Goldfish are the first pet experience most of us had. They don’t require that much attention or maintenance and are pretty easy to keep alive and healthy. They are perfect pets for kids, and people that don’t have a lot of time or commitment to look after another living creature. Plus, they are relatively cheap, and pretty to look at.

But this accessibility makes people consider feeding their goldfish something other than food that has been marketed specifically for them. Sometimes we can’t find goldfish-specific food, or we simply don’t have the time to look for it, sometimes it can even be too expensive. Which brings us to one popular question among goldfish owners: can goldfish eat tropical fish food? Keep reading to find out more.

What is the diet of a goldfish?

Goldfish are from a freshwater environment, and in their natural habitat they eat mostly crustaceans, plants, and insects. Sometimes you can even find them eating other smaller fish. But inside the tank, there is a variety of options on the market for goldfish food.

These food options are often found as dry flakes or cold food consisting of shrimp, plankton, and other ocean goods. When owners feel a little riskier and more adventurous, they can even feed live food to their goldfish! But they need to be very careful with this, as the food could be infected or not cleaned appropriately.

Putting aside the commercial food that is targeted for goldfish, when you dive a little deeper into the general diet of a goldfish you can find that it isn’t very complicated at all. Their diet consists of a combination of carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals and vitamins, just like the regular living being. One thing that stands out in goldfish food is that they have more carbohydrates than protein, and that could be considered the only goldfish-specific characteristic.

What is tropical fish food?

As the name suggests, tropical fish are the ones found in tropical environments. It´s common to find them in fish tanks as pets because they adjust to aquariums, and they are cheap. They are a wide variety of fish, and typically the ones sold on the market are freshwater fish from Florida or Asia.

Tropical fish live in similar environments to goldfish, so their nutrition shouldn’t be all that different. Tropical fish food typically contains the same amount of nutrition as goldfish-specific food. The only difference being the nutrition proportion, with tropical fish food having more proteins than carbohydrates, which doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, but could affect your goldfish’s health negatively in the long run.

So…can goldfish eat tropical fish food?

Animal experts recommend that goldfish eat only the specific food for them. This is only logical, as there must be a reason why it´s targeted for them. But eating tropical fish food won´t be negative for goldfish in the short run, but for a long time, it could be detrimental to them. The lack of carbohydrates during an extended period of time could cause a nutritional deficiency on your goldfish, so exchanging goldfish food for tropical fish food entirely is not recommended.

But, for an emergency when you can´t find goldfish food easily, or can´t afford it, you can replace it only for a short period of time. Goldfish don’t require such a high maintenance, and you won’t risk their health by doing this.

Some other considerations

Presentation: The presentation of the food sounds like such a minor detail, but when it comes to fish, and especially goldfish, it can determine whether they live or not. Goldfish are mid to deep water feeders, which means their mouths are made to eat in the depths of the ocean, not on the surface. Tropical fish food often comes in flakes, which are better for surface eaters. Eating at the surface could make your goldfish gulp too much air, which might affect him negatively.

Temperature: The temperature of the water tank also has an impact on the way your goldfish eats, and whether or not it can eat other food that isn’t specific to them. When the water is warmer, the goldfish will use better the nutrients contained in tropical fish food. This is because a tropical environment is typically warmer than the usual tank. But if the water is on the colder side of the spectrum, a nutrition deficiency could be in your goldfish’s future.

Watch a goldfish eat live shrimp:

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