Contrary to popular belief, flakes are not the best food for your goldfish. Tropical flakes contain the wrong proportions of nutrients and can kill them; goldfish flakes, while healthier (if you buy a good brand like Wardley or Hikari), are still dangerous in that if your fish gulp them down dry from the surface, they can ingest air and develop crippling swim-bladder problems.

Soaking the flakes a bit will help, but it's not enough. To keep your goldfish healthy (aside from not keeping 'em in a bowl and keeping their water clean), they need variety. How would you like to eat the same thing every day for your entire life? Cats can hunt and dogs often snag table scraps, but fish are totally dependent on what you drop into the aquarium (you do have your goldfish in an aquarium, right?), so take some responsibility for their diet. In the wild they would have eaten all sorts of things! Goldfish are herbivores and thus really get a kick out of:

  • Peas (canned, or frozen, so long as they're precooked and thawed -- squeeze them out of their husks into the water right in front of your goldfish)
  • Romaine lettuce (not iceberg!), spinach, zucchini, other kinds of squash (boil 'em just enough to make 'em soft -- your fish don't have teeth! -- then cool them off and toss them in)
  • Algae wafers (mine chase these around the tank like footballs!)
  • Live water-plants (okay, this is a pain, but sometimes it's fun to try planting your tank and seeing what they devour)

Oddly, however, they're not above scavenging a few non-plant treats too: krill, plankton, chopped prawns, mysis and brine shrimp, tubifex worms, daphnia, mosquito larvae, and more can be purchased at the petstore -- either frozen, freeze-dried or flaked. Pick one type that looks the right size for your goldies to fit in their mouths and give it a shot. Protein is good for 'em.

Good luck!

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