A common question that pops up with newbie goldfish owners is, “Will these adorable goldfish bite my finger if I stick it in the tank?”
Yes, goldfish can and likely will bite your finger if you stick it in the tank. However, there is one major caveat to so-called goldfish bites…
Goldfish don’t actually have big enough teeth to cause any damage to your finger. In fact, it will likely tickle if a goldfish bites you.
Anyway, this article will answer everything you need to know about goldfish bites, goldfish teeth, and even some extra information on fish teeth.
Don’t Worry About Goldfish Bites
This video sort of illustrates the point I’m making – the goldfish only bit the guy’s hand because it thought the hand was food. Once the goldfish realized the hand wasn’t food it swam off.
Also, notice the lack of blood from the goldfish bite?
Sure, the owner was startled because the fish surprised him, but that bite didn’t hurt.
Do Goldfish Have Teeth?
Yes, goldfish have teeth. Pretty much every fish has some form of teeth. The good thing with goldfish is that their teeth are tiny and so far back in their mouth that they won’t do much damage.
Note: Ignore the thumbnail in the above video! It’s photoshopped!
Remember, goldfish eat a diet high in vegetables and mostly rely on swallowing the animals they do eat whole. They are not piranhas that need razor sharp teeth to rip their prey to pieces. Simply put, goldfish don’t have any need for super sharp teeth, so they don’t have super sharp teeth.
In summary, goldfish have small teeth that won’t hurt you. Plus, the mouth of a goldfish is far too small to cause any real damage.
Goldfish Bites Don’t Hurt
To further elaborate on the above point, goldfish bites don’t even hurt. I would actually say that goldfish bites feel kind of good. It’s like getting lightly pinched. And the bite won’t even break your skin.
Simply put, a bite from a goldfish is nothing to worry about.
Goldfish Aren’t Aggressive
Finally, goldfish are not an aggressive fish. They aren’t starving piranhas that tear everything that drops in the tank to shreds.
Not at all like that.
They’re actually a pretty playful fish. The only reason they nip your finger is because they either think your finger is food OR your finger smells like something the goldfish would eat (ie. meat).
A typical goldfish bite will be a quick nip from a toothless mouth followed by the fish swimming off once it realizes that your finger isn’t going into their mouth.
Do Goldfish Bite Other Fish?
Yes, goldfish will bite other fish. They sometimes eat other fish, too.
Again, goldfish aren’t aggressive fish that randomly nips fish, so a goldfish biting other fish or even chasing fish around the tank means that something is wrong in the tank. This section will cover the main reason that your goldfish is biting or chasing other fish.
Don’t worry, it’s a simple fix.
Crowded Tank – The Cause of Aggressive Goldfish
The usual cause of goldfish, and every aquarium fish, nipping other fish is a crowded tank. Even traditionally aggressive fish like bettas can get along with other fish in a large enough tank.
With that in mind, if your goldfish is biting other fish, then I can almost guarantee that your tank is too crowded. I recommend 1 goldfish per 20 gallons and plenty of structure to avoid these problems. If you have more goldfish than 1 per 20 gallons, then try increasing the size of your tank or removing some fish.
I pretty much guarantee that your goldfish will stop being so aggressive to other fish. Your tank will also be a lot cleaner if you remove some goldfish, which can also reduce the aggressiveness.
Mating Goldfish Sometimes Bite
When goldfish, and most other fish, mate the male will chase the female around the tank. And yes, sometimes the male will take a little bite at the female.
This is not something to be concerned about and is perfectly normal mating behavior. Male goldfish may also harass other male goldfish in the tank during this time, but they generally just chase without biting. Goldfish just aren’t a very aggressive fish. Most non-tropical fish are pretty calm compared to tropical or warmer water fish.
To conclude, goldfish do bite humans, but the bites are so harmless they aren’t even worth worrying about. Goldfish may also bite other fish if in a crowded tank, so make sure to fix that problem if you notice it.
Other than that, goldfish are such a harmless fish that these problems aren’t really something you must concern yourself with. I hope you enjoy having goldfish because they truly are a great fish for a fish tank.