Although known for being short lived, goldfish can live for years with the proper care. It’s important to buy the right aquarium and supplies. Avoiding a few common mistakes will increase the lifespan of your fish significantly.
Purchasing the Tank and Supplies
Goldfish need space. You should buy a fish tank or aquarium, not a fishbowl. I bought my first fish when I was 10 years old. A week later, and after several fish funerals, I returned to the pet store to buy a fish tank to house my remaining pets. Don’t make the same mistake! Fishbowls aren’t large enough to house happy, healthy, long-lived goldfish. And, the more fish you have, the larger the tank should be.
Balancing the chemicals in your tank is crucial. Fish produce toxic wastes. If they aren’t monitored, ammonia and nitrate levels can become health hazards quickly. You should purchase and install a filter before adding your fish to the tank. Buy a pH test kit and check the pH, nitrate, ammonia and ammonium levels often. Water conditioner is another great product that helps protect your fish from harmful chemicals in tap water. And, be sure to purchase a vacuum to suction gunk out of the gravel during your weekly cleanings.
Each weekly cleaning you’ll want to rearrange the decorations in your tank so your fish don’t become bored or depressed. Be sure your decorations are safe for your fish. Purchase gravel that is large enough it won’t cause your fish to choke. Avoid hollow ornaments that could foster bacteria growth. And, be sure all decorations are clean and free from sharp edges so your fish don’t get hurt.
Selecting Your Goldfish
Not all goldfish are social fish. Some species of goldfish eat smaller goldfish, others can’t thrive in isolation. Be sure to research the specific species of goldfish you’re interested in and buy the appropriate number of fish. Consider limiting the number of species to avoid aquatic confrontations. When I first purchased my fish I didn’t notice any behavioral problems. However, when they had grown a few inches I started to notice my fantail was missing chunks of its fins. Eventually I had to do an emergency transfer to save its life.
Children are often attracted to the fish in the tank that’s different from the others. Be sure to ask the employees if those differences have significance. Two of my favorite fish were Treasure, an all silver fish, and Bandit, a fish with a black dot on his head. Treasure didn’t live very long after I bought him. If I had asked the employee why he was silver I would have learned it was because he was old. At least I would have been prepared for his early death! Bandit, although one of my favorites, wasn’t the brightest fish. He had depth perception issues and swam into the side of the tank more often than any of my other fish. When the spot on his head went away after a few weeks I did some research and learned I’d purchased a brain damaged pet!