Caring for aquarium fish has changed so much over the years due to modern equipment, food inventions, and the variety of fish species constantly being introduced to the market. Along with different aquarium setups that cater to different categories of fish (such as reef and marine for saltwater fish, and planted tanks and garden ponds for freshwater fish), there also sprouted numerous competitions and social media groups. This evolution in the fish-care community can sometimes cause stress, rather than relaxation, to fish caretakers.

We focus so much on how to innovate our fish caring techniques that we tend to forget the essentials – and find joy – in keeping our companion fishes healthy and happy.

To counter the fast-moving pace of the industry, I figured that I could start integrating all my past learning and experiences with the present resources that I have. The idea is to create a project that prioritizes the most basic but most important details over unnecessary aesthetics. I chose to do this for a a companion animal I am most fond of: my goldfish. I called this project “The Goldfish Nook” because my vision is to have a joyful corner for myself and my goldfish.

Making the nook

I started the project by looking around my workplace for a vacant space that I seldom used or didn’t use altogether. Just after the small gate towards my office door, I found the perfect spot. Once I identified a place to build the goldfish nook, I envisioned what I would need to make the project work.

Here are my must-haves: a small pond for a top view appreciation, a multi-level tank for viewing my goldfish, a mural wall that provides serene art, plants to manage water parameters, and photobooth space for taking photos of my goldfish.


This is the very same pond that I wrote about in my previous column in January. An ideal goldfish pond, as what I did with this one, integrates size and basic functionalities.

2. Multi-layer gallery tank

The tank I used is one of my old designs that contained three layers with a metal stand for support. But in my newer multi-layer designs, I no longer used metal stands.

The low and mid-level tanks are interconnected, with a common pump as filtration. The high-level tank is a standalone that has its own internal filter.

I also placed a movable divider and backup aeration with a sponge filter and a K1 Kaldnes. In each division, I placed only two goldfishes to ensure that they have adequate space and aeration.

3. Plants

I find plants very ideal for goldfish for so many reasons but primarily, they help manage water parameters. However, goldfishes love to eat aquarium plants.

The good news is that there is a particular group of plants that are goldfish-resistant: the Anubias variety. They are low-maintenance because they can thrive in low light and do not need substrate to be planted in. No carbon dioxide set up required, and they have a high tolerance for different temperature and water parameters.

All Anubias varieties are aesthetically pleasing. Goldfish do not eat them mainly because almost all, if not all of them, have thick leaves.. which the fish do not find appetizing.

4. Mural

Japan has greatly influenced the way I care for my companion goldfish. They represent the passion necessary for goldfish care and focused on creativity rather than commercialism. They set so many standards that I find respectable.

They created many representations of goldfish, as can be seen in memorabilia and other forms of art. I am in awe whenever I see a beautiful wall mural, so I made sure to incorporate this into my project.

My ever-talented office artist Vanessa has always been my go-to person in terms of converting my ideas into beautiful reality. Sure enough, as with all our previous collaborations, she did not fail my expectations.

My articles are based on research and personal experiences. For questions, please email

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 ESVI

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s May-June 2020 issue.

You might want to read:
– Aquarium celebrates sea otter’s 20th birthday with seafood cake and live magic
– The first principle of aquarium fishkeeping
– Cleaning the substrate in your aquarium