How to take care of goldfish
Goldfish are rewarding pets to have. Their proper care, however, is not always taken into consideration, and we have only just begun to understand the best ways to make these fish thrive. If you're looking to breed goldfish, have one as a pet, or are simply curious about what it might be like, here is how to make your fish happy and healthy!
Part 1 Tank Requirements and Care
1. Get a large enough tank. The minimal tank size for one goldfish is 10-15 US gallons (56.7 litres)(Remember, they grow to about 10-12 inches (25.5-30.5 centimetres), and sometimes over!) and you will need to add 10 U.S. gallons (37.8 litres) onto that for each additional goldfish. Please read about all different kinds of goldfish, common goldfish, comet goldfish, and other single tail goldfish need ponds or huge tanks, don't get single tails, unless you have a 180 US gallon (681.4 litre) tank laying around.
Though for decades goldfish have been depicted in small bowls, that's why they're synonymous with short life spans (ammonia builds up quickly in such a small space). In order to increase your goldfish's length (and quality) of life, give it a decent-sized aquarium.
2. Use gravel that won't get stuck in your fish's throat. Use either large gravel (too big to swallow) or very small gravel. Large gravel is better for goldfish because it won't get caught in their throat and because goldfish like to be able to dig into the gravel to search for fallen food.
Be sure to clean your gravel before you put it into the tank. Even if you have just bought it, a good rinse and soak in some water for a day will draw out some of the impurities and help ensure that your goldfish are getting the best environment to flourish in. Make sure to not use soap.
3. Goldfish don't require light, light is only for seeing the fish better and making its colours "pop". Keep your aquarium lit for around 8-12 hours each day.
Think about putting a rock or wood centrepiece with some artificial greenery into your aquarium. The rock or wood will give the goldfish nooks and crannies to explore and the artificial plants won't accelerate plant growth in your tank.
On the other hand, real plants are beneficial because they help absorb some of the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates that accumulates in the aquarium because of waste and natural wear and tear.
Be sure that any decorations you choose aren't hollow (it's a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria) and that they don't have sharp edges (your fish might tear its fins).
Try using fluorescent lights for your goldfish. Halogen lights and incandescent lights will also do. Pay attention to how much light you give them — goldfish will appreciate 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.
4. Rig up a water filter. Goldfish need a filter. A water filter should take care of the breaking down of the fish’s waste by beneficial bacteria; the trapping of larger particles such as fish waste or excess fish food; and the removal of odours, discolourations and other organics by carbon or mineral absorption. Having clean water and a functional, efficient filtration device will keep your goldfish content and healthy. There are three very popular kinds of filters:
Hang on back (HOB) filters, which hang on the rim of your tank, and bring water in and filter water out. They are very popular, reasonably priced, and probably give you the most bang for your buck.
Canister filters sit underneath your aquarium and use a series of tubes to filter water in and out. Canister filters tend to be almost silent, are a little pricier than HOB filters, but tend to be more efficient at filtering than HOBs.
Wet/Dry filters use an overflow box to filter out impurities. Wet/Dry filters, however, are significantly bigger than HOBs or canisters, and so generally only fit into aquariums that hold at least 50 gallons (189.2 litres).
5. Go through at least one fish-less cycle before introducing your goldfish. A fish-less cycle involves adding ammonia to a tank and keeping track of the nitrate levels to make sure the water is safe for your goldfish to live in. Sadly, many fish die once introduced into a new tank because of ammonia and nitrate poisoning. Make sure that you add dechlorinator, because the chlorine in tap water will kill your fish.
· Before you add your fish, you'll need to make sure the environment is fish-ready. Pick up a pH test kit and test the tank for the right amount of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. You want zero ammonia, zero nitrite, and less than 20 nitrate as your end result. Do not use test strips because they are inaccurate. Instead, get a liquid test kit like the API Master Test Kit.
· What's going to happen is you'll start adding drops of ammonia continuously. That'll start the nitrite process going. If you keep doing what you're doing, eventually you'll see nitrates. Those nitrates will start doing their job, eliminating the ammonia and nitrites. That's the cycle! When you've done a lap, it's fish time!
· It'd be a little easier if the words weren't so similar, huh?
Part 2 Upkeep and Feeding
1. Add your fish. Hopefully, if you have more than one goldfish, your goldfish are all the same type. Unfortunately, goldfish are known to eat other, smaller fish, and can overeat, keeping food from their peers. If another fish is smaller or slower, it doesn't stand a chance.
So you really want to add more fish, huh? Alright, then White Cloud Mountain Minnows or Zebra Danios it is (if your goldfish isn't humongous). However: These fish live in schools, so if you're buying extra fish, you need to at least buy an extra half dozen. So in short: Keep your goldfish with other similar goldfish.
Any new fish brought into an established aquarium should be quarantined for two weeks beforehand. If they have any diseases, you don't want those spread to your healthy fish!
2. Perform a 25% up to 90% water change weekly assuming you have stocked your tank properly. Do a 50% water change whenever the nitrates reach 20.
Sometimes water changes can get a bit messy. When you're doing yours, keep some old towels around. And while you're monitoring the cleaning, make sure you're not vacuuming up any teeny fish!
3. Clean the aquarium at least once every week even if it doesn't look dirty. Goldfish produce waste that even your water filter won't be able to zap. A clean tank means happy, healthy goldfish. And a happy, healthy goldfish can live for decades!
Do not remove the fish from the tank when you clean. Using a gravel vacuum to soak up debris can be done without extracting the fish from their habitat. If you have to remove the fish, for whatever reason, use a plastic container instead of a net, if possible. Nets can injure goldfish fins more easily than containers can. They are also scared of nets and can cause them stress.
4. Measure for ammonia, nitrite, and pH. Remember that test you did before you added your precious little fish? You've got to keep that up! Ammonia and nitrite levels should be at 0. A range of pH 6.5-8.25 is fine.
· Soap is poisonous to fish and will kill them quickly, so don't wash your tank with soap. Also, don't use regular tap water to put in your tank. Drinkable water is not good for them because it takes out some of the minerals which are good for goldfish. Buy a water conditioner at a pet store and put in the amount it says on the label.
5. Feed your fish 1-2 times daily. Be careful not to overfeed them, only feed them what they can eat in a minute, the label on the food is wrong. Goldfish can easily overeat and can die. Underfeeding is always preferable to overfeeding.
Just like humans, goldfish want diversity of nutrition. Feed your goldfish pellet food most of the time, live foods, such as brine shrimp, some of the time, and freeze-dried foods, such as mosquito larvae or blood worms, every once in a while. Remember to soak freeze dried food in a cup of aquarium water before you feed to your goldfish, freeze dried foods expand in a goldfish's stomach, causing to have problems swimming.
Feed your fish only what they can eat in five minutes. Remove any excess food. More goldfish die from overeating than from anything else.
Feed your goldfish at the same time each day (once in the morning, once at night) and in the same spot in the tank.
6. Turn off the light and let them get some sleep. If you thought goldfish didn't sleep, you'd be wrong. Well, sort of. They don't have eyelids and they don't really stop swimming, but their bodies sort of hibernate. You can tell when you notice a slight change in colour and reduced activity (they'll stick to one side of the tank).
7. Let the water temperature change as the seasons change. Goldfish don't like temperatures over 75°F (24°C), but they appear to like seasonal changes where the temperature dips to the high 50s or 60s (15-20°C) in the winter. Understand that goldfish will not eat below 50-55°F (10-14°C).
A good thermometer makes this pretty easy. There are two types to choose from: those that hang inside and those that hang outside. Both should be accurate enough, but I like the ones that hang on the inside better.
If you're not breeding your goldfish, a steady temperature all year-round of 74°F (23°C) is golden. If you are breeding your goldfish, simulate the seasons (goldfish spawn in the spring). Start off by lowering the temperature to somewhere between 50°F (10°C) and 54°F (12°C). Then, when it's baby-making time, up it to between 68°F (20°C) and 74°F (23°C) gradually. The goldfish will be cued to then lay their eggs.
Goldfish like to "sleep" in the dark. So when you hit the hay, turn off the light! In actuality, you only need an aquarium light if you're growing plants or if the room is particularly poorly-lit. But even if you don't have an aquarium light, go green, reduce your electrical bill, and let them unwire for night.