Common goldfish are one of the most popular types of pet fish. They are a hardy breed of fish that if cared for properly will live a long time. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a goldfish is the easiest first pet to take care of. While they are not high maintenance like a cat or dog, there are still some things you need to keep in mind. The bulk of the work is setting up a tank properly. Once the environment is set up the right way, the ecosystem will take care of its self for the most part. In this article, I talk about how to care for a goldfish and how to set up a goldfish tank.
Goldfish take many first place prizes among their fishy friends. They are the first type of fish to ever be domesticated which took place in China. They are number one in popularity of domesticated fish. Goldfish are also the most commonly first pet fish aquarium owners buy.
How to Care for a Goldfish: 5 Most Important Things
If you do these 5 things right your goldfish will grow to a healthy size and live a much longer life.
- A large rectangular tank. Remember, commonly bought goldfish grow to about 10-12 inches in length. Sometimes they may even get bigger! The smallest size tank you can get away with is about a 20 gallon tank. For each additional goldfish you’ll need to add an additional 10 gallons. Be mindful of what type of goldfish you buy. There are comet, common, and single tail goldfish to name a few. Single tail goldfish for example, get massive and pretty much need a pond or a tank for 150 gallons. When most people think of goldfish, they think of a goldfish placed in a bowl. I don’t know why they are portrayed in small bowls. This is one of the main reasons goldfish are known to have short life spans, small bowls allow ammonia to build up quickly which will eventually kill a goldfish. The oldest known goldfish lived 43 years old. While you’re goldfish probably won’t live that long, if you give it a decent sized aquarium it will have a long good life and grow to a healthy size.
- Install a water filter. Goldfish must have a filter. This is an essential part of keeping a goldfish healthy. By the same token, all fish tanks benefit from water filters. It will keep the water clean by breaking down fish waste, remove odors, trap larger particles like excess and old fish food, and remove other organics and discoloring of water. There are three main categories of filters: canister filters, wet/dry filters/ and hang on back filters. Hang on back filters or as some fish owners call hob filters do exactly what they say. They hang on the back rim of your tank and bring water in and out. They are the most popular filters and you can usually get a decent price on them. The next step up is a canister filter. This will sit beneath your aquarium and are more efficient than hob filters. They are nearly silent but are a bit pricier. Wet/dry filters are for serious fish owners with tanks and aquariums 50 gallons and up. They are significantly bigger than hob and canister filters.
- Use the right gravel bedding. You want to use either large rocks or very small gravel. Goldfish like to dig around for food that has fallen to the bottom. If the rocks are too big, they can’t swallow them, if they are super small they can get a few bits in their mouth and they won’t get stuck in your fish’s throat. It is always a good idea to clean your gravel before putting it in the tank. Don’t ever use soap just rinse with water. Even new gravel will contain some impurities. Rinsed gravel will give your goldfish a great environment to flourish.
- Tank Scenery, Lights, and Plants. In the wild, fish have plenty of natural architecture to explore in reefs and what have you. In captivity, you provide the entertainment. A big rock or wood centerpiece will give your fish a place to explore and to hide. Fish are curious little guys and love to explore nooks and crannies. The thing to watch out for are decorations with sharp edges or large hollow spaces. Bacteria flourishes in such hollow places and sharp edges may injure your fish’s fins. As far as plants go, you can get either artificial plants or real plants. Real plants come with the special benefit of helping absorb some contaminants such as nitrates and ammonia that build up in a tank overtime. Though goldfish don’t require light to survive, they will appreciate about 12 hours of light. This will also help you see them better and their natural coloring. You’ll get the joy of watching them grow.
- Change the water. An integral part of fish care is keeping the water clean. If you’re planning on a goldfish bowl, that bowl needs to be cleaned out everyday for the goldfish to stand a chance. Maintenance of a tank is much easier and can be less frequent. A tank of about 15 gallons would be perfect for a single goldfish and you would only need to change about 30% of the water every week. Weekly changing isn’t to hard to stick to, and all you need to do is drain out the upper third portion of water and then re add the same amount to the tank of clean water.
Top 4 Myths about Goldfish Care
Here are the most common misconceptions of goldfish.
- Goldfish are inexpensive and replaceable. Sure, common goldfish are relatively inexpensive and commonly found at pet stores. Properly caring for a goldfish is still costs some money, especially getting the tank set up. Some owners carry the mindset that they will just replace a goldfish if it dies. However, if you can provide and care for your goldfish well it will grow into an awesome fish that will last a long time. Fancy goldfish types can actually be more expensive than many tropical fish. These grow into magnificent aquarium fish owners can be proud of.
- Goldfish flourish in goldfish bowls. This certainly isn’t the case. The main reason most people think goldfish thrive in a fish bowl can be explained by their portrayal in the media. This portrayal goes back in time to when goldfish were first domesticated in China by the nobility. Nobility would keep fancy viewing ponds stocked with gold fish, much like the koi today. Overtime the nobility moved their goldfish indoors and they used glass fish bowls. Although these provide a great 360 degree viewing of the fish, they were never designed with the health and welfare of the fish in mind. Fish bowls and difficult to clean and have minimal surface area for oxygen exchange. Furthermore, setting up a filter is near impossible with a fish bowl.
- Goldfish are short lived. This goes hand in hand with the previous point of people keeping goldfish in fish bowls. Sure, if you improperly care and house your goldfish they will have very short lives. On the other hand, if you make the right moves your goldfish will live for perhaps 15 years or even longer. The oldest known goldfish on record lived to be 43 years old! Now that’s a hardy fish.
- Goldfish are small. For the most part, goldfish will grow in relation to their environment. However, that does not mean there are healthy sizes and not so healthy sizes. For example, a goldfish kept in a fish bowl may stay pretty small (1-2 inches) but that just means they did not have a proper tank or nutrition. A healthy average size of most common goldfish is about 8 to 12 inches. Some goldfish will get be 18 inches or even longer. They never completely stop growing throughout their lives.
Goldfish – An Excellent Starter Pet for Kids
Fish tend to be the “starter pets” for kids. However, that doesn’t diminish the important lessons of responsibility and compassion that are instilled from pet ownership. With a short life span, it’s inevitable that young ones will see that first pet pass away. The first instinct is to flush it down the toilet, which is wrong and harmful for several reasons!
Some people choose to release their fish into the wild before it passes away. This creates infestations in drains and waterways that kill the ecosystem, creates a competitor and predator to local fish and affect the growth of native plants. Not only is it illegal and unfair to your pet. Paw Pods’ fish shaped pods can help young ones avoid the trauma of seeing a pet flushed down the toilet. Paw Pods also offers other sizes of pods and urns, all bio-degradable, that allow owners the chance to bury their pets at home with a dignified, beautiful memorial. The pods can be decorated, giving children and adults a way to express their grief in a therapeutic form. A seeded leaf of perennial flowers is included with every pod. Its annual blooms create a living memorial to a treasured friend.
Paw Pods recognizes that beyond the unconditional, loyal love pets give us, their carbon footprint on our planet is next to none, so their afterlife should follow suit. All pods and urns are made of bamboo powder, rice husk, and corn starch, designed to respectively degrade in 3-5 years after being introduced to the environment. Reassuring to pet owners is the fact that Paw Pods are extremely affordable, ranging in price from $9.99 to $149.99, a fraction of what traditional pet caskets cost. You may not need them right now; but they want to be there when you do.