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How Long Can a Goldfish Go Without Food?

Renee Whitmore
Last Updated on
by Renee Whitmore

A goldfish in an aquarium

Are you taking an extended vacation or business trip and wondering what happens to your lovely goldfish?

Goldfish need to feed constantly to stay healthy. It isn’t advisable to starve these fish even if you’re away from home. But how long can goldfish go without food?

A goldfish can survive up to two weeks without food. If you’re away from home for two weeks, you’ll find your goldfish alive. However, it will have poor health.

If you intend to be away from your aquarium for two weeks, you might need to make some feeding arrangements for your fish.

Related: How Long Do Goldfish Live For?

How Long Can Goldfish Go Without Food?

Most goldfish can last for about two weeks without food. In rare cases, these fish will survive for more than a couple of weeks.

In 2011, two goldfish miraculously survived for four and a half months without food. This happened when an earthquake struck New Zealand. There are high chances these goldfish fed on insects and algae to stay alive.

This scenario raises the question, how long can goldfish survive without food? The exact period depends on:

  • The aquarium’s state
  • Other pond inhabitants
  • Water temperature
  • Goldfish’s body condition

Pond State and Other Pond Inhabitants

Goldfish are part of the carp family, meaning they are omnivores. If you don’t feed them for about four days, they will start searching for anything edible in the aquarium. If the aquarium has insects, algae, and other plants, these fish can survive for an extended period.

Water Temperature

Goldfish is an ectothermic fish. This means its temperature is almost similar to the water temperature in the aquarium. Generally, this fish thrives in temperatures between 60 ˚F and 80 ˚F.

In warmer temperatures, the goldfish’s metabolism burns faster, increasing its energy demands. The opposite occurs in colder temperatures. The fish’s metabolism is slow, and its energy demands are less.

When the water temperature is low (32 ˚F to 55 ˚F), the goldfish can survive for weeks or a month without food. However, if the water temperature is high (75 ˚F to 85 ˚F), these fish will only last for 1-3 days without food.

Goldfish’s Body Condition

Different breeds of goldfish have varying body types and sizes. This makes it hard to assess the fish’s body condition. To determine how long can goldfish go without food, a visual inspection can help you pinpoint whether your pet fish is fit, obese, or emaciated.

A goldfish with more muscle and fat can withstand temporary food starvation. On the other hand, a bony fish cannot go a day or two without feeding.

How Often Should You Feed Goldfish?

Goldfish are voracious, insatiable eaters. They devour anything you give them to the extent of overfeeding. That’s why it’s advisable to feed them small chunks of food they can consume within two minutes.

It’s a great idea to feed goldfish small quantities of food thrice to four times a day. However, if you are busy, you can feed them twice a day.

What Food Should You Give Your Goldfish?

You need to feed your finned friend with high-quality flakes or pellet food. You can also give them goldfish granules that contain fruits, shrimp, or vegetables.

Goldfish pellets are infamous for causing constipation.  Ensure you soak these pellets before feeding them to fish.

Foraging materials like vegetables and green leaves are also healthy.

When in the wild, goldfish will feed on:

  • Algae
  • Decaying plant matter
  • Worms
  • Insects
  • Tiny fish

Instances You Can Skip Feeding Your Goldfish

Some experienced fish keepers skip a day without feeding their goldfish. They take such measures to empty the guts of their fish.

You can also withhold food for a day or two if you suspect your pet fish has swim bladder issues. This problem primarily occurs when the fish’s digestive tract gets blocked.

Another instance is when your aquarium has water quality issues. Excess food will create more waste and worsen the water quality.

You can avoid feeding your goldfish for two days and gauge the water quality. If it persists, look for other long-term solutions.

Don’t voluntarily starve your goldfish unless you know what you’re doing.

How To Feed Goldfish if You’re Away

Fish keepers will always ask, how long can goldfish go without eating? This query becomes vital if you have some commitments and need to travel.

If you’re going for a weekend getaway, a minor vacation, or a short business trip, you don’t have to be very concerned about your goldfish. These fish can go without food for three days without encountering health problems.

If you are away for more than three days, you should make arrangements to feed your goldfish. Here are some options you can explore.

Purchase an Automatic Fish Feeder

Consider investing in an automatic fish feeder if you frequently travel away from your aquarium. You only need to load goldfish food on the feeder and set a timer. The feeder will automatically dispense food to the aquarium based on the timer.

You’ll find different automatic fish feeders in the market, each offering unique features. If you intend to be away from your home for a long duration, you should go for feeders that can dispense fish food for more than six weeks.

Enlist a Fish Sitter

Instead of buying a fish feeder, you can hire someone to feed your goldfish when you’re away. You can enlist a neighbor, family member, friend, or even a professional fish sitter. Ensure you give out clear guidelines on how to feed the fish and the required food quantities.

Slow-Release Fish Food

Slow-release fish food is a frugal way of feeding goldfish when you’re away for a few days. There are two types of slow-release fish food, weekend feeders and vacation feeders.

Weekend feeders are an excellent option for people who will be away from their homes on weekends. These blocks will feed your pet fish for about three days.

Vacation feeders can feed your goldfish for two weeks. Go for these feeders if you intend to spend more than 14 days away from your home.

Wrap Up

So, how long can goldfish go without food? Goldfish can survive for approximately two weeks without eating. Although they can last this long, it isn’t advisable to starve your finned friend. Feed your pet fish at least twice a day to maintain its health.

About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
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