Can you eat goldfish?

In this brief guide, we’ll address the query: “Can you eat goldfish?” Also, we’ll explore why it isn’t convenient to eat goldish, what are the origins of goldfish, and how do modern goldfish differ from their ancestors? 

Can you eat goldfish

Goldfish are edible, though it isn’t recommended unless they’re sourced from a farm or creek and raised on a quality diet. 

Originally, goldfish were bred as edible fish, though in time, their breeders grew to appreciate the fish’s distinct ornate coloring and began to breed them for beautification purposes. 

Nowadays, goldfish are of limited size and have many bones, which would make cooking them little more than a bite, and they’d convey a questionable taste. 

While the fad of “goldfish swallowing;” which consists in drinking a live goldfish, may have been brought to the attention of many by social media, movies, and stuntmen, eating live goldfish is not recommended

This is due to the bacteria and ectoparasite that they may carry, which may be transmissible in the digestive tract.  Not only is goldfish swallowing unhygienic, but it also constitutes animal cruelty, as the fish will die a slow and very excruciating death in the digestive tract.  

Why isn’t it convenient to eat goldfish

It is not convenient to eat goldfish because they’re seldom raised as food, are small-sized, and are more commonly bred for aesthetic purposes. 

Most often, our readers associate goldfish with pets, and for this reason, their diet often consists of highly processed flake food and pellets that don’t make them ideal for eating. 

Fish food is often made with offal from meat processing plants, ground scraps, and leftover slop. As a result, their taste will most likely not be delectable. 

Also, as they’re kept in fish tanks, their water may contain antibiotics and other substances to keep both microorganisms and parasites at bay, which may further endanger a person’s health. 

Goldfish sourced from a larger pond may not even have antibiotics or other parasite removal treatments, which can make them all the more hazardous to eat. 

An exception may be made if users can manage to procure an oversized goldfish from a freshwater creek or lake. It would, however, still require processing such as flash freezing to inhibit any microorganisms and parasites present in the meat, and the taste may still not be the most palatable. 

Where do goldfish come from? 

Goldfish are originally from China, where they were domesticated over a thousand years ago. In the 1500s, the Japanese took note and took steps to breed their own variation of the ornamental fish. From this part of the sphere, the fish were imported into the west and became an attraction in European aquariums and pet stores. 

Modern goldfish are a product of artificial selection, and they are close relatives of larger carp, which to this day, is a popular food in many countries.

Goldfish were introduced to the American continent in the second half of the nineteenth century, and by the 1890s, they were being farmed in the United States for ornamental purposes. 

They not only have aesthetic aims but are reputed to also have a spiritual connotation. Notably, they were the object of the Buddhist tradition of relocating them to special ponds and estuaries, as an act of goodwill and self-purification. 

Within these ponds, these unique fish would be tended to by Buddist monks and kept safe from predators. 

In the United States, they were heavily endorsed by the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries, which maintained a program that supplied them to citizens, until its decommission. 

How are modern goldfish different from their ancestors? 

Modern goldfish differ from their ancestors in size, shape, coloring, and motifs. 

Originally, carp have duller hues, such as gray, green or dull blue. The distinct metallic sheens and patterns users can find in pet shop goldfish originated from a mutation in these fish that resulted in exotic colors, rather than the normal solid colors. 

Fish breeders selected fish with these traits and began to breed them together until they created a pool (no pun intended) of genes where this unique, vivacious coloring was predominant. 

However, despite their obvious differences, goldfish still retain many behaviors of their ancestors. Namely, when they’re released into the wild, they dwell at the bottom of the water body and perturb the top layer of sediments. 

This behavior is associated with a higher growth rate of algae, and as an invasive species, their presence has detrimental effects on native fauna.   


In this brief guide, we’ve addressed the query: “Can you eat goldfish?” Also, we’ve explored why it isn’t convenient to eat goldish, what are the origins of goldfish, and how do modern goldfish differ from their ancestors? 


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