Why Do Goldfish Eat So Much? (Why Are They Always Hungry?)

Image of goldfish eating food

Goldfish eat a lot because they have a very basic digestive system that expels most of the consumed food as waste after absorbing the essential nutrients. So, they feel hungry all the time and eat the entire day. They don’t feel full easily and continue eating as long as the food is available.

Let’s talk about this a bit more.

Why Are Goldfish Always Hungry?

Let us take a closer look at the digestive system of a goldfish to understand its feeding needs better.

Goldfish don’t have a complex digestive system. They don’t have a stomach and only possess a long intestine.

So, any food that the fish eat directly enters their intestinal tract.

Since they don’t have a stomach to hold food, the digestive process is very quick.

After the intestine absorbs the essential nutrients from food, the goldfish expels the remaining food as waste.

Once this is done, they start feeling hungry again. Hence, the goldfish constantly search for food.

However, large meals will burden their simple digestive system. Heavy meals make them produce more waste.

It can also obstruct their intestine and put pressure on the swim bladder.

Hence, the best food choices for goldfish are easily digestible food in small quantities.

If you feed it to them at planned intervals, you will ensure they get the nutrition they need without burdening their digestive process.

How Often And How Much Should You Feed Goldfish?

The amount of food your goldfish need will depend on various factors.

These include the age of the goldfish, whether you are looking to breed them, general activity levels, and the type of food you choose.

How often to feed the fish will depend on the size and type of tank.

Since goldfish have a basic digestive system, they produce more waste than other fish of their size.

Hence, you will need a good filter to keep your goldfish tank clean.

You should also ensure that the tank has enough water to dilute the waste.

Now, coming to the amount of food, the more you feed your goldfish, the more waste they produce, consequently affecting the quality of water.

So the ideal option is to feed them small amounts of food three to four times a day.

Goldfish fry and young goldfish need more frequent feeds than adults. Adult goldfish thrive on one or two daily feeds.

However, young fish need small amounts of food several times a day to meet their nutritional needs.

Since goldfish grow the most in their first year of life, they need more protein in the first year to achieve good growth.

Although adult goldfish also need protein, they don’t need as much protein as young goldfish.

Your goldfish only need as much food as they can consume in thirty seconds, once or twice a day.

So measuring the food before adding it to the tank will help you prevent overfeeding.

However, don’t be surprised if your goldfish come back to beg for more food!

When they do, give them something healthy like spinach, lettuce, or other leafy vegetables to munch on.

Your goldfish may also nibble on the plants in the tank.

So, fast-growing aquatic plants will satisfy their need to graze to a great extent.

Now, did you know that it is extremely easy to overfeed goldfish?

They will seek leftover food and even dig up the substrate to look for food.

Hence, the chances of overfeeding are high.

Since overfeeding can trigger a host of health problems, you should take enough care to avoid it.

How Do You Know If You Are Overfeeding Your Goldfish?

Goldfish need very small amounts of food during each feed.

Look out for the following signs that indicate whether you are overfeeding your goldfish.

  • Leftover food in the tank: Check if there is any food remaining in the tank after three to five minutes of feeding the fish. This excess food will accumulate in the substrate or float in the water. It will rot and pollute the water. Get rid of it promptly to avoid it from affecting the water quality.
  • Cloudy water: Rotting food and excess waste produced by the goldfish will turn the water cloudy. If the water in your tank is always milky, it is probably caused by overfeeding your fish.
  • Buoyancy problems: The swim bladder regulates the ability of goldfish to control their movement. Excess food and clogged intestines will apply pressure on the swim bladder of goldfish. It will make the fish appear bloated. You may notice your goldfish swimming on its side, upside down, or sinking to the bottom of the tank. Most of the time, these problems are linked to overfeeding.
  • Algae: Excess nutrients like phosphates and nitrates in the water will trigger algae growth. Cleaning the tank of excess food and keeping feeding under check will help you avoid this problem.

Dangers Of Overfeeding Goldfish

Too much food can cause health problems in goldfish.

Since these animals will eat whatever they find, they will consume any food they find.

Excess intake of food will burden their digestive system. Additionally, it will also result in more waste production.

Goldfish are sensitive to water chemistry changes.

Leftover food and the excess waste production due to overfeeding, will introduce toxic substances into the water.

When the phosphates and nitrate levels of the water increase, the water quality deteriorates.

This, in turn, will affect the overall health of your goldfish. Dirty and unhygienic water may even kill your fish.

The breakdown of organic material in the tank will also consume the oxygen which is present in the tank.

It can lead to a shortage of oxygen for your fish to breathe.

Furthermore, dirty water harbors pathogens and germs that cause infections in fish.

It will make your fish more prone to diseases and infections.

Now, even if you take special care to maintain the cleanliness of your tank, overfeeding can be problematic.

It can impact digestive health and cause constipation in your goldfish.

The fish will become bloated and be unable to move properly.

If you keep up with this practice, you are putting your goldfish at risk.

The stress on its digestive system will affect it in many ways and even reduce its lifespan.

How Long Can Goldfish Go Without Food?

Your goldfish will be fine if you occasionally starve it.

Keeping it off food will allow the fish to clean out their digestive system. It will prove useful if your fish have swim bladder issues.

You may also like to limit the amount of food you offer your fish if your aquarium has any water quality issues.

A goldfish can go for several days to a week without food. However, it is not advisable to starve them for so long.

A few days without food will usually reverse the damage of overfeeding.

Put them on a strict diet of measured and wholesome food to keep them healthy and prevent problems.


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