Most of us have a goldfish for our first pet. I can remember bringing home the many little orange swimmers I won at carnival games at school and county fairs or bought at the pet store.
I brought them home, I loved watching them, and then, well, they died within a few weeks.
The first time I had a goldfish live more than a couple of months was when I was ten years old. My buddy, George, was a large boy at this point – I inherited him from a friend – and I managed to keep him alive for another two years.
Of course, as a kid I couldn’t possibly understand what it really took to keep these fish alive. I watched my own die, but I watched my grandfather’s Black Moor and Celestial Eyes keep swimming and living for years and years.
He knew what to feed his fish. Here’s what I’ve learned since then about the best goldfish food.
Best Goldfish Food Quick-Find Table
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Why the Right Food is So Important
In recent years, more of us have become aware of the need for high-quality food for humans.
In even more recent years, those same principles have been applying to the pet food industry more and more.
We’ve come to see that fillers – like wheat and corn and soy – aren’t any better for our omnivorous and carnivorous friends with fins and tails than they are for us.
There are several reasons goldfish, bettas, and similar beloved swimmers die too young and two of them are related to their diet and the way we feed them.
The first is that goldfish are omnivorous.
That means they don’t just eat plants and they don’t just eat meat. They need a healthy balance of the two things to provide enough protein and other nutrients necessary for a healthy digestive system.
The problem with most goldfish food is that it is mostly made with filler ingredients like wheat, soy, or corn. These ingredients don’t give your goldfish enough of the meat-based protein he needs.
These filler products also cause your Goldy to have some digestive issues that lead to major health issues.
Wheat, corn, soy, and similar fillers can cause bloating and distention of the stomach of your goldfish. This backup can cause worse issues, like swim bladder problems.
The wrong food can actually result in an early demise for your finned friend.
What Happens if You Overfeed a Goldfish?
The second issue is the problem of overfeeding. These little scaly guys are easy to overfeed, so it’s important to take note.
Excess food in the aquarium can cause health problems for your fish. You might think overeating is the problem, but it’s actually the waste left behind from the rotting food floating around in there.
Rotten fish food produces ammonia, which is toxic for goldfish.
If you keep goldfish outside, it’s important not to feed them below 50-degrees Fahrenheit, as this is the temperature at which they start to hibernate. Processing food during stasis can cause issues for your goldfish as the freeze unfolds.
How to Tell if You’re Overfeeding
Your little goldfish buddies love food, but they can’t always eat everything that gets sprinkled into the tank.
Be sure to only feed the fish what it can eat in three to five minutes.
Anything left after that should be scooped out and thrown away, because it will just turn to rotten food that will accumulate in the substrate and break down into ammonia and other harmful substances.
You can tell there’s overfeeding happening because you will see broken down food turning brownish gray or blackish collecting in the substrate. This gross slime is called mulm and will produce those nasty toxins.
You can also spot overfeeding by seeing food that sinks to the bottom of the tank during feeding times. If the food gets to the bottom, it’s extremely rare for your fish to eat it.
If this happens with any consistency, then you know you need to cut back the amount you’re dropping into the tank for Orangey.
How to Avoid Overfeeding
I thought I’d toss in a few ideas for avoiding the overfeeding, since this is such an important and commonplace issue for goldfish.
- Only have one person do feedings. If that person knows the schedule, the goldfish won’t have multiple feedings in a single day.
- Portion out food before feedings and never directly dump from the container into the aquarium.
- Watch your fish as they eat to make sure the food is being eaten. Remove all uneaten food immediately. If uneaten food consistently happens, cut back on portion sizes.
What Do Goldfish Eat?
So, all of that leads to the all-important question: what should you feed your goldfish?
I’ve written an in-depth report on this, but the short of it is, if you met your goldfish in the wild, you’d see him dining on:
- Insects and worms,
- Smaller fish, and
- Even rotting plant matter.
They’re naturally from the wild ponds, rivers, and lakes where these food sources are abundant.
But since your golden pal lives in an aquarium, he doesn’t have these food sources easily available to him, unless you provide them.
However, you shouldn’t go out and catch insects and small fish in the wild as these may cause your domesticated goldfish harm. They have bacteria and diseases that your indoor goldfish can’t handle.
The Best Goldfish Diet in Captivity
Provide your goldfish with a few things, including the highest quality goldfish food. We’ll take a look at some of these momentarily, but supplements you can add to improve Goldy’s diet or what to feed goldfish without fish food include:
- Fibrous veggies – like lettuce, spinach, kale, cilantro, zucchini
- Natural treats – like earthworms, bloodworms, krill, daphnia
Goldfish are omnivores, so a balanced diet includes both those protein elements and the vegetation. Be sure to include both in your goldfish’s diet.
What Foods You Should Avoid Feeding Your Goldfish
There are definitely some foods to avoid feeding to your goldfish.
- Fish food designed for other fish – such as bettas
- Anything you catch yourself – worms, shrimp, insects, etc.
- Goldfish foods with significant fillers
Types of Food for Goldfish Available
Your goldfish needs a balance between various nutrients.
While staples may include things like pellets, gels, or flakes, you should also provide your fish pal with some treats like bloodworms, freeze-dried brine shrimp, and some vegetables to help keep his diet balanced.
The most common fish food available. I remember sprinkling way too many flakes into my goldfish’s aquarium on more than one occasion!
These are often made with mostly fillers, so be sure to find them with high protein counts and low carb counts, if you decide to use them.
The second most common goldfish food.
Be sure these are high-quality and not loaded up with wheat and corn.
Frozen food for your goldfish can be a good idea if you’ve got the time to thaw it out before each feeding.
Be sure to make sure the food is appropriate for your fish and only thaw out enough for a single feeding to avoid waste, since you cannot re-freeze food.
Freeze-dried options – like bloodworms – are popular options for goldfish treats.
Potentially the most rewarding food choice for your goldfish – especially fancy goldfish – is the gel food option.
The food is moist, made of healthy ingredients, and is easy on the digestive tract of your little guys.
Live food, of course, is always a great option if you can find the right source. Live foods may include:
- Brine shrimp
- Tubifex worms
- Glass worms
- Aquarium snails
How Often Do You Feed a Goldfish?
Your goldfish should be fed one or two times per day.
Start with two feedings to see if your fish is being overfed, and if so, cut back to a single feeding per day.
As they get used to their schedule, you’ll notice them swimming near the top, waiting for lunch. Some experts say goldfish should eat between two and three times a day. This really seems to be variable on the type of goldfish and its size.
How Much Do You Feed a Goldfish?
Your goldfish will usually eat what it can finish within three to five minutes once the food hits the water.
That’s generally about the amount of food that matches the size of your little buddy’s eye.
How Long Can Goldfish Go without Food?
Goldfish can go without food for somewhere between 8 days and 2 weeks.
This isn’t the best way to care for your fish, but at least if you wind up missing a feeding or two because of an emergency or overnight trip, your pal will still be okay.
What if Your Goldfish Won’t Eat
There are a few reasons your goldfish might not be eating.
- Your goldfish is overfed – if he has too much food, he simply won’t eat.
- Your goldfish’s aquarium is imbalanced – your fish needs the right pH balance, among other things. Grab some testing kits to see if there’s something wrong with the water.
- Your goldfish’s tank got too cold – Goldfish are hibernators. They’ll stop eating when the water gets too cold for them to properly digest.
- Your goldfish is stressed – Strange as it may seem, fish can get stressed by both changes in the aquarium and changes outside the aquarium. If something new has changed, give your fish a day or so to see if he evens out and starts eating again.
- Your goldfish is sick – This is the worst option, of course, but sometimes the lack of appetite comes down to not feeling well. If the other reasons all seem not to be the issue, call a vet to see what can be done for your little pal.
Reviews of the Best Goldfish Food
Now that we’ve got the run down on what to look for in goldfish food, the types there are available, and how often and how much to feed them, let’s take a look at the best goldfish food options available.
As noted above, gel food is one of the absolute best options for your goldfish. The moisture alone is a huge benefit to your fish’s digestion.
Repashy Super Gold provides your fish with a well-balanced option that he won’t be able to resist.
Gel foods come in powder form, but you can mix this one together really easily. You use a 3-to-1 ration of purified water to the powder – remember to always use purified water like you do for the tank! – and mix the powder together with heated water.
You whip up a bunch in advance – you can even use fun candy molds for shapes your kids will enjoy feeding to the fish – and store as recommended on the package.
It takes just ten minutes to offer your fish the best possible option. Well worth it.
- Type: Gel
- Protein: 40% minimum
- Crude fat: 6% minimum
- Crude fiber: 5% maximum
- Moisture: 8% maximum
- Ash: 10% maximum
Super Gold from Repashy comes highly recommended by tons of fish keepers, notably for a few things:
- No fillers or gluten
- Great for sensitive swim bladders – honestly, this is the best food for fancy goldfish
- Marine-based proteins
- Proven immunostimulants
The disadvantages include that the gel is more expensive than other forms of goldfish food and does require that ten minutes of preparation time. But for the health of your goldfish, both are completely worth it.
Our Verdict on Repashy Super Gold
Repashy Super Gold is a little pricer than other goldfish food options, but since it has not garbage filler ingredients or gluten, is easy and reasonably quick to prepare, and comes with a beneficial nutritional profile, we can’t really argue.
It’s totally worth the little bit extra time and money spent to make sure your goldfish are healthy, happy, and growing.
Since goldfish are omnivores who eat some veggies and aquatic plants like algae and seaweed, the Omega One Super Veggie Green Seaweed is a great treat and dietary supplement for your little goldy.
Omega One Super Veggie Green Sweaweed is a great treat to give to your fish because it provides them with some vitamins, Omega fatty acids, minerals, and other nutrients they need to help balance out their diet.
The nutrition profile isn’t hefty – after all the product is 100% seaweed – but it’s a tasty treat your goldy is bound to love.
- Type: Veggie
- Protein: Minimal
- Crude fat: Minimal
- Crude fiber: Minimal
- Moisture: Minimal
- Ash: Minimal
Omega One seaweed is made with the finest seaweed available and is perfect for the algae grazer that your little goldfish buddy is.
The bag is resealable for easily keeping it fresh for a long time and comes in pre-cut pieces that make it easy to feed and eliminate waste.
There are added vitamins and minerals as well to give your goldfish a boost of nutrition.
Our Verdict on Omega One Super Veggie Green Seaweed
This really is great way to add some nutrition to your goldfish’s diet. This alternative goldfish food pairs perfectly with gel foods, grain-free pellets or flakes, and gives your goldy a treat he’ll enjoy when he finds it floating on the top of the water.
Be sure to only use as a supplement, however, as it doesn’t provide protein and other vital nutrients he needs to stay healthy and happy.
Finding completely grain-free pellets for goldfish has proven to be just about impossible. But finding pellets with a higher, healthier protein content and lower carbohydrate profile has at least been possible with Fluval Bug Bites Pellets for Goldfish.
Unlike many other brands, their first ingredient – a guaranteed 40% ingredient of the blend – is a natural protein source for goldfish: black soldier fly larvae.
You and I think it’s disgusting, but your goldy is going to love it.
Because this one has a lower content of fillers, you can feel better about using it as a base staple for your goldfish’s normal diet.
The larvae, salmon, pea protein concentrate, and added vitamins and minerals make this one of the best food for goldfish growth choices.
- Type: Pellets
- Protein: 40%+
- Crude fat: 10% minimum
- Crude fiber: 6% maximum
- Moisture: 10% maximum
- Ash: 9% maximum
The pellets provide your goldfish with healthy scale building power through the rich Omega 3 and 6 formula, fortification of essential vitamins and minerals like calcium and Vitamin E, and the necessary amino acids for healthy organs.
The Fluval Bug Bites Pellets are processed sustainably in small batches to ensure quality control and maximum freshness as well, which means you know you’re getting the best option possible.
And though there are fillers, they’re not overly processed, nor are there added colors or preservatives.
Our Verdict on the Fluval Bug Bites Pellets for Goldfish
If you’re going to go with pellets as a staple dietary option for your goldfish, the Fluval Bug Bites Pellers are the way to go.
These have lower unhealthy carbohydrates, higher protein and Omega fats that your goldfish needs, and uses natural ingredients.
Your goldfish will love the base proteins, as well, which are salmon and black soldier fly larvae, a natural food for goldfish.
This fish food from Aqueon is designed specifically with young goldfish in mind.
The high protein – at 35% – is combined with ingredients like spirulina and astaxanthin to promote bright colors in your little goldfish babies – or adults – and give needed vitamins and minerals for goldfish growth.
They’re also great for oranda and koi.
Aqueon is one of the best goldfish food brands available and well-trusted with their products for the aquarium.
This fish food for goldfish will help your fish grow and flourish, if fed properly and supplemented with other things like bloodworm for goldfish or sun-dried baby shrimp and things like seaweed treats and vegetables.
- Type: Pellets
- Protein: 35% minimum
- Crude fat: 5% minimum
- Crude fiber: 5% maximum
- Moisture: 9% maximum
- Ash: unspecified
The slow-sinking pellets provide your goldfish with healthy nutritional values that help keep your fish energized and fighting off illness with a healthy fish immune system.
Our Verdict on Aqueon Color Enhancing Goldfish Granules
While we don’t love the fact that some fish meal and grains are used, we do love that the content on these is much lower than many other brands provide in baby goldfish food options.
Plus, the added vitamins and minerals that help your goldfish’s color also helps his scale and fin health and internal organ health.
Overall, if you need a simple staple to help your goldfish babies get a boost on growth and color enhancement, this is a fairly decent option.