A goldfish's eyes are bigger than its stomach (or at least their eyes are around the same size as their stomachs!) The truth is goldfish are greedy little buggers who go for the food as fast as you drop it into the tank and over feeding them can cause a variety of serious problems. Unfortunately, overfeeding your goldfish is an amazingly easier task than under feeding them!
But the danger in overfeeding doesn't only come from your pet eating too much food. The danger also lies with rotting food in the aquarium. Ammonia is produced by food rotting and ammonia is quite deadly to your goldfish. In the case of outdoor ponds, don't feed your goldfish when the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This can cause them stomach problems when they begin hibernating.
Feeding Your Goldies
So what are the steps in feeding your goldfish? Using pellets or flake food should be the main staple for your fish. Occasional treats (live or frozen) like bloodworms or brine shrimp will give your fish a welcome change. Your pet shop should carry the above mentioned items.
Goldfish will be fine with two small feedings per day. A few flakes of food should be fine at first. Whatever your fish devours in about two minutes will dictate whether or not to feed them a few more flakes.
If you feed your fish the pellet variety, pour the fish food into the lid of the container (or a spoon) and drop it in the tank a little at a time. If your fish eats the food in a matter of minutes, leaving none behind, then you've fed your fish the correct amount.
Signs of Overfeeding
If any food is floating about the tank after about five minutes, then you've fed them too much! If you see a long line of fish waste trailing your goldfish (because of their fast digestive system) then you've fed them far too much!
Another sign of overfeeding can be observed in the substrate (gravel.) A dark brownish or blackish color means an organic debris called 'mulm' (also called detritus) has built up on the bottom of the tank due to excess food floating around the tank which settles on the bottom. It's best to scoop out excess food before it decays.
A good idea to prevent overfeeding is to have only one person taking care of the fish feeding, thus preventing confusion as to who fed the fish last.
Results of Overfeeding
Keep a sharp lookout for sludge in the water which could make your goldfish sick. Keep the water clean!
Algae is another problem that will coat your aquarium in a green slime! Algae is a plant that needs food to grow and excess food rich in nutrients is that source of growth for algae spores!
Stinky water from a combination of rotting food, waste and bacteria creates a toxic wasteland for your goldfish. Goldfish are covered with a special slimy coating that is a protection from disease and bacteria. Toxic water will break down this coating and make your fish vulnerable to bacterial infections and fungal outbreaks your goldfish will no longer be able to fend off.
Decaying, uneaten food uses oxygen and produces carbon dioxide in the water, leaving less oxygen for your fish to breathe. This process also lowers the pH levels in the water and creates acids.
Overfeeding also causes problems leading to fin rot, improper digestion, mold, flatworms and clogged aquarium filters.
So if you don't want a green, slimy, stinky, acidic, lifeless aquarium; the solution is simple - don't overfeed. You have goldfish, not glutton fish!
By Tom Matteo