Basic Goldfish Care
By The Goldfish Sanctuary
Ignorance of the goldfish's nature leads to more
tradgedies than can be believed. Don't risk the life of your fish!
The kind and successful fishkeeper is also the patient and studied
fishkeeper. This is not to say that goldfish are difficult to keep -
they are not. However, it is an important responsibility not to be taken
Your fish had a good home in the petstore, and if you are taking
this fish into your home, you should be willing to offer at least the
same amount of attention and care.
The information here represents basic but crucial knowledge on
keeping goldfish. There is always more to learn! If you EVER have any
questions about your goldfish, you should do your best to seek an
answer. You owe it to your fish! A phone call to the local petstore is
often a good idea. I recommend calling a few petstores so you can
compare information. There are also many good books on goldfish as well
as fishkeeping in general.
The fishtank is, of course, the most important piece of equipment. Tanks
are not at all expensive, and buying a nice, big tank is the best thing
you can do for your fish. You should never keep your fish in a "goldfish bowl" or other small container. These are very small, a nightmare to maintain, and often leaves your fish gasping for air. If you MUST keep your fish in a fishbowl for some reason, be sure that it is only filled halfway. Why? Remember that a greater surface area allows more oxygen for the fish. A goldfish bowl filled to the top may have more water in it, but the surface area is much smaller!
Since goldfish get their oxygen from the surface, you want a tank with a
big surface area. The number of gallons is not nearly as important as
the surface area. You can get this surface area by multiplying the
tank's LENGTH by its DEPTH. For every inch of fish length, you must have
30 sq inches of surface area. But remember! Your fish will also grow,
and you want to take this into account when choosing your tank.
Since your fish must live in its tank all the time, it is SO important
for the water to be of the right quality.
Usually, it is okay to use water right out of the tap. The first thing
you need to do is check with your local petshop. They will know if the
local water is suitable for fishes. Still, there are some important
things you should know.
Let your faucet run for about a minute before taking any water. This
lets some of the chemicals dissipate.
Before adding water to your tank, let it sit out overnight. This allows
the chlorine to evaporate. It also lets the water reach room
temperature. Since goldfishes live at room temperature, this ensures
that the water you are adding to the tank is the same temperature as the
water already in the tank.
Finally, the most important thing to know about is the water change. The
water in your tank MUST be kept clean, for dirty water can make them sick
or even kill them. The advanced fishkeeper knows that chemicals like
ammonia can build up unnoticed. All you need to know to start, however,
is that a regular water change goes a long way toward preventing these
kinds of problems. (See Changing Your Goldfish's Water).
The goldfish is a hardy animal, and if cared for properly, will live a
long, long time (ten years is not uncommon). Goldfish are omnivorous
and will eat just about anything, but it is suggested that the
beginner stick to prepackaged fishfoods.
You must buy fishfood which is made specifically for goldfish, because
their nutritional needs are not the same as those of other fishes. Fish
need protein for muscle, vitamins to resist desease, and to strengthen
their bones. Goldfish also need carbohydrates even more than other
Be sure to buy something that has complete nutrition. A quality diet has
the added benefit of bringing out your fish's color.
Never give your goldfish more food than they can eat in a few minutes.
Leftover food decomposes and pollutes the tank. If food remains
uneaten, remove it. Feeding your goldfish a small amount at several
times during the day is preferable to feeding one big meal.
Goldfish live in many different temperatures. Anywhere from 50
degrees F to 68 degrees F is best, provided that any change in
temperature is gradual. A rapid temperature change can make a fish
more susceptible to disease, as can stress. Care on the keeper's part
can reduce both. Different varieties of
Goldfish may also live at different temperatures.
Be sure to watch your goldfish for a few minutes each day. Get to
know your fish. This will help you spot odd behavior if the fish
contracts a disease. If you even suspect that a fish is sick, call
your petstore immediately. Goldfish diseases are rarely contracted
by humans, or visa versa.
Making that partial water changeon a weekly
basis is the key to keeping your fish healthy, and the best way to do it
is with an aquarium siphon hose. This hose sucks water out of your tank,
and is used to vacuum your gravel, thereby removing leftover food, fish
waste, and other organic material. Next to the tank and water, the siphon
is the most valuable piece of equipment.
A water change helps a lot when it comes to keeping your water clean, but
a filter will make your job even easier. A filter works 24 hours a day
and purifies the water in your tank by removing harmful chemicals and
debris. Modern advances have also made filters easier to maintain than
ever before. I suggest the external box filter because it takes up no
space inside your tank, is simple to maintain, and because the current it
causes in the water helps to add more oxygen for the fish.
Hood, Pumps, Airstones, Gravel
The hood of a tank serves a useful purpose. It keeps the fish from
jumping out. Some kind of hood or cover should sit atop your tank for
this purpose. Also, the hood keeps debris or dust from falling into the
Also known as a bubbler, the airstone sends tiny bubbles into the water.
These bubbles agitate the water's surface which in turn keeps the water
oxygenated. Without one, your water may get stale. Also, since harmful
gas passes out of the aquarium through the surface, a steady current
facilitates this as well. If you have a filter like the one described
above, you could get by without one, but they're not expensive, so I
adding one to your tank as soon as possible.
Gravel helps fish feel more at home, since this gives your tank a
'bottom.' Some fish use gravel for camoflage. It also provides a place
for good bacteria to grow. A good size is 1/8 of an inch. Make sure the
gravel isn't too sharp: your goldfish will spend hours searching the
gravel for food, and you don't want them to hurt themselves.
Although gravel comes in many colors, I suggest buying something without
any dye added. Dye can pollute the water. Whatever you buy, make sure
it is thoroughly rinsed before use. You want to remove any particles,
dust, or dye. When the water runs clean, it is ready for use.
I have always felt that less is better. Still, fish love places to hide,
and when they feel stressed, they will need a place to retreat to. Use
common sense when buying decorations, avoid anything with sharp edges, and
make sure that they are
especially made for fish tanks. Anything else could release harmful
chemicals into the water.
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