The idea of eating goldfish might sound absurd or even repulsive to most people, but it’s not entirely uncommon for this question to come up in conversation or online.
Perhaps you’ve heard someone joke about it, or maybe you’re genuinely curious if it’s possible to consume a live fish made of gold.
Regardless of your motivation for asking, the answer to this question isn’t as straightforward as a simple “yes” or “no.”
In this discussion, we’ll explore the various aspects of the topic and answer the question: can you eat goldfish?
Can You Eat Goldfish?
The short answer is that goldfish are edible as well as any other freshwater fish. However, they aren’t likely to be very tasty. The taste of a pet goldfish would be similar to that of the foods it eats – for example, fish flakes and pellets!
It makes sense that goldfish are edible since they are related to carp, which has long been used as a food source. On the other hand, this suggests that the taste would also be questionable.
The flavor of carp is often described as “muddy,” especially when it is not prepared properly. It would be difficult to get a meal out of a goldfish due to its size and bony structure.
Goldfish are not just limited to being pets, as they can also be found in lakes and rivers either as part of wild populations or as pets that have been released.
This leads to the question of whether fishermen should consume goldfish if they catch them.
While eating goldfish may help manage wild populations and prevent them from harming native species, we do not recommend it.
Even wild goldfish may not taste good, and if they were previously a pet, there’s no way of knowing how recently they were in a tank or pond.
Or if they were given any medications that are still present in their bodies. While eating wild goldfish may not be as cruel as eating a pet, we still do not recommend it.
What Do Goldfish Taste Like?
Goldfish, which are essentially tiny carp, have a smooth texture and don’t taste much like fish. This is partly because they are usually fed pellets or flakes, so their flavor is more reminiscent of their food, which isn’t very appealing.
When it comes to the taste of wild goldfish, it’s challenging to say since you have no control over their environment or their diet.
Which may include medication or diseases. Additionally, the water source from which they come can impact their taste, which may taste like mud or other unpleasant flavors, even after cooking.
Why Goldfish Would Make A Bad Meal
A goldfish’s taste depends on what it eats, and fish flakes or pellets are not very enjoyable! A goldfish is also a carp, so they can have muddy flavors (though they can be avoided by not stressing them and immediately putting them on ice).
Aside from the largest adult goldfish, goldfish are also relatively small when compared to their carp relatives, making them less attractive as food.
It would therefore take a long time to debone and prepare a goldfish for its very small amount of meat. Generally, it would not be worthwhile.
There is also the possibility of goldfish containing a bacterium called mycobacteria – also known as Fish Tuberculosis – that can be transmitted to humans.
The bacteria do not cause the fish to change its appearance and lay dormant within the animal for a long period of time.
Infection with this bacterium could be present in the fish you eat, but you wouldn’t know if it was. These bacteria can likely survive the cooking process, which adds to the health risks associated with eating goldfish.
Why You May Want to Eat Goldfish
If you’re curious to know what a goldfish tastes like, there are a few reasons why.
Perhaps the idea was planted in your head by a popular snack cracker, or maybe you’re simply curious and intrigued by the taste of goldfish, especially if you enjoy eating other types of fish.
You won’t likely suffer any long-term health problems from eating a goldfish, regardless of the reason. In spite of this, eating a goldfish raw or cooked does carry some risks.
While it’s common to find fish such as trout, tilapia, salmon, and tuna on restaurant menus, goldfish is an extremely unlikely option.
This is likely because goldfish are not considered the healthiest or tastiest fish to consume, and there is a certain stigma attached to eating them.
Furthermore, goldfish can transmit many types of harmful bacteria to humans. You should really think hard before deciding to eat a goldfish since these bacteria can be transmitted whether it is raw or cooked.
Do you think it’s worth the risk if you taste one even while knowing it’s not particularly tasty, healthy, or even safe to consume?
Why You May NOT Want To Eat Goldfish
If you’ve never eaten a goldfish before, you might be interested in learning how it tastes! Fish with such a rich history and such cultural significance probably tastes incredible, doesn’t it?
That might not be the case after all! Even though goldfish have been bred for food since thousands of years ago, the goldfish available to you today may not be as tasty as you might expect.
Goldfish in domestic aquariums are typically fed algae, detritus, pellets, and flakes that are highly processed. There are a lot of unappetizing additives in pet store flakes and pellets, including fish meals, squid meals, and earthworms.
I am sure you retreated quickly from their food if you have ever been curious enough to smell it! It carries a very pungent and unpleasant odor.
On such a diet, a goldfish would taste similar, if not exactly identical, to the pellets or flakes it has eaten in the past. There would certainly be a need for a lot of seasoning.
Over the past decade, “goldfish swallowing” has become increasingly popular. The goldfish is swallowed whole as part of this process.
Although it’s a common bar trick or dare, doing this can be dangerous and stressful for the fish, not to mention the health complications that may occur.
There is a high probability that live goldfish will carry harmful parasites, including intestinal worms that can be transmitted to humans.
Eating Wild Goldfish
Those who are seriously considering eating goldfish might find it best to catch them in the wild. Even though this is your “best” option for obtaining a goldfish for eating, it is still probably not the best choice.
Like carp, goldfish are influenced by what they swim in. The taste of a goldfish might not be as good as trout or tuna, even if it is caught in the wild. Even when fully cooked, the goldfish will most likely taste of mud and detritus.
It is indeed true that in the UK, it is illegal to consume goldfish. This law may seem alarming, as it suggests that multiple people have attempted to eat these fish in the past.
In fact, there was a well-publicized incident in 2015, where a man in Wales was caught eating a goldfish that he had just won at a fair.
He was later arrested and fined 200 British pounds and also received a three-year ban on legally owning a pet.
However, in most other countries, consuming goldfish is not illegal.
Animals Shouldn’t Eat Goldfish Either
While our discussion has so far focused on the possibility of humans consuming goldfish, what about other pets like cats or wild birds?
The answer remains the same – while it’s technically possible for a cat to eat a goldfish, you should not let them.
While cats may not be as picky about taste, there are plenty of other healthier and more affordable options for them to eat. If you have a cat, it’s important to secure the lid of your aquarium and keep your goldfish safe from harm.
Similarly, if you keep goldfish in an outdoor pond, it’s crucial to protect them from wild animals. One way to do this is by covering the pond with netting to prevent predators from accessing the fish.
Can You Get Sick From Eating Goldfish?
Consuming a goldfish can lead to illness, and in some cases, it can even prove fatal.
Goldfish are known to carry certain bacteria, including mycobacteria, which is also referred to as fish tuberculosis. Therefore, consuming goldfish, even after cooking, can be detrimental to one’s health as it may result in bacterial ingestion.
It can be challenging to identify whether a goldfish carries bacteria or not, particularly if it is not your pet.
Even pet goldfish may harbor parasites or diseases that can be deadly if ingested. It’s rare, so it’s better not to experiment and avoid risking your health.
The consumption of pond goldfish or any wild goldfish is also not advisable due to the same reasons mentioned above. These fish may also carry mycobacteria or parasites, and it’s impossible to know the conditions under which they were raised.
The answer to the question “Can you eat a goldfish?” is a complicated one. While technically it’s possible to consume a live goldfish, it’s not recommended or considered ethical in most cultures.
Additionally, there are health and safety concerns to consider, such as the risk of contracting diseases or parasites from the fish. Ultimately, it’s important to treat all animals with respect and refrain from harmful or unnecessary actions.
So, while the idea of eating a goldfish may be tempting or amusing to some, it’s best to stick to more conventional and ethical sources of sustenance.