Can Goldfish Eat Mealworms?
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Whether you’re new to fishkeeping or not, you probably already know the basics of feeding. Omnivorous species like Goldfish need a variety of foods to maintain a balanced diet. You have to include high-quality flakes, veggies, some algae pellets, and fresh or frozen foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.
But what about mealworms? This is a less common recommendation, especially for Goldfish. Are mealworms appropriate for Goldfish? Are there any risks or benefits to adding mealworms to your Goldfish’s diet? Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions! I’ll cover everything you need to know so you can make an informed decision.
Are Mealworms Safe for Goldfish?
For the most part, absolutely! There are only two potential dangers to be aware of. First, we have the risk of parasitic infection. Depending on where you source the mealworms, know that these insects can carry harmful parasites. We’ll cover this issue in more detail later. For now, I should just mention this risk is rather low.
The second potential issue is that mealworms are a choking hazard. This applies if you’re feeding fully-grown larvae to smaller Goldfish. These big bites of food would be difficult for the fish to break apart and chew. Extra caution is needed when prepping the worms before feeding.
Notice that the two problems I’ve mentioned are not inherent to mealworms. These drawbacks apply to virtually any other food. Apart from these two factors, mealworms are a fine addition to your Goldfish’s diet. Like many other insect larvae, mealworms even come with considerable benefits.
Benefits of Mealworms for Goldfish
There are multiple benefits that will make you consider mealworm feed. For starters, mealworms are a safe source of nutrition, as we’ve already discussed. Other good news include:
- Mealworms are a natural part of Goldfish’s diet. Goldfish eat lots of insects in the wild. Any squiggly worm that makes its way into the water will make a tasty treat for them.
Goldfish have an affinity for such foods and are fully adapted to digesting and metabolizing larvae such as mealworms. These won’t be hard on their digestive system and should pose no health risks if consumed as part of a balanced diet.
- Mealworms add excitement and variety to your fish’s diet. If we humans get bored eating the same things all the time, why would Goldfish feel the same?
In case you’ve fallen into a rut of feeding your fish the same flakes and dried shrimp all the time, try feeding them mealworms once. Watch as they swim around frantically to catch some of the goodies. It’s an enjoyable experience for them.
- Mealworms contribute to a nutrient-dense, balanced diet. Live mealworms contain up to 62% moisture, so they’re not very high in calories. But they also contain healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
By weight, fresh mealworms are 20% protein, 13% fat, and 2% fiber. They also contain more iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium than other insects commonly used in fish feed. Mealworms are also rich in B-vitamins and linoleic acid. Your fish needs all of these nutrients for health and longevity.
- Mealworms increase the growth of fish. They’re rich in protein, minerals, and healthy fats, so it’s no surprise. If your Goldfish need a little boost, this might just be the magical ingredient you were looking for.
- Mealworms are easy to find. You can find dried and even live mealworms in most pet shops. However, most of them are targeted toward reptile owners. You just have to know where to look.
Risks of Mealworms for Goldfish
As I’ve already mentioned, the biggest risks you should be aware of aren’t inherent to mealworms. These can apply to other protein foods like insects, larvae, and even feeder fish. Besides, these risks aren’t guaranteed:
- Mealworms might carry parasites. The most common are intestinal parasites, especially “Hymenolepis diminuta” (a type of tapeworm). They might also contain mites, especially those of the Acaridae family.
Why parasites are bad is pretty obvious. They’re hard to detect, but can wreak serious havoc, especially on the digestive system.
Luckily, this is just a possibility and a small one at that. If you’re worried about this, you should only purchase mealworms from trusted growers or distributers.
- Mealworms are a choking hazard for smaller fish. This problem can be solved simply by chopping up the worms before feeding.
- Mealworms can cause digestive issues when fed in excess. As with most fish foods, the dose makes the poison. Goldfish require a high-protein diet consisting of 30-35% protein. They can tolerate more meaty foods than other fish.
But even Goldfish have their limits. Too much protein will still lead to constipation and possible complications over the long term. Overdoing it on protein is easy if you’re feeding dried mealworms on top of the regular diet.
- Mealworms can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Again, this mostly applies to dried mealworms. When you take out the moisture, you’re left with a higher percentage of protein and fat by dry weight. Thus, dried mealworms are higher in fat and calories.
Sourcing Mealworms for Goldfish
Mealworms aren’t that popular in fish shops. I don’t know why, honestly. Maybe they’re too large for most aquarium fish to consume, or there’s just not enough demand for them.
But fear not! It’s not that these products don’t exist. It’s just that you, as a fishkeeper, might not be part of the target audience. So, you should just look elsewhere to find some quality mealworm products.
Here are some of the best places where you can find different mealworm products:
– Freeze Dried Mealworms
If you’re looking for freeze-dried mealworms, lucky you! These are easy to find and generally the safest. They store well and you don’t need to do any extra food prep. You can purchase freeze-dried mealworms in most local pet shops, as well as online.
I suggest browsing the reptile or bird sections in Petco or Petsmart stores. If these aren’t available at a physical location, you can also order them online from the store’s website. There are also lots of such products sold on Amazon.
– Deep Frozen Mealworms
Deep-frozen mealworms are a bit tricky. I haven’t seen them in local pet stores. You’ll definitely have to order these online. Amazon is the best place to find them. Again, try using keywords like “reptile”, “lizard”, “turtle”, or “bird” when searching for deep frozen mealworms. These search terms are the most likely to give you what you’re looking for.
I wouldn’t recommend using deep-frozen food, whether mealworms or otherwise. These might store for a long while, but you’re never certain about the freshness of the product. Furthermore, thawing, rinsing, and cleaning require more planning and extra time on your behalf.
– Live Mealworms
Live mealworms are the crème de la crème. They’re fresh, have a high moisture content, and they’re very fun for Goldfish to eat. The extra movement brings out their inner hunter and it’s nice to see the fish having a go at it.
And you’ll be surprised to learn that live mealworms are probably the easiest to find. But I’m not kidding! Petsmart and Petco carry live mealworms. You can easily find the products on their websites. Petco even lets you choose between large and mini live mealworms. How cool is that?
The only problem is that the fresh worms are usually out of stock. Your next best option is ordering some live worms off Amazon or other online distributers. But you’ll have to do your due research. Make sure the growers respect hygiene and quality standards so that your worms are free of disease and parasites.
Finally, you might also find live mealworms in some local fishing shops. Mealworms are a very cost-effective fishing bait, so they’re rather popular. Ask around, see if any of the shops carry them. And remember! Live mealworms should be stored in the fridge. These will store well for up to a week.
How to Feed Mealworms to Goldfish?
You don’t have to do anything special to get Goldfish to eat mealworms. They have a big appetite for larvae, mealworms included. However, there are a few things you should remember. The following steps will help the Goldfish enjoy the food more, while also maintaining a balanced diet:
– Prepping the food
Whether you’re using live, dried, or deep-frozen worms, remember to chop them up into smaller pieces. This reduces the risk of choking and helps you portion out the food better. Mini-worms might not need to be chopped, depending on how large your Goldfish are.
Deep-frozen mealworms should be thawed before feeding. Freeze-dried mealworms can be fed as such, or soaked. Soaking will help the food sink a little better. I usually feed sinking foods to Goldfish. This helps prevent the fish from gulping too much air while feeding.
– Feeding frequency
The same rules that apply to bloodworms and other insects also apply here. You don’t want the mealworms to become a staple or even a frequent occurrence in the diet. Keep this food as an occasional treat. Think of it as a supplement, rather than a regular part of the diet.
Once a week should be the maximum frequency. It’s even better if you can feed your Goldfish mealworms only once every other week. This is the perfect frequency to reap the nutrition benefits without any ill health effects.
– Feeding quantity
Goldfish are ravenous eaters and prone to overconsumption. To avoid overfeeding and the accompanying effects (bloating, constipation, weight gain), control the portion size.
Ideally, you should only feed Goldfish a portion roughly the size of their eye. Alternatively, you can use time estimates. Avoid feeding anything more than the fish can consume in 1.5 minutes.
Mealworms are not a common food source for fish. But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t include them in your Goldfish’s meal plan. After all, mealworms are generally safe. The possible risks I’ve mentioned, such as parasites and choking, don’t apply disproportionately to mealworms.
These can happen with any type of food, especially insects and feeder fish. Overall, mealworms bring a net positive. But you’ll have to be mindful of portion size and feeding frequency. Mealworms are rich in useful nutrients like protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They also contain plenty of fat, especially the dried varieties. As with anything, the dose makes the poison.