Best Foods For Goldfish Based on Ingredient Quality

Sinking foods are best for goldfish so they don’t suck in a bunch of air as they eat, something that can lead to swim bladder issues, especially in fancy goldfish.

I have handpicked a list of foods that will sink to the bottom of the tank and are made from high quality ingredients, not the cheap fillers and bad protein sources that are sold by some brands.

My top three choices are:

  • Repashy Super Gold Gel Food
  • Repashy Super Green Gel Food
  • Northfin Kelp Wafers

Continue reading to learn more about picking goldfish as well as my favorite picks. You can also use the table of contents below to skip quickly to different sections.

Why Are Sinking Foods Best for Goldfish?

When goldfish eat food at the water’s surface, they inadvertently swallow air. A little bit is no big deal, but excessive air can get trapped in their swim bladders and cause them to get stuck floating at the surface.

This is especially a problem that plagues fancy goldfish because of their compressed body shapes.

Goldfish are perfectly happy rooting around at the bottom of the tank to find food. In the wild, goldfish and other carps are typically bottom feeders.

These feeding recommendations are for goldfish kept in water that is above 60°F (15°C). At 60°F and below, the fish’s metabolism will begin to slow down, and they need to be switched to a wheat germ based food. If the water temperature drops below 50°F (10°C), you should stop feeding your goldfish altogether until temperatures rise in spring.

Getting The Right Ingredients For Your Goldfish

It’s best to provide your goldfish with a varied diet.

In nature, goldfish eat just about anything that’s not nailed down: smaller fish, insects and their larvae, plant roots and leaves, crustaceans and they’ll even munch on trailing algae and dead fish they come across.

They are true omnivores, the exact opposite of picky eaters. If it fits in their mouth, they’ll gulp it down.

It’s a good idea to try and mimic this in the aquarium as much as possible.

Just make sure to check out the ingredients list on the back of any fish food you buy. 

I’m sorry to say that there are MAJOR brands out there that use inferior ingredients. Yes, they’ll keep fish from starving, but they’re the equivalent of a human eating nothing but hotdogs and snack cakes.

Look for high quality ingredients: 

  • Aquatic sources of protein – fish are meant to eat things like insects, worms and other fish. Aquatic and insect protein sources are easier for them to digest. It’s best to find foods that are made from whole fish, shrimp, krill, squid, etc, versus just generic fish meal.
  • Algae –  algae provides easily digestible vitamins and minerals as well as fiber.

Things to avoid:

  • Generic fish meal – fish meal is basically the garbage left over after all the meat humans want to eat has been stripped off of fish. So, it’s guts, scales, bones, fins, etc. A bunch of it is actually indigestible. Yes, it has some protein, but a lot of the good stuff has been stripped away.
  • Cheap fillers – fillers like corn, soy, wheat chaff, etc. It’s ok for there to be some in fish food, it’s often used as a binder to get the texture needed for flakes or pellets, but it shouldn’t be a main ingredient. 

Soak Pellets Before Feeding

Sinking pellets can be a great staple diet for goldfish, but they can have little bits of air trapped inside them.

If at all possible, soak your goldfish’s pellets in a little bit of tank water for a few minutes before you put them in the tank.

This can soften them up, make them easier to eat, and eliminate any trapped air.

Best Foods For Goldfish

1. Repashy Super Gold Gel Food

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Repashy brand is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to gel food.

They always provide top notch ingredients that will keep fish happy and healthy. I love that the second ingredient is spirulina. This blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) is packed with  vitamins and minerals. It’s great for fish, and people, too

Krill, black soldier fly larvae and squid are all excellent, lean sources of protein that are easily digestible.

Mixing up the food is super simple and you can easily make enough to last you a week or two in just a few minutes.

Gel foods are pretty darn stinky when you mix them up. I highly recommend measuring out your water and powder, microwaving the water to boil and then mixing them together OUTSIDE. Your family will thank you for not flooding the house with the super strong fishy smell. Once the gel cools to room temperature or below, it no longer gives off a strong smell.

Pros: 

  • Great mix of animal and plant food sources 
  • You can easily mix up enough for a week or two
  • Sinks to the bottom for safer feeding
  • Simple portion control
  • Made in the USA

Cons: 

  • Must be made up ahead of time
  • Can be stinky when you mix it up
Click For Full Ingredients

Krill Meal, Spirulina Algae, Black Soldier Fly Larvae Meal, Chlorella Algae, Squid Meal, Dandelion Leaf, Seaweed Meal, Whole Egg, Pea Protein Isolate, Rice Protein Concentrate, Banana Powder, Brewer’s Dried Yeast, Mussel Meal, Mango Powder, Lecithin, Locust Bean Gum, Citric Acid, Stinging Nettle, Garlic, Ginger, Cinnamon, Dried Kelp, Phaffia Yeast, Dried Watermelon, RoseHips, Hibiscus Flower, Marigold Flower, Paprika, Turmeric, Salt, Calcium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (as preservatives), Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Methionine Hydroxy Analogue Chelate, Manganese Methionine Hydroxy Analogue Chelate, Copper Methionine Hydroxy Analogue Chelate. Vitamins: (Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D Supplement, Calcium L-Ascorbyl-2-Monophosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Beta Carotene, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex)

Repashy Super Gold Goldfish and Koi Gel Food 6 Oz JAR
Repashy Super Gold Goldfish and Koi Gel Food 6 Oz JAR

    Last update on 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    Repashy Super Green

    Repashy Super Green is a great way to add veggies to your goldfish’s diet. Spirulina is the first ingredient, plus it’s got other algaes as well. I could go on and on about how good this stuff is for fish.

    I think it’s better as an add-on than a staple, but it’s packed with healthy plant-based ingredients that provide lots of vitamins and minerals.

    Many sources recommend giving goldfish fresh veggies, but this can be a pain sometimes. Veggies should be blanched before they’re put in the tank, they have to be clipped or weighed down and there’s always the risk of them being covered in pesticides.

    Repashy Super Green is an excellent substitute, full of lots of veggie goodness, but without the worry of harmful pesticides.

    Pros

    • Full of vitamins and minerals
    • Can replace having to feed fresh veggies
    • Easy to portion out

    Cons

    • May not have enough animal protein to be a staple diet
    • Has to be made up ahead of time
    • Can be stinky while being mixed
    Click For Full Ingredients

    Spirulina Algae, Algae Meal (Chlorella), Pea Protein Isolate, Rice Protein Concentrate, Alfalfa Leaf Powder, Stabalized Rice Bran, Dandelion Powder, Dried Brewer’s Yeast, Coconut Meal, Schizochytrium Algae, Dried Seaweed Meal, Locust Bean Gum, Lecithin, Citric Acid, Taurine, Stinging Nettle, Garlic, Dried Kelp, Dried Watermelon, RoseHips, Hibiscus Flower, Marigold Flower, Paprika, Turmeric, Calcium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (as preservatives), Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Methionine Hydroxy Analogue Chelate, Manganese Methionine Hydroxy Analogue Chelate, Copper Methionine Hydroxy Analogue Chelate. Vitamins: (Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D Supplement, Calcium L-Ascorbyl-2- Monophosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Beta Carotene, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex)

    Repashy SuperGreen 6 Oz JAR
    Repashy SuperGreen 6 Oz JAR

      Last update on 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

      Northfin Fish Food Kelp Wafers

      These have fast become my favorite sinking wafers on the market.

      They are an excellent mix of both plant-based ingredients and high quality aquatic protein sources. I would recommend this as a staple diet for just about any bottom-feeding fish.

      I do recommend soaking these for a minute or two before putting them in the tank, but they let go of any trapped air and soften up quite quickly, so no need to do it for long.

      All of my fish love these and gobble them up.

      Pros

      • Great mix of animal and plant-based ingredients
      • Sinks well and softens up quickly

      Cons

      • Needs to be soaked briefly before being fed
      Click For Full Ingredients

      Kelp, Whole Antarctic Krill Meal, High Omega-3 (DHA) Herring Meal, Whole Sardine Meal, Wheat Flour, Spirulina, Garlic, Astaxanthin (Haematococcus Algae), Calcium Montmorillonite Clay, Vitamin A Acetate, L-Ascorby-2-Polyphospate (Source of Vitamin C), D-Activated Animal-Sterol (D3), DL Alphatocopherol (E), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamine, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Choline Chloride, Cobalt Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Selenium, Zinc

      Sale
      Northfin Fish Food Kelp Wafers 14mm (250g)
      Northfin Fish Food Kelp Wafers 14mm (250g)

        Last update on 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

        Northfin Fish Food Veggie Formula Slow Sinking Pellets

        Northfin veggie pellets come in multiple sizes, which is great, because you can buy the size that’s right for your goldfish as they grow. 

        Just like the kelp wafers, these veggie pellets are a great mix of easily digestible proteins and plant-based ingredients that mimic a goldfish’s natural diet. 

        I do recommend soaking these for a few minutes before dropping them in the tank, just to make sure the air works its way out.

        Pros:

        • Comes in multiple sizes for all life stages
        • Great mix of plant-based and animal-based ingredients

        Cons:

        • Needs to be soaked for a few minutes
        Click For Full Ingredients

        Organic Kelp (Laminariales), Whole Antarctic Krill Meal (Euphausia Superba), High DHA Omega-3 Whole Herring Meal, Whole Sardine Meal, Wheat Flour, Spirulina, Garlic (Allium Sativum), Astaxanthin, Montmorillonite Clay, Vitamin A Acetate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Cholecalciferol, Alpha-tocopherol Acetate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamine, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Choline Chloride, Cobalt Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Selenium, Zinc, Rosemary Extract (Rosmarinus Officinalis)

        Northfin Fish Food Veggie Formula Slow Sinking Pellets (1mm 250g)
        Northfin Fish Food Veggie Formula Slow Sinking Pellets (1mm 250g)

          Last update on 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

          New Life Spectrum AlgaeMax

          These mini wafers are a great way to add in some veggies for your goldfish’s diet. 

          They’re made from a blend of several types of seaweed as well as spirulina. They’ve even got krill and squid, excellent animal proteins that are lean and easy to digest. 

          These wafers are a bit small, so they might be better for younger goldfish. 

          I would recommend soaking them for a minute or so to release trapped air.

          Pros:

          • Excellent source of vitamins and minerals 
          • Contains lean proteins that are easy to digest

          Cons:

          • Need to be soaked for a minute or two
          Click For Full Ingredients

          Seaweed (Ulva latuca, Undaria pinnatafida, Eucheuma cottonii, Eucheuma spinosum, Chondrus crispus, Porphyra umbilicus), Krill (Euphasia superba), Squid (Dosidicus gigas), Whole Wheat Flour, Kelp, Spirulina, Fish (Brevoortia tyrannus), Fish Oil, Garlic, Ginger, Astaxanthin, Marigold, Bentonite Clay, Sea Salt, Vitamin A Acetate,Vitamin D Supplement,Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement,Niacin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Calcium Pantothenate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Vitamin C), Choline, Chloride, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Cobalt Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Tocopherols (a preservative)

          New Life Spectrum AlgaeMax Mini-Wafers 150g (Naturox Series)
          New Life Spectrum AlgaeMax Mini-Wafers 150g (Naturox Series)

          Last update on 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

          Omega One Veggie Rounds

          Despite the name, Omega One Veggie Rounds are actually quite protein heavy. But, those proteins come from whole fish and shrimp, rather than generic fish meal. 

          These proteins are rounded out by some kelp and spirulina. 

          I do really like these for goldfish because they also contain wheat germ meal and rice bran, both valuable sources of fiber that are great for keeping a goldfish’s gut moving, especially fancy goldfish. 

          These can hold some air, so I would recommend soaking for several minutes before dropping them into the tank.

          Pros:

          • Balanced diet of proteins and plant-based ingredients
          • Contain fiber that is good for digestion

          Cons:

          • Need to be soaked for several minutes
          Click For Full Ingredients

          Salmon, Whole Herring, Wheat Germ Meal, Wheat Flour, Rice Bran, Dried Kelp, Shrimp, Pea Protein, Wheat Gluten, Spirulina, Herring Oil, Vitamins (L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Inositol, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Citric Acid (Preservative), Vinegar, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Rosemary Extract, Astaxanthin (Color), Canthaxanthin (Color).

          Omega One Veggie Rounds, 14mm Rounds, Sinking, 8 Oz Container
          Omega One Veggie Rounds, 14mm Rounds, Sinking, 8 Oz Container

            Last update on 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

            Omega One Sinking Catfish Pellets

            These pellets are a great way to add in protein if you’re feeding a more veggie heavy diet to your goldfish. 

            These pellets are fairly small, so I’d recommend them more for younger fish. The proteins in these pellets should help to fuel a young fish’s growth. 

            The fiber content of the wheat germ they contain can also help digestion.

            I would recommend briefly soaking these to get out trapped air.

            Pros:

            • High quality proteins that can help fuel growth in young fish
            • Great size for younger goldfish

            Cons:

            • Needs to be soaked briefly
            • Should be fed more as an add-on than a staple diet
            Click For Full Ingredients

            Salmon, Whole Herring, Whole Shrimp, Wheat Flour, Wheat Germ, Pea Protein, Wheat Gluten, Kelp, Astaxanthin, Canthanxanthin, Potassium Sorbate, Ethoxyquin (Preservative), BHT (Preservative), BHA (Preservative), Natural And Artificial Colors, Ascorbyl Monophosphate (Source Of Vitamin C), Niacin, Inositol, Folic Acid, Biotin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

            Omega One Sinking Shrimp Pellets, 8mm Pellets, 8.25 oz
            Omega One Sinking Shrimp Pellets, 8mm Pellets, 8.25 oz

              Last update on 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

              Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze Dried Spirulina Brine Shrimp Cubes

              Freeze dried brine shrimp are always a welcome treat. I recommend  only feeding these once or twice a week, just for a little tasty snack. 

              Brine shrimp are an excellent protein for just about any fish, and they can help keep a fish’s gut moving, something that can be so important for fancy goldfish. 

              The spirulina also adds healthy vitamins and minerals. 

              I just break these up with my fingers under the water and let the fish go after the shrimp as they float in the water column.

              Pros:

              • Lean protein plus vitamins and minerals
              • Can help keep the gut moving
              • Fish love them

              Cons:

              • Should only be fed as a treat
              Click For Full Ingredients

              Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp, Spirulina

              Sale
              Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze Dried Spirulina Brine Shrimp Cubes for Pets, 0.42-Ounce
              Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze Dried Spirulina Brine Shrimp Cubes for Pets, 0.42-Ounce

                Last update on 2024-05-23 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                My Top Picks

                Goldfish are omnivores that thrive on a varied diet. I highly recommend getting a few foods and rotating them around to make sure your fish get all the nutrients they need.

                I really, really like the Repashy gel foods. It only takes a few minutes each week to mix up some food and then it’s so easy to portion out what you need.

                The Super Gold not only has excellent proteins, but the hibiscus, marigold and turmeric it also contains are color enhancers that can make your fish look more vibrant.

                How Much and How Often Should You Feed Goldfish?

                This can be a really hard thing for new fishkeepers. Here’s the best single piece of advice ​I can give anyone new to the hobby: 

                Fish will always tell you that they are simply STARVING to death and you need to feed them RIGHT AWAY to save their lives. But, they are big, fat liars!!

                If you feed fish every time that they beg for food, you will make them sick and pollute your water to the point that it is toxic.

                Overfeeding is one of the leading causes of fish deaths in the aquarium hobby. 

                So, how much should you feed?

                Young goldfish that are still growing should be fed twice a day. Adult goldfish only need to be fed once a day.

                Feed your goldfish only as much as they can eat in about 2 minutes, if you’re feeding flakes or pellets.

                Gel foods are extremely nutrient rich, you only need to offer them for 30-60 seconds.

                Immediately remove any uneaten food.

                Uneaten food rots in the aquarium, fouling your water and providing a fuel source for bacteria, algae and water molds (saprolegnia).

                If you overfeed your goldfish with foods rich in protein and fats, it puts them at risk for health issues.  Too much fat can build up around their organs, possibly causing a fluid imbalance. This can then result in your goldfish developing Dropsy.

                And the dangers don’t stop there.

                If you overfeed goldfish, they’re going to produce A LOT more waste which can set off a nasty chain reaction:

                • High ammonia and nitrites: Excess fish waste will cause a spike in ammonia and nitrites, which are very toxic to your fish.
                • Decreased oxygen levels: When your fish’s waste decays, it uses up the dissolved oxygen in the water that your fish needs.
                • Increased stress and disease: Poor water quality will stress your goldfish, making it more vulnerable to parasites and diseases.
                • Bad Smells: All the extra decomposing waste is going to leave a nasty smell coming from your tank.
                • Algae Blooms: Excess waste can help fuel algae blooms in your tank. It’s true, algae isn’t 100% bad for your aquarium. However, it is unsightly.
                • Extra Maintenance: Your filter system will become clogged with excess waste. You’ll have to unclog your filters and perform more water changes to keep up with the extra gunk.

                I hope you find this article helpful.

                I wish you and your fish the very best!

                Katherine Morgan
                Katherine Morgan

                Hey, there! I'm Katherine from Northwest Florida. An aquarium specialist, I've kept tanks for over two decades, enjoy experimenting with low-tech planted setups and an avid South American cichlid enthusiast.

                6 Comments

                1. Excellent reading. I have around 18 Gold fishes. Used to over feed. Your article has helped me and created an awareness. Thank you.

                  • When having someone care for my fish when I go out of town, I fill a the daily pill containers with the food to ensure they are fed the correct amount each day! Hope this is helpful!

                2. I love your recommendations on feeding .. I’m exactly on the same lines.. I’m new to fish keeping but have learned a lot in the space of a few months .. I’m doing exactly as you’ve outlined .. many thanks

                3. This info is totally right on! I’ve been keeping fish my whole life. My 8 fancy goldfish are in a redundantly filtered 75 gallon tank. They get Repashy Super Gold Gel food (prepared adding 1 tablespoon of frozen daphnia to the mix in place of a tablespoon of water) every day. In the afternoon the have finely chopped softened vegetables (broccoli, peas, green beans & carrots are favorites). A couple times a week I’ll treat them with frozen brine shrimp or live food (mosquito larvae, blood worms, daphnia) collected from a stagnant water filled baby pool in the yard. They never get flakes or pellets. Repashy Super Gold is the ideal staple gel food!

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