Goldfish care: 5 things you must do to keep them happy
1. Do set up their aquarium before you buy any goldfish
Don’t buy goldfish and their home in the pet store on the same day. Instead, set up the tank with gravel, decorations and a filter in good spot (one that is quiet, away from a window or radiator, and near a power supply) and fill it with water, then switch on any pumps you’re using. It takes time for chlorine and other chemicals in tap water that can harm your fish to be expelled.
2. Do consider maturing your tank in advance
A new aquarium takes time to ‘mature’; this odd word basically means that the tank filters and gravel are capable of breaking down waste before it pollutes the water. You can buy products to start this process off from the fish store. Such ‘cycling’ usually takes about two weeks, and prevents your new fish being exposed to pollution.
3. Do stock your goldfish tank slowly
Get just two fish at first (goldfish are sociable animals) and give them a week or two in the tank before buying any more fish. This gives your tank more time to mature to deal with the increase in waste products.
The very best thing you can do to keep your goldfish healthy is to regularly change some of the water. Using a siphon tube, remove about a fifth of the water once a week and replace it with new water, preferably water that you’ve left stand overnight. Changing water like this dilutes down the pollution, and adds fresh minerals to the tank.
5. Do consider buying a filter
Many people keep goldfish in tanks without filters or even air pumps. But adding a filter will greatly improve the quality and stability of the water conditions in your tank. Even an air pump will help – the bubbling improve the oxygen levels in the water, which goldfish really appreciate.
5 things you must never do when caring for goldfish
1. Don’t keep goldfish in a bowl
Yes, some people keep their pets alive for years in a bowl, but many more lead short, unhappy lives. Goldfish are inquisitive fish that like to swim about and explore. Give them a tank at least two-foot long. Also, goldfish bowls pollute easily and the design hinders the transfer of fresh oxygen into the water.
2. Don’t overfeed your goldfish
Your fish should eat all the food you add within five to ten minutes. If there is food lying about on the floor of the aquarium, you’re overfeeding. This excess food will rot down and pollute the tank.
3. Don’t overstock your tank
An aquarium can only hold so many fish before it starts to get polluted too quickly, or before the oxygen level in the water drops. A three-foot long aquarium will hold about four fully-grown goldfish happily – you can add a couple more if you must, especially if you’ve got an air pump, but it’s not advised.
4. Don’t keep standard goldfish with fancy goldfish
Fancy goldfish, such as bubble-eyes and twin-tails, are much more delicate and slower moving than standard goldfish. You’ll have fewer problems if you keep one or the other kind in the same aquarium.
5. Don’t add a heater
Some people use heaters meant for tropical fish tanks in their goldfish tanks. This isn’t just unnecessary – it can harm the fish. They will be quite happy at normal living room temperature, and in fact would probably prefer it a bit on the chillier side!