View Full Version : Feeder Goldfish Nutrition

12-28-2003, 1:17 AM
I've learned that feeder goldfish contain no nutritional value what-so-ever. I work at PetsMart and have totally turned the aquatics department around because of all the information I have learned from this board over the past years. I turn people away from feeders because so many contain diseases and it's not worth the chance of passing diseases onto our fish. I've also heard that feeders are almost completely fat, and contain no protein or vitamins/minerals that our fish need in their diet. The problem is, my manager over heard me telling this to a customer, and wrote our district manager, who in turn replied saying that I am totally wrong. He told my manager that feeder goldfish are imperative to a fish's diet because they are a great source of protein and calcium. I know this isn't true, but I need evidence to show my manager. I got a note put into my file saying I keep telling customers wrong information. My manager is extremely nice, and is willing to remove this from my file and leave me a better review if I can provide evidence that goldfish don't have nutritional value. Can anyone please help me by providing some sort of a goldfish's breakdown of nutritional value? Or some sort of a link to a website giving the facts? What is everyone's opinion on this issue? Thank you so much! ~Bryson

12-28-2003, 3:42 AM
not many petsmarts around here. most places here don't seem like they care if they give you bad information, as long as they make the sale. ;)

old myths die hard too.......

so lets see if we can find enuf research to get you off the hook. i've read plenty about it, but never actually "searched" for it.

ahhhhhhhh...... i found the petsmart company stance: http://www.petsmart.com/articles/article_138.shtml no help, but interesting.

not exactly great help, but a beginning...

this is getting better......

a good one that pertains to marine fish and freshwater feeders. http://www.reefs.org/library/article/r_toonen6.html

it hits on the topic, but sort of misses http://www.cichliddepot.com/diseases/hith.html

Simply eating food is not good enough, it has to be the right food. A link has been found between the development of HITH and a lack of calcium, phosphorous, and vitamins C & D. Many of the common fish foods sold in the hobby today are enriched with vitamins to make them more balanced, though supplemental vitamins can be added to them as well. Know the diet of your fish and be consistent, and varied. As a side note for carnivorous and semi-carnivorous fish such as oscars, red devils, and Jaguars, feeder fish should never be chosen as a primary food source because they have virtually no nutritional value. In addition feeders contain the enzyme thaimase which breaks down thiamine. Thiamine is an important vitamin and if you use feeders as a large portion of your fishes diet it WILL develope a thiamine deficiency. Fish fed exclusively or largely a diet of feeder fish are extremely likely to develop HITH. They are also in high risk of contracting other diseases, such as ich, numerous other parasites, or fungal infections. It is important to resist the urge to watch your fish chase their food, it is for their own good.

sort of iffy at best http://www.angelfire.com/ma3/fishforumdisease/

can't copy/paste, look under "hole in the head"

a little help, still haven't found anything scientific. http://kingsoftheaquarium.tripod.com/blackarowana.htm

Just like all other Arowanas, Blacks should be fed a varied diet. Don't get them hooked on just one thing. When most specimens are purchased at the store they are probably used to eating live food. This is all right as a treat but it is not a good diet to use all the time. There is an extreme risk of disease in using feeder goldfish and they are also high in fat. A fatty diet can give your Arowana droop eye, a condition where they eyes always look down. Instead of using live food, try frozen beef heart, shrimp, squid, and scallops. This is an excellent source of protein that is also very low in fat. It may take a few days to get your newcomer to accept this new food, but believe me, it's worth the work. There is no risk of disease and it is much more nutritious than using goldfish.

12-28-2003, 4:36 AM
still looking........

another vague reference........ http://www.*****************/pages/submitted_feedback_page_17.htm

We have decided not to sell feeder fish on *****************. We recommend you feed your Oscar pellet food. Both Tetra and Hikari make Cichlid Pellet food, that is sold in Wal-Mart, and these pellet foods are a better diet than feeder fish for your Oscar. Click here for more about feeding Oscars.

another "iffy" link...... http://groups.msn.com/BTFTropicalFishkeeping/oscars1.msnw

If you were going to use feeders, my advice would be to breed your own rather than purchasing from your pet shop (I have found that any livebearers are good for this). This is because the purchased feeders could contain diseases that you would not want passed onto your Oscars. I use guppies for my smaller Oscars and platys for my larger one. It is widely suggested that you do not use goldfish for feeders as they contain too much fatty tissue that can be detrimental to your Oscars health. I have never personally used goldfish for feeders (due to the above) so cannot say from personal experience whether or not this is true.

more iffy....... http://honors.montana.edu/~weif/firsttank/food.phtml

Live food consists of plants, animals, and microorganisms that are living in your tank—or at least live when you introduce them to your tank—that your fish can eat. It is important to make sure that the live foods you provide for your fish provide all the nutrients that your fish need to remain healthy and to grow properly, and do not pose a risk to the fish. Many live foods, particularly feeder goldfish, are very common vectors for disease.

The most common live foods used in the aquarium hobby are live fish. These fish often do not receive the care they need to remain healthy and are often carrying diseases or parasites that could, in turn, infect any fish that eats them. The best way to spread a disease from one fish to another is for a fish to eat an infected fish! Also, in many areas, the live foods that are available are very limited in variety. A diet of just one food is almost guaranteed to be short on some vital vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients that your fish need.

a partial repeat, another page from a previous website. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/bizfdsretail.htm

So-called "feeder" goldfish are the prime example of poor nutritional practice; nutrient-limited, too fatty, and all-too-often parasite laden. These foods should never be fed exclusively.

regarding turtles..... http://hometown.aol.com/Mite37/AquaticTurtles.htm

As for fish and animal matter some feeders to offer include rosy reds (minnows), or guppies if the turtle is small. Crickets, super worms, mealworms, grasshoppers, earthworms, 1-2 day old pinkie mice (for larger turtles), hissing cockroaches, can be offered. In moderation lean meats, chicken, raw or singed liver. Feeder goldfish can be offered on occasion as a treat, however they should not be given often as they are high in fat and have little nutritional value.

regarding other reptiles..... http://forum.kingsnake.com/gator/messages/18164.html

another 1/2way decent link. http://www.malawicichlidhomepage.com/other/astronotus_ocellatus.htm

While feeding there is no need to offer it feeder goldfish or guppies. Apart from the risk of infection - which is much bigger than most hobbyists think - this may increase the fish's aggression without offering any additional nutritional value.

an excellent link discussing good nutrition and reasons for doing it. http://www.petngarden.com/fish/index.html

12-28-2003, 4:42 AM
Bob Fenner in "The Conscientous Marine Aquarist" mentions that feeding goldfish can lead to fatty liver degeneration and gut impaction.

I just read a description of autopsies done on goldfish fed fish, and the goldfish skulls had accumulated within the digestive tract causing impaction and death. The skulls are made of huge and dense bone that just doesn't digest well.
I want to recall that the article was indeed about Oscars- it would have been either TFH or FAMA magazine. If I can remember where I read it I'll tell you.

12-28-2003, 5:38 AM
i've had enuf digging for the night, unfortunately i was unable to find anything specifically scientific saying "don't do this". maybe one of the older folks will have a link handy.

the general concensus and bulk of the information out there agrees on several issues that can be basically taken as fact tho.

#1 feeder fish in general contain nowhere near the "right" nutritional values as compared to a good quality food, especially one designed for the fish.
#2 all fish require a varied diet to stay healthy, and feeder fish alone won't provide that. not feeding a varied diet can lead to disease or death.
#3 the risk involved in ANY feeder fish (disease/parasite/etc) *not* bred by you (the person that owns the fish) outweighs any chance of a dubious benefit.
#4 feeding live fish is somewhat accepted as raising the aggression levels of the fish being fed it, and furthermore can cause that fish to consider any other fish in the tank with it as a possible food source.
#5 feeder golds can lead to possible fat problems with fresh or saltwater carnivores.
#6 there are possible thiamase/thiamine problems linked to feeder fish or specifically goldfish.

the general attitude amongst most aquarists writing these things is that live feeders are bad or at least not worth doing and this is without touching on moral or ethical issues.

there might be a few other points i'm missing atm, sort of tired. ;)

hopefully this helps or someone else has better references than i could find by skimming.

good luck

12-28-2003, 7:32 AM
Ewok was quite busy last night. :D Thanks for all those links. They gave me some good reading this morning. Even if they don't help Bryson, they helped me.

12-28-2003, 12:40 PM
WOW THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! :D I can't tell you how appreciative I am for you searching for all those links! I have printed out all the information and will take it to work today. I have always heard of all those points being made here on AC, but I have never seen links with the "hard facts." I guess what I am really looking for is something by a Ph.D. or some sort of Animal Expert talking about why not to use feeders, but this is just fine. Thank you again Ewok SOOO much for your hard work! ~Bryson

Wippit Guud
12-28-2003, 12:44 PM
You can mention to him that it's not like telling this to customers will stop their sale - after all, some people simply want to see a little fish on fish aggression - this is just to prevent people from wasting money on using them as a food source.

12-28-2003, 1:38 PM
What it comes down to is the almighty buck. My guess would be that selling feeders makes them a good amount of profit and telling customers that there is no benefit to feeding them will cause a loss of sales or profit. I once had a chance to see the back room of a major pet franchise and saw all the extra containers that they use to store the feeders but yet they were always out of them in a couple of days.

I think that it is great that you are willing to properly inform people about feeders because most place are just trying to make a sale or just tell them the customer bad information. I applaud your efforts but in the long run you will be the one losing out.

12-28-2003, 1:57 PM
Originally posted by avoxo
What it comes down to is the almighty buck. My guess would be that selling feeders makes them a good amount of profit and telling customers that there is no benefit to feeding them will cause a loss of sales or profit.

i'm not sure i would agree with that. how many actually get sold? i have seen HUGE turnover rates in deaths in the feeder tanks. i would suspect only 50% or so ever make it to being sold and it takes alot of room to "inventory" them.

new and improved corporate thinking would be to stock that space with a decent quality canned food and expect people to overfeed. then they can also push chemicals and extra filters and such........

i would have to think any pet stores biggest profits from fish related sales would have to come from selling the crap chemicals no one actually needs. i think the stores only stock feeders to keep you interested thru the "killing" thing. i had it mentioned to me that almost any store only stocked fish to keep people interested in the hobby, they are actually a bad investment. if *you* couldn't find fish, you wouldn't be interested in purchasing the big ticket items they like to sell. bigger tanks, the newer fancier filters, and i know chemicals are a killer. when i was a noob i spent literally hundreds of dollars buying all the newest chemicals because i thought i needed them.......... :rolleyes:

another misconception the pet stores like to "feed" on. the kid wants a fish, so lets sell him/her a 12 cent feeder or two. then they have an additional $20 in sales *at least* to buy supplies like a tank or bowl to keep it in. to everyone involved the fish is disposable, if it gets the person hooked, great! we have more sales. if it dies, no one worries and we still sold $20 worth of supplies and the "feeders" are cheap enuf that maybe he/she will come back to buy another to try it again.

sounds pretty win/win to me. of course i'm sort of a cynic tho. but if it wasn't for those 12 cent feeder fish, how many people wouldn't be in the hobby?

not to rant or rave, just a different slant on the thinking.........

12-28-2003, 3:30 PM
ITA that Comet Goldfish (what non-goldfish keepers call "feeders") are crap as far as nutritional values go...I keep Tropical fish as well as Goldfish. The Goldfish I have are mainly fancy goldfish and ones I purchase at auctions. I dont buy many Comets because they dont sell for much profit and they are usually unhealthy.

Anyway, there have been many threads at AC about goldfish nutritional values and myself, along with several others who actually keep Goldfish would constantly tell people Goldfish aren't nutritious at all, even if they were disease free and our opinions would basically be laughed at. In college we disected "feeders" to come up with the total fat percentage. It was something like 72% fat, 19% bone structure, and 9% protein ("meat", simply put).

Now tell me, does this seem good for your fish? :confused:

I'm so glad this has come to light, I almost wish this would be sticky'ed for future reference. :p

12-28-2003, 5:53 PM
ewoks right, we make virtually no money on feeder fish. feeders are mainly carried as a conveience for customers. i could tell a customer a thousand times that feeders are'nt good for aggressive fish but they still buy them regardless. i dont what it is, probably the fascination of seeing something get chased and killed, who knows. fact is, pet stores sell feeders because the public demands them. As far as nutritional value, if i had to guess id say that feeders are a horrible source of nutrition. feeders are kept in gross and stressful conditions so they are usually riddled with disease and parasites. as and alternative i feed my oscar lots of crickets and crayfish, both are high in protein and nutrition. i must admit though i do give him a couple of feeders every once and a while. best thing to give large fish is a nice staple diet of cichlid pellets.

12-28-2003, 7:35 PM
As far as nutritional value, if i had to guess id say that feeders are a horrible source of nutrition.
72% fat, 19% bone structure, and 9% protein
...Yeah, I'd say they lack nutrition. :cool:

12-28-2003, 9:43 PM
At our PetsMart alone in Southern California, I estimate that we sell 1,500 large feeder goldfish (24 cents each) and 2,500 small feeder goldfish (12 cents each) per week. I know this because this is how much we order per week. That equals approximately $360 made for the large and $300 for the small. Now we purchase the large for 5 cents and the small for 3 cents. That leaves a net profit of $285 for the large and $225 for the small for a total net profit of approximately $510 per week. Some weeks it's more, and some it's less. I'd say that's a pretty nice profit that pays the saleries of two employees per week.

12-29-2003, 12:00 AM
yah but how many do you lose, and if you sell that many feeders the store must be pretty busy, i dont think 500 bucks would be a large percentage of your gross weekly profits.

12-29-2003, 7:08 AM

Once again it comes down to the almighty buck. If you ran a business and sold an item that was basiclly worthless for its intended use, but still made a good profit on it. Would you stop selling them or continue making money.


Wippit Guud
12-29-2003, 7:32 AM
Selling them isn't the issue, if I owned an LFS I'd sell them, but I wouldn't mislead customers into thinking that they are a good source of food.

Could live off just M&M's?

12-29-2003, 8:36 AM
Originally posted by Wippit Guud

Could live off just M&M's?

It's almost funny how picky people are with their fish's nutritional needs.........but I can't help but wonder if ANY of these same people are as die hard about their OWN bodies. :p It's o.k. to stuff ourselves with junk food because we LIKE it.....but someone dares give their fish "junk food" and they are idiots? :rolleyes:

Poor gulp is stuck in a cage his whole life because I wanted something to look at........ If I can give him a few moments of excitement and joy by chasing some comet around the tank, then so be it.

12-29-2003, 11:51 AM
I'm sorry, but you cannot compare junk food which humans consume with possibly DISEASED fish that the pet stores care nothing about.

Would you eat stale meat which sat out for a few days? Better yet, would you eat meat infected with "Mad Cow Disease"? I highly doubt it but whatever...:rolleyes:

The bottom line is, we aren't talking about junk food we are talking about feeding your fish something that we KNOW isn't good for him. If you wish to continue poor dietary habbits, so be it.

Wippit Guud
12-29-2003, 12:38 PM
Ok then... compare potentially diseased feeders with... smoking crack. Both are not good for the body, but both probably feel good (assumption on my part for both, as I've never eaten a feeder or smoked crack)

12-29-2003, 12:40 PM
Originally posted by aquariumfishguy
I'm sorry, but you cannot compare junk food which humans consume with possibly DISEASED fish that the pet stores care nothing about.

Ummmmm........the discussion was about feeder NUTRITION...thus the junk food comment. :rolleyes:

If you want to add diseases/viruses into the equation....that's a different story. Then we can talk about eating at a dinner buffet after Jr. just picked his nose (while sick with the flu) and rubbed it all over the utensils YOU use to gorge yourself at public restaurants. Is the buffet good for you? No. Can you catch diseases in public? Yes.. Why do you expose yourself to these horrors? Because you enjoy it maybe......? I guess we should just all stay at home though. :rolleyes:

Now back to the topic......goldfish are not nutritious. The original poster was asking for information that he could show the manager of his store to help "clear his record". Bryson COULD truthfully tell his customers that the fish have no NUTRITION, and they are essentially "junk food for fish" (enjoyable, but not healthy, sound familiar?) without angering Petsmart. On the other hand......if he were to go around openly telling the customers they should not buy feeders because they are all infected with deadly diseases because Petsmart doesn't properly care for them........I don't think Petsmart would keep him around.

12-29-2003, 1:55 PM
Ok but fish dont opperate like humans. They may enjoy the thrill of chasing the fish, but taste? Thats not as important to them. Goldfish are horribly unhealthy---at best...and at worse, they are potentially diseased. I'm not trying to change anyones mind, only listing the facts. I'm sorry if you don't like hearing this, as I know I wouldn't either if I was the one who fed my fish other fish.

12-29-2003, 2:12 PM
Originally posted by aquariumfishguy
I'm sorry if you don't like hearing this, as I know I wouldn't either if I was the one who fed my fish other fish.

No reason to be sorry..... I've heard and SAID it 1000 times myself. The facts aren't new to me. I just find it humorous to read the number of times people get in discussions/arguements over the the health of their fish........and then go stuff themselves with junk food. People take better care of their pets than themselves. That's all. I am sorry if you don't like hearing this..... :D :p

12-29-2003, 2:36 PM
I find myself in good health, thanks for being curious though...

12-29-2003, 2:43 PM
I have to say as a newcomer to this site, that I find the views expressed here.....ermmmmmm refreshing.
Altho I would never use feeder fish, I accept many people do, but I do think its good that they are informed before making this choice.

Hi AquariumFishGuy

12-29-2003, 2:56 PM
Originally posted by aquariumfishguy
I find myself in good health, thanks for being curious though...

Surprisingly....so is my goldfish eating oscar. It's a miracle! :p

12-29-2003, 3:02 PM
Welcome Liz! I'm glad you decided to join. :D