Goldfish Diet and Nutrition

Goldfish are natural omnivores, so a varied diet is an important factor in keeping goldfish healthy and disease free.

In the wild, goldfish feed on algae, plants, plant roots, worms, insects, larvae, tadpoles, small fish, snails and anything else they can fit in their mouths to taste and check if it’s ok to eat.

Although aquarium and pond goldfish are not wild and look nothing like wild goldfish, they have exactly the same digestive tract, and need the same sort of diet.

Feeding them flakes from a tin twice a day is not the way to do it.


As stated above, it is best to try to mimic what goldfish would experience in the wild. As they would be almost constantly grazing, small meals are better than large meals. If goldfish are given a lot of food one or two times a day, they will pass most of it undigested. Goldfish do not have a stomach to hold food in while it is broken down, it just keeps on moving.

Dried Flakes, Pellets and Tablets

These types of goldfish food should be used as a base in their diet, but not as the only source of nutrition. The better ones will provide fibre, vitamins and minerals – as well as some quality protein, but they will not provide a varied diet.

Also, beware of flakes that are bulked up with cheap corn starch, or use cheaper vegetable proteins instead of fish proteins.

Another point worth noting is that dried foods swell up when they get wet. If they swell inside a goldfish, they may cause the swim bladder to be pressed out of shape, causing problems for the goldfish.

Frozen and Freeze Dried Food

These types of food are high in nutritional value, and there is plenty of variety. They are high in protein and contain all the amino acids that goldfish need for healthy muscles and tissue.

Freeze dried foods also need to be pre-soaked because, like dried food, they swell up when they get wet.

Live Food

Live food such as daphnia, freshwater shrimp and midge larvae is the most nutritional of all for goldfish. However there are a number of problems associated with giving live food to goldfish.

Firstly it is much more likely than any other goldfish food to carry disease or cause illness.

If worms or larvae are harvested from the wild, it is vital to ensure they do not come from ground that has been exposed to pesticide.

Secondly, they are harder to obtain than other types of goldfish food, and it is often necessary to breed them in separate tanks.

Finally some species of worm can disappear into gravel and set up home in an aquarium, causing problems for the goldfish and the aquarium.

Fruit and Vegetables

Certain aquatic plants can be grown in separate tanks and fed to goldfish, and they also enjoy a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

Make sure hard vegetables like carrots are cooked or finely grated, citrus fruit sections have the skin removed, things like peas and grapes are peeled, and softer items like lettuce and apple are chopped up. Fruit that is made of small constituent parts like raspberries can be dropped in whole, and the goldfish will pull the smaller manageable parts off.

One word of warning about fruit and vegetable – use them as treats and nibbles, not as a major part of a goldfish diet.

30 Responses to “Goldfish Diet and Nutrition”

  1. Alex Faith Schell Says:


    This helps me so much! Thank you for writing this. I have 1 goldfish named George at home. How do you know if it is a boy or girl?

    Alex x

  2. Shawna Says:


    My goldfish will only eat the food if it is moving so I can just put a raspberry in there.


  3. NatHallynn Katisone Says:


    My goldfish is the same as Shawna’s. I have alot of food on the bottom of the tank because he wouldn’t eat it and I have to clean it constantly.

    Love this helpful little article,

  4. Sandeep Jagannath Says:


    Thanks for the article abt the diet,

    I have 6 goldfishes and i will treat them once in a 2 weeks time with grated and cooked peas and carrot they just love this feast.

    I have also tried with the fruit diet of apple they enjoy the treat.

    Thanks and Regards,


  5. GoldenFisher Says:

    HI there!

    Has anyone here tried the raspberry tip? I just want to double check that it is safe before I try it. 🙂

    Thank you for this very helpful article!

  6. GoldenFisher Says:

    P.s Note for Alex- here are some ways to tell if your fish a boy or girl:
    🙂 the boys have 2 fins under the belly, while the girls only have 1

  7. lilly Says:

    hey my goldfish wont eat anything other than flakes,, but i havent tried apple or rasberry yet. just want to make sure these are safe for them to eat?

    lilly 🙂

  8. YS Says:

    thanks for the tips
    my fish seem to love eating flakes but i have tried giving them blackberries
    they just eat them and spit the seeds out

  9. samuel Says:

    help! why is my black moor getting bitten by my other fish? i have 7 fish in my 30 gallon fish tank. those other fish are common goldfish and ryukin goldfish.and thanks for the tips!

  10. samuel Says:

    hey is it okay if i add an auratus cichlid there in my tank?

  11. alcrisp Says:

    help! my baby fantail goldfish ( who is 2 inches long) is bullied by my other 5 inch fantail they blinded him. please help! what should i do? bothe eyes are blind and it cant eat! they are fighting over the carrot

  12. Kelsey B. Says:

    Great! Now I know All of my goldfish are boys!
    Now what am I suppose to name the one I thought was a girl!

    Thanks for the knew knowlage!
    Kelsey B.

  13. zahin Says:

    hi my name is zahin.i have a question to ask.This is the question.How to bring goldfish on a vacation during school holidays

  14. Tiffany Says:

    hi there! Quick goldfish, who I got from the fair, which I expected to die, is remarkably living going on a month since the fair..seems very healthy, active, always wants tol eat, and has grown to be 2in maybe slightly longer. He was only about an inch n a 4th wen I got him.. Well I jus disovered that on the gills of both sides are tiny white spots which I assume area signs of ich..well howr do I treat him if warmer water isnt really good for him? Should I treat the water longer than 10 days? Howr longer does my fish have to live?

  15. emmy Says:


  16. Beth Says:

    My fish freak out over green beans that have been boiled down until they’re soft. Especially the actual beans inside. Arashi will literally spazz out and rub himself all over the vegetable in between bites. It’s pretty bizarre. 🙂 I’ve never been able to get them to eat any leafy greens. Kintaro just spits out the peas and leaves a pea-spit-cloud all in the tank. :/ I’ve tried seaweed as well. They seem interested at first, but then decide they don’t like it. The apple and carrot ones I’ve never heard of. I’ll have to try them.

    I always supplement the commerical fish food with occasional vegetables. The extra bulk of fiber keeps them from getting constipated. After I first got Kintaro, he had constipation issues from where the store hadn’t properly supplemented his diet. I remedied that fairly quickly. 🙂 Also, I see freeze-dried baby shrimp (my little guys are only an inch long each) in the store and have always wondered if they’d like that as a treat as well.

  17. Ruby Cookie Blue Says:

    Okay, so my fish died when he jumped out my tank to try and attack my cat. I won him at a fair while playing darts… I hit an 8th of Diamonds card and he was the same colour as lucozade which is was drinking at the time… Which he got his name: Luca Diamond (:
    He lived for three years until he devolped a sudden hatered for my cat xD
    I thought I would share my short story of my fish :/

    Questions: – How do you actually tell the difference between both sexes with comon goldfish?
    – My plecos tail is falling off ¬_¬ What the hell do I do?
    – One of my fish has really big painful looking veins running threw his tail? Is that normal or what? :S
    – Also, I wanted to know about bloodworms? Can comon goldfish eat them as well as pleco’s and a weather loach?

    Thank you Ruby Cookie Blue <- facebook me xD <3

  18. Mac Says:

    Hey Zahin,
    I’ve had healthy fantails for two years, and have also had to bring them back and forth between two tanks in order to visit the hometown during breaks. I typically just put them in separate gladware containers for the drive home. They’re usually in the containers no more than about 2-4 hours.

    They’re the last to be packed up, and the first to be unpacked. I do full scrub downs of my tank before leaving, and of the secondary one when arriving at the new destination.

    I haven’t had any problems with my goldfish and they seem to be happy in either location, except now when they’ve been infected with ick from two algae eaters that were recently introduced.

    A friend that owns a pet shop also mentioned that before treating for ick it’s a good idea to do a full cleaning of the tank and decorations, use a gravel vac, and do 2 doses of acquarium salt for two days while using a fungal treatment. So that’s also an option.

  19. karlene Says:

    will they eat ghost shrimp

  20. Alex Says:

    Here is the scoop. I have approx 800-1000 Gallon pond in my backyard and the fish are moved from a rain barrel in my basement around April to the pond (Or when I am comfortable with the pond temperature) and put back in around end of Oct or begining of Nov. I have 25 Goldfish and 3 Plecos. In the summer the pond can pretty much sustain all their needs and we can throw in a few pellets once a week. Its going on a year and half now and we have only lost one goldfish and no plecos. The Plecos which started as maybe under an inch in length when I bought them are almost 10 inches in length. In the winter when they are in the rain barrel I throw in some pellets daily and half a cumcumber every few days. I’m wondering if I am overfeeding them yet I am hesistant to unintentionally starve them. The fish are always happily pushing the cucumber around the bottom and are very lively to see when I peer over the barrel to see whats going on. There are no natural plants in the barrel, unlike the “natural” ones I have gone swamp diving for to put into the pond. Oh on a side note, the Goldfish have been breeding this summer and we had 6 new additions. Should there have been more??? I thought fish bred in the hundreds. Approx how cold can the water be for me to safely switch the fish to the pond in the spring? I’ve heard +12 celcius though that seemed more like a guideline than a rule. Any suggestions on improvements?

  21. kagedraven Says:

    to the guy who said the way you tell a golfishes sex is by the fins… that is nonsense.. it is pretty much impossible to tell the sex of your goldfish when it is still young but if you look at a fish as it grows larger it may grow very small white bumps on the ouside of its gills and front fins these are called tubicles and are only present in the males they use them to prompt females to release eggs.

    if your goldfish is large, fed well and doesn’t grow any white bumps it is probably female x

    hope this helped 😛

  22. kagedraven Says:

    P.S I own two male and one female goldfish at present and have witnessed their matng behaviours so I know this to be a fact. The female has two bottom fins.

  23. Heather Says:

    Poster above is right. I’ve my goldfish have spawned 3 times. Only visible difference is makes get white spots on gills during mating season. Males will also begin chasing the females. There is also a slight bOdy shape difference — makes are a little more bulky in the abdomin but this is subtle.

    Ps for poster about ick- just get a heater and increase water temp most ick comes from too cold water.

    Pps poster with fish with painful veins in tail. That sounds like skin burns due to high ammonia. Your tank is dirty. Goldfish are the dirtiest out there so you cannot keep in a bowl or without ample room and filtration.

  24. Me is Me Says:

    Darn what is and isnt true ways to tell if ur fishy is a boy or a girl

  25. Brianna Says:

    Well i got a gold fish from a fair today and I’m prepared to give it a happy life!!! what say u

  26. dwyane Says:

    ive had the same goldfish for 7 years now and all ive done is given him flakes. i just ruined your article, sorry! and i got the fish when i was 13. i am now 20 and my fish is fine.

  27. ingrid Says:

    this really helped me take care of my fish and now i also know that his is a male……………….:)

  28. ingrid Says:

    thanks for puting this article on this website it helps alot thanks………..

  29. Carissa Says:

    To tell male and females apart is the shape of thiers tales. My fish are 2 and my male fishes tales just “fanned” out this year. My female tale is not so fanned. Bottom line males are much more prettier than females and their back tales are a much bigger fan;)

  30. Monissha Says:

    My goldfish are constantly digging at gravels and surfacing as though asking for food. Do I give them?

    BTW, appreciate the article. It has been very helpful indeed. 🙂

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