Caring For Goldfish
Goldfish are omnivores, which means they eat both animals and plants. Most pet shops sell flaked food made of meat and vegetable matter. As long as this flaked food is made especially for goldfish, it is fine as a basic diet for your pet.
In addition to flaked food, goldfish like to get live food—such as brine shrimp, tubifex worms, or even cut-up earthworms. You can buy these foods at many pet shops. Once in a while, you might give your goldfish such “people” food as boiled spinach, peas, broccoli, or cauliflower.
You should feed your goldfish as much as it will eat in 5 minutes. Goldfish should be fed twice a day.
Goldfish need three main things: oxygen to breathe, food to eat, and shelter to feel safe. Live plants in an aquarium can provide all three of these things.
Plants release oxygen into the water in which they grow. Through a process known as photosynthesis (FOH toh SIHN thuh sihs), green plants use sunlight to combine carbon dioxide and water to make food. This process converts light energy into the chemical energy of food. Photosynthesis causes oxygen to be given off into the water by the plants.Goldfish also can use plants for food. They like to nibble on the leaves of plants.
An aquarium with plants is less stressful for goldfish. If goldfish become frightened, they like to hide behind plants.
Goldfish usually stay healthier and more colorful if plants are in their aquarium. Some easy plants to grow in an aquarium are Java fern, water sprite, sword plant, and banana plant.
Pet goldfish can be kept in a small fishbowl, but they will be much better off in a larger tank, called an aquarium (uh KWAIR ee uhm). An aquarium will give your fish more room to swim.
An aquarium should have a cover to keep the fish in and the dirt (and cats) out. It should also have a heater and thermometer to make sure the water stays at a temperature between 65 and 72 °F (18 and 22 °C). Before you add goldfish to your aquarium, let the water stand for 24 hours. This will allow chlorine—a chemical used in small amounts to make water safer for humans—to disappear from the water. Chlorine can harm goldfish.
You should also add a filter, a device that removes dirt from the water, to your aquarium. An air pump will add streams of bubbles to the water to help the fish breathe. An electric light will help you see your fish more clearly. And if you have plants in the aquarium, the light will help them to grow.
It is important to keep the water and equipment inside your aquarium clean, or your fish may become weak and sick. Cleaning a fish tank or things kept inside that tank, however, should be left to a young adult or adult.
The fish tank filter should be checked once a week to make sure that it is not becoming clogged with dirt or algae (a type of simple life form that grows in many places that have water). The gravel at the bottom of the tank should be stirred up every now and then so that scum doesn’t form in it. A buildup of scum in the gravel interferes with water circulation. Special vacuums can be purchased that suction dirt off the gravel and siphon dirty water from the tank.
The water in an aquarium should be changed often to keep it clean. Every week, about one-fourth of the water from a tank should be removed. This water should then be replaced with fresh, new water that has been allowed to sit for 24 hours.
Goldfish become old enough to breed (mate) when they are about 2 years old. Fish breeding is called spawning. During spawning, a male goldfish chases a female for a few hours. If the female becomes ready to mate, she squirts out hundreds of tiny, clear eggs.
The eggs stick to plants and other objects. The male then squirts a substance called milt onto the eggs. Milt fertilizes the eggs, making them grow into new fish.
Neither parent guards the eggs. Parents may even eat their own eggs. If the eggs survive, they usually hatch in about four days.
When you see goldfish eggs, ask an adult to take them out of the aquarium by removing the entire object to which the eggs are stuck. The eggs should then be rinsed in a bucket of clean, chlorine-free water that is the same temperature as the aquarium water. Next, the eggs are placed in a tank with about 6 inches (15 centimeters) of water.
A temperature of about 70 °F (21 °C) is best for the water in this small tank.
When the young fish, called fry, hatch out of the eggs, they are 1⁄16 to 1⁄8 inch (0.16 to 0.32 centimeter) in size. The young fish use up their small food supply, called a yolk sac, within a couple days. Then you need to start feeding them.
You can feed goldfish fry various small foods, such as the crushed yolk of a hard-boiled egg, a paste formed from water and oatmeal, or baby brine shrimp. Feed the fry two or three times a day until they are about 4 months old.
Indoor aquariums are the best and safest places to keep goldfish. However, certain breeds of goldfish can be kept outdoors in a special ornamental pond. These breeds include common goldfish, comets, and shubunkins. Koi, a type of carp that are closely related to goldfish, are commonly kept in ponds.
A fishpond needs to be at least 2 to 4 feet (61 to 122 centimeters) deep so that the water does not become too hot in summer or too cold in winter. Water lilies grown in the pond will provide shade for the fish.
To help prevent cats, dogs, raccoons, or other animals from catching the fish, a fence should be built all around the pond. And, you should make certain that very small children cannot reach your fishpond and accidentally drown.
In winter in cold areas, some fish can survive in an outdoor pond, providing the pond is not allowed to freeze solid. Many owners, however, find it is easier to bring their fish indoors to an aquarium for the winter.
Have you ever wondered if or how fish sleep? Like other animals, goldfish get tired and they need to rest. Even though they cannot close their eyes, goldfish do sleep.
Goldfish sleep when it is dark. They move around less, and they may sink to near the bottom of the aquarium. They may settle next to a plant or other object for shelter.
Remember to turn the light in your aquarium off at night so that your goldfish can sleep more easily. Fish that are allowed to sleep in the dark at least several hours every night usually do better than fish that do not get to sleep in a darkened tank.
If your goldfish is not eating or if it is acting strange in other ways, it may be ill.
If your fish is breathing heavily and rubbing against objects, there may be something wrong with the water—or the fish may have a disease called white spot. This disease is also called ich (ick).
If your goldfish has a soft, yellowish coating on its back, it may have an illness called velvet disease.
If the fish is shaking its head over and over, it may be trying to shake loose tiny parasites.
A fuzzy white growth on fins is a sign of a disease called fin rot. A darkening on the skin may be a fungus.
Someone at a pet shop should be able to advise you on remedies that will help your fish. Or ask your veterinarian.
Unlike many other kinds of pets, goldfish do not see a veterinarian once a year to get shots. You can take care of many goldfish health problems by asking an adult to add certain chemicals to your pet’s water. Some of these chemicals are added only when your pet shows signs of a disease, but others should be added routinely as a precaution against diseases.
These chemicals may be used to kill disease-causing viruses and microbes (germs), funguses, and other parasites. Some of the things added to aquarium water, however, are used to restore the water to a normal chemical balance.
Ask a veterinarian for further advice about caring for your goldfish.
If you take good care of your goldfish it is more likely to be a happy, healthy fish that will live a long time. Remember these key things:
Keep the aquarium water clean.
Feed your fish the right amount of food.
Keep the light and temperature of the aquarium at the right levels.
Watch for signs of illness and make sure that sick fish are quickly treated.
Take care of any eggs and fry.
Keep cats and other pets away from your fish.
Finally, enjoy watching your goldfish and learning about its many wild relatives.
The common goldfish is Carassius auratus of the family Cyprinidae.