Feeding your goldfish shouldn’t just be about keeping them alive. You want to provide them with all the protein, minerals and vitamins needed to remain as healthy and happy as they can possibly be.
Pet goldfish will have a diet consisting mostly of store-bought food including flakes and pellets. But not all commercial foods are made equal – and not all are good quality.
It is important to provide them with the best goldfish food to suit their breed specific needs and therefore, to do your research beforehand.
- How Does a Goldfish Diet Differ from Other Fish?
- Best Flakes for Goldfish
- Best Sinking Pellets Food for Goldfish
How Does a Goldfish Diet Differ from Other Fish?
Goldfish need a higher carb and lower protein diet than other breeds of fish, so a great place to start is with food specifically formulated for goldfish.
Always look at the percentages of each ingredient on the canister, as a goldfish in water consisting of a temperature below 60 degrees will need around 25% protein, whereas a fish in warmer temperatures may require slightly more.
What Makes a High Quality, Best Goldfish Food?
When choosing flakes or pellets for your goldfish, you’ll want a product that contains nutritional ingredients, not just fillers. By understanding how to interpret fish food labels, it can also help you to make the right food choices for your goldfish.
The Associate Director of UAPB Aquaculture / Fisheries Center lists quality ingredients as one of the three most important environmental considerations when protecting fish against disease. These include:
- Fish meal listing a specific fish: such as salmon meal, algae meal, shrimp meal or white fish meal. These animal products provide your fish with its vital protein intake for growth and development because they also contain amino acids. Amino acids assist goldfish with building the proteins they need for enzymatic function and muscle formulation. [Southern Regional Aquaculture Center]
- Fish oil listing a specific breed of fish to ensure its quality: This is a great source of Omega fatty acids, as well as energy, which in turn aids with the goldfish’s growth and their absorption of fat¬ soluble vitamins including A, D, E, and K. [Aquaculture / Fisheries Center University of Arkansas]
- Added vitamins: Goldfish require these in at least small amounts for normal growth, health and function. [Aquaculture / Fisheries Center University of Arkansas]
What Makes a Poor Quality Food?
Unfortunately, some commercial goldfish food includes cheap and nasty fillers which may be harmful to your fish. Ingredients which pose a red flag include:
- Ethoxyquin (in large amounts): This is a preservative which has been banned from being used in many cat and dog foods. The FDA has issued a warning that Ethoxyquin stores in the liver and compromises liver function over time when used in amounts greater than 150 ppm. [Faculty of Chemistry, University of Łódź]
- Rice: This is used to add weight and volume to the packaging, however it contains no nutritional value for goldfish.
- Wheat gluten or oatmeal: This is a binding agent which poses as artificial protein. Numerous pet food has been recalled over the years due to the potentially harmful effects of this ingredient. Fillers such as these also cloud your water.
- Sorbitol: An artificial sweetener which can potentially be toxic to goldfish.
- Artificial colors: These contain no nutritional value.
- Non-specific listings of “fish oil” and “fish meal”: When a brand doesn’t list a specific fish breed in relation to the oil or meal, it may mean they have used fish by-products.
- MSG (monosodium glutamate): A soy-based flavor enhancer known to cause multiple health problems in both humans and animals.
Best Flakes for Goldfish
We’ve scoured through and compared the many different brands and offerings of goldfish flakes on the market, as well as read through tons of reviews and opinions to arrive at the following shortlist of recommendations:
Omega One Goldfish Flakes, .42 oz.
- Contains larger quantities of natural proteins, amino acids, and fats than other commercially available goldfish foods. These are beneficial for longevity and growth.
- The use of salmon meal also includes natural pigment from salmon skin. This helps your goldfish’s color to ‘pop’ and make them look more vibrant.
- It is low in ash (8% maximum) which means the flakes won’t make your tank water cloudy.
- Rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6. Both of these aid with growth and wellbeing.
- Unlike many other commercially available goldfish food, there is no harmful MSG in this product.
- Specifically formulated for goldfish.
- Truthfully – none! Although we would recommend pellet food over flakes (see below for options) this is the best flakes with the highest quality ingredients and best feedback from users we could find.
TetraFin Goldfish Flakes
- Contains Omega-3 fatty acids to support immune system health.
- Formulated to be highly digestible, preventing less waste in your tank and therefore cleaner, clearer water.
- Contains shrimp meal and algae meal for additional and natural protein and amino acids.
- Customers note value for money when compared to other brands.
- Specifically formulated for goldfish.
- Numerous customers reported their goldfish will only eat this brand.
- Contains artificial sweetener Sorbitol and artificial coloring (yellow 5, red 3, and blue 2), as well as fillers such as ground brown rice, dried yeast, oat meal and wheat gluten. These are not nutritionally beneficial to goldfish and may slightly cloud your water.
- Does not list specific fish meal or fish oil, therefore may contain fish by-products.
Seachem Laboratories 1061 NutriDiet Flake Foods for Goldfish
- Ingredients such as GarlicGuard and chlorella enhance the vitality and health of your goldfish through boosting its immune system.
- Added Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) is also vital, as just like humans, fish cannot synthesize it naturally.
- Contains marine protein to support the required protein a goldfish’s diet requires for enzymatic function and muscle formulation.
- States that it does not contain low nutritional fillers, as opposed to some other commercially available fish food. Therefore, this product shouldn’t make the tank water cloudy.
- Has only been on the market for a short period of time, therefore it is hard to gauge potential, long-term effects. But ingredients do look quality and initial feedback is very positive.
Best Sinking Pellets Food for Goldfish
Pellets are the preferable choice of food for most goldfish, especially fancies who can often take in too much air when feeding on floating flakes, leading to swim bladder problems.
See below the 3 best sinking pellet goldfish foods, shortlisted for their quality ingredients and sheer weight of positive feedback and reviews from previous buyers with very happy fish:
New Life Spectrum Sinking Pellet Food
- Thoroughly tested to ensure health and safety.
- Ingredients list contains specific sources of fish meal which are great sources of natural protein (not waste or by-products.)
- High in essential amino acids and fats to assist with enzymatic function and muscle formulation.
- A smaller sized pellet allows for slower consumption and fish enjoy searching for pellets among the pebbles more closely mimicking nature.
- The odd complaint (very few) that not all pellets sink and they have to be soaked in water for a minute or two to ensure they do. But I would like to point out that from over 40 reviews on Amazon, we only saw two people who said this and they instantly sank during our use. We highly recommend these pellets!
Aqueon Slow Sinking All-Natural Goldfish Granules
- Specifically formulated for the specific dietary needs of a goldfish.
- Contains natural ingredients and no artificial colors.
- Contains additional vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients to assist with a healthy immune system and enhance the natural color of your fish.
- Natural ingredients (as opposed to fillers) allow fish to utilize more of what they eat, creating less waste and pollutants in the tank.
- Designed to not cloud your tank.
- Despite stating the granules are ‘slow sinking’, many report the granules drop straight to the bottom of tank. However, in many cases, fish enjoy searching for their food. So although some reviews put this as a complaint, it’s something we actively look for!
- Some customers report granules became stuck in filtration system. To be fair, this could happen to any food of course. So add food to the tank away from the filtration inlet pipe.
Hikari Usa Inc AHK42553 Saki Goldfish 7.0 –Ounce
- This product is now MSG free (a MAJOR complaint of many not so long ago that has thankfully been rectified.)
- Formula aims to improve the goldfish’s immunity to infectious disease through providing sources of Vitamin K, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3, and Vitamin A.
- Formulated to enhance goldfish’s natural red coloring without impacting negatively on white coloration.
- Customers have reported impressive growth of goldfish when feeding them this product.
- Does not contain ingredient Ethoxyquin which is a toxic preservative when consumed in amounts greater than 150 ppm.
- Does not specifically list sources of fish oil or fish meal, therefore could be using whatever source is cheapest at the time, including fish by-products. But we couldn’t find hard evidence either way.
- Contains some filler ingredients with no nutritional value, including: Wheat Flour, Soy Bean Meal, Dried Bakery Product, Brewer’s Dried Yeast, Starch and Gluten Meal. Although only a small percentage of the ingredients – and so likely not a problem at all – we still prefer not to see any at all.
When looking at the pros and cons of each product, it is clear that Omega One Goldfish Flakes and New Life Spectrum Sinking Food are the two which tick the most boxes in terms of offering a quality fish food.
When compared to the other products, they are transparent with the sources of both their fish meal and fish oil, listing natural sources such as whole salmon, cod, halibut, krill and squid meal.
They are both formulated specifically for goldfish, meaning they adhere to the higher carb and low protein diet of goldfish when compared to other breeds of fish.
Their lack of multiple, cheap fillers means that these foods shouldn’t cloud your water, and you will have less waste due to the goldfish being able to easily digest and use more of their food instead of it flowing right through them.
Both of these products exclude unnecessary ingredients such as MSG and artificial colors, whereas added Omega-3, Omega-6, and vitamins boost your goldfish’s immune system, natural coloring, and growth, resulting in a healthier and happier fish.
Happy fish keeping!
Product images: © Amazon.com