How Long Can A Goldfish Go Without Food?

If you have been keeping Goldfish for a while now, at some point, you may have wanted to go on a vacation and wondered how your Goldfish will survive when you are gone. So, what must one do? Bring their Goldfish along to the vacation? Well, that may not be very easy, but knowing how long your Goldfish can survive without food, may as well save you some unnecessary trouble.

Goldfish can live for about two weeks without food. However, this is not advisable because this is very bad for their health and life.

How Long Can A Goldfish Go Without Food

Unlike your other pets, such as dogs and cats, Goldfish are not very demanding when it comes to feeding. This may come as a surprise to you, but Goldfish can live up to 15 days without food. This in no way implies that you stop feeding them for the next 2 weeks. This only necessarily means that Goldfish can survive without eating proper food for 15 days. The keywords here are “survive” and “proper”. I will elaborate on them further in this article.

Factors Affecting the Need for Food for Goldfish

As much as Goldfish enjoy eating food, there may be other factors that contribute to their food requirement. These include:

  • Physical Conditions of your Goldfish: If your Goldfish are in their growing stages, and are not juveniles yet, they need a lot of food to grow properly. If you leave them unfed at such an early age, they become stunted and due to improper formation of gills, they may not survive very long. Similarly, Goldfish that are healthier may survive longer periods without being fed as compared to sick Goldfish.
  • Other Food: Goldfish living in ponds, and in an open environment with more ecological buddies, may find food alternatives for themselves, when they are not being fed. Algae can easily grow in ponds, and uncleaned water tanks, which the Goldfish rather enjoy eating. There may be smaller fish in the tank and insects as well in a pond that the Goldfish can munch on if they are not fed on time. Plants and weeds growing in the tank or pond can also make up for the lack of food for your Goldfish.
  • Water Temperature: Goldfish build up fat from the proteins that they eat, which helps keep them warm during the winter. In cold waters, Goldfish need more protein to build that fat storage to keep them warm. It is likely that your Goldfish can survive longer without food in summers than in winters.

How often should you feed Goldfish?

You should not just add some food to your Goldfish tank, whenever you walk past the tank. Your Goldfish only needs a certain amount of food to keep it healthy and well. Any more than what its requirement is can make it sick.

Ideally, you should feed your adult Goldfish four times a day. This obviously varies with the size of your Goldfish, and the number of your Goldfish. If you have smaller Goldfish, that have fully grown, you may only feed them thrice a day. With larger Goldfish, 5 times should be ideal. At times, when you are running low on food, it may be okay to feed them once or twice a day, but this should be made into a routine.

How Often Should You Feed Goldfish

You do not need to feed an entire packet of Goldfish food, every time you feed your Goldfish. They only require small amounts of food, about the size of their eyes, in one serving. They are after all tiny and have only a small digestive tract.

Goldfish love eating food and may eat up more than they can take. This in turn makes them sick and you do not want that. To ensure that your Goldfish eat the right amount of food, you must feed them following a proper schedule, so that their hunger time adjusts accordingly.

How to feed your Goldfish when you are away?

If you are worried about keeping your Goldfish fed, while you are away from home, here is what you can do:

  • Pet Sitter: Like a babysitter, you can always hire a pet sitter, who will take care of your Goldfish while you are away. You obviously do not need to hire when if you are just going to get groceries. This is for when you have to go on a vacation, or when you know you will not be able to return home for more than just a day or two. Pet sitters will take care of your Goldfish and feed them on time. You can also pay them to clean your Goldfish tank. You may not even need an expert when it comes to pet sitters, and if you only want them to feed your Goldfish. A friend or a neighbor can help you out, even. But for longer periods, it is best to hire a pet sitter, but they also come with risks. Pet sitters can be very expensive, especially when you are hiring an expert. Moreover, they may not be very reliable, and miss out a few days, hence defeating the purpose of keeping one.
  • Automatic Feeders: These are devices that will dispense fish food in your Goldfish tank, as per your settings. It is best to first try out the automatic feeder before leaving for the vacation, so that your Goldfish can adjust to it, in time. You must try out the device according to what feed you are adding to it. It is possible that the feed clogs the feeder, you must take care of this beforehand, instead of trying it while you are away. Automatic feeders are good when it comes to proper intervals between feeding times and following a feeding schedule. They also reduce the wastage of food by only dispensing the amount that you have set in the system. You can add a variety of food to them, as long as it can easily pass it out into the tank. This way your Goldfish can enjoy a variety of food at every meal.
  • Slow-Release Food: These are blocks of fish food that, as the name suggests, slowly release food into the Goldfish tank. They come in two basic types:
  1. Weekend Feeder: This block can last up to 3 days, thus the name weekend feeder.
  2. Vacation Feeder: This block can last more than 10 days and can keep your Goldfish properly fed for about 2 weeks.

As convenient as slow-release food sounds, they can greatly amount to the waste and decaying food in your Goldfish tank, hence making them the least preferred option. Furthermore, you read about goldfish eating tadpoles

How to tell if your Goldfish is hungry?

Apart from following a proper schedule, your Goldfish may need more food. To understand if your Goldfish is hungry or not, you can observe the behavior of Goldfish. A hungry Goldfish may behave as follows:

  • Searching: Your Goldfish may be excessively roaming around the tank in search of food. You can observe this if your Goldfish keeps going to places inside the tank, where it has never been before. It may be looking for food at the surface of the tank, where you feed it. This is a good enough sign that your Goldfish is hungry.
  • Aggressive: If your rather peaceful Goldfish suddenly becomes aggressive toward the other tank buddies, you may want to consider feeding it. Who does not get cranky when they are hungry?
agressive goldfish
  • Lethargic: If your Goldfish has started to swim rather slowly and lazily, it may be a sign that it needs its energy restored, by being fed.
  • Feeding Time: When you add food to your Goldfish tank, and one of them suddenly acts aggressive and tries to eat all the food itself, it may be very hungry. What you can do is slip the hungry little fellow some extra food to satisfy its hunger.

When have you overfed your Goldfish?

It is very much possible that you overfeed your Goldfish, especially when you have not been following a proper feeding schedule. Here are the signs that tell that your Goldfish has eaten more than it could take:

  • Uneaten Food: If you observe a lot of fish food floating around in your Goldfish tank, you may have added more food than was required. It is best to remove the uneaten food as soon as your Goldfish stop eating, which is around 2 minutes after you have added it. This does not allow the food to decay and turn harmful to your Goldfish.
  • Goldfish Waste: If your Goldfish has been pooping more than it had before, there is a high chance that you fed it more than it could eat. Goldfish will continue to eat food even after they are full, which will then result in excessive waste.
  • Odor: The excess food, waste, and bacteria in the tank cause a bad smell to build up in the tank. If you smell this odor, you may want to clean the tank and feed less next time.
Odor goldfish
  • Algae: The uneaten food allows algae to grow in your Goldfish tank, which is another indication that you have been feeding excess food to your Goldfish.
  • Swim Bladder Disease: If your Goldfish has been diagnosed with swim bladder disease, there is a high chance that overfeeding has caused it. This is a rather late indication for you to understand that your Goldfish has been overfed.


As worried as you may be, your Goldfish can survive well without food for 14 to 15 days, easily. But your Goldfish should not just survive, but live healthily. This is why it is only okay if your Goldfish has to live without food in an emergency. When going on a vacation, make sure that you plan to keep them fed by either hiring a pet sitter or buying an automatic feeder. You do not want your Goldfish to be unhappy while you are away enjoying your vacation.

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