Drs. Foster and Smith Cichlid Flakes Ingredients Analysis

Written by Kmuda. Posted in 4 Star Foods





Crude Protein
44.0% Min
Crude Fat
10.0% Min
Crude Fiber
4.0% Max
1.0% Min
5.0% Max





Salmon Fish Meal, Dried Yeast, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Shrimp Meal, Freeze-Dried Plankton, Freeze-Dried Krill, Dried Spirulina, Dried Kelp, Fish Oil, Lecithin, Dried Brine Shrimp, Egg Powder, Garlic Powder, Earthworm Powder, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Biotin, L-Ascorbyl-2 Polyphosphate (source of stabilized Vitamin C), Methionine and Natural Coloring.

DOCTORS FOSTERandSMITH Cichlid Flakes Ingredients Analysis

The first listed ingredient is an acceptable aquatic meat protein listed at its dry weight, as are ingredients 4 through 9 (Shrimp Meal, Freeze-Dried Plankton, Freeze-Dried Krill, Dried Spirulina, Dried Kelp, Fish Oil), so their order in the ingredient list is accurate. With only two non-preferred protein source (Dried Yeast and Dehulled Soybean Meal) and further preferred protein sources listed (dried brine shrimp, egg powder, and earthworm powder), ample confidence exists that the primary protein sources in this food are preferred.

Despite this food listing "Salmon Meal" as opposed to "Whole Salmon Meal", confirmation from Doctor's Foster and Smith confirm this meal is comprised of the whole fish. In addition, this food contains an Ethoyquin free statement indicating the Salmon Meal utilized is not imported, which increases the likelihood of a higher quality, less degraded, product. Salmon Meal contains higher levels of beneficial oils than many other fish used in generic fish meals. Salmon skin is also high in astaxanthin, a color enhancing carotenoid and powerful antioxidant.

Studies conducted by the University of Albany’s Institute for Health and the Environment have identified significant contaminant levels in farmed salmon. “In particular, four substances that have been well studied for their ability to cause cancer-PCBs, dioxins, dieldrin, and toxaphene-were consistently and significantly more concentrated in farmed salmon.” Contamination is significant enough that the human recommendation for the consumption of farmed salmon is reduced to a “one-half to one meal per month-based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consumption advisories for these contaminants. A meal was considered to be an eight-ounce portion.” It can be safely assumed that this meal is comprised of farmed salmon.

Shrimp meal is a lower quality protein source than is fish meal but it is a decent coloration enhancer.

Inclusion of both Kelp and Spirulina are appreciated, with both listed at their dry weight, although we would prefer a higher Spirulina concentration. Spirulina is rich in raw protein and seven major vitamins: A1, B1, B2, B6, B12 (one of the best natural sources for B12, although the bioavailability of its B12 is in dispute by many researchers), C and E. It naturally contains beta-carotene, color enhancing pigments, and a whole range of minerals. In addition, Spirulina has 62% amino acid content and contains all essential fatty acids and eight amino acids required for complete nutrition. It is easily digested due to the fact that Spirulina cells do not have cellulose walls. Kelp is a good source of iodine for thyroid function, chlorophyll, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Pantothenic Acid, Zinc, Copper, Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, and Vitamin K1.

Fish oil can be either a beneficial ingredient or a hazardous one. Human grade fish oil collected from specific specifies of fish and screened for mercury will provide necessary omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids as well as protein. Non-human grade fish oil may not be screened for mercury and originate from fish with reduced omega 3 and omega 6 content.

Acceptable listing of vitamin supplements. Food should not require extensive supplementation resulting from the inclusion of Kelp and Spirulina.

A manufactures statement exists stating this food does not use either Ethoxyquin or artificial coloring agents. In addition, synthetic vitamin K (K3) is not listed as an ingredient. All positives. One of a few foods that do not include at least one of the unwanted three (Ethoxyquin, K3, Artificial colors).

Oscarfish.Com Rating: 4 Stars

This 4 star rating is based upon the absence of Ethoxyquin, K3, and artificial colors combined with a respectable level of preferred proteins, including preferred plant proteins, and use of the whole fish. Concerns with potential containmination of farmed salmon and likely excessive use of non preferred proteins and binders, prevents this food from receiving a higher rating.

This is a down grade from a prior 5 star rating, which was awarded primarily due to an absence of artificial colors, artificial preservatives, or synthetic vitamin K. Subsequent review identified the preferred protein content of this food does not quite reach 5 star level.

Understanding Oscarfish.Com Ratings:

This review is an attempt to analyze the ingredients, rating them from 1 (worst) to 6 (best) in an effort to judge quality based upon three simple criteria.

  1. Absence of toxic, potentially toxic, and controversial ingredients
  2. Aquatic Animal protein and Preferred Plant Proteins as the primary protein sources
  3. A fully nutritious food to include necessary vitamins and minerals with natural sources of vitamins and minerals being preferred.

These basic concepts apply:

  • Any food that utilizes Ethoxyquin, BHA, or BHT as preservatives, cannot rate higher than a 4 star food.
  • Use of artificial colors prevents rating higher than a 4 star food.
  • Any food that utilizes Menadione Sodium Bisulfite (Synthetic Vitamin K, aka K3) cannot rate higher than a 5 star food.
  • Inclusion of the “Whole Fish”, or “Whole Krill” (in meal form or not) is preferred over fish meal or krill meal.
  • In order to achieve a 5 or 6 star rating, the quality of the meal must be known.
  • In order to achieve a 6 star rating, the “Whole Fish’ (or whole animal) must be used, either in meal form or in sufficient quantities outside of meal form.
  • Inclusion of sufficient quantities of preferred plant proteins is a bonus with sufficient Spirulina content being a significant bonus.
  • Use of prebiotics or probiotics is a bonus

Posted: 5 years 8 months ago by kmuda #1021
kmuda's Avatar
I purchased this product recently to try it out. I don't know what to think. If you want a flake food you could feed an Oscar, this is it. I have never seen a bigger, firmer, more solid flake. It's almost like a cross between a pellet and a flake. It's even firmer that the Tetra Crisp products. So I guess you could consider this a good thing. However, this flake food is so firm that it does not work well with smaller fish who are accustomed to eating softer flakes. You may be able to convert them over but my experience is they attempt a bite, dislike the texture, and spit it back out.

About the only fish I have that fit this food are the SDs and Severum, both of which wolf the flakes down. Even the Oscar eats them (stolen from the SDs). But the livebearers, tetras, and gouramis spit it back out.

A quality ingredient list. An excellent food for some fish. But not universally suitable.