The RSPCA have advised that goldfish housing needs to meet their behavioural and physiological needs, as unfortunately many goldfish do not reach their lifespan potential due to a lack of the correct housing conditions.
Things you'll need to house your goldfish:
- A suitably sized tank/aquarium (minimum 10 gallons per fish)
- Gravel substrate (for the bottom of the tank)
- Decorations (something to make the tank exciting for the fish)
- A location for the tank that's away from direct sunlight/windows.
What size tank do you need?
The recommended size tank for your goldfish should be about 50 litres, approximately four times as long, twice as wide and three times as high as the adult goldfish's body length. It may be worth remembering that the larger the tank and the filter, the better it is for your goldfish. You'll need to have the correct filter capacity for the size of tank that you purchase. Goldfish do tend to jump out of the tank so choose one that has a hood on it.
There'll be lots of things to consider, such as how large your fish will be once they reach adult size, how many fish you wish to keep, and individual space requirements for the type of goldfish you want.
Traditional fish bowls are too small for goldfish so please avoid using them.
How to provide the correct filtration and aeration
As goldfish are heavy feeders, they tend to produce a lot of waste which will require filtration. This will maintain the water quality, ensuring all water is filtered regularly. You should keep an eye out on the filter, because if it doesn't produce bubbles or stir surface water you may need an aeration system so that the water is well oxygenated. These are very important things to have in order to manage the high amount of waste that goldfish's produce.
You'll need to make sure that the filter you choose has an adjustable current. The current shouldn't be too strong for any fancy or unusual goldfish types as fast currents can make swimming difficult for them.
How to carry out water maintenance
Approximately 10-25% of the water in the tank will need changing during the week, as well as a gravel clean to remove the waste and keep the goldfish fit and healthy!
When cleaning the water, you can use a siphon (a pipe which will carry the water upward from the tank to a container below it). This way, the fish can remain in the tank whilst you replace some of the water so that you don't have to touch them. Be careful not to move too rapidly though as this could make the fish stressed. The end of the siphon in the tank can also be used to clean the gravel, remove fish faeces and uneaten foods.
When you replace the water in the tank, it's best to add a water ager which will neutralise chlorine and chloramine and the gH kH generators to the aquarium. This should be added in an amount that is suitable for the new water that's being added.
The filter should be rinsed in a bucket of tank water as soon as you start to notice it getting clogged up. Avoid over cleaning the filter though as you don't want to get rid of the good bacteria. The good bacteria is needed to break down the ammonia from fish waste which could result in the fish being poisoned cause it to die.
A quick wipe of the inside of the aquarium with a safe sponge or magnetic glass cleaner should get rid of any algae build up. Make sure you don't use soap or detergents when you do this.
Keep your water temperature between 20-24 degrees Celsius, and regularly test the water for ammonia, nitrate and nitrate levels which will tell you whether your filtration is working properly.
Things you'll need when you clean your fish tank:
- A Bucket
- Gravel cleaner & Siphon
- Water conditioner (a.k.a water ager)
- Old cloths/towels (to mop up any spillages!).
Plants for your goldfish's aquarium
Goldfish will require some plant cover so they can hide if they feel threatened and this will also keep them active. A healthy amount of plants in the aquarium is essential as they absorb waste products from the water — meaning a healthier fish! Real plants are fine to use, however you must make sure they are safe for goldfish, fake plants can also be used if you don't want your fish to eat them! Other decorations such as rocks and driftwood are great for in the tank as they provide good hiding and resting places for your fish.
Any decoration in the tank should be free from rough and sharp edges that could potentially injure your fish, and small holes must also be avoided as your fish could get trapped as they get bigger.
If you can, keep your aquarium away from direct sunlight and windows. This will help prevent outbreaks of algae.
Lighting for the aquarium
Goldfish will need lighting for their aquarium, whether this be proper aquarium lighting on a regular schedule or your own lighting, they'll need about 12 hours of light per day at most. Goldfish don't have eyelids and need to sleep just like we do, so a good amount of time without direct light allows them to sleep better and have a proper resting period. You'll notice that when the light is off your goldfish will slow down and relax a bit more. They do not get the same kind of sleep if the lights are on permanently.