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 of poor water quality or they are unwell.

The most common reasons include

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

goldfish not eating

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, there are several steps you can take to address the issue:

  • Check Water Parameters: Ensure that the water parameters in the tank are within the appropriate range for goldfish. This includes temperature, pH level, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. Poor water quality can stress goldfish and affect their appetite. Perform regular water tests and make necessary adjustments to maintain a clean and healthy environment.
  • Evaluate Tank Conditions: Assess the tank setup and conditions. Make sure the tank is spacious enough for the goldfish to swim comfortably, and provide hiding places and suitable decorations. Proper filtration is crucial for maintaining water quality. Ensure the tank is adequately aerated to promote oxygenation.
  • Monitor Tank Mates: If your goldfish shares the tank with other fish, observe their behavior. Aggressive or dominant tankmates can intimidate the goldfish and inhibit their feeding. Consider separating the goldfish or rearranging the tank to provide a more peaceful environment.
  • Review Diet and Feeding Routine: Evaluate the diet you are offering to your goldfish. Goldfish require a balanced diet that includes high-quality commercial goldfish pellets or flakes, supplemented with occasional treats such as frozen or live foods. Ensure the food is fresh and appropriate for goldfish. Avoid overfeeding, as it can lead to digestive issues and a loss of appetite. Try offering different types of food to see if your goldfish shows any interest.
  • Check for Signs of Illness: If your goldfish’s lack of appetite is accompanied by other symptoms such as abnormal swimming, lethargy, or visible signs of illness, it may indicate an underlying health issue. Consult with a veterinarian experienced in fish care to diagnose and treat any potential illnesses.
  • Reduce Stress: Minimize stress factors in the goldfish’s environment. Avoid sudden changes, loud noises, excessive handling, or aggressive tankmates. Provide a calm and secure habitat to help alleviate stress.

Why Is My Goldfish Not Eating or Swimming

If your goldfish is not eating or swimming, it could be a sign of a more serious issue. Here are some possible reasons for this behavior:

  • Poor Water Quality: Check the water parameters (temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) to ensure they are within the appropriate range for goldfish. Poor water quality can lead to stress and illness, causing a loss of appetite and reduced activity.
  • Disease or Infection: Illnesses or infections can affect a goldfish’s appetite and mobility. Look for other symptoms such as abnormal swimming patterns, lethargy, fin/tail damage, discoloration, or visible signs of illness. Consult with a veterinarian experienced in fish care for proper diagnosis and treatment.
  • Water Temperature: Goldfish are cold-water fish, and if the water temperature is too high or too low, it can impact their metabolism and overall health. Ensure the water temperature is suitable for goldfish (around 18-24°C or 64-75°F).
  • Tank Conditions: Inadequate tank conditions, such as a small tank, lack of hiding places, or improper filtration, can stress goldfish and impact their behavior. Provide a spacious tank with appropriate decorations and filtration to ensure a comfortable environment.
  • Stress or Environmental Factors: Changes in the environment, such as sudden loud noises, excessive handling, aggressive tankmates, or improper acclimation to new surroundings, can cause stress and affect the goldfish’s appetite and swimming behavior.
  • Internal Blockage or Digestive Issues: Goldfish may experience digestive issues or internal blockages from swallowing gravel or other objects. This can lead to loss of appetite and abnormal swimming. Seek veterinary assistance if you suspect an internal blockage.

Is It Normal for New Goldfish to Not Eat

Yes, It is not uncommon for new goldfish to take some time to adjust to their new environment and not eat immediately.

Moving to a new tank or home can be stressful for fish, and they may exhibit a temporary loss of appetite. This behavior is often referred to as “new tank syndrome.”

When introducing new goldfish to their tank, it’s important to provide a stable and well-prepared environment. Ensure that the water quality is appropriate and all necessary parameters, such as temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, are within the recommended range for goldfish.

Give the fish some time to acclimate to their new surroundings and gradually introduce them to their new diet.

However, if your new goldfish continues to not eat for an extended period, it is essential to monitor their behavior and health closely. Look for signs of illness or stress, such as abnormal swimming, lethargy, clamped fins, or visible signs of disease.

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.

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Can You Force Feed a Goldfish

Force-feeding a goldfish is generally not recommended and should only be done under the guidance of a veterinarian experienced in fish care. Force-feeding can be a highly stressful and potentially harmful procedure for a fish, and it should only be considered as a last resort in critical situations.

Force-feeding involves physically restraining the fish and introducing food into its mouth. This can cause significant stress to the fish and may lead to injury if not done correctly. In addition, force-feeding can further suppress the fish’s appetite and potentially cause complications in its digestive system.

If you are concerned about your goldfish not eating, it’s important to address the underlying cause and provide suitable conditions for the fish to regain its appetite naturally.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

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.