The right nutrition for aquarium fish

As with humans, fish nutrition is not always easy. It’s hard for us to find the right quantity and quality too. However, the fish are completely dependent on you for healthy and species-appropriate food!

Why is it important to feed fish in a species-appropriate way?

Just like humans, animals can survive on very little food. It’s a sad but true fact that both humans and fish have to survive difficult situations.

Malnourished fish

But we aquarium enthusiasts have the welfare of our animals as our primary goal. We don’t only want perfectly developed colours and healthy fish, we also welcome offspring, so that fewer animals need to be taken from the wild. Research has shown that removals from the wild do not (necessarily) pose a threat to the fish species, but it’s definitely preferable to increase the number of captive-bred species.

What is so special about the JBL PRONOVO ornamental fish food?

The annual JBL expeditions to South America, Africa, Asia and Australia resulted in so many observations - some of which contradicted previous expert statements - that the JBL research and development department were led to rethink the entire JBL food range. They evaluated all the observations and the results of examinations on fish stomachs and developed new foods on the basis of this – and thus the JBL species concept was born.

All our food recipes have been revised and adapted: For fish species that also eat insects or their larvae, we have added insects as a raw ingredient. But not all fish species eat insects. Fish that are very choosy have been given special ingredients such as garlic or shrimps as acceptance enhancers in the food, so that they simply won't be able to resist it. The protein/fat ratio, which is very important for the organism, has been optimised to make it ideal for the physiology of the fish. The fat content of very cheap food in particular is often too high, resulting in fatty degeneration in the animals’ organs. This cannot happen with JBL PRONOVO food!

Healthy fish
Overweight fish

An important innovation is the prebiotic orientation of the JBL PRONOVO food, which improves its digestibility. As soon as a food is digested better, there are two significant benefits: More energy is produced from the food for the organism, as less is excreted. And due to the reduced excretion, the aquarium water is less polluted - it remains cleaner. This in turn prevents algae growth.

Fish with high excretion

Improvements have also been made to the tins. All tins now contain a dosing aid in the lid. It is either a dosing dispenser that ejects the correct amount of food for five fish when a button is pressed (this is, of course, only possible with granulates), or the lid contains three compartments on the inside for flakes, sticks and food tablets to make food dosing much easier.

The JBL PRONOVO species concept

As already mentioned, you can feed your fish species food even if you keep different species together or have a community aquarium.

By feeding species food you are ensuring that no deficiency symptoms occur and by feeding other types of food you are expanding the fish’s diet.

Dead Tropheus

Feeding the fish with "wrong/dangerous" food only happens in exceptional cases: Tropheus and other cichlids from Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi should never be fed red blood worms! They’ll eat the blood worms and die! With other fish species it is only important that they get all the ingredients they need. And this is exactly what the JBL species concept, supplemented by other PRONOVO food for community aquariums, ensures 100%.

What is the main food (complete food) in a species aquarium?

Species aquarium barbels

If, for example, you only keep smaller barbels and danionins, the barbel food JBL PRONOVO DANIO GRANO XS would be the basic food, which can be supplemented with other types of food - but it doesn’t have to be! Any other food size that fits is suitable as a supplement or treat. If, for example, you keep small characins like neons AND small danionins together (which is fine!), you could feed the two types of food alternately: first PRONOVO NEON and then JBL PRONOVO DANIO GRANO XS Again, this CAN be supplemented with other small foods such as JBL PlanktonPur Small as a treat. For larger fish species, the choice of supplementary foods is much wider. Only for the smallest fish species is the choice somewhat limited. It is also possible to grind up supplementary flake foods a little until you have the right size to fit small mouths.

The Food advisor will tell you the right foods for your fish.

Plants or fish? What do our ornamental fish eat?


Among the fish species we keep in aquariums, there are very few absolute herbivores. Perhaps this is because in many natural waters there are no plants to be found at all.

Biotope without plants

Incidentally, the JBL expedition team in the South American Pantanal was able to observe how herbivorous characin species prefer to jump out of the water to eat the overwater leaves of the bushes instead of the underwater plants. Fish definitely have a sense of taste! Besides, most aquarists like to have plants in the aquarium and herbivores are then less welcome.

Fish eating leaves from trees in the Pantanal

Some aquarium fish are moderate herbivores that only occasionally pick at the plants. Other species, and you will find them in the following pictures, can cause significant damage to our aquarium plants:

Algae eaters

Algae also count as plants and there are quite a few fish species that specialise in algae food. In the aquarium we like to make use of this characteristic and keep, for example, sucking catfish to fight the algae. In the case of live-bearing toothcarps (guppies, platies, ray-finned fish, etc.), it is not only nice to observe how they eat algae in the wild, but you can also tell from their digestive system that they are algae eaters: Their gastrointestinal tract is very special, like that of a cow, and about 15 times as long as their body (of the fish - not the cow ☺).

Algae eaters feeding

There are quite a few pure carnivores among the fish: We call them predators and the piranha certainly comes to mind first. The piranha is one of the very few fish species that can actually eat and digest warm-blooded meat (e.g. beef) in the wild. Other predatory fish prefer to eat other fish and invertebrates such as shrimps. However, since their prey also contains greens (e.g. algae) in their stomach, they not only eat animal proteins but also plant proteins. Their digestive system is very short and therefore only able to digest plant food to a limited extent.

Small predators
Big predators

Strictly speaking, even cardinal tetras are predators, as they eat animal plankton. To have a distinction from "fish predators", such species are called planktivorous.


Most fish species are opportunists: they adapt to the conditions and eat what is available at the time. This varies in nature, depending on whether it is the dry or rainy season. In the dry season, water levels drop until the waters have almost dried up (in some regions they dry up completely!) and then animals such as piranhas attack everyone and everything in the water.

In the rainy season, on the other hand, there is enough food and we can relax and snorkel with piranhas in the river or lake. In the rainy season, the water level in the Rio Negro, as an example, rises by nine metres. Then fish can also reach fruits hanging in the trees. The food spectrum of most fish is thus enormous, and "omnivorous" does NOT just mean that these species CAN – eat anything - but MUST eat everything! Variety and diversity is therefore absolutely the right way to feed our fish healthily so that they keep well, have offspring, display beautiful colours and we get a lot of pleasure from them.

How to feed species-appropriately in a community aquarium

Imagine a zoo where many different mammals live. This would correspond to your community aquarium. With only one food, the keepers could basically feed almost all the mammals in the zoo, but would then have to supplement separate food for the tiger or the zebra.

The zebra also eats insects with grasses and leaves - so it does not eat a 100% vegan diet and the tiger also eats with the gazelle its grass-filled stomach. The general community aquarium food would be the JBL PRONOVO BEL FLAKES M , which then comes in different granulate sizes and flakes.

For example, for fighting fish which also live in the community aquarium, JBL PRONOVO BETTA GRANO S can be added, with a composition specially tailored to their diet. Algae-eating sucking catfish would then get their vegetable food with JBL PRONOVO PLECO WAFER M . Supplementing the general main food with the respective species foods would be the ideal procedure when feeding different fish species in ONE aquarium.

How do bottom-dwellers in a community aquarium get their food?

You’ll have seen this: Someone throws a food tablet into the aquarium for their bottom-dwelling armored catfish, but the fish in the other water zones grab the food tablet and the catfish go empty-handed! The other variant: The armored catfish are supposed to get some of the other fish’s food. This, however, often involves feeding enough food to sustain both the armored catfish and the algae! The armored catfish do not reach the food that ends up, say, in the decoration. This can spoil and quickly lead to algae problems.

Armured catfish AND other fish on TABLET
Tube with tablet

It works better that way: First feed the fish in the upper water layers and while they are busy feeding, throw in one or two food tablets for the bottom dwellers. If this doesn’t work, try this tip: Take a see-through plastic tube and put the tablet(s) inside it. The upper fish won’t notice the tablet going down, but the bottom dwellers will quickly learn to look for their food in this tube.



Granulated aquarium staple food in size XXS for all aquarium fish from 1-3 cm

  • Prebiotic aquarium fish food with garlic for the smallest fish species in the community aquarium: dedicated dietary fibres in the food supply the beneficial intestinal bacteria with food for healthy digestion
from 7,18 €


Granulated aquarium main food in size XS for all aquarium fish from 3-5 cm

  • Prebiotic and sinking aquarium fish food: dedicated dietary fibres in the food supply the beneficial intestinal bacteria with food for healthy digestion
from 2,65 €


Granulated aquarium main food in size S for all aquarium fish from 3-10 cm

  • Prebiotic aquarium fish food with garlic: dedicated dietary fibres in the food supply the beneficial intestinal bacteria with food for healthy digestion
from 2,65 €


Granulated aquarium staple food M for all 8-20 cm aquarium fish

  • Prebiotic aquarium fish food with garlic: dedicated dietary fibres in the food supply the beneficial intestinal bacteria with food for healthy digestion
from 11,50 €


Main food flakes in size S for all aquarium fish from 3-10 cm

  • Prebiotic aquarium fish food with garlic: dedicated dietary fibres in the food supply the beneficial intestinal bacteria with food for healthy digestion
from 3,54 €


Aquarium main food flakes in size M for all ornamental fish from 8-20 cm

  • Prebiotic aquarium fish food with garlic: dedicated dietary fibres in the food supply the beneficial intestinal bacteria with food for healthy digestion
from 3,54 €


Food tablets for all aquarium fish from 1-20 cm

  • Ideal for all bottom-dwelling fish species and also all others when the tablet is attached to the pane
from 8,43 €

The right amount of food

It’s fair to claim that while no fish has ever died of starvation, many have been overfed! It is in the nature of humans to offer their pets too much food rather than too little - especially as fish are ALWAYS hungry.


They really are: A predatory fish may still have its prey peeking out of its mouth, but would eat the next fish if its mouth wasn’t full of the current one! Thus the following rule applies to almost all aquarium fish: Feed only as much as the fish will eat in a few minutes (3-5 minutes - please not 30!). If food remains uneaten on the aquarium floor, it was too much! And as already described, bottom-dwelling fish should not be "abused" as hoovers. If they only eat a few scraps of food, everything is OK. Otherwise give them their own food in the form of sinking tablets or chips.

The different types of food

Which type of food is the best for my fish? This question will certainly have been asked by some of you at some point. The range of food types is enormous and you will first need an idea of which types of food are available. Flakes, granulates, wafers or rather tablets? And what is the difference between probiotic and prebiotic?

Flakes or granulated food?

To be honest, it’s absolutely up to you! There’s very little in it when arguing for or against each food type.

Flakes & granulates
Automatic feeder with granulated food

If you use an automatic feeder like the JBL PRONOVO AUTOFOOD BLACK , you MUST choose granulated food, as almost all automatic feeders are only suitable for granulates. If you’re introducing a feeder for your next holiday, get your fish used to the granulated food in GOOD TIME .

Some fish find it quite difficult to switch from granulated food to flakes or vice versa. Imagine that you have always eaten soft cornflakes and are now having wholemeal cereal for the first time. Many professional aquarists prefer to get their fish used to both types of food. This way you can easily switch to granulate during the holidays.

What is the difference between tablets and wafers?
Tablets & wafers

From a manufacturing point of view, food tablets (e.g. JBL PRONOVO TAB M , JBL PRONOVO CORYDORAS TAB M ) are mechanically compressed from fine flake or granulated food. Wafers, on the other hand, are thinly cut from a pulp and an “endless sausage” pressed out of the extruder and then dried.


The diameter of the "sausage" is then the diameter of the wafer. For JBL PRONOVO PLECO WAFER M this results in two sizes: M and XL.

In the production process, wafers can be made harder than food tablets, so that they are still suitable for sucking catfish to grate on, even after some waiting time (as they only come out during darkness).

Where do the different colours of the food come from?
Flake and granulate colours as macro photo

JBL does not use any artificial colouring for the complete PRONOVO food range. Nevertheless, the food is not colourless. As we only use natural ingredients, it is these which give the food (granulate, flake, stick or tablet) quite deep colouring at times.

In the JBL PRONOVO range, the food colours come from their natural raw ingredients: Even using different flour types can influence the colour of the food. Spirulina, green meal, Mediterranean herbs, pea, spinach and alfalfa create a green colour; red is created from gammarus, krill, shrimps, beetroot and paprika; brown tones come from salmon, trout meat and fish protein in general. Black colouring comes from sepia (cuttlefish) and yellow is created by adding turmeric.

Probiotic or prebiotic - which is better?

Probiotic foods, such as some types of yoghurt, contain live bacterial cultures which are supposed to promote health, but only work when consumed in large quantities. Such foods, including probiotic fish food, can easily spoil and then have the opposite effect. Not everyone agrees that probiotic food has health benefits.

Unlabelled yoghurt pot
Fish with low excretion

Prebiotics are "substrates that are selectively used by host microorganisms and confer health benefits." Scientists are agreed that they promote digestion and thus health. In the case of our fish, there is another essential aspect: With better digestion, less is excreted and the water is thus less polluted, keeping it cleaner and causing fewer algae problems. JBL adds selected yeasts to the PRONOVO foods which have been proven to stimulate the intestinal flora and thus have a prebiotic effect. It doesn't get any healthier than this!

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