While there are the occasional fish that somehow survive being kept in bowls, why not do the best you can to avoid the problems they cause?
So you’re now horrified that you’re keeping your finned friend in a deadly setup.
Here’s what to do:
1. Withhold food. Most goldfish bowls foul up very quickly because way too much food is going in. That can spell death for your pet. Don’t worry, it will be okay for several weeks if need be.
2. Change the water. If you don’t have a large tank on hand, the best thing you can do meanwhile is change the water EVERY DAY. This will help prevent toxins from building up and keep the oxygen levels good.
3. Get a filter (and ideally plants). Don’t wait another minute if you can help it! A filter will keep down the toxins and keep the water safe.
1. Cut back on the processed foods. WAY back. Surprisingly goldfish only need a little bit of this once a day. Don’t worry, they won’t starve. Scaling back may seem weird at first, but remember – it will still meet their nutritional needs.
2. Offer a fibrous supplement. Your goldfish will feel hungry if it can’t “graze” throughout the day like they do in the wild. Fibrous veggies like raw lettuce or spinach leaves can satisfy their cravings without messing up the water quality (or your fish’s digestion).
3. Be determined. Don’t cave in when your goldfish start wiggling around all cute begging for more. Set out how much they can have beforehand and leave it at that – even if someone happens to get more food than another. Ignore them, walk away, do what you’ve gotta do to resist the urge to grab that food jar! (It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.)
Goldfish Mistake #3: When and How to Clean the Tank
So many goldfish owners only do 25% water changes weekly or even monthly.
They think the filter will do all the work for them.
This is a recipe for disaster.
So why do they do this?
Way too many goldfish owners have this crazy notion that water changes aren’t that important.
… Or that too frequent or too large of a water change is somehow a bad thing.
But that can’t be further from the truth!
When goldfish keepers run into problems with their fish, 99.9% of the time it has to do with their water changing schedule.
Bad water is the biggest killer of goldfish worldwide.
Goldfish are constantly excreting a deadly substance called ammonia into the water around them.
It will build up until it kills the fish unless the water is cleaned.
Filtration can only get you so far!
When it comes down to it, only removing and replacing water ensures your fish’s survival.
You can never give your goldfish too much fresh, clean water.
If you could or want to do 90% water changes every day, I have three words for you:
GO FOR IT!
But if you can’t, at least do that amount weekly (or biweekly).
This is what they need to prevent things from spiraling downward out of control in the aquarium.
Goldfish Mistake #5: Mixing Goldfish with Other Fish
People who love goldfish often love other kinds of fish too (especially tropical varieties).
“Let’s put them all together! After all, they are both fresh water fish!”
Here’s the bad news:
There are actually several issues caused by mixing species.
The biggest one is compatibility.
See, a goldfish eats any fish that fits in their mouth.
This leads to the “one-day-they’re-here, next-day-they’re-gone” scenario when you look in the tank (especially the older and bigger the goldfish gets).
But tropical fish aren’t innocent either!
They like to nibble on a goldfish’s tasty slime coat.
Algae eaters will actually stick themselves onto the side of the goldfish to eat them alive!
This causes injury and stress.
If you think algae is unsightly, you can try adding Mystery Snails (which won’t ruin your plants and make great companions for goldfish!) or scrubbing it off by hand.
What can you do so you won’t be guilty of this goldfish mistake?
1. Resist temptation. Not getting the fish in the first place will save you the hassle of having to re-home them when things don’t work out. Yeah, I know it’s not easy 😉
2. Get another tank. If you just HAVE to have other kinds of fish, you can always consider getting another tank exclusively for them. That way there won’t be any issues to deal with.
3. Say goodbye. If you didn’t and can’t do the two solutions above, please consider taking your tropical fish back where you bought them from or finding someone who will appreciate them in their own tropical aquarium.
Goldfish Mistake #6: Not Cycling the Tank First
Many first-time goldfish owners buy a fish, bring it home and plop it in a brand new tank.
Then they don’t change the water for a while.
But within a short time, their goldfish is dangerously sick…
… Or dies without warning.
It’s something called “New Tank Syndrome.”
Goldfish produce waste, which quickly pollutes the water.
Ordinarily, beneficial bacteria in the tank would break this down.
A tank that has only been set up for a few hours or even days does not have that beneficial bacteria.
Cycling the tank (a process that takes weeks) builds up that colony before any fish are added.
Without that colony (or water changes to remove the waste)…
… Total DISASTER awaits!
1. Cycle the tank first. Okay, maybe this isn’t technically a “quick” fix. But it is definitely worth considering if you know ahead of time you are planning on getting a goldfish.
2. Do water changes. If the deed’s been done and it’s too late to turn back the clock, you’re going to have to make up for your missing bacteria with huge daily water changes.
3. Reduce feeding. You don’t want to work against yourself by cleaning the tank just to foul it up again with messy foods.
Goldfish Mistake #7: Overcrowding the Tank
Everyone needs their elbow room!
Goldfish are no exception.
In fact, proper space is VERY important to maintaining a healthy tank.
But so many goldfish keepers tend to buy fish after fish despite having limited space.
Now why is that so bad?
See, the more goldfish you have, the faster the water gets polluted. This makes it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to maintain good water quality.
And just like people…
… crowded conditions can make goldfish start having problems getting along with each other.
1. Drive past the pet store. For the good of the fish you already have, sometimes it’s best to just determine not to get any more.
2. Get a bigger tank. So you want a booming goldfish community? Go for a tank (or pond) large enough to accommodate them.
An avid goldfish breeder and keeper for nearly 20 years, Meredith Clawson is the founder of the Pure Goldfish website and author of the book The Truth About Goldfish. Pure Goldfish has been featured in Wikihow, Wikipedia, The Aquarium Guide and more.