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14 Things to Feed Goldfish When You’re Out of Fish Food

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By Lindsey Stanton

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We’ve all been there—you go to get a few pinches of food for your little swimmer, and you’re fresh out. It happens. But what if you can’t make it to the pet store? Surely, there has to be a safe alternative food you can feed your goldfish temporarily, right? Absolutely! Goldfish are omnivores, so it makes it even easier to find something for them to munch on.

While there are comprehensive lists of fish-safe foods, here are 14 of the most common things you mind have in your fridge, freezer, or cabinets. Keep in mind that your goldfish needs a very balanced diet, so these selections should be used in emergencies or for snacks only.

The 14 Things to Feed Your Goldfish When You’re Out of Food

1. Green, Leafy Vegetables

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Goldfish are especially fond of lettuce, kale, and spinach. Not only do they adore the taste, but it also gives them a surge of vitamins and minerals.

Red lettuce is even better than green, as it is easier for your fish to digest.

2. Peas

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Peas are good for a lot of reasons. They are rich in fiber, which helps with your fish’s digestion. But peas also sink, so your goldfish can feed on the bottom.

When they have to come to the top for food continually, they can suck in air bubbles. Peas are said to push air bubbles or food blockages out of the digestive tract.

3. Sweet Potato

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Sweet potatoes are chock-full of beneficial nutrients for both fish and humans. They have high levels of potassium, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Plus, they have a hint of sweetness your goldfish is sure to love.

Raw sweet potato may be a bit hard, so make sure to mince or cook it before serving.

4. Zucchini

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Zucchini is another highly nutritious vegetable. It’s an excellent source of water-soluble fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin A.

Wash, rinse, cook, and mince the zucchini into bite-sized pieces and offer it plain.

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

The Truth About Goldfish New Edition

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!

5. Cucumber

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Cucumbers are water-based, delicious veggie choices for your goldfish. They’re stuffed with the antioxidant beta-carotene, which boosts immunity.

Chop up the cucumber into fine, tiny pieces for your finned friend.

6. Raspberries

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Raspberries are delicious red berries that have tons of vitamin K. They help with bone and blood health. Plus, they’re sweet and tasty, sure to win over the taste buds of your tank inhabitants.

You can piece the raspberry apart into tiny segments before you add it to the water. They are also very messy, so don’t add too many at a time or the water may get murky.

7. Oranges

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Yes, your goldfish can have this scrumptious citrus fruit. Goldfish need a healthy helping of vitamin C in their diet, so orange is the perfect choice to boost their levels.

Make sure to peel all the rind off of the orange and only give them the fleshy parts.

8. Strawberries

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Strawberries are a fabulous selection when you need fish flakes. It provides lots of polyphenols and manganese to the body.

If you give them frozen strawberries, make sure that they are completely thawed and chopped up.

9. Gel Food

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Gel food might just be a terrific alternative to store-bought flakes entirely. There are tons of recipes online that are cheap and easy to make. Essentially, you use a mixture of goldfish-friendly ingredients minced and add gelatin to hold everything together.

Gel food has also been linked to helping common bladder problems in goldfish.

10. Hard-Boiled Egg Yolk

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Credit: MichelleCoppiens, Pixabay

Egg yolk is full of much-needed protein for your fish—and they will love chowing down. While it has tons of health benefits, it’s very messy and can easily cloud your tank.

Offer in small bites, and make sure to strain out any floaters after they finish.

11. Shrimp

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You can feed your goldfish many types of shrimp in frozen, live, or freeze-dried form. Shrimp are full of omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

Goldfish and shrimp may actually exist peacefully in an aquarium together if they are similar sizes. But if the shrimp are smaller, your fish will try to eat them.

12. Worms

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Because of the risks of toxicity, you shouldn’t feed your goldfish wild-caught worms. But they can have several different types of worms compatible with fish, reptiles, and other household pets. Worms offer gut-filled nutrients for your goldfish’s overall nutritional needs.

Most common types of worms to feed goldfish are:
  • Earthworms
  • Mealworms
  • Bloodworms
  • Waxworms
  • Tubifex worms

13. Insects

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As with worms, you shouldn’t offer the goldfish crickets that you find outside of your door. But, you can buy lots of delicious bugs for your fish to snack on. They will probably try to gobble up anything that lands on the water, but garden bugs may be toxic.

The most compatible insects are:
  • Daphnias
  • Flies
  • Crickets

14. Aquatic Plants

Image Credit: Laila_, Pixabay

Aquatic plants look awesome inside of your aquarium, but they have an even better purpose—giving your goldfish an in-tank at-their-leisure snack*.

Fish can munch on these tasty plants until you can make it to the store:
  • Duckweed
  • Anacharis
  • Azolla
  • Salvinia

*Tip: Not all aquatic plants are edible, so make sure to check before you purchase.

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Foods NOT to Feed Your Goldfish

It’s crucial to know what you can feed your goldfish, but even more important to know what you can’t.

Here are some foods you should avoid at all costs:
  • Anything with Yellow 5 or Blue 2 food dyes
  • Corn
  • Bread
  • Soy
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Wild insects

Goldfish are voracious eaters—and they will eat something even if they shouldn’t. Owners have to monitor intake amounts and diet selections for them.

Final Thoughts

Running out of fish flakes doesn’t have to ruin your day—or your fish’s. You probably have enough emergency fish food ingredients in your fridge now. You can also give these items to your goldfish as an occasional snack.

Make sure to cook any hard veggies to soften them for your little swimmers. Goldfish will benefit greatly from a vast selection of foods. Even when you aren’t low on flakes, don’t be afraid to get creative and expand the choices.

Featured image credit: Walter_Navarro, Pixabay

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