How long can Goldfish go without Food?

Goldfish are among the most common species among beginners and experienced fish breeders and enthusiasts. During times of uncertainty, you may not be able to feed your fish since you just can’t be at home to feed them.

Although starving your goldfish might not be the best idea, you might still be wondering how long they can survive without being fed.

Being the responsible aquarist you are, you ask yourself: How long can goldfish go without food? We have created this blog just for you. We will get down on the specifics on what would be the optimal intake for feeding your goldfish, also examine how long they will fare without being fed for a certain amount of time, the reasons why they might skip a meal or two, and what to do about feeding them when you are out for a vacation.

Short Answer

Most experts believe that goldfish can go for as long as 8 to 14 days without food, but just because you can leave them be like that doesn’t mean that they should be. Various goldfishes behave differently after a few days of not eating. Some goldfish may die due to hunger, while others go into a form of hibernation. It may not be a good choice to let your fish go without food for long. If you leave your goldfish unfed for a certain period of time, this will lead to health issues rooted in stress.

Long Answer

Still not convinced of the idea of leaving your goldfish without food for more than a few days? Not to worry, for we have made this guide for every meticulous aquarist out there. Found here are the factors for survival, possible feeding solutions for those planning on going on a vacation, and temperature considerations for the aquarium.

How long Goldfish can go without food?

One of the several questions numerous hobbyists ask is, “Will my goldfish survive when I am away?”. As we have mentioned earlier, you can leave your goldfish unfed for up to 14 days. But, this can risk the health of your pet, and it’s not a good idea to keep your goldfish unfed for that long.

Goldfishes can survive without being fed for up to 4 days and remain healthy. Aside from that, you should still consider other factors such as how old your pet goldfish would be, its health condition, and size, as this will also help you examine how long it will fare without food.

Factors that determine how long my Aquarium Fish survive without Food

What ist your fish eating?

Your pet’s diet directly impacts your water chemistry. If you cannot maintain the aquarium for your goldfish, then unwittingly, you wouldn’t be able to feed your pet. To decrease the percentage of ammonia output from your fish, choose a diet that has lower dietary protein.

Regardless of the situation, if your goldfish isn’t a show fish, they should be fed with 30% protein to meet nutritional needs. Also, consider that the cooler the aquarium is, the metabolic rate of your fish would also be relevantly slower as this would also result in less food consumption.

Temperature considerations

Seeing that most fishes are coldblooded animals, this would mean that the water temperature in their environment would also be relevant as to what their body temperature would be. For example, if the environment around them would be warmer, thus their metabolism will be faster. Not being a tropical fish, the goldfish do well in a temperature range between 60-80F (15-27C). Setting the aquarium cooler’s temperature would mean that their metabolism will be at a slower rate and decrease their energy demands. Just make sure that your fish won’t freeze to death! Set it at an optimal temperature that will be comfortable for your pet while you are away.

How to decrease the water temperature? Here are outlines for you:

  • Locate the tank to the lower floor of your home, preferably the basement.
  • Add portions of ice to your tank in small amounts. Don’t forget to add a water conditioner to reduce chlorine to chloride which is less harmful to your pet!
  • For outdoor ponds, add structures that provide shade such as umbrellas, plants, or tarps at least 1 foot off the surface to provide side ventilation.

Checking my pet Goldfish´s body condition

Unlike mammals, a fish’s body condition can be pretty hard to examine. The body condition is a visual evaluation of a fish’s fitness vs. its nourishment. Given the variety of a goldfish’s anatomy, it is difficult to compare various breeds. To withstand prolonged periods that you won’t be able to attend to your fish, make sure that it also has an optimal body condition as to how you can assess this. You have to check the adequate muscle and fat proportion.

How can I feed my Goldfish when I am on Vacation for a Week or longer?

Worrying that you won’t be able to feed your fish when you are away? Don’t fret, for there are several ways that you will be able to feed your pet fish. These include the following:

Fish Sitters

Hiring a fish sitter could make a difference between life and death for your pet’s health and safety. This would be the next best option rather than hiring or entrusting your pet fish in the care of your neighbor. With that said, this should help with what your fish needs, such as their feeding schedule, aquarium maintenance, and other aspects that need tending to. This would cost you a dime for tending to your pet’s needs, but it is one of the options for your pet’s survival even when you are away.

Although this will cost you for tending to your pet’s needs, it is one of the solutions for your pet’s survival.

Vacation Feeders

If you are unable to hire a fish/pet sitter, then this option is for you! Vacation feeders are programmed to feed your pet fish at set periods through feeding blocks. Also, these might contain substances that your pet would not be able to consume.

To mitigate this, you have to introduce the food for your pet manually into the compartments of the feeder so that it will seamlessly drop the food without any trouble!

There are several benefits of using Vacation feeders such as:


  • Costs less food
  • The fish are fed with a variety of food
  • The release point of the feeder is focused at a single point hence reducing wastage.

To ensure that the fish will be accustomed to this new feeding method, make sure that you will gradually introduce them to the feeder before going on a vacation so that you will be able to rest at ease!

Automatic feeders

As the name suggests, this type of feeder is an electronic device designed to feed your fish without you being nearby.

Don’t worry, as this only consumes for at least 5 minutes as you fill the container with dried fish food and make sure that you set the timer as to when it will feed your pet fish. But you should be able to maintain the filter maintenance as this will, unfortunately, stop working once not tended to. This will cause you to continue dispensing the food and pollute the water and lead to the death of your goldfish.

Before deciding to choose which of the options best suits you, why not consult a fish feeder about which will be the most ideal option for you!

If you are interested, you can find here a detailed test about automatic fish feeder.

How do You know Your Goldfish are hungry?

Worried that you won’t be able to identify your pet fish is hungry? These are several factors that you can easily tell that your fish is hungry:

  • The fish might start attacking or harassing other fish in extreme cases that they are unfed for a long time. However, this should not be treated as a primary indicator of its hunger.
  • If you start seeing your goldfish swimming sluggishly, this indicates that you are not feeding it in the right proportions or intervals on time.
  • When you see the goldfish start swimming in areas that they don’t usually visit, it’s a clear indicator your pet fish is hungry. Such as a goldfish digging through the substrate looking for food or continually swimming toward the aquarium’s water surface looking for food.
  • Lastly, whenever they are quickly gobbling, food is a clear indicator of prolonged hunger. This shows that your fish is extremely aggressive during feeding time.

To prevent the aforementioned signs above, ensure that you will be able to feed your pet in the right proportions and at the right time.

Conclusion – How Long can Goldfish go without Food?

Although we learned that goldfish could go quite some time without being fed – this doesn’t imply that you should disregard other factors such as fish’s health conditions and environmental temperature.

Now that you are educated about how to take care of your goldfish, you can now go ahead and start preparing to ensure that your fish will be healthy and happy even when you are away for a vacation.

If you want to learn more about the goldfish and how to keep them, you can find a detailed care guide here.

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