The Best Goldfish Pond Food & Pellets 2021 (Top Foods Compared)
Just like koi, goldfish living outdoors will benefit from a high quality feed with all the right ingredients for optimal health and growth. In this article, we investigate the top goldfish foods currently on the market, as well as provide an in-depth nutritional breakdown so you know exactly what you’re buying with each product!
The Benefits of Choosing a High Quality Goldfish Food (Why it Matters)
1) Better Health & Stronger Growth
High quality feeds will contain ingredients goldfish actually need in their diet, such as high protein content, healthy fats, and a wide vitamin and mineral profile. All of these things are important to the general health of goldfish, especially for those kept outdoors in a garden ponds where they’re more vulnerable to illness, parasites, water quality drops, and harsher weather conditions. Ensuring your feed is high in the right ingredients will help improve a goldfish’s immune system, growth, happiness, and overall quality of life.
2) More Vivid Colouration & Pattern
A healthy goldfish will have a much stronger color in comparison to a weaker fish who may be undernourished or lacking a vital ingredient in their diet. In both goldfish and koi, feeding the best possible food is one of the easiest ways to improve the overall colors and patterns on display. Vitamins, minerals, and the right kind of proteins and fats are all important towards optimizing the color and vibrancy. High quality feeds may also contain natural or synthetic color enhancer ingredients that can further boost the colouration of goldfish by enhancing the pigmentation within the scales.
3) Improved Water Quality & Less Waste
The problem with low quality feeds is that they contain a whole lot of ingredients goldfish don’t need, and not much of what they actually do in their diets. Any ingredients that goldfish don’t require or can’t utilize, also known as “filler” content, will simply be excreted as waste back into the pond system. This increase in waste may eventually cause issues with water quality, filtration, and even nuisance algae growth. Double checking ingredients, and only selecting feeds with high quality ‘useful’ ingredients, will help improve water conditions and just make general cleaning and maintenance that much easier.
Selecting Outdoor Goldfish Foods – What Ingredients are Optimal?
Similar to our koi foods article, here we’ll list the main ingredients you should look out for when selecting a goldfish feed and why they’re important. Remember, always check the label to ensure you’re getting the right ingredients for your goldfish!
1) Protein Source & Total Content (%)
One of the most important ingredients for goldfish, if not the most important, is the amount of protein content and it’s source. Protein is essential for the development of healthy muscle and tissue, as well as making up a large amount of a fishes daily energy requirements. In the wild, goldfish (carp) would get the the majority of their protein from smaller fish, insects, microcrustaceans, and zooplankton; with plant matter making up a much smaller protein proportion by weight. When looking at goldfish feeds, you want to make sure that the feed has a high percentage of aquatic sourced protein, such as fish meal, krill meal, shrimp meal, herring meal, or anchovy meal. This protein source should be the 1st ingredient on the label, which indicates it’s the largest protein source by weight within the feed. Typically, the crude (total) protein content will be a mix of plant based proteins and aquatic proteins, but you always want to make sure the aquatic animal source is high up on the list – preferably number 1.
In terms of percentage, a crude protein content percentage of 30-40% is considered ideal for outdoor goldfish in ponds. The largest majority of this should be made up from an aquatic animal source (i.e. fish meal), with secondary sources from plant matter, such as wheatgerm or soybean meal.
2) Total Fat Content (%)
Fats, or lipids, are essential for the growth of young goldfish, as well as for adults in preparation for colder winter months. Goldfish will use fats in wide range of bodily processes, and are beneficial for the healthy regulation of organs, the immune system, and tissue development. The source of fat content is not as important as the protein content, but you should aim for a crude fat percentage of 4-10% by weight. If you have younger goldfish, or colder weather is approaching, you can select a feed towards the higher end as it’ll help them pack on weight. In the summer, or for mature adult fish, a fat percentage of between 4-7% is more ideal to keep them trim.
3) Vitamins & Minerals
Another essential component that should be included in any quality goldfish feed is a wide vitamin and mineral profile. Having a varied vitamin complex will help promote healthier scales, eyesight, digestion, growth, and immune systems. In particular, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) should be included as a minimum as this vitamin plays an important role in the immune response, helping the fish fight of harmful pathogens that can cause illness and disease. In-fact, some research has also suggested a large amount of Vit-C can actually enhance a fish’s immune system beyond its regular capacity, making it even more important to have in a fish food.
As well as vitamin C, vitamins A, B, and K are all also important, contributing to to healthy skin, vision, metabolism, blood regulation, and organ development. The majority of these vitamins are obtained from the protein & fat content of the feed, but they should still be displayed individually on the ingredient label so you know they’re present.
In terms of minerals, some feeds may also contain ingredients such as zinc, calcium, potassium or magnesium. These minerals aid in the formation of new bone tissue, as well as working to regulate salt levels (electrolytes) within the blood. Both goldfish and koi will naturally be able to adsorb most minerals directly from the surrounding water, but in soft water areas (less mineral content), having minerals within a feed can sometimes promote better health.
4) Immune Boosters & Color Enhancers
On top of the above ingredients, you may also be interested in purchasing a food with extra “boosting” agents, such as color enhancers and immune heightening ingredients. The most common of these for both goldfish and koi is natural or synthetic color enhancers, which work to increase the vibrancy of the color pigmentation within the scales. Natural color enhancers include ingredients such as krill oil, shrimp oil, or spirulina, which all work to improve the intensity of the goldfish’s color. Synthetically produced color enhancers are also common in some foods, such as Canthaxanthin and Astaxanthin. These work in a similar way to natural ingredients, but are much more potent and will be able to bring out more vivid colouration in a shorter amount of time. Both types of color enhancers are very safe for fish, with some research even suggesting further benefits outside of just color enhancement, such playing a role in fighting off nasty bacterial infections.
Along side color enhancers, you may also find immune “boosting” ingredients, such as aquagen, torula yeast, bee propolis, lactoferrin, or opimuim. These ingredients are all aimed to improve the immune response in fish, but they’re certainly not as essential as basic vitamins and minerals. If your food has vitamin c and plenty of quality protein/fats, any extra immune support ingredients are just a bonus!
5) Ash Content (%)
Finally, one last component found in all fish foods is the crude ash content, which corresponds to the total amount of inorganic minerals and fibre – a by-product of processing. In general, you’d want to aim for an ash content percentage as low as possible, with 4-15% being a common range in high quality feeds. Although some of what makes up crude ash can be useful, most of it will simply pass through your fish and end up as waste in your pond. The lower the better!
Can Goldfish Eat the Same Food as Koi Carp?
In most cases, a high quality koi food will contain very similar ingredients to a high quality goldfish feed, with the main difference being the size of pellets. Both goldfish and koi belong to the carp family, and although they originate from slightly different carp species, their dietary needs are still very similar. With that in mind, if you happen to keep both goldfish and koi in your pond, you don’t necessarily need to purchase two separate feeds. So long as the ingredients of the feed check out, all you need to be concerned about is the size of the pellets to ensure both fish can actually eat them! If pellets are too large for goldfish, your koi will likely gobble most of them up before they become soft enough for the goldfish to comfortably eat. Selecting a feed which is advertised as small-medium (<2 cm) in size is often fine for feeding both types of adult fish, although you may want to supplement with flakes alongside your main feed if you have very young goldfish as they may struggle with pellets in general.
In fact, many commercial “goldfish” and “koi” feeds will actually state on the product they can be given to both fish interchangeably. The only difference, so long as ingredient list is good, is the size of the pellets and whether goldfish can actually eat them!
What should I feed my goldfish in cold weather?
Just like koi, goldfish will enter a state of hibernation (or, more technically, torpor) in winter and start taking less and less food as temperatures slowly decrease. Once water temperature has reached around 50ºF (10°c), goldfish will be in full hibernation mode and won’t require any more feeding until water temperatures begin to rise again in spring. During the build up to winter, or at the start of spring, many pond owners will choose to switch to a “cold weather” feed in place of their summer feed, often one that contains the ingredient wheatgerm. Although the main advertised benefit of wheatgerm is easier digestion, we haven’t seen any strong evidence to suggest this is actually true. However, what wheatgerm does have is a large amount of healthy polyunsaturated fats and plenty of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin E.
Fats are essential for healthy bodily function and will also help fish pack on weight ready for hibernation. Vitamins will keep your goldfish’s immune system firing, with vitamin E being a very good antioxidant which helps reduce toxin build-up throughout the body. If you decide to switch to wheatgerm, it should be because of its great healthy fat and vitamin profile – both very useful for optimizing health in cold weather.
Although wheatgerm is a popular choice in cold weather, you can also still feed your regular summer feed without issue. The most important aspect of cold weather feeding is not what you feed your goldfish, but how much you feed them. There is an age of myth that food you give fish in winter will end up rotting in their gut – a statement that is totally false! Bacteria living within your goldfish’s gut will still be active in winter, and they can still process food, just at a much slower pace. The problem with feeding in winter is not that the food will end up rotting in the fish, it’s that it will end up rotting in the pond and impact water quality! Both goldfish and koi won’t just eat for the sake of it, and as temperatures drop, you should adjust feeding accordingly so no food goes uneaten.
The Best Pond Food for Outdoor Goldfish 2021 (Top Goldfish Food Reviewed)
One of the best “all season” goldfish feeds which contains a high amount of animal protein and plant protein at a very reasonable price. The main ingredients, making up 45% of the feed as crude protein, are fish meal as the 1st ingredient and wheat germ meal as the 2nd ingredient. The high protein content from an aquatic animal source means the food is packed with growth potential and plenty of essential amino acids, with the wheatgerm providing healthy fats and minerals. As what germ is a popular option in cold weather months, this feed would work great as both a summer and winter goldfish feed, providing both high protein, fats, and minerals from the main protein sources.
In terms of fats, the feed contains a crude fat percentage of 7%, with most of this coming from wheat germ, soybean, and various other plant based meals. The fat percentage is towards the higher end of the spectrum, which also makes it a good feed for the build-up to winter or for younger goldfish to help pack on extra weight. The pellets are also very small in size, which means even baby goldfish should have no trouble swallowing them.
On top of the high protein and healthy fats, the feed contains a fairly good vitamin and mineral profile, including essentials, such as vitamin A, C, D and K. Vitamin C is the most important vitamin for goldfish due to its immune system boosting properties, and can be found in this feed at a fairly high concentration. In terms of mineral content, trace amounts of zinc, magnesium, manganese and calcium are also included which help with a range of bodily functions, from immune support to blood-salt regulation.
Hikari’s goldfish feed also comes with some natural immune boosting ingredients, such as brewers yeast and garlic extract. Both of these can help aid against bacterial and parasitical infections by strengthening the immune response or acting as a natural deterrent (garlic). As a final benefit, the strong color enhancer Astaxanthin is also present, which will help bring out a much more intense color after a few weeks of constant feeding.
A downside to these pellets is the high ash content, coming at a huge 20% by crude mass. Usually we wouldn’t recommend a feed with such a high ash as it can contribute to pond waste, but the rest of the ingredients are extremely high quality and the feed is very reasonably priced. If you have decent water filtration and don’t overfeed, you likely won’t have any issues, but we wouldn’t recommend this food is ponds with little filtration or trouble with water quality.
Overall, a decent all-round goldfish feed which would suit both warmer and cold weather, with high protein, good fats, and a decent vitamin profile. A good choice for the budget concious as the price/weight ratio is very reasonable for the quality of ingredients.
- Type: Small Pellets (Sinking)
- Protein: 45% (1. Fish Meal & 2. Wheatgerm)
- Fat: 7%
- Ash: 20%
- Vitamins: A, C, D K & Minerals
- Immune Booster: Yes – Brewer’s Yeast & Garlic
- Color Enhancer: Yes – Astaxanthin
Dainichi is one of our all-time favourite koi food brands due to its fantastic ingredient list, and their goldfish feed is no different in quality! This “color max” formula has been designed for maximum color intensity, but is a good choice for any purpose due to its top quality proteins, fats, and broad vitamin and mineral complex.
In terms of protein content, the food contains 42% crude protein by weight, with the largest proportion coming from the 1st ingredient, white fish meal. Wheat germ is also included, alongside krill, which works as both a secondary protein source and a very effective natural color enhancer. There are no synthetic color enhancers in this feed, with the color improvement being obtained primarily from a combination of krill, algae (spirulina), and just very high quality ingredients for maximum health and happiness.
Fat content is slightly lower than Hikari’s offering, which makes it better suited for adult fish or as a main warm weather feed where protein is more important. The majority of the fats come from whet germ, pea proteins, and the animal protein sources, with the feed also being high in natural amino acids for essential bodily functions.
Of all the feeds we investigated, this one has one of the best vitamin and mineral profiles out there, with every essential vitamin covered, including A, B, C, D, E and K. On top of the vitamins, Dainichi also includes an interesting mineral-rich ingredient called calcium montmorillonite clay, which is exclusive to Dainichi fish feeds. Calcium clay is a popular ingredient found in many Japanese “show fish” feeds, which is said to help with natural digestion by neutralizing toxic particles and improving the intake of minerals from food. Combine this with the natural immune boosters, brewers yeast and garlic, and you have a very interesting mix of digestive and immune system support ingredients for both young and adult fish.
Ash content is also very low, at only 10% by crude weight, so would be a very good choice for pond owners who want to to optimize water quality and minimize waste in the pond. The pellets are very small and soften fairly quickly, so should be ideal for young goldfish or smaller goldfish species.
Overall, an extremely high quality goldfish food with high protein content, healthy fats, lots of vitamins, and the addition of digestive support agent, calcium montmorillonite clay. Very low in “filler” ingredients so there should be minimal impact on water quality, and also very reasonably priced for such a high quality feed. Highly recommended!
- Type: Small Pellets (Sinking)
- Protein: 42% (1. White Fish meal & 2. Wheatgerm)
- Fat: 6%
- Ash: 10%
- Vitamins: A, B, C, D, E, K & Minerals
- Immune Booster: Yes – Brewers Yeast, Garlic, & Calcium Montmorillonite Clay
- Color Enhancer: Yes – Spirulina & Krill Oil
Our third and and final goldfish food choice is the immune boosting Sho Impact range from Total Koi feeds. This goldfish food has been optimized for heightened immune support, making it a particularly good choice for young goldfish or as a cold weather feed in preparation for winter hibernation.
Just like other feeds reviewed here, crude protein content is high at approximately 38% by weight, with the majority coming from the first two ingredients, anchovy fish meal and wheatgerm. Secondary protein sources include marine fish, wheat meal, and soybean meal which also contain various minerals and fatty acids. As the primary protein source is aquatic anchovy fish meal, essential amino acids should be present in a high degree for optimal bodily function and health.
Fat content is fairly low, coming in at 6% by crude weight, with crude ash also being the lowest of all feeds reviewed here, at just 9% of the feeds total volume. With this in mind, Show Impact would be a very good choice for pond owners looking to improve water quality and minimize waste/ammonia produced from food waste.
The feed contains a very good range of all essential vitamins, creating a strong vitamin profile including A, B, C, D, E, and K. Health boosting trace minerals, such as zinc, manganese, potassium, and calcium are present which help with numerous bodily functions. Powerful synthetic color enhancer astaxanthin is also present, which is one of the most effective ingredients for enchaining the color and patterns of both goldfish and koi.
Probably the most interesting aspect of this feed is the inclusion of the immune boosting ingredient “Optimun”, which is exclusive to the Sho Impact food range. Optimun has many claimed benefits, such as being a rich source of nucleotides, a key component of both goldfish and koi DNA and the immune system. It takes a lot of time and energy to produce nucleotides on a daily basis, with optimun potentially improving their development within cells associated with the immune system, which in turn helps ward off pathogens, bacteria, and viruses. Coupled with the wide vitamin and mineral profile, you have a feed with some potentially mighty immune system boosting properties!
Although a little more expensive in comparison to other feeds here, Show Impact is an great choice for extra immune support, especially during the build up to winter. Based on its high quality nutritional profile, it would also work fine as a daily feed for both young and adult goldfish if optimal growth, health, and color are important to you.
- Type: Small Pellets (Sinking)
- Protein: 38% (1. Anchovy meal & 2.wheatgerm)
- Fat: 6%
- Ash: 9%
- Vitamins: A, B, C, D E, K & Minerals
- Immune Booster: Yes – Optimun
- Color Enhancer: Yes -Astaxanthin