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Goldfish Care: How to Look After a Goldfish

One of the most popular types of fish for beginners and experienced fishkeepers alike, keeping a pet goldfish is easy, fun and incredibly rewarding. As common a choice as they may be, the bright colours, social engagement and noticeable intelligence of goldfish ensure that they are anything but boring. Well-cared for goldfish have even been known to recognise, interact and play with their fishkeepers so, if you’re considering buying yourself or your child a pet goldfish, there are a few things you might want to learn first to ensure your new aquatic friend lives a long, healthy and happy life.

To help get you started on your fishkeeping journey, our experts are here to share their knowledge on keeping goldfish, from the tank setup requirements they have to their ongoing care needs. In no time at all, you’ll know all there is to know about how to look after a goldfish.

Are goldfish easy to take care of?

Widely considered one of the easiest fish to care for, looking after goldfish is certainly easier than caring for a cat, dog, or even a more delicate fish species like an angelfish or cichlid. You don’t need to walk them, can leave them unattended when on holiday (if you have the right equipment), and don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds on vet bills, but that's not to say that keeping goldfish is going to be a simple swim in the pond.

Just like any other pet, proper goldfish care requires a suitable environment and regular care maintenance tasks. In fact, our guide on how to look after goldfish includes two main pillars; the environment and the care routine. Once you understand everything a goldfish needs to live, and learn how to meet those needs, you’ll be the proud owner of one (or two, or three) happy, healthy goldfish.

How long do goldfish live?

A little known fact about goldfish is that they can actually live for decades. All too often, goldfish are seen as hobby pets, fun to have for a year or two but not any longer, when in reality they can live longer than some cat breeds. On average, you can expect to have your pet goldfish for anywhere between 10 and 15 years, though truly well-cared for and hardy breeds can live as long as 30 years.

Goldfish care: Environment

The first step in establishing proper care for any pet is to build a suitable environment for them, and for a goldfish, you’ll need to buy a fish tank. When shopping for fish tanks, the huge variety can be intimidating, even more so to beginners who aren’t sure what they’re looking for, so we’re here to help you find the perfect goldfish tank for your new aquatic pet.

How big can goldfish get?

While infant goldfish are usually only around 1 to 2 inches long, the average size of an adult goldfish kept in an aquarium is around 6 inches long. This may seem like trivial knowledge, but it’s incredibly important to the health of your pet goldfish to ask these questions before buying a tank because the size of your fish, no matter its species or breed, directly influences the size of the environment it needs.

Once you know how big your chosen goldfish can get, the next natural step is to ask ‘how much space does a goldfish need?’ If your fish grows to 6 inches, for example, in order to have enough space for swimming and safe water filtration it’ll need a tank of at least 30L. If you want to keep two goldfish, your tank size will need to double, meaning you should be on the lookout for a 60L tank. However many fish you’re considering caring for, you can use our handy ‘How many fish should you put in a fish tank?’ blog as a guide.

Can you keep goldfish in a bowl?

Technically, yes, you can keep a goldfish in a bowl, but perhaps not the type of bowl that most people imagine. Instead of a small, glass bowl which would limit the growth and lifespan of your goldfish, the best way to achieve the traditional goldfish bowl look, without risking the health of its inhabitants, is to select one of the modern alternatives made by leading fishkeeping brands such as biOrb.

Designed to provide a safe, spacious and clean environment for goldfish, the biOrb Halo 30L MCR LED Aquarium is the perfect modern goldfish bowl. Offering a water capacity of 30L (enough for one adult goldfish), this ingenious design offers a traditional aesthetic with all the amenities modern fishkeeping technology allows, including an inbuilt filtration system, LED lighting with remote multi-colour control, pump and air stone.

Goldfish bowl vs goldfish tank

While it was once considered a life-endangering choice to keep a fish in a goldfish bowl, with the design leaps made by biOrb in the creation of their Halo and Classic aquarium models, the debate between goldfish bowl and goldfish tank has become entirely a matter of personal choice. Provided you opt for a suitable sized aquarium for your pet goldfish, you’re free to choose between goldfish bowls and tanks safe in the knowledge that the filter and additional equipment can meet their needs.

Do goldfish need a filter?

Yes, including an efficient filter in your goldfish tank setup is incredibly important. Not only does a goldfish tank filter help to keep the water quality at good levels, which in turn reduces the risk of illness, but can also help to reduce the frequency that manual cleaning duties are needed, saving you time and effort in the long run.

What do goldfish need in their tank?

Aside from that all-important goldfish tank filter, your goldfish tank setup should also include the following equipment:

  • An aeration device, such as air stones or a diffuser, is a great, simple way of ensuring your goldfish’s environment is well oxygenated. Many pre-built goldfish tank setups, such as the biOrb Halo already have air stones included, but if your chosen tank or bowl doesn’t, we recommend selecting an air stone such as the biOrb Air Stone or Marina Air Diffuser Mist Airstone from our collection.
  • A thermometer is an essential component of a goldfish tank setup, especially for beginner fishkeepers who are nervous about water temperature monitoring. Hardier than many fish, common goldfish breeds can withstand a range of cold temperatures, and are usually most comfortable living in 18-20°C conditions, so adding a thermometer to your equipment list helps to ensure you notice as soon as the temperature drops below or rises above healthy levels.
  • A lighting system. Another essential inclusion, (especially if you’re also growing a planted aquarium) having a lighting system included in your goldfish tank setup brings undeniable benefits. Not only does it help to show off your beautiful pet goldfish, it is also the best way to stimulate a healthy day and night cycle for your fish. As with filters, most aquariums will come complete with a lighting system but, if yours doesn’t, we recommend adding one in, such as the Fluval AquaSky 2.0 Bluetooth LED Lighting.
  • Plants and ornamentation. More than just being nice to look at, including plants and ornamentation in your goldfish tank is the best way to satisfy their need to hide and explore their space. As prey fish, goldfish need these spaces in order to feel a sense of safety from predators, even when there aren’t any real predators to speak of in your home, and adding fun, aquarium-safe decorations is the best way to do so.

Can goldfish live in just tap water?

With all of your essential equipment taken care of, the last environmental factor you need to consider for your goldfish tank setup is the water itself. While it may seem tempting to just fill it up and leave it, water straight from the tap is potentially deadly and needs to be properly treated before letting any fish call it their new home. Fortunately, in order to neutralise the chemicals found in tap water, all you’ll need is to mix it with a water conditioner for goldfish which will dechlorinate the water and make it safe for aquatic life.

Once your water is added, the last step in creating the perfect environment for your new pet goldfish is to cycle the water. If you’ve never done this before, or aren’t sure what cycling a system means, you can find everything you need to know in our comprehensive guide to cycling a fish tank.

Top tip: When you’re introducing your pet goldfish to their new home, regardless of whether you’re using the fish-in or fishless water cycling method, it’s best practice to carefully acclimate your fish to their surroundings, rather than just add them in. Our best piece of advice for doing this is to slowly add dechlorinated water from the new tank into their bag or a separate tank to allow them more time to adjust to the new water. When finally introducing them to the new tank, make sure that none of this water is moved over to help reduce the risk of bringing any contaminants into the clean aquarium.

Goldfish care: Maintenance

Once you’ve established a safe and hospitable environment for your new fishy friend, learning how to look after a goldfish is your only remaining task. Fortunately, the goldfish care regime is simple and fun, letting you gradually learn the basics of fishkeeping while spending time with your new pet.

What is the best food for goldfish?

Just like any other fish, goldfish require a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet to help keep them in top condition and finding goldfish food is remarkably easy. At Aquacadabra, we have a wide range of goldfish food to choose from, including Tetra Goldfish Flakes, Fluval Bug Bites Goldfish Flakes and Aquarian Goldfish Flake Fish Food, so the only challenge in feeding your goldfish is making sure you’re giving them the right amount.

Overfeeding your goldfish can prompt a wide variety of problems that range from environmental to fish illnesses. Overeating is associated with illnesses such as fin rot, fatty liver and improper digestion but, even if these symptoms don’t occur, you run the risk of polluting your tank environment with too much ammonia through excessive amounts of fish waste or decomposing food leftovers. To make sure your tank stays safe from these risks, make sure to refer to the portion advice provided on the goldfish food packaging. Alternatively, a good rule of thumb is to give your fish only as much as they can eat within two minutes and, if you start to see any symptoms of overfeeding, limit the portions they receive each day.

How to clean a goldfish tank

A large part of good goldfish care is the creation of a regular maintenance routine to protect the water quality and cleanliness of the tank. Tasks should include the following, all of which should form part of your weekly maintenance schedule.

  • Clean your goldfish tank once a week. This should include using a syphon or gravel cleaner such as the Aqua One Vac-A-Tank Gravel Cleaner Syphon or the Aquarium System PGR1000 Gravel Cleaner to collect excess waste from your tank’s substrate layer. Another weekly cleaning task is to wipe the tank clean of dirt and algae by using an aquarium-safe cloth such as the Innotec Aquatec 500 Cleaning Cloth or, if you’d rather keep your hands dry, a magnetic glass cleaner such as the Tunze Magnet Scraper Pico.
  • Perform partial water changes once a week. To ensure your water remains of a safe quality, you should do partial water changes of around 15-20% each week. It’s most efficient to time these along with your weekly cleaning schedule, allowing you to clean, remove and replenish your tank’s water all at the same time. When refilling the removed water, it's important to ensure you’re using dechlorinated water treated with a goldfish-safe water conditioner to reduce the risk of contamination.
  • Regularly test the water quality of your goldfish tank. A fun and interesting task to perform, regularly testing your water for pH changes, temperature and additional water quality parameters such as ammonia levels with an aquarium water test kit is the best way to quickly identify any problems before they become threats to the health of your pet goldfish.

Find goldfish care essentials at Aquacadabra

Keeping a goldfish, whether you’re starting out as a beginner or want to introduce your children to your hobby in an accessible way, is a fun and rewarding experience, especially once you understand the responsibilities that are associated with good goldfish care.

If you’re ready to get your own pet goldfish, start browsing through our wide range of 30L goldfish tanks at Aquacadabra. Already fitted with all the equipment you need to create a safe environment for your new goldfish, our range features high-tech, modern aquarium systems including the Fluval Flex 34L Black Aquarium, Superfish Qubiq 30 Aquarium and biOrb Life Portrait 30 MCR Tank. Alternatively, if you need any help picking out the right goldfish tank setup for your needs, our friendly experts are always available to lend a hand.