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How to Feed a Goldfish

Updated on January 22, 2015

Gorging Goldfish

Goldfish are omnivores, in other words they eat just about anything they can get into their mouths.

Their constant feeding behavior often makes new goldfish owners think that their goldfish is starving.

One of the biggest mistakes new goldfish owners often do is to over feed their goldfish.

The goldfish eating habits are not a problem in the wild but giving a goldfish all it can eat in captivity can lead to serious health problems or death.

Overfeeding can cause the water to cloud from a bloom of microscopic organisms that deplete the oxygen in the water causing your goldfish to suffer an early demise.

What to Feed Your Goldfish

Your goldfish should be fed a staple diet of commercially available goldfish food.

Your goldfish should not be fed tropical fish food. Tropical fish food does not meet the nutritional requirements of your goldfish.

Commercially available goldfish foods come in flakes, granules and pellets. Depending on the size of your goldfish, you may wish to use one or all of these types of prepared foods.

Your fish can live on these foods alone however for optimal health and color, your goldfish should have a diet that varies a few times a week.

Goldfish love live foods and provide great nutritional benefits for your goldfish. The problem with live foods they carry the risk of introducing diseases and parasites to your aquarium.

The only live foods you should consider introducing to your goldfish are those that come directly from your pet shop. The most common live foods available from your local pet shop are earthworms, tubifex worms, and brine shrimp.

Only purchase live food from a reputable pet shop that you can trust to have good quality food for your goldfish.

Never collect live foods from ponds, rivers or lakes due to the hazards of introducing diseases and parasites to your goldfish.

Frozen food is a great alternative to live food because it is much easier to store and does not carry the risk of parasites or disease. Most pet shops carry a good variety of frozen foods for your goldfish.

Your goldfish may also enjoy an occasional piece of leaf lettuce or leaf of spinach.

A wide variety of fish foods available at a local pet shop
A wide variety of fish foods available at a local pet shop | Source

How Much and How Often Do You Feed Goldfish

Goldfish don't have a very complex digestive track. If too much food is given to your goldfish it does not have time to fully digest. Poorly digested food is then expelled as waste.

This semi-digested food creates the perfect food source for microscopic organisms to thrive on. This leads to poor water quality resulting in frequent water changes.

To further complicate matters, frequent water changes destroy the environment required to promote the growth of beneficial microscopic organisms.

In a properly performing aquarium, beneficial microscopic organisms eat waste and help filter the water.

The most common recommendation for feeding your goldfish is to feed them as much as they will eat in a five-minute time frame twice a day.

Many experience goldfish keepers feel it is best to have three or four smaller feedings a day.

The amount you feed them will vary depending on the age, size and number of goldfish that are in your tank.


Is Your Goldfish Starving to Death?

Because goldfish will eat way more food than they need when kept in captivity, it is easy to think that your goldfish is starving.

If you were to feed your goldfish all it wanted it would suffer from poor health and water quality.

So long as your fish is healthy, living in a good environment at the proper temperature (approx. 67 degrees F), and is fed the proper foods, it is unlikely that your goldfish will starve to death. In fact most healthy goldfish can go a few days without food with no ill effects.

What if the Water Turns Cloudy

If the water turns cloudy it is likely caused by one of two things, overcrowding or over feeding. Cloudy or smelly water should be changed immediately.

Having too many goldfish or goldfish that are too large for their tank will overpower the beneficial microscopic organisms resulting in cloudy water.

A good rule of thumb is to have one square foot of surface area in the tank for every inch of fish. Using this rule, a two-inch goldfish is just about the limit of a 10 gallon tank unless specialized equipment is used to filter and add oxygen to the water.

Feeding your goldfish too much food will result in cloudy water also. If you are having a hard time gauging the amount of fish food to feed your goldfish try using floating pellets that are small enough for your goldfish to eat.

After five minutes you will be able to take a net and scoop up the excess food before it poses a health risk to your goldfish.


Submit a Comment

  • Steve West profile image

    Steve West 

    5 years ago from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

    Well done! You are a natural. I too will be asking you for advice. Up and all that stuff.

  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 

    5 years ago from New York

    Excellent! Nice job on the hub and pictures. You again used such good photos to compliment a very sensible hub. Goldfish do love to eat and would most likely eat themselves to death! I would just add you can put plants in with goldfish, their favorite being anachris...they are not fussy plants and goldfish love to nibble on them!

    Voted up, useful, and interesting!

  • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

    Vinaya Ghimire 

    5 years ago from Nepal

    I have always wanted to get an aquarium, and goldfish is my perfect choice. Thanks for amazing tips.


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