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.
Wavemakers for Saltwater Tanks If you want to keep your saltwater tank healthy, you need to consider the ideal level of water flow. Installing a wavemaker in your tank will help you strike the right balance.
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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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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