Person putting food in an aquarium

When it comes to keeping your Fancy Goldfish healthy, proper nutrition is vital. If you’re a pond owner, you likely know that the feeding guidelines for Pond Goldfish are almost identical to those of Koi. However, Fancy Goldfish–which should be kept indoors in a tank or aquarium–have different dietary needs than their pond-dwelling relatives. Read on to learn the ins and outs of feeding your Fancy Goldfish. 

Nutritional Guidelines for Fancy Goldfish

Variety is essential when it comes to the diet of your Fancy Goldfish. While Goldfish are omnivores and their diet should be mostly vegetable-based, they also need a high amount of protein. Protein should comprise 30-45% of a Fancy Goldfish’s diet, though the percentages vary depending on age. Younger Goldfish need more protein to support proper growth, around 35-40%. Older Goldfish require less protein, typically 30-35% is acceptable.

Fancy Goldfish do not have a high-fat requirement. Around 5-10% of a Goldfish’s diet should be fats or lipids–slightly more for young, growing Goldfish. Anything higher than this can impact liver function in adult Goldfish. Fats in the diet should be unsaturated fats like fish oil. 

Goldfish do not require much fiber or carbohydrates. Fiber should not exceed 10%. Too much fiber can lead to digestive issues and make it more difficult for Goldfish to get nutrients from their food. Ideally, carbohydrate and starch levels should also be under 10% to prevent them from building up in the liver, which can cause health issues later in life. 

While almost all commercial foods will include some type of filler, it’s best to choose foods with these fillers listed lower on the ingredient list–indicating a lower percentage in the feed. Common fillers include corn, wheat flour, or barley. 

Types of Goldfish Food

When choosing what to feed your Fancy Goldfish, plenty of options are available. Regardless of what type of food you choose, compare the ingredient labels to determine which brand is the most nutritious.


Flakes are likely what comes to mind when you think of Goldfish food. Flakes are the most common type of Goldfish food, especially among first-time Goldfish owners. Flakes float on the water’s surface, break down over time, and sink to the bottom of the tank. Quality flakes are relatively inexpensive and typically contain the necessary nutrients for your fish. 

However, flakes do have a few downsides. The first is that Goldfish may swallow excess air while eating flakes off the water’s surface, which can cause digestion issues. Another common problem with flake food is that it can easily pollute water. Overfeeding is the primary cause of this issue because it leads to leftover food in the tank that breaks down and impacts water quality. Ensuring you’re not overfeeding can help prevent water quality issues from flake food. (We’ll discuss portion sizes a little later.)


Pellets are another fairly common type of Goldfish food. Pellets are typically more nutrient-dense than flakes and are available in floating, sinking, and slow-sinking. Floating pellets are a popular choice for owners of Goldfish with telescoping eyes because they’re easier for the Goldfish to spot. Sinking and slow-sinking tend to be the preferred pellet type for Goldfish. The trade-off is that these types of pellets can easily pollute water. Some pellet brands have formulas made specifically for certain Goldfish varieties, offering the preferred ingredients and nutrients for each variety. 

Gel Food

A growing trend among Goldfish owners is gel food. Gel food can be made at home or bought in a powder form that you mix with water. In gel foods, gelatin is used to bind the ingredients together. This type of food has many advantages compared to flakes or pellets. It’s easier to digest and causes little pollution to the water if left uneaten. Gel food is also typically very nutritious. The downside is that it has a shorter shelf life than other types of food, but you can extend its shelf life by storing it in the refrigerator or freezer.

Frozen or Freeze-Dried Foods

As mentioned earlier, Goldfish are omnivores. While their diet should be primarily vegetarian, a solely vegetable-based diet will lack the necessary protein Goldfish need. Frozen or freeze-dried food is a great way to add extra protein to their diet. Live food like bloodworms, krill, plankton, and daphnia is an excellent source of protein and nutrients, but live food runs the risk of carrying diseases or parasites that can easily infect your Goldfish. Most types of live food are also available in a frozen or freeze-dried form–offering all the same benefits without the risk of infection. These foods should not be fed in place of flakes or pellets but should be considered a supplement to the primary diet of your Fancy Goldfish. Goldfish can be given these foods once or twice weekly as a “treat.”


Like frozen or freeze-dried foods, certain vegetables can supplement the diet of your Fancy Goldfish. Some vegetables suitable for Goldfish include shell-less peas, zucchini, cucumber, and leafy greens, including lettuce, spinach, and kale. It’s best to soften the veggies before giving them to your fish. You can blanch or microwave them for a few seconds to do this. Make sure to chop veggies into small pieces before feeding them to your Goldfish, and only offer 2 to 3 small bits at a time to avoid overfeeding or polluting the water in your tank. 

How Often Should I Feed My Fancy Goldfish?

Deciding how often to feed your Fancy Goldfish largely depends on the temperature in your aquarium or tank. In most homes, the temperature of a tank or aquarium will typically be around 72-76 degrees Fahrenheit, but the ideal temperature for Fancy Goldfish is between 68-75℉. In the high 60s to lower 70s, Fancy Goldfish should be fed once a day. If temperatures rise into the higher 70s, feed your fish twice daily. Another thing to consider is the age of your fish. Younger fish may require an extra feeding, up to three times a day.

That said, there is some flexibility regarding how often to feed your Fancy Goldfish. For example, instead of doing one large feeding in the morning, you could split up the portion (we’ll go over how much to feed in the next section)  into two feedings–one in the morning and one in the evening. Some hobbyists feed younger Fancy Goldfish small, frequent meals and switch to larger, less frequent meals as they reach adulthood. The choice is really up to you. The most important thing is to try and stick to a schedule and feed your Fancy Goldfish at the same time, or as close to the same time as possible, every day. 

How Much Should I Feed My Fancy Goldfish? 

It’s much easier to overfeed your Fancy Goldfish than to underfeed them. In fact, Goldfish can survive up to two weeks without food. Goldfish will continue eating as long as food is available, which is why overfeeding can happen so easily. Overfeeding can lead to several health issues, including constipation and swim bladder problems–which is especially common in Fancy Goldfish. Poor water quality associated with overfeeding can lead to fin rot and dropsy. 

To avoid overfeeding, only give your fish what they can eat in 2-3 minutes. Set a timer and offer small amounts at a time. Whether store-bought or homemade, gel foods typically offer portion recommendations and instructions that differ depending on the brand or recipe. If you’re feeding your fish flakes, start with a pinch. If you’re feeding pellets, begin with 1-2 pellets per fish. If they eat all the food before 2-3 minutes is up, add a little bit more. Repeat this process until your timer is done. Once the time is up, try to clean any uneaten food out of the tank or aquarium the best you can using a small net. 

Ready to purchase a Fancy Goldfish? Shop our full selection of Goldfish for sale today. 

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