Can Goldfish Eat Bread? Finding the Right Nutrition for your Goldfish!

Bread is always on hand, and you’ve likely seen aquarists offering it to goldfish at least once. But, can goldfish eat bread?

What does bread have to offer as potential goldfish food? Let’s take a closer look at bread and decide whether it’s worth offering to goldfish!

Can Goldfish Eat Breadcrumbs?

Perhaps you’ve spent time at the local park, where an outdoor pond full of goldfish exists. You might see young kinds feed bread to the goldfish there and wonder: can goldfish eat bread? Maybe I should offer it to my goldfish at home.

Goldfish will eat just about anything, which is why they are so popular. Like many generalist animals, they are omnivorous, meaning they need to eat both plant and animal matter. Since most of us eat bread, a convenient plant-based source of calories, it seems like a convenient, easy food to feed goldfish… At first.

Is Feeding Bread Bad for Goldfish?

Unfortunately, goldfish should not eat bread. There are a number of problems with it, some of them actually being dangerous to the health of your fish.

Starch is a major ingredient in bread flour, which is made from powdered and milled grain. Grain is not something aquatic life ever encounters in the wild, nor do goldfish require it. A few aquatic tubers do contain starch, but these aren’t foods goldfish, or indeed, most fish in general, ever eat. Starch is a good source of energy for us but feeding goldfish bread is not a very efficient way to feed fish.

For example, Virginia State University found that out of 1 gram of carbohydrates, fish only obtain 1.6 calories of energy from it. Compared to mammals, which will obtain up to 4 calories of energy from the same amount of starch. The majority of it simply goes to waste, inefficiently extracted and used by the metabolism of your fish.

Photo of different types of bread thinking can goldfish eat bread

Another problem is all of the additives found in most bread products. Standard fish food contains only additives proven not to harm fish health. Basic preservatives, vitamins in the right ratios and amounts, animal protein sources, etc. Bread, on the other hand, is formulated to be ideal human food rather than goldfish food.

That means there will be vitamins fish don’t need at all – or possibly even vitamins and other additives in toxic quantities to fish.

Internal Bloating

Digestive problems are an even bigger problem that can arise from feeding bread crumbs. When a goldfish eats bread, all that starch is digested poorly, as I explained earlier. But the consequences go deeper than just metabolic issues.

The stomach and intestines of goldfish are home to loads of bacteria that help goldfish digest food and feed on any available nutrients. Feeding a goldfish bread instead of goldfish food unleashes a starch-based sugar-bomb in the gut that causes bacterial populations to explode. This starch is digested slowly and inefficiently while the bacteria go crazy, creating loads of gas that goldfish can’t effectively handle.

Photo of hungry carp

The end result is internal bloating. Goldfish keepers often mistake this for swim bladder disorder since the end result is the same: your fish becomes visibly bloated and starts uncontrollably floating towards the surface. Internal bloating is even more dangerous since fish don’t really “fart,” which would help expel that gas. Bloating can cause internal ruptures of the intestine, which is always fatal.

When bloating starts to happen, your goldfish will stop eating as well. The only cure is a strong broad-spectrum antibiotic and time. So avoid feeding bread to goldfish; stick to items you can safely feed!

Poor Water Quality

Any uneaten food can contribute to poor water quality, but bread tends to be worse than most food goldfish eat. Since bread causes bacteria to go crazy, it tends to fuel cloudy water-causing organisms, which are a mixture of bacteria and the microscopic protists that feed on them.

You may have noticed when feeding your goldfish that they are very messy eaters. Goldfish swallow tropical fish flakes, pellets, and other items and then chew them up, allowing fragments of food to float freely. These bits of uneaten food will eventually decay, leading to elevated levels of ammonia and other nitrogenous waste products if your filtration is weak or you aren’t performing enough water changes.

What Household Foods Can I Feed Goldfish?

Just because we should not add bread to a goldfish’s diet doesn’t mean there aren’t items in our kitchen worth trying!

Did you know that goldfish also eat lettuce, spinach, zucchini, and other vegetables? These veggies are loaded with healthy fiber, which helps move food through the gut tract and feeds beneficial bacteria.

All that you do is lightly boil these vegetables before clipping them in place along the aquarium glass. Goldfish can eat other human foods, including green peas, which are conveniently sized to be swallowed whole by an adult goldfish but are likely too large for a small fish. Whether fresh or frozen, simply boil these lightly, let them cool, and then remove the skins for a healthy green snack!

What Household Foods Should I Not Feed Goldfish?

We’ve previously discussed whether or not to feed goldfish rice as well. Just like bread, it is loaded with starch that is both unhealthy and potentially fatal.

Instead of trying to make goldfish eat rice, it’s much better to stick with vegetables. While they are true omnivores, animal fat from terrestrial sources like chicken, pork, and beef are a problem. There is much more fat in land animals than aquatic sources, which can cause the same problems in goldfish that it does in people.

Take a look at the ingredients label, and you’ll find that most fish food is very low in fat compared to raw meat. If you want, you can offer seafood, including white fish like tilapia and shellfish (chopped shrimp and mussels). Seafood has fat and protein in the right ratios for goldfish. Just feed it sparingly because raw seafood rots very quickly, contributing to high ammonia levels. You must quickly remove uneaten food when offering seafood of any kind.

What is a Good Diet for Goldfish?

Feeding goldfishes

When choosing food for a proper diet, we want to aim for as much variety as possible! Let’s take a look at some healthy foods that we can add to our goldfish’s basic diet!

  • Animal Protein: one of the best sources of animal protein for fancy goldfish is frozen food blends, which store easily and are convenient to offer. Bloodworms, brine shrimp, tubifex worms, and other sources are perfect for feeding your goldfish. Invertebrates are the animals most frequently eaten by goldfish in nature, and their hard exoskeletons add valuable roughage to their diets. Live food is also great as an occasional treat. I prefer frozen food because the freezing process kills nearly all internal parasites carried by live food, and there’s no chance of it rotting in storage.
  • Plant Matter: Goldfish can eat not only animals but also aquatic plants. If you can find cheap bunches of soft aquatic plants like Cabomba or Elodea, feel free to add a few to your fish tank. Even if your goldfish do not eat them right away, plants will also remove carbon dioxide, increase oxygen levels, and lower nitrogenous waste concentrations through their growth.
  • Prepared foods: Prepared food can take up a major portion of a goldfish diet. Pellets, flakes, crisps, gel food, and other formulas can all be a mainstay of a varied diet. When buying fish food, make sure you take the time to carefully examine the ingredients label. Cheap regular fish food often contains potato and wheat starch as the main ingredients, which are just inexpensive, poor quality filler. Look for fish meal, krill, spirulina, algae, and other higher-quality ingredients to feed your fish! Gel food is a favorite for many fish keepers because it combines the convenience of being able to store it at room temperature with the freshness and nutritional benefits of live food!

Wrapping Things Up

Can goldfish eat bread?

Yes, they will eat just about anything that hits the water. It’s a major reason why they have been popular for centuries. But should they eat bread?

You should not feed goldfish bread under any circumstances. You may think that it’s okay to offer occasional treats of bread crumbs. But why, when there are so many healthier food alternatives to offer your goldfish as a treat that won’t lead to poor digestion and internal bloating? You could instead feed peas, lettuce, spinach, bloodworms, brine shrimp…Feeding your goldfish bread only leads to problems.

Poor water quality in your fish tank will be another major issue, with cloudiness, bacterial blooms, and higher levels of ammonia all directly caused by offering bread instead of fish food.

Hopefully, you have a better idea of why bread or bread crumbs are bad for goldfish and what you can instead feed your goldfish that will boost their longevity and health!

Related Frequently Asked Questions:

Kelly Stanley
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