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Can You Eat Goldfish and How Does it Taste?

Goldfish are freshwater fish that make perfect pets for children. In aquariums, they are entertaining to watch and can relieve anxiety and stress.

closeup face of a goldfish

They can also live in ponds, rivers, and lakes and can get as big as 30 pounds. In the wild, they swim in shallow water and smell like the water where they live. 

Domestic goldfish swim in a tank and eat fish flakes and pellets from the store. They typically stay small because of their limited swim space.

But can you eat goldfish? Maybe, but before you break out the frying pan, there are some things you should know. 

Do People Eat Goldfish?

Pet goldfish are small and have a larger bone-to-meat ratio, making them a poor choice for consumption. But are goldfish edible?

a single goldfish

Goldfish are descendants of carp, so anglers may decide to catch them. People may choose to eat goldfish from large bodies of water, such as ponds, lakes, or rivers. 

People living in China love eating fish, including carp, and some people believe that they also eat goldfish.

The truth is, China values goldfish as ornamental and beloved creatures, so consuming them is not a common practice. No other cultures reportedly eat goldfish. 

Is It Edible?

As a relative of carp, goldfish can be edible. The difference between them is that goldfish have little meat due to their size and are bony.

goldfish in a tank swimming

In ponds, lakes, and rivers, goldfish grow very large, and those sizes are more suitable for consumption.

The fact that they are edible raises some controversy. A few health concerns come with eating these golden beauties.

Additionally, they would require thorough cleaning and descaling, unless you feel like eating fish scales. Deboning them takes a lot of time and leaves very little to eat, which makes people question if it is worth the effort. 

What Does It Taste Like?

Some people say that domestic goldfish taste like the food they eat. Since fish flakes and pellets are what they eat, that is the flavor.

Others think they do not have good taste. To most people, carp taste “muddy” like the waters where they swim. 

a goldfish in a fish tank

Since goldfish are relatives of carp, they probably taste the same. If you like carp, there is a chance you will like goldfish.

Wild goldfish are domestic ones that owners have tossed into a pond, lake, or river. Over time they grow into larger fish. Like other fish, they taste like the water where they live. 

the face of a goldfish

The best way to eat a goldfish, whether wild or domestic, is to clean it thoroughly and cook it in olive oil with a lot of seasoning.

The wild-caught taste probably will not be as strong after cooking, and the fish may be more pleasant to the palate. 

Is Goldfish Safe to Eat?

A goldfish is not a very healthy choice for seafood. Living in a river full of algae and waste makes the smell of the fish linger. The chances are that their taste will be as bad. Goldfish offers no nutritional value and may carry worms and bacteria that make you sick. 

a fat goldfish in a tank

Since wild goldfish live in fresh bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, they might contain mercury. Unhealthy levels, known as methylmercury, are harmful to humans.

Cooking alone may not completely kill all parasites or eliminate mercury, which could be a primary concern for pregnant or lactating women. 

Can You Eat Goldfish Raw?

The short answer is no. There is a health risk with eating raw goldfish. The golden beauties often carry bacteria and parasites that can transfer to humans. Capillaria, or intestinal worms, affect most goldfish and are harmful if you ingest them. 

goldfish swimming in a tank

Even touching a goldfish with bare hands can expose you to bacteria if you do not thoroughly wash your hands or the fish.

Another reason you would not want to eat this fish raw is the way that it might taste. Its body has a protective slimy coating that would probably make it difficult to handle and taste acidic or bitter. 

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, goldfish are not good choices for human consumption. Domestic ones are too small, bony, and potentially carry harmful pathogens that make humans sick.

Wild-caught goldfish contain dangerous levels of mercury. Goldfish tend to taste like the food they eat or the water where they swim.

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