Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More

What Do Goldfish Eat? Different Types of Foods to Offer

Sarah Psaradelis

Goldfish are omnivores and should have a diet that consists of both plant and meat-based materials. On the other hand, the digestive system of goldfish is very delicate, and their staple meal plan should be planned carefully. Variety is essential if you want to keep your goldfish healthy.

Many goldfish keepers will think that flakes will be fine as a long-term diet and that it will provide all that their goldfish needs nutritionally. Unfortunately, this is where digestion and nutrient issues take place, and your goldfish will not be able to grow and remain healthy if their diet is limited to one type of food.

There are many types of commercial goldfish foods on the market, and it may be confusing to decide which foods worth feeding to goldfish. This article will help you decide on the best ingredients, food types, and supplements that will narrow down the option of the many goldfish foods displayed on pet store shelves.

divider-fish

What Do Goldfish Eat?

In the wild, goldfish will consume algae, aquatic plants, worms, insects and their larvae, and any dead fish they come across. This makes their natural diet rich in nutrients and minerals that need to be replicated in captivity. Goldfish are famously known for eating nearly any foods they are offered and getting a goldfish to eat is usually not an issue for many keepers.

In captivity, goldfish should be fed a mixture of different foods. This will not only replicate their natural diet but also keep them healthy and free of illness. Pet stores sell a variety of pre-made goldfish food that will save you from the hassle of searching for different foods on the shelves formulated for other fish. The only downside is that one type of food alone will not be enough to sustain goldfish.

goldfish eating
Image Credit: oatpost, Shutterstock

Unbeknown to most, goldfish should also be fed fresh veggies and algae to aid in digestion. These types of foods can easily be prepared to give your goldfish a fibrous meal.

The main types of food offered in many pet stores are flakes, pellets, gel food powders, freeze-dried foods, or cultivated live foods. All these foods should be mixed to create variety and the ingredient label will be helpful to determine which brands are good for your goldfish.

  1. Dry foods: One of the most popular and widely distributed goldfish foods available. This will include flakes and pellets. These foods should be a staple in a goldfish’s diet as it contains the most vitamins and minerals.
  2. Freeze-dried foods: This can include foods like tubifex or blood worms. These make great snacks that can be fed a few times a week.
  3. Live foods: The most common live foods for goldfish are insect larvae, crustaceans, brine shrimp, and worms. These are rich in protein and are great foods to feed spawning goldfish.
  4. Frozen foods- These foods will include worms, shrimp, and crustaceans. The food has to be thawed out the night before and should not be given to your goldfish when they are still frozen.

How Much Should Goldfish Eat?

A goldfish’s stomach is approximately the size of both their eyes combined, this should give you context into how much a goldfish should consume. The larger the goldfish, the more food it should be fed, but not all at once. Goldfish struggle with digestion problems because of inadequate diet and portions, you ideally want to split their feeding schedule with small portions of food throughout the day instead of one big meal a day. You want to ensure food is not being wasted and left to float to the bottom of the tank. This will cause the water to foul quicker. Generally, you want to feed as much as your goldfish can eat in one minute without any wastage.

The more goldfish you own, the more food should be placed in the tank. Scattering the food across the waterline will ensure each goldfish has space to eat and get their portion of food for the day.

This gives your goldfish time to digest their food in between meals and will ultimately help to stop common digestive issues. It is important to note that goldfish should not be under or overfed as both can have adverse negative effects on their overall health.

pearl crown goldfish
Image Credit: Juan Carlos Palau Díaz, Pixabay

Fact vs Fiction

A common misconception is that goldfish should fast at least once a week, but this is simply an untrue and dangerous misleading belief amongst the goldfish community. Goldfish should always have access to daily meals and fasting goldfish only does more damage than good.

divider-fish

Important Ingredients in Commercial Goldfish Food

The ingredients list on the back of the goldfish food container will give you a good indication of what is quality, and what foods are only full of fillers. This will greatly help you narrow down the foods displayed on the shelf. Most cheap goldfish food brands will use poor ingredients to fill up the weight value, and these brands should be avoided.

The most common filler ingredients in fish food are:

  • Wheat flour
  • Soybean Meal
  • Potato protein
  • Sorbitol
  • Flaked corn

Fillers should be last on the ingredients list as this indicated that the food contains a low number of fillers. If these ingredients are on the top of the list, it means the food is filler-based and should be avoided. Fillers offer little nutritional value and are low-quality starches to bulk up the food.

goldfish in the tank
Image Credit: Skumer, Shutterstock

Some important vitamins that should be included on the label include:

  • Riboflavin
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E
  • Niacin
  • Biotin

Basic proteins should fall into the middle of the label and include foods like:

  • Fish meal
  • Spirulina
  • Shrimp meal
  • Squid meal
  • Earthworms

Most commercial mixes will not have all the nutrients a goldfish requires, which means that you will have to purchase a few different brands to ensure that your goldfish is getting everything it needs.

Supplements and Vitamins for Goldfish

Vitamins are rarely necessary inclusions in a goldfish’s diet. Your goldfish should be getting all its vitamins and minerals from its main diet. An excess of vitamins will not be of any use and will go to waste in a goldfish’s digestive tract. There are liquid vitamins available on the market, but these are usually have no place in a healthy goldfish’s diet.

Supplements should be treated as snacks and come in the form of live or freeze-dried foods. Bloodworms are a popular protein supplement for goldfish and contain valuable nutrients to help goldfish grow and develop. Protein supplements are recommended for sick or healing goldfish.

Garlic and vitamin C water supplements help to protect goldfish from minor parasites and infections. These supplements can be added to the water and replenished after a water change. These supplements promote slime coat development which further prevents unwanted bacteria or parasites from attaching themselves to goldfish. Another benefit is that both garlic and vitamin C present in the water and food helps to boost the immune system. You can soak food overnight in garlic juice and feed once a week to boost your goldfish’s appetite and deter parasites.

two goldfish veiltail
Image Credit: Hans, Pixabay

Dealing With Bloat and Constipation in Goldfish

Goldfish can have a variety of digestion issues if their diet is high in protein and low on plant matter and algae. Fiber is a necessary aid in digestion for goldfish and helps to combat bloat and constipation which is associated with poor digestion.

Goldfish are not carnivores and generally need a balance between meat and plant matter in their diet. Bloat and constipation can be combatted by feeding your goldfish foods that do not overpower each other. Feed your goldfish algae-based foods and choose commercial food brands that have high plant matter on the ingredients list.

Deshelled peas work as a fibrous supplement that can help your goldfish pass a solid waste and clear up the digestive tract of any food that is hard to digest. Boiled romaine lettuce and spinach have the same effect.

Fasting fish is not effective in treating bloat or constipation, nor does it prevent these issues from occurring. Fasting fish will shrink their stomach back to its original size because it is empty. As soon as you begin to feed the fish again, the stomach will expand to accommodate the meal and can put pressure on the swim bladder organs. Bloat in goldfish is an underlying issue commonly caused by food deprivation.

Is Algae a Large Portion of a Goldfish’s Diet?

Yes, algae should not be ignored in a goldfish’s diet and has many benefits. Regularly feeding your goldfish algae will promote normal digestion. You can feed algae through sinking algae pellets, algae-based pellets, and flakes. Some tanks will naturally grow patches of green algae which can be kept for your goldfish to nibble at throughout the day. Most algae foods will be labeled for other species of fish like bottom feeders, but the formulation is safe for goldfish.

Hikari sinking algae pellets have all the algae-rich benefits a goldfish needs, but it should not be fed daily.

divider-fish

Quality Commercial Goldfish Foods to Feed

These are some of the best foods to feed to goldfish and are loved by many goldfish experts for their food nutritional value.

Ideally, you should feed more than two brands of food to your goldfish. Each food contains different nutritional values and mixing them can fulfill your goldfish’s dietary needs.

feeding goldfish_New Africa_Shutterstock
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Plants over Protein

Live plants can also make ideal plant-based snacks for goldfish. Goldfish will easily consume a favorable aquatic plant in their tank. It is best to purchase large plants so that your goldfish do not eat the whole plant in one go. Large plants will also be allowed to regrow the eaten parts.

These plants are heartedly eaten by both fancy and single-tailed goldfish:

  • Duckweed
  • Waterweeds
  • Coontail
  • Water sprite
  • Java moss
  • Wisteria
  • Anubias

Fancy and Single-tailed Goldfish Dietary Differences

Single-tailed goldfish can have more protein in their diet because bloat is uncommon for them. Although both types of goldfish can be fed the same foods, fancy goldfish should have a diet that is more limited in protein supplements. Fancy goldfish should be fed significantly less than the single-tailed varieties because their stomachs are more compact inside of their bodies. Overfeeding fancy goldfish can cause them to have an enlarged stomach that puts pressure on their swim bladder organs and could potentially cause swim bladder issues.

Do not fall for commercial foods that specify what type of goldfish the food is formulated for, as all goldfish have the same nutritional requirements.

divider-fishbowl

Wrapping it Up

Goldfish diets are much more complicated than we give them credit for. It is especially important to feed young goldfish quality foods from the start and finding the right size pellet or flake is important. You want to ensure your goldfish can easily chew and swallow the type of food you are feeding, and this will in return contribute to less wastage in the tank.

We hope this article has helped you choose a suitable diet to feed your goldfish and has helped you decide on the best brands and supplements available on the market. Although a lot of science goes on behind goldfish diets, feeding and choosing foods can be fun! Your goldfish will be more active and healthier when they are fed the correct diet and will be immune to most disease and digestion issues. Not only will a good diet benefit their internal health, but it will help bring out their colors and make them more vibrant. Maintaining a strict goldfish diet regime will help them to live to their full lifespan.


Featured Image Credit: Leonardo Macedo, Shutterstock

Sarah Psaradelis

Sarah resides in South Africa with her partner and pets. She is currently interested in veterinary science and ichthyology, which she wants to study alongside her main passion: pet content writing. Sarah has over 60 fish including: goldfish, tropicals, shrimp, and snails. She also keeps hamsters and a tarantula. Sarah wishes to provide quality content for readers and allow others to learn from her knowledge and experience. Sarah has much experience in all aspects of pet care. Providing the world with the knowledge on ethical pet ownership is her lifelong dream.