Feed Bites

Goldfish-Feeding Them for Life!

Written by: Louise Calderwood   |   March 10, 2022


For many children, a goldfish is their first foray into the joy and pain of pet ownership. I remember my first little goldfish, Comet, darting about his bowl, a gift for my eighth birthday. I also remember my older sisters trying to replace his upside-down floating body with a new fish before I learned of his demise. However, I wasn’t to be fooled and tears flowed for days afterwards.  

Happily, I have learned a few tricks to keep my goldfish alive and my current brood varies in age from seven to 15 years, including Helen, my fish who has been totally blind for well over two years. Goldfish food manufacturers may not be the largest segment of the animal food industry, but those of us devoted to our pets appreciate the care they put into manufacturing quality diets for our finned friends. 

Goldfish are among the longest-lived animals fed by animal food manufacturers. You may not realize it, but along with pet birds and reptiles, some types of goldfish can live well into their 30s. Sure, livestock feed manufacturers have to feed for rapid growth, and dog and cat food companies have developed foods to support healthy joints and glossy coats, but goldfish food companies have to formulate diets for pets who can live for decades and are often only fed the contents of the small cans of food that make it so convenient to own a fish. And while my six fish are ambitious beggars, congregating in the feeding corner and splashing the water surface, they don’t wrap around my legs or meow begging for treats, making it easy to keep them on a balanced diet.  

The Sung Dynasty popularized goldfish as pets for the elite in the 960s and over the next 600 years, they slowly made their way to Japan and finally around the world to Europe by the 1600s. But commercially available goldfish food didn’t appear until the convenient flakes were developed in Germany in the 1950s by Dr. Ulrich Baensch.  

For the first 1,000 years of goldfish tending, diets were formulated by mixing together variations of vegetables, seafood, meat and fruit. Fortunately, goldfish are willing to eat almost anything, but carefully formulated complete diets support long lives and colorful fins. 

My six goldfish spend the summer months in a small outdoor pond where they live off any hapless critter that ends up in the water. Helen especially enjoys her pond life vacation when she can graze continuously on algae, rather than having to endlessly search the tank bottom with the hope of bumping into food cast off by her tank mates. But as the days shorten and cool, all the fish are scooped back into their winter home and fed a diet of scientifically prepared fish food to assure them the long and healthy lives they deserve. 

I have thought about getting a new goldfish to add to my tank, but I will have to clear it with my children first. Odds are that the darn fish could outlive me! 

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