Last update: November 4, 2022

Can You Eat A Goldfish?

While goldfish are edible, you should not eat your goldfish. Hopefully, you know that. 

First of all, you shouldn’t eat your pet. Secondly, goldfish would make a bad meal since it’s not really tasty and it can be really bad for your health. Animals shouldn’t eat goldfish either.

That’s because goldfish can carry bacterial diseases or parasites that are very dangerous for you (or your animals). In some cases, it can even be fatal.

In this post, you can find FAQs to find out all the answers you have about eating a goldfish and why you shouldn’t do it in general. So keep on reading to find out more about this unusual topic.

Why Do We Not Eat Goldfish?


First of all, it’s cruel to eat a goldfish, especially if it’s your pet. Hopefully, I don’t have to explain why.

However, there are people that eat goldfish. Some people eat them on Youtube as part of a challenge (please don’t search for these videos, I’m doing you a favor), for example. In fact, there are hundreds of videos online, just about that.

It was also a trend in the 1930s in American colleges. Of course, most normal people don’t eat goldfish.

Not only is it cruel, it can damage your health, it doesn’t taste good, and the effort to prepare it for that little amount of meat just isn’t worth it. 

So please don’t take this risk, even for attention-seeking purposes or for a challenge. If you don’t believe all the health concerns, keep on reading. 



It’s really not good for your health to eat goldfish. If you don’t believe me, keep on reading. You can really get sick from eating a goldfish, and you can even die from it in rarer cases.

For example, goldfish can carry parasitic infections such as capillariasis philippinensis, aka intestinal worms. 

So if you eat goldfish, you’ll have a lot of side effects, as one can expect.  The most common symptoms of ingesting these intestinal worms are diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and it can even kill you in some rare conditions. 

You can try cooking your goldfish, but other bacteria won’t go away. No matter how healthy your goldfish looks, you never truly know what’s going on inside it.

If you want another example of how dangerous it is to eat goldfish, you should know that they can also carry mycobacterial diseases. It doesn’t matter if you eat them raw or cooked. You’ll still get these diseases.

These bacterial diseases can be transmitted to humans and even other animals, and this can result in joint pain, tendonitis, skin lesions, and even sepsis in rarer cases, which can kill you.

As you can see, it’s best not to eat goldfish, no matter if they come from your own fish bowl or a pond. The health risks are really not worth it, and there are so many better nutritious and healthier options you can get out there.


In the UK, it’s actually illegal to eat goldish. It’s a bit terrifying that this is in the law. It means that multiple people tried to eat that fish before. Who would do that? 

Well, in fact, in 2015, a man in Wales was caught eating a goldfish immediately after he won it at a fair. He was arrested a bit later, and was fined 200 British pounds, and wasn’t legally authorized to own a pet for three years.

However, in most other countries, it’s not illegal to eat goldfish.

Can You Get Sick From Eating A Goldfish?


Yes, you can get sick from eating a goldfish. In fact, in some cases, it might even be fatal.

Goldfish can sometimes carry bacteria with them. Notably, a bacterium called mycobacteria, aka fish tuberculosis. So it’s very harmful to your health if you ingest goldfish, as you will ingest bacteria as well, even if you cook the fish.

You might not realize that your goldfish carries bacteria, especially if you don’t know where it comes from and if it’s not your pet fish.

Pet goldfish can also carry parasites or other diseases that can be fatal if you ingest them. It’s rare, but don’t do any experiments. You probably don’t know if they have it or not, so please don’t risk it.

It’s also not healthy to eat pond goldfish or any wild goldfish for the same reasons as above. They could carry fatal mycobacteria or parasites. Also, you don’t know the conditions in which these wild goldfish are raised. 


Now you understand why humans shouldn’t eat goldfish and that it’s not good for your overall health. However, we haven’t talked about other animals yet.

As you can imagine, if it’s not good for humans to eat goldfish, animals shouldn’t either. It won’t be healthy or nutritious for them. There are far better options out there that will be cheaper too.

So if you have a cat, don’t let them approach your goldfish tank. They don’t really care about the taste and only like to play. Also, make sure you have a lid on your fish tank, just in case.

If you keep your goldfish outside in a pond or something similar, you need to protect them from wild animals. You don’t want your fish to be killed, and you don’t want to harm other animals. You can simply cover your pond with a net.


What Do Goldfish Taste Like?

While I don’t know what a goldfish tastes like personally because I wouldn’t eat it, I found out some information about it on a darker part of the Internet.

 As you can imagine, goldfish don’t really taste good or taste of anything, really. At most, they will taste like the food you give them.

Goldfish are really tiny carp, have a smooth texture, and don’t really taste like fish. That’s probably because most often, you feed goldfish pellets or flakes. So they taste more like the food they eat, which, as you might guess, isn’t really good.

But what do wild goldfish taste like? Well, since you don’t control their environment, you don’t know what they eat and if they carry any diseases. They might also have some medication in their system, no matter if they come from a pond or a tank.

Also, a wild goldfish would taste like the water they come from. So it’s probably going to taste like detritus or mud, even when you cook them.


Overall, goldfish would definitely make a bad meal. It won’t taste good, won’t be good for your health, and it wouldn’t be worth it overall. 

Goldfish are tiny compared to other carp fish. So it would take a long time to prepare a goldfish and debone it. And it’s just not worth it, especially because you end up with a tiny meal.

It’s not as cruel to eat wild goldfish as you’re not eating your pet, but you still shouldn’t do it for health reasons.

Is Eating A Goldfish Bad For You?

Swallowing A Live Goldfish

You might wonder what happens to you if you swallow a live goldfish (we never know what someone is thinking). Is it dangerous? Well, first of all, why would you do that?

But, if by any weird circumstance you swallow a live goldfish, it’s not that dangerous for you. It would just be disgusting, especially if it’s alive. Of course, don’t go around swallowing goldfish just because you can. You can still chock a bit on them.

And, most importantly, that’s really cruel to do. Also, the fish’s scales or the tail wouldn’t feel great in your mouth, and you would feel the goldfish wiggle, trying to escape. Not an overall pleasant feeling, I can imagine.

Also, goldfish don’t die immediately after they’re ingested, which means they are still alive in your stomach. And you know how a fish out of water reacts: it flips and flops, which is surely not a good sensation in your body. The thought of that should make you want not to eat any goldfish ever. 

Eating Pond Goldfish

Pond goldfish or wild goldfish, in general, can ingest some medications from the water, which is really bad for your system if you decide to eat them. Also, they can carry bacteria or diseases, even if they look healthy.

So it’s best not to eat goldfish in general, no matter where it comes from! There are far better alternatives for you to eat.


To sum it up, you shouldn’t eat goldfish, even though it’s technically edible. Your pets or wild animals shouldn’t eat them either. This type of fish, whether in the wild or as a pet, shouldn’t be ingested.

Goldfish can carry mycobacteria or parasites that can damage your health if you ingest this fish. 

There are far better options out there, which are more nutritious and cheaper for you or your pets. And, most importantly, those alternatives won’t damage your health.

So please, don’t eat your goldfish!

Ian Sterling

Ian Sterling, founder of, began his aquarium journey over 30 years ago, driven by a deep fascination for fish and their diverse personalities. His website,, is dedicated to making fishkeeping accessible and enjoyable, offering beginner-friendly guidance, expert insights, and a community for aquarists to connect and share experiences.

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