Last Updated: February 20, 2023 by Dave Gibbins
The popular goldfish is a freshwater fish whose scientific name is Carassius auratus. It’s the first fish to be considered for domestication. Goldfish belong to the cyprinid family.
This species is the most popular pet goldfish because of its attractive colors. Even without basic knowledge about fish, most people can instantly recognize goldfish.
The fish has then continued to be kept as a pet in aquariums and peoples’ homes. As much as the goldfish can endure many mistakes from beginners, just like any other pet, the fish will require much care for its health and survival.
To keep a healthy fish, follow this guide to learn how to take care of a goldfish.
Origin of the Goldfish Care
Goldfish originated from China and was domesticated from a crucian carp. The crucian carp was and still is one of the most domesticated fish in the world. The species evolved through three Chinese dynasties: The Jin, Tang, and Song dynasties. During the Jin Dynasty, the carp was still grey and selectively bred.
Chinese people started breeding silver carp in the Song dynasty. After the breeding, the color mutations formed fish with yellow and orange scales. During the Tang dynasty, goldfish were selected based on their observable physical appearance and placed in ornamental ponds.
The Song dynasty had the yellow goldfish, identified as the royal fish after domestication by royal families.
Types of Goldfish
Are you wondering which goldfish to keep? There are different breeds of goldfish – long-body and round-body breeds. The most common goldfish is the Comet species.
This species has a single tail and slim body and are long. Unlike the common goldfish, the comet goldfish has metallic scales. They also appear smaller than common goldfish and have more than one color.
Comets became popular due to their tolerance to harsh environments, hence beginner-friendly. Goldfish come in small sizes when you buy them at the pet stores, but they, later on, grow up to 16 inches long. For a mature comet goldfish, it can use up to 100 gallons of water.
The Shubunkin and Sarasa have the same body type as the Comet goldfish but tend to be more colorful. Fancy goldfish varieties include Oranda, Ranchu, Telescope, Fantail, Celestial, and Moor.
Most fancy types have round bodies and often do not grow long, making them have structural issues. The fancy varieties of the goldfish are subjected to such problems as buoyancy, spinal diseases, and even traumatic injuries.
For instance, the oranda breed gets a fleshy growth on its head.
How Long Can the Goldfish Live?
Goldfish have an average lifespan estimated to be 10 -15 years. Some fish types can live up to 30 years if given the proper care. However, research shows that many goldfish do not reach their expected lifespan because of unfavorable housing conditions.
Most goldfish die because of poor care. In fact, in poor conditions, most fancy goldfish live up to five to four years. Fancy goldfish are vulnerable to diseases because of their body structure, and their life span reduces with less care.
Unlike the fancy varieties, the comet variety of the goldfish has proved to live up to 40 years. Most of the fancy types live up to their teen years. One fact is that a Goldfish will live up to twenty years of age if taken care of the right way.
Fun Fact: Watching them grow as the months go by is just as enthralling as breeding them! Know the secrets to your goldfish pet’s growth spurt by reading our article — How Fast Do Goldfish Grow: Monitoring Your Pet’s Maturity.
Fish Tank Conditions for Goldfish
All varieties of goldfish require a proper aquatic environment. Most goldfish are hardy species, which is why they can tolerate water quality mistakes. However, the long-bodied goldfish outgrow the 20 gallons of water after five years due to their increase in length.
Goldfish can take moderate ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in an aquarium tank. When installing the nitrogen cycle in the aquarium, it is advisable to keep nitrate less than 20mg and ammonia at zero.
Goldfish mostly spend their time looking for food as they have a good appetite. The fish are often seen digging in the aquarium gravel. The fish never leave out any food; they collect small rocks at the bottom of the pond to clean up food particles.
Goldfish are not limited to only indoor aquariums and ponds but can also survive in the outdoor environment. Goldfish’s hardy nature makes them stay in any environment, including harsh climatic conditions such as high temperatures. All you require for an outdoor setup for a goldfish pond is enough space and proper structure.
An outdoor aquarium will also require a filtration system and aeration. However, ponds built outside require at least 30 gallons of aquarium water for every goldfish and should be 3-4 feet deep because of the cold climates.
However, the fancy varieties of the goldfish do not survive so well in large outdoor ponds. Fancy goldfish cannot swim for long distances.
Goldfish Tank Setup
Just like any other pet, the goldfish requires enough living space. The best tank you can start with is the 75 to 100-gallon tank because it can accommodate goldfish as the fish grow. A big tank is influential as it also houses the lifestyle of the goldfish, a frequent pooper.
Solid waste from the goldfish metabolic process can be toxic to the fish. Hence, a large tank will improve water quality through an efficient filtration system.
The tank should have some light as the goldfish are diurnal. It is advisable to buy tanks that have already installed light in them. The goldfish require light to have a healthy sleep-to-wake routine. Light also enhances the fish’s color, as it makes it brighter.
Goldfish lose their bright color when not receiving enough light or sunlight. If the aquarium is not receiving sunlight, ensure it is lit for at least 8 hours a day.
Goldfish Tank Temperature
As much as the goldfish can survive in harsh temperatures, they cannot endure for an extended period. Goldfish cannot endure freezing temperatures daily. Therefore, you should install a water heater set around 68°F as it will provide temperature stability. Alternatively, you could use large goldfish tanks as their large volumes reduce sudden temperature changes.
Goldfish Tank Filtration and Aeration
Goldfish feed a lot and generate large amounts of waste from metabolic activities. Henceforth, a goldfish tank will require an efficient filtration system. The right filtration system ensures that water is regularly filtered by the nitrifying bacteria – biologically in the filter media.
The best type of filters for the goldfish tanks are the ones hanging on the back, but they must be oversized to complete the task. The aeration systems are attached to the tanks to ensure a sufficient supply of oxygen. Ideally, the filters should not create strong currents in the water throughout the filtration. The current of the filters should always be adjustable.
Goldfish Water Maintenance
You should change 10 to 25 % of water in the tanks weekly. Do not replace all the water at once to avoid losing nutrients. A graven siphon is the best to use for cleaning. Shake the siphon partially into the aquarium to create an outlet for water to another source.
The water outlet should preferably be a fish bucket, which you will not be used for anything else. You are advised to use a dedicated fish bucket to avoid contamination of the fish water. Containers may have harmful microscopic residues unsuitable for the fish’s health.
The end of the siphon, which will be inside the tank, will be used to vacuum fish dung and uneaten food in the tank. Fish can remain inside as you do the siphoning but be gentle while at it to avoid stressing the fish. After you have drained at least 20% of the water, discard and replace it with clean tap water.
Never forget to add water conditioners after replacing the water, as this helps neutralize the chlorine and chloramine generators in the aquarium. After adding the conditioners, fill the aquarium with cold tap water.
Filters should be cleaned every month, especially when they clog up. The filters should be washed gently, as thorough cleaning eliminates the bacteria responsible for breaking down Goldfish metabolic waste.
The bacteria break down waste products from the goldfish, which otherwise can make the fish sick. Algae build-up in the goldfish tank can be cleaned up using a piece of a clean sponge or a magnetic glass. Never use soaps or detergents when cleaning up the goldfish pond.
Goldfish Tank Decoration
You can decorate the interior using stones and artificial plants but minimally to save on swimming space. For decorations, use the pea gravel for substrate as fish can hardly ingest as they mouth-pick food substances. Live plants are not preferred as goldfish tend to feed on them.
Should goldfish be kept in bowls? It will help if you don’t keep goldfish in bowls because the modern types of bowls don’t have all the required features for goldfish survival.
The bowls used in the past were most suitable to house goldfish as they were ceramic and provided room for survival. Goldfish were highly prized, so when people owned them, they invested in the best kind of bowls to house them. Unfortunately, it is right to say that no aquatic animal should be housed in a bowl.
How to Take Care of a Goldfish
Set up the fish tank before buying the goldfish. So many considerations must be made to ensure goldfish survive in the setup. One reason is that it takes a lot of time to make a suitable habitat for the goldfish. Secondly, fish are generally sensitive to their environment, and moving them from one place to another within a short time can cause them distress.
Henceforth, you should avoid transferring the fish from one container to another in the initial stages. Goldfish cannot survive in temporary environments for long, as in plastic bags or small bowls. The best it can do is one day, for more than 24 hours, goldfish will be struggling to survive. However, in case of an emergency, use large treated containers.
Now that you know the goldfish has a high appetite, how do you feed it? Or how much should you feed it? Goldfish naturally love to eat, and their satisfaction highly depends on the temperature in their water. The higher the temperature of the water, the more hungry goldfish become.
If the water temperature is below 70 F, it is advisable to feed the goldfish once a day. Water temperatures above 70 F will require you to feed the fish at least twice daily and feed them the much food they need. Avoid overfeeding them as the goldfish will not stop eating as long as there is food, and this can make the water foul, which is harmful to the fish.
Goldfish diet should comprise 30% to 35% protein and 5% to 7% fat. Most commercial diets have this covered. If you aim for the goldfish to reproduce at a high rate, ensure the diet is high in protein and fats. You can add protein-rich treats such as brine shrimp to goldfish every week, especially if the temperatures are high in the aquarium.
Some complications they develop are diet-related to the fancy varieties of the goldfish. For instance, the fancy goldfish tend to get buoyant as they eat a lot of food from the surface. The best diet for the fancy goldfish is the sinking type of diet. For the non-buoyant goldfish, the floating diet then suits them the best.
Some goldfish foods may require pre-soaked, such as flaky foods. Flakes float in the water, and the goldfish will swallow them as they swim towards the bottom to feed.
Stocking Goldfish in the Aquarium
The goldfish are calm and can live with other species that are not goldfish. These fish require company for long-term survival. However, do not overstock the aquarium, as it becomes more expensive. Adding one fish per every 20 gallons of water in the aquarium is advisable. Grow your goldfish community gradually, as it will help you gauge changes in the fish tank.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do goldfish sleep?
Like any other fish, the goldfish do not physically close its eyes. The fish sleeps with its eyes fully open but sinks to the bottom of the water without moving. Additionally, during their nap, the goldfish’s color becomes pale to protect them from possible predators.
How do you choose your goldfish?
Choosing the fish species to keep in your home can be confusing. However, it is a personal decision based on your preference. You must only remember that fancy goldfish are more expensive to maintain than the ordinary comet goldfish.
How can you name your goldfish?
Like any other pet, you should find a unique and cool name for your goldfish. However, choose the name wisely, as it will be your pet’s name for as long as you keep it. Some cool names include; Nairobi, Goldie, swimmy, sweet pee, Chloe, and duke.
You will have easy goldfish care if you stick to the above guidelines, quality equipment, and food. This goldfish care guide is elaborate, including feeding, tank parameters, and more for a healthy goldfish. Always remember that bringing a new fish at home is exciting to you but very scary for the fish. As a fish keeper, give your fish a smooth transition to their new home.