Can You Overfeed a Goldfish?

“Goldfish” is a fancy name for the common carp. Because the goldfish is bred for looks not functionality, it has a very delicate internal system. Its organs are made for a larger fish and thus are squeezed inside of its tiny body. To maximize your goldfish’s quality and quantity of life, pay particular attention to its diet. It is entirely possible to overfeed goldfish. Furthermore, you want to feed it high-quality food that may cost you a bit more money.

How Much Should You Feed Your Fish?

Have you ever seen a goldfish become a little enlarged, almost bloated? One of the early signs of dropsy is off-kilter movement, when the fish cannot swim well because it is unbalanced by the added weight. Perhaps you will also see an eye bulge out from the added internal pressure. Dropsy is caused by retention of fluids in the goldfish’s already cramped organs.

One of the ways to cause or exacerbate dropsy is by feeding it too much food. Just like its less vibrantly colored relatives in the carp family, goldfish are omnivores and tend to forage for food. Thus, they will consume almost any edible thing available to them, even eating themselves to death.

Goldfish flakes tend to be too high in fat but not high enough in nutrition. Fish can gain weight too but for a goldfish, an accumulation of body fat will quickly be its death. The fat will press in on their organs causing gas and bloating. It’s too easy to overfeed goldfish with the flakes and the food dissipates quickly in the water – creating unhealthy conditions.

Twice per day, feed your adult goldfish 3 pellets and younger fish one or two more. Many websites recommend a two-minute timeframe but this is a sure way to overfeed the little guy. With that said, what you feed your fish is also important so purchase a high-quality pellet or gel food made without cheap fillers. Overfeeding, along with unsuitable water salinity, can cause dropsy when the goldfish’s electrolytes become imbalanced.

Methods to Feeding

Because goldfish are carp, they will eat almost any type of food. Therefore, give them some greens. Lettuce, spinach, or other leafy veggies are healthy for humans and goldfish. Hold back on the pellets so that they will have no choice but to eat their vegetables. Try feeding them pellets in the morning and then leafy greens at night. You can hand feed the lettuce using a specialized clip sold in fish supply stores so that you don’t get a build-up of rotting vegetables at the bottom of your tank. Other nutritious foods for goldfish are live worms and brine shrimp – if you can stomach seeing these wiggly creatures being eaten alive in your tank.

If you have more than one goldfish, chances are that one is more athletic than the other. Therefore, you cannot just spill pellets in the tank and count on all eating their fair share. One will most definitely eat more pellets than was allotted to it. Try feeding each one by hand one pellet at a time. Yes, it is more time consuming but it really is the only way to guarantee each fish will eat the right amount.

Goldfish Can Have Long Lives

Due to selective breeding, goldfish have sensitive systems that have different nutritional needs and premium fish food will help ensure a long life. Of course, there are so many other factors involved in keeping your fish healthy. Food is one of the most important – you are what you eat! Your goldfish, with the correct care and attention, can live upwards of 10 years!

By Gabrielle Allemeier


The Goldfish Tank: Dropsy – Does Your Goldfish Look Swollen?
Pure Goldfish: What No One Tells You About Feeding Your Goldfish

About the Author
Gabrielle Allemeier volunteers her free time as an animal rescuer and foster pet parent. As an animal lover, she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained from her experience with a variety of animals. Along with being an animal lover, Gabrielle is a globetrotter. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her terrier, Thisbe.