goldfish care

How to Take Care of a Goldfish

By Kali Wyrosdic

If you’re thinking about getting a pet goldfish, you’ve made a great choice. Goldfish are one of the most common, popular, inexpensive and readily available types of pet fish in existence. Hobbyists and breeders alike have been fascinated with these bright and shiny creatures for nearly two thousand years, resulting in hundreds and hundreds of different varieties.

Goldfish make excellent pets for both aquatic enthusiasts and new aquarium owners. Get all the details on how to care for and own a goldfish, below.

Where to Keep a Goldfish

Common goldfish are actually one of the largest species and they can grow up to 18 inches in length. For a single Common goldfish, some experts recommend a minimum tank size of 40 gallons and a 55-plus-gallon tank for two goldfish. On the other hand, Fancy goldfish can live happily in a 20-plus-gallon tank by themselves or in a 30-plus-gallon tank for a pair.

While it is possible to keep a single goldfish in a fishbowl, goldfish are very messy and you’ll have to change the water much more frequently than in an aquarium.

Another drawback to fishbowls is that the majority of them are too small to fit a filtration system, plus the rounded and tapered design doesn’t provide enough surface area for an adequate oxygen exchange.

When choosing a place in your home to keep your fish tank, it’s important to consider all the angles. First, are there any air conditioners or heat sources nearby? Don’t place your tank in a spot where temperatures change.

You’ll also want your aquarium away from windows, as the ambient light that filters in can cause algae growth if too bright, plus windows usually tend to be drafty. If you place your tank where sunlight hits it, use a shaded cover to reduce the amount of ambient sunlight. If you have small children and/or pets (especially cats), choose a place that’s out of their reach.

What About Water for the Goldfish Tank?

There are options when it comes to providing water for freshwater aquariums: room temperature tap water that’s been treated with a de-chlorinator like TetraAquaSafe or API Aquarium Tap Water Conditioner and super oxygenated bottled water for non-aerated fishbowls like Beta Water, which you can buy from your local pet store.

It’s important that you never put untreated tap water into your aquarium, as the chlorine and other heavy metals and pollutants can kill your fish. You’ll want to keep your fish tank full, leaving about two inches of space at the top, as goldfish have been known to unwittingly jump to their deaths in a tank that is too full.

Goldfish prefer cooler water but have been known to live in slightly warmer waters, too.

The ideal water temperature for Common goldfish is between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal water temperature for Fancy goldfish is between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep a submersible heater and thermometer in the tank to make sure your tank temperatures stay in the right range (and keep the thermometer on the opposite side of the tank from the heater). When choosing a heater for your tank, always make sure the heater is properly rated for your size tank.

Some hobbyists choose to put their goldfish in the same tank as tropical fish. This is not recommended and should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Some tropical fish have temperature and eating requirements that are close to that of a goldfish, but would still require the goldfish to live in a warmer-than-preferred water temperature.

What Can Goldfish Eat?

In the wild, goldfish munch on aquatic plants, fish eggs, insect larvae, crustaceans and even other smaller fish. As pets, goldfish remain omnivores but the menu changes slightly.

All fish food is not created equally, and food that’s specifically manufactured for tropical fish will have different nutrients in it than food manufactured specifically for goldfish.

Goldfish food typically contains less protein and more carbohydrates than other types of fish food, which is why you shouldn’t feed your goldfish beta food.

Goldfish may eat beta food, but it won’t deliver the necessary nutrients your goldfish needs. Additionally, feeding a goldfish human food, such as bread, crackers, biscuit crumbs, rice or potatoes, isn’t recommended.

Stick to flaked fish food or pelleted fish food formulated specifically for goldfish, choosing one of these options or a mix of the two.

Make sure your goldfish is large enough to swallow the pellets and keep in mind that flakes can start losing nutritional value as soon as the container is opened, whereas pellets hold their nutritional value much better.

As a special treat, you can feed your goldfish boiled vegetables (chopped into tiny pieces of course) such as peas, carrots, oranges, or zucchini, freeze dried brine shrimp and bloodworms. Try and feed your goldfish freeze-dried food as opposed to live food whenever possible to avoid the transfer of diseases.

How Often Do I Need To Feed My Goldfish?

Goldfish are great pets for travelers because they can go for up to 2 weeks without any food. It’s best, however, to provide your fish with an automatic fish feeder or feeding block if you’re planning on going away for an extended period of time.

It’s also important not to overfeed your fish. Usually a small pinch of food two or three times per day will suffice but it depends on the number of fish.

Any food that goes uneaten will sink to the bottom of the tank, decompose, and pollute the water. Goldfishes’ metabolisms slow and speed up with the water temperature, so if your water is on the cool side your fish may not even need to eat that frequently.

How to Clean a Goldfish Bowl

If you’ve got a large aquarium that’s equipped with a water filter, you’ll probably need to change the water and clean the tank once every two to four weeks or so.

Of course, if you notice algae or pollutants in the water you should clean it sooner. For smaller aquariums or fishbowls that don’t have filters, more regular cleanings and water changes will be required.

. Of course, if you notice algae or pollutants in the water you should clean it sooner. For smaller aquariums or fishbowls that don’t have filters, more regular cleanings and water changes will be required.

There are plenty of aquarium-cleaning tools that you can use to spruce up the glass between cleanings. Some are magnet operated and others are on telescopic handles. The key is to never use soap or dish detergents when cleaning your goldfish tank and its décor.

When cleaning your aquarium or fishbowl, always remove any décor and rinse it thoroughly in warm tap water. Try not to remove your fish from the tank while cleaning if possible, as environmental changes can stress your fish and cause it to get sick.

Wipe down the glass with a clean paper towel or aquarium cleaning tool and use a gravel vacuum to clean your gravel or substrate. When using a gravel vacuum, stop once the tank’s water level has dropped by about one third, which should give you enough time to clean most of the gravel and the entire tank (the rest of the gravel you can get back to during the next cleaning).

When changing the water, ensure the temperature is the same as the tank water temperature before topping it off.

Now that you know what great pets goldfish can make and how easy they can be to take care of, what are you waiting for? We wish you and your new pet goldfish many happy and prosperous years.

Image: Skumer / Shutterstock

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