Whether you’re new to owning goldfish, you’re probably wondering about the best goldfish food for growth and color.
Owning a goldfish isn’t as simple as people would have you believe. We know you have questions. We’re here to help you.
Here’s everything you need to know about what goldfish eat, how to feed goldfish, and how to find the best food for goldfish growth and color.
First, let’s talk about what kind of food goldfish eat in the wild and in captivity.
Table of Contents
- What Kind of Food does Goldfish Eat?
- The 6 Best Goldfish Food for Growth and Color
- Best Goldfish Food Reviews
- 1. TetraFin Balanced Diet Goldfish Flake Food for Optimal Health
- 2. Tetra TetraFin PLUS Goldfish Flakes with Algae Cleaner Water Formula
- 3. Fluval Bug Bites Goldfish Formula for Fish
- 4. Tetra Pond Pond Sticks, Healthy Nutrition for Goldfish and Koi
- 5. Omega One Goldfish Small Pellets
- 6. HARTZ Wardley Pond Fish Food Pellets
- Goldfish Feeding Tips
What Kind of Food does Goldfish Eat?
In the wild, goldfish eat crustaceans, plants, insects, and smaller fish. Since they eat plants and animals, you need to take their natural diet into account when you decide how to feed them in captivity.
How do you start to look for the right food for goldfish?
First, you should understand all the ways commercial goldfish is offered.
Food for captive goldfish is typically offered as flakes, floating pellets, sinking pellets, or gel, along with greens. Additional foods that goldfish may eat include peas with the skin removed, bloodworms, and brine shrimp (live, frozen, or freeze-dried).
Flakes are the most popular option, although they start to lose their nutrients as soon as they touch the water.
Floating pellets are the easiest food to retrieve once your goldfish has had enough time to eat, although eating pellets from the surface of the water can cause your goldfish to ingest a lot of air when they eat, which can cause digestive discomfort and problems with their swim bladder.
Sinking pellets offer the most natural way for your goldfish to feed, although it’s more difficult to retrieve uneaten sinking pellets, which means they’re more likely to decompose inside the tank, causing cloudy, fouled water.
Gel food is the easiest for your goldfish to digest and contains a more optimal nutrient ratio than flakes or pellets.
The 6 Best Goldfish Food for Growth and Color
|TetraFin Balanced Diet Goldfish Flake Food for Optimal Health||Flakes|
|Tetra TetraFin PLUS Goldfish Flakes with Algae Cleaner Water Formula||Flakes|
|Fluval Bug Bites Goldfish Formula for Fish||Small, Medium Pellets|
|Tetra Pond Pond Sticks, Healthy Nutrition for Goldfish and Koi||Medium Pellets|
|Omega One Goldfish Small Pellets||Small Pellets|
|HARTZ Wardley Pond Fish Food Pellets||Small Pellets|
Best Goldfish Food Reviews
1. TetraFin Balanced Diet Goldfish Flake Food for Optimal Health
TetraFin’s “Clean & Clear Water Formula” in the TetraFin Balanced Diet Goldfish Flake Food contains flakes that are easier to digest and won’t leach colors into your aquarium water, which helps keep the water in your tank clean.
TetraFin’s products also include ProCare, which is a blend of immunostimulants, vitamins, biotin, and Omega-3 fatty acids to help strengthen your goldfish’s resistance to stress and disease.
This scientifically-developed formula is designed to provide your goldfish with all the nutrition they need in their diet along with vitamins, minerals, and trace elements in a highly-digestible formula that aims to strengthen your fish’s immune system.
The ingredients are a little questionable when you think about it: Fish meal, ground brown rice, torula dried yeast, feeding oatmeal, shrimp meal, wheat gluten, soybean oil, fish oil, algae meal, sorbitol, lecithin, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (vitamin C), artificial colors including yellow 5, red 3, and blue 2, and Ethoxyquin as a preservative.
Fish meal, the first ingredient, is what’s left of the fish after the edible parts have been taken off, so you’re getting the least nutritious part of the fish such as bones, fins, and organs.
The second ingredient is brown rice, the fourth ingredient is feeding oatmeal, and the sixth ingredient is wheat gluten – fish don’t eat grains like these in the wild. These fillers probably taste great but aren’t nutritious for a species that wasn’t built to digest grains. It also contains artificial colors.
Based on reviews, your fish will likely love this food, but it may not be the healthiest option for the long-term health and well-being of your goldfish.
2. Tetra TetraFin PLUS Goldfish Flakes with Algae Cleaner Water Formula
Tetra TetraFin PLUS Goldfish Flakes offers all the same benefits of the regular TetraFin Goldfish Flakes with the added bonus of Spirulina algae flakes for optimal digestibility.
Since this food is easier for your goldfish to digest, there is less uneaten food and less waste, which means your aquarium stays cleaner.
This product also includes the ProCare blend of immunostimulants, vitamins, biotin, and Omega-3 fatty acids to help strengthen your goldfish’s resistance to stress and disease.
Some people complained of this food making their tanks dirty or cloudy, or arriving without a lid, but most people swear by this food, saying that their fish love this product and are quite healthy and happy on it.
Goldfish are designed to eat other fish, crustaceans, and vegetables like underwater plants. They aren’t meant to eat things like brown rice, oatmeal, wheat gluten, or corn gluten, but this product does have a great rating, so use your discretion about whether or not it’s appropriate for your goldfish.
3. Fluval Bug Bites Goldfish Formula for Fish
Fluval Bug Bites Goldfish Formula is made from up to 40% nutrient-rich Black Soldier Fly Larvae. It’s the number one ingredient and is something goldfish would eat in the wild, making it a great choice for your goldfish.
This product is sustainably processed in small batches for quality control and maximum freshness with no artificial fillers, colors, or preservatives. It’s made in Canada and fortified with essential vitamins, amino acids, and minerals for a balanced daily diet.
The top ingredients are: Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae, Salmon, Wheat, Pea Protein Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate. The wheat may be a filler, but everything else looks like something goldfish would eat in the wild, making this a much more natural option than the TetraFin products.
People are raving about this product. The only complaints seem to be how small the small granules are. For anything but the smallest of fish, you should go for the large pellets.
4. Tetra Pond Pond Sticks, Healthy Nutrition for Goldfish and Koi
Tetra Pond Pond Sticks contain at least 28% protein and claim to offer premium nutrition for goldfish and koi, although they don’t have any ingredients listed on Amazon to verify just how premium the ingredients are. It does say the food is “full of beneficial protein, vitamin C, and fiber.”
These hollow sticks float, which most customers love because their fish come to the surface to feed. The hollow sticks are also supposed to be easier for fish to digest. This formulation is designed for spring, summer, and fall feedings when the water temperature is higher than about 50° F.
Most of the complaints about this product seem to revolve around the packaging. Pests of all types can chew their way into the bags sometime during the shopping process. Other complaints are that the pellets are too lightweight to throw very far into large ponds.
5. Omega One Goldfish Small Pellets
Omega One Goldfish Small Pellets contain real fish and shrimp as the first three ingredients (Whole Salmon, Whole Herring, and Whole Shrimp) which helps the product have more healthy omega-3 and omega-6 essential oils than other products.
This should result in healthier fish with longer life spans. This product also specifically lists high levels of natural beta-carotene from salmon skins to help enhance the color of your goldfish.
There are a lot of reports of this product making the water in aquariums quite cloudy, and the small pellets are EXTREMELY small (one reviewer likened them to the size of a flea), so the medium or large pellets may be a better purchase for all but the tiniest of fish.
Most people rave about how much their fish love this product.
6. HARTZ Wardley Pond Fish Food Pellets
HARTZ Wardley Pond Fish Food Pellets claim to be nutritionally balanced, scientifically developed, and designed for the energy needs of goldfish and koi, although the ingredients list may suggest otherwise.
The ingredients are: Soybean Meal, Ground Corn, Fish Meal, Wheat Middlings, Ground Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Fish Oil, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Brewers Dried Yeast, Spirulina Salt, and Betaine.
Fish meal is the third ingredient, and nearly every other ingredient is a carbohydrate, which is not something goldfish would eat much of in the wild.
Goldfish Feeding Tips
How Often to Feed Goldfish?
Goldfish need a lot less food than you might expect. The biggest problem most people have with their goldfish is health issues associated with overfeeding.
In fact, you can go on vacation for up to two weeks without feeding your goldfish, and they will be just fine (although an automatic fish feeder may help you feel better).
Goldfish don’t have a stomach, so feeding them too much in one sitting can cause a lot of digestive problems. Generally, you only want to feed your goldfish for 30-60 seconds at a time, two to three times per day. That’s it.
Since they don’t have a stomach, goldfish never feel full. They’re scavengers, so their instinct is to spend all day looking for food. They may act like they’re starving to death, but since goldfish are cold-blooded, they don’t need to consume extra calories to burn off keeping their bodies warm.
Keeping live plants or leafy greens in a vegetable clip can give your goldfish something healthy to munch on all day, which can help your fish be healthier, happier, and less bored.
How Many Pellets to Feed Goldfish?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. How many pellets you need depends on things like how frequently you feed your fish, whether they are fully grown or still growing, and what the temperature of your tank is.
With pellets, you’ll want to soak them in a cup of water from the tank before feeding them to your fish, since dry pellets can upset your fish’s digestive system.
The first time, you will need to guess how many pellets you need. Add them to the tank for the recommended 30-60 seconds per feeding and see how many pellets they eat at that time. If they eat all the pellets in less than 60 seconds, then you know to add more pellets during the next feeding. If there are pellets left over after 60 seconds, then you know to feed less during the next feeding.
It may take a while to figure out the optimal number of pellets to feed your goldfish during each feeding, but if you keep careful track of how many pellets you feed during each meal and how quickly your goldfish consume the pellets, you can get a good idea of exactly how many pellets you need for each feeding.
How Many Flakes to Feed Goldfish?
Each goldfish will require a different number of flakes based on things like whether or not they’re still growing, the temperature of the tank, and how often you feed them. You will need to keep careful track of how many flakes you feed until you get a sense of how many flakes they need per meal.
You should only feed your goldfish as much as they can eat in 60 seconds or less and only two to three times per day. If your goldfish eats all the flakes within 60 seconds the first time you feed them, then you know you need to add more flakes at the next feeding.
If you find yourself scooping a lot of flakes out of the tank after 60 seconds, then you know you need to feed fewer flakes next time.
What is the Best Time to Feed Goldfish?
Since goldfish don’t have stomachs, you’ll want to feed them pretty consistently, 2-3 times per day, at a time when you’ll remember to do it at the same time every day. Maybe you feed them last thing at night, first thing in the morning, and in the middle of the day.
Whatever schedule you choose, make sure you can stick to it, so your goldfish know when to expect their next meal. Since they don’t have stomachs and are used to scavenging all the time, they are constantly hungry.
What to Feed a Goldfish When Out of Fish Food?
Goldfish can eat peas without the shell or skin, boiled vegetables, leafy greens, bloodworms, and brine shrimp.
In fact, putting leafy greens in the tank in a veggie clip will give your goldfish something to munch on when they think they’re starving to death between feedings.
Why is My Goldfish Not Eating?
There are several reasons your goldfish might not be eating.
The first thing to look at is your goldfish’s environment. Has it been a while since you’ve cleaned out the tank? Is there any rotting food in the aquarium? Did you fill the tank with untreated tap water? Maybe the water filter is dirty, or there’s a dead fish floating in the tank.
Any change in your goldfish’s environment could cause him to stop eating, so the first thing you should do is at least check, if not clean, your tank from top to bottom, including the filter. It would be worth getting some pH strips to check the acidity level of the water, too.
If your goldfish’s environment seems to be in good shape, check the expiration date and storage information on your goldfish’s food. Goldish food can go bad after its expiration date, obviously, but it can go bad sooner than that if it’s stored improperly. For example, if it needs to be kept in a cool, dry place, then placing it near an open window in a humid environment could rot the food before the expiration date.
So your tank is clean and the fish food is acceptable. What now?
Fish do get sick. If your goldfish hasn’t eaten for a while and is also displaying other signs of illness such as unnatural growths, white spots, raised scales, or bloating, call the vets in your area for advice. Many vets may not be familiar with goldfish, so you may need to call several places to get the right advice.
Goldfish are very sensitive about transitioning from one environment to another. If you recently moved your goldfish to or from a temporary bowl, maybe to clean the tank, then it’s natural that your goldfish will react to the stress by not eating. Give it a day or two to acclimate to the new environment before worrying too much.
While goldfish are often portrayed as a children’s pet, their dietary needs are more complicated than you might expect. Reading the ingredients of any fish food you plan to buy and deciding if or how you want to supplement your goldfish’s diet can be a lot of work, but goldfish can make wonderful pets when you put in just a little bit of effort into finding the best food for them.
The main takeaways are:
- Be careful not to overfeed your goldfish. They probably need less food than the manufacturers recommend to stay healthy and reduce the amount of waste they produce. Feed your goldfish two to three times a day for up to 60 seconds per feeding, which is less than what goldfish food manufacturers typically recommend.
- Leafy greens in a vegetable clip or hand-fed peas with the skins removed can be a great way to add nutrition to your goldfish’s diet without overfeeding them.
- Bloodworms and brine shrimp, whether live, frozen, or freeze-dried can make a great supplement to your goldfish’s diet.
- Consistency is key. Since goldfish are always hungry as a result of not having a stomach, they will appreciate evenly-spaced meals and knowing when they will be fed every day.
- Check the ingredients of goldfish food is designed to eat fish, shrimp, insects, and greens, not corn, wheat, or oats.
- Keep your tank and filter clean to keep your goldfish happy and healthy. Look for products without a lot of complaints about the product making their tank cloudy.
While it can take a bit of detective work to find the top rated goldfish food for growth and color, hopefully, we’ve given you the tools you need to make your decision about which food will best suit the needs of you and your goldfish.