Why Is My Goldfish Not Eating? {6 Common Reasons}

Sometimes our animals can cause us more concern than we can imagine, especially when you realize that they aren’t eating their food. Why is my goldfish not eating?

Goldfish are lovers of food, so it is very much unlike them not to eat. It might only be a small problem which can be easily solved.

This article will help explain this issue of fasting goldfish and much more.

Why Is My Goldfish Not Eating?

The most likely reason your goldfish is not eating is because they are unwell. Reasons include:

  • poor water quality
  • overfeeding
  • dislike to the food
  • health issues.

The accumulation of fish waste such as ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate or an increase in water temperature that is either too high or too low can cause goldfish to lose their appetite.

goldfish not eating

6 Reasons Why Your Goldfish Is Not Eating

We’re going to give you several reasons as to what the problem might be and how you can solve them. If none of these work, it would be wise to refer to your vet to get your goldfish professionally checked.

The 6 reasons why your goldfish is not eating are:

  1. Poor Water Quality
  2. Large Aquarium
  3. Overfeeding
  4. Dislike their food
  5. Health Issues
  6. Infections

1. Poor Water Quality

If the water quality in your goldfish’s tank is poor, this might be because there is a build-up of waste from food and excretion, your goldfish might lose their appetite for food. If food is not being eaten, it will contribute to the build-up of waste.

If you have white cotton in your fish tank take a look at this article I wrote to remove it from your fish tank.  If you have white mold take a look at this article.

If this is the case make sure you have a good water filter and also treat the water frequently with a conditioner like the ones available on amazon here

poor water quality goldfish tank

2. Large Aquarium

If the aquarium is too big, this could be why they are not eating their food. You might find that if your goldfish don’t reach their food fast enough or even notice it, it will drop to the bottom of the tank and they’ll miss out.

3. Overfeeding

Overfeeding can lead to goldfish not eating their food. If you feed your goldfish too much food, they might not be hungry the next time you go to feed them.

4. Dislike their food

The most straightforward reason as to why your goldfish might not be eating is that they don’t like the food that you are feeding them so instead of eating it, they aren’t. It might be worth having a variety of different goldfish food, so it makes it interesting for them and not the same all of the time.

5. Health Issues

Unfortunately, there could be something more severe as to why your goldfish is not eating its food. For example, there could be a health condition such as a tumour, gut blockage, etc. If you are concerned that your goldfish might have a health condition, a marine vet will be able to help you.

6. Infections

When you introduce live plants or another fish into your tank, there is always the risk that they could bring infections with them, such as:

  • worms
  • fungi
  • bacteria
  • viruses 

This could put your goldfish at risk of catching them. If your goldfish is not eating, this could be a sign of an infection. It is best to take them to a vet to be checked over.

how long goldfish not eating

How Long Can Goldfish Go Without Eating?

Goldfish can survive a fair amount of time without being physically fed by humans.

  • Without food, they can live between 8 to 14 days.

They will try and eat anything edible that is within their aquarium, such as algae off the tank surface, the rocks, plants, etc.

We, however, would not recommend leaving your goldfish without food for longer than four days as this is extremely cruel and even though they will try to find their own food, the likeliness of them being hungry is high.

What Do You Do If Your Goldfish Isn’t Eating?

If your goldfish is not eating you can do the following things:

1. Change The Water

If water quality is the reason why your goldfish isn’t eating, you must frequently change the water, so it is clean. Keeping the water clean means that it will help your fish to be healthier and happy, and hopefully encourage them to eat food. If you’ve changed the water and they’re still not eating it might be an indication that something else is causing it.

2. Drop Food Closer Yo Them

If your aquarium is too big and is why your fish isn’t eating, you can solve the issue by making sure you drop their food near them and monitor if they have eaten it.

3. Cut Back On Food

If the reason your goldfish isn’t eating is because of overeating leave them for a day without food and the next day cut back on what you would usually give them.

4. Visit A Vet

If you have tried everything possible, you should take your goldfish to a specialized marine vet if it is still not eating. The marine vet will be able to examine your fish and determine what the problem might be and whether there is something that they can do to help or not.

Can Goldfish Die From Not Eating?

Yes, goldfish will die if they do not eat food. Like most animals, fish need to eat food to survive. But it is also slightly more complicated with marine animals such as goldfish because their whole life is spent in water in a tank.

If they are not eating their food, it is going to drop to the bottom of the tank and make the conditions of the water poor. Poor water conditions will affect the oxygen level in the tank, which goldfish need to survive. Without oxygen, they will die.

YouTube video

How Do You Know if Your Goldfish Is Overfed?

There are a few signs you can look out for that you have overfeed your goldfish which include:

1. Cloudy Water

If the water is cloudy, it is likely due to poor water conditions and the amount of waste food within the tank. You’ll need to change the water and feed your goldfish less to overcome this.

2. Fish Struggling To Breathe

If you see your goldfish is hovering towards the top of the tank and gulping air bubbles; this is another sign that overfeeding has occurred, because the waste will cause the oxygen levels to drop.

I have also written an article on this which you can view here

3. Food Clumped At The Bottom Of The Tank

If you see any leftover food at the bottom of the tank, this is a clear sign of overfeeding. Your fish should be able to eat everything that you feed them within two minutes.

4. Struggling To Swim

Goldfish tend to struggle to swim around their tank; this is because when they have overeaten, it leaves them with issues with the swim bladder and their buoyancy ability. So if you spot your goldfish struggling to swim and staying in one spot, it might be an indication that you have overfed it.

5. Not Eating When You Feed Them

If your goldfish don’t eat when you are feeding them this could potentially be a sign that you may have overfed it.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do Goldfish Stop Eating When They Are Full?

No. Goldfish are one of several fish species that, no matter how full they are, will continue to eat provided food is present. As a result, overfeeding farmed fish can quickly result in their death by gut blockage.

2. Goldfish Not Eating and Laying at Bottom

Your goldfish may be sick if they are not eating and are laying at the bottom of the tank. Once again, dropsy, swim bladder illness, and constipation may be to blame, but they’re not the only ones.

3. Why Is My Goldfish Turning Black?

The chemical ammonia can be discovered in the feces of your fish. It may burn goldfish all over their bodies and is quite dangerous.

A goldfish’s body tries to cure itself after suffering an ammonia burn. In the same manner that a burn on human skin may leave a scar, this results in black areas on the goldfish.


Most likely, stress or constipation is at blame for why goldfish stop eating.

  1. To determine your water’s parameters, you should purchase aquarium test strips.In this manner, you may determine if you need to make improvements to lower their tension. Fish can be in grave risk from high levels of nitrite or ammonia.
  2. However, if your parameters are good, you could be feeding them too much. Goldfish just need to be fed a little pinch of food, or as much as they can consume in 30 seconds, twice day.

Overfeeding can impair a fish’s ability to swim since it creates bloating and constipation. Feeding sinking pellets is also advised since they prevent air gulping when eating. Don’t miss any feedings. Simply make sure they consume less food.


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Hello, I'm Jason. I'm the guy behind HelpUsFish.com. I volunteer at my local fish shop and I created this site to offer tips and advice on the fish I care for.