The Expert Guide
By Shahu Sardar*
Goldfish! World’s first ornamental fish and today one of the most popular aquarium fish all around the world. 1500 years ago the fish keeping hobby was born and with that came the first selectively bred aquarium fish – Goldfish.
It was first bred, in ancient China from existing carps, as a fish to keep in ponds and water gardens at upper-class people’s homes. Soon it became a status symbol and a very engaging hobby; later spread to rest of Asia and Europe too.
The longest living goldfish till now is Tish, from the UK. And he lived for 43 years! But maybe your goldfish didn’t even live for a week. But why is it so? Why do goldfish die so easily? This is what we are going to talk about in this article!
Actually, goldfish are bred in huge numbers throughout the world that makes them super common, cheap, and available at anytime. So no one actually bothers about ‘basic needs of a goldfish’, and what we do is, just put in another fish if one dies. No one would do it with an Arowana, but the commonness of goldfish makes it so. However, if you research a bit and follow some basic tips for goldfish keeping, surely your fish may live longer.
So here I have listed some tips to increase your fish’s life span:
- Get them a better aquarium.
Almost everyone keeps a Goldfish in those little fish bowls. But remember Goldfish really aren’t made for bowls; they are not to be kept alone in fish bowls. They are fish who love to swim around the tank playing with their mates.
So please don’t put them in those bowls; it turns out to be really cruel to do so. Also, they prefer having their friends around to play with. Get a decent sized tank that has a lot free space to swim and can accommodate some 3–4 Goldfish without overcrowding. Also, the bigger tank you get, bigger your goldfish gets!
- Right water for the fish.
This is the most neglected aspect in fish keeping. In natural ponds, there are armies of good bacteria those breakdown toxic substances into simpler, less toxic elements. We don’t have them in our tanks, so we need to introduce them. This process is called Cycling of fish tank. Follow these simple steps to cycle your tank.
- You can’t bring your fish the day you bring your tank.
- Then we need to remove chlorine from tap water (chlorine is always found in our tap waters). chlorine prevents development of these useful bacteria, so to remove it you can simply buy a Dechlorinator from a pet store and add it to water in the tank.
- Now, put some fish food in the tank and leave it for 1–2 weeks. And now you can add your new fish. This will surely help to get right water conditions for your goldfish.
- Tank mates.
Get right tank mates for your Goldfish; the best fish to be kept with Goldfish are more Goldfish! You can simply keep various sub-species of goldfish in same tank (like Oranda goldfish, Black Moore, Fantail, Comet, and more). Avoid putting carnivorous and aggressive fish with Goldfish (like Angels, Oscars, barbs etc.) as this will lead to fights, and would stress your fish.
- Tank and Filtration.
Goldfish produce tremendous waste. They eat a lot and in turn produce huge waste in the tank; that is the biggest challenge with Goldfish tanks – to keep their water clean.
Fish waste releases Ammonia in tank water, which is very dangerous for the fish (it can burn their gills and damage their brain). Generally, yellowish or cloudy water you see in a tank is ammonia build-up due to excess accumulation of ammonia and nitrates.
To tackle this problem, best thing is to perform regular and better water changes. Simply vacuum out 75% tank water every 2–3 days, which will avoid accumulation of toxins. And bigger water changes can be done every 2–3 months. To reduce your efforts of cleaning a tank, keep the tank bare-bottomed i.e. a tank with no gravel/sand. This will avoid waste getting accumulated under or within gravel/sand and it will be easier to clean. But, in case you wish to keep some gravel for decoration, consider bigger size marbles only.
Getting your Goldfish diet right is important. Never ever buy fish food that is sold loose as that doesn’t contain nutrients your fish needs. Prefer good quality packed food with nutrition value printed on them. Goldfish are majorly herbivores/vegetarians, you can give them boiled spinach, peas, cucumber, and some other vegetables. Some will eat blood worms and shrimps. Good food helps in proper metabolism, which in turn leads to a longer life span.
Good feeding habits lead to healthier fish. There are certain feeding norms that no one generally follows; first and most common is overfeeding. You may see your Goldfish coming towards you and you may think that they are hungry… No they are just curious and playful.
So, never feed them recklessly as fun or if you just feel they are hungry. Fix an amount of feed that you will give them every day. Feed as much as they can finish in almost 10 minutes, a little amount 2–3 times a day. It is important to skip a day of feeding. Yes, don’t feed them for at least one day every week. Don’t feed them with vegetables frequently; just give it as a treat on Sundays.
- Simple but effective treatment.
Some bacterial and parasite diseases are common in Goldfish, mostly the white ick and fin rot. These diseases are so common that many fish have developed immunity towards them and will not be infected. But if your goldfish has got some disease, you need to fix it as soon as possible. Two medications that must always be with you are Methyl blue liquid and Epsom salt/rock salt.
Methyl blue liquid will do wonders for goldfish! It is easily available and will treat primary stage of white ick, fin rot, and other parasite diseases in Goldfish. Whereas, Epsom salt/rock salt will also help in treating white ick and fin rot. When treating a sick Goldfish, make sure not to feed that sick fish; consider removing it from the main tank and move it in a separate vessel for treatment.
- Teach them tricks!
Yes, that’s possible and useful too! Goldfish are super friendly and social fish; you will see many people who cuddle their Goldfish with their hands. Goldfish like to interact with us and are also said to recognize their caretakers.
You can teach them various tricks like going to the loop, jumping, and following your finger. This will keep them engaged and will also make both of you happy. The happier your Goldfish are, the brighter their colours become!
These were some simple and basic tips that I think will surely help to elongate your goldfish’s life… Wish you best of luck for your new Goldfish!
Shahu Sardar is a fish keeping hobbyist and enthusiast from Pune, Maharastra. He has been in this hobby from the age of 10 and has learnt a lot about freshwater fish keeping. He likes to collect different types of fresh water species and also Aquascape fish tanks. He also runs his own fish keeping blog named AquaNation (www.aquanationURL.blogspot.com), where you can find all fish keeping articles. Soon he is going to start a You Tube channel of his own.