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Do Goldfish Have Teeth (And do they bite?)

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Goldfish are one of the most common fish that people buy as pets, perfect for beginners and children, but like all pets, you should try to learn as much as you can about them. One question that people often ask is, “Do goldfish have teeth?”

Although it’s a fact not commonly known, goldfish do have teeth. Goldfish teeth are primarily used for crunching and grinding their food and are located at the back of their mouth. Goldfish lose their teeth throughout their life, but new teeth will replace them (unlike human teeth).

Do Goldfish Have Teeth

Now that you know that goldfish do have teeth, I’m sure it has raised many other questions like “why do goldfish have teeth?” and “do goldfish bite?” This short article will tell you everything about goldfish teeth and more.

If you have an interest in goldfish facts, you may like to read some other goldfish articles that I have written, such as:

How Long Do Goldfish Live (Tank, Bowl & Pond Comparison).

Water Temperature For Goldfish (Aquarium and Ponds).

Do Goldfish Need An Air Pump To Help Them Breathe.

How many goldfish in a 10 gallon tank.

What Do Goldfish Teeth Look Like?

Goldfish have pharyngeal teeth that are pretty small and flat. They are not used for catching prey but for crunching and grinding food like human molars. Goldfish teeth are located quite far back at the edge of their mouth and into their throat in an area called the pharyngeal arch, which is why they are called pharyngeal teeth.

It is unlikely that you will see your goldfish’s teeth without holding it still with the mouth wide open. You would also benefit from using a magnifying glass. The teeth themselves look like small white bumps protruding from the flesh.

Below is a picture of some goldfish teeth.

Goldfish Teeth - Pharyngeal Teeth
Goldfish Teeth – Pharyngeal Teeth

Why Do Goldfish Have Teeth In Their Throat?

Goldfish have teeth in the back of their throat because they are used for chewing food into a fine paste. The back of the throat is the perfect position to have teeth for grinding and chewing food.

Goldfish do not have a stomach as humans do, so they need to chew their food well before eating it, so it’s essential to give your goldfish small, soft pellets instead of big chunks of food. If goldfish eat too big of a piece, they might not be able to chew it properly and could choke.

Do Goldfish Have Sharp Teeth?

Goldfish have flat teeth, similar to those found in herbivores which are used for chewing. Sharp teeth are found in predatory, carnivorous fish like sharks and piranha fish, used for ripping at the tough, protein-rich flesh of their prey.

Goldfish are omnivores that eat both meat and plant-based foods. They do best with a diet rich in carbohydrates, supplemented with a small number of meaty proteins.

Goldfish generally prefer smaller snacks that fit nicely into their mouth, which are easier to chew and will prevent choking. The best foods for captive goldfish are soft pellets and flakes. Wild goldfish feed mainly on dead, decaying plant and animal particles, known as detritus, while zooplankton and algae are also consumed where available.

When supplementing with proteins, small brine shrimp, flies, or insect larvae are easy for goldfish to grind down and chew.

Do Goldfish Bite?

So we have established that goldfish do have teeth. People start worrying about whether to keep their fingers out of the tank, away from their fish’s mouth. Piranhas would make a nice meal out of a digit or two, so do goldfish bite?

Goldfish do not bite in the sense that they plunge teeth into your flesh, removing a finger in the process. The worst you will experience from a goldfish is a nibble that feels like a suck. Not something that bloodthirsty movies are made out of.

Because goldfish teeth are located at the back of their mouth close to their throat, it is unlikely that you would even feel them. If your goldfish is big enough that you could fit your finger into its mouth, its jaws are not powerful enough to cause any pain.

Some fish have teeth similar to goldfish but are used for crushing instead of grinding. Teeth made for crushing are generally needed to break open hard shells, so these fish species often have powerful jaws that can crush the bones in your fingers.

Some examples of food that goldfish eat are small soft worms, shrimps, and insects that don’t require strong jaws to eat.

Do Goldfish Bites Hurt?

No goldfish bites don’t hurt people,

but they may hurt other fish. Just because goldfish don’t have sharp teeth, if they can fit a small fin or tail in their mouth, their teeth can still hold on well enough to cause some damage.

Thankfully, goldfish are not predatory fish, they are typically friendly, not aggressive. Because of the goldfish’s friendly nature, you shouldn’t have a problem with your goldfish biting other fish in the tank. In fact, goldfish are one of the best fish to keep in a community tank.

If you have an aggressive goldfish, providing enough space and some hiding places usually fixes the problem, as it gives all fish enough space to move around so they are not bothering each other.

Will Goldfish Eat Other Fish?

As I mentioned above, goldfish are one of the most social fish and great for community tanks, so it is very unlikely that a goldfish will eat other fish in the tank.

Do Goldfish Bite
Goldfish are generally aggressive and won’t bite other fish.

Because a goldfish’s diet can consist of tiny worms, insects, and small shrimp, you will need to be careful not to keep baby fish in the tank as they may get eaten. This is true for most fish, as newly hatched fry is easy food for everyone in the tank.

Goldfish do not have stomachs, so they often eat small amounts of food. If you see your goldfish eating other fish, it is probably because the other fish are sick or injured and unable to swim away.

Do Goldfish Lose Their Teeth?

Goldfish do lose their teeth throughout their lifetime, but luckily, like sharks, as one tooth falls out, another replaces it. Goldfish always have more teeth lined up beneath the gums ready, so old teeth are expected to fall out.

If you do have goldfish in your aquarium, you may find old teeth lying on the gravel from time to time. This is quite common, but many fish keepers don’t know what they are.

Can a Goldfish Have Dental Problems?

Unlike humans, goldfish don’t have dental problems due to their pharyngeal teeth falling out when rotten or worn out. Humans have to look after their teeth for their lifetime, but as goldfish’s teeth grow back, they don’t experience the same problems.

Just like humans, a goldfish’s teeth will start to yellow and wear down because of tooth decay. This is because their diet usually consists of soft foods that do not require a lot of chewing, but unlike humans, goldfish won’t need to worry about cleaning their teeth twice a day.

Do All Fish Have Teeth?

Most fish species have teeth of some sort, so there would be no point in me listing them for you, but I will list a few of the unusual ones below.


Everyone knows what a piranha is. Piranhas are thought to attack at the slightest sight of flesh, but they can be pretty docile until they smell blood in the water. They have been the catalyst for many gory movies and are known to strip an animal carcass in minutes.

Piranhas have sharp razor-sharp teeth and strong jaws which can easily rip through flesh, and because piranhas swim in large shoals, a feeding frenzy will reduce any living creature down to pure bone quickly.

What Other Fish Have Teeth
The Pirahna is another fish that has teeth.


Sharks are known for their fearsome nature, as they are apex predators of the sea. Many sharks have teeth with serrated edges, which create a sawing action as they come together and bite, making them incredibly sharp.

The Sheepshead Fish

I bet you haven’t heard of the sheepshead fish. These fish have human-like teeth, perfect for pulling shelled creatures from rocks and crushing them down.

The front side teeth of the sheepshead are incisor-like and sharp and look like human teeth, while the molar teeth, which are flat teeth, are set further back, making them perfect for crushing when paired with the strong jaws of the sheepshead fish.

The sheepshead fish is one of the stranger fish to look at because of its human-like teeth.

The Sheepshead Fish Has Human Looking Teeth
The Sheepshead Fish Has Human-Looking Teeth

Wrap Up

I hope this short article has been both informative and entertaining to read. “Do goldfish have teeth?” is a common question among goldfish owners, and knowing that goldfish do have teeth like most other fish will always open up many other questions.

Hopefully, this article has answered the most common of these questions, and you can walk away much better informed than you were 10 minutes ago.

Frequently Asked Questions

No goldfish do not have tongues. No fish have tongues, as they do not need them. Goldfish, like other fish, have a bony structure called a basihyal, which looks a lot like a tongue and lays on the bottom of the mouth, similar to a tongue.

Goldfish have 2-4 pharyngeal teeth on each side located in the pharyngeal arch at the back of the throat. When goldfish teeth fall out, they have more teeth ready to fill the gap.

Goldfish chew their food using their pharyngeal teeth located at the back of their throat. Because goldfish don’t have stomachs, they need to chew or bring their food into a soft paste so that it will digest easily on its way through the intestine.

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