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Can Goldfish Eat Rice? Vet-Approved Nutritional Science & Info

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By Lindsey Stanton


Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Yes, goldfish can eat rice, but it isn’t particularly healthy for them and not recommended as a dietary staple. Certain forms of rice, such as brown rice, are high in fiber but may have unwanted gluten side effects when eaten.

Many hobbyists have claimed that their goldfish readily devour rice. But preparation must be done to make sure your goldfish can easily eat and digest the rice.

This article will provide you with the necessary information when it comes to goldfish consuming rice, along with an in-depth answer to why rice for goldfish is a debated topic.

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Is It Safe to Feed Rice to Goldfish?

Feeding rice to goldfish is not a common practice. Although some hobbyists will disagree with goldfish consuming human foods other than vegetables, it does not make it unsafe.

If you choose to give cooked rice to your goldfish on occasion, there is no harm, and it is perfectly safe. Feeding rice to your goldfish will not cause any immediate problems unless you feed them rice often. Then again, feeding too much of any food to goldfish can cause health problems. It is due to a lack of variety in the goldfish’s diet, leading to poor health and other issues.

Feeding rice to goldfish appropriately does not cause illness or death if that is your main concern. However, certain digestive issues can occur if you feed too much rice at once. Gluten is not a necessary part of their diet, and rice should not be fed to fish that have a history of severe bloating after consuming fibrous foods, as it can cause the issues to arise again over time.

Image Credit: Kana.Wana, Shutterstock

The Nutritional Value of Rice

For goldfish, whole-grain brown rice has better nutritional value than white rice, as it has not been stripped of certain nutritional components. It means brown rice is the better choice to feed your goldfish. It will ensure that you are giving your goldfish a treat that is slightly more enriching and nutritious.

Many fish die as a result of improper food and/or portion sizes, which can be easily prevented by proper education.

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That's why our best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish, covers exactly what you can and can’t give your goldies when it comes to mealtime. It’s even got a section dedicated to keeping your pet fish alive and well-fed when you go on vacation!

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The Benefits of Goldfish Eating Rice

Health is important when it comes to our goldfish, and we want to make sure we are feeding them foods that have health benefits!

  • Rice helps goldfish pass waste, as it is high in dietary fiber (if it’s brown rice).
  • It is enriching for your goldfish to try to catch the rice, mimicking a similar behavior in the wild. Cooked rice will sink in an aquarium, and your goldfish will enjoy foraging around for the morsels.

Gluten for Goldfish

In the wild, goldfish will consume:
  • Algae
  • Worms
  • Insects and their larvae
  • Decaying matter
  • Smaller fish
  • Plants

This shows us that gluten is not naturally part of their diet. This is where the argument on gluten safety starts. Gluten is commonly found in processed fish foods, such as flakes and pellets, and it may even be a component of an ingredient. Goldfish can tolerate a low number of gluten-based foods in their diet, even if it is not a natural dietary component.

Although goldfish should not eat foods like bread due to swelling after the bread enters the water, thoroughly cooked rice does not pose the same problem.

That said, always be on the cautious side when introducing new foods to your goldfish’s diet.

Image Credit: Waraphorn Aphai, Shutterstock

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How Much Rice Can Goldfish Eat?

Goldfish should get a serving of two thoroughly cooked rice grains a month at maximum, and it can be used in place of peas (though peas offer more health benefits). Due to rice having conflicting dietary approval in the aquarium hobby, feeding them only a small amount of rice is best.

Types of Rice That Goldfish Can Eat

Goldfish can eat two forms of rice, namely:
  • White rice: White rice is safe to feed to goldfish, though due to its low nutritional value, it is not a popular choice.
  • Brown rice: Brown rice is a highly recommended form of rice because it’s rich in nutrients, making it better to feed your goldfish instead of white rice.

Preparing Rice for Goldfish

Goldfish should only be eating thoroughly boiled rice with no additives. Raw rice will be hard to break down and will expand in their intestines.

  • Add a pot full of brown (ideal) or white rice (not recommended) on a stove with an adequate amount of boiling water.
  • Cook until the rice is fully expanded and soft.
  • Drain the excess water out of the pot, and allow the rice to cool for an hour.
  • The rice should then be at room temperature, and you can feed a few grains to your goldfish.

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Final Thoughts

We hope this article has helped you understand why feeding goldfish rice has a conflicting answer. Following the appropriate preparation steps and feeding a minimal amount will safely enable your goldfish to eat this treat.

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Featured Image Credit: ImageParty, Pixabay

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