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How Long Can Goldfish Live Without Food?

How Long Can Goldfish Live Without Food?

Are you going for a long business trip or vacation and wondering if your precious goldfish will go without food? If this is you, then you are in the right place. We will answer this and many more questions.

So, how long can goldfish live without food? It is proven that a goldfish can go for 1-2 weeks without food. However, you should not leave them unfed for this long as they will become malnourished and extremely hungry. If going on vacation maybe consult your neighbor or use the tips we will share below.

Eager to know more about the feeding habits of your goldfish? Read on!

How long can goldfish live without food?

This is one of the questions that numerous hobbyist ask. Will my goldfish survive when I’m away? As earlier mentioned the goldfish can survive for 2 weeks. But, this can take a toll on their health especially their immune and color.

Basically, they can go without food for about 4 days or so and still remain healthy. Moreover, several factors such as the health, size, and age of the fish dictate how long it can go without food. Naturally, carnivores and omnivores tend to stay for long without food.

And since goldfish is an omnivore, it can survive for at least 2 weeks unfed.

How can you feed your goldfish when away?

Well, there are several ways through which you can feed the fish. They include:

Fish sitters

Fish sitters can range from your next door neighbor to commercial sitters. They can literally make the difference between life and death. Commercial sitters are commonly found in public aquarium in hospitals, schools, etc.

Besides that, they are available for hire for domestic tasks. In fact, this is the best option rather than entrusting a neighbor. That said, you should bring them onboard on what your fish needs, feeding schedule, how to tend to the aquarium and other important aspects.

Although it will cost you a dime, it’s the sure way for your fish survival.

Vacation feeders

If you can’t hire a fish sitter, then a vacation feeder fits the bill. They are designed to release feeding blocks between specific intervals for a certain amount of time. Conversely, these feeders might contain food that your fish can’t devour.

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To mitigate this, manually introduce the desired food into the chambers and the feeder will seamlessly drop the food without any fuss. There are numerous benefits of using this method. They include:


  •    There is very little food residual from food disposal
  •    Lower food cost
  •    Fish are fed with a variety of food at a go
  •    The food is released at a single point hence wastage is reduced.

To ensure the fish become accustomed to the new feeding method, gradually introduce them before going for your vacation.

Automatic feeders

Similar to vacation feeders, they dispense freeze-dried or dried feeds once a day or after a few days. It depends on how you will set the timer.

Eheim Automatic Feeding Unit (Link to Amazon)

Should the filter, unfortunately, stop working, continued dispensing of food could pollute the water and ultimately lead to the death of the goldfish.

So if you are taking a trip, why not consult a fish feeder or purchase an automatic or vacation feeder?

How do you know your goldfish are hungry?

There are several ways you can tell that your fish is hungry. Normally, people are quick to tell when a fish is full but rarely can notice a hungry goldfish. So how do you know when to feed your fish?

  • When the goldfish starts swimming in areas they don’t visit it’s a clear indication they are hungry. For example, a goldfish digging through substrate indicates that it is looking for food. Besides, the fish might continually come towards the water surface looking for floating food.
  • If your goldfish is sluggish or slow it indicates that you have not been feeding it in the right proportions for long.
  • The fish might attack or harass other fish in extreme hunger cases. However, this should not be treated as a primary indicator.
  • Additionally, your fish might be extremely aggressive when feeding. Quickly gobbling food is a sure indicator of prolonged hunger.

The above are some of the ways you can tell that your fish is extremely hungry. Ensure you feed it in the right proportions and at the right time.

Goldfish Food

How can you avoid underfeeding your fish?

Underfeeding is a phenomenon that most fish keepers overlook. You might think you are feeding the fish with the recommended amount of food but maybe you are starving them. So how can you prevent this?

Use automatic feeders

Automatic feeders ensure your fish is fed even when you are away. In fact, it dispenses the right amount of food just at the exact feeding time. This ensures that your goldfish is neither under or overfed.

Follow a schedule

Do you desire to feed your fish at 2 pm or 11 am or perhaps 7 am? Whichever the case, stick to a consistent schedule. Why not set a reminder for this?

Feed the right amount

In this case, the goldfish should devour the food in 3-5 minutes. There should be some little leftovers too to ascertain the fish is full.

What causes a goldfish not to eat?

Just like any other aquarium fish, there are numerous reasons why your goldfish is not eating. Besides, goldfish have their unique requirements. Want to know why your fish is not eating? Read on

Poor water quality

This is one of the chief reason why your goldfish is not devouring those juicy flakes. Basically, they need water temperatures about 23°C for optimal survival. Additionally, they tend to excrete more than other tank fish. As such, they are prone to increased nitrate levels in the water which can be harmful and cause them not to eat.

Therefore, ensure your water conditions are optimal. Filter consistently and keep temperatures at recommended levels and your goldfish will get its groove back.

More: Do goldfish need warm water?

Normal is boring. Offer variety

Another common reason why your goldfish is not eating is that it is bored with eating mundane food. Substitute food with live or dried meaty feeds such as brine shrimps and blood worms.

Alternatively, you can hook some fresh spinach or lettuce in the tank. They provide foliage for the fish. Besides, you can treat them with freeze-dried krill, shrimp or bloodworms.


If your goldfish is constipated, he might stay at the bottom and shy away from reaching the surface even when you offer him food. It scoots along the bottom rather than feed. A cooked pea can ease the situation. If it doesn’t devour it, leave it for 48 hours without food and nature will take cause.

It could be sick

The most common disease that causes your fish not to eat is swim bladder disease. How can you tell he has the disease? He could be swimming sideways, upside down or rolling onto one side.

What causes the disease? When a fish overfeeds, constipates or builds fat around organs, they press against the swim bladder.

To stop this, leave it without food for 48 hours after which you can feed it with a fiber-rich pea that can further ease digestion.

Which are the most Ideal goldfish feeds?

In the wild and in outdoor ponds, they feed on smaller fish, insects, worms, plants, etc. what about in indoor aquariums? To ensure your goldfish do not go hungry you need to feed them the following feeds:


Flakes are an ideal food for goldfish. The downside of it is that they lose nutritional value once they come into contact with water. Some of the best include Tetra Fin Balanced Diet Goldfish flakes and Omega One Goldfish Flakes (Link to Amazon).


Floating pellets are also an ideal food for goldfish given that they hold their nutritional value for long. Moreover, scooping leftovers is extremely easy. Conversely, they ingest a lot of air when feeding on them which can burden their digestive system.

Sinking pellets are the most natural food for goldfish. They eat them with ease and are not prone to ingesting air. However, retrieving leftovers is a daunting task which means they will decompose and pollute the water.

Some of the best pellets include Omega One Goldfish Pellets and HARTZ Wardley Pond Fish Food Pellets (Link to Amazon).

Gel food

This is by far the easiest food to get for your goldfish. Furthermore, you can make it at home without much hassle. It contains a lot of nutrients compared to pellets and flakes.

More: Can Goldfish Eat Tropical Fish Food

How can you tell you have overfed your goldfish?

Goldfish are small, nimble, and greedy creatures that will eat whatever you give them. As such, novice hobbyist are prone to overfeeding them. Naturally, they can do with one meal a day. But what happens when you overfeed them?

Excess uneaten food

Goldfish will quickly devour food for 3-5 minutes. Whatever is left thereafter is excess food. This food can easily decompose polluting the water to toxic levels. Therefore you should scoop it right after 5-10 minutes. Again, feed your fish once a day.

Excess fish waste

Goldfish naturally excrete more than other tank fish. And what happens when you overfeed them? The waste increases and you are bound to see long strings of waste along their bodies.

Unhealthy fish

Excess waste plus excess uneaten food is a perfect recipe for toxic water which results in unhealthy water. The waste in the water corrodes with the slime coat weakening their immune system. Besides, overfeeding presses the swim bladder exposing your fish to swim bladder disease.


A mixture of waste, food, and bacteria ultimately leads to an unpleasant odor. A clean tank does not smell at all. Presence of odor is a sure sign you are overfeeding your fishy buddy.


Algae thrive in water that has nutrient-rich waste. It mostly grows on the surface of the tank or décor. Presence of algae, therefore, tells you that you are overfeeding your fish.

How can I mitigate overfeeding my fishy buddy?

Well, avoiding overfeeding is quite easy. Try and follow the following tips:

Feed on schedule: Goldfish require just one meal per day. Feed them with enough amount that they can devour in 3-5 minutes. If in a pond, leave it to forage and nibble through the day.

Feed the right amount: The right amount should be over within 3-5 minutes. You can also increase the amount as the goldfish increases in size and age.

Use an automatic feeder: An automatic feeder dispenses the right amount of food at the right time. Using it also ensures your fish remain fed even when you are away.

Related Questions

Can goldfish go a few days without food? Yes, the recommended days are 4-5 days. However, it can survive for two weeks or so without food. Just make sure you don’t starve it.

How often should I feed goldfish? Well, once a day is enough. Make sure the amount you feed can be eaten within 3-5 minutes. Anything left after this is waste. In addition, follow a consistent feeding schedule.

Can you overfeed a goldfish? Yes, goldfish are at a higher risk of being overfed given the speed at which they devour food. Overfeeding them can result in dire consequences such as swim bladder disease, depressed immunity and sometimes death.

To avoid this, feed them the right amount of food at a specific time.

Do goldfish eat their own poop? Yes they do, it is common for omnivorous fish to eat their own poop. In this case, they’ll eat it if it is broken down into small particles. However, some might spit it out in cases where the poop is large.

So, there is no cause for alarm should you find your tank free from poop.

Can a goldfish get accustomed to a feeding schedule? Yes, naturally fish are intelligent animals that are aware of their feeding times. They also recognize people that feed them. When you approach the tank, they swim towards the wall of the tank.

Can goldfish feed on other waste material? Yes, they feed on any natural matter in the tank. Always remove excess food and waste from the aquarium to avoid poisoning.

What is the best goldfish food brand?

Some of the best goldfish food brands include:

  •    API Flakes
  •    API Fish Food Pellets
  •    Omega One Goldfish Small Pellets
  •    Omega One Goldfish Medium Pellets
  •    TetraFin Balanced Diet Goldfish Flake Food
  •    Fluval Bug Bites Goldfish Formula


Keeping goldfish is quite easy and so in underfeeding and overfeeding them. To avoid underfeeding and overfeeding them, feed them the right amount of food at specific intervals. If you are planning to go for a vacation, consult a fish sitter or buy a vacation or automatic feeder.

A goldfish can go for two weeks without food, more than this is torture. Always remember the rule of the thumb – feed your goldfish with a 3-5 minutes meal.