Ducks are interesting birds, and they make fun pets if you have enough space in your yard for them.
Wild and domestic ducks are omnivorous birds, meaning their diet consists of plant and animal materials.
A typical duck diet may include grass, aquatic plants, insects, and crustaceans.
Some wild duck species eat clams and mussels; the shells are ground in the bird’s gizzard.
Ducks will even eat fish if they are small enough.
The diet of a common mergansers duck consists almost entirely of fish.
Since ducks do not chew their food, they will only eat fish they can swallow.
So, will ducks eat goldfish?
Ducks will happily eat goldfish as long as they are small. Larger goldfish species, such as koi, are not in danger of being eaten by most ducks because they are much larger than the average goldfish you typically see in pet stores.
Many people buy small goldfish to feed their ducks rather than letting them eat straight from the fish pond.
The goldfish are usually frozen and then thawed before being fed to the ducks because live fish may contain diseases or parasites.
Read on for more information about feeding goldfish to your ducks.
What Are Goldfish?
Goldfish are not fish and have no relation to other fish species like bass, trout, or salmon.
Instead, goldfish are members of the carp family, which are known as cyprinids.
There are over 15,500 types of carp, but only a few of them are kept as pets.
Goldfish are the most common type of carp you will find in a pet store aquarium.
While most people think of goldfish as orange, they come in black and calico colors.
Koi fish are typically much larger than goldfish and are often kept in garden ponds because of their vivid colors.
Keeping goldfish in your duck pond may seem like a good idea, but this will cause several issues.
The goldfish in a larger fish pond may grow too big for your ducks to eat.
The bigger goldfish may also nip at your duck’s feet and cause minor injuries, making your ducks prone to foot infections.
In a smaller garden pond, the feces from your ducks will pollute the water with excess nitrogen, which will ultimately cause the goldfish to die.
Unless you have a huge pond capable of sustaining fish and ducks, it is best to keep them separate.
You may need to install pond netting as a duck deterrent to keep them from landing in the fish pond.
Are Goldfish Safe for Ducks To Eat?
Feeding goldfish to ducks does not come with any risks, and the fish contain essential nutrients and protein for healthy growth.
Ducks have a reduced risk of health problems when fed a diet rich in fiber, protein, and fat.
While goldfish do not contain a lot of these nutrients, they are much healthier for your ducks than bread or rice.
However, since goldfish are prone to containing bacteria or parasites, they must be frozen before feeding them to your duck.
Never feed your ducks raw meat or uncooked seafood without freezing it first.
Avoid feeding your ducks any fish left in the sun for a while, as it will be a breeding ground for bacteria.
You must also never give your ducks fish with discoloration or an unpleasant odor.
Discoloration and a foul smell usually indicate something is wrong with the fish.
Always remove uneaten pieces of fish from the water after your ducks have eaten.
These leftover fish pieces may attract other birds or predators and will cause the water to become filthy.
Related Article: Frogs For Ducks: Do They Make Good Food?
How To Prepare Goldfish for Your Ducks
Any goldfish you feed your ducks must be frozen for at least 24 hours before it is thawed.
The freezing process will kill any worms or parasites in the goldfish, and thawing will destroy bacteria.
It is recommended to let the goldfish thaw in the refrigerator overnight, but if you did not plan ahead, there is a safe way to thaw the fish quickly.
To thaw the goldfish, place it in a bowl of water for about five minutes.
When at least half of the ice has melted from the fish, pour the water out.
Wait for some more ice to melt, then fill the bowl with cold water again.
Repeat this process until all the ice is melted, and then pour out any water left in the bowl.
While goldfish bones are soft enough to be safely ingested by ducks and ducklings, you may want to remove the fish heads.
Never cook the goldfish before feeding it to your ducks.
Cooked fish bones will splinter easily and could puncture your duck’s stomach.
How Often Should Ducks Eat Goldfish?
There is not a lot of danger in frequently feeding goldfish to ducks, but it could lead to other problems.
Feeding your ducks a lot of goldfish will cause water pollution, which is unsafe for other fish and wildlife in the waterway.
The bacteria from the leftover fish may also cause your ducks to become ill.
If there are streams or other bodies of water near the pond, they may also become polluted with harmful bacteria.
To reduce the chance of causing bacterial contamination in the water, it is recommended to only feed goldfish to your ducks once every two weeks.
What Are Some Other Options To Feed Ducks?
Aside from goldfish, there is a wide variety of food options for ducks.
Some healthy meals and treats for ducks include:
- Duck feed pellets
- Cracked corn
- Uncooked oats
- Chopped greens
Bread, crackers, chips, and other junk foods are not acceptable treats for ducks.
White bread offers very little nutritional value and could stunt the growth of baby ducks.
Crackers may seem like a delectable one-time treat, but the salt on them is very dangerous for ducks.
If you feed ducks crackers, only do it in moderation, and be sure to remove any salt on them first.