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Home > Goldfish > What to Feed Your Goldfish When You’re Out of Fish Food: 15 Ideas

What to Feed Your Goldfish When You’re Out of Fish Food: 15 Ideas

Goldfish waiting for food

Watching your goldfish swim around the tank can ease tension and make you forget about the stress in your life, but your peace can abruptly end when you realize you’re out of fish food. Although your pets can last close to 2 weeks without food, starving your fish risks their health. Unless your refrigerator and cupboard are empty, you can feed your pet with human cuisine until you can visit the pet store.

Here are some things your goldfish can eat when you’ve run out of fish food.


Top 15 Things Your Goldfish Can Eat When You’ve Run Out of Fish Food

1. Shrimp

Like their ancestor, the crucian carp, goldfish are omnivorous creatures that rely on meat and plants to survive. You can serve live brine shrimp or frozen ones, but remember to thaw the shrimp to make it easier to eat and digest. If you use larger species like tiger or white shrimp, remove the shell and legs and dice the meat into tiny pieces. You can also use freeze-dried products, but they’re easier for fish to digest when you hydrate them before serving.

2. Gel Food

If you’re willing to get creative with your fish cuisine, you can make homemade gel food for your goldfish. Gel tablets and powders are available online and at pet stores, but you can save money by using vegetables and seafood from your kitchen. The commercial instant powders only take a few minutes to make, but most DIY recipes should only take an hour or less. Some popular recipes use brine shrimp, spinach, sweet potato, garlic seasoning, and gelatin. After steaming and blending the vegetables and shrimp, you add the seasoning and mix the material with gelatin. After the gel has set, you can cut it into servable pieces.

3. Insects

mosquito close up
Image Credit: Piqsels

Ants, mosquitos, flies, and mosquito larvae are healthy snacks that your goldfish will love. However, you should avoid serving insects from your yard to your fish. Store-bought insects are more sanitary for your tank and fish, and they are not likely to have pollutants, insecticides, or fertilizer from your yard on their bodies. Also, avoid serving giant grasshoppers or other bugs too massive for the fish to eat. In outdoor ponds and their natural environment, goldfish enjoy munching on mosquito larvae.

4. Worms

Image By: Joshua A Houck, Shutterstock

Keeping a colony of pet-store worms in your home can serve as a nutritious food snack when your fish food runs out. Worms provide a healthy dose of protein and fat, and they’re inexpensive to purchase from pet stores. Avoid using wild worms from your yard to prevent tank contamination. Worms that make excellent meals include:

  • Tubifex worms
  • Earthworms
  • Bloodworms
  • Mealworms
  • Waxworms

When using larger worms, you can dice them up to make them easier for your fish to eat.

5. Oranges

Oranges are loaded with vitamin C and can give your pet an immune system boost. After removing the skin of the orange, try to remove most of the stringy pieces that still cling to the meat. They’re not harmful to the fish, but they make cleaning the tank more difficult. Dice the orange slices into small pieces, and feed a small handful to the fish. The acidity of the orange will disrupt the water’s chemistry, and you have to clean the tank more often when you serve citrus fruit.

6. Strawberries

Image Credit: Piqsels

You can serve your goldfish fresh or frozen strawberries, but thaw the frozen ones and avoid brands that add additional sugar to the berries. Goldfish thrive on foods that are higher in carbohydrates than protein, and if you examine the nutritional profile of strawberries, you’ll see that they make a nutritious snack. They have seven times more carbohydrates than protein, and they’re a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Serving freeze-dried strawberries is another option, but they need to be hydrated before serving.

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7. Raspberries

Like strawberries, raspberries have a high carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, and they’re inexpensive when they’re in season at farmer’s markets. Although they’re vitamin-rich and sure to please your pet, you should only serve small portions to your goldfish. After dicing the berries and adding them to the tank, the water can become murky quickly. Raspberries are a healthy source of vitamin K and vitamin C, and they’re high in fiber and potassium.

8. Zucchini

Image By: congerdesign, Pixabay

Zucchini provides soluble fiber, carbohydrates, and vitamins to your goldfish, but serving the vegetable raw can be difficult for the fish to digest. Remove the zucchini’s skin with a peeler or knife, then steam or boil it for a few minutes. Rampicante and cocozelle zucchini are milder than other varieties and may be more suitable for your pet. If you use fresh zucchini, wash it thoroughly to remove any traces of contaminants.

9. Cucumber

Cucumbers are fat-free vegetables that contain vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, fiber, and twice the level of carbohydrates as protein. Peeling the skin off will make it easier to consume, and de-seeding the cucumber will make cleaning your tank much easier. Garden cucumbers are easier to peel than pickling varieties, and you can save time in your prep work by purchasing a seedless cucumber. Compared to the other fruits and vegetables on our list, cucumbers are one of the most affordable options.

10. Peas

green peas
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

Goldfish owners often supplement fish food with delicious peas. Peas are an excellent source of fiber that can help your goldfish by removing waste and easing digestion. Since they sink to the bottom of the tank, they’re ideal for goldfish. If you use frozen peas, run warm water over them while holding them in your hand to thaw them. Use your fingernail to pierce the skin and pop out the core. Goldfish can consume them easier without the tough skin.

11. Sweet Potato

The sweet potato is an inexpensive vegetable with a higher carbohydrate content than any of the items on our list. Like other superfoods, sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. One sweet potato contains 26 grams of carbohydrates, 3.9 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein. The Covington sweet potato is the most common variety in grocery stores, but you can feed any type to your fish. After washing and skinning the potato, chop it into small pieces. You can bake, steam, or microwave the flesh to make it easier to digest.

12. Leafy Greens

Image Credit: ThiloBecker, Pixabay

Leafy greens like spinach, romaine, and kale can be steamed, chopped, and served to your goldfish. Darker greens such as baby spinach are typically more nutritious than lighter greens and provide more carbohydrates. Some of the nutritional benefits of feeding spinach, when using a 1 cup portion, to your fish include:

  • 24 milligrams of magnesium
  • 167 milligrams of potassium
  • 86 grams of protein
  • 145 micrograms of vitamin K
  • 09 grams of carbohydrates

Baby spinach has smaller stems that you can chop up, but you’ll have to remove the thick, fibrous stem from savoy varieties.

13. Egg

Although it’s not as suitable for a goldfish as the fruits and vegetables, a hard-boiled egg is a decent substitute for fish food. Fish breeders sometimes feed eggs to young fish to support their growth, but adult fish need meals that are lower in protein than eggs. The most significant disadvantage to using an egg is how it muddies the water in the tank. If you serve eggs more than a few times a week, you’ll need to clean the tank more often.

14. Grapes

green grapes in a bowl
Image Credit: Piqsels

Grapes are healthy substitutes for fish food, and you can supplement your goldfish’s regular diet by adding grapes once or twice a week. One cup of red grapes contains 27.33 grams of carbohydrates, 1.4 grams of fiber, 288 milligrams of potassium, and 1.09 grams of protein. Of course, you will only need one or two grapes to feed a single adult, and you should remove the skin and dice the fruit into small pieces before serving.

15. Aquatic Plants

Goldfish are notorious for gobbling up aquatic plants, but you can use larger plants to prevent your fish from killing them. If you temporarily run out of food, your pet can rely on the aquatic leaves for sustenance. The most palatable plants include azolla, salvinia, duckweed, and anacharis. If you’re interested in using plants to decorate the tank that most goldfish will avoid eating, you can use anubias or java fern.

Tips for Caring for Goldfish While on Vacation

It’s unfortunate that you cannot take your goldfish on vacation, but unless you secure a tank on a trailer with superior shock absorption, your pets will have to stay at home. Hiring a fish sitter or asking a friend to care for the fish are the best methods to ensure your fish do not suffer in your absence.

When you’re away, a power surge or thunderstorm could shut off the filter, lights, and aerators. Your trusted pet sitter can move the tank to another home or call someone to restore the power. They can also check the water chemistry and temperature, clean the tank, and ensure the filter functions correctly.

If you cannot get someone to care for the fish, you can install an automatic feeder. Most models are battery-powered and unaffected by power outages. Your goldfish can tolerate a dirty tank for a few days, but since they produce copious waste, the aquarium will need thorough cleaning when you return.

Another option for feeding is using time-release food blocks that slowly dissolve and release fish food. You can purchase 2-day or 2-week blocks, but longer trips will result in dirtier aquariums when a helper cannot maintain the tank.



Fish food, leafy treats, and aquatic plants provide a healthy diet for your goldfish, but you can substitute snacks from your kitchen when your commercial food runs out. We examined food that’s safe for your pet to eat, but the items should not be permanent replacements for your goldfish’s everyday diet. Goldfish are resilient, but they’ll be happier and healthier with fish food formulated for them.

Featured Image Credit: Kravchuk Olga, Shutterstock

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