will be healthy, colorful and will grow robustly.