goldfish second-class citizens in the aquarium world? Given away
as prizes at school carnivals and
sold by the dozens as feeder fish, it’s little wonder that many hobbyists, and
even non-aquarists, look upon goldfish as expendable or disposable. We’re
referring, of course, to what are typically called "common"
goldfish, not fancy goldfish. Aside from the ethical issues involved
here, there seems to be little regard or understanding for the care
requirements of these creatures. It is ironic that while goldfish are
generally considered to be less challenging than "tropical"
fish, they almost invariably suffer from early deaths at the hands of
their keepers. In addition, goldfish are usually considered suitable for
beginners, probably because they’re inexpensive. Oddly enough, despite
the relatively brief life span the typical goldfish suffers, they’re
still thought of as being hardy!
Let’s revise some misconceptions about goldfish. First of all,
goldfish are no less important as living entities than any other species
of fish. They deserve the same quality of care and feeding that tropical
fish receive (or should receive). Some points to consider:
- They should absolutely not be housed in "goldfish
bowls." Because they have more body mass per inch of length
than many tropical species, goldfish actually need more water and
more dissolved oxygen. This means larger tanks and fewer fish than
is acceptable for tropical species. Dissolved oxygen is dependent on
the surface area of the water, so a bowl is particularly unsuitable
because the more water it contains, the less surface area there is.
- Goldfish need cooler water. Their respiration and metabolism are
not suited to tropical water temperatures. For this reason, they
should not be kept with species that need warmer water.
- Goldfish grow large when kept properly, so a 55-gallon tank might
only hold 4 to 5 adults. They will only grow to become full-sized
adults if the tank is not crowded to start with.
- Goldfish are vegetarians and will not do well on high protein
diets. In addition to prepared goldfish foods, you can offer
vegetable flake foods and frozen peas that are cooked for a few
moments in boiling water or in a microwave. Brine shrimp, worms or
similar foods, which are high in protein and offer little bulk,
should not be included in their diets.
- Goldfish tanks should have effective biological, mechanical and
chemical filtration, just like with other fish. Regular partial
water changes while hydro-vacuuming the gravel are essential.
- Another thing you can do to help maintain your pet goldfish in the
hot summer months when, at room temperature, your aquarium H2O
may reach to the mid 80’s, is to double the amount of aquarium
salt normally used to help with their osmotic (ability to
effectively remove oxygen) process. We normally use one tablespoon
per 5 gallons, doubling this in the summer.
When given correct care, goldfish are, in fact, quite hardy and long
lived. If your goldfish aren’t living for 10 years or more, you’re
not following the care requirements noted above. Anyone who has seen
healthy adult goldfish can attest that the results are well worth the