When beginners are ready to start their journey into goldfish keeping, most of the information they will need to start will come from the staff of the pet shop where they will purchase their goldfish. This is a critical point since not all pet shop staff are qualified to provide the right knowledge. I recommend doing research on the internet, reading books and magazines on the hobby, and joining groups in social media (or just having a look at the posts of pages devoted to the hobby).
Here are my guidelines for starting up basic goldfish keeping:
Tank: Beginners can decide if they want to go all goldfish or have a community tank wherein the goldfish will have different tank mates and they can co-exist with each other.
• A 20-50 gallon all-glass aquarium tank is ideal for a startup
• Acrylic tanks are good but they are more expensive and more prone to scratches
• Don’t use tanks that are smaller than the recommended size for your fish, as they will eventually outgrow their tank, or their growth will be stunted
• Never use a fishbowl because it is too small
• A metal stand or cabinet is ideal for your purposes
• Select a spot for your tank that does not receive direct sunlight to prevent the water from turning green.
Filtration: 80% of successful fish keeping is about water quality.
• Invest in a good type of filtration such as overhead filters• Undergravel filters are good for supplementing your main filtration
• Canister filters can be used if your budget allows for their use
• I do not recommend sponge and box filters because of their efficiency since goldfish are robust eaters; thus, their waste pollutes the water more than other fish.
Feeding: A non-robust eating goldfish is a sick goldfish.
• Invest in buying good quality fish food such as flakes or floating and sinking pellets as their staple food
• Commercial frozen food such as brine and blood worms can be fed to them occasionally• I don’t recommend that a beginner go into live feed such as tubifex worms, larvae, and moina (We will have a future column on this)
• Feed the goldfish 1 to 3 times a day. The feed must be consumed within 10 minutes. All uneaten food should be taken away.
Medicine: Go for prevention rather than for cures.
• Salt – good for conditioning
• Anti-chlorine – emergency solution for new water or let the water ‘age’ for 48 hours before putting in the fish
• Malachite green – A sudden change of weather causes the growth of parasites called “ich”; this is very fatal for goldfish
• Dimilin – for external parasites such as anchorworms• There are many available brands for bacterial and stress prevention in the market. The correct setup and a just-right feeding procedure, together with a good and consistent maintenance program for your tank, will lessen the need for medicine. This way, you will make your fish healthy and happy … and you will be the same way too!
• Gravel – sand and pebbles are good, but always clean them well without using soap and detergents
• Decorations – avoid sharp objects and don’t overcrowd the aquarium• Use only plastic plants since goldfish are omnivorous and love eating real plants.
The Fish: Now for the best part! The general rule for stocking density is 1 inch of fish per gallon of water. Always remember that the fish should be the last to go into a tank or aquarium!
• Goldfish – These make for good start-up fish because they are hardy and beautiful.
• Bullhead orandas – Beautiful head, body, and tail. They come in a wide range of colors.
• Red-cap orandas – Always have one!
• Blackmoore – So simple, which makes them beautiful.
• Ryukin – They have a beautiful top curved back.
• Angelfish – are always the partner of goldfish. Many pet keepers state that they are aggressive with goldfish but I have not experienced this.
• Zebra Danios – their speed complements the slow movement of the goldfish.
• Guppies – These are beautiful but are not compatible with angelfish.
• Cardinal Tetra – They make great companions for goldfish but not for angelfish.
• Corydoras – These bottom-dwellers re usually busy eating the excess uneaten food. Be careful, though, since I have experienced seeing a goldfish accidentally sucking them up in its mouth.
• There are other good tankmates in the market. Just avoid territorial fishes.
Setting up and maintaining the tank:
• If you’re using new water to set up your tank, ‘age’ the water for 48 hours.
• Start with 1 or 2 fish, making sure they are healthy. I recommend buying a small setup tank for quarantining new goldfish; this can also serve as a hospital tank.
• After aging the tank with its filter running, acclimatize the tank by slowly opening the plastic bag containing the newly acquired fish then place half of the water from the tank in the plastic and let it float. After 15 minutes, release the fish carefully into the tank. Do not pour them out directly from the plastic as this will stress out the fish. Water in the plastic can be poured into the tank.
• Don’t feed the fish immediately. Wait till the next day and observe.
• Continue the process as you establish your tank.• Do a water change once a week for one-fourth of the tank’s capacity.
• Clean the filter media once a week using tank water.The last wordStart it right ! Don’t hurry to buy every fish you see. Be patient. Learn from and enjoy the experience. Always remember that your fish will be with you for years. We will learn a lot from our “finny” friends.
All the information given here is based on my actual learnings, experiences, and shared knowledge from friends in the hobby.
This Appeared in Animal Scene’s September 2015 issue.