How to Care For Your Goldfish

By Kellie McCutcheon

Goldfish make great pets, and are often heralded as a wonderful beginner pet. They can teach responsibility, they are easy to feed, they are pretty to look at and can usually withstand care that isn’t perfect all the time (too much food at a feeding, less than ideal water before cleaning). While we definitely agree, Goldfish are certainly an easier pet to care for, there are some things that all new Goldfish owners should know.

Tank & Temp

Goldfish need room to swim, grow and hide and choosing the right size tank is an important part of owning a goldfish. A general rule of thumb is you need at least a 6 gallon tank for one 1” goldfish. It is best to try and purchase the largest tank you can afford, to avoid buying more tanks as your fish grows (or if you add more fish!).

Your water temperature should never rise above 23.5° Celsius, and ideally should sit between 18°-20° Celcius. Best to purchase a thermometer to help track this. Keep your tank out of sunlight as well, you would be shocked how quickly the sun can heat the water and water that is too warm can make your fish very sick.

Cleaning & Water

Filters aren’t a requirement to having a healthy goldfish, but they sure do help. Filters will help keep the water clean and safe, as the waste from goldfish can contaminate the water and toxin levels can become dangerous. Even with a filter, you still need to change the water regularly, but not as often.

Even with a filter, you should clean your tank once a week – even if it doesn’t look dirty. When you clean your tank, you only need to remove about 15% of the water regularly and replace it with fresh, dechlorinated, room temperature, tap water. Some fish owners leave the water sitting out overnight to make sure the temperature is perfect.

If you notice algae, pick up an algae scrapper and scrape the walls of your tank before changing your water. The quality of water in your tank will have the biggest effect on keeping your goldfish healthy. If you are using tap water in your tank, be sure to use a water conditioner, that helps neutralize chlorine and other chemicals in your water that could potentially be harmful to your fish.

Food & Fun

The good (and the bad) news is goldfish will eat anything, so be sure to feed then a high quality goldfish food. The bad news is that goldfish have large appetites and will constantly be grazing for food so careful not to overfeed. A goldfish only needs to be fed once a day and should eat their food pretty quickly. If they don’t eat it all and the “leftovers” aren’t eaten, it can eventually affect the water quality in your tank. Another by-product of over feeding is excess waste, which can also have an effect on safe water levels.

Time to decorate – have fun with your goldfish tank! There are lot of great ornaments, plants or gravel that you can use to liven up your tank and give your fish a fun place to live. These things will also give your goldfish a place to hid behind or rest. Another option is to add a live underwater plants to your aquarium, not only do they look great but it will give your goldfish something to snack on in between meals!

We always suggest getting your tank set up before you bring home your new fish. Goldfish don’t travel well and can find going from one environment to the next stressful, so we suggest having everything all set up and bringing home your new goldfish last.

Anything that is going in your tank should have a thorough rinse (no soap!) before being put in your tank, including plants, gravel or stones.

Goldfish sleep when we sleep, and are affected by light in their environment. At night, give your goldfish a chance to rest by turning off the light – they don’t have eyelids after all!

New Goldfish Checklist

  • Aquarium Tank/Bowl
  • Gravel
  • Filter
  • Water Conditioner
  • Fish Food
  • Water Testing Kit
  • Heater/Thermometer
  • Fish Net
  • Plants/ Ornaments
  • Cleaning Supplies

DID YOU KNOW? There are over 300 recognized Essentials goldfish breeds.

FUN FACT! It is often said that a goldfish has a 3 second memory, but this just isn’t true. Goldfish are capable of remembering things for months! And goldfish can learn a routine, such as every morning it knows it is feeding time and will swim around excitedly.

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Pet Expert Approved