What do goldfish eat? Finding out what goldfish eat and feeding the right types of goldfish food is a key part of proper goldfish care. Eating the wrong type, or wrong amount, of food can be very bad for your fish.
Unfortunately, feeding goldfish incorrectly is one of the most common mistakes new goldfish keepers make.
Here, we look at the types of food goldfish eat. Including goldfish food available from your local pet shop, some alternative types of food that you may want to add to your fish’s diet, and – most importantly – we tell you how to avoid harming your goldfish through overfeeding!
What is “goldfish food”? Is it different to other fish food?
Goldfish food contains less protein and more carbohydrates than other fish food (such as tropical fish food). Manufacturers of goldfish food have produced food with the specific dietary requirements of goldfish in mind, so you shouldn’t just pick up a tub of generic “fish food”. Your goldfish need to eat proper goldfish food that meets their specific needs.
The goldfish food you buy will be in the form of flakes (which float) or pellets (which usually sink – though floating pellets are also available). There are a few factors to consider when deciding whether to feed your goldfish flakes, pellets or a mixture of both:
- Is your fish big enough to eat pellets? Some pellets can be too big to fit in the mouths of young fish.
- Sinking pellets may be more difficult to find and remove. This means that uneaten pellets will rot and pollute your water.
- Goldfish may swallow air when eating flakes or floating pellets off the surface of the water, which can cause digestion problems.
- Flakes can lose some of their nutritional value after the tub is opened and the flakes are exposed to air. Pellets retain their nutritional value better than flakes do.
What else do goldfish eat?
In the wild, goldfish eat crustaceans, plants, insects and will sometimes even eat smaller fish. While you obviously can’t match their natural diet exactly, you should try to feed your goldfish food that is similar to what they would eat in the wild.
As well as flakes and pellets designed specifically for them, goldfish will eat peas (with the shells removed), boiled vegetables, bloodworms and brine shrimp. These make a great change to flakes and pellets and are real treats for your goldfish!
If you choose to feed live food – rather than freeze dried – then there is a slight risk of transferring disease to your goldfish. To avoid this, frozen and freeze-dried foods are available. They’re not quite as good as live food, but they do offer many of the same benefits without the same risk of disease.
How much should goldfish eat?
Overfeeding can be very bad for your goldfish. Goldfish don’t have stomachs, so they never get “full up” like humans do. This means that goldfish will eat and eat for as long as there is food available! Adding too much food can cause your goldfish to eat too much, which leads to blocked intestines and swim bladder problems. A long trail of poop behind your goldfish is a sign that your fish has over-eaten!
You should feed your goldfish two or three times per day, but only in very small amounts at a time. Slowly add tiny pinches of food to your tank, for about one minute, never adding more than your goldfish can eat in this time. If you leave food in your tank after feeding then it will get stuck in your filter and rot, which will pollute your water. You should therefore remove any uneaten food after the feeding session. It’s often a good idea to feed just before doing a water change, as you can then remove any uneaten food when changing the tank water.
If you keep your water at a low temperature then your goldfish should eat even less than this. Your goldfish’s metabolism slows down at lower temperatures, which means they need less food than when kept in warmer water.
The main thing to remember when deciding how much to feed a goldfish is this: it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll ever seriously harm a goldfish by feeding it too little. But you could very easily feed it too much!
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