Picture: Ahmed Zayan/Unsplash
Picture: Ahmed Zayan/Unsplash

LOOK: Thinking of getting a goldfish? Remember they're high-maintenance and a sensitive bunch

By Dominic Naidoo Time of article published Sep 13, 2021

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The UK city of Bristol has officially banned the practice of awarding goldfish as prizes at funfairs and carnivals on council land. "I will ask the events team to ensure the contract is updated to clearly exclude live animals as prizes," the Bristol mayor, Marvin Rees told the BBC last week.

The decision came shortly after city councillor, Jonathan Hucker, raised the RSCPA's Pets as Prizes campaign at a Bristol City Council meeting last Tuesday.

The councillor said that most people did not know how to care for fish properly, with many dying from shock or poor treatment within hours or days in their new home.”

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"The mayor may not have been made aware of this national campaign, but I am sure he will agree wit me that this commercial practise is totally unacceptable in our more enlightened age, the use of live animals as trophies disrespects, and exploits, species as well as being extremely harmful to their welfare," Mr Hucker said.

Although awarding live animals as prizes is illegal in Scotland, it is up to individual city councils to determine the rules in the rest of the UK. The Royal SPCA said that “goldfish are often held in unsuitable plastic bags for long durations and taken to homes that are not adequately prepared to meet their welfare needs.”

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According to Fish Tank World, “goldfish are one of the most common fish that beginner aquarists start with, but you might be surprised to learn that they’re also one of the trickiest. Far from being low-maintenance and easy to take care of, they are quite sensitive and they need specialised care.”

Here are 6 things to think about before getting a goldfish courtesy of Fish Tank World.

1. They get really big

While they may look small at the pet shop, goldfish can grow to at least 15 – 20 cm from head to tail, some grow even larger if the correct conditions are provided. As much as fish bowls have been associated with the keeping of fish, most fish kept in bowls do not live a good quality of life and they tend to die prematurely.

Bowls do not offer adequate space and oxygen for fish to grow. Goldfish should be kept in a large indoor tank or outdoor pond; your fish will be much happier.

2. Goldfish need more oxygen than other fish

If you have ever owned a goldfish, you may have noticed it taking gulps of air at the surface of the water. This means that they need more oxygen than is present in the tank itself.

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In order to provide enough surface area for your fish, multiply your tank’s length by its depth to calculate the surface area, and remember that for every cm of fish length, you need 30 square cm of fish tank surface area. You can add air stones and pumps that provide a steady flow of bubbles to keep the water moving

3. They poop a lot

Goldfish are very messy. They produce a lot more waste than other fish and you will need to clean your tank more frequently. Ammonia levels from goldfish waste can build up quickly and cause your fish lots of problems, including disease and possible death. You’ll need to ensure your tank has a powerful filter.

Choose a filter that has a turnover of at least six times the aquarium volume.

You’ll also need to do regular water changes to keep everything fresh. A good rule of thumb is a weekly 25% water change. Don’t use water straight from the tap – it has chlorine and other chemical nasties in it that can hurt your fish. Make sure you add a water conditioner or dechlorinate first.

4. Goldfish are cold-water fish

Goldfish are coldwater fish and cannot be mixed with tropical fish for a variety of reasons.

They thrive at room temperature and should not be kept in warmer water. Goldfish do not need a water heater of any kind, and you should make sure your tank does not get direct sunlight during the day.

Tropical fish like warmer water, and if you try to keep them in the same water like goldfish, they will become sluggish and stop eating.

Goldfish are not very territorial, while tropical fish can be more active and aggressive, some may nip on long flowing goldfish fins or gang up on goldfish to bully them. Tropical fish are faster feeders than goldfish, these fish may consume all the food while the goldfish, a much slower feeder, goes hungry more often than not.

5. Goldfish are socialites

They love company and should not be kept alone. Goldfish were bred from colourful carp and carp are found in groups in the world.

Two goldfish of the same species would be happy together. Remember, the more fish you have the bigger tank you need.

6. They’re picky eaters

Goldfish need specialised food to make sure they’re getting the correct nutrients they need to thrive. If there is still food in the tank after around 5 minutes, you’ve given them too much. Scoop out old food so the water isn’t polluted. Goldfish have sensitive digestive systems, and not all fish food is good for them.

They’ll thrive on a dried flake or pellet food that’s specially designed to provide the fibre and carbs they require. You can treat your fish to a few squashed peas with the skins removed as well as the occasional bloodworm. Cooked rice and blanched lettuce or spinach can also be a great treat.

Goldfish can be incredibly rewarding to keep, and by following the advice in this article you can help them live a long and happy life.

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