When talking about the ever-popular quest of seeing and appreciating colourful fish the question about how to maintain or increase that aspect often comes up. There are some important points to consider when evaluating how colourful a fish is, the first of which is if you are asking that question then you may feel that there is room for improvement.
Before we explore the topic of food it is important to acknowledge that there are several key factors that can significantly impact the degree of coloration a fish will display, such as lighting, water quality tank mates and several others.
How Colour Enhancing Food Benefits
What brings out the colour within a fish is basically the source of carotenoids or pigments a fish consumes. In nature, pigments are typically ingested with protein sources, such as invertebrates. In the aquarium commercial diets offer a wider variety of sources of colour enhancing ingredients, such as those that originate from various terrestrial plants. Pigments need to be in a bio-available form for a fish to benefit, commercially this is done by specific processing, in nature a pigment becomes bio-available when it has been consumed by other organisms and has worked its way up the food chain to fish and beyond.
Red and pink pigments
These fish are enhanced or brought out by consuming invertebrates such as shrimp and krill. Salmon and trout have a reddish orange coloured flesh, the shrimp and krill they consume contain rich reserves of the natural, bio-available form of the pigment known as astaxanthin. This pigment is passed upwards through the food chain after krill or shrimp consume the microalgae containing concentrated doses of this powerful carotenoid. This valuable pigment becomes bio-available to fish only after it has progressed though the food chain and made available to them after consuming krill or shrimp.
This same pigment will bring out the reds and associated colour tints in other species of fish as well. Fluval Bug Bites Colour Enhancing Formula features generous inclusion rates of both salmon and shrimp for effective development of red pigmentation in fish.
Yellow / Orange Pigments
This colour can be accentuated in fish when the carotenoids found within extracts of marigold pedals are included within a colour enhancing formulation, in fact this is what is used in Fluval Bug Bites Colour Enhancing formula to bolster various shades of yellow and orange colour in fish. The carotenoid found in marigold pedals is in fact lutein, it is a xanthophyll, one of 600 natural carotenoids that is synthesized exclusively by plants. This pigment, like a number of others has very strong antioxidant properties, making it even more beneficial to fish.
Spirulina algae contains a unique photosynthetic pigment-protein known as phycocyanin. It is in fact an accessory pigment to chlorophyll. This powerful pigment-protein which is not available in other algae or terrestrial plants, helps support optimal liver and kidney function while fortifying the skin and fins of fish. Amongst the benefits to fish such as improved growth rates, fry survival rates, obesity reduction and more. blue and green coloration in fish are enhanced by this amazing unique protein-pigment.
Getting back to the question, do colour enhancing formulations really work? They absolutely do and when properly formulated are strong contributors to healthy robust fish with strong immune systems and beautiful coloration.