Whether or not your fish are common or rare, affordable or expensive, we are sure you’ll agree that they all deserve the best care to ensure their health, growth and longevity in captivity, and a key ingredient in providing for this is of course, effective nutrition. Beyond filling your fishes bellies, the kind of food you choose can also have important ramifications on the wider health of your reef system. We were therefore interested to try samples of Nyos‘ organic soft ‘superfoods‘ which, beyond the intriguing main ingredient selection, seem to be really interesting products. So let’s take a closer look.
Going beyond the standard fare of dried flakes and pellets, these soft granules (launched mid 2014), are said to meet strict EU Eco-regulation standards and the product has even been awarded the German Organic Seal. Bearing this green biolabel certification, the product evidently complies with high standards which are both monitored and subject to the strict rules of the EC Organic Regulation. Overall, the product offers:
• Raw materials from certified organic production and agriculture.
• Guaranteed pesticide and GMO-free
• Absence of artificial colors and artificial flavors
• Natural, soft granules high in vitamins
• Granule size of 0.9 – 1.5mm
Physically, each pot is clearly labelled and to our eyes, attractive. Inside the screw-top lid we have a secondary push-fit lid which is easy to remove and which keeps the contents nice and fresh for at least several weeks (which is how long we have had our samples so far). With a granule size of 0.9 – 1.5mm this food will appeal to a wide range of fishes, from small plankton feeders or bottom dwellers to larger fast swimming species like tangs and angels. All of our own fish, which include a range of carnivorous, omnivorous and herbivorous species, took to them after just a couple of feeds and noticeably seem to get excited when the food is introduced into the tank. The buoyancy level of the granules seems just right… heavy enough to drop from the water surface but light enough to remain in the water column (given sufficient flow). Each pot contains 120ml/70g and retails for £10 (as of date of this review). Compared to similar granular products from other manufacturers, this range is relatively expensive but it does purport to offer unique ‘extra‘ ingredients.
Talking of which, in terms of the base ingredients, these granules are similar to other feeds on the market and are largely composed from fish meal with soyabean and wheat ‘fillers’. Unfortunately we can’t comment on the quality of the fishmeal used and this is a somewhat important component of the feed overall. In general the nutritional profile provides 43-44% protein, 13-16% fat, 8-9% ash, 2% fibre, and of course a moisture component. In short, nothing out of the ordinary and to be honest it would be nice to see whole fish meal included at this price point. On top of these ingredients however, we have the ‘additive elements‘ as advertised.
Taking a closer look at these additives through each particular ‘flavour‘ in turn, firstly we have ‘Sweet Aloe‘ which contains organic aloe vera and omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids all from certified organic production. Aloe vera, when consumed through the diet, is rumoured to have medicinal properties however this has not been definitively, scientifically proven for humans or fish. The long chain sugar compound ‘Acemannan‘ found in aloe vera leaves is claimed to have immuno-stimulant, antiviral, antineoplastic and gastrointestinal properties though, so it is conceivable that the product may confer health promoting properties. Along with such polysaccharides, aloe vera also contains valuable enzymes, amino acids, minerals and bioflavonoids. With specific attention to fish, it seems very few studies on the effects of aloe have been undertaken. We did find one online which suggested that high doses may impair reproduction in Nile Perch.
Next we have ‘True Algae‘ which contains, amongst other things, Wakame, Chlorella and Spirulina seaweed from organic farming. Taking each in turn, we note that Wakame is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and has high levels of sodium, calcium, iodine, thiamine and niacin. Chlorella when dried, is about 45% protein, 20% fat, 20% carbohydrate, 5% fibre, and 10% minerals and vitamins. Spirulina, long-recognised as an important food source for marine fishes, is also rich in protein and seven major vitamins – A1, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E. In fact, it is one of the best natural sources for vitamin B12. It also naturally contains beta-carotene and other colour enhancing pigments, as well as a whole range of beneficial minerals. In addition, Spirulina has a 62% amino acid content. It not only contains eight major amino acids, but also all essential fatty acids required for complete nutrition.
’Wild Goji‘ is also certified-organic and incoporates red goji berries which are also known as ‘wolfberries‘. These berries are rich in vitamins, carotenes and xanthines and it is suggested that these will promote the development of healthy colouration in marine fishes. We notice that alongside the goji extract we have paprika, aloe vera and pumpkin seed oil all of which should offer a spread of essential oils.
To conclude, as with human consumption of superfoods, it is difficult to separate scientific fact from anecdotal claims and this is particularly difficult when fish physiology is thrown into the mix. That said there’s no denying that our fish seem to particularly enjoy this food and we’ve noticed other reports of this on the web. Whether or not the ‘taste’ of the unusual additives are responsible for this reaction, we aren’t sure but there is certainly a notable difference between these foods to our own senses. Although the receptacle seems more than capable of keeping the food fresh it would be wise to consider that we are unable to verify how product lifespan or the manufacturing process affects the potency of the product. Smell-wise, the product seems to retain its potency for at least several weeks if stored correctly, and probably much longer.
In closing, you may question the need to feed fish on such a food source given that they are unlikely to ever encounter these compounds in their wild habitat. We’d say that is a valid observations but it’s worth remembering that maintaining such fishes in captivity is also ‘unnatural’ and increases the likelihood of fish suffering unnatural stress…. which possibly justifies unusual methods to improve health. We’d personally recommend the products based on their use as a semi-regular ‘treat’ type offering. As mentioned, our fish certainly seem to go crazy for the product and in this sense they, at the very least, succeed in offering a form of ‘environmental enrichment’. To us this is equally as valuable as the supposed direct health benefits of these foods.