All About Goldfish Feeding

goldfish feedingIt can be challenging knowing what exactly your goldfish might need when it comes to food and nutritional care. This is particularly the case if you did not plan on becoming a goldfish owner. How can this happen you may ask. For example, if your children go to a local carnival or state fair and play a certain ring toss game then their prize winnings may very well be a goldfish or two. These goldfish are not always very big or in excellent health. However, you can turn that around by providing an adequate aquarium and a well-rounded diet.

What should I feed my goldfish?

Fish Flakes:
This answer might seem pretty obvious to some of you. Just go to the local pet store and pick up a canister of fish food. What goldfish would not love a flaky meal? Well, you would not be wrong. Goldfish flakes are designed to provide your goldfish with certain nutrients and vitamins that they need in their everyday diet. Moreover, goldfish tend to enjoy fish flakes because they are tasty. Why are they so tasty? One word, Sorbitol! What is Sorbitol? Sorbitol is a crystal-like substance that is commonly found in fruits. This crystalline compound is added to the goldfish flakes to add an enticing, sweet flavor.

Fish pellets:
These tiny products are packed with natural proteins and nutrients that are perfect for supporting your goldfish’s immune system. The pellets are usually created with whole salmon, cod, and halibut. Whole kelp, wheat flour, soy flour and wheat gluten are a few other ingredients you can expect from fish pellets.

You can feel confident in adding a piece of lettuce, broccoli or even smashed peas to the top of the tank for your goldfish to enjoy.

Plants and plant roots:
Goldfish are often seen munching away at the leaves and roots of certain plants. These items provide necessary fiber and nutrients to the fish. You can try to feed your goldfish aquarium plants and roots that have been recommended for goldfish such as Rotala, Egeria, and Duckweed.

Insects, worms, and larvae:
This will likely be your least favorite food option for your goldfish. However, your goldfish will go crazy for various insects, worms, and larvae! Your goldfish will probably enjoy any type of bug, worm or larvae that you provide to him. It is essential that you are careful and do your research. Some insects, worms, and larvae may contain harmful parasites, etc. which could be transferred to your goldfish. Discuss your options with a goldfish expert at the local pet store.

When should I feed my goldfish?
Goldfish are known to be “munchers” and enjoy foraging and eating all day long. That does not mean that he should be eating all day long. Try feeding your goldfish a little in the morning, afternoon and evening. If you notice there are leftovers on the aquarium floor, then cut back a little. Try feeding only twice a day (morning and evening). The best way to know when to feed them is by observing their behavior throughout the day. Are your goldfish particularly anxious at a certain point in the day? If so, then try giving them a little food around that time. Work around your schedule as well as their behaviors. If you decide to feed your goldfish various types of food (i.e. insects, flakes, plants), then try feeding certain foods at certain times. For example, try feeding them the flakes in the morning (or your busiest time of day) since flakes only need seconds to consume. Then provide the plants or another type of food later in the day when you have more time. Plants may need to be hand-fed and would require more time and patience from you.

How much food does my goldfish need per feeding?

Fish Flakes and pellets:
The best rule of thumb when feeding a goldfish is only to provide what he can consume in three minutes or less. Usually, a small pinch of flakes 2 or 3 times a day, every day is the way to go. However, if your goldfish has not consumed the quantity you have provided within a few minutes, then it is safe to assume confidently you are feeding him too much, and you should consider cutting back. The extra food will float to the bottom of the tank, dissolve and begin to cloud the tank water. Avoiding this event is important. Finally, be cautious about how much you are feeding your goldfish. Do not overfeed your goldfish, even if he begs! It can not only result in a cloudy tank, but it can also cause your goldfish to become overweight and possibly lead to death.
For best results when feeding a goldfish pellets, feed your goldfish by hand 3 to 5 pellets 2 to 3 times per day.

Do not give your goldfish too much lettuce or other veggies at one time. Uneaten vegetables will easily get moldy and begin to cloud the tank.

Your goldfish may consume the algae inside his tank, and therefore, it is not easily controlled by you. However, cleaning your tank will reduce if not remove any algae growing inside the aquarium. Do not rely on the algae as one of his meals.

Plants and plant roots:
Plants and roots should not be fed to your fish everyday, once a week should sufice. You want to allow your goldfish to accept the plants or roots from your hand, or add live plants to your aquarium. Your goldfish can then nibble whenever he feels the urge. Take caution as many goldfish breeds enjoy uprooting their live plants. If they succeed in doing so you could have quite a messy tank on your hands.

Insects, worms and larvae:
Once you figure out what insects, worms, and larvae are safe to feed your goldfish you may want to feed them a strict diet of them. However, the best way to approach a goldfish’s diet is to alternate food types with time of day and the day itself. For example, if you feed your goldfish fish flakes in the morning, and a couple insects at lunch then maybe provide some vegetables or plants for dinner. The next day, do something different. So on and so forth.

What can I do when I go on vacation?

The first thing you need to do is find someone who can stop in a couple times a day to feed your goldfish. I suggest getting a house sitter for the length of your departure, especially if you have more than one pet (or house plants).

Once you find that kind neighbor or family member that is willing to house sit for you, write out a feeding schedule for each day that you are gone. If everything is written down (including how much and when) then it will make your house sitter’s job much easier and provide you with peace of mind.

Write down where everything is that your house sitter may need. This can include the net (in case one of your fish dies or becomes ill), and the various food choices. Include any further instructions (i.e. water the ficus) by the back door. If you will be gone for more than two weeks then also leave a list of the items needed for tank cleanings and water changes.
Provide a number where they can reach you as well as someone in town, in case they need assistance.

Another great tool you can use is an automatic fish feeder. These are relatively inexpensive and are easy and convenient to use.

Finally, do a thorough aquarium cleaning and 30% water change before you leave. If you will be gone for more than two weeks then leave instructions for your house sitter to perform another cleaning and water change.