Food Ingredients & What They Do.

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This site lists ingredients in most foods. This page helps you understand their function.
It is not meant to be an exhaustive work - just a general introduction.
See also the page on Vitamins & deficiency problems.

Acetic Acid An acidity regulator also known as ethanoic acid. It is an organic acid found in vinegar & can be recognised by it's pungent smell. It has been designated E260.

Arachidonic acid sourced from the microalga Parietochloris incisa. Useful in feeds during recovery of diseases such as Tetrahymena sp.
Research has showed high concentrations form in the liver & alter the DHA / EPA & ARA levels.


Mainly extracted from red algae but can be made artificially. Gives good colour to fish. A carotenoid found commonly in nature but particularly in marine environments. First discovered in 1938 in the Lobster sp. Homarus astacus. Fish cannot synthesize Astaxanthin they have to find it in food. Our Astax crumb feed is rich in this item.
Astaxanthin is very strong - 10 times stronger than Beta Carotene & 100 times stronger than Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol). The anti-oxidant properties exceed also zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin & vitamin C.
Some authors have proposed this as a 'Super vitamin E'.

Biotin Also known as vitamin H & B7. Used to aid cell growth & the production of fatty acids, metabolism of fats & amino acids. Helps in various metabolic chemical conversions & the transfer of carbon dioxide.
Blood When the BSE crisis was ongoing in 2000 blood products were banned from animal feeds. In 2005 however the ban was relaxed & blood / blood meal was allowed to be mixed in with feeds again.
Most feeds are mixed with fish meal which is getting harder to find. Blood products come as a by-product from the meat processing industry.
Blood contains high levels of protein. It has a proven track record of survival rates in young growing fish. Another benefit is to increase the attractability & taste to carniverous species.
Our 'Baby Formula' on the dried food page contains blood meal.
Calcium pantothenate A member of the vitamin B complex it helps to break down many biochemical substances (amino acids, carbohydrates, fatty acids etc)
Carotene Carotenes include: alpha-Carotene; beta-Carotene; gamma-Carotene; delta-Carotene; Lycopene; Neurosporene; Phytofluene; Phytoene.
These are in the Carotenoid group. Authors recommend 10 ppm as part of fish diets.
Chlorella A single celled green algae. When dried it can give - 45% protein, 20% fat, 20% carbohydrate, 5% fibre, and 10% minerals.
Choline Prevents fatty deposits in the liver. A major part of Lecithin. Essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates & fatty acids. Choline is oxidised to form Betain. Choline is a precursor of Acetylcholine which is released at the end of nerve fibres.
Cobalt Sulfate This is an additive to feeds & intensifies blue colouration. Minute amounts are found in many items such as offal (liver & kidney), meat, filleted fish & dairy products.
Microflora can produce vitamin B12 if Cobalt sulfate is present in sufficient amounts.
Small amounts are permitted under EC legislation up to 2mg/kg of fish feed. Pure powder has been taken off the market as this is a known carcinogenic in its raw state. Amounts put into feeds are safe as they are very small & a necessary trace element.
Coenzyme Q10 Also known as ubiquinone, is an antioxidant that assists cells in transferring energy and oxygen.
Cryptoxanthin A yellow carotenoid found in egg yolk. Can be converted to vitamin A in the body.
DHA Docosahexaenoic Acid. Part of the Omega 3 acid group. This is in the grey matter of the brain & eye retina.
Dunaliella A pink/red coloured microalgae found in salt pans. Has a high concentration of antioxidants creating carotenoids (beta carotene).
EPA Eicosapentaenoic Acid. Part of the Omega 3 acid group.
Ethoxyquin A preserver.
Folic Acid A B vitamin used in the synthesis of DNA and RNA of dividing cells, particularly during pregnancy and infancy when there is an increase in cell division and growth. Useful in the diet of livebearing females.
GAG Short for Glycosaminoglycan. Found in Green Lipped Mussel. This is a member of the family of Carbohydrates. An important inclusion in the diet of invertebrates. Forms part of the component in connective tissue & cartilage in joints.
Gluten Gluten for fish feeds usually comes from wheat grains. It is a composition of the proteins Gliadin & Glutenin where it makes up 80% of the protein in a wheat grain. In packaging referred to as 'vegetable protein extracts'.
HUFA Seen mostly in live foods & mainly in Artemia (Brine Shrimp) egg hatch contents. Very important to look out for in selecting good quality Artemia eggs. Stands for Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids. This is very important in growing fish on.
Lecithin EU designated number E322. Lecithin is a shortened down name for pure phosphatidylcholine. This is extracted from egg yolk or soy bean. Also extracted from soybean oil & sunflower oil. An emulsifier it is used in chocolate to prevent it from seperating.
Phosphatidylcholine is a major part of the covering of human cells. This is broken down into choline. In humans it is useful in the treatment of neurological & liver diseases.
Lipids A term used to express the HUFA content (Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids). This content is especially seen on brine shrimp egg products as this figure is especially important to young growing fry/fish. See for a more detailed explanation.
Lutein An orange / red crystaline powder. Part of the Xanthophylls group, synonymously known as gamma lutein or epsilon carotene. Lutein is a carotenoid. Boosts the bodies immune system.
Magnesium Helps in producing & transferring energy. Good for maintaining good circulation, heart, bone & muscle.
NFE Nitrogen Free Extract. Or to put simply - what remains after the moisture, protein, fat, fibre, and minerals (ash) have been removed from the food.
Niacin Also known as nicotinic acid or vitamin B3. In humans it plays a role in removing toxic & harmful chemicals from the body. Also used as a food colourant.
Pantothenic Acid Helps process & use energy from food. metabolizes cholesterol and fatty acids. Found in wheat germ.
Para-aminobenzoic acid Also known as PABA - helps to maintain the balance of intestinal flora / bacteria.
Phaffia Yeast Made by cultivating yeast which produces Astaxanthin. The enzyme is called Phaffia rhodozyma. Data suggests that astaxanthin from ruptured yeast cells may be a more effective pigmentor since it is in an organic matrix.
Phosphorus Helps build bones & assists in metabolism.
Phycocyanin A protein & accessory to chlorophyll pigment found in Spirulina, cynobacteria etc. Shows as a blue colour in blue/green algae. The word derives from the Greek phyto - algae, cyanin - cyan (blue).
PUFA Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids. The gut loading of (for example) Omega 3 in live foods such as Rotifers & Artemia.
Riboflavin Designated the number E101 Riboflavin is also known as vitamin B2 or vitamin G. Aids in the metabolisation of fats, carbohydrates & proteins in the production of energy. Also used as a food colourant producing a yellow - yellow/orange colour. Not stored in the human body. Excess is excreted via urine which produces a yellow colour.
Sodium Alginate An emulsifier extracted from the cell walls of brown algae. In humans it is used in the manufacture of indigestion tablets. Sodium alginate is the salts of alginate acid.
Thiamine Part of the vitamin B complex. An essential ingredient in the biosynthesis of the coenzyme thiamine pyrophosphate which plays an important role in the metabolisation of carbohydrates. Used to stimulate appetite, normal intestinal function, cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Tocopherol A fat soluble vitamin E with a biological antioxidant activity
Vitamin E An anti-oxidant. Thought to protect the immune system in fighting off disease.
Wheat germ Found in the centre of the wheat kernel. Rich in vitamin E, magnesium, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, thiamine, and zinc. Also a good source for coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) and PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid).
Used in many fish feeds particularly better quality brands for coldwater/pond fish.
Zeaxanthin A caratenoid used in food colouring. This is found as an orange red crystalline powder.
Xanthophylls include: Astaxanthin; Cantaxanthin; Cryptoxanthin; gamma-Lutein; Zeaxanthin.
Zinc Trace mineral and antioxidant essential for proper growth, immune system function, and hormone production.