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Absolute fish food review – Absolute by Cloverleaf

Cloverleaf 150g Absolute 54 High Protein Sinking Carnivorous Mini Beast Pellets Food 0

Absolute fish foods have recently expanded their range to include a variety of aquarium foods tailored to various tropical species. We’ve been trying a selection of this range over the last few weeks, here is what we think of it….

Absolute fish foods by Cloverleaf

After the relocation of my favourite ever shop, Scope Aquatics, into larger premises, they began stocking a new range of fish foods which is quite extensive, this range includes foods tailored to many species of commonly kept aquarium fish.

Absolute by Cloverleaf has produced a vast range of Aquarium fish foods after a long period of research and development.

As a complete and utter fish nerd, I tend to get a bit excited when I come across a new fish food and this stuff looked pretty good!

Naturally, I had to give it a try.

I purchased a pack of Absolute Cichlid growth and was initially very impressed with it.  After posting about it on Instagram and Facebook, Cloverleaf approached me to try some more of their Absolute fish food range in return for some open and honest feedback, which I happily agreed to.

Cloverleaf kindly sent me a great selection of their foods to try out, here’s what was in the box they sent:

  • Absolute mini cichlid
  • Absolute mini beast
  • Absolute predator
  • Absolute African cichlid
  • Absolute pearls (Not fish food! – We’ll get a separate write up done on these)

And of course, I still had the bag of Absolute cichlid growth that I had bought on my last trip to Scope Aquatics.

I’ve been feeding solely Absolute by Cloverleaf products for around a month now and I feel I have seen enough for this to be an accurate review.

 

absolute fish food cloverleaf

Absolute by Cloverleaf

Cloverleaf has been around for a while, mainly specialising in filtration, fish medication and foods for pond fish such as Koi and Sturgeon.

They have been working for around 2 years on their new range of aquarium fish foods and a vast amount of research has gone into their new recipes.

Their research has led to this ‘Absolute’ range of fish foods which has tailored nutrition for many species whilst combining an ethical and sustainable concept.

The use of insect and plant-based proteins in many of their formulas means that less fish or animal protein is required.

 

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Absolute fish food – Ingredients

Anyone who has read my article on fish food ingredients will know that I can be relatively particular when it comes to what goes into my animal feeds.

Many well-known fish foods are made with a list of cheap ingredients that don’t really do all that much for your fish, this also means that they are ridiculously overpriced for what they contain.

Due to my ‘fish food snobbery,’ it will be no surprise that one of the first things I did on receiving these foods was to read the ingredients of each of them.

To my delight, the lists of ingredients make for pretty good reading. This is a clear indication to me of all the research that has been put into the formulas of these foods.

I’m well aware that it could become very tedious very quickly if I listed all of the ingredients of each food here, so I won’t be doing that.

What I will do is point out some of the stand-out elements of these foods:

Soy protein concentrate

One of my favourite things to see in use in many of the Absolute fish food formulas was Soy Protein Concentrate (SPC). SPC is rarely seen in fish foods, with many companies opting to use much cheaper, much less digestible Soy Bean meal.

Soy protein concentrate has been found to be highly digestible by fish and it is an ideal substitute for fish meal, making our fish foods more sustainable and more environmentally friendly. It can be used to replace up to 100% of fishmeal with no negative impact. Great stuff!

Protein content

All of these foods are stated in their analysis to contain a high protein level, from the foods listed above the lowest concentration was in the Absolute African Cichlid which is listed as 37%.

The highest, as you may expect, was in the Absolute Predator and Absolute Mini Beast formulas. These both contain 54% protein, absolutely ideal for predatory fish and other species.

Fat content

As humans, we like to avoid fat, but our fish need it. Fat content of between 10 and 15% is ideal and is also said to be the best dietary content for breeding.

Most of the Absolute fish foods contain a good level of fat. The highest again being in the predatory species foods. The only exception I found was in the Absolute African Cichlid formula, which was listed as 1.8% on the packaging.

1.8% is quite low, if this figure is correct then this is fine for regular feeding, but for breeding a higher fat content may be required.

Wheat/Soy content

Wheat, in my opinion, is a filler. It does very little for tropical fish and I find it is massively overused in tropical fish foods.

I was very pleased to see that most of the formulas from absolute contain only one form of wheat at most and none of the foods I tried had a wheat-based main ingredient.

It is very rare to find a fish food that doesn’t contain any form of wheat but it is great to see that wheat use has been kept to a minimum here.

Soybean meal has also been kept to a minimum and it only appears in a couple of Absolute recipes, in most cases, they have opted to use far more beneficial SPC. Great stuff!

Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is stated as an additive in the African Cichlid formula. This is a content of certain types of algae that has a red pigmentation. This pigmentation aids in the colour development of fish, in particular, those with a red colouration.

This isn’t strictly restricted to African Cichlids though and it can improve the colour in most species that display red colouration, including goldfish. That means that whilst this variety of Absolute is aimed at African Cichlids, it can be used as a supplement for many other species.

As well as the benefits of added colour, Astaxanthin is also said to improve fish health by aiding liver development.

I’ve been feeding this stuff to my Red Texas hybrid and over the last few weeks, he has definitely become more colourful. His orangey colour is looking like more of a deeper red now. Time will tell how much effect it has in the end.

 

 

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Absolute fish foods – water clouding

One of the bigger selling points of Absolute fish foods is that the food will not cloud the water, this can have several benefits.

Firstly and the most immediately noticeable is that the water remains more clear. We strive for clear water as fish keepers, so a lack of food break up is an easy win.

Many fish foods break up quite quickly when they enter the water. If nothing else, it’s a huge waste of food.

A good example of this is Fluvals bug bites. Based on ingredients, bug bites are one of my top-rated fish foods, but they do cause an awful lot of water clouding.

This means that a good proportion of the food that enters the tank breaks up and is never eaten by the fish. It simply ends up breaking down in the filtration.

Once in the filtration, the food breaks down completely, producing higher levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate than it would have if it had been digested by the fish.

This ultimately means more maintenance and a higher water bill than if the food did not break up in the water.

 

Absolute fish foods – Effect on nitrates

The claims that Absolute fish food will not cloud the water are true, in comparison to the foods I had been feeding these visibly make much less mess in the water.

Whilst this has the very obvious effect of clearer water, particularly whilst feeding, I’ve been very interested to see what effect it has on water quality.

Over the last few weeks, I have been closely monitoring my nitrate levels to see what difference the lack of clouding makes to nitrate levels.

I have been really surprised by the results.

Ordinarily, (since increasing my volume of Seachem Matrix and feeding bug bites and Northfin) my main tank rises to around 20ppm (NT labs test kit) over the course of 7 days from a water change (80% water change and 1 daily feed).

Since feeding only Absolute fish foods (1 daily feed – no change to filtration/maintenance), my nitrate reading after 7 days read around 5ppm.

To test this further I skipped a water change, after 2 weeks my nitrates read at around 10ppm.

After 3 weeks my nitrate levels were still under 20ppm.

This means that the lack of food break up in the water reduces nitrate levels to roughly a quarter of what they were per week (75% reduction). That’s a pretty impressive reduction!

So, the lack of water clouding really is a big selling point.

Here is a quick video of me feeding my guys some Absolute Cichlid Growth, Absolute mini beast and Absolute predator:

 

 

As you can see, the food doesn’t break up much at all, even with these hefty Cichlids crunching it up.

 

Absolute Fish foods – Species specific

The range of Absolute fish foods from Cloverleaf is tailored to many specific species of fish.

This tailoring of diets makes choosing a food for your fish really easy. However, these foods are pretty flexible and almost all of them can be fed to any fish as some part of their diet.

They’re not as specific as you may think

As I mentioned earlier, Astaxanthin has many benefits, so the Absolute African Cichlid food could be fed to many, if not all, species of fish, particularly those with red colouration as a dietary supplement to improve colour.

Not only does Astaxanthin improve colour, it has also been shown to improve liver function, so it is a valuable addition to any fish’ diet.

This is true for many of these foods and most could be fed to any ornamental fish as a staple diet.

However, a level of 54% protein is not required for non-predatory species and it can, in some cases (according to some studies), have a negative effect on growth rates in none predatory fish. This is likely due to the inability to digest such high protein levels.

This means that the Mini Beast and Predator varieties are only ideal as a staple for true predator species really.

Above you can see that I feed it in my CA Cichlid tank, this is because I have a handful of catfish and a Bichir in there too. Undoubtedly though, some is eaten by the cichlids (it definitely is!), which are not true predatory species.

If I were to feed this as their sole diet, my fish would certainly survive, but they may not receive the optimum nutrition that they require.

However, eating a small amount combined with the correct food for them (Absolute Cichlid Growth) will not do them any harm at all.

In fact, my Red Texas seems to love the predator foods and looks to have almost doubled in size in the short time since I’ve been using these Absolute fish foods. A month ago he was the same size as my Carpintis, he’s much larger than her now.

It certainly isn’t affecting his growth negatively!

Absolute Arowana

A very interesting formula is the Absolute Arowana, I had a look at this on my last visit to Scope. The list of ingredients is very appealing and the pellets are shaped like insect larvae.

The main ingredient in this Arowana recipe is insect meal. Insect meal is great, it’s sustainable and it contains everything a growing fish needs.

The shape of the pellet helps to drive the prey instinct of insect-eating fish. All none herbivorous fish will happily chow down on a bug or two so this is great for most larger species.

I’ll be adding this to the list of foods to try next, even though I don’t own an Arowana (yet), at 45% protein this is a fairly adaptable food that will suit most fish.

 

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What do the fish think?

As well as ingredients, it is important to me that my fish enjoy their food. It’s usually pretty obvious if they like it or not, particularly for my Red Texas, who is the fussiest fish I have ever owned!

When I first switched over to Cloverleaf Absolute I was fairly worried that he wouldn’t eat it. For the last few months, the only food he would eat was bug bites, even Northfin pellets have been ignored by him.

To my amazement, he absolutely scoffed it and he still is doing on a daily basis. He’s growing like a weed and as mentioned above has become a deeper red already – probably due to the added Astaxanthin in the African Cichlid formula.

The rest of my fish seem to be enjoying their new diet too, particularly my Bichir ‘Godzilla’ who loves the predator formula.

I have even been feeding it to my Myrnae fry who are growing very well on it and go mand when I throw it into the tank.

They go absolutely nuts for the mini Cichlid formula!

 

Overall – Absolute fish foods

The new range from Absolute fish foods is great. Many of the ingredients are top quality and the foods do not break up in the water, which is an even bigger advantage than you may think.

The lack of food break up means less mess in the aquarium but it also means a lowered maintenance schedule. The difference in nitrate build-up is pretty incredible, reducing to a quarter of its previous rates in my tank.

Pricing is important too so it’s worth noting here. Absolute is very well priced. Each recipe varies slightly but as a rough guide the 150g packets are around £11 and the 350g are around £19 – £20.

That’s really good value when compared to many other fish foods and based on quality I’d say it’s very fair.

I’ve been really impressed with this range from Absolute and I’m looking forward to trying even more of their formulas – Look out for updates!

From now on I will be continuing to use the Absolute range in all my tanks and they will be added to the list of ‘my favourite foods’ in my ‘best fish foods’ article. Hopefully they will be available through amazon soon so we can add them to our shop!

However, if you want to get your hands on some to try, check in with Scope aquatics who stock the full range and are happy to post your order to you!

To view the full range of foods from Absolute, Click here! – This new site is under construction but already contains many of the new product listings.

 

 

Disclaimer

This is not a paid or sponsored review however I was provided with some of the products reviewed free of charge. This provision was agreed in return for an open and honest review, which is exactly what this is, as all my reviews are. The provision of these foods has not swayed my opinion in any way. It has simply enabled me to try more of the range than I ordinarily might at one time.

 

FAQ’s

Are Absolute fish foods high quality?

Absolute fish foods are great quality and contain some great ingredients. Unlike many other fish foods, they are not packed with fillers and contain only ingredients that will sustain your fish.

How much does food breaking up effect water quality?

Fish food breaking up and clouding the water has a big effect on water quality. This is very noticeable when testing nitrates. Absolute fish foods hold together very well and I have seen a huge decrease in nitrate build-up since switching to this food.

Is Absolute by Cloverleaf any good?

Absolute fish foods by Cloverleaf are of great quality. We've tested them endlessly and they are now a staple of our fish' diet. The ingredients have been carefully chosen and whilst this range caters for many specific species it is also very adaptable. We highly recommend the Absolute by Cloverleaf range.

 

 

References:

Effect of Astaxanthin on the Pigmentation of Goldfish Carassius auratus

The effect of feeding astaxanthin to Oreochromis niloticus and Colisa labiosa on the histology of the liver

The use of soy protein in aquafeeds

The nutritional requirements of ornamental fish

Effects of Dietary Protein Levels on the Growth, Feed Utilization and HaematoBiochemical Parameters of Freshwater Fish

About the author

James @Seriously Fishy

I am a fish keeping enthusiast with over 20 years experience. I currently keep American Cichlids (CA) which are my favourite fish to keep so far. I started Seriously Fishy as I noticed a large volume of people on various web pages looking for help with Aquarium basics. I created the first Seriously Fishy book to solve the issue in 28 pages, that led to the Seriously Fishy UK fish forum and blog.

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