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It’s Good to Be a Flake

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Despite all the innovations, new products and fish-feeding fads that have come and gone over the years, flaked and pelleted foods remain the most popular fish foods.

It’s really no surprise why. They offer complete fish nutrition in a convenient, no-mess form. But within this broad and established category of foods are new products for retailers to be aware of.

Tetra, part of United Pet Group, has come up with a unique take on flake foods, called Crisps. 

“This food type feeds just like a flake, but with advantages over other flake foods,” Nick Kornblith, senior product manager, consumables, at UPG Aquatics, said. “For one, Crisps are a consistent round shape and float longer than flakes, leaving less waste in the aquarium.”

The production process for the Crisps uses lower temperatures than is typical for flakes.

“Therefore, more vitamins, minerals and trace elements remain to nourish your fish,” he said.

The Crisps are available in three varieties: TetraMin Tropical, TetraColor Tropical and TetraFin Goldfish. Of course, Tetra also offers an extensive array of more traditional flake and pellet foods. These include TetraFin Floating Goldfish Pellets, TetraColor 2 in 1 Cichlid Pellets and TetraColor Tropical Fish Food Flakes.

Cobalt Aquatics’ flake and pelleted foods also contain a unique element. These are the BLUE flakes and pellet.

“Unique to Cobalt is our special BLUE flake or pellet, which contains a triple dose of vitamins and immune stimulants, giving the fish an extra bump to keep their disease resistance at its peak,” Les Wilson, Cobalt’s co-founder, said.

Cobalt also incorporates probiotics into its foods.

“All of our flakes and pellets blends include two species of Bacillus bacteria that populate the fishes gut and support a healthy digestive system,” Wilson said.

Cobalt also has a wide variety of flaked and pelleted diets, including Marine Veggie, Mysis-Spirulina, Goldfish and Pro Breeder.

Innovations in the Category

In June, Piscine Energetics will have a new line of Mysis flakes and pellets on the market, the PE Mysis Energy Flakes and Energy Pellets.

According to Kevin Gaines, vice president of sales and business at Piscine Energetics, these will be the first flaked and pelleted foods available that use whole Mysis instead of Mysis meal.

“You actually see pieces of shrimp in the flakes,” Gaines said. “Whole Mysis yields a high quality product that is very attractive to fish. It allows the high nutritional profile of the shrimp to carry through to the food.”

Mysis contains a ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids that are ideal for feeding marine fish. Gaines said feedback from tests with dealers and public aquaria has been very positive.

SeaChem recently launched the NutriDiet line of flaked foods, highly nutritious diets enriched with Chlorella algae. The company added a pelleted diet to this line, NutriDiet Betta. This is a complete and highly palatable diet for bettas made of high-quality ingredients and enhanced with garlic.

Although Fluval, part of Ralph C. Hagen Corp., may be better known for its filters and pumps, it makes a complete line of flakes and pellets for freshwater fish. These include Tropical Flake and Pellets, Color Enhancing Flakes and Pellets, Vegetarian Flakes and Pellets and more. These are high quality, highly palatable aquarium fish diets.

They contain nutritious ingredients such as Atlantic herring, Norwegian krill, green mussels and Spirulina.

“Alternating between Fluval Tropical, Color Enhancing and Vegetarian foods is an excellent strategy to ensure that aquarium fish are provided with crucially important [and] varied nutrition to keep them thriving and colorful,” Francis Yupangco, aquatic development manager at Ralph C. Hagen Corp., said. “Providing fish with a highly nutritious and varied diet will not only keep them healthy and active, but it also helps to promote breeding and other natural behaviors.”

Options, Options, Options

With so many varieties of flakes and pellets available, it can be easy for a retailer to feel lost in a sea of fish food.

Tetra offers some help here with its successful Nutrition System that helps consumers find the right foods for their fish. The system also shows the fishkeeper what supplementary foods might make sense for their aquarium.

“Sales of supplementary foods [in addition to a staple like flakes] are a great opportunity for growth,” Kornblith said. “Introducing consumers to foods such as color foods, granules, tablets and natural treats is key.”

It’s also crucial to know the customer base, so a retailer can stock the flake and pellet varieties that will sell in their particular store.

“A retailer needs to understand their customer base and the type of fish they stock or specialize in; the type of fish the customers keep will dictate what type of formulas they should stock,” Wilson said.

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