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Goldfish Care: How To Ensure A Happy And Healthy Fish

With a cute pet comes great responsibility. Yea, that is not exactly what uncle Ben told Spiderman, but it is still very important. Goldfish is an astonishing creature and comes in diverse colours, shapes and sizes; a goldfish can be Fantail, Black Moor, Lionhead or Bubble Eyed and so on. They are the most popular type of ornamental fish the world over. Considered an intelligent animal, goldfish generally live up to 10 to 15 years of age. And with proper care they can go on to live up to 30 years.


Now, there are several kinds of goldfish, and each breed would have some needs which are unique to it. You should seek proper information on the peculiar requirements of your pet goldfish to ensure a good and longer life.

Goldfish, in general, needs a certain kind of environment to flourish. If the basic needs of the fish are met, they stand a good chance of surviving for long and that too happily.

First of all – buy a healthy one

That’s too basic but very obvious advice. Choose the seller carefully and check that the aquariums are not overcrowded. A healthy goldfish would have a clear and bright colour; they are more active, hold their fins erect, and largely swim effortlessly. An unhealthy one may sink or bob at the surface, bounce around the bottom, or have lumps or wounds over the body, or may stay at one corner of the tank for a long period of time.

Size of aquarium

A goldfish needs space; lots of space. A solo goldfish swimming in a bowl looks very adorable in animated movies, but a bowl is too small to offer proper oxygen or filtration. In real world, they grow much larger than most tropical fish. Usually, a common goldfish goes up to 10” in size and a fancy fish may achieve a length of 8”.

For a tiny goldfish you need at least 10 gallons (38 litres) of water. So a fancy goldfish should not have less than 20 gallons, and a common variety would require at least 30 gallons. You can multiply the respective requirement with the number of goldfish you intend to keep in a water tank. And it is not only the size (up to which they can grow) of the breed but also their respective level of activity which should determine the size of the aquarium you need to have.

Good filtration system

Goldfish don’t swim much at the surface; if you find that your fish frequently swimming at the surface or gasping at the surface, this is an alarming sign indicating little or no oxygen in the water. Goldfish usually grow large in size and subsequently need more food, hence produce more waste. Management of such high amount of waste would put more demands on the filtration system of the water tank. A filtration system for a goldfish aquarium needs to be more efficient and bigger in size.

For additional oxygenation of the tank you can also use an air stone. Also, choose a filter in which the water current can be adjusted, as some of the fancy or unusual breeds of goldfish may face difficulty swimming in fast currents.

Colour change

Change of colour in goldfish is quite common and not at all a disease, so one should never try to treat it with antibiotics as that can prove fatal to the fish. Goldfish, mainly, change their colours during the first year of life, but a certain few keep on modifying colours throughout their lives.

Please note that, normally a purebred (expensive) fish would display more predictable changes than an inexpensive one (representing uncertain parentage), which would possess a random mix of genes. Disregarding the colour change, dullness in the colour of skin and eyes should be taken seriously.

Choose tank companions carefully

The best and highly recommended co-occupants of a goldfish in a water tank are other goldfish. This is because a goldfish has different set of requirements for a healthy and long life. Like, they need lower water temperatures, more oxygen, and more space than most tropical fish. The goldfish can also become a victim of an aggressive fish. Thus, a goldfish-only tank is most appropriate for a goldfish. Some tank companions that can be housed together with your Goldfish are Feeder Fish, Rosy Barbs, Apple Snail, Weather Loach, White Cloud Mountain Minnow, and Zebra Danio.

In addition to this, never put small fish in your tank because it is known that Goldfish eats small fish. So, you won’t like that all the small fish become diet of your pet fish! Further, your tank size should be appropriate so that it can accommodate all the members easily.

Water Cleanliness

Make it a habit of undertaking partial water changes (10-25%) every week. This will ensure a clean supply of water and removal of any waste which the filter failed to process. Along with this, go for a weekly gravel vacuum to do away with uneaten food, fish waste and other things that might promote harmful effects on the aquarium environment.

Rinse the aquarium filter, lightly, on a monthly basis or whenever it gets clogged. Over-cleaning is highly discouraged, as it may remove the bacteria which are beneficial for the environment of the aquarium.

Water Quality

Keep monitoring the quality of tank water to check the levels of nitrite, nitrate and ammonia to ensure that biological filter is working sound. Moreover, always test the tap water to ensure that it contains no harmful elements. You can also neutralize the tap water and eliminate most of the harmful additives with the help of water conditioner which you can easily purchase from a pet store.

Rich plant cover

A rich plant cover, comprising of plants that are safe for goldfish, is highly recommended. You can enrich the scenery of the aquarium with a few imitation plants and decorations too. Both real and artificial things offer a good hideout to the fish, and reduce stress and also encourage activity. The cover should ideally extend from 50-70%. The real plants would also take in and process the waste or toxins from the water. They also assist in curbing the growth of algae in the aquarium.

Take care to ensure that there are no sharp edges, or small holes which can trap the fish, in the plants or other aquarium decorations. This becomes very critical in case your goldfish is not a very good swimmer or possesses impaired vision.


Being an omnivore goldfish need a variety of food. Their diet should include high-quality flake food, live or frozen food (like shrimp, bloodworms), and rinsed peas or greens.

Whether you are a first-time fish hobbyists or an expert in fish keeping, you need to scout for information for any fish you wish to keep.There are some general features of fish keeping, and some peculiar features of each individual species and breed of fish. Your quest to know them well would make you a better fish keeper, and a proud master of beautiful and healthy fish which live longer lives.


Shikha Sharma believes that Mother Earth is our mutual abode, where all creatures have an equal right to live with dignity. This belief is clearly reflected in her wonderful writing pieces that revolve around animals and their well-being. She is the blog editor of Pets World.

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