Do Ducks Eat Fish? Benefits & Risks

Ducks can eat a wide array of fish to suit their nutritional needs. Some of the favorite fish for these birds, specifically wild ducks, include eels, minnows, and sticklebacks. However, the type of fish ducks eat depends on the duck breed.

Some large breeds like Muscovy ducks, for instance, can consume large fish, while smaller breeds like Call duck and American duck consume small fish like minnows.

The Diet of Ducks

Ducks are omnivorous, so they have varied diets. While you may think that wild and domestic ducks eat weeds and waterside plants, these birds’ diet comprises many types of food.

The diet of wild ducks is unpredictable, so the birds can eat loads of things to keep healthy year-round. Domestic ducks rely on the food they get from their owners.

Most domestic duck raisers provide many food items to their ducks, although the staple food for domestic ducks is commercial feed. Both domestic and wild ducks feed on various grasses and grains.

Wild ducks can have a varied diet comprising aquatic plants, fish, small amphibians, and reptiles. Some duck breeds, such as wigeons and gadwalls, consume leafy plants and aquatic plants, including sedges, grasses, rushes, and pondweed.

Other breeds, like pintails and mallards, prefer eating wetland plants. Wild ducks like pochards and scaups prefer eating tubers and roots.

Both wild and domestic ducks consume various invertebrates. Wild ducks tend to consume terrestrial invertebrates, while domestic ducks prefer insects and bugs.

The wild American widgeon, a dabbling wild duck, likes eating a diet comprising beetles, midges, and horseflies. Diving wild ducks usually eat snails, clams, aquatic insects, and crustaceans.

Most diving ducks, such as goldeneyes and scooters, eat fish. However, fish make an insignificant part of their diet. The only duck breed that eats fish as its staple diet is the merganser, popularly known as fish duck fish or sawbill.

The duck has a bill with serrations with unique features enabling it to catch fish in the water.

Most domestic and wild duck breeds eat amphibians, such as frogs and tadpoles. All ducks won’t hesitate to eat toadlets and froglets. However, most breeds avoid adult amphibians since they are too large to eat comfortably.

Free-range and wild ducks also consume smaller reptiles, including snakes, salamanders, and lizards. Ducks prefer eating small snakes like corn snakes, copperheads, and garter snakes.

Domestic ducks, like Muscovy ducks, are known for eating snakes.

Can Ducks Eat Fish?

Yes, ducks indeed can eat fish and other aquatic creatures. Wild mallards, for instance, prefer eating fish over other food items.

Many wild duck species prefer eating wild fish and their eggs.

Types of Fish Ducks May Consume

Ducks consume various types of fish. For instance, bass, a popular fish inhabiting the sea and rivers, is a favorite fish for wild ducks. Wild ducks in the European continent consume bream, a type of fish that lives in lakes and rivers across Europe.

Domestic and wild ducks consume goldfish,  a tiny orange fish that lives in rivers and lakes across the globe.

Large duck species, such as wild Muscovy ducks, consume catfish, a unique type of fish with long hairs below its mouth.

Domestic ducks forage for Koi, a red-goldfish that fish farmers keep in their ponds. Chub, a rounded fish prevalent in European rivers and lakes, is also a favorite fish for wild and domestic ducks in Europe.

Minnows are the best fish for free-range and wild ducks. These small fishes live in lakes and rivers. Large duck breeds prefer eating large fish, such as rainbow trout, prevalent in lakes and rivers worldwide.

Diving wild ducks also hunt for salmon, a type of silverfish present in rivers and lakes. Trout is a staple diet for wild ducks living near water bodies such as seas, rivers, and lakes. This fish is relatively smaller, so it’s easy for ducks to consume the fish. Other smaller fish that make up the diet for wild and free-range diet ducks include stickleback and tech.

These fish are prevalent in lakes and rivers across the globe.

Benefits and Risk of Ducks Eating Fish

Ducks can eat various types of fish, whether cooked or raw. Fish is nutritious and delicious for ducks since it contains loads of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. However, there are risks and benefits of ducks eating fish.

Let’s start with the benefits of ducks eating fish:

  • High in protein-Fish boasts a high concentration of protein, which is essential for all domestic and wild birds, including ducks. Protein is vital in ducks’ growth, immunity, and egg production. Giving your ducks raw or cooked fish can help boost their protein intake.
  • Rich in crucial minerals-Fish has dozens of nutrients and minerals that are vital for ducks’ health development and growth. For instance, fish is a rich source of vitamin D for ducks. Vitamin D plays a role in bone development and egg production in ducks. Fish also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for your ducks’ optimal brain and body functions.
  • Lower the risk of autoimmune conditions– Fish helps boost ducks’ immune systems, reducing their risk of diseases. Ducks that consume fish regularly have a low risk of getting autoimmune diseases.

Risks of Ducks Eating Fish

While fish have numerous health benefits for ducks, there are risks of ducks eating fish. For instance, fish may contain contaminants such as dioxins, pesticides, and mercury.

The high levels of contaminants in fish can damage ducks’ organs and suppress brain development. Fish is also high in fat, which can make your ducks overweight.

Consequently, it’s prudent to feed fish to your ducks in moderation to avoid the risk of eating fish.

How Ducks Catch Fish?

You see, ducks aren’t your typical fish-catching predators, but they’ve got a few tricks up their sleeves (or should I say wings?) when it comes to snagging a tasty meal. Here are some ways ducks catch fish:

  1. Dabbling – this is when ducks submerge their heads underwater and filter through the mud and debris to find tasty tidbits like fish, insects, and plants.
  2. Diving – some ducks, like mergansers, are excellent divers and can dive up to 20 feet deep to catch fish.
  3. Pursuit – ducks may also chase after fish in the water and use their bills to snatch them up.

Who knew these quacking creatures could be such skilled fishermen? Next time you see a duck paddling around in a pond, remember – they might just be on the hunt for their next seafood feast!


The answer to whether ducks can eat fish is a resounding yes. Domestic and wild ducks can eat various fish species.

Fish is vital for your ducks’ development and growth, whether raw or cooked.

However, fish can have some health risks for your ducks, so you should feed your duck flock fish in moderation.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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