What do goldfish eat? Feeding your goldfish the right kind of food – and the right amount of food – is a key part of good goldfish care. Eating the wrong type, or wrong amount, of food can be very bad for your fish.
In this article, 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!
Is goldfish food 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 do goldfish eat in the wild?
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.
The above foods make a great change to flakes and pellets. You can read about other treats for your goldfish here!
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!
How long can goldfish live without food?
You could buy an automated fish feeder that will release set amounts of food at regular intervals. However, this is risky, as the feeder could malfunction and release too much food!
Another option would be a feeding block – a block of food that sits in the water for your fish to nibble on – but these have their problems too. Feeding blocks can make your water cloudy and throw off your water parameters.
The important thing to realise is that goldfish can live a surprisingly long time without food! If you’re going on holiday for two weeks or less then it’s probably best to just leave your goldfish without food. Trust us, they’ll be fine!
For longer holidays, ask a friend or neighbour to come in and feed your goldfish once or twice, but remember to teach them how to do it properly! Your friend may not know much about feeding goldfish so you should tell them how much to feed them, when to feed them and you should dish out appropriate amounts of food for them in advance.
(If you’re still worried that your fish will starve if not fed for a week or two then maybe the following article will reassure you! These two goldfish lived for four and a half months with virtually no food!)
Where can I buy goldfish food?
Rather than buying goldfish food from the supermarket (where the food on offer tends to be lower quality), you should buy goldfish food from quality pet shops or buy food online from well-known brands such as Tetra or Hikari.
Fish-keeper’s food cupboard
To give your fish a varied diet, we recommend keeping a range of food in stock at all times. The following would form a great basis for a fish-keeper’s food cupboard: