How Long Can Goldfish Go Without Food? + Feeding When Away

As goldfish hobbyists, we are often faced with situations at some point where we can’t take continuous care of our goldfish. Maybe it can be a holiday vacation where you cannot travel with your pet. You’ll probably be left thinking, how long can goldfish go without food? Luckily, there are multiple solutions to this problem.

In an aquarium, goldfish can go without food for 8 to 14 days (up to 15 days). In this period, they will eat algae, aquarium plants and scavenge on leftovers. In a pond, they can live without food forever since there is enough algae, insects, leftovers, and plant material to sustain them.

Goldfish use their metabolism when thriving without food for up to 2 weeks. However, it’s not a good practice to leave this pet without nutrients. Although goldfish don’t require feeding every day in the wild, they will be harmed when they don’t get regular food in your aquarium. Let’s dive in to know more!

How Long Can Goldfish Go Without Food

How Long Can a Goldfish Go Without Food?

Typically, goldfish can go for up to 15 days without food whether you raise goldfish in a bowl or fish tank. Nonetheless, there is no need to leave your pet starving. If a need arises that you will be too far away from your aquarium, it would be best to take a practical feeding approach to supply your fish with food.

However, the table below summarizes typical guidelines that goldfish can thrive without food in an emergency condition or under a veterinarian’s prescription:

Water TemperatureDays Without Food
32°F to 55°F (0°C to 12°C)1 week to months
55°F to 60°F (12°C to 15°C)6 to 8 days
60°F to 65°F (15°C to 18°C)5 to 6 days
65°F to 70°F (18°C to 21°C)4 to 5 days
70°F to 75°F (21°C to 24°C)3 to 4 days
75°F to 85°F (24°C to 29°C)1 to 3 days

Is my goldfish hungry?

If you are used to supplying constant food to your fish, the chances are that it will get hungry if you stop providing food on a schedule. However, goldfish in the wild will comfortably maneuver missing a meal since they aren’t used to eating every day.

Similarly, you can keep a captive-bred goldfish as a pet and it’s used to an eating schedule. Thus, skipping a meal makes your pet hungry and may even starve it.

Although it can be challenging to identify how long goldfish have been staying without food, they can express hunger with various signs. Here are signs to tell if your goldfish is hungry:

  • If your goldfish swim in the aquarium in areas that they don’t go to, it implies they are in search of food. Typically, they will dig into the substrate if they are searching for food. Thus, you can easily watch such signs to tell whether your goldfish is hungry.
  • Non-scavenger goldfish may start scavenging or investigating towards the top of your aquarium. Such habits show that your goldfish is hungry and searching for food.
  • Goldfish demonstrate signs of aggression or eating at a super-fast rate. Although they eat quickly, if your goldfish happens to eat faster than it does, chances are it is probably hungry.
  • Goldfish may also act sluggish or slow if they don’t get adequate food for some duration, requiring a food supply. 
  • Some fish may harass or tend to attack other mates in the aquarium when hungry. However, this doesn’t imply that they are hungry since other reasons may trigger their aggression.

Simply put, if your goldfish changes its behavior after a period without food, it’s likely hungry. However, it might also be another issue and knowing how to care for goldfish involves keen observation of their behavior to diagnose any problems early.

How Often Should I Feed My Goldfish?

Typically, you should feed your goldfish about 2 to 3 times a day. However, a goldfish can survive and thrive for about 2 weeks without food but it is not ideal. As such, assign your friend or neighbor to feed your goldfish at least once within 3 days if you’ll be away. 

Certainly, feeding your goldfish less than 3 times per day is not the best idea. It will directly affect their growth rate.

Similarly, it is also very easy to overfeed a fish for a person lacking previous knowledge about feeding a fish can easily overfeed it. If you see your goldfish swimming on its side, it could be due to constipation or overfeeding.

Therefore, it is best to provide your goldfish with the right amount of food that they can consume within 2 minutes or equal to their eyes’ size. Later, after discovering the right amount of food for your goldfish, it can be easier for your friend or neighbor to use a pill organizer.

Within the pill organizer, you can add the correct quantity of food needed by your goldfish inside each small box, then inform your friend to empty a box at a time into your aquarium.

What Do Goldfish Eat?

In addition to fish food, goldfish can eat multiple other human foods. 

For instance, goldfish can eat vegetables such as:

  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Spinach

Also, goldfish can eat fruits such as:

  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Watermelon

Other human food may include cooked rice.

How to Feed Goldfish When You’re Away

As we know, other pets such as dogs and cats are easy to manage when out for a vacation. You can choose among the various options such as taking them to kennels and pet hotels where specialists take care of them daily.

However, there are no such options for your valuable goldfish. Yet if there were, it is not easy to transport fish from your aquarium easily.

It’s time to go out for a vacation, all things are ready, including your bags, but you don’t know exactly what to do with your goldfish. How long can they survive without food? 

Before exploring our available options, you can rest assured that your goldfish can survive for days even without being supplied with food. It doesn’t matter how long you are left doubting that this pet can survive. The fact is that it can survive for up to 2 weeks.

Here are various methods that can help you feed your goldfish when you are out for a vacation:

1. Automatic Feeders (Automatic Dispensers)

You can easily find multiple options of automatic feeders coming in different shapes and sizes from online and local pet stores. Automatic feeders used for feeding goldfish are small-sized and go on the side of the aquarium.

An automatic feeder will periodically release food in your aquarium depending on the number of fish present, ensuring fish are supplied with the correct quantity of food without being overfed.

2. Feeding Blocks

Feeding blocks serve fish keepers by giving them peace of mind and security when no one is present to feed the fish during a vacation. Feeding blocks supply enough food to fish in your aquarium by dissolving food in water. 

Depending on the number of days you will be out and the number of fish present in your aquarium, you can easily find an appropriate size from various sizes of feeding blocks to serve you.

3. Hiring a Fish-Sitter for Your Goldfish

If automatic feeders and feeding blocks are not suitable for you, you have an extra alternative: you can hire a fish-sitter to feed your goldfish when you are away. Almost similar to hiring a person to care for other pets when you are away, you can reliably hire someone to provide food to your goldfish when you are out. 

However, regardless of the efficiency of the various methods discussed above, you don’t have to worry much about fish in your aquarium since they are resilient and can go for many days without food.

Bottom Line

Goldfish can live without food for up to 2 weeks. However, this is not the best idea since it will alter their health and growth rate. Fortunately, there are multiple options for feeding your goldfish when away. These may include automatic feeders, feeding blocks, and hiring a fish-sitter. Thus, ensure your goldfish thrive by choosing a suitable feeding method when you are out for a vacation.


University of Florida. Gold Rush: A Kid’s Guide to Goldfish Care.

University of California. Can goldfish live in a bowl that has food coloring in the water?

Duke University. How many fish can I put in my tank?

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