Fancy goldfish (the ones with short bodies and double tails) reach 6 to 8 inches, so 10 to 20 gallons per fish is the rule of thumb.
Their size makes them much better suited to indoor aquariums.
You’re probably wondering:
“Can I keep my goldfish in a bowl?”
Sorry, but bowls areout of the question. You can read why here. (Don’t worry, I’ll wait.) Are you back? Great!
The bottom line?
My advice when choosing a goldfish tank is to get the biggest tank you can afford. You can even purchase them online, such as this 10 gallon or 20 gallon aquarium.
A bigger tank = healthier fish.
Healthier fish = happier owner.
Now that you know about properly stocking your aquarium, give yourself a high-five (and move on to step #2).
Stocking Up the Equipment You Need to Make Goldfish Keeping Easier
Here’s the deal:
Electricity is a relatively new concept.
For thousands of years, goldfish have been kept in containers without our modern technology.
Filters AREN’T necessary.
But they do help.
Goldfish produce waste, and the toxins from their waste harms or kills them.
If you don’t want to be doing multiple water changes every week to remove those toxins, you will need a filter to help keep the water quality safe.
What size you get will depend on your tank size. Not so fast!
You still will need to change the water. (We’ll get to that later.)
Filters provide a good place for beneficial bacteria to grow on. Sponge filters are a good option for that.
The beneficial bacteria are what help to keep your water safe.
For water changes, you will need a siphon. The kind that connects to the sink are great for tanks above 20 gallons large and will save you lots of back pain from hauling buckets.
Bubble stones are also nice for increasing oxygen.
Rumor has it fish like to play in them too.To operate it, you will need some airline tubing and an air pump. (These are also necessary for operating sponge filters.)
Both don’t cost much.A 5 gallon bucket and a fish-safe sponge also comes in handy.
While we’re on the subject…
Aquarium nets can be helpful for rearranging décor in the tank, but I don’t recommend using them on your goldfish (chasing the fish around is stressful and they can get hurt). Clean, gentle hands do just fine.
This is important:
The quality of the water in the tank is probably one of the most critical factors in keeping your goldfish healthy.
Bad water = sick fish.
Using tap water? Don’t forget a water conditioner to get out the chlorine and other nasty chemicals. This water conditioner brand called Prime gets rid of both – and detoxifies ammonia to boot, which is very useful during cycling. But how do you know if the water has toxins in it?
You could watch as your goldies start dropping like flies…
The liquid kind give you the most bang for your buck. As far as lighting goes:
If you choose to purchase a hood with a light, it’s a good idea to have a “lights out” policy at night so your fish can sleep.
Not all tanks need a tank stand, but if you want to view your fish at eye-level then it is a must. Besides, tanks located on the floor can be more tricky to clean. A full tank can weigh hundreds of pounds, so your stand needs to be able to hold that kind of weight.
Congratulations! You’ve gathered your materials. Now it’s time to put it all together.
I can already hear you saying,
“Where should I put my aquarium?”
Glad you asked.
Really, there are a lot of places that will work. You mainly want to avoid areas with high foot traffic and issues with temperature fluctuations.
You will need an electrical source and access to a sink. Keep in mind that you need to be able to get your hands into the tank from above!
Have you figured out where to put it yet? Wonderful! Time to place your filter, air stone and heater where you want them.
But don’t plug them in just yet or you might blow them up. 😉
If you picked out plants or other decorative objects, now is the time to figure out how you want everything aquascaped.
After you fill it with water, use your handy-dandy water conditioner to dose the entire volume of the tank.
Now you can plug in your equipment.
A Word of Caution
At this point in the process, many people will wait 20 minutes (or 24 hours, depending on what the pet store employee has told them) and then put goldfish in. Who wants to wait, right? But within a week or so, their fish is seriously ill - maybe even dead. This is because they did not cycle the tank first... ... or they did not do enough water changes to compensate for the lack of an established filter. Let me explain: Goldfish produce waste which quickly becomes toxic to them. Only two things can detoxify or remove it: water changes or a colony of good bacteria. Beneficial bacteria can help convert this waste into non-toxic forms through a process called the Nitrogen Cycle. Something called a 'fishless cycle' is done before adding any fish to build up a colony of good bacteria. If you have fish already, it's too late to go through this process. Expect to be doing very frequent water changes at least every other day for a few weeks until the colony gets established. But a filter won't ever do ALL the work for you - it just cuts it down some.
Now, something seems to be missing from your fully set up tank, doesn’t it?
Adding Something Fishy to the Situation
A word of advice:
Most people get a 15¢ feeder fish for their first goldfish.
“Feeders” are really young common or comet goldfish.
And just about all of them harbor disease from overcrowding, causing them to die quickly.
That’s why feeders aren’t meant to be kept as pets… … and are mass-produced as reptile food.
Your pet goldfish should NEVER come out of a feeder tank.
After the cost of medications and a tank large enough for them to grow, your cheap fish ends up costing an arm and a leg! If you really want a common or comet goldfish, don't buy one housed in crowded conditions.
It can be hard to find a reliable source for quality goldfish.
Starting off with a sick fish (even if it’s not a feeder) from the get-go doesn’t usually end happily, especially for beginners.
Here’s the kicker:
Nearly all pet store goldfish are already sick or are on the verge of sickness.
The pet stores can’t afford to quarantine each shipment of fish for weeks and treat them for the host of diseases they are carrying before offering them for sale. All they can do is ship ’em in and ship ’em out.
They may look good now, but they have been passed through many stations and very stressed by the time they’ve arrived at their final destination. By the time they get home, they’re all but spent.
That’s why it’s so common to hear,
“My goldfish are ALWAYS DYING!”
What do you do if you just bought a pet store goldfish?
You are going to need to treat your new fish for disease yourself.
And if you already have fish, you are going to need a separate tank to do this in so your new fish doesn’t contaminate the others.
Salt (for most parasites) is a good starting point
Dose the whole tank at .3% salinity – 1 tsp salt per gallon.
Expect the quarantine time to last 4 weeks.
Goldfish have a bad reputation for being short lived because people don’t quarantine.
And sometimes, even if you do quarantine, the fish is just too worn out to make it.
Now in reality, a healthy, quality fish can live decades.
But you have to start out with one.
Most people think that pet stores are their only option, so that’s where they buy their fish.
Actually, buying directly from a professional goldfish supplier online is easy and you don’t even have to go anywhere – plus the fish will be in far better condition than those at the crowded pet store.
Best of all, your fish may already have been quarantined and will be far less stressed.
Always start off with a healthy fish, if you have the choice. You won’t regret it.
Listen, I get that those chain store cheap prices can look pretty appealing.
You may pay more for one high-quality goldfish initially…
… But you save your money big time by not buying cheap goldfish after cheap goldfish. Not to mention the cost of medicating your sick fish. (It adds up!)
Now that you’ve got your beautiful new goldfish, here’s how you introduce him, her or them into the tank.
Float the bag in the water for 30 to 60 minutes to acclimate the temperature.
Open the bag. Please DON’T dump the yucky water from the bag into the tank.
Using clean hands, gently scoop up the fish and transfer it into the aquarium.
There you go!
It’s common for new fish to hide at the bottom for a bit as they adjust to their new surroundings.
They might just be a little skittish for a time. But they’ll perk up after a bit.
Here’s How to Regularly Care for Your Goldfish (And Make it Happy)
It would be great if there was an autopilot setting for goldfish care.
That way you could just set everything up, kick back and relax.
But when it comes to pet ownership, you’re totally at the wheel.
Your care (or lack of care) will determine whether they live or die.
The bottom line?
They NEED you.
Their lives are in your hands.
You are the one who determines how clean their water is, how crowded they are, if they have enough food, and what to do when they are sick.
So, you have some responsibilities to tend to if you want your goldfish to thrive.
Providing food for them is an obvious must.
As far as what they eat and how much, that is within your power.
The problem is, goldfish are just so fun to feed! It’s easy to keep giving them more and more and more. Whoa!
They never get full.
But too much food leads to a host of problems.
Whether they know it or not, they need you to be strong enough to LIMIT those rich pellets.
Make sure they always have access to vegetable material so they don’t feel hungry.
And just like cats need their litter boxes changed…
… goldfish need their water changed.
On a regular basis.
This is because the filter converts poisons in the water into a somewhat safer substance, but it can’t totally get rid of that substance.
That substance will just build up and build up until it starts harming your goldfish.
Replacing 90% of the tank’s water with fresh, clean water every week.
You can do this with that siphon you bought.
It’s ok to change the water every day, if need be.
Last but not least:
Keeping an eye on your fish is important to make sure that there are no weird things going on with them.
Pay attention to how they are swimming, where they are spending their time in the tank, and how they look.
Fortunately, watching your goldfish is fun and enjoyable! (That’s why we keep them, after all.)
Whenever you notice a change in appearance or behavior, do a water change.
A day shouldn’t go by where you don’t check on them, because sometimes a lot can change in a short period of time.
Before you go:
Now it’s Up to You…
Are you ready to give goldfish care a shot?
Then you definitely want to get the new step-by-step care guide that I just put together.
It contains all you will EVER need to learn about goldfish care so you can always know what to do.