The goldfish in a bowl is such an iconic image; it's almost as American as Mickey Mouse or baseball. But if you talk to most people who as children kept goldfish in bowls, they'll remember that their little pets didn't last all that long. It doesn't have to be that way with you. You can find keeping goldfish a relaxing and rewarding hobby.
It's important from the onset that you understand that goldfish are cool water fish. They are not tropical water fish. This may not seem like a big deal but you wouldn't wear a coat suitable for Wisconsin down in Florida, right? Think about it. Likewise, not all advice for fish keeping is suitable for all kinds of goldfish. Here's one example for you. Tropical fish need to have their tank water toasty warm at 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Your goldfish, on the other hand, like their water cooler at 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. But be careful because the differences don't stop with the water temperature.
For every decision you make for your goldfish, ask yourself, "Is this right for the goldfish?" Don't depend on pet store salespeople to all be as knowledgeable as they should be. Here are some guidelines to help you make your first trip back from your local pet store a successful one in the long run. At the end of the article there is a help section and a FAQs section for some specific questions you might have about goldfish keeping. Let's begin!
BEFORE YOU BRING YOUR GOLDFISH HOME
1) Are you ready for goldfish in your home? Can you commit the time, energy and money to take care of them?
Goldfish, if properly taken care of, can live a long time. The average lifespan of pet goldfish is 15 years. They'll live 25 years on their own in the wild. There's even a record for a pet goldfish that lived for 43 years!
Goldfish require a lot of upkeep. You'll need to feed them a couple of times a week and change their water frequently (more of this later, but we're talking 2-4 times a month here).
Goldfish can be expensive to keep. Cheap feeder goldfish don't cost much, but any other kind of goldfish can set you back anywhere from $5 to $50 a fish. Besides that you'll need to consider your one time start up costs of getting a good sized tank and tank supplies. Count on reoccurring expenses for food and replacing equipment.
2) Buying a tank
Consider how much living space you have. This will correlate to your tank size. Goldfish, a cool water fish, grow much larger than many tropical fish you'd see in tanks.
Make sure you buy one that is big enough for how many goldfish you're going to get. Look at the guidelines in the section, “Getting Your Goldfish” below.
All things being equal, getting a larger tank will make it easier for you to keep your goldfish healthy. Why? Because larger tanks have larger volumes of water than small tanks. Having more water allows things to take longer before affecting your goldfish. What this means is it gives you "training wheels" so to speak. If you kept your goldfish in a smaller tank, they'll react sooner to any imbalances in the water. Because goldfish are cool water fish, they need more oxygen in the water than other kinds of fish. A larger tank will have more room for you to put in apparatus to bubble the surface. Also, you'll need room for enough filtering since goldfish are such messy eaters.
Get a tank that is longer over one that is taller. The longer tank will give your tank a higher oxygen to water ratio which is good for goldfish. The larger surface area of the water will allow for better gas exchange between the air and the water. This will help remove more toxic elements from the water.
3) Tank Accessories You Might Need
Besides the tank, you’ll need some accessories – light, hood, net, test kits, filtrations, and cleaning equipment (both covered later in the Keeping Your Tank Clean section).
Getting the tank's bottom ready. Most hobbyists recommend larger sized gravel or river rocks for the bottom or none at all. This is because your goldfish like to forage for food on the bottom and they can choke on smaller sized gravel. Make sure the gravel is smooth because goldfish will suck the gravel into their mouths and then spit them out. They could injure themselves if the gravel has any sharp edges.
You do not need a heater for your goldfish tank as long as you can keep it at above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. That might seem cold to you but remember, goldfish are not tropical fish. The best temperature range for your goldfish is between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. You probably don't need to worry about them being too cold unless you're keeping them separate from your living areas (like in a garage or basement).
A light for the tank makes it easier to see your fish. You can also see the tank's condition better as well.
You can get either incandescent or florescent lighting. Incandescent lighting is cheaper, but it burns hotter, won't last as long, and uses more electricity. Florescent lighting is probably better for your goldfish tank as it won't warm the water as much.
Use your aquarium size to figure out how much wattage you need to light the tank. The general rule of thumb is you should have 2 to 2.5 watts per gallon of water for your goldfish tank. As long as you don’t see an increase in algae bloom or the tank temperature, you can go up to 10 watts per gallon of water.
Light timer. This is a must because goldfish need their light regulated. Unless you are very consistent about turning their light on and off so that they'll get about 10 hours of bright light during the day, go ahead and get a timer for the lights. This will also help for when you go out of town.
A hood for your tank is a good idea because it will prevent your goldfish from jumping out and it will also shade their eyes from any sudden light switching on them (they don't have any eyelids so this can be stressful on them).
Make sure you have a strong, stable base for your aquarium. Water weighs roughly 8.4 pounds a gallon. If you buy a 20 gallon tank, that would be 168 pounds. If you can't imagine yourself standing on that shelf for very long, you probably need something stronger.
The fish you choose to stock your tank is not a decision that should be made lightly. The articles in this category will help you understand the basics of fish compatibility and will provide you with other information you need to make an informed decision when stocking your tank.
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The Ideal Tank Setup for Oscars Oscars are a type of cichlid and they are a very amusing species of freshwater fish to keep in the home aquarium. If you plan to cultivate this species, take the time to learn the ideal tank setup.
Compatible Tank Mates for Freshwater Angels Angelfish are one of the most popular species of freshwater aquarium fish. If you plan to keep these fish, take the time to learn about what species can be kept with them.
Types of Freshwater Aquarium Snails When it comes to snails in the freshwater aquarium, not all of them are bad. Read more to learn the benefits of aquarium snails as well as what types to keep and what to avoid.
Algae Eaters for Freshwater Tanks Are you looking for an easy way to help control algae in your tank? Algae-eating species of fish are a great addition to the freshwater tank and can help keep unwanted algae under control.
Cichlids - Understanding the Different Types Have you ever considered adding a cichlid or two to your freshwater tank? If so, you would be wise to learn the basics about this diverse group of fishes before you decide to keep one.
The Basics of Freshwater Fish Compatibility Whether you are new to the aquarium hobby or not, there are a few things you should know about freshwater fish compatibility. If you do not understand the basics, you may have trouble maintaining a healthy community tank environment.
Safety Tips for Freshwater Aquariums Cultivating a freshwater aquarium can be an enjoyable experience but there are also a number of safety concerns to be aware of when keeping a fish tank.
FAQs for Novice Freshwater Hobbyists As a beginner in the aquarium hobby you are likely to have many questions. Familiarize yourself with these FAQs before you begin and you will have a greater chance of success in cultivating your own freshwater tank.
What is a Biotope Tank? Take your skills to the next level by starting a biotope tank. A biotope tank is the perfect way to achieve a natural aquarium environment.
When and How to Upgrade to a Larger Tank If you participate in the aquarium hobby for long enough, there may come a time when it becomes necessary to upgrade to a larger tank. Read more to learn about what factors contribute to the need for an upgrade as well as the proper procedures for doing so.
How to Select the Best Location for Your Tank Before you even begin to set up your freshwater fish tank you need to decide where to put it. Where you place your tank will play a significant role in how much time you spend cleaning your tank and it may also impact your water quality.
Fish to Avoid for Planted Freshwater Tanks Cultivating a freshwater planted tank is hard work and the last thing you want is to have all of that hard work destroyed by adding the wrong fish to your tank. To avoid this problem, do your research to determine which species to avoid when stocking a planted tank.
Understanding the Lighting Spectrum The key to finding the perfect lighting for your freshwater aquarium is to understand the basics of the lighting spectrum. Read more to find out how spectrum is measured and what type is best for your tank.
Finding the Right Balance with Aquarium Lighting Installing the proper aquarium lighting system is essential in maintaining a thriving tank environment. This article will help you find the right balance in terms of watts, lumens and intensity.
Types of Freshwater Aquarium Lighting Choosing the right lighting system for your freshwater tank is a very important decision. If you make the wrong choice your tank may not look its best and your live plants may fail to thrive.
How to Make Your Own Sponge Filter Sponge filters are a great option for hospital and fry tanks but they can also be used as a source of supplemental filtration for community tanks.
Overview of Filter Media Types Proper filtration is the key to keeping your freshwater aquarium healthy. When it comes to filtration there are a variety of types of media to choose from so learn the basics before you make a decision.
Common Problems with Tank Filters Having adequate filtration is the key to maintaining a healthy freshwater aquarium. But what do you do when your filter isn't working properly? Read more to find out.
How to Culture Infusoria for Baby Fish To raise baby fish successfully you will need to use the right food. Infusoria are the perfect size for newly hatched fry and they are easy to culture at home.
Constipation/Indigestion in Aquarium Fish You may not realize that your fish can suffer from constipation. Though this condition may not sound serious, it could actually have devastating consequences for your fish.
How to Interpret Fish Food Labels If you want to select a high-quality commercial food for your aquarium fish you should understand how to interpret a fish food label.
The Pros and Cons of Live Food for Fish The type of food you choose to feed your aquarium fish will have a major impact on their health. Learn the basics of live foods to discover how they can benefit your freshwater aquarium fish.
Addressing the Shimmies in Live Bearers Dealing with aquarium fish disease is a fact of life in the aquarium hobby. Take the time to learn about the shimmies, or livebearer disease, to protect your fish.
Improving Color in Aquarium Fish The best part of keeping a freshwater aquarium is watching your tank inhabitants thrive and grow. Read more to learn how to enhance and maintain healthy coloration in your fish.
What is Dropsy and How Do I Treat it? When cultivating an aquarium, you are likely to run into a variety of freshwater aquarium fish diseases and conditions including dropsy. Learn how to treat and prevent these diseases so you can better protect your fish.
How to Set Up A Hospital Tank No matter how careful you are, your fish are likely to get sick at some point during your time as an aquarium hobbyist. Having a hospital tank running is a great way to prevent an illness from becoming a crisis in your freshwater tank.
Aquarium Water Test Kits The key to keeping your aquarium fish happy and healthy is to maintain high water quality. Unless you test your tank water on a regular basis, however, you won't know whether your water quality is high or not.
How to Make Your Own Tank Divider There may come a time during your career as an aquarium hobbyist that you need to divide your tank. When this day comes, you may want to consider building your own tank divider.
How to Fix Cloudy Tank Water Cloudy tank water is a common problem in the freshwater aquarium. If you learn the causes of this condition you will be able to treat it quickly when it happens.
What to do About Aquarium Snail Infestations Though they may look harmless, one aquarium snail can quickly turn into dozens or even hundreds. If you are dealing with an aquarium snail infestation in your tank, try out some of these tips and begin taking the recommended precautions to prevent future infestations
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