John D Hirsch MD

Experienced Reefer
Manhattan Reefs
Astaxanthin is being added to more and more of our hobby?s food products. Astaxanthin is a member of a class of organic fat soluble compounds called carotenoids. The produce colors in the yellow, orange, and red range. The FDA has classified them as food coloring or dyes and although not considered unsafe, use here is restricted to animal feed and aquaculture. Some carotenoids have Vitamin A like activity but not Astaxanthin. It has no other know nutritional benefit. Carotenoids are exclusively produced by plants as they assist chloroplasts in absorbing light and may offer protection to those plants from harmful UV rays. They are considered antioxidants and like other food additives, true scientific proof of any health benefits is a work in progress.

I hope to no one?s surprise, in the marine environment, microalgae are the principal source of Astaxanthin. As it moves up the food chain, it is concentrated in the fat cells starting with Zooplankton, Shrimp, Krill, Oily Fish (see my other post on this topic) and finally apex predators like Salmon. That nice pink color of wild caught Salmon is because of carotenoids. In farm raised Salmon, as much as 20% of the total feed cost is Astaxanthin in hopes of artificially coloring to match the wild caught look. It is also added to chicken feed to improve the color of egg yolks.

Astaxanthin is routinely added to copepods cultures as they make it clearly easier for humans to see and buy. Most of the fish I interviewed for this post, could care less.

Does Astaxanthin improve the ?color? of your fish? That?s the question. Is it a healthy colorful fish or an unhealthy Astaxanthin colored fish? Can you obtain the same results with a varied all natural diet? I would assume that all healthy fish are colorful but not all colorful fish are healthy. Can you make a fish super colorful with an added dye or better yet why would you? Ah, yes, you are Mother Nature for your own ecosystem.


Sponsor Reefs

We're a FREE website, and we exist because of hobbyists like YOU who help us run this community.

Click here to sponsor $10: