Goldfish Tank Setup: A Beginner’s Guide In Assembling One

goldfish tank setup
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Last Updated: July 28, 2022 by Flora Gibbins

Keeping goldfish as pets is a rewarding experience, but it’s not something anyone can do on a whim. A lot of planning and maintenance goes into keeping these fish happy and healthy. A goldfish tank setup is perhaps the most crucial part of owning a goldfish. They won’t live very long if you ignore their needs and just throw them into a small goldfish bowl.

That’s why…

This article will provide all the information you need to set up your goldfish tank and keep your little friend happy and healthy for years to come.

A Brief Overview of Goldfish

goldfish in an aquarium tank with bubblers

Setting up a fish tank is the most critical factor when it comes to fishkeeping success. That is because you will be creating a permanent home for your pet. As you can imagine, this is no small feat, as even the slightest fluctuation in the conditions your desired pet fish is adapted to can have a massive impact on their quality of life.

Therefore, before setting up a fish tank for your pet, it is best to familiarize yourself with these fish, as that will help you make informed decisions when setting up the goldfish aquarium.

One of the most common misconceptions about goldfish is that they are a tropical fish species; they aren’t. Goldfish are a freshwater species that thrive in cooler waters. The good news is that they can tolerate room temperature, which is why some people think they are tropical fish.

Goldfish are native to China and have been kept as pets for centuries. Unlike their beautiful pet cousins, wild goldfish don’t bear the striking colors the species is renowned for. Instead, they sport a brown-greyish coloration that allows them to blend into the dark and murky waters they call home.

There are numerous (over 200) goldfish varieties today, each with its own appeal. However, the two most common varieties are slim-bodied and fancy goldfish.

Slim-bodied goldfish are what you are likely to find at the local pet store. As their name suggests, they sport a long and slim profile that allows them to be faster and more agile than other varieties. They are also the least expensive variety. Some examples of slim-bodied goldfish include the comets and shubunkins.

Fancy goldfish, as their name suggests, have been heavily selected for ornamental value. Consequently, they come in a wide array of striking colorations and finnages. Nevertheless, unlike slim bodies, fancies tend to have round and stocky bodies, making them slow swimmers. They are also significantly smaller than most varieties.

A few famous examples of the fancy variety include the ryukin, pearlscale, telescope, butterfly, ranchu, and oranda goldfish.

Setting Up a Goldfish Aquarium

There are many considerations you will need to take into account when setting up a goldfish tank. They range from your choice of the aquarium type and tank stand to the ideal filtration system, water conditions, and location, among many others.

Let us look at each of these factors in detail.

Choosing the Ideal Goldfish Tank for Your Needs

You have no doubt come across or seen different types of fish tanks housing goldfish. As you can imagine, they are not created equal, each having its inherent quirks. So, how do you choose the ideal fish tank for your pets?

Consider the following factors:


aquariums with plants and decorations

Before you can set up your goldfish aquarium, you must first purchase a tank. Glass and acrylic are the most commonly used materials. Each of these materials has its advantages and disadvantages.

Glass is the oldest and most common material used in fish tanks. It is sturdy, holds up well over time, inexpensive, and easy to clean. It is also the most aesthetically pleasing to look at. The main complaint about glass aquariums is that they can break easily if dropped or knocked over.

Acrylic tanks are made from rigid plastic that is very similar to glass. The main difference between the two is that acrylic is lighter and less prone to breakage. The downside to acrylic tanks is that they are more susceptible to scratches and stains than glass tanks. They are also more expensive.

Tank Size

aquarium with air bubblers image

While you can keep goldfish in almost any sized aquarium, bigger tanks are preferable. Goldfish are very long-lived fish that can survive up to 30 years when provided with proper care.

They can grow to be a very large size and will outgrow a small bowl or aquarium very quickly. The minimum recommended tank size for goldfish is 20 gallons, but the larger, the better.

If you plan to keep multiple goldfish in the same tank, you should go even larger to accommodate the added biological load of more fish since goldfish produce lots of waste.

If you plan to keep fancy goldfish, you should consider a much larger tank. Fancy goldfish are bred for their large, fancy tails that take up a lot of space in the water. They require a lot of space to swim properly and not get injured from hitting their tails against the tank’s walls.

Tank Stand

The next thing you need to worry about is the tank stand. A good stand will provide a solid base for your tank while enhancing the overall aesthetics of your aquarium.

However, it’s recommended that you set up your stand away from your main furniture. This allows you to easily clean the tank without the risk of getting dirt and bacteria on your other household items.

If you are a fan of DIY, you can also build a simple stand using a wooden pallet. The most important thing is that your tank is at least a foot above the ground so that you can easily clean the bottom of the tank. This will also help minimize vibrations that can stress your pets.

Aquarium Hood Cover

Goldfish are energetic fish that are known to leap out of their tanks occasionally. As such, you would be wise to invest in an aquarium hood for your goldfish aquarium to prevent that from happening.


The location of your tank is critical. You want to ensure that it is placed in an area with low noise levels, low light, and minimal vibrations.

Goldfish are very delicate creatures that react to stimuli easily. In extreme cases, keeping your tank in a noisy area can lead to stress or even death. Make sure that you place your tank in a low-noise area to avoid problems.

Many people keep their tanks in a living room on a bookshelf. While this is great for social reasons, having the tank in a brightly lit area can disrupt the biological cycle of your fish, causing them harm and leading to disease.

Finally, even though your tank is on a stand and not touching the ground, vibrations can still affect it. If your tank is near a source of vibration, like the boiler or a washing machine, it can cause your fish to become stressed and sick.

Good Filtration System

filter media for aquarium

As mentioned, goldfish tend to be incredibly messy. As such, having the correct filter is one of the most crucial aspects of goldfish care. This is because it prevents the buildup of ammonia and nitrite levels in the tank, keeping your fish safe and healthy. Not only that, but it also keeps the water looking crystal clear.

A filtration system can consist of either an internal or external filter or a combination of both. An internal filter is usually a sponge or mesh filter that sits at the bottom of the tank and catches debris and particles. The sponge also harbors beneficial bacteria that help break down organic matter, such as fish waste.

An external filter sits outside of the tank and draws water through a pump before returning it to the tank.

There are many different types of filters available, and a good rule of thumb when choosing one is to make sure it is specifically made for freshwater fish tanks. Filters come in different styles and capacities, so it’s essential to research and decide which one best fits your tank and needs.

The filter choice also depends on the size of your tank and the number of fish it holds.

Ideal Water Conditions for Goldfish

Optimal water parameters are vital for the health and well-being of your fish, so it’s important to monitor your tank’s water quality and adjust the water chemistry according to your fish’s needs.

fish tank water temperature thermometer

To achieve the perfect water conditions for your fish, you need to keep track of the water temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen levels in the water.

You can do this by purchasing a test kit or keeping track of the water chemistry with a logbook. While at it, also buy an ammonia test kit to help monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels in the tank.

You also need to remember that you cannot use regular tap water in a goldfish aquarium. That is because tap water typically contains high levels of chlorine, which is deadly to goldfish. Therefore, you will need to treat the tank water with a water conditioner first before putting the goldfish. Ensure to purchase a high-quality water conditioner to avoid any risks.

Goldfish Water Parameters

Goldfish are cold-water fish, doing best in a water temperature of between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on where you live, you can adjust the tank water temperature with a heater or chillers.

You also want to make sure the water has the right pH for your fish. The ideal pH range for goldfish is between 7.0 and 8.0. As for water hardness, aim to keep it between 200 and 400 ppm.

Aquarium Light

What about lighting for aquariums? Light is critical since it helps maintain a proper day and night cycle for your pets. Most aquarium owners prefer a low-light environment because it reduces algae growth and makes it easier to see the fish and other creatures in the tank.

If you have live plants in your tank, they will need light, too. Most plants need about 0.5-1 watt per liter. The best type of light for live plants is full spectrum lighting because it provides all of the light wavelengths that plants need to grow and thrive.


putting substrate in the bottom aquarium

The substrate is the material that you put on the bottom of your tank. It can be anything from sand to gravel to artificial grass. It can have many different benefits in your tank, but choosing the right substrate is important based on the type of fish you have.

Goldfish are foragers in their natural habitat. Therefore, the best substrate for these fish is one they can play with safely. Aquarium sand is arguably the best substrate for goldfish since its particles are too small to get lodged in your pet’s mouth.

On the other hand, regular aquarium gravel is highly hazardous to goldfish since it tends to get stuck in their mouths. Additionally, it traps fish food, waste, and other debris, making it difficult to maintain hygiene inside the tank.

On that note, remember to buy goldfish cleaning supplies to help you keep your goldfish aquarium clean.


Goldfish are intelligent critters, requiring lots of mental stimulation to be happy. You can add anything from aquarium plants to rocks and wooden décor for this purpose.

However, there are certain types of decor you want to steer away from. For starters, avoid ornaments with sharp edges, as they might injure your pet’s delicate fins.

The other types of ornamental pieces you want to avoid are those with holes in them. This is because they tend to trap food, thus becoming a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

Consequently, the ideal decorations for goldfish aquariums are those that are smooth, flat, and without any holes in them, such as smooth stones. You can also use large, smooth pieces of driftwood.


There are many common questions about the goldfish tank setup. Here, we answer the most common of them!

What size tank is best for goldfish?

The best size for goldfish is 10 gallons per fish. This gives them enough space to thrive and grow.

What temperature should the tank be?

The tank should be kept between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

How many fish can go in a tank?

There should be 10 gallons of water per fish. So, the number of fish will depend on the size of the tank.


Goldfish are some of the most popular freshwater fish. Keeping them as pets can be challenging, though. Their complex needs must be met to ensure they thrive. That’s why creating the perfect goldfish tank setup is essential. Fortunately, this article has you covered in that regard.

Please let us know if there’s anything you feel we have left out, and we will be glad to have a correspondence with you.

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