I’m sure you agree with me when I say:
If you want a healthy goldfish, you NEED to provide them with a healthy, balanced diet.
What are the aspects of goldfish nutrition?
How do you make sure you are meeting their needs to prevent common digestive issues, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and promote good growth and vibrant color?
Table of contents
Key Elements of a Balanced Goldfish Diet
1. Staple Diet
The staple diet is a complete ration that your goldfish needs on a daily basis.
It provides with all the vitamins and nutrients they need.
Good brands are high in protein.
The most common forms of a diet staple are flakes, pellets or gel food.
The staple diet is NOT designed to make your goldfish feel full throughout the day.
It’s just too rich.
If you use it that way, you are likely overfeeding your fish.
How much should you be feeding them?
I recommend feeding the staple ration once or twice a day, no more than the fish eats in a 30 second window.
This means bigger fish will end up with more and smaller fish will have a smaller portion.
It also prevents issues from too much rich food.
Overfeeding rich food can result in a number of problems, from short-term issues like water quality imbalances and high dissolved organic material, to long-term ones like fatty liver and swim bladder disorder in fancy goldfish.
This makes your fish sick
A big part of this is the fact that goldfish kept indoors never go through a period of winter hibernation where they shed all the excess fat.
With relatively constant temperatures, it’s easy for goldfish to become overweight from constantly eating a large amount of processed foods.
But in moderation, it plays a major role in the diet of your goldfish.
Here’s a list of good-quality brands of goldfish food to feed your fish.
2. Fibrous Foraging
You’ve learned too much rich food makes your fish and their water unhealthy.
But if you’ve owned goldfish for long, you know one thing:
They LOVE to eat!
They are absolute pigs and live to eat.
Ever walk by the tank and notice your fish swims over to you and starts the “wiggle dance” back and forth with their mouth opening and closing quickly?
That’s begging, goldfish style.
Maybe it’s boredom, maybe it’s really hungry…
… Either way…
… It’s their instinct to be constantly feeding.
If a goldfish lived in the wild, they would have constant 24/7 access to all kinds of foraging material to keep them busy.
But in a closed space with not much to do, they don’t get to express this natural behavior unless you step in and provide them with…
What makes good foraging material for your goldfish diet?
All we have to do is look at the diet of the carp in the wild.
Most of it is actually roughage.
From algae to rotting plants, they are always finding some kind of plant matter to devour.
If your fish are in a pond, you probably don’t need to add any foraging material because they already have it.
But if you keep them in a tank…
They’ll need something more to eat.
Just about anything leafy you can find in your fridge works great.
My favorites are spinach, lettuce and cucumber.
You can use a veggie clip to hold them in place and make it easy to maintain.
These are nutritious and full of fiber.
Many fish die as a result of improper food and/or portion sizes, which can be easily prevented by proper education. That's why our best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish, covers exactly what you can and can’t give your goldies when it comes to mealtime. It’s even got a section dedicated to keeping your pet fish alive and well-fed when you go on vacation!
Many fish die as a result of improper food and/or portion sizes, which can be easily prevented by proper education.
That's why our best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish, covers exactly what you can and can’t give your goldies when it comes to mealtime. It’s even got a section dedicated to keeping your pet fish alive and well-fed when you go on vacation!
Another tip is to feed them soft aquatic plants, such as duckweed or elodea (anacharis).
If you can keep this stuff around long enough in your main tank not to disappear, more power to you.
For me, if my goldies can get to it – it doesn’t last long at all.
How much should you give them?
I recommend unlimited access. Replenish it once it runs out as needed.
We’ve covered the first two aspects of a good goldfish diet.
These are definitely the essentials, bar none.
Now we come to treats.
Treats are not quite as critical to their health, but they are the “icing on the cake” to a balanced diet (no pun intended).
They provide a little extra boost in quality protein, as well as give the fish some variety.
In the wild, goldfish occasionally find yummy treats – a pleasant surprise.
For them, it’s usually a nice juicy earthworm, an insect on the surface of the water or maybe a little smaller fish.
So it’s part of their natural diet.
This variety helps the fish receive other nutrients to help balance out the large amount of plant material they eat.
Treats can help your goldfish develop more vibrant color.
And if you keep goldfish with wens (such as Oranda, Ranchu or Lionhead) then it can really assist with building those as well.
Not to mention:
Goldfish just LOVE treats and get really excited about them.
It’s so much fun to spoil our pets, isn’t it
As far as frequency goes…
Feeding treats no more than 3 times a week is recommended.
- Read More: Best Treats for Goldfish
Thoughts on Overweight Goldfish
Is your goldfish looking a bit too pudgy?
Obesity is a problem that can affect goldfish as well as other pets.
We touched on how this is not good for their health and can be especially problematic for fancy goldfish, who are prone to constipation and swim bladder trouble.
(You might also notice that there’s a lot of excess crud in your aquarium.)
What do you do?
The first place to start that I recommend is with a fast for your goldfish.
Before you panic:
Goldfish can live for weeks without food – they won’t starve to death by a short period without anything to eat.
It actually can be extremely beneficial for them.
This is a protocol I use for overfed goldies:
1-2 weeks with no food at all, followed by 2 weeks on a leafy veggie-only diet.
Then you can slowly introduce back processed foods and treats – in careful moderation.
Many goldfish keepers are amazed at how their fancy goldfish’s chronic swim bladder issues disappear after this protocol.
Goldfish diet can be very complex subject the deeper you dive into it, but I’ve tried to break it down into a simple, easy to digest way (no pun intended!).
Did you learn something interesting?
Want to share your thoughts?
Feel free to leave a comment below.
Featured Image Credit: satit_srihin, Shutterstock