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Ideal Goldfish Feeding Schedule: How Often & How Much

Many people seem to have trouble with deciding how much food to feed their goldfish, and how often to feed them, a problem that I am about to tackle. Here’s the best feeding schedule for your goldfish.

Quick Answer

Generally speaking, you want to feed your goldfish as much food as it can eat in no more than 3 minutes, and you want to do so twice per day. Remember that both overfeeding and underfeeding your goldfish can cause problems, so sticking to a schedule is important.

Keep reading to find out everything there is to know about how often and how much to feed your goldfish, especially if you plan on having it live to a ripe old age. 

Best Feeding Schedule for a Goldfish

Something to remember here is that goldfish have relatively small stomachs. This means that they really can’t eat very much at once. 

Also remember that if you feed your goldfish too much, it can lead to digestive problems as well as water quality issues.

Goldfish eating food

A general rule of thumb here is that you want to feed your goldfish no more food and it can comfortably consume within two or three minutes at the very most. Whether you give your fish enough food to last for two minutes or three minutes will it take a bit of trial and error to see how voracious of an eater your specific goldfish is.

Not all goldfish are exactly the same, and some may be a bit larger or smaller, and some may have slightly faster or slower metabolisms. However, if you give your goldfish as much food as they can eat in about 2.5 minutes, you are definitely on the right track.

How Often to Feed a Goldfish

You not only need to feed your goldfish the right amount of food at individual feeding times, but you also need to provide your goldfish with a consistent feeding schedule. Before I talk about how often you should feed your goldfish, I do want to talk about consistency. 

Just like human beings, goldfish are also creatures of routine, and they get used to doing certain tasks at certain times.

This means that you should always feed your goldfish at the same time of day, whether you do so once or twice. This brings us to the next point, that it is common for people to feed their goldfish either once a day or twice a day. 

This really depends on a variety of factors, such as metabolism, as well as your own preferences. Either way, as long as your goldfish gets enough food, they will survive.

If you prefer feeding your goldfish only once per day, you might want to give them enough food to last for about 5 minutes, just so they don’t go hungry. However, if you plan on feeding your goldfish twice per day, giving it as much as it can eat in 2.5 minutes is more than enough.

Going back to routine, if you plan on feeding your goldfish once per day, you can choose any time of day you see fit. 

If you plan on feeding your goldfish twice per day, you need to spread out the feedings evenly. For instance, this might mean feeding your goldfish at 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM, or something of that nature. Remember, consistency is key. 

What Happens If You Overfeed a Goldfish?

One of the worst things that you can do with a goldfish is to overfeed them, which unfortunately is very easily done. There are a variety of issues that may occur if you overfeed your goldfish, so let’s take a quick look at what these might be.

Digestive Issues

One of the biggest issues that will arise here are digestive issues. Goldfish have small stomachs and over feeding them can lead to some pretty serious digestive issues. 

Eating too much food can lead to bloating, constipation, and even swim bladder issues. These are all conditions that can lead to severe discomfort, it can prevent your goldfish from swimming properly, and in some cases may even prove to be lethal.

Stress and Health Issues

In general, if your goldfish is being overfed, the health issues that it may lead to may also eventually lead to increased stress and other health issues. 

For instance, if fish is overly stressed out, it can weaken its immune system, therefore making it more susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections, as well as other types of parasites. Overall, it is likely that overfeeding your goldfish will lead to a decreased lifespan.

Different Behavior

Although it may not be life threatening per se, if your goldfish is overfed, it might become lethargic, lazy, and stop swimming around so frequently. 

Some goldfish that are overfed may also display very erratic swimming patterns. This is likely due to general discomfort.

Water Quality Issues

Even if overfeeding your goldfish didn’t cause any health issues, it still causes problems within the tank. First and foremost, excessive food in the tank lowers the water quality, because decaying food releases ammonia and other toxic substances that are not healthy for your fish.

This means that the water quality will be worse for your fish, which in itself can lead to stress and health issues. Furthermore, this also makes her filter work overtime and puts much bigger strain on that aquarium filter.

On that note, poor water quality can also cause algae growth to occur. Algae likes to feed on excessive nutrients in the water, which is exactly what you have when you overfeed your fish. 

At the very least, you’ll have to maintain your aquarium and aquarium water much more frequently and consistently if you are overfeeding your fish.

What Happens if You Underfeed a Goldfish?

Although overfeeding goldfish is generally the much bigger problem, some people don’t give their fish enough food, and this can also lead to some issues.


If you aren’t feeding your goldfish enough, you might notice that they are aggressive. They might start bullying each other and other tank mates in search of food.


If your goldfish isn’t getting enough food, it’s not getting enough calories, which means that it’s not getting enough fuel. This can lead to reduced energy levels, and specifically you might notice that your fish become lethargic.

General Malnutrition

If your goldfish is not getting enough food, it means that they aren’t getting the nutrients they need for their overall health and growth. This can result in a wide variety of issues, with slow growth being one of them.

It may also lead to a weakened immune system and an increased debility to developing a variety of infections and diseases. 

At the very least, it may also lead to a loss of color. In general, chronic malnutrition will lead to poor health, and may eventually also lead to death.

Wondering how long a goldfish can go without food? Read more on that here.

Some Valuable Goldfish Feeding Tips

Before we call it a day, let’s quickly go over some of the most valuable tips you can follow when feeding your goldfish, for the best results on a consistent basis.

The Type of Food

You always need to consider the type of food that you are giving your goldfish. This is because the type of food you are using may change the portion size you give your fish. I recommend going with regular goldfish pellets, although flakes are also a possibility.

You may need to adjust the amount of food you give your goldfish depending on how much they eat in a certain amount of time. 

Always just start with a small pinch or a few pellets and look to see how fast your goldfish eats them, and then adjust the amount based on how much they eat in 3 minutes at most.

On that note, I am going to recommend staying away from floating fish pellets. While some people have great experiences with this type of food, in my own experience, it is not ideal. 

The reason for this is because goldfish tend to swallow a lot of air at the surface when they are going for floating foods, and this can cause problems.

A Well-Balanced Diet

Remember that goldfish require a good deal of protein in their diets, so although you can give them some vegetables and other such treats, the majority of their food should be protein.

This means that you should be providing your goldfish with a variety of frozen or live foods, protein sources, basic fish foods, and even some blanched vegetables.

The type of food you choose for your goldfish is very important. I highly recommend reading our guide on the ideal goldfish diet next.

Goldfish Age and Metabolism

Something else to consider when feeding your goldfish is that size and age can affect how much they eat and how fast they eat. For instance, younger goldfish usually have much faster metabolisms than older goldfish, and therefore will need more food.

On that note, keeping the metabolism in mind is very important, something that can be affected by water temperature. 

The warmer the water is, the faster the metabolism will usually be, which means that your goldfish will consume more food. Of course, how large your goldfish is makes the difference as well.


If you give your goldfish as much food as they can eat in between two and three minutes, up to twice a day, you shouldn’t have any problems on this front. Remember that overfeeding and underfeeding your goldfish can cause issues, so this is best avoided.

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