How to Know If a Goldfish Is Starving

Cuteness may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Feeding a fish can feel like a dicey prospect. You want to sprinkle in those colorful flakes because it's fun to see your fish zoom to the surface and gobble them up. However, too many food servings can gum up the water in which he lives, and too few servings can result in a starving fish. Be certain you're aware of the optimal conditions for the particular fish you own so you can keep him happy and healthy in his watery home.

Advertisement

Don't overfeed your fish.
Image Credit: Domingo/iStock/GettyImages

Video of the Day

Help a starving fish

Because the main reason for problems in home aquariums is overfeeding pet fish, some owners may be tempted to scale way back on their flake shakes, but offering too little food may mean you'll have a starving fish on your hands. When you're starting off with a new aquarium, it's recommended that you feed your fish once every other day and put in about four or five flakes or pellets at a time. At the one-month mark, increase your feedings to daily, giving your fish only the amount he can consume in about 30 seconds.

Advertisement

Why overfeeding can be harmful

While underfeeding your fish isn't a very common problem, overfeeding your pet in his tank certainly is. In fact, too much fish food in the water can break down into harmful substances, particularly ammonia. An overfed fish can't eat all those pellets or flakes, which means the excess sits in the water and can cause the levels of nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia to rise quickly to dangerous levels. When the water becomes toxic like this, your fish can become ill or even die.

Advertisement

Choose the right food

As for the best type of food to feed your fish, there's no single kind on which experts agree. Instead, providing a variety of options for your fish is the best way to feed her since this practice is closest to her natural way of eating. You can always check with your vet to learn what is recommended, but for the most part, fish flakes that offer balanced nutrition should be the main source of food along with frozen foods a couple of times a week. You might also try sinking pellet food, as this is an ideal pick for bottom feeders, like goldfish.

Advertisement

Not only is a range of food options important but the method of storing the meals you give you her is also key to her health. Holding on to a container of flakes for too long could mean the vitamin content isn't as high as it used to be. As a rule, use fish food within six months or toss it out if there's still some remaining. Always store fish flakes or pellets in a well-sealed canister and keep it in a cool, dark area, like a kitchen cabinet away from the stove.

Advertisement

Maintain the tank's health

A fish who is sick from overfeeding or a fish who is starving from too little food needs a healthy environment in which to thrive. This includes maintaining a clean tank and then stocking it with appropriate decor, such as fake plants, colorful rocks, or playful objects so your fish can circle them or hide behind them when he needs a rest. Don't allow smoking around your fish tank or the spraying of aerosols because they can waft into the water and cause your pet harm.

Advertisement

Check the aquarium's surroundings so it's not jostled on a fragile stand or rattled by loud noise from the TV or garage door. Don't ignore a listless or starving fish. These little creatures can actually be treated by the vet with shots, medication, and even surgery.

Advertisement

references