On our recent visit to Aqua2013 one of the companies we were particularly interested in revisiting was NT Labs. Having reviewed some of their products before we’ve already found them to be both effective and reasonably priced. As helpful and enthusiastic as ever, they were more than happy to show us their range and we were immediately interested by two new marine flake offerings – Ocean Flake with Garlic and Algae Flake with Garlic.
Jump forward a couple of weeks and with samples delivered we set about seeing just how they’d perform in a ‘real reef’. First impressions were fine… these flakes are packaged in the usual sealed twist-lid pots to ensure they stay fresh, even once opened. The packaging is nice and clear too so you won’t have to overly scrutinise each pot to see what you are adding. Out of curiosity we weighed each pot and the reading matched the claimed weight. Between the fingers, the consistency feels quite dry and brittle compared to some other brands. This is fine if you want to feed larger sections, or if you want to grind them up into quite fine particles. We would add that you are likely to be left with small pieces when you reach the end of the pot. All our fish took both kinds of flake immediately as expected… so all good there! Let’s look at specific ingredients:
Firstly, the ocean flake is billed as ‘oceanic crustaceans expertly mixed with a number of key species of marine algae’ and is aimed primarily at carnivorous and omnivorous reef fishes. This mix translates to fish/fish derivatives, products and by-products of vegetable origin, minerals, molluscs and crustaceans, oils and fats and of course garlic. The specific nutritional breakdown reads: Protein 47%, Oil 7%, Fibre 1.5% plus additives: Vitamins A 15000IU, D3 3000IU, E 1000IU, C (stabilised) 1000IU, antioxidants.
For the algae flake we have ‘a blend of rich phytoplankton including spirulina and chlorella expertly mixed with a number of key species of highly nutritious seaweed’. Herbivorous fishes will enjoy this mix, especially Tangs (although in reality most other species will eat it too, and vice versa for the ocean flake). Specific ingredients include Seaweed, fish/fish derivatives, products and by-products of vegetable origin, minerals, oils and fats, and garlic. For this flake the compositional analysis reads: Protein 35%, Oil 8.4%, Fibre 2.4% Additives: Vitamins A 15000IU, D3 3000IU, E 1000IU, C (stabilised) 1000IU, antioxidants.
a process of nutrient encapsulation at the blending stage to prevent water soluble nutrients being lost into the water which could add to pollution and inhibit coral development before they are consumed by the fish.
Looking at other brands of similar flakes we can see these ingredients and analyses overall closely match typical values. We would note though that it is difficult to draw detailed conclusions given some disparity in the representation of information by the different companies. Anyway, given this overall similarity we suppose it really comes down to cost and availability. On that subject, at the time of writing, a 15g pot of either should be available for £6.99, while a larger 30g pot is £10.99. These seem reasonable prices and don’t forget the addition of the garlic of course. Although opinions seem divided on the effectiveness of garlic, many hobbyists believe that supplementation assists species in recovering from parasitic infection and can act as a feeding stimulant for more fussy species. There are studies though that indicate that over-supplementation can be detrimental at very high doses. Despite this we think both products are perfectly useable flake foods and a useful addition to have as part of a wider diet. We’d perhaps limit feeding with garlic supplements to once a day, particularly if stock isn’t showing any signs of stress or infection.