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Colour Enhancing Fish Foods

Colour enhancing foods are sometimes grouped in with the totally unethical practice of Dyeing Fish.  They are completely different.

Fish Colours

The colours of fish are produced in more than one way.  For example the colour of a Moss Green Tiger Barb is a tyndallisation effect.  However, the colours of most fish come from the food they eat.  The most important of these natural food colours is the group of substances called carotenes.  One of these is β-Carotene (Beta Carotene).  This is pro-vitamin A.  Fish as well as people can convert this to Vitamin A, and it is an important nutrient.  Not all the carotenes can be converted to Vitamin A.  One of the ones that cannot is Astaxanthin.  This occurs naturally in many foods including many types of algae and some types of yeast, particularly Phaffia Yeast.  As well as giving fish a suitable pigment they can use, Astaxanthin is a powerful anti-oxidant that is used as a human health food and is considered to be safer than some other anti-oxidants.

Colour Enhancing Foods

There are many different brands of colour enhancing foods.  Probably all the ones produced by the major fish food manufacturers have their followers.  The one I use is Wardley Total Color.  This food contains several different sources of natural carotenes as well as Astaxanthin.  The ingredient list does not specify, but I would guess that the Astaxanthin used is made synthetically.

I am not suggesting that Wardley Total Color is necessarily better than colour enhancing foods made by other leading fish food makers.  But I consider that as part of a varied diet this food helps to promote the health of my fish, as well as giving them the raw material they need to maintain their natural colours.

I do not advocate feeding a single type of food to fish, and think they should get a varied diet as they would in the wild.

Wardley Total Color


Fish Meal, Brewers Dried Yeast, Wheat Gluten Meal, Wheat Flour, Corn Gluten Meal, Soy Flour, Shrimp Meal, Brown rice, Spirulina, Wheat Germ Meal, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Rolled Oats, Phaffia Yeast, Fish Oil, Herring Meal, rice Flour, Pea Protein Concentrate, Soybean Oil (Stabilized with TBHQ) Crab Meal, Algae Meal, Potato Starch, Astaxanthin Powder, Lecithin, Astaxanthin Oil, Marigold Extract, dried Zucchini, Ground Anise Seed, Spinach Powder, Betaine, Xanthan Gum, Alanine, L-Arginine, L-Carnitine, Proline, Tomato Powder, Kale Powder, LAscorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Choline Chloride, Beta Glucan, Carrot Oleoresin, Ethoxquin (a preservative), Vitamin A supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Menadione Sodium Bisulphite Complex, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Thiamine mononitrate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Ferrous Sulphate, Copper Sulphate, Manganese Sulphate, Cobalt Carbonate, Potassium Iodate, Sodium Selenite.

The list of ingredients comes from Wardley.  It suggests that there are no artificial colours in this food, although there could be a question about the Astaxanthin.  This is a naturally occurring substance but some legislatures list it as a food colouring.

Astaxanthin in Humans

This paragraph was taken from Wikipedia:

“Currently, the primary use for humans is as a food supplement. Research shows that due to astaxanthin's potent antioxidant activity, it may be beneficial in cardiovascular, immune, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Some research has suggested potential as an anti-cancer agent. Research supports the assumption that it protects body tissues from oxidative damage.”

However, personally I prefer to eat a variety of natural foods rather than take supplements.