Why Do Goldfish Keep Chewing? + Why They Spit Out Food?

Image of a goldfish chewing

If you observe your goldfish while the filters are off, you may be able to hear them chew. The chewing sound will resemble high-frequency clicks that vibrate against the glass of their tank. Since this sound is not too loud, you will have to listen carefully enough. Interestingly, goldfish make this sound all the time while chewing. So, why do goldfish keep chewing?

Goldfish keep chewing to grind their food properly before swallowing it. They chew the food with their pharyngeal teeth, and the resulting crushing action produces the clicking sounds that you hear. Since goldfish keep on grazing constantly, it looks like they are chewing their food continuously.

Let’s talk about this in detail now.

Do Goldfish Chew Their Food?

Goldfish have teeth, and they use them for chewing their food.

However, you cannot see their teeth when goldfish open their mouths.

It is because their teeth are not located in the mouth. So, these fish do not use their teeth for biting.

The teeth of goldfish are near their throat. They are called pharyngeal teeth as they are present far inside the mouth.

When goldfish swallow food, they use their teeth to crush it before it enters their digestive system.

This produces a distinct crunching or grinding sound, which you can hear if you listen intently.

Now, did you know that goldfish teeth continue to grow and fall out throughout their life?

When a tooth falls out, a new one develops in its place. The goldish spit out their broken teeth.

You can locate them in the substrate of your tank if you look closely.

Another interesting fact about goldfish is that these animals do not have tongues.

Nonetheless, they can taste food. Do you know how?

The taste buds are distributed throughout the inside of the mouth of a goldfish.

When the fish comes across something that could be food, they bite it to check if it is edible.

If the food is located at the bottom of the tank, goldfish may even ingest rocks or gravel with the tidbits of food they find.

However, they will quickly spit the inedible part after eating what they need.

Eating Habits Of Goldfish

Goldfish are omnivores. They consume both animal and plant-based nutrition.

In the wild, these fish continuously forage for food.

Algae, aquatic plants, worms, shrimp, insect larvae, and crustaceans form the bulk of their natural diet.

Goldfish prefer to look for food at the bottom of the water.

In their tank, you will see them sifting through the gravel or sand in search of food.

They will often uproot plants and search for leftover food in the gravel.

They will also nibble on plants and algae in their surroundings.

Pet goldfish will do well on a diet that resembles their natural diet in the wild.

Store-bought fish flakes and pellets will provide them good nutrition.

However, you can supplement this with vegetables and live food for extra nutrition.

You can also add live plants to your goldfish tank as your pets will enjoy nibbling on the leaves and eating the algae off their surfaces.

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How Do Goldfish Digest Their Food?

Goldfish have a rudimentary digestive system.

They don’t have a stomach to store food, and their mouth leads to a long intestinal tract.

Hence, these animals process their food very quickly.

When goldfish eat food, they use their pharyngeal teeth to crush the food.

The softened food then moves into the intestinal tract.

The intestine absorbs the necessary nutrients from the food and quickly expels what remains.

So, goldfish digest and expel waste in one to six hours after their meal.

Interestingly most of the food eaten by a goldfish ends up getting eliminated.

Hence, they are very messy fish that dirty the water all the time.

Since the digestive system operates very fast, it is better to feed them soft, easily digestible food.

Why Do Goldfish Spit Out Food?

Goldfish are always hungry. Their entire digestive process does not take more than six hours to complete.

Once the food passes through the digestive system of the goldfish and they eliminate the waste, they become hungry.

Hence, they continuously search for food.

While eating or foraging for food, you may notice the goldfish spitting their food at times.

There are different reasons for this behavior. Some goldfish are just not fond of the food and end up spitting it out.

Sometimes, it could also indicate a more serious problem, like a disease.

Hence, it makes sense to observe the animals closely if you notice them spitting their food.

Intervene if it continues, as it could indicate a serious problem.

Here are some of the most common reasons for goldfish to spit out their food.

1. They are picky eaters.

While most goldfish will happily gobble up anything edible, others are very picky about what they eat.

If your goldfish is choosy, it may not approve of all the food you offer. The fish may spit out the stuff it does not like.

Try changing the type of food you offer your fish and see if it fixes the problem.

Your goldfish may also show less preference for certain foods if it is already fed and not hungry.

Related Further Reading:

2. They are stressed.

Like all animals, stress affects the feeding behavior of goldfish.

Poor water conditions, an unfavorable environment, sudden changes in their environment, or illness can cause stress.

In such situations, the goldfish may end up bringing back any food it eats.

If your goldfish appears to be stressed, look for possible causes. Is the water dirty?

If unhygienic tank conditions are the reason, clean the tank and check the water parameters.

If this is not the problem, check whether other tank mates are bullying your goldfish.

You may have to separate the goldfish or offer it more hiding places to solve this problem.

Be on the lookout for any signs of illness or parasites. These can also cause illness or infections in the fish.

3. They have digestive problems.

If your goldfish seems to have lost its appetite or is spitting out food, it could be because of a digestive disorder.

Certain types of food can cause constipation or bloating.

Your goldfish may ingest gravel or sand along with the food it finds in the substrate.

It will usually spit out such non-edible stuff after chewing on it for some time.

However, at times, this inedible stuff passes into the intestine. When this happens, the fish becomes constipated or sick.

Goldfish may also spit out food when you offer poor-quality food.

The fish may appear to be chewing or even spit out food when they struggle with such conditions.

Interesting Further Reading:

4. They are suffering from illness or infections.

Goldfish behave differently when they are ill.

The fish may bring back any food they eat or spit it out if they have any illness or infection.

If the gills of the goldfish are affected by parasitic infections, they cannot breathe properly.

This condition will also affect the ability of the fish to eat normally. It can end up spitting out part of the food it consumes.

When this happens, try to find out the cause and treat it promptly.

Ignoring it for too long can lead to more long-term complications and even result in death.

Consider isolating the fish and treating it properly with salt baths or suitable medication till it is better and resumes normal eating.


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