Today, we shall share with you the complete goldfish care guide. This howto-sheet works for all goldfish types, including the comet goldfish and the black moor goldfish care.
Beginner-Friendly Goldfish CareSheet
First, we start by learning the various types of goldfish there are in the world.
Gold Fish Types
So, you have a goldfish and have no idea why it is called a goldfish when it looks orange or whether to keep it in your freshwater aquarium or not!
The color of goldfish depends on the environment it is bred in and the light it is exposed to.
However, they aren’t golden – more a combination (or absence) of the two or three types of pigment cells black, yellow, and red – that give the Goldfish various color effects.
Goldfish can be golden, red, white, bronze, and even blue and black.
The Goldfish is a freshwater fish and is the most common aquarium fish. Its scientific name is Carassius auratus auratus, and it belongs to the carp family.
This fish lives in a home aquarium for about six to eight years, though 20 years is possible!
The maximum that a goldfish has been seen to grow is 23 inches, although generally, it is half this length.
The goldfish was first developed in China through interbreeding. Today there are many varieties of this fish with variations in colors, fin, and eye configurations.
There are wild varieties and those that have to be kept in aquariums.
The common varieties are Common, Black Moor, Bubble Eye, Celestial Eye, Comet, Fantail, Lionhead, Oranda, Pearlscale, Pompom, Ryukin, Shubunkin, Telescope Eye, Ranchu, Panda Moor, and Veiltail.
Goldfish is often a favorite pond fish because it is hardy and inexpensive. The colors and small size also add to its popularity.
Common pond goldfish are Common, London and Bristol shubunkins, Jilin, Wakin, comet, and fantail.
These fishes survive in ponds all year round in temperate and subtropical climates so long as the water doesn’t freeze solid during winters.
Most often, you can avoid this by being careful about the depth of the pond.
A deep enough pond will not freeze completely. In such conditions, the fish moves to the bottom of the pond, and if your pond has a good plant system, the fishes will survive on the oxygen generated by the plants.
They might eat less during this phase.
- Aquarium favorite
All over the world, fish enthusiasts love Goldfish for its hardy nature. Goldfish can also live in unheated water. The problem with Goldfish is that they create a lot of mess in the aquarium.
Goldfish are habitual eaters but cannot disgust excess protein. This is released in the aquarium, and toxic levels build up quickly and kill the fish.
You need to have a good filter in your aquarium and feed just the required amount of food to the fish.
Even though goldfish can survive in cold water, they cannot withstand rapid temperature changes. Therefore, be careful to provide consistent temperature conditions to your fish.
Goldfish also find it difficult to survive in small confined areas like bowls. The toxic levels build up quickly in such a system and poison the fish.
- Humane understanding
While goldfish might seem like an ideal cheap pet, it isn’t so. First, you have to understand the needs of this fish which is truly hardy but has acquired a reputation of dying quickly!
This reputation owes its origin to the fact that lack of care can kill your goldfish quickly.
The world record for a goldfish is 49 years, so if you are losing your fish in weeks, you have to check the care you are giving!
Breeding the perfect goldfish
Goldfish is a cyprinid—soft-finned mainly freshwater fishes typically having toothless jaws. These fishes lay adhesive eggs that stick to aquatic vegetation. The fry emerges from the eggs within 48-72 hours.
It takes the fry about a week to look anything like a fish and then a year before developing the goldfish color.
Right nutrition and plenty of water (with good oxygen content) help the goldfish attain sexual maturity. These fish breed after a temperature change, usually in spring.
Goldfish breed themselves if left alone.
You must, however, separate the egg as the adults eat their own eggs.
The breeding itself is an interesting process. The male chases and nudges the female to release eggs and then fertilizes the eggs released to be her.
Some modern breeds can no longer breed on their own owing to their strange shapes.
Artificial breeding called ‘hand stripping’ can be used to breed these fish, but it is a delicate process and can be dangerous for the fish.
Choose the quality
The idea behind breeding is to develop a high-quality breed or possess certain traits. The choice of the breeding usually depends upon:
– Health of the fish
– Finance, color, size
– Age of the fish. The younger, the better, but they should be at least two years old.
Culling is done several times to weed out defects from a breed. Its first done when the fish are 6-7 weeks old.
Spotting the fish ready to breed
As eggs begin to develop, you will notice a general swelling in females. The males exhibit tiny bumps (tubercles) on the leading edges of the pectoral fins and the gill covers.
The fish color also looks brighter close to spawning, and fishes swim in groups.
Sometimes, especially in a natural environment like a pond, the fish spawn without indications, but spawning indications can be spotted on careful observation in aquariums.
When Do the Fish Spawn
Goldfish have been observed to spawn very early in the morning, before sunrise. The factors that trigger spawning are:
- Drop in water temperature
- Partial water changes
- Moon (full)
A female goldfish will lay thousands of eggs simultaneously, and the spawning lasts for several hours. For the first few days, the fry feed on the attached yolk sack.
They remain attached to the hatched surface for about two weeks, and as soon as their swim bladder starts functioning, they will swim at various levels of the water body.
Once the fry starts swimming, they have to be fed. The initial diet may contain infusorians or newly hatched brine shrimps. In the first few weeks, the fish need to be fed 3-5 times a day.
When they are few weeks old, you can feed them crumbled flake food. However, keep a watch on the quality of water as food can dirty the water.
To breed goldfish, you have to plan a year in spring when you can buy the goldfish cheap and healthy.
Feed them and keep them healthy and clean for a year and prepare them to breed.
A good variety is not incidental; it is bred carefully in aquariums and pools that need proper care.
Can You Tell the Sex of Your Goldfish?
Everyone wants to know what is the sex of their goldfish unless they keep them only as decoration pieces! However, more often than not, a true enthusiast would want to breed goldfish, and then it is imperative to know their sex.
There are several methods of determining the sex of your fish, but it is still difficult for most people to be sure till the fish attain the breeding stage.
Male goldfish are easier to spot than the female during spawning. This is because they develop tubercles or white pimples along with the pectoral fins and gill operculum.
The female become a little asymmetric, especially around their abdomen. In addition, they look swollen in this condition.
Post spawning and after a few spawning seasons, some males retain roughness on their pectoral rays.
It is difficult to spot this roughness, and people who feel confused should take solace because not many people can distinguish between male and female goldfish!
Following are some methods that can be used to recognize the sexes, but even these are useless unless the fish are at least a year old, i.e., have attained sexual maturity.
- Midline ridge: male goldfish have a ridge running through the back of pelvic fins to their vent opening on the underside. The ridge is either completely missing or smaller in females.
- Firmness of abdomen: The pelvic and anal fins area is pliable for females but very firm for males.
- The shape of the vent: Though difficult to figure out, the female vent is rounder and convex, whereas the male vent is thinner and concave.
- The shape of the pectoral fins: Male pectoral fins are pointed with stiffer leading ray, and female pectorals are rounded, shorter with finer front fin ray.
- Features: females are brighter colored and are more active. This could be a difficult way of pointing out a female, but you could try!
- Check out: One theory says that you can introduce a known female into the tank and watch for a fish’s reaction. Males will check out the new fish, but the females will show no interest!
The only way you can learn to spot male and female goldfish is by closely observing known males and females and noticing their various traits. A pet shop could be a nice place to learn this.
During spawning season, the male will follow and nudge the female relentlessly, sometimes even bruising and injuring the female.
Finally, it’s only your experience that will give you any degree of confidence of judging the sexes by looking at them in a tank. Difficult but definitely not impossible!
Create a Goldfish Home in 5 Easy Steps
Goldfish are often mistreated in the belief that they are sturdy and will survive in all conditions. Unfortunately, this belief has led to the death of many fish and disappointment for many owners.
The fact, to begin with, is: GOLDFISH ARE DIRTY!
They can’t stop eating and will regurgitate a lot of food. They also dredge up the bottom in search of food and make the water murky and dirty.
This reduces the oxygen content of the water and increases the toxin levels, harming the fish and sometimes killing them.
With goldfish, you need to have a very efficient water filtration system and will have to change at least 1/4th of the water every week!
You also need to be careful that you don’t overcrowd the tank, as goldfish need a lot of oxygen to attain sexual maturity and growth.
A clear sign of oxygen deprivation is your goldfish hitting the surface, gasping for breath.
Setting up a new aquarium/bowl
A bowl is not an ideal home for a goldfish. Along with providing less swimming area, the bowl also poses a problem with fitting the filtration system. It is also difficult to clean and is simply too small for goldfish.
Consider the following points carefully when setting up your goldfish aquarium:
1. Space: Decide where you will place the tank even before you bring in one! The surface should be smooth and flat and should accommodate the entire tank.
There should be an electrical connection nearby, and the tank should not be in the way. Bumping against the tank will scare the fish, and it might even be dangerous if you have a small child whizzing around on a tricycle.
2. Water quality: The water in the tank should be absolutely clean and well oxygenated. Choose a good filter and air pump too. The oxygen in the tank will help the fish and the beneficial bacteria that are required in the tank.
3. Plants in the tank: You might have imagined a tank full of green aquarium plants and golden fishes, but it is not a prudent idea. Goldfish uproot and eat aquarium plants.
This causes a rise in ammonia levels that is dangerous for the goldfish.
Consider planting artificial plants instead if you like the image so much. Once your aquarium is established, you can introduce some live plants, but you will have to consult a specialist for advice on which plants can be maintained in a goldfish aquarium.
4. Gravel: The gravel at the bottom of the tank helps with the oxygen levels in the tank. You should use at least a one-inch layer. Wash the gravel well before you lay it out.
5. Decorations: Goldfish like points of interest and hiding places in the aquarium. You can go ahead and have fun selecting aquarium decorations for this tank.
Ensure that the pieces you select are smooth with no sharp or jutting edges.
Be aware that an aquarium is a delicate ecosystem. Set it up slowly and with great care. You must strive to attain the right balance of microorganisms that will sustain a healthy tank for you.
Select the fish also carefully to ensure you are introducing the healthiest fishes.
How to Feed Your Fish?
Did you know that goldfish can actually eat till they burst? Yes! The intestines of goldfish may actually burst, killing the fish due to overfeeding.
Goldfish do not stop eating on their own, therefore you have to caliberate their diet.
As a general rule, feed your fish only twice a day and only as much as they can consume in 3-4 minutes.
The most important thing to remember about feeding goldfish is that they cannot digest excess protein. So the food you choose has to be low on proteins and high on carbohydrates.
A proper diet for your goldfish will be varied and will follow proper procedures and will be in right quantities.
All species require different diets and it is imperative for you to know the correct diet of the specie you are feeding.
Goldfish do not thrive well on carnivorous diet and become dull colored and sluggish if fed a carnivorous diet.
You can make the goldfish diet healthier by supplementing it with shelled and deskinned peas and blanched green leafy vegetables. Again, be careful about the quantity.
Feeding the fish only one type of food can cause constipation, diarrhea and even diseases since over time the fish’s resistence is lowered owing to poor nutrition.
You should give your goldfish a variety in food. For instance, add lettuce and brine shrimp to the flakes. With variety your goldfish will become more active and colorful.
Food is an indicator
Sometimes a fish will stop eating if it is not well or if it suffering from shock.
Sometimes the fish might just be shy and unable to compete for food. As their caregiver, you will have to watch out for all these symptoms and take action.
Some fish are plain finicky and don’t like the food you are giving them.
You might have to vary the diet in such cases. Before you take any action, make sure the fish is not diseased.
If a fish is too shy to compete for food, you might have to separate it from the rest of the fishes by using a tank divider at feeding time.
If one of your fish is eating but is still looking pinched and wasted then you have a diseased fish.
Either take it to a vet or refer to fish diseases if you think you can handle the problem at home.
Will Your Fish Starve when You are Away on the Weekend?
No, they won’t! Goldfish can live without food for a day or two though they may nibble on your plants.
If you are going to be away for longer duration, you will have to make arrangements for feeding your fish, lest they start eating the smaller inhabitants of the tank!
Electronic automatic food dispensers are available for the purpose these days. It is best if a human can feed your fish so that in case of an emergency, they can call you and take action.
You have to remember that fishes are not immune to whims like variety and picky eating.
There are fishes that will behave like spoilt children and you will have to take care of feeding them to keep them healthy and beautiful.
Be observant and enjoy feeding your pets as you see the colors of your labor actually develop on their golden scales!
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Training Your Gold Fish
Can you train your goldfish to recognize you?
A lot of people misconstrue the fish’s uncontrolled eating to be a sign of lack of intelligence. Nothing could be further from truth! Goldfish can actually recognize their owner and have even demonstrated their learned ability to beg for food when the owner come near the aquarium.
They may also exhibit recognition by coming close to the glass wall or circle around the surface of the water. They will also show fear of strangers by hiding.
Goldfish have also been noticed to show social behavior. A new fish in the tank may be chased or nipped at.
After a while though, fishes might show schooling behavior. They also exhibit similar feeding habits when they have been living together for some time.
- Getting close
Goldfish also seem to stop treating humans as threats once they have been amidst them for some time. So much so that you can actually feed them from your hand! Try this trick with soaked pellets. First set a time of the day.
Everyday at the same time do this the same way for at least a month.
Hold the food above the water surface when you remove the cover. The fish will begin to rise occassionally ; then release the food only when it does so. Don’t touch the surface of the water yet, you will scare the fish.
As the fish get used to this daily ritual, they will rise higher and higer until they begin to hit the surface and gasp. Now try to drop the pellets into their gasping mouths. Next, start lowering your hand little by little.
Do this everyday till you reach the surface of the water and then slowly take it a little under the surface and Voila! You have the fish eating out of your hand!
Some goldfish have even be trained by their owners to swin in a routine. In fact, all fish have some intelligence, contrary to the popular belief and they have personalities. And, they will all show aggressive behavior when they have to compete for food or space.
Goldfish are sturdy fish which have been successful in their environment.
They are amicable towards each other and rarely harm each other. The competition for food can however be fierce.
The faster varieties like comets can sometimes lead to stunted growth of the slower kinds when kept together in an aquarium.
Basically, goldfish are carps and they behave like carps, individually and in groups. Larger fishes can survive alone but smaller fishes show schooling behavior.
These fishes have been so successful in survivng because they can survive in low oxygen and very cold conditions as well.
It is easy to maintain a goldfish if you are careful about feeding it and understand its behavior patterns.
Goldfish can form a pleasant pet and it is definitely relaxing to see one swimming in the soft lights of a home aquarium.
This complete goldfish caresheet aims to educate you on all you need to know about goldie fish care.
Keeping Plants with Your GoldFish
It is difficult to raise live plants in a goldfish tank owing to two reasons:
- Goldfish uproot and eat up live plants.
- Commonly available aquatic plants are not tropical plants that can survive in a tropical tank with the goldfish.
Plants not only add beauty to your tank, they also thrive on fish waste –ammonia and nitrates- and remove them from the tank making the habitat cleaner for the fish.
You therefore need to create conditions where the plants and fish can survive in harmony.
When plants don’t thrive, they rot and pollute the tank. New plants also bring in infection, so you need to disinfect your plants before introducing them in your system.
Some plants can thrive in the tropical habitat of goldfish and can also withstand nibbling of the goldfish. They are:
- Rooted plants: Anubias, Crinum thaianum (onion plant), Echinodorus (sword plants), Elodea (anacharis), Giant Vallisneria, Hygrophila difformis (water wisteria), Mayaca fluviatilis, Microsorium pteropus (Java fern) and Nymphoides aquatica (banana plant).
- Floating or rooted: Ceratophyllum submersum (hornwort) -floating plant with no roots, Ceratopteris thalictroides (water sprite)- best grown floating, Limnobium laevigatum (frogbit), Duck weed and Salvinia auriculata.
Encouraging plant growth
Selection of plant is the first most important step. Unless your plant is resistant to goldfish mishandling it won’t survive. The other challenge is tropical climate and temperate water. Strong root system will also help in survival.
These plants need lot of light i.e. more than 1 or 2-lamp setup. Overall amount of light should be much more than what is provided in a normal tank.
But lots of light will also stimulate the algae to grow, thus, you need to control the light to perhaps 11 hours a day.
You should also keep the tank away from direct sunlight that encourages algae growth.
Fertilize your plants lightly with microelements but avoid phosphates that give tremendous boost to algae growth.
Algae indicate a healthy tank but wild growth of algae is harmful for your system. If the algae have gone wild, scrape it off when you change the water. Other than that you must keep the tank away from sunlight, avoid phosphates and never over fertilize.
A diluted solution of bleach (1:19) in water can be used to get rid of snails, pathogens, algae and harmful bacteria on the plants. Dip for two minutes and then rinse it carefully before introducing it in your tank.
Keeping plants with goldfish is a challenge but when done successfully what you have is a picturesque tank.
How to Know if Your GoldFish is Sick
Some of the common goldfish diseases are: