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What Do Goldfish Eat: Healthy Goldfish Diet Without Worries

Picking the right diet for a pet is always important. Do you want to take care of your goldfish? In that case you need to understand: what do goldfish eat? You’re on the right page, keep reading.

Quick Answer

You should be feeding your goldfish a variety of flakes, pellets, live foods, freeze-dried protein, gel foods, vegetables, and fruits. A goldfish’s diet should consist of roughly 40% protein, as this is one of the most important nutrients for the healthy growth and development of a goldfish.

Keep on reading to learn more about the diet of a goldfish! It’ll definitely help you take good care of yours.

What Do Goldfish Eat in the Wild?

In the wild, goldfish are very opportunistic eaters. Just like most other animals, they have to eat what they can when they can. This means that they have a pretty varied diet, ranging from insects and plants, to crustaceans, and more.

Some of the most common foods that goldfish eat in the wild include, but are not limited to zooplankton, tadpoles, algae, worms, fish eggs, blood worms, brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, baby lobsters, water fleas, insect larvae, water lettuce, mosquitoes, and anacharis.

In terms of what goldfish eat in the wild, there are two main points to remember. First, goldfish are absolutely terrible hunters. This means as far as eating live foods go, goldfish are more or less limited to insects, insect larvae, and eggs of fish and insects. 

Second, goldfish have very small mouths that make it difficult to consume larger foods. These two factors dictate what goldfish can and cannot eat in the wild.

The Best Foods to Feed Pet Goldfish

You’re probably not going to be able to exactly recreate the diet of a goldfish when keeping one as a pet, but you can get pretty close.

To provide a goldfish with all of the nutrients and minerals it needs for maintenance and survival, a combination of the following foods should be fed to them. We will also take a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of each type of fish food.


Goldfish in the ground looking for food in aquarium

Goldfish flakes or regular fish flake food is one of the most sought-after, commonly used, and affordable types of fish food for a goldfish. It’s also one of the most convenient types of food, as it’s very easy to give to any fish.

These fish flakes are usually a mixture of many different ingredients, hopefully with the right ones to provide your goldfish with a balanced diet. These flakes usually have a good deal of protein.

Goldfish flakes float at the top of the tank and gradually sink to the bottom, therefore making them easy for goldfish to snag.

Just watch out that you get high-quality goldfish food with proper ingredients, because some lower quality options contain a lot of fillers that can end up causing more harm than good. API Goldfish Flakes are one of my favorites to consider. 


Another extremely popular type of food to feed your goldfish is the pellet, with one of my favorites being these Fluval Bug Bites Goldfish Pellets. Pellet food is quite similar to flake food in terms of nutritional composition, although many types have a higher nutritional content and allow for a more well balanced diet than fish flakes.

The good thing about pellet food is that there is the type available for almost virtually any type of fish out, and this includes goldfish. Pellet food can be a bit more expensive than flakes, although the quality is generally also a little bit higher.

Goldfish inside aquarium eating sinking pallets from the gravel

Keep in mind that there are both floating fish pellets and sinking fish pellets. You also have ones that float for a little while before slowly sinking to the bottom, which is what people generally recommend for goldfish. Remember that goldfish are kind of slow and aren’t great hunters.

Important: read this page to learn more about the risk of goldfish choking on their food and how to prevent this.

Live Foods

Although goldfish are far from being excellent hunters by nature, they do still eat some live foods as long as they can catch them. Some of the most common live foods eaten by goldfish include aquarium snails, tubifex worms, brine shrimp, and daphnia.

They may also eat crickets, small grasshoppers, other small insects, black worms, mealworms, and even other very small types of shrimp. Keep in mind however that only a part of your goldfish’s diet should be made-up out of live food.

Furthermore, live foods can sometimes contain parasites or diseases that are not good for goldfish, especially lower quality store bought live foods. For this reason, many people who are dedicated goldfish owners actually raise their own live foods, although this does include a lot of work.

Freeze Dried Food

In terms of the content, freeze dried food is very similar to live food, with the big difference of course being that these are no longer living.

The big advantage with freeze dried food is that the chances of it containing any kind of parasites or diseases that will harm your fish are very minimal. Furthermore, freeze dried food also has a much longer shelf life than live food, not to mention that freeze dried foods are still rich in protein and fats.

Some of the best freeze dried food options to give your goldfish include freeze dried blood worms, black worms, brine shrimp, ghost shrimp, squid, crickets, mealworms, daphnia, and tubifex worms.

Gel Foods

I won’t spend much time on this because this is a relatively new type of fish food that most people don’t have much experience with. However, gel food is quickly becoming quite popular.

These are powders that have to be mixed with water to form a gel-like substance. Although goldfish don’t enjoy this type of food all that much, it is usually nutritionally complete. It should provide your goldfish with a well-balanced diet.

Vegetables and Fruit

While protein is a big part of your goldfish’s diet, they do also need some vegetables, particularly for the fiber and vitamins.

Some of the best vegetables to feed your goldfish include shelled peas, kale, chard, lettuce, spinach, boiled and diced broccoli, boiled and diced corn, boiled and diced carrots, and boiled and diced zucchini.

Remember to first boil or blanch these vegetables so they become soft enough for your goldfish to eat, and make sure that you cut them into very small pieces as well.

You can also give your goldfish some fruit, although it’s less common than vegetables. Remember that fruits have a lot of sugar, so too much should be avoided.

However, some skinned and diced grapes, small pieces of watermelon, orange, apple, banana, strawberries, mangoes, raspberries, and pears all make for great treats. Although they do contain some nutrition for goldfish, they certainly aren’t nutritionally complete, so your fish can’t survive on just vegetables and fruit alone.

Also interesting: how often should you feed your goldfish? Check out this page to learn more about the ideal feeding schedule for your goldfish!

Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Goldfish

There are two main foods which people often give their goldfish which should actually be avoided. First of all, fats that come from animals, especially from red meats such as beef and pork, should be avoided at all costs.

Fish just cannot digest mammal-based fats very well at all and can cause serious illness. 

Furthermore, even though you might see a lot of people feeding fish bread, this is very unhealthy. Bread swells up in the intestines of the fish and causes bloating, which in some cases may lead to death. Do not feed bread to your pet fish!


I hope that this guide has provided you with all of the information you need to properly feed your goldfish. 

Remember to provide your goldfish with a nutritionally balanced diet that contains roughly 35% to 40% protein, about the same amount of carbs, and a good bit of minerals too. 

If you provide your goldfish with high-quality food, keeping it healthy and happy should be no problem.

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