How Long Can A Goldfish Go Without Food? (& What To Consider)

A Goldfish’s ability to prevail without food varies, depending on elements such as water temperature, what the fish usually eats, and the body condition of the Goldfish when food ultimately runs out. On average, however, a goldfish in optimal health can live approximately up to two weeks without food.

For many of us, our first pet Goldfish was an introduction to the commitment and responsibility of another life. We left the pet shop that very first day with a gigantic smile, a Rolodex of conceivable names running through our minds, and an infinite imagination for how to set up the scenery inside its new, aquatic home.

However, days and weeks passed, and our ever-fleeting, youthful attention spans naturally turned to different sources of entertainment. When was the last time we cleaned its bowl? How often did we forget to feed it? How long can a goldfish even go without food before turning belly-up?

Things That Affect How Long Your Goldfish Can Go Without Food

Water Temperature

Goldfish, like many of our other scaly friends, are ectothermic. Ectothermic means that a fish’s body temperature correlates directly to the water temperature it is swimming in. Goldfish get along well in a broader range of temperatures, unlike a tropical fish, which requires its water to be warmer.

To extend the time a goldfish can survive without food, you can adjust the temperature of the water to be colder, which will subsequently slow down the fish’s metabolism, so it requires less demand of energy. Here are a few tips on lowering the water temperature of your tank:

  • Add small traces of ice to your tank. Make sure you supplement with a water conditioner to maintain equilibrium.
  • Relocate the tank to a lower floor or the basement, which is likely a much colder atmosphere.
  • If you can, move the tank in front of an air conditioner and allow the tank’s aerator to pull in cool air.

Dietary Considerations

A goldfish’s diet directly correlates to the water chemistry, so choosing a diet with lower protein will subsequently decrease the amount of ammonia expunged from the fish. Ideally, your Goldfish should be consuming around thirty percent dietary protein, but the water temperature still impacts this scenario.

Body Condition Of Your Goldfish

A goldfish’s body can be challenging to assess, given the multiple varieties of goldfish bodies that exist. Ideally, a goldfish body that starts with solid fat storage and good muscles will last longer in the absence of food.

There are other methods of checking in to assess the physical condition of your Goldfish. If you notice the fish swimming in areas where it usually does not, it might indicate an increased hunger level and hunt for additional food sources. When the fish becomes excessively hungry, it might begin to lash out and attack other fish in the tank, assuming other fish are sharing the space. 

How Long Can Goldfish Go Without Food In A Pond?

Unlike their counterparts who wound up in a tank swimming laps around make-believe deep-sea divers, pond goldfish can survive much more extended periods without being fed. Assuming the pond is well designed and retains a balanced ecosystem, a Goldfish should survive over two weeks relatively easily.

Without an essentially artificial source of food at their disposal via human intervention, Goldfish will resort to their primal survival instincts and endure by feeding on the naturally growing algae supply in the pond. During the winter, when water temperatures are at their coldest, Goldfish do not eat at all and survive merely due to their static metabolic rate.

When Can You Skip Feeding Your Goldfish?

According to various pet owners and veterinarians alike, skipping a feed once a week is not necessarily bad for your Goldfish. In all reality, it is quite the opposite. The missed meal allows the Goldfish to clear out its gastrointestinal tract completely. If fecal matter is building up inside the Goldfish, it can cause serious issues such as systemic toxicity and even death.

There are other scenarios when skipping feeding for a time is deemed okay by some, and it mainly revolves around show goldfish. Keepers taking their fish to shows try to avoid feeding for about a week beforehand to ensure that the Goldfish does not defecate, therefore dirtying their show tank, which can displease some judges and lower overall scoring. Secondarily, this stretch of fasting allows for ease of transport since the ammonia will not be building up as fast while being transported in a smaller volume of water.

Goldfish on a white background

How Can You Feed Your Goldfish When You Are Away?

Luckily for that special Goldfish in your life, there are many options when it comes to keeping up with meals while you are away from home. These options run the gamut from enlisting a friend or family member to “fish-sit” to automatic feeders installed right on the tank. Whichever method you choose, I’m sure you will be looking out for your little finned friend!

Enlist A Friend Or Family Member

Almost everyone has a friend or family member that owes them a solid, and this is the perfect time to pull that card. Make sure you call in the request well in advance of your absence to avoid scheduling mishaps. A “fish-sitter” is the most traditional option, and as a bonus, you get the added comfort of knowing somebody is checking in on the house while you are away and everything stays in order.

Much like with a babysitter, you can leave detailed instructions for your “fish-sitter” if you so choose, but you would likely be hard-pressed to convince your friend to attack any of the actual dirty work. Most importantly, task them with the duty of keeping your Goldfish from going belly-up!

Automatic Fish Feeders  

If getting an actual person to come in a few times to feed your Goldfish does not work out, you can invest in an automatic feeder. Nowadays, these devices are incredibly affordable, and you can purchase and install one quite easily. These feeders are great for when you are away for extended periods, but they can also check off at least one task from your weekly to-do list. All you do is load it up with the goldfish food, set a timer, and step back to enjoy the calming ambiance your tank contributes to the household.

If you are overwhelmed by the vast number of choices out there and wonder which feeder to choose, the Barkmew Automatic Fish Feeder is a great option. This versatile automatic feeder comes equipped with an easy-to-load opening, programming options, and a hopper with an immense capacity for food.

Slow-Release Fish Food

You read that right; slow-release fish food is a thing, and it is pretty clever. Essentially, this method is a big chunky glob that breaks down and releases bits of dissolved food over days – or even weeks! There are both weekend chunks of food and vacation chunks. The weekend ones last about three days, and the vacation option can keep the food coming for up to seven days. It is the cheapest option available for ensuring your Goldfish maintains a happy belly.

Try the Tetra Pond Vacation Food when you are heading out of town towards your next adventure. These vacation blocks will keep your Goldfish fed for seven days while ensuring your tank water does not become cloudy. This food features the perfect balance of vitamins and nutrients that keep your Goldfish’s immune system running strong.

For a shorter trip out of town, give Mini Banquet Block Feeders a try. These food blocks will last approximately three to four days and supply food for fifteen to twenty average size fish during that time. If you happen to be the keeper of more aggressive fish, you can position multiple food blocks across the floor of the tank to keep territorial arrangements in order.

FAQ

Q: Can Your Goldfish Go For Two Days Without Food?

A: Yes. Almost every fish can go for two days without food. According to an article published on BeChewy, many experienced fish keepers routinely leave their fish without a food plan for two to three days. However, if you are planning to be away for longer, making a care plan will be the appropriate route to take.

Q: Can Your Goldfish Go For Five Days Without Food?

A: Yes. It is proven that Goldfish can live for up to two weeks without food, but you really should not go without feeding them for that length of time, according to FishTankMaster.com.

Q: Can You Leave Your Goldfish for a Week Without Food?

A: The factual answer is yes, but you should not actually do that to your little finned friend. Each individual Goldfish will react differently based on numerous factors after a few days of fasting. AquariumNexus.com states that some goldfish will perish, and some will be just fine.

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