I had seen New Life Spectrum (NLS) in shops but thought it was just another over-priced food. Then I started hearing about it on forums a lot. The fish wholesaler we get our fish from carried it so I decided to give it a try. When I looked at the labels I was mad I spent money on three foods that ended up being almost exactly the same when you look at the ingredients and nutritional values. I tried them in my mixes (at the time a large assortment of high-quality fish foods all mixed up in Tupperware containers). I did not see any difference and dismissed NLS as just another food.
Then I came across an ad in TFH magazine showing Pablo Tepoot’s (the owner and developer of NLS) 2,000-gallon saltwater tank that had been fed NLS exclusively for seven years. So I started looking into it again, this time a lot more carefully. I read the articles on their site and read the reviews from other aquarists. So I gave it another shot, this time I fed it exclusively. That is when I got the results everyone was talking about.
Before long it was the only thing I fed all my fish. I had discus that weren’t quite settling in and were losing weight. So I gave them the Thera+A and before too long they were settled in and growing like the rest. They had been fed NLS exclusively for over two years before I got rid of them and they looked amazing. I took them into the fish store I was managing where they were also fed NLS exclusively. They bred in the store.
I fed NLS exclusively to my Lake Malawi peacocks. They were purchased as ‘assorted African cichlids’ but are probably the best-looking peacocks I have ever seen, except for maybe a couple of pictures of very high-end ones online, and even then they are about equal. They are now my favorite freshwater fish.
I even feed NLS to my Axolotls (salamanders that stay larval their whole life). They loved it and grew like crazy, thrived, and looked great. The goldfish in with the axolotls also thrived on it. The axolotls’ growth actually matched that of the breeder’s axolotls fed more typical high-protein foods.
I fed the fish in my 150-gallon in a bowl. I use the riser tube for an under gravel filter with a funnel taped to the top to put the sinking NLS right in the bowl. There was an 18″ tiretrack eel in there that I got when he was about 6″ and he grew to that size in about 6 months. He loved the stuff. As soon as the tube was in the bowl he was over at it waiting for the food to sink. When it was in the bottom of the tube, before I lifted the tube to let it out, he would peck at the bottom of the tube, making it pop up a bit to let some of the food out. The bichirs were all over it, the plecos (4 bristlenoses and a gold nugget) were over at the bowl, getting in it to feed. The silver dollars would dart down to grab a pellet to eat as they swam around. The Synodontis eupterus were growing like weeds and would make their way over to feed.
We switched all the fish at the store I am running over to NLS exclusively. The discus settle in immediately and love the stuff. They grow faster than they have before and color up very well, which means they sell fast. Our losses are greatly reduced. It seems that the NLS helps them settle in faster and get off to a better start after their stressful journey all the way from the breeders, to the wholesaler, to our store. They also color up fast and start growing quickly, which again keeps them selling.
Even with many species that may usually require a slow progression from live, to frozen, to prepared foods, I simply offer NLS from the start. Not only do they take it but they seem to settle in even faster when I do this as opposed to starting them on live or frozen foods. This includes freshwater stingrays.
I had a black ghost knife take to this stuff very well, he grew faster than any I have ever heard of.
I even had a fire eel (notoriously reluctant to switching to prepared) take NLS.
My orange pike cichlids took to this stuff immediately and grew well and were very colorful.
Even clown knives, African butterfly fish, assorted spiney eels, etc. all take this food at the shop and do much better on it.
I have started recommending NLS on forums that I go to, as well as to customers. Some are hesitant about the price, but I tell them it is worth it and show them the pictures I have on the wall at work of my peacocks and discus. The only ones that don’t love the stuff are people whose fish didn’t eat it immediately and don’t want to let them get hungry enough to take a new food.
Color improvement is usually very noticeable and very fast. However I have found that some fish do take longer than the guaranteed ten days to begin noticeable color improvement, but sooner or later it kicks in.
The most color improvement I have seen is in African cichlids. NLS brings out colors in them I have never seen on any before. Since feeding NLS exclusively, I have seen it do everything from bring out a light purple iridescence over the whole body, intensify colors on the gill plates, bring out very detailed colorations in the fins, to just simply greatly enhancing the colors you normally see.
I think the apprehension that many people have about this food is that it should be fed exclusively. Most people cannot go against what they have heard over and over again, that they need variety. Well, maybe that WAS true, but there has never been a food as complete as NLS before, so it may have been necessary to vary the diet to make sure no problems developed. But now we have NLS.
Even if you have apprehensions about this food, try it. It is our obligation to these animals to make sure we are doing the best we reasonably can for them. Even if your current diet has worked great for you for decades, you still need to make sure there is not something else out there that is even better. Just as filtration, lighting, and other aspects of the hobby have changed, so has the food. It won’t hurt to try it, and it definitely could if you don’t.
It has been a while since I wrote this article so it deserves an update.
We kept all the fish at the store on NLS exclusively. In the store, we accidentally bred gold barbs, galaxy rasboras, goldfish, discus, crayfish, clownfish, and more, all on NLS exclusively. Our fish settled in faster than I have ever seen before. Stingrays would be on it within days (a day or two on blackworms just to get them started and to associate the bowl with food then within a couple of days they were on just the pellets). I also watched mandarins start taking it within days of being in the shop.
I had a service client whose Moorish idol started taking it and actually gained weight and started looking great.
Personally I have had pond goldfish and fancy goldfish breed accidentally on NLS exclusively. I have most recently bred bristlenose plecoes on it without trying.
I have even raised many fish fry on NLS once they are large enough to be off the Golden Pearls. This includes cichlids, livebearers, and goldfish.
The only issue I have ever had with NLS is with fancy goldfish, however I am not sure it had anything to do with the food. Some of my fancy goldfish would thrive for 6 months to a year and eventually start having swim bladder problems (not digestive system buoyancy problems, it was their swim bladder). Because of this I am trying a mix of the best stuff on the market for them. This mix includes New Era Algae Pellets, New Era Goldfish Pellets, Saki-Hikari Fancy Goldfish Pellets, Dainichi Fancy Goldfish, NLS Thera+A 3mm, and NLS Nutri/Gel. This has been good so far but I have not been doing it long enough to know whether this is the fix to whatever issues were going on. I don’t know what the problem was (there shouldn’t have been anything), but out of desperation, I have decided to try a different diet.
What I have seen over the years personally and at the store has proven to me that, at least for now, NLS is by far the hands-down best fish food on the market. It is unbelievable what results this food can produce and I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it do what it does with all these different types of fish. Being in retail and service has let me see many different setups and species on NLS. I have watched tanks of mbunas and other species with sensitive digestive systems thrive on the food for years without a single occurrence of any problems. I have seen wild-caught fish take to it in days. In my experience, I would say it is negligent to be in this hobby and not try feeding NLS exclusively for a few months. Out of all the customers and clients I had try it, not one has ever come back and said it didn’t improve things. Most saw better colors, a cleaner tank, better health, and even breeding.
If you haven’t tried it, don’t wait any longer. Try it. Go to your local fish store and buy a container of it. If they don’t have it ask if they can get you in a container if you pay in advance. If they can’t or won’t go to Amazon, go to YourFishStuff.com, just go somewhere and get it, your fish deserve it.