Goldfish may be a popular choice when it comes to pets for children but this is mostly down to an incorrect perception that they are easy to look after. However, to give the best care to your pet goldfish, there are several factors that need to be carefully considered.
Giving your goldfish the correct home
The common goldfish bowl, as pictured here, does not make a good home for a goldfish at all due to the small space they have as well as them not letting enough oxygen into the water. A large fish tank or outdoor pond is the best choice and will give your fish plenty of space to have a healthy and happy life.
Goldfish are cold-water fish so you don’t need to purchase any special equipment to keep the tank at a warm temperature. However, it is very important that you do your best to keep the water at a consistent temperature – a sudden change can shock your fish.
Goldfish are not to be kept alone. This is because they are sociable animals and can become lonely. Do not overcrowd your tank with fish as this can lead to bullying and the water becoming polluted. The general rule is to keep 0.5cm of fish per litre of water in the tank.
Here’s some top tips for setting up a great home for your goldfish:
- Keep your fish tank out of direct sunlight or any draughts to try and keep the temperature consistent.
- Keep your tank out of reach of small children and pets.
- Ensure your tank is on an even and stable surface (polystyrene tiles are great for this).
- Use a water filter to keep the water clean. Water quality is really important for keeping your fish healthy.
- Adding a pump will keep the water moving so that more oxygen can get into the water from the air.
- Cover the bottom of your tank with safe gravel or stones (remember to rinse it well before adding to the tank).
- Adding plants and ornaments is completely safe and can actually help to keep your fish active and feeling safe.
Introducing your fish to the tank
Once you’ve got the tank set up, and it’s been filled with de-chlorinated water, you will be ready to add your fish to their new environment in three easy steps.
- Float the bag containing your fish in the tank water for 20 minutes to let your fish gradually get used to the new water temperature.
- Add some water from the tank to the water in the bag and wait another 10 minutes.
- Let your fish swim into their new tank and throw away the water from the bag.
Maintaining the fishtank
You must clean your fish tank on a regular basis in order to keep it a safe environment for your fish. Every day, you should clean away any uneaten food with a net.
On a weekly basis, you should do the following:
- Remove around 20% of the water from the tank and throw it away.
- Clean away any green algae growing in the tank.
- Treat the replacement water with de-chlorination drops and leave to sit for 15 minutes so that it reaches the same temperature as the tank. Carefully add it to the tank.
Feeding your goldfish
In most cases, goldfish need feeding twice a day with a good-quality complete goldfish food. You should be able to find this at any pet store. This complete food contains all the nutrients that your fish need to stay healthy. There should be guidance on the packet for how much to feed your fish, but a great tip for checking if you are feeding them too much is if there is uneaten food left after a few minutes, you need to decrease the amount.
Goldfish health problems
As a responsible goldfish owner, you should be keeping an eye on your pet in order to spot any changes in their health and behaviour. Subtle changes may indicate an illness. Things to look out for include:
- Gasping at the surface of the water
- Rubbing against objects in the tank
- Not eating
- Swimming in an unusual way
- Changing colour
- Lumps or ulcers
- Any growths that look like cotton wool
- Damaged fins