It’s one of the worst feelings in the world: you’ve left your house, and you realize that you forgot to feed your pet goldfish before you headed out the door.
Will they still be alive when you get back? How long can they last? 12 hours? 24? A few days?
If you’re not sure just how long your fish can survive without food, don’t worry — the article below will fill you in on everything you need to know about goldfish and their eating habits.
How Long Can a Goldfish Survive Without Food?
If you’re only going to be gone for a day or two, don’t worry — your fish likely won’t be belly-up when you return. On average, goldfish can live for 8 – 14 days without being fed.
The exact timeframe will depend on a variety of factors, including whether there’s any food available when you leave. Some goldfish can subsist on algae until you return, but if your filtration system is working properly, you may not give them that option.
In a grimmer scenario, you may come home to find that your fish are still alive — but there are fewer in the tank than when you left. After a while without food, goldfish may turn on each other or eat the carcasses of their comrades who have succumbed to starvation.
Also, it’s important to understand that just because your goldfish can survive for up to two weeks without food, that doesn’t mean you should try it. The fish will be malnourished by that time, and that could shorten their lifespan considerably, even if you feed them before they perish.
However, if you’ve left them for a few days accidentally, you will probably be fine. Just don’t do it too often because you have no idea what kind of twisted revenge scenarios that fish might be hatching behind your back.
How Do I Feed My Goldfish If I Have to Be Gone Longer Than 8 – 14 Days?
There are two ways you can take care of your goldfish while you’re gone: with a human feeder or an automatic one.
A human feeder —which is a friend or family member you can trust to check on your pets while you’re away — is usually preferable to an automatic one. Not only do humans seldom malfunction, but they can also do more than just feed your fish. They can also check the filter, clean out the tank, and oh yeah — make sure you haven’t been robbed.
An automatic fish feeder — like these ones— is a device that you program to release a set amount of food at a certain time you select. You can feed your fish twice a day, once a day, or once every few days, depending on your preference.
The good news about automatic fish feeders is that they don’t require you to ask a favor of anyone, and they’re more reliable than some people (seriously, don’t ask your cousin Karl to do it — remember what happened when you asked him to feed your snakes?).
Whichever way you decide to go, make arrangements well in advance, so you have time to find a backup if things go awry. Or you could always hire a professional pet sitter to look after your fish, but that might not be cost-effective unless you have other pets that need to be checked in on as well.
Is It Ever Okay to Skip Feeding Your Goldfish?
Yes, there are times when it might be wise to withhold food from your pets for a day or two. Remember, fish haven’t evolved to eat set meals, so their bodies are able to handle missing a supper or two.
One time when you should make your fish skip a meal is if your tank is having issues with water quality. The more you feed your fish, the more waste they’ll make — and the worse the problem will get. Try to limit how much they eat until you’ve got everything up and working properly again.
Sometimes fish get blockages in their digestive tracts. This can lead to a host of medical issues, including problems with their swim bladder. In that case, withhold food for three days so that the problem can work itself out.
Don’t Starve Your Goldfish
The good news is that your goldfish will be able to survive if you have a short-term lapse in memory, but it’s cruel to subject them to involuntary fasts too often. If you can’t remember to feed your goldfish, pass the task on to another member of the family, or consider getting another pet.
One option to consider would be a tiger. There’s no way they’d let you forget to feed them.
Featured image credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay