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9 Best Cichlid Foods For Amazing Color & Maximum Growth In 2019

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If you’re keeping a school of Cichlids, giving them the highest-quality food can be the difference between them thriving and you continually dealing with sickness and poor health.

 If you’re looking for the best Cichlid food for fantastic color and maximum growth, this guide is going to help you find the highest-rated Cichlid foods available in 2019.

What Are The Best Cichlid Foods In 2019?

We’re going to break down the best Cichlid foods in 2019 based on our own experience and by aggregating reviews from past customers.

Each of the 10 Cichlid foods below will help your fish grow happy and healthy, with vibrant colors that stand out in your aquascape.

Highly Digestible - High Value
  • Excellent Protein Sources
  • Helps To Ensure Proper Conditioning And Repair Of Body And Fins
  • Meets The Growth Requirements Of Cichlid Fish
Superior Quality - Best Value
  • No Meals, Hydrolysates, Digests, Or Any Other Pre-Processed Protein
  • Reduces Water Pollution, And They Have Significantly Less Starch, Which Reduces Fish Waste
  • Floating Cichlid Pellets Are Naturally Insoluble
Enhances Breeding - excellent choice
  • Spirulina Is Rich In Raw Protein
  • For Fresh Or Saltwater Fish
  • Perfect For Both Omnivores And Carnivores
Simple To Prepare - Recommended
  • Deliver High-Quality Sources Of Protein, Vitamins And Nutrients
  • Very Colorful And Healthy
  • Great Additional To A Balance Diet
  • Very Quick And Easy To Make
Very Reliable - Best Choice
  • Easier To Keep Your Tank’s Water Clean
  • Contain Natural Probiotics To Aid In Digestion
  • Enhance The Flavor Of These Pellets
Perfect Food - Best Quality
  • Allows Your Fish To Fully Digest And Absorb More Nutrients
  • Very Good Quality Food
  • Can Also Use To Supplement The Diet Of Omnivores And Herbivores
High-Quality Food - Best Value
  • Made With Fresh, Natural Fats This Food Is Low In Ash And Never Clouds Water
  • Improve And Promote Vibrant Colors
  • Much Richer Green Because They Didn’t Skimp On The “Good Stuff”
Well-Balanced Diet - Best Choice
  • High Amounts Of Fruits, Vegetable Extracts, Spirulina, And Algae Meal
  • Great For Both Omnivores And Herbivores
  • Great For Enhancing Color

1. Fluval Bug Bites - Highly Digestible


  • excellent protein sources,
  • Helps to ensure proper conditioning and repair of body and fins
  • Meets the growth requirements of cichlid fish

The best diet for Peacock Cichlids (and more) is Fluval’s Bug Bites.

For omnivorous fish, the black soldier flies are easy to digest. The larva does not contain an exoskeleton, so your Cichlids can efficiently process the Fluval Bug Bites. Along with Peacock Cichlids, the Fluval Bug Bites are also great for Convicts and Yellow Labs.

Pro Tip


  • The Fluval Bug Bites closely mimic a Cichlid’s natural diet.
  • A blend of insect larva is natural for your fish to digest.


  • Fluval Bug Bites do not contain many color-enhancing nutrients.

2. Omega One Super Color Pellets - Superior Quality


  • No meals, hydrolysates, digests, or any other pre-processed protein
  • reduces water pollution, and they have significantly less starch, which reduces fish waste
  • Floating Cichlid Pellets are naturally insoluble

The best food for cichlids colors is the Omega One Super Color Pellets. These floating pellets are a great source of protein, vitamins, nutrients, and naturally-occurring carotenes to aid in vivid color production.

The pellets are derived primarily from salmon skin, with supplemented astaxanthin and extracted marigold to help enhance your Cichlid’s natural colors. It is worth noting, though, that the Omega One Super Color Pellets are at the lower end of the spectrum for fiber content.

Pro Tip


  • The ingredients in Super One’s Color Pellets are high-quality and pure.
  • These sinking pellets are some of the best color enhancing pellets we’ve found.


  • These pellets do not contain a large amount of fiber content.


  • Spirulina is rich in raw protein
  • For fresh or saltwater fish
  • perfect for both omnivores and carnivores

The best South American Cichlid food is Royal Pet Supplies, Inc Spirulina Flakes. This food is perfect for both omnivores and carnivores.

The flakes contain around 20% Spirulina content, which helps enhance your Cichlid’s colors. The flakes are also incredibly high in natural proteins, vitamins, and nutrients.

Pro Tip


  • The high amount of Spirulina helps provide a fantastic protein source.
  • The naturally-occurring vitamins and nutrients help boost your Cichlid’s metabolism.


  • The Royal Pet Supplies, Inc Spirulina Flakes are low in fiber content.

4. Repashy Foods Soilent Green - Simple To Prepare


  • deliver high-quality sources of protein, vitamins and nutrients
  • Very Colorful And Healthy
  • Great Additional to a Balance diet
  • very quick and easy to make

The Repashy Foods Soilent Green is a food powder that you mix with warm water until you obtain the consistency of a gel. The gel then gets consumed by your fish to deliver high-quality sources of protein, vitamins and nutrients.

Soilent Green is derived from 100% plant-based sources so you can feed it to your herbivorous fish while ensuring they’re getting everything they need. The natural Spirulina, Marigold, Paprika, and Hibiscus extracts are fantastic for enhancing the natural colors in your fish.

Pro Tip


  • This gel is the perfect source of vitamins and minerals for Tropheus and Mbuna.
  • The gel is loaded with ingredients that enhance your fish’s natural colors.


  • The gel does not have a delightful smell while you’re mixing it.


  • easier to keep your tank’s water clean
  • contain natural probiotics to aid in digestion
  • enhance the flavor of these pellets

Hikari is one of the most well-known brands that professional aquarium keepers around the world rely on. The Hikari Bio-Gold Plus Cichlid Pellets are great for Flowerhorns and Jack Dempseys, as well as other carnivorous Cichlids.

The pellets float in your tank, so you don’t have to worry about them getting buried in the substrate and rotting. You can easily remove uneaten floating pellets from the tank, so you know exactly how much your Cichlids want to eat.

Pro Tip


  • Floating pellets make it easier to keep your tank’s water clean.
  • The Hikari Bio-Gold Floating Pellets contain natural probiotics to aid in digestion.
  • Hikari utilizes MSG and garlic to enhance the flavor of these pellets.


  • Fish meal, by itself, is not considered a quality food ingredient.
  • The low fiber content could create digestion issues in your fish.


  • allows your fish to fully digest and absorb more Nutrients
  • Very good quality food
  • can also use to supplement the diet of omnivores and herbivores

Northfin Cichlid Food is another high-quality brand that is well-known among aquarium enthusiasts around the world. The Veggie Formula is intended for herbivorous fish, but you can also use it to supplement the diet of omnivores and herbivores.

Pro Tip


  • This food is derived from whole fish meal, sardines, and krill.
  • The algae and Spirulina in this food are great for enhancing color.


  • The high protein content can create digestion issues for herbivores.
  • The low fiber content can also create digestion issues for herbivores.

7. Veggie Omega One Sinking Rounds - high-quality food


  • Made with fresh, natural fats this food is low in ash and never clouds water
  •  improve and promote vibrant colors
  •  much richer green because they didn’t skimp on the “good stuff”

If your fish prefer to forage at the bottom of the tank, the Veggie Omega One Sinking Rounds are a great food to give them. Jewel Cichlids, in particular, are known for spending their time looking around the substrate for food.

The sinking rounds reach the bottom of the tank quickly, helping them get past fish that are regularly skimming the surface for a meal. While these are a high-quality food source they are still low on fiber content which can make digestion harder to do for some herbivores.

Pro Tip


  • The Omega One Veggie Rounds are a high-quality source of ingredients.
  • The Spirulina and whole kelp are great sources of nutrients for herbivores.


  • The higher protein content and low fiber content can be difficult for some herbivorous fish to digest correctly.

8. New Life Spectrum Cichlid Pellets - well-balanced diet


  • high amounts of fruits, vegetable extracts, Spirulina, and algae meal
  • great for both omnivores and herbivores
  • great for enhancing color

Even though the New Life Spectrum Cichlid Pellets are number eight on our list, you shouldn’t immediately disregard them. The New Life Spectrum pellets are some of the highest-quality pellets we’ve found.

These pellets contain high amounts of fruits, vegetable extracts, Spirulina, and algae meal, making them an excellent choice for most Cichlids. The pellets work great for both omnivores and herbivores. The natural plant-based formula is also great for enhancing color.

Pro Tip


  • This formula features some of the highest-quality ingredients we’ve found.
  • The amount of plant-based proteins and nutrients are excellent for enhancing color.
  • These pellets provide a well-balanced diet for both omnivores and carnivores.


  • The pellets sink quickly, making it hard for top skimmers to get enough to eat.

Cichlid Dietary Requirements

Cichlids come in a few different varieties. Depending on the type you own, their dietary requirements could be significantly different. The three main types are omnivores, carnivores, and herbivores.

Understanding your Cichlid’s essential dietary requirements can help you choose the right food.

Match A Cichlid’s Natural Diet

Cichlids are a wild animal. Once you realize that and begin to match their natural diet, you can ensure you are giving them the best, most nutritional food to help them thrive.

  1. Omnivores

    Omnivores, if you’re unfamiliar, will eat both meat and vegetables or plant matter. Most Cichlids are both carnivore and herbivore, eating both meat and plants. However, even though they’re omnivores, they will typically prefer one type of food over the other.

    Peacock Cichlids, Firemouths, and Angelfish, for instance, will all eat both meat and plants. They’re not very picky and will take just about anything that isn’t trying to eat them first.

    The digestive tract on these fish is meant to break down a wide variety of foods so you can safely feed them both animal and plant products.

  2. Carnivores

  3. Carnivores will feed, primarily, on animal products. This means they’re going to eat other fish, small invertebrates and crustaceans, insects, or just about any other protein-based food source that gets in front of them.

    Jaguar Cichlids, Oscars, and Jack Dempsey Cichlids will all eat animal protein sources. These fish have shorter digestive tracts to help them break down the protein and fats in animal products.

  4. Herbivores

    Herbivores rely entirely on plant-based foods. African Cichlids, such as Mbuna and Tropheus Cichlids have a diet of biofilms, aquatic plants, and algae.

    These fish will spend their days grazing and looking for more plants and algae to feast on. They have a longer digestive tract to help extract more protein and nutrients from the plant-based foods that they’re consuming.

    In general, plant-based diets contain lower fats and less protein than omnivorous and carnivorous diets do.

  5. Maintaining A Balanced Diet

    When you are thinking about your Cichlid’s diet, there is a good general rule you can follow: nothing in nature is set in stone, and your fish’s diet may swing one way or the other.

    Fish will eat when they’re hungry, even if what they’re eating isn’t generally on their list of preferred foods. Most times, if they are hungry and stumble upon something edible, they’re going to gulp down the food in front of them happily.

    This is true even for fish that are primarily carnivorous or herbivorous.

    To give you an example, think about predator fish. When they eat an herbivore or omnivore, they’re consuming what the fish they just ate has consumed. The fish end up digesting the same plant-based foods that their meal just consumed.

    Fish that primarily feed on algae will often find themselves eating small invertebrates and crustaceans that are also feeding on the algae at the same time.

    This means that, while you want to maintain a healthy diet, you don’t have to worry about harming your fish if you give an herbivore animal-based protein, and vice versa.

Essential Cichlid Dietary Requirements

To keep your Cichlids happy, healthy, and thriving in your aquascape, you want to ensure that their diet is coming primarily from aquatic-based nutrient sources.

As fish continue to evolve, one of the biggest staples in their diet remains the types of plants and creatures. They can forage in their wild environment. Their internal digestive systems have evolved to process aquatic food sources efficiently.

To give you an example, a Cichlid is not designed to digest protein sources that come from cows or pigs, for instance. The protein passes through their system and gets excreted as a waste product.

Giving your Cichlids a diet that is based on food sources that they wouldn’t naturally encounter can cause increased stress on their internal systems. To ensure that you are giving your Cichlids precisely what they need, below are a few sources you will want to see in their food.

  1. Natural Nutrients & Food Sources

    Knowing the exact species of Cichlids, you’re keeping is the first step in ensuring that they are getting their exact dietary requirements.

    Most Cichlids (and other fish, in general) will happily consume insects as a large portion of their diet. Insects are plentiful in the wild, so they become a natural part of their diet.

    If your Cichlids rely on getting insects in their diet in the wild, you can look for ingredients that are derived from the same insects. Many foods will contain a black soldier fly protein meal. This type of protein meal gives them a diet that is rich in the right proteins.

    The larvae of black soldier flies do not have an exoskeleton, which makes the larvae easier to digest. Crickets are also another great source of protein for insect-based diets. Crickets are high in calcium and protein.

    For more herbivorous fish, you will want to find a diet that includes plant-based sources such as Spirulina. Spirulina is an alga that is packed full of vitamins, protein, and minerals that are easy to digest. Mbuna and Tropheus Cichlids are known for thriving on Spirulina-based diets.

    Carnivorous Cichlids will need a higher amount of protein and fats. You will want to feed them a diet that contains animal-based proteins, such as fish and shrimp meal.

    Omnivores will need a balanced diet that contains both high-quality sources of plant-based nutrients and animal-based fats and proteins. This dietary structure will help mimic what your Cichlids get in their wild environment.

    One term that you will want to keep an eye out for is the word “whole.” If you are buying a “whole” fish and shrimp meal, you’re getting the entire fish and shrimp. If the fish and shrimp meal does not contain the word “whole,” it could be lacking sufficient nutrients.

    “Fish meal” and “Shrimp meal” without the word “whole” are typically empty calories that will not give your fish the nutrients they require.

  2. Omega 3 & Omega 6 Fatty Acids

  3. Your fish require naturally-occurring fats to thrive. This is especially true when you’re keeping them in captivity. Polyunsaturated fats, such as Omega 3 & Omega 6 fatty acids, help your fish grow and develop healthy brains and internal systems.

    Omega 3 & Omega 6 fatty acids are also a fantastic source of energy. Freshwater fish are unable to produce these on their own, so you have to supplement them into their diet.

    When your fish are thriving in the wild, these naturally-occurring fats would be found inside of their diet. Algae, other fish, plants, and insects all have the fatty acids inside of them based on what they’ve eaten before being eaten.

    Foods that give you a higher percentage or ratio of fatty acids are whole fish sources and Spirulina. Find food that contains both, and you’re doing okay.

  4. Insoluble Dietary Fiber

    Fish need fiber supplemented into their diet to survive. While fish are unable to digest fiber properly, the fiber still helps them process other nutrients in their food.

    Think of the fiber in your Cichlid’s diet as the vessel that delivers their nutrients so those nutrients can be absorbed properly. After the digestion process, the fiber will be excreted as a waste product.

    Fiber helps to slow down the digestive process, giving your fish more time to process the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Fiber also helps keep your fish from becoming constipated and developing internal blockages.

  5. Salt & Sodium Content

    This may come as a shock to you, but diets that are rich in salt and sodium will help your fish grow stronger and healthier. Salt-based diets have proven to help fish grow significantly larger in the same period.

    There’s a theory behind why this works. Scientists theorize that salt helps fish maintain water weight and excrete less urine. This means your fish are saving energy that can be used to process nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

  6. Pigment Enhancements

    The carotenoids that give plants their vibrant colors can also be used to help bring out the natural colors in your Cichlids. To provide you with an example, sweet potatoes and carrots get their bright coloring from the nutrient beta carotene.

    As fish consume plants, they’re going to inherit the same pigments that make the plants brightly colored. Giving your fish these same nutrients will help bring out their natural colors.

  7. Red Pigments

  8. The red pigment in plants comes from astaxanthin. It’s the carotene that gives shrimp, krill, algae, and bell peppers their vibrant red colors. If you feed your Cichlids nutrients derived from these sources, the reds in your Cichlids will become more vivid.

  9. Yellow Pigments

    Yellow pigmentation in plants and animals comes from zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid that is naturally found in turmeric, bell peppers, snap beans, and egg yolks. Giving your fish these nutrients will help improve their coloring and their eye health.

  10. Orange Pigments

    The bright orange color in plants and animals is derived from beta carotin. Paprika and carrots are excellent sources of beta carotin and will help bring out the natural orange color in your Cichlids.

A Varied Diet Is Critical For Your Fish’s Health

When your fish are in the wild, they’re not feeding on the same foods every single day.

That means you are going to want to vary their diet and what you’re feeding them. Your goal as a captive fish keeper should be to mimic what your fish are getting in the wild carefully.

Balancing the number of fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they receive from their diet will require paying attention to the quality and the ingredients in the food you give them.

High-quality food will give them the best of the best nutrients and keep your fish from becoming picky and selective. A selective fish may refuse to eat certain foods and prefer other foods. This creates a situation where their diet is imbalanced.

Cichlid Feeding Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to ensuring your fish are getting proper nutrition, keepers tend to find themselves having the same questions over and over again.

How often should I feed my Cichlids?

The answer to this question depends significantly upon how active your Cichlids are. If your fish are busy, happy, and healthy, overfeeding them can cause lethargy and other health issues.

For younger and smaller Cichlids that have higher energy levels, giving the fish a smaller meal more times per day is recommended. Smaller, more active fish have higher metabolisms, so eating two to three times per day isn’t uncommon.

Larger, more active fish in the medium-size range can afford to go longer in between feedings. Reducing their diet to getting fed twice per day is recommended.

When Cichlids are living in the wild, they may not eat every single day. This is especially true for larger fish. Some large fish may go days between meals because they wait for an opportunity to eat rather than continually foraging.

How many pellets to feed Cichlids?

This is another answer that will depend significantly on your fish and their natural habits. The key you want to follow is making sure you aren’t overfeeding. Fish can afford to be underfed, and their metabolism will slow. However, overfeeding creates a ton of issues.

Now, when you’re talking about Cichlids, you’ll need to pay attention to how they interact with each other. A Cichlid that isn’t eating enough can quickly become aggressive towards other fish in the tank.

If you start to notice these behaviors, you can begin thinking about increasing the frequency that you are offering meals to them.

To feed your Cichlids and ensure they’re getting enough food, start by introducing small pinches into the tank. Give your fish time to eat and pay attention to how long it takes them to consume what you have offered them.

If your fish take longer than a minute to clean up the entire meal, you are probably giving them too much food. If the whole meal disappears quickly, you will want to offer them more until it takes between 30 to 60 seconds to finish eating.

Make sure that you aren’t feeding so much or so often that food goes uneaten. This food can break down in the substrate and create harmful bacteria that your filter may not be able to process out of the water adequately.

What Is The Best Cichlid Food In 2019?

If you are looking for the best Cichlid food that provides amazing growth and vibrant colors, you’re can’t go wrong with any of the foods we have just featured in our list.

However, for carnivorous Cichlids, one of the best foods available is the Fluval Bug Bites. For herbivorous fish, the Omega One Super Color Pellets provide amazing color and growth. For omnivorous fish, the New Life Spectrum Cichlid Pellets are a great value.

Top Editor's Choice on Cichlid Foods

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