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Goldfish Teeth: Can They Bite?

Renee Whitmore
Last Updated on
by Renee Whitmore

Do you have goldfish, or are you considering adding one or more of these popular fish to your aquarium?

Many prospective goldfish owners ask, do goldfish have teeth?

If you have ever put your hand in an aquarium and felt a little nibble, maybe you assume they do. The answer is a little more complicated.

Do Goldfish Have Teeth?


No, Your goldfish doesn’t have teeth that fit the usual definition. However, Goldfish have tiny little teeth that are almost invisible if you try to look for them.

The tiny teeth that goldfish have are in the back of the mouth. In fact, they are in a part of the throat. They are the reason why your goldfish can crush its food. The goldfish’s teeth are referred to as pharyngeal teeth.

These pharyngeal teeth are a bit like the molars that we have. They are flat and are best at grinding food. However, as mentioned earlier, they are incredibly tiny. Their peculiar type of teeth doesn’t grow in gums like ours. Instead, they are in their throats.

Do Goldfish Bite?

Some people say that goldfish can bite, but you will never get a real bite from a goldfish. The pharyngeal teeth they have at the back of the mouth are only for crushing.

There are certain circumstances in which a goldfish may nibble at your finger or hand. They may also try to bite other fish if they live in stressful circumstances.

Are Goldfish Teeth Sharp?

No, goldfish teeth aren’t sharp because goldfish are not predatory. They have no use for the sharp teeth that a shark uses to tear into prey. Goldfish teeth are flat and meant for grinding food into a paste to make it easier to swallow.

Can a Goldfish Bite Hurt You?

You do not have to worry about a goldfish bite hurting you. It certainly won’t. The simple fact is that goldfish are not predatory animals. Even if they could bite you, goldfish are naturally fearful. If you put your hand in the tank, most goldfish are going to swim the other way.

If they overcome their fear, a goldfish may nibble at your hand if it thinks you are invading its territory or threatening them. However, since their teeth are both flat and located in their throat, this is not likely to hurt and will never cut you.

Can Goldfish Bites Hurt Other Fish?

While your goldfish may not be able to take a chunk out of your finger, they can damage each other and other species of fish. You should never put too many fish in a tank.

An overcrowded aquarium leads to stress, which can cause fish, including goldfish, to bite one another. You may not see this behavior directly, but if some of your fish suddenly have shredded or missing parts from their fins, this is a clear sign that biting is occurring. You need to separate your fish in a bigger tank.

Will Your Goldfish Ever Lose Its Teeth?

Yes, your goldfish will lose its teeth at different points of its life. This may happen for a variety of reasons. One of the primary reasons is that goldfish develop larger teeth as they age. When this happens, the existing tooth must fall out first.

A goldfish may also lose teeth due to the food it eats, as well as the general wear and tear of grinding up food. If you ever see a tiny tooth at the bottom of the fish tank, you know where it came from.

Can a Goldfish Have Dental Problems?

If your goldfish has teeth, does that mean it can also have dental problems? What happens if all of its teeth fall out? Will your goldfish be able to eat?

Humans have only two sets of teeth. We lose our baby teeth, and then the adult teeth are all we have to work with. Goldfish do not have that problem. This renewal tooth method means that goldfish do not suffer from tooth decay or permanently losing their teeth, so, even though your goldfish has teeth, you will not need a fish dentist.

What Do Goldfish Eat?

Speaking of teeth, what does your goldfish eat with those flat teeth in its throat? In their natural environments, goldfish eat foods such as tiny crustaceans, larvae, and worms.

When you have a goldfish as a pet, though, you feed it flake or pellet food made especially for goldfish. You should also give it special supplements made especially for this species of fish.

To help keep your goldfish happy and healthy, put some greenery (live plants) in their aquarium. They enjoy nibbling on these.

How Often Do Goldfish Eat?

You should feed your goldfish two or three times every day. Read the instructions that come with your goldfish food. You should never give your fish too much food, as this can lead to problems. For example, your pet could suffer indigestion. Tank contamination may also occur.

If you have trouble figuring out how much food you should give your goldfish at each feeding, there is a rule you can follow.

Try to only give the fish an amount of food that it can eat within two minutes maximum. Some goldfish owners make the amount of food for each feeding match the size of the fish’s eye.

It sounds strange, but while it does have teeth, your goldfish doesn’t have a stomach. This means that your fish can only handle eating small amounts of food at each feeding.

While overfeeding is a problem, so is not providing enough food. You may observe your goldfish seeming in a panicked state if it doesn’t get enough food.

If your goldfish is with companions in the tank and there isn’t enough food, there may be fighting and the biting we already discussed. 

Wondering how long a goldfish can go without food? See this article.

About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
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