What Do Goldfish Eat?

Feeding Your Goldfish: Everything You Need to Know!

The two cornerstones to raising happy and healthy goldfish are maintaining good water quality and feeding them a varied healthy diet.

For beginner goldfish owners, several questions and concerns come up when it comes to their diet.

  • How do they digest their food?

  • WHAT do I FEED my GOLDFISH?

  • HOW OFTEN do I FEED goldfish?

  • What if I am on vacation?

  • What things do I avoid feeding them?


We got’cha covered! Here’s EVERYTHING you need TO KNOW when it comes to FEEDING your goldfish!


Let’s start with understanding how their digestive system works.

Goldfish have unique digestive systems that are unlike humans.

Upon taking food into their mouth, they use pharyngeal teeth located in the back of their throat to chew.

These teeth are hard platelets that grind the food as it passes into their intestines.

Once in the intestinal tract, the nutrients are extracted and absorbed into the body.

Fish break down the food quickly in the intestine and store the nutrients long-term. 

What goes in the mouth passes through the other end just as quickly!

Goldfish are constantly foraging because of this.



What do goldfish eat?

GOLDFISH ARE...

  • Herbivores (eats plant matter)
  • Carnivores (eats meat/protein)
  • Omnivores (eats plant matter and meat/protein)

The diet of a goldfish should mimic the food they would consume in their natural wild habitat.

Wild goldfish swim the waters of rivers, tidal basins, estuaries, lakes, ponds, and other bodies of freshwater.

Here they consume things such as algae, plants, brine, insects, plankton, smaller fish, and fish eggs.

Wild goldfish naturally forage for food at the middle or bottom of the water as opposed to the surface. Foraging is very gratifying for fish in general.


Did you know that Fancy Goldfish can’t eat the same foods that a Single-Tail / Common Goldfish do? 

The body shape of fancy goldfish dictates what they can and can’t eat.


COMMON goldfish and FANCY goldfish should be FED SEPARATE DIETS.

Because of their different body shapes, each requires different foods.

When it comes to the two different body shapes in goldfish, there isn’t a “one diet fits all.”

goldfish food pyramid

FANCY GOLDFISH Diet: What to Feed, How Often, And Amount

  • Fancy goldfish have egg-shaped bodies, and because of this, they require a more specialized diet. Their internal organs are crowded, making them more susceptible to digestive problems as well as swim bladder disorders.
  • Fancy goldfish should feed in the middle to the bottom of the tank, never at the top.

Fast-sinking pellets

Soak pellets in tank water to moisten before feeding to fish.

Dry pellets may swell in the fish, causing blockage or swim bladder problems.

Live/Frozen Protein

Live

  • Bloodworms
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Daphnia
  • Earthworms

Frozen/Freeze Dried

  • Lobster
  • Mussels
  • Crab
  • Bloodworms
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Daphnia

If frozen, defrost before giving to your fancy goldfish.

Chop up into fine bits to make it easier for your fish to eat.

Veggies, Fruits

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach (limp)
  • Peas (shelled)
  • Cucumber
  • Oranges
  • Apple
  • Seaweed

Chop into tiny bites before feeding.

Algae Wafers

  • Sinking Wafers

Be sure to give fancy goldfish wafers that sink to the bottom.  

Gel Food

Easy to feed and contains plenty of moisture to ensure easier digestion. 

Live Plants

  • Duckweed
  • Anacharis
  • Azolla
  • Salvinia

Use caution in using live plants that may tear or catch on the delicate fins/tails of fish. 

DO NOT FEED to a fancy goldfish

  • Anything containing animal fat
  • Bread
  • Cooked Lettuce
  • Uncooked Peas
  • Flake Food

Fancy goldfish undoubtedly should not be given flake food because of being so prone to swim bladder issues.

Gulping air at the surface of the water when trying to eat flake food puts them at high risk of swim bladder disorder.

These fish are also slow swimmers and cannot compete with other fish to get to the flakes quickly.

Pellets at the bottom of the tank are easier to get to for fancy goldfish.

HOW OFTEN and HOW MUCH do I FEED a fancy goldfish?

Normal Conditions

  • 1-2 times per day
  • Same time each day
  • Small pinch of food

Spawning Goldfish

  • 2-3 times per day
  • Same time each day
  • Small pinch of food

Young Goldfish

  • 2-3 times per day
  • Same time each day
  • Small pinch of food

Great care should be given not to overfeed them.

Pellet food that sinks to the bottom of the tank is highly recommended for them.

If fed flake food, the flakes float on the surface, causing the fish to gulp air in as they eat.

Gulping air can cause swim bladder and buoyancy problems in fancy goldfish.

Goldfish are intelligent enough to beg for food.

As you walk by their tank, it may be difficult to resist giving them a small snack to be nice.

However, those ‘small snacks’ add up, and before you know it, you have a bloated, unhappy fish as well as poor water quality.

This makes your fish prone to stress and disease.


Eating the same thing over and over leads to boredom and lack of interest.

Goldfish need variety and spicing things up with some veggies and fruit keep them happy.


SINGLE-TAIL/COMMON GOLDFISH Diet: What to Feed, How Often, Amount

Ideally, you should replicate their natural diet.

Most goldfish are only fed a steady diet of pellets and/or flake food which is not healthy or balanced.

It also denies them variety and being able to fully enjoy eating. Supplementing with fun foods makes them happy and vibrant.

If you notice some of your fish are competing with others to eat, try adding some pellets that sink to the bottom.

This will allow the slower eaters to have a chance to eat while the more aggressive eaters are munching away on flakes at the surface.

Things To Feed Single-Tail/Common Goldfish

Fast-sinking pellets

Soak pellets in tank water to moisten before feeding to fish.

Live/Frozen Protein

Live

Soak pellets in tank water to moisten before feeding to fish.

  • Bloodworms
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Daphnia
  • Earthworms

Frozen/Freeze Dried

  • Lobster
  • Mussels
  • Crab
  • Bloodworms
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Daphnia

If frozen, defrost before giving to your fancy goldfish.

Veggies, Fruits

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach (limp)
  • Peas (shelled)
  • Cucumber
  • Oranges
  • Apple
  • Seaweed

Chop into tiny bites before feeding.

Algae Wafers

  • Sinking Wafers

Be sure to give fancy goldfish wafers that sink to the bottom.  

Gel Food

Easy to feed and contains plenty of moisture to ensure easier digestion. 

Live Plants

  • Anubias Nana
  • Anacharis
  • Azolla
  • Salvinia
  • Dwarf Hairgrass
  • Java Fern
  • Java Moss
  • Amazon Swordgrass

Use caution in using live plants that may tear or catch on the delicate fins/tails of fish. 

DO NOT FEED to a single-tail/common goldfish

  • Anything containing animal fat
  • Bread
  • Uncooked Peas

HOW OFTEN and HOW MUCH do I FEED a single-tail/common goldfish? 

Normal Conditions

  • 1-2 times per day
  • Same time each day
  • Small pinch of food

Spawning Goldfish

  • 2-3 times per day
  • Same time each day
  • Small pinch of food

Young Goldfish

  • 2-3 times per day
  • Same time each day
  • Small pinch of food

Great care should be given not to overfeed them.

Pellet food that sinks to the bottom of the tank is highly recommended for them.

If fed flake food, the flakes float on the surface, causing the fish to gulp air in as they eat.

Gulping air can cause swim bladder and buoyancy problems in fancy goldfish.

Goldfish are intelligent enough to beg for food.

As you walk by their tank, it may be difficult to resist giving them a small snack to be nice.

However, those ‘small snacks’ add up, and before you know it, you have a bloated, unhappy fish as well as poor water quality.

This makes your fish prone to stress and disease.


If you want to REALLY dive in deeper and learn more about feeding goldfish, continue on down…

We are going to go over food quality, yummy treats, seasonal, and vacation feeding. 


FISH FOOD 101: Important things to know

Pellet vs. Flake Food 

Many aquarists argue over which is better for goldfish; pellets or flakes.

Pellets sink to the bottom whereas flakes tend to remain on the surface of the water.

Pellets are great as part of your goldfish’s diet but should be supplemented with live/frozen proteins, vegetables, fruit, and/or live plants.

Pellets

  • Great for both fancy and single-tail/common goldfish

  • Easy to measure

  • Longer shelf life

  • Prevents gulping air

  • Sinks to bottom of tank

  • Provides fish the ability to forage at the bottom of tank

  • Downside: may sit at the bottom of tank rotting leading to poor water quality

Flakes

  • Some goldfish may find flakes more preferable over pellets

  • Great for single-tail/common goldfish

  • Less likely to be at bottom of tank rotting

  • Downside:

    • Fancy goldfish should not be given flakes

    • Short shelf life

    • More expensive than pellets

Good Quality Vs. Poor Quality Food

It’s hard to know what to look for in pellet and flake food.

Not all dry food is the same. There are some pellets/flakes on the market that have fillers. These fillers offer little to no nutritional value for the fish.

Good Quality

Should Include:

  • Fish meal (salmon, shrimp, white fish)

  • Algae meal

  • Fish oil

  • Vitamins

Ingredients should specifically say what type of fish meal and oil is used. Specific vitamins should also be listed.

Poor Quality

  • Preservatives such as ethoxyquin

  • Rice

  • Sorbitol

  • MSG

  • Artificial coloring

  • Wheat/oatmeal

Ingredients are vague on what specific types of fish meal, oil, and vitamins are included/used.

6 Red Root Floater (Phyllanthus Fluitans), Live Aquarium/Aquatic/Floating/ Pond/Beginner Plant, Aquascaping,planted tank ... by G'z


Your fish will LOVE having greenery in their tank. Having live plants creates a natural environment for them.

 Not only do live plants give your goldfish something to nibble on and forage around, but they also provide places to hide.

A planted tank offers the closest thing to their natural habitat. Caution should be used if placing live plants in a tank with fancy goldfish. Delicate fins and tails can easily get caught on plants.

Plants That Are Great For Goldfish

  • Azolla

  • Salvinia

  • Anubias Nana

  • Dwarf Hairgrass

  • Java Fern

  • Java Moss

  • Amazon Swordgrass

Protein

Your goldfish will love you for making protein the main staple of their diet.

Proteins come frozen, live, or freeze-dried.

These are typically bloodworms, earthworms, insects, brine shrimp, etc. 

Never feed your fish live food that is not purchased from a pet supply.

If you give your fish something that has been acquired from lakes, ponds, digging in the dirt or a bait store, you are exposing your tank/fish to potential disease.

Veggies/Fruit 

Your goldfish must have vitamins which are found in vegetables and fruit.

Supplementing their diet with vegetables/fruit will also provide fiber that is essential for digestive health.

Ensure that everything is soft yet tiny bites that they will be able to eat without problems.

Four-Season Feeding

In a natural habitat, goldfish feed seasonally on certain things for breeding, dormancy, and availability.

You can recreate this seasonal feeding schedule within a tank.

Spring (Breeding Season)

High protein diet aids in egg production

Summer (Reprieve from breeding; less active)

Dry food diet

Fall (Preparation for dormancy)

High protein diet helps to build up resources for winter.

Winter (dormant, hibernating) 

Dry food diet

How Long Can Goldfish Survive Without Food?


Your fish will be able to survive 8 days to 2 weeks without food.  

As a humane and responsible fish owner, never allow your fish to go without being fed more than a day or two.


Vacation Feeding

It’s advisable to have a responsible and reliable person to care for your fish when you are away.

Having someone there not only ensures your fish are cared for but that the tank equipment is functioning and working properly.

There is nothing worse than arriving back home to find your tank water cloudy and the ammonia levels have spiked.

We suggest that you refrain from placing cubes/blocks of condense fish food in your tank as this will cause poor water quality resulting in a spike in ammonia levels.

Using an Automatic Fish Feeder

EHEIM Everyday Fish Feeder Programmable Automatic Food Dispenser

In the event you are unable to have someone to care for your fish, we HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you use an automatic fish feeder for your tank.


This puts your mind at ease while you are away making sure your goldfish are fed.

  • EASY setup
  • PROGRAMMABLE to release food up to 4X a day
  • ADDITIONAL snacks/feedings with one touch of a button
  • SPLASH RESISTANT
  • KEEPS FOOD DRY with built-in fan system
  • BATTERY operated; includes batteries
  • UNIVERSAL TANK CLAMP included
  • FOR USE with FRESHWATER and SALTWATER tanks
  • Holds enough FOOD for 6 WEEKS of feedings
  • AMOUNT to feed each time can be controlled
  • Ideal for EVERYDAY USE
  • SIZE OPTIONS: Single, 2-pack, 5-pack, 10-pack

Eheim is a leading German producer of tank supplies. For the past 45 years, Eheim has blanketed the pet supply industry globally with their quality products. 

What We Like

  • Programmable to feed up to 4x a day.
  • Holds 6 weeks worth of food.
  • Ratings and reviews are great.
  • Can be used for both freshwater and saltwater tanks.
  • Includes batteries and tank clamp.
  • Ideal for any size tank.
  • 3-year warranty.

What We Don't Like

  • Cannot be programmed for every other day feeding. It is designed for daily feeding only.
  • The amount of food dispensed is inconsistent.
  • The fan only operates when the food is being dispensed.
  • This feeder will not fit onto odd-shaped tanks that are round/bubble-shaped.
Why we like the Eheim Automatic Fish Feeder

This product is rated as the best-selling automatic fish feeder. Consumer reviews are near perfect! 

Whether you are on vacation or home, you can use this automatic feeder for everyday use.

It will hold up to six weeks worth of food and is programmable to feed up to four times a day.

The integrated fan keeps the food dry, which is a BIG PLUS! You can use this feeder in both fresh and saltwater tanks.

If you have a tank that is large with a heavy population of fish, you can purchase additional feeders to simultaneously feed.

Questions and Answers About The Eheim Automatic Fish Feeder

Q. What kind of food works with this feeder?

A. You must use small-medium size pellets. Some people find that using flakes and other types of food causes clogging

Q. Will this fit a BioOrb tank?

A. No, it will not because the clamp is designed to be clamped onto a flat surface.

Q. If I have a 155-gallon tank and will be on vacation for 2 months, will this feeder be sufficient?

A. This feeder works on all sizes of tanks.

Because you have a large tank coupled with the fact that you are gone that long, we recommend you purchase a twin-pack of feeders and program them, so one takes over feeding after the other is done. 

One feeder holds enough food for 6 weeks.

For a two month vacation, you will need additional food dispensed, thus an additional feeder.

Q. Can this feeder be used with a goldfish pond?

A. No, it is designed for tank use only.

Sale
EHEIM Everyday Fish Feeder Programmable Automatic0;Food Dispenser
  • Great for everyday use whether you are home or away
  • Set it and let if feed your fish everyday
  • Convienient worry-free feeding for healthy fish
  • Easy to set up and use and includes easy start guide
  • Integrated fan and ventilation system keeps the food dry

Last update on 2021-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Don’t let those big eyes peering through the glass tug at your heart to feed them more.

Goldfish can be pretty sly at begging!


Feeding with a “Dash” of Confidence

Are you scratching your head amazed at the amount of information you need to know to feed your little goldfish? 

Have no fear because you will find it easier to do the more you do it.

The beauty of the vast amount of information we have given you is that you can be creative in what to feed your fish!

Not only will you keep them from becoming bored with their food, you are also providing them with a ton of nutrients.

The Last “Bite”

Getting creative with your goldfish’s diet is fun and rewarding as you see your little scaly friend eat happily in its tank.

  • The MOST IMPORTANT THING to remember is NO OVERFEEDING
  • Keep the diets of FANCY goldfish and single-tail/COMMON goldfish SEPARATE.
  • Feed your fish at the SAME TIME daily.
  • Buy good quality pellets/flakes and always read the label before buying.
  • Remove uneaten food from the tank after feedings.

Pellets/Flakes

Recommended Goldfish Pellet Food:

1. Omega One Goldfish Pellet

2. Hikari Oranda Gold Floating Pellets

3. API Fish Food Pellets

Above links will allow you to check prices and reviews on Amazon

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