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What do goldfish eat? 15+ Foods Goldfish Feast

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Goldfish are small carps prized for their beauty. These fish were selectively bred for food in China more than 2,000 years ago, but they have become beloved pets around the world despite their short lifespan. Although goldfish are known for their small size, under the right conditions they can grow very large, reaching over 5 pounds. What do goldfish eat to grow so large in the wild and in captivity?

We'll learn about all the foods goldfish like to eat and what you must do to keep them healthy.

what food do goldfish eat

goldfish
Goldfish are omnivores, eating plants, insects, etc.

© Yana Art/Shutterstock.com

Goldfish eat insects, plants, and crustaceans. These omnivores are opportunistic feeders who have a bit of trouble with self-control; they'll keep eating even when it's not good for them.

Foods they will wolf down include:

  • algae
  • Zooplankton
  • mosquito
  • tadpole
  • decaying plant matter
  • worm
  • fish eggs
  • blood worm
  • brine shrimp
  • mysis
  • Daphnia
  • crayfish
  • water lettuce
  • Anacaris
  • insect larva

These are just some of the more common foods goldfish eat throughout their lives in the wild. Most of the time, goldfish will choose to eat insects, insect larvae, plants, and the eggs of insects or other fish. Their relatively small mouths make it difficult to eat large amounts of food, and their aggressiveness as hunters is limited to surprising small animals.

Goldfish, however, are very successful feeders, spending hours each day foraging for their favorite foods.

What Do Goldfish Eat As Pets?

Common Goldfish White Background
A common goldfish pet eats commercial food pellets and chopped vegetables.

© iStock.com/Liudmila Chernetska

Although they were first selectively bred for food in China more than 2,000 years ago, today goldfish are more commonly found swimming in home aquariums. They are very common pets, valued for their beauty and ability to thrive in conditions hostile to other fish.

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Typically, they are kept either in aquariums or in home ponds, but they can also be found in natural waterways when people weed them out because they are too large. When they are in captivity, their diet is different than when they live in the wild.

Here is a list of foods pet goldfish eat:

  • Algae Wafer
  • brine shrimp
  • blood worm
  • commercial food pellets
  • lettuce
  • Aquarium snail
  • pea
  • kale
  • Daphnia
  • spinach

Goldfish can eat each of these foods, but most are content to feed them commercial food pellets if they are in an aquarium. Goldfish raised in ponds and allowed to grow a little longer often receive chopped vegetables, algae wafers, and insects.

In many cases, goldfish kept in ponds will still feed on insects such as mosquitoes that come close to the water. This is fortunate because it prevents insects from using the pond as a breeding ground.

It is important to pay attention to your goldfish's diet and provide them with enough food to meet their nutritional needs.

How Much Do Goldfish Eat?

bubble eye goldfish
Goldfish are fed 2-3 times a day as pets but are constantly foraging in the wild.

© Juan Carlos Palau Diaz/Shutterstock.com

The question of how much goldfish eat needs to be properly regulated. First, captive goldfish have specific dietary needs that must be met. If your goldfish get their nutrients from food pellets, as many goldfish do, then it's best to feed them 2-3 times a day and only as recommended on the food label.

It is important to remember that some goldfish do not know when to stop eating. These fish are known for their near-constant feeding habits, so goldfish owners need to provide an adequate amount of food and not too much. Otherwise, ammonia, a by-product produced when feeding your goldfish, can build up in the tank and pose a threat to them.

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Therefore, when they are kept as pets, goldfish need to eat about 2 to 3 times a day different foods such as algae wafers, food pellets, and chopped vegetables. Quantity is usually described as how much a goldfish can eat in a minute or two, since you don't want food to sink to the bottom of the tank and cause water quality issues.

In the wild, goldfish eat frequently because they are constantly foraging, but they have fewer concerns about water quality and limited space to grow.

you should not feed your goldfish

Animals That Can See Infrared Goldfish
Never feed bread, biscuits, or mammalian fat to a goldfish.

©iStock.com/Foto_by_M

Whether you want to keep your goldfish healthy or have found wild goldfish, there are certain foods they need to avoid. We're going to show you some foods that are either not the best choice or should never be placed in a goldfish aquarium.

  • bread
  • common fish food
  • biscuit
  • cereals
  • beef
  • pork

Bread, crackers and cereal can cause goldfish to bloat and eventually kill them. Regular fish food often lacks the nutrients these fish need and makes the water more cloudy than food made specifically for goldfish.

Although goldfish are omnivores, they need to avoid foods such as beef and pork, as they are high in fat, which can negatively affect water quality and cause liver damage to the fish.

What carnivore eats goldfish?

raccoons walk together
Raccoons will eat goldfish in ponds and streams.

©Mark_Sawyer/Shutterstock.com

Goldfish can grow very large in the wild, and their bright colors do nothing to help them evade predators. In other words, they could be tempting targets for predators looking for a tasty meal. Some of the most important goldfish predators include:

  • otter
  • beaver
  • opossum
  • heron
  • eagles
  • puppy
  • House cat
  • skunk
  • bobcats
  • cougar
  • cougar
  • raccoon
  • snake
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These animals will find goldfish in the wild and fish them out of the water. The danger to them also doesn't end when people keep them in artificial ponds. If the hawks can spot the goldfish from above, they will attack.

Humans are predators of goldfish because they keep them as pets, often in poor conditions, but goldfish are rarely eaten by people.

Goldfish are interesting omnivores who don't know when to stop eating. They eat insects, insect larvae, and eggs in large quantities, and often help humans by reducing the population of harmful insects, such as mosquitoes.

These beautiful fish can be found in aquariums and gardens around the world, and as long as their owners know how to feed them, they can be healthy.

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featured image

goldfish in the aquarium
Goldfish kept as pets are typically no taller than 3 inches long, but they can grow to over 16 inches and weigh over 9 pounds.

© Darko Cvetanoski/Shutterstock.com


about the author


I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in various fields such as Managed Service Providers, Animals and Retail Distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading and writing.

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