Many people recall having a goldfish as one of the first pets they owned when they were younger.
That’s because goldfish make the perfect pets, whether you’re a first-time pet owner or you have a mini-aquarium of your own.
They’re easy to take care of, they look great, and they don’t make a mess outside of their tanks. Plus, with proper care and a good diet, they can live anywhere between 10-15 years.
So what does a healthy goldfish diet look like, and what steps can you take to ensure your goldfish is happy and healthy?
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What do Goldfish Eat?
Many people have only seen goldfish in a domesticated setting or within a tank, so it’s hard to imagine them in the wild. But in reality, goldfish thrive while in nature due to the variety of food that they consume.
They’re actually omnivores, so they like to have a bit of both plants and animals. In the wild, goldfish can eat plants, insects, crustaceans, and even smaller fish if they’re particularly large.
As far as plants go, they like to consume algae, as well as plant roots and leaves. For the animal portion of their diet, they prefer to eat small fish, snails, and larvae. They get a little bit of everything on their plate!
For domesticated goldfish, it’s best to mimic what they eat in the wild to make them as healthy and happy as possible. Luckily, you don’t have to go swimming in your local lake to catch some small fish or snails for their next meal.
Many goldfish eat goldfish flakes, pellets, brine shrimp, bloodworms, and even small boiled vegetables, like peas, all of which are easily found in the market today. The flakes and pellets that are designed for goldfish are packed full with the nutrients they need in a flavor that appeals to them.
A combination of ‘indoor’ and ‘outdoor’ food, or food that domesticated goldfish eat vs. what they eat in the wild, is the best form of nutrition for these beautiful fish.
How Often Should You Feed Goldfish?
Now that you know what to feed your little fishy friend, the next thing to find out is how often you should be feeding them. This can be a little tricky, as certain breeds and types of goldfish require more or less food.
But a good rule of thumb is to feed your goldfish around 2-3 times a day. It’s best to feed them in intervals to keep them full and energized throughout the day.
Try to keep the times that you feed them similar. So, if you feed them at 8 am, 12 pm, and 5 pm on one day, set up reminders to feed them at the same time other days as well. This gives you a set schedule to follow for feeding, and also gives the fish something to look forward to!
Some people get automated feeding machines that release a small amount of food at different times of the day. This is a good option if you plan on going out of town and won’t be able to feed your fish yourself, or if you have trouble remembering to feed your friend.
Other fish owners like using a feeding block. A feeding block is basically a block of food that you place in your goldfish’s tank that’s available for them to take a bite out of every once in a while.
The only problem with automated feeding machines or feeding blocks is that there is a risk of your fish overeating. It may seem like a surprise, but while underfeeding your fish accidently doesn’t harm them much, overfeeding your fish certainly does.
How Much Should I Feed My Goldfish?
Overfeeding your goldfish can quickly shorten their lifespan. This is because goldfish don’t have a real stomach like humans do, meaning they don’t really feel full. If you never feel full, you won’t know when to stop eating, so the more food you give your goldfish, the more it eats.
Feeding too much can lead to disrupting your goldfish’s digestive system and blocking up the intestines and swim bladder. That’s why it’s up to you as a pet owner to make sure your goldfish gets just the right amount of food to eat, not too little and not too much.
How much you should feed your goldfish depends on how active it is. If you have a large tank (over 10 gallons) and your goldfish has a lot of room to swim around all day, you would feed them more than if they just swim idly.
Although goldfish have a variety of foods to eat, like pellets, flakes, and even peas, the rule for feeding them with all of these food types is somewhat similar. You should feed your goldfish as much as they can eat in two minutes.
That means that after two minutes of dropping the food in, it should be all in your fish’s belly. If there’s still some floating around, maybe you should cut back until you see that no food is leftover. Not only does overfeeding make your fish sick, but it also makes the water in the tank murky and harder to clean for you.
If you feed your fish pellets, two to three pellets twice a day should do the trick. Pellets can be bought in either a floating or sinking variety.
Because some pellets tend to sink to the bottom, your fish may take longer than two minutes to find and eat them. For this reason, the two-minute rule might not work as well for sinking pellets.
However, if you feed your fish the kind of pellets that float, you can follow either the two-minute rule or just feed them two to three pellets as you normally would.
For pet owners that feed their goldfish flakes, the two-minute rule works best for you. People who feed their fish flakes tend to overfeed because that small amount of food doesn’t look like it’s enough. But, trust us, it’s just what they need!
In fact, if you feed with flakes, another good rule you can follow is to feed your fish two to three times a day with an amount of food that’s as big as the fish’s eye. That’s just a rough estimate of how much you should be feeding them, so when in doubt, just look at their eyes and match the feeding amount to that.
If you want to give your fish a break from feeding with pellets and flakes, try feeding them small peas without the skin! Goldfish definitely love veggies and plants, and peas are nutritious and healthy for them, as well as small enough to easily fit in their mouths.
Peas are beneficial to your fish for a variety of reasons. For starters, peas sink to the bottom of the tank, meaning your fish won’t swallow any air while eating, and ultimately save themselves from digestive problems. They also have a lot of fiber in them, which is key to a healthy goldfish digestive tract free from constipation.
An adult goldfish can eat up to two to three peas that have been halved over the course of a week, while baby fish can eat around one to two. If your goldfish is healthy and doesn’t have any buoyancy problems, this is a good rule to follow to avoid excessive fiber buildup.
If your fish is constipated or having floating problems, try one pea per day until you see a difference in their ability to swim to the bottom of the tank. Once you fish’s system clears up, stick to two to three peas a week as normal.
When is the Best Time to Feed Goldfish?
A goldfish doesn’t have a 9-5 job, so feeding them at any time of the day is okay. The main thing to think about, however, is to ensure they’re getting fed a couple of times throughout the day.
Whether you choose to feed them before you go to work or after you come home for lunch, following a time schedule helps keep you on top of the feeding game.
It’s best to follow the same schedule for feeding once you get settled into a routine. This helps to make sure that you don’t forget feeding time, or don’t accidently feed twice at one time.
Why is My Goldfish Not Eating?
If your goldfish isn’t eating the food you put in the tank, it could be because of a couple of different reasons. Your fish may not like the food that it’s getting, so it just spits it out.
Switching up the food you give your fish, or adding more of a variety to their diet, can help keep things interested for them, as well as give them the nutrition they need through feeding times.
Another reason your goldfish might not be eating is because it may have been overfed. When your fish is overfed, they have trouble swimming around their tank due to problems with their swim bladder and buoyancy ability.
If this is the case, you can try skipping a day of feeding to get their system cleared out. Once you notice that they can easily swim from the top of their tank to the bottom, you can slowly resume your feeding schedule as normal. Just cut back on the amount you feed them so they don’t get overfed again.
Another reason your goldfish isn’t eating is because of the big size of the tank. Most fish notice when food has been dropped into their tank and quickly swim up to dig in. But if your tank is so big that your fish doesn’t notice food has been put in, it may not even know it’s dinner time!
Observe your fish during eating times to make sure it can easily find the food in its tank. You can fix this problem by dropping the food a little closer to the fish when it’s time to eat, so that they can sense the vibrations of the food sinking and come take a bite.
If you’re still unsure of why your fish isn’t eating, talk to your marine vet so they can help diagnose a problem and solution to get your fish back up to good health.
Even though your goldfish may be small, taking care of them is a big responsibility. Proper care and a good quality diet are both necessary to give them a long and healthy life. The main things to remember when feeding your fish are to not overfeed them, to give them a variety of different foods, and to give them some form of fish-friendly fiber to keep their digestive tract healthy. If you follow all of these tips, your fish can be a part of your life for a long time in good health.