Food nourishes your body, helps build energy, aids in building defenses against disease, promotes growth, and lets you enjoy life.
The same is true of your goldfish and the food it eats.
Because food is so important to your goldfish’s growth and health, many new owners ask, “what do goldfish eat?”
The following is a practical guide to keeping your goldfish’s diet healthy while giving your fish food it will enjoy.
What Do Goldfish Eat?
Goldfish are part of the Cyprinidae family, which means they are related to the carp family.
Originally from East Asia, goldfish have been largely “domesticated.”
By nature, goldfish are omnivores, which means they eat just about anything.
Goldfish ponds provided all sorts of food, including:
- Small insects
- Small fish
- Fish eggs
- Insect larvae
- Dead animals
In addition, goldfish will eat human food, so you must be careful what you throw into their tank or pond as some human foods can harm them and even shorten their lives.
Types of Goldfish Food
There are several different types of goldfish food.
- Flakes: Flakes are processed fish food compressed, dried, and then crumbled. They often come in containers you can shake over the water where the goldfish lives.
- Pellets: Pellets are compressed, dried, and processed to formulate a standalone fish food product.
- Homemade: Homemade food can include fish flakes, buying a fish pellet machine, or cooking a pasty concoction of food your goldfish will eat.
- Frozen Food (Freeze Dried): There is any number of frozen or freeze-dried fish food options. These include flakes, pellets, and chunkier food. Freeze-dried is a nice option because it eliminates the risk of disease. You can make homemade fish food and freeze dry it.
- Live Food: Using live food gives your goldfish a taste of what it is like to live in a pond. Live foods include tubifex worms, aquarium snails, daphnia, and brine shrimp. These are available at most pet stores.
Can a Goldfish Eat Human Food?
Goldfish can eat some human food.
Some human food, like crackers or bread, or foods that are oily or high in fat, is unsuitable for goldfish and can lead to digestive and health issues.
What Kind of Human Food Can a Goldfish Eat?
The following human foods are safe for your goldfish to eat.
- Lettuce: Cutting lettuce to the appropriate size can help goldfish eat this salad staple.
- Kale: You must blanche or boil kale before shredding it into pieces.
- Spinach: Feed your goldfish fresh spinach cut to an edible size.
- Carrots: Peel carrots before cutting them down to goldfish bite size. Boil them to make them softer to eat and kill bacteria or germs.
- Peas: Soak fresh or frozen peas in water for a minute or microwave them to soften them. Remove the skin and cut the peas to size to avoid choking.
What Is the Best Type of Food for Goldfish?
No “best” food for goldfish exists like there is no best food for humans.
Goldfish prefer some foods over others.
Really, whatever helps your goldfish be healthy while enjoying their food is the best food they can eat.
If the best type of food for a goldfish were chosen, brine shrimp would be in the discussion.
After that, a homemade concoction of foods goldfish like would be up there.
Any freeze-dried foods would work because of the lack of disease.
There are many contenders for the best goldfish food.
Even kale and spinach qualify because they have so many vitamins.
As importantly, however, are the foods humans should never give their goldfish, like bread, crackers, and fatty foods.
How to Feed a Goldfish
Feeding goldfish is remarkably easy.
Identify what you want to feed your goldfish.
Sprinkle food for your fish or fishes across the top of their living area (pond, aquarium, etc.).
When the fish have fed, it is best to remove whatever food you can to avoid it from disintegrating and polluting the water.
Removing uneaten food also prevents your goldfish from overeating.
Determining How Much Food
If you have a lot of goldfish, this technique will not work unless you have a lot of time on your hands.
There are two easy ways to determine how much food to give your goldfish:
- An amount of food that is equal to the size of their eye
- An amount of food that your goldfish will consume in under two minutes
Either of these solutions will ensure your goldfish is well fed but not overfed.
How Often Do You Feed a Goldfish?
You should feed your goldfish 2 to 3 times a day.
Your feeding time should be regular, if possible, to prevent stressing your fish.
How Long Can a Goldfish Go Without Eating?
Goldfish can survive a long time without being fed.
The length of period a goldfish can go without food is partly determined by where the goldfish lives.
In an outdoor pond, the fish can find food naturally in their living environment.
Goldfish can also do this in an aquarium, but less so because the environment is controlled.
In a pinch, a goldfish can live healthily for up to 14 days without food.
Can You Overfeed a Goldfish?
Yes. If you exceed the recommended amount of food, your goldfish will overeat.
That can lead to the fish developing digestive issues and producing too much ammonia, which can pollute their water.
Help, My Goldfish Isn’t Eating
Goldfish are always up for a meal, so when they do not eat, it usually means there is a problem with the fish physically, or the water in your tank has issues.
Swimming Bladder Issues
One cause for a goldfish not eating is a swimming bladder infection.
The swimming bladder helps the fish balance upright and regulate their depth.
It sits near the fish’s digestive tube.
When it becomes infected, it can swell, compressing the feeding tube.
If a fish is overfed, fat can develop around it and have the same effect.
One indication of a swimming bladder issue is if the fish swim sideways because their equilibrium is thrown off.
The second main reason for a goldfish not eating is their tank’s water needs help.
If it fluctuates in temperature, the fish’s metabolism might slow down, or it might not be comfortable.
Goldfish like the water to be about 74 degrees.
If the water has a nitrate level that is too high, it will stop eating.
Nitrate is a bi-product of goldfish waste, which builds up fast because goldfish process more food than most fish.
What To Do If A Goldfish Isn’t Eating
If the issue is that the fish seems off balance, it is likely their swimming bladder.
Withhold food for two days to help clean the fish out.
If it still is not balanced, give it a high fiber diet, like peas, which are high in vitamins and fiber.
If the tank is a mess, you must clean it thoroughly and replace the water.
Be careful not to stress the fish when transplanting it to a temporary container.
Always test your water to ensure the proper pH balance.
Unbalanced water can cause a lot of discomfort to the fish.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following are questions goldfish owners often ask.
Can I feed my bugs?
Yes. Live bugs work best.
Can my goldfish eat popcorn?
Yes, as an occasional snack. Goldfish love popcorn, but make sure it is not the fish’s only food source.
Will a goldfish eat another goldfish?
Yes, if they are hungry enough. If one of your goldfish dies, remove it from the tank as soon as you can.
Goldfish make great pets that can entertain you for hours on end.
Feeding them properly is vital to their health.
If you follow the advice in this article, you will ensure that your goldfish eats well and gets the vitamins and nutrients it needs without overdoing it and causing your fish health issues.