March 14

What Do Goldfish Eat – Expert Opinion on Goldfish Diet


How many goldfish have you flushed down the toilet? I washed down 15 before realizing that proper care could have my goldfish living for over 30 years.

So, understanding what goldfish can and cannot eat, the amount of food they should eat, and what do goldfish eat in the wild that makes them grow helped me keep my first pair of goldfish alive.

Let’s get on to what the experts say you can feed your pet goldfish.

What Do Goldfish Eat?

goldfish and its food

One mistake I made with my goldfish #6 was feeding it peas. They were a couple, but it was a lot for that little thing.

But even after devouring the peas, the little creature was grazing at the bottom of the fishbowl. Interesting, right?

Goldfish tend to graze since they are opportunistic feeders that don’t stop eating. Therefore, they eat anything that lands at the bottom of their underwater environments in their fish tanks.

This includes the algae that grow in the tanks, the fecal matter, detritus and scales left by other goldfish, and even pebbles that fit in the mouth, though it is not a healthy treat.

So, even though they don’t stop eating like some other fellow fish species and can eat almost anything, they need nutrition in the correct quantity.

So, to get started with the do’s and don’ts of feeding goldfish, let’s begin with their natural habitat.

Goldfish Eating Habits in the Wild

What can goldfish eat besides fish food? This is a question that perplexes most goldfish owners. So to answer this question, let’s first see what goldfish eat in the wild?

A varied diet is a great way to provide your pet fish with proper nutrition when it comes to goldfish food. However, many of us are unaware that goldfish breed and thrive in the wild because they have access to a nutritious diet.

So while your domesticated goldfish might grow to 10-inches max, goldfish in the wild grow up to 24-inches! This is partly because of its opportunistic feeding nature and because it gets a protein-rich diet in the wild.

In the wilderness, goldfish eat bloodworms, crickets, leafy greens, brine shrimp, ghost shrimp, and the list goes on.

Recommended Food for Goldfish

Goldfish can basically eat anything that can fit in their mouth, and this also includes smaller fish, especially if there is a shortage of food.

Also, goldfish tend to eat anything, even pebbles for the matter, so you need to be mindful of what you are giving them.

    As pets, we tend to feed goldfish, fish food only, which is different from the diet they consume in their natural habitat. However, many goldfish owners now buy frozen or freeze-dried protein like bloodworm or shrimp.

    Although these may be occasional treats, you can also give your goldfish vegetables and fruits alternative fish food.

    So, a mix of goldfish flake, vegetables, fruits, and occasional protein treats will keep your pet alive long and healthy.

    What Do Goldfish Eat Besides Fish Food?

    various food

    What can fish eat besides fish food? Honestly, they eat other fish, algae, and leafy greens in the wild, so domesticated fish can eat these things too.

    You can feed goldfish a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and protein.


    Goldfish can eat vegetables since they are omnivorous creatures. However, before feeding them vegetables, make sure you have microwaved or boiled them for a few seconds.

    We do this procedure to make sure that the cellulose in the vegetables is softened. Make sure that the vegetables are cooled off before feeding them to the goldfish.

    Also, cutting them up into pieces that can fit in the goldfish’s mouth will ensure that you don’t have to clean up the tank afterward.

    Here is a list of vegetables you can offer your goldfish:

    1. Broccoli
    2.   Cauliflower
    3.   Cucumber slices
    4.   Leafy greens: Cabbage, Kale, Spinach, Lettuce
    5.   Peas
    6.   Carrot
    7.   Pumpkin
    8.   Zucchini
    9.   Sweet Potato
    10.   Potato
    11.   Lima Beans


    You should also boil the harder fruits before feeding them to the goldfish to make sure that it is digestible and doesn’t block their intestines.

    Fruits that are citrusy and juicy, like mangoes, watermelons, oranges, and grapes, can be fed after you’ve skinned them.

    However, for pears and apples, boiling for a few seconds softens the cellulose wall, which is easily digestible by the goldfish.

    Here is a list of fruits goldfish generally enjoy:

    1.   Mangoes
    2.   Skinned Grapes
    3.   Watermelon
    4.   Corn
    5.   Apples
    6.   Bananas
    7.   Orange
    8.   Berries: Strawberries and Raspberries
    9.   Pears

    Other Food that Goldfish Eat

    What to feed goldfish when out of fish food or vegetables? Goldfish also enjoy cooked rice or live crickets – if you can catch one!

    Many people also feed oatmeal to goldfish, which is nutritious when given small amounts.

    Occasional Treats for Goldfish

    Goldfish eating food

    There are some treats that you can give to your pet goldfish occasionally. Although nutritious, giving them these treats daily will make them grow to incredible sizes, making them impossible to maintain as domesticated pets.

    Goldfish Oats

    Many people now feed their pet goldfish oats. It is proclaimed that these goldfish oats lengthen their fins and tails, which means it is being fed a nutritious diet.

    Meaty Treats

    What do goldfish eat for proteins? Once or twice a week, cutting up bloodworms, shrimps, or earthworms is great for the goldfish. Though if you don’t want to deal with live food, you can feed them shrimp pellets, frozen bloodworms, or frozen shrimp.

    Just make sure that they are thawed before you put them in the tank because you know once in the tank, they’ll be gone in a few minutes.

    Non-Fish Foods to Avoid

    human giving food

    What do goldfish eat? They can eat anything that fits their mouth, to be honest. However, there are some foods to avoid. This includes proteins that humans eat like chicken, beef, pork, or lamb.

    Another question that we often get is, can goldfish eat bread. While bread may seem like a soluble and digestible food for you, goldfish cannot digest the complex carbs and yeast in bread.

    Therefore, any kind of bread is a no-go for goldfish.

    Here is a list of the foods to avoid when feeding goldfish:

    • Crackers
    • Bread
    • Chicken
    • Beef
    • Pork
    • Lamb
    • Cereal
    • Generic fish food

    Goldfish Feeding Tips

    goldfish feeding tips

    Can Goldfish Eat Betta Food?

    What do goldfish eat for proteins? Shrimps, crickets, and bloodworms mostly. 

    You can also occasionally give betta food to your goldfish as a source of protein. However, goldfish have a slower digestive tract. So, the betta food, high in protein, may result in swim bladder infection and intestinal gas.

    Also, goldfish prefer to eat food that has sunk to the bottom of the tank. But any food at the bottom of the tank, when broken down, can cause a rise in the ammonia content of the water, which is hazardous for any kind of fish.

    So, it is best to give generic fish food for goldfish if you’ve run out of options once a week.

    How Often and How Much Should I Feed My Goldfish?

    As an opportunistic feeder, goldfish never stop eating. So, the owner needs to understand how much and how often to feed goldfish to get its diet balanced.

    Feeding a goldfish 3-4 times a day in small amounts can prevent overfeeding. But how much is too much?

    If you’re feeding peas to the goldfish, 2-3 peas are enough for an adult goldfish. 1-2 peas are sufficient for younger goldfish. 

    Tips to Care for Goldfish

    goldfish in a bowl

    Goldfish need freshwater to prevent diseases and get rid of ammonia content buildup from leftover food. So, changing half of the water in the tank or fishbowl every three days is necessary to maintain a fresh atmosphere for your goldfish. 

    However, to maintain the water quality, it is also crucial that you remove uneaten food from the tank as it sinks to the bottom, and the goldfish’s grazing habits can make it eat toxic food.

    If you are feeding shrimp or live food to the goldfish, make sure you do it the day you change the water. Also, once it is fed, try to change at least half the water to make sure the decaying pieces do not intoxicate the water.

    Summing It Up – What Do Goldfish Eat?

    For many people, goldfish are often the first pets. However, taking care of a pet goldfish means taking into consideration many things.

    What do goldfish eat is the first concern as overfeeding and indigestible foods are what may cause goldfish to die early deaths. 

    As goldfish are opportunistic eaters – meaning they don’t stop eating even when they are full, owners need to feed them in moderate amounts and 3-4 times a day.

    Also, making sure they’re eating a balanced diet is also a part of the responsibility of the owner of the domesticated pet. This includes a diet of vegetables, fruits, and occasional treats.

    So, are you up for the challenge?


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