Can Goldfish Eat Insects and Bugs?

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You might have heard that variety is very important in a goldfish’s diet. And it’s true! Your goldfish should eat a little bit of everything to meet their nutrient needs and stay healthy.

You should rotate between plants and protein-rich foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, and fortified fish flakes.

But what about insects? Should insects be a part of your fish’s diet? Are there any risks to feeding your goldfish insects? What kind of insects can they eat?

Find out the answer to these questions and more in this article! We’ll go over everything you need to know, so you can construct the best diet for your goldfish.

Risks of Feeding Insects to Goldfish

Goldfish are an omnivorous species. So, in theory, they can eat a wide variety of foods, insects included!

In fact, in the wild, Goldfish eat a diet that contains insects, small crustaceans, small fish, and a variety of algae and other aquatic plants.

But balance is key. Although Goldfish can and do eat insects, there are still some risks worth mentioning.

First, insects aren’t a balanced source of nutrition. But in this case, the dose makes the poison.

You’ll have to be careful about how much and how often you feed insects to your Goldfish. Most insects contain a lot of protein and very little fat.

They also contain no dietary fiber. Feeding Goldfish a diet that’s too heavy in insects can lead to constipation and bloating.

Over the long term, the fish can develop serious health issues like liver problems and swim bladder issues. Your Goldfish should consume up to 30% of calories from protein. But they also need roughly 5-10% of calories from fat.

Goldfish also require plenty of fiber to offset all that hard-to-digest protein.

Second, insects might carry a bunch of harmful diseases, parasites, and chemicals. You’ll need to be very careful about where you source the insects.

Bugs and flies are notorious for carrying nasty bacteria and dangerous pesticides. If these compounds make it into your Goldfish’s diet, the fish can get very sick. In extreme cases, the fish might even die.

What Insects to Feed Your Goldfish?

You might have seen people recommend insects as part of a balanced Goldfish diet. The truth is that, as I’ve said, the dose makes the poison.

A small serving of insects a few times a week won’t cause much harm, and might in fact be beneficial for your fish.

Some insects contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that might be difficult to get from other foods. You just have to know how to choose them.

I recommend you buy only live insects and only from reputed sources. Look for certified insect farmers with high-quality standards.

This will ensure you’re only getting the cleanest, safest food for your fish.

You should also pay attention to the types of insects you purchase. Remember, most insects are very high in protein. Look for insects that contain less protein and more fat. These are easier to digest for omnivorous fish and less likely to cause problems.

I recommend the following:

– Bloodworms

Bloodworms are perhaps the most popular option. They make a good snack for goldfish and most other tropical species.

The best part is that they’re highly accessible even in fresh form. Lots of brands and suppliers carry them, so you can easily find some high-quality products.

Bloodworms contain pretty low protein and fat compared to other insects. Most of their weight is actually water.

They also contain small quantities of fiber, an important nutrient for a goldfish’s diet. Bloodworms are also rich in minerals like iron and copper.

– Tubifex

Tubifex is another common insect used as tropical fish feed. These worms are very thin and small, and they usually come tangled in a ball.

They’re a bit higher in protein, but also contain a considerable amount of healthy fats.

Even a small serving can deliver a large percentage of DHA, vitamin A, vitamin D3, and iron. However, be very careful when choosing the source you buy from.

Low-quality tubifex worms are more likely than other worms to carry parasites and nasty diseases.

– Mealworms

Mealworms are less popular but are among the lowest-protein insects out there. They’re easily comparable to bloodworms.

Fresh mealworms are 62% moisture by weight. Just 20% of their body weight is protein.

They contain 13% of calories from fat, most of which is made up of healthy omega-3s. The remaining 4.6% is made up of a mixture of fiber and ash.

These worms are pretty big. They’re much larger than tubifex and bloodworms, so you’ll need to do some prepping before feeding.

You’ll have to chop them up a little so they’ll be small enough for the goldfish to eat.

– Waxworms

Waxworms are of medium length but they’re plump and stout. They’re definitely on the list of insects that require extra prep (aka chopping) before feeding.

But this feed comes with a few advantages. These worms are very high in moisture and fat.

They have soft bodies so they’re easy to eat and digest. Your goldfish will love them! Just keep this feed as a rare threat.

These worms are very high in calories, so they’re easy to overconsume.

Can Goldfish Eat Ants?

Goldfish might eat ants if this food is offered. After all, Goldfish will eat anything that fits into their mouths. But ants should NOT be a part of a captive goldfish’s diet!

Especially not live ants! Ants contain a considerable amount of formic acid.

While this compound might not outright kill your fish, it can still cause digestive issues, especially if consumed regularly. Formic acid can also damage the fish’s intestinal lining.

Besides, ants are likely not very tasty for goldfish. Most species produce potent toxins to fend off predators. This makes them taste nasty, as you can imagine.

Can Goldfish Eat Mosquito Larvae?

Absolutely! Mosquito larvae are a part of goldfish’s natural diet. In the wild, they’re one of the most commonly eaten insects.

That’s because mosquitos breed close to still bodies of water like ponds and lakes, where goldfish naturally live.

Why turn down free food when it’s available, right? I guess this familiarity is also why goldfish seem to go crazy for this food.

You haven’t seen true love until you see a goldfish relishing the goodness of these larvae. Nothing like a traditional home recipe!

Mosquito larvae are also rich and pretty easy to digest because they don’t have a hard exoskeleton like most insects.

They’re also high in fat, protein, fiber, and micro-nutrients. Lots of well-versed goldfish keepers recommend this food as a growth supplement for juveniles.

Can Goldfish Eat Yellowjackets?

They might be able to feed off dead Yellowjackets and other wasps. But even then, you’ll want to remove the stinger beforehand.

With live wasps, it’s a completely different story. You should keep live Yellowjackets far away from your fish unless you want to risk some unfortunate accidents.

Goldfish can easily kill and eat any Yellowjackets that fall into the water. But don’t expect these feisty wasps to go down without a fight.

It’s very likely the wasp will manage to sting the fish at least once in the process. Let’s not forget that this wasp produces a very potent venom and it delivers one of the most painful stings.

Your goldfish could get hurt badly or even die if they receive multiple stings. As a side note, you should also avoid feeding them dead Yellowjackets you find laying around. You never know if the insect was killed with pesticides or not.

I wouldn’t risk introducing these harmful chemicals into the tank or pond.

Can Goldfish Eat Caterpillars?

In most cases, feeding your Goldfish caterpillars is a terrible idea. The vast majority of species are extremely poisonous.

Hairy caterpillars are toxic and could kill your fish within minutes. Smooth skin caterpillars are a hit and miss, as it’s hard to tell which ones are poisonous and which aren’t.

But as a general rule, the more colorful the insect, the higher the chance it’s toxic. It’s kinda like a game of Russian roulette.

The risk is definitely not worth it. Plus, there’s no magical nutrient in caterpillars that your fish couldn’t get from anywhere else.

And let’s not forget, the same pesticide problems apply to caterpillars too. Even if you find a non-toxic species, you don’t know if it’s come into contact with harmful chemicals.

Can Goldfish Eat Earthworms from Compost?

Absolutely! Earthworms make an excellent feed for the vast majority of fish species. This applies to goldfish too!

And they’re extremely easy to grow. They feed on anything from cow dung to decaying plant matter.

Studies have shown that most earthworm species can provide a nutritionally-complete alternative to fish meal. The red earthworm in particular is high in healthy fats, protein, B-vitamins, and minerals.

Experts are already suggesting the replacement of conventional fish feed protein sources with earthworm meal.

Replacing 10% of the protein in goldfish feed can enhance growth and development. You can read more about this subject here.

All this being said, feeding your goldfish a few earthworms every once in a while, can’t be bad.

Can Goldfish Eat Bugs Which Fall in the Pond?

Totally! They might already be doing this. You just didn’t notice it. Goldfish are quite opportunistic while feeding.

If the chance arises, they’ll consume anything they can get. In the wild, their diet includes a wide variety of foods, including insects!

Don’t worry too much about it. Most bugs are safe and healthy in small doses. Your goldfish shouldn’t suffer any ill health from snacking on them.

Things only get unhealthy when the fish get a constant supply of bugs. As long as these don’t make up the majority of their diet, the fish should be fine.


Goldfish can eat a variety of foods. But some foods are healthier than others. Insects aren’t good as a staple food.

They can still be a part of a balanced diet though. They’re high in nutrients and healthy fats, and not to mention, super tasty for your fish.

Just know that insects shouldn’t constitute a major part of the fish’s diet. They contain too much protein and can throw the fish’s digestive system out of balance. If you do decide to keep insects as an occasional fish snack, I recommend species like bloodworms, mealworms, waxworms, and tubifex.

These are widely available and contain less protein than other insects. Remember to be very careful about where you source these from!

Bugs might carry parasites and nasty bacteria, depending on the growth conditions. Only buy from reputed sources with high quality and hygiene standards!

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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