The Best Sturgeon & Sterlet Pond Food & Pellets 2020 (Top Foods Compared)
Sturgeon have unique dietary requirements, and choosing the right food is crucial for keeping them in good health. In this article, we’ll go over the different nutrients and ingredients you’ll find in high-quality sturgeon feeds. We’ll also review several popular products and explain their nutritional profiles to help you decide if they’re right for your sturgeon!
Why is Good Nutrition Important to Sturgeon?
1) Better Growth
Providing sturgeon with the right nutrition will help them grow well and stay strong. Sturgeon need specific types of proteins and fats, as well as a comprehensive mix of vitamins and minerals. Feeds with poor-quality ingredients may not supply enough of these components, which can leave fish underdeveloped and weak.
The right balance of calories and nutrients will help sturgeon maintain muscle, bounce back from stress and injury, and live as long as possible.
2) Stronger Immune Support
Sturgeon need to be well-nourished to sustain their immune systems and guard against parasites and disease-causing pathogens. Although sturgeon are generally hardy fish, inadequate amounts of vitamins and calories can weaken their natural defense responses, making it harder for them to fight off infections and adjust to stressful events (such as sudden changes in water temperature or quality). Giving sturgeon the right amount of food, as well as the right mix of protein and fats, can help sturgeon maintain the energy levels their immune systems need to function properly. Just like humans, sturgeon that are tired and underfed are more likely to get sick! Some feeds are also supplemented with extra ingredients that can fortify sturgeon immunity even more.
3) Improved Pond Water Quality
Some feed manufacturers pump up their products with cheap ingredients that sturgeon don’t need or can’t digest. Rather than actually using these worthless ingredients, or “fillers,” sturgeon will just pass them into the pond water as waste. The more fillers a feed has, the more waste sturgeon will produce, which can encourage the spread of pathogens, interfere with filters, and lead to excessive algae growth. Better-quality, easily digestible sturgeon feeds can help preserve water quality and keep all fish living in the best conditions possible.
Selecting Sturgeon Foods – What Ingredients Matter?
1) Protein Source & Total Content (%)
Protein source and content are probably the most important aspects of a sturgeon feed. Sturgeon need adequate protein to complete important chemical reactions and to grow and repair tissues like muscles. Unlike other pond fish like goldfish or koi, sturgeon are true carnivores, meaning they can’t digest most plant products. They are bottom-feeders that, in the wild, only eat other animals, like shellfish, crustaceans, small fish, and insect larvae. Sturgeon will become malnourished from eating wheat- or soya-based food, regardless of the crude protein content. For this reason, it’s crucial to choose a sturgeon food primarily consisting of protein from aquatic animal sources, like fish meal or shrimp meal. Aquatic animal sources of protein most closely reflect what sturgeon naturally eat. As a result, these sources are the easiest for sturgeon to digest and use. Aquatic animal proteins also provide sturgeon with essential amino acids that may not be available from other protein sources.
High-quality sturgeon food will list an aquatic animal protein source as the first ingredient, indicating that there’s more of it by weight than anything else. Since sturgeon are carnivores, they need a somewhat higher percentage of protein and fewer carbohydrates than omnivores like goldfish and koi. Good quality sturgeon food should have a crude protein content of at least 40–45%. Some evidence even suggests that very young sturgeon may need up to 50% crude protein content for optimal growth.
2) Total Fat Content (%)
Being carnivores, sturgeon rely more on fats (and protein) than carbohydrates for energy. Fats (sometimes called “oils” or “lipids”) also help with cell growth, hormone production, and absorption of some vitamins. Sturgeon food should contain about 10–15% crude fats, though slightly more is not uncommon. As much of these crude fats as possible should come from aquatic animal ingredients like fish oil. Fats from aquatic animal products are especially important because they include certain essential long chain fatty acids that are part of a sturgeon’s natural diet. Some brands also include vegetable oils, like palm or rapeseed, in their sturgeon feeds.
While vegetable oils aren’t necessarily unhealthy for sturgeon, they usually don’t include those specific long chain fatty acids. To ensure your sturgeon get the kinds of fats they need, look for feeds that prioritize aquatic animal products over vegetable oils in the ingredients list.
3) Vitamins & Minerals Content
Sturgeon need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in their diets. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is especially important. An adequate supply of vitamin C helps sturgeon to build important connective tissue, repair injuries, and maintain a healthy immune system to fight infections. Though the amount of this vitamin that sturgeon need isn’t definitively established, some research suggests that a concentration of 200–500 milligrams per kilogram of total diet may promote growth.
In addition to vitamin C, sturgeon feed should also provide vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as B vitamins. These micronutrients help to keep tissues like bone, skin, teeth, and organs strong and healthy; promote mineral absorption; and support sturgeon metabolism and protein synthesis. Many of these are found naturally in the aquatic animal products that give a feed its protein and fats. However, good-quality feeds may list all or most of them individually on their labels. At the very least, your feed should specifically mention vitamin C.
Minerals like calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc are also important for sturgeon health. These micronutrients assist with growing and maintaining tissues, forming important chemicals, and sustaining the balance of electrolytes. Sturgeon can absorb the dissolved forms of most of these minerals directly from the water, with phosphorous being a notable exception. As a result, feeds that include minerals don’t always list them individually, though some provide the percentage of phosphorous present.
4) Immune Boosters & Parasite Deterrents
A few feeds may include extra ingredients to further boost sturgeon immune systems. Garlic, a common addition, has antimicrobial properties that may help to protect against harmful bacteria and fungi. Garlic is also known for stimulating appetite and deterring parasites, and some research suggests that it may be linked to higher growth rates in young sturgeon. Other studies indicate that certain probiotics and prebiotics (like brewer’s yeast) added to the sturgeon diet could be connected to improved digestion, growth performance, and immune response. Some other common immune boosters include nucleotides (which manufacturers often refer to using branded names like Optimun and Aquagen) and lactoferrin.
These and other supplements aren’t vital, and they aren’t useful if they’re in a feed with inadequate amounts of essential nutrients like protein and vitamins. In some cases, more research is needed to determine how effective they really are. They can, however, help to support overall sturgeon health, and they may signal that a feed is of higher quality.
5) Ash Content and Fibre Content (%)
Crude ash percentage covers almost everything in a feed that fish can’t turn into energy, including all of the essential minerals. Those minerals, which are only a small portion of the total ash, are also the only portion that sturgeon and other fish use. The rest is indigestible and will pass through sturgeon as waste. This is similar to the effects of fibre, which comes from indigestible cellulose and other plant materials. Some ash and fibre are necessary for gastrointestinal purposes, but high percentages can indicate that a feed is of low quality and has a high amount of fillers. Too much fibre and ash can cause digestive issues and dirty water, so look for feeds with as little of both as possible. A crude ash percentage between 7% and 12% is considered normal. Sturgeon don’t need a specific amount of fibre, but good-quality feeds typically have 2% or less.
Finally, one last component found in all fish foods is the crude ash content, which corresponds to the total amount of inorganic minerals and fibre – a by-product of processing. In general, you’d want to aim for an ash content percentage as low as possible, with 4-15% being a common range in high quality feeds. Although some of what makes up crude ash can be useful, most of it will simply pass through your fish and end up as waste in your pond. The lower the better!
Common Sturgeon Food Questions & Answers
1) Can Sturgeon Eat the Same Food as Goldfish & Koi?
Sturgeon can eat the same food as goldfish and koi as long as it meets their particular nutritional needs. The food in question would need to be a sinking variety, since sturgeon are strictly bottom-feeders. The food would also need to consist of at least 40% protein and about 10–15% fat, which would be on the high end for goldfish or koi feed. Goldfish and koi food with these qualities might be hard to find, especially because many koi feeds tend to be floating.
Also keep in mind that feeds specifically designed for sturgeon may be inappropriate for other species of fish. Goldfish and koi are usually much smaller than sturgeon, and so sturgeon pellets may be too large for them to eat. Additionally, because typical sturgeon food can be relatively high in fat, some varieties may be too calorically dense for goldfish or koi. Unless you can find a feed that balances all of these requirements, you may be better off sticking with specialized food for different fish.
2) Which Is Better – Floating or Sinking Pellets?
For sturgeon, sinking pellets are always better than floating! In fact, sturgeon won’t even be able to eat floating pellets. Being bottom-feeders, sturgeon have mouths that are located on the undersides of their heads and behind their big, beak-like noses (called rostra). This unique anatomy makes it almost impossible for them to get to food floating above them. Sturgeon also have extremely poor vision, as they are naturally adapted to living in deep waters where little sunlight reaches. Since they can’t rely on their eyesight, sturgeon have to use their sensitive facial barbells to find food. These barbells, which are set on the underside of the rostrum and in front of the mouth, are great for finding pellets on the bottom of a pond but extremely impractical for locating floating food. Sinking pellets are necessary because they’re the only variety of food that sturgeon can eat.
3) Can Sturgeon Food Help With Parasites?
Sturgeon are fairly tough fish, but they can be susceptible to some types of parasites, including flukes, Trichodina, and fish lice. In general, providing sturgeon with a high-quality feed that meets all of their nutritional requirements will help them stay healthy, strong, and well-equipped to fend off harmful pests. Some feeds, though, also include small amounts of extra ingredients specifically meant to defend against parasites and boost sturgeons’ immune systems. These ingredients won’t make up for nutritional deficiencies or guarantee that your fish won’t have problems with parasites. They can, however, play a valuable supplementary role in keeping parasites at bay.
The most familiar supplement might be garlic. Crushed or chopped garlic gives off allicin, a compound that promptly breaks down and emits a strong, distinct odor that many fish love. Allicin also has antimicrobial properties that allow it to repel and even kill some types of parasites, fungi, and bacteria. For this reason, choosing a feed with added garlic can help to naturally protect sturgeon from parasites.
Some other added ingredients can help sturgeon defend against parasites by boosting their immune systems. One example is lactoferrin, a protein found in the milk of humans and cows that has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. Torula yeast and brewer’s yeast are helpful fungi that may enhance sturgeon immune responses by providing extra protein, B vitamins, and minerals. For the same reason, some feeds may contain nucleotides, which are the basic components of DNA.
The Best Sturgeon & Sterlet Food 2020 (Top Sturgeon Food Reviewed)
Medikoi’s sturgeon feed is 46% crude protein by weight, which is right in line with what sturgeon need. The animal protein in the feed comes from fish meal, poultry meal, and poultry blood meal (the second, third, and fourth ingredients, respectively). The fish meal is a good source of protein for sturgeon and should provide the amino acids they need. That it’s the second ingredient listed shows that it’s present in a relatively high amount. The poultry meal and poultry blood meal may not be as complete in terms of amino acid profiles, but combined with the fish meal they should provide sufficient amounts of useful animal protein. While the wheat and sunflower meal (another plant-based ingredient) content may not be as nutritious for sturgeon, they likely contribute to the feed’s very reasonable price.
The feed’s 15% crude fat level also fits well within sturgeon dietary requirements. Medikoi states that their product “contains oils rich in omega-3[s],” which refers to the essential long-chain fatty acids that should come from aquatic animal products. In this case, those fatty acids come mostly from fish oil (the eighth ingredient out of a total of ten). Additionally, the percentages of crude ash (6.4%) and crude fibre (1.8%) are very low, meaning that this feed probably won’t result in excessive amounts of pond waste.
Compared to the other products on this list, Medkoi’s feed boasts a very high concentration (500 mg/kg) of vitamin C, an important nutrient that sturgeon need for growth and immune system support. The essential vitamins A, D, and E are present as well, as are a number of minerals including zinc, copper, manganese, iron, and iodine. The feed also includes Stimune, a proprietary blend of yeast-derived, probiotic products intended to further boost immunity and aid in digestion.
Medikoi describes its pellets as “quick-sinking,” which could be especially beneficial in ponds with other fish that may be attracted to sturgeon feed. The pellets come in small (2 mm), medium (4.5 mm) and large (9 mm) sizes, making this feed appropriate for both juvenile and adult sturgeon, as well as sterlets (which have smaller throats than other varieties).
In sum, Medikoi’s feed provides excellent amounts of protein and fats from quality ingredients, as well as a respectable collection of vitamins and minerals, negligible amounts of fibre and ash, and a yeast-based immune booster. The presence of wheat as the first ingredient keeps this feed from being perfect, but it’s still a decent, complete choice at a fair price.
- Type: Small, Medium, or Large Pellets (Sinking)
- Protein: 46% (2. Fish Meal, 3. Poultry Meal & 3. Poultry Blood Meal)
- Fat: 15%
- Ash: 6.4%
- Fibre: 1.8%
- Vitamins: A, C, D, E & Minerals
- Immune Booster: Yes – Stimune (Yeast-Derived Products)
The second product on this list, Takazumi Sturgeon feed, aims to encourage optimal growth and digestion. The feed is notably calorie-dense, with higher percentages of crude protein (48%) and crude fats (19%) than many other commercial feeds. This makes it a great choice for feeding younger fish and building weight before winter, although it’s also a good all-around option for sturgeon of any age.
The protein and fat in Takazumi’s feed come from a short list of high-quality ingredients. Fish meal is the chief component and the source of almost all of the protein. This is ideal, since fish meal is an excellent source of the specific amino acids that sturgeon need and is very easily digestible. Plus, Takazumi adds amino acids directly to their feed, which should help sturgeon to grow well and maintain their strength. The fat content mainly comes from fish and vegetable oils, which are listed jointly as the second ingredient. The fish oil should supply sturgeon with essential long-chain fatty acids.
Takazumi’s feed offers an interesting micronutrient profile. Vitamins A, C, D, and E are all present, as are the minerals phosphorus and copper. Takazami’s feed, though, is the only one to explicitly list the vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, and biotin. Together, these vitamins support energy metabolism, nerve functioning, and other processes important for sturgeon growth. Other unique nutrients on the Takazumi label include choline (which is necessary for DNA construction) and vitamin K (which contributes to blood clotting and bone structure). This wide variety of vitamins and minerals is just as important as protein and calories for optimal sturgeon growth.
At 9.2%, the crude ash percentage is slightly high compared to the other two feeds, but it’s still within the normal range. The fibre content is a low 1.4%, meaning that there’s not much in Takazumi’s feed that sturgeon can’t digest and use. As a result, Takazumi’s product won’t muddy the pond water with too much waste.
Overall, Takazami’s feed is a nutritious product for supporting healthy growth. With plenty of high-quality fats and animal protein, as well as a diverse vitamin profile, this feed can give sturgeon the energy they need to stay strong and alert.
- Type: Pellets (Sinking)
- Protein: 48% (1. Fish Meal)
- Fat: 19%
- Ash: 9.2%
- Fibre: 1.6%
- Vitamins: A, C, D, E, K, B1, B2, B6, B12, Biotin, Choline & Minerals
- Immune Booster: No
Queni Koi’s sturgeon feed stands out as an inexpensive yet extremely balanced choice. Like other sturgeon feeds, it is a sinking pellet that comes in small (3 mm), medium (6 mm) and large (8 mm) sizes. If you have sturgeon of multiple sizes, you can also buy a mixed version that features both small and medium pellets.
Most of the protein in the feed comes from the first ingredient, fish meal. The rest of the feed’s 42% crude protein content largely comes from meat meal (the second ingredient) and blood meal (the fifth ingredient). These ingredients will provide sturgeon with an adequate amount of readily digestible animal protein. The fish meal in particular should supply the essential amino acids sturgeon need to build and maintain tissue and to synthesize important enzymes. Wheat and soya (the third and fourth ingredients, respectively) likely contribute a small amount to the protein percentage as well, although they may also be present for binding purposes.
The feed’s 17% crude fat content comes from a mix of animal and plant sources. Fish oil (the eight ingredient) should contribute crucial long-chain fatty acids to your sturgeons’ diets. Meat meal, as well as cheaper vegetable products including rapeseed oil and palm oil (ingredients six and seven, respectively), round out the rest of the fat content and add valuable calories.
A nice assortment of vitamins and minerals make Queni Koi’s feed a great choice for reinforcing your sturgeons’ immune systems. Vitamins A, D, and E are all included, as is a modest concentration of vitamin C. Queni Koi also supplements their feed with antioxidants that preserve these vitamins from deterioration, allowing sturgeon to take in as much nutrition as possible.
The feed supplies many of the same trace elements that Medikoi’s product does, including iron, iodine, copper, manganese, and zinc. However, Queni Koi’s feed also features extra calcium, sodium, and phosphorous, all of which play important roles in sturgeon metabolism. For example, calcium and sodium function as electrolytes that regulate fluid levels and nerve activity, while calcium and phosphorus are major components of tissues like bone and cartilage. Phosphorus is an especially beneficial addition, because water naturally has very little of it for sturgeon to absorb through their gills.
For those seeking a well-rounded, relatively inexpensive sturgeon food that minimizes waste, it’s hard to go wrong with QueniKoi’s offering. With plenty of animal-based protein and fats, as well as a good range of vitamins and minerals, this feed should easily fit most sturgeons’ dietary needs.
- Type: Small, Medium, or Large Pellets (Sinking)
- Protein: 42% (1. Fish Meal & 2. Meat Meal)
- Fat: 17%
- Ash: 6.1%
- Fibre: 1.4%
- Vitamins: A, C, D, E & Minerals
- Immune Booster: No