How Long Can Goldfish Go Without Food?

Have you planned a trip, but are worrying about your goldfish? How will they eat? How long can goldfish go without food? Is it safe for them to skip meals?

We don’t want you to miss out on fun trips, but it’s important to take care of your pets as well.

Keep reading and we’ll tell you exactly how to take care of your goldfish while you’re away.

How Long Can Goldfish Go Without Food?

A goldfish can go without food for 8-14 days before it begins to wither away.

In an aquarium, they’ll scavenge for leftover food at the bottom of the tank. They’ll also nibble at algae growing on the sides of the tank and on decorations.

Goldfish in ponds will do the same. But, they’ll also have insects and plants that they can feed on. Goldfish in ponds can often survive longer than goldfish kept in aquariums.

Still, it doesn’t mean that it’s safe for them to go so long without food.

Goldfish Need A Lot Of Food

Goldfish have a fast digestive system. They create a lot of waste because their food moves through them so quickly. For this reason, you should feed them more often than your typical fish.

Most fish are okay to eat once or twice a day. Goldfish need to eat two or three times a day. So, it’s not healthy for them to go days without eating.

Think about it this way, you can survive several weeks without food. Still, your body will rely on your body’s reserves to keep you functioning. You’ll begin losing weight, and you won’t be able to function at your peak. The same is true for goldfish.

But, you can still go away on your week-long trip while ensuring that your fish are eating.

How Can You Give Them Food When You’re Not Home?

There’s really no reason to ever leave your goldfish without food. There are options to keep them fed.

Hire A Pet Sitter Or A Friend To Feed Them

Some fish keepers are opposed to having others feed their fish while they’re away on vacation.

If your pet sitter or friend is not an experienced fish keeper, there’s a chance that they could overfeed your fish. Best case scenario, your fish will overeat and become bloated. Worst case scenario, the extra food pollutes your tank. This could cause an ammonia spike that kills your fish while you’re gone.

Some fish keepers say it’s best to leave them without food. But this isn’t advisable. As we mentioned above, goldfish have a fast metabolism, and they need plenty of food to stay healthy.

If they are in the habit of eating two to three times a day, and that suddenly stops, it can be harmful to their body.

If you have the funds to do so, it’s best to hire someone who has experience with fish. This will give you the peace of mind that your fish are well taken care of while you’re away.

Is a sitter too expensive? Try to find a friend or family member who has experience with fish.

If neither of those options is available, don’t worry. Chances are that you know someone who is good at following directions. You can teach them how to feed your fish. Just make sure that they’re good listeners and will do what you ask of them. Goldfish are notorious for begging, so it’s easy to overfeed them.

It’s a good idea to have the person come over before you leave. This way, you can walk them through exactly how much to feed your fish and when. Leave them a note with all the instructions so that they don’t forget.

Are you really worried about overfeeding? You can prepare your fish’s portions beforehand. Put their food into plastic bags or small containers, and tell your sitter when to feed.

Get An Automatic Feeder

Automatic feeders are another option for when you’re away. These can be great because you can set a time for when they feed your fish. So, they’ll still ensure that your fish are being fed every day.

The problem is that it could overfeed your fish. Automatic feeders have adjustable settings. So, you can prevent this, but many people don’t think far enough in advance.

This is easily remedied by taking precautions. You’ll just need to prepare well in advance of your vacation.

You shouldn’t set up the feeder the day that you leave. Instead, set it up a week beforehand. This way, you can watch how much food the feeder is providing your fish. If it’s giving too much, you can adjust the settings before you leave for your trip.

Automatic feeders are a life-saving option if you don’t have someone available to come to check on your fish.

Slow-Release Food

Slow-release food should be your last option because they generally don’t work well. They’re supposed to give your fish a small amount of food over a period of several days to a couple of weeks.

But, many of these foods leave a gross residue in the tank. Plus, the food may begin to rot before it’s supposed to. So, you could wind up with a dirty and dangerous tank.


Goldfish can survive for up to two weeks without food. But, this doesn’t mean that you should leave them this long without food. Imagine how you would feel if you went weeks without food. Your energy would be depleted, you’d begin losing weight, and you’d probably feel sick.

There are options available to ensure that your fish can still eat while you’re away.

The best option is to have someone come over to check on them and feed them. If this isn’t an option, set up a good automatic feeder. If you don’t have money for that, consider good, slow-release food.

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