Fish is a tasty and abundant natural resource. There are many ways to prepare and season the meat, and it is healthy too. It only makes sense to want to share a few morsels with your bearded dragon!
But is it safe?
Can bearded dragons eat fish? Yes, bearded dragons can eat fish. In the wild, they’ve been spotted eating it when their natural habitat had fish in it. Some owners will give their pet bearded dragons feeder fish. However, the danger is that these feeder fish could contain parasites.
So, fish will not hurt your bearded dragon. However, I don’t recommend it because of the parasites, and because it’s not part of the bearded dragon diet, I personally have had my beardies follow. Keep reading to hear my reasoning and learn more.
Why I Don’t Recommend It
You can go to YouTube and see bearded dragon owners offering small feeder fish to their reptiles (Just have a look at the video below).
It may be funny and cute or some kind of cool (well, it is just nature), and the dragon may have fared just fine, but I just don’t recommend you do this at all.
Take rosy red minnows and goldfish, for example. These fish actually contain something called thiaminase. It is an enzyme dangerous to bearded dragons because it blocks the absorption of thiamine and will kill the Vitamin B1 in whichever animal eats that fish.
Remember, Vitamin B1 is essential to bearded dragons because of the energy it provides to your bearded dragon and other lizards for that matter.
Without this energy, they could become quite ill.
As a result, eating goldfish and rosy red minnows creates a deficiency of thiamine plus leads to ultimately unbalanced nutrition. It can be fatal to your bearded dragon or at the lease could cause brain damage.
Nutrition of Fish
You also have to remember that fish are pretty fatty in nature. For humans, these Omega 3 fatty acids are quite helpful, and the same goes for other common household pets like dogs and cats.
But for bearded dragons, it is a different story. The high levels of copper sulfate and the fact that these fish contain parasites is quite dangerous.
Granted, the danger of parasites infecting your bearded dragon usually only happens when you feed them in large quantities, but why take the risk?
Parasites of Feeder Fish
At this point, you may be wondering which parasites your bearded dragon could come into contact with if fed a feeder fish that contains a parasite.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones carried by freshwater aquarium fish.
- Tapeworms and Flukes- When it comes to minnows, a popular feeder fish, the galaxiids (especially common galaxias) are quite often the victims of infection by the parasite Ligula.
- Leeches may occur, which are parasites that attach themselves to the host and live on the blood.
- Eustrongyloids is another fish parasite you need to be aware of. It is not common in minnows, per se, but if you catch fish like trout or redfin, it’s advised NOT to share your catch with your beardie.
How Much Should Be Fed?
Once again, I say zero. But if you are curious, the answer is just one, given on a very rare basis. I recommend small mammals once every three months.
It is my advice for the giving of a feeder fish, too (if you choose to do so once again, I don’t recommend you feed fish at all).
Besides, think about the bones. Beardies are pretty tough little guys, but you could run the risk of choking the animal if the bones of the fish you give them are too large to digest.
On top of that, bearded dragons can become impacted after consuming fish bones, so it’s best to just stick with a recommended bearded dragon diet.
What About Feeder Fish instead of Crickets?
My answer, as you probably guessed, is no.
The feeder fish do not provide the same nutritional values as a cricket or dubia roach.
Add in the fact that your bearded dragon could become sick, impacted, and lacking in Vitamin B1, and you have a real case as to why you should NOT feed your bearded dragon feeder fish.
Besides, think about where these feeder fish are sourced: Massive fish farms with huge tanks, chemicals dumped into their water daily, and fecal matter of the fish in that tank.
It’s a far cry from bearded dragons eating fish out of streams in the wild. Just say, no!
So, What Makes A Good Beardie Diet?
Let’s review what makes a bearded dragon diet good. I will go over adults, six-month-old beardies, and babies.
The primary foods you should offer include veggies and live food, plus quality prepared reptile food. Live food I recommend includes dubia roaches, crickets, and locusts.
I tend to stay away from mealworms or superworms because these should be used as a special treat. Beardies can gain lots of weight quickly, eating too many of these particular worms.
Feeding Adult Beardies
Adult bearded dragons should be fed live food 2-3 times a week, veggies six days per week, and then one day of just fasting with water.
I believe there are times that food becomes scarce in the wild, so it is natural that the bearded dragon should have sometimes where food is not available.
I find this approach to be quite natural, and all of my bearded dragons are quite healthy in nature.
Bearded dragons can gain weight fast and can damage their liver and kidneys as a result. It can result in death for your bearded dragon. Keep crickets to 3 big crickets 3 times per week.
Once beardies reach the age of 6 months, I switch up their diets. Live food is offered every day for baby dragons, but after the age of six months, it’s time to slow down the live crickets.
Live food should be fed four times a week, and veggies offered every single day. 4 to 5 crickets can be offered four times per week.
Of course, if your bearded dragon NEEDS extra food as a result of being underfed or ill, then, by all means, serve them the food they need to gain weight and get better. It happens with some rescued beardies.
The bottom line? Feed on a case by case basis.
Baby Beardies Diet
Baby bearded dragons can eat whatever they want, when they want. Live food should be offered every day. Veggies should also be provided to the bearded dragon, although I find that the babies focus more on the live stuff.
The point I am trying to drive home is this: Bearded dragons CAN eat fish. However, I really advise against it.
More often than not, these fish arrive with parasites that can harm the dragon. These fish are also sold in pet stores, some of which may not be good at keeping the fish in safe and healthy conditions.
You should also avoid fish from a can – more often than not; this stuff contains salt, brine, and other additives that could harm the reptile.
I also advise you to check out this article I have written on what makes a proper beardie diet. We even talk supplements so you can really get your bearded dragon looking and feeling his best.
Enjoy your beardie and may you both stay happy and healthy!