By in Animals

On Keeping Goldfish

I am sort of an "amature expert" on goldfish.

It is hard-won wisdom I assure you. Learning to care for these guys properly wasn't easy. So, for those who have tried but weren't successful, or have always wanted to but haven't, I offer a few common misconceptions about goldfish and a few tips.

Goldfish Urban Legends

The goldfish bowl has long been known to be the number 1 killer of goldfish by enthusiasts, vets, and breeders. Yet, they are still sold and marketed for fish. Goldfish are carp, with a lifespan of up to 20 years. They have a life of days to a few months in a bowl.

Goldfish need an aquarium or pond. They are very messy fish, and their waste is toxic to them. An aquarium that gives about 10 gallons or more per goldfish, with double the filtration rate as tropical fish, is as close to ideal as you can get for their best life. Aquariums give the best chance to set up a "biological filter", which is essentially good bacteria that sets up and creates a viable ecosystem. Without that ecosystem, a goldfish is doomed.

Goldfish neither have a "three second memory", nor are they unintelligent. Goldfish are often very social, can learn tricks, recognize their keepers, and absolutely know when it is time to eat.

They are delicate. They can die from stress, disease, overfeeding, or injury.


Don't treat goldfish with over the counter ich treatments designed for tropicals. Instead, use a heater, slowly increasing the temperature to about 80 degrees over the course of 24-48 hours, a degree at a time. Add freshwater aquarium salt a tablespoon at a time (premixed in tank water) and increase the salinity of the water (detailed instructions here ). OTC Ich treatments damage the delicate gills, and shorted your goldfish's life span exponentially. It can also cause them to suck air to be able to digest their food, causing them to fill up with oxygen and float on their sides for hours after each bite of food.

Prazi Pro, however, is a safe medication for parasites in goldfish. It does not treat Ich, but it does treat a whole host of other maladies that they pick up in the pet store. ALL new goldfish have parasites. Prazi Pro should be used on new fish, and then once a year afterward, or any time new fish are introduced to your tank.


Goldfish are fantastic little guys, and a lot of fun. They really are not simple starter pets. If you would like a small fish that can fit on your desk, please consider a beta instead. Goldies require work, medicine, and care for a successful tank and long, healthy life.

Image Credit » by DarkoStojanovic

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CoralLevang wrote on October 8, 2015, 5:12 PM

This is such an informative post, and now I know why I have had to flush so many to their sewer graves.

littlenancy wrote on October 8, 2015, 5:47 PM

That would be why! You know, they are one of the hardest kinds of fish to care for, despite being at every fair and boardwalk as a prize. They are definately work and not a simple pet. Of course, once they get used to you, they have tons of personality that a lot of other kinds do not have, though. and have the potential to be around for a very long time.

CoralLevang wrote on October 8, 2015, 5:56 PM

Unfortunately, most of us never get to see the personality or the potential, for the reasons you mention in the article.

littlenancy wrote on October 8, 2015, 6:09 PM

I know, trust me, I killed many as a kid by accident. Swore I would never have one again. However, a well-meaning teacher gave one to my daughter at one point, and I decided I would do research. It is really an eye-opener.
How much we missed out on without google when we were

wolfgirl569 wrote on October 8, 2015, 11:05 PM

I have had them for years in a little f everything. A bowl works if you are ready for the work. As in daily water changes. My biggest goldfish not counting the ones I have in the pond now have been in my horses water troughs. They are very good at keeping algae to a minimum and eating mosquito larvae from there. Because of the filling and cleaning routine needed for the horses the water is always getting freshened up.

xstitcher wrote on October 9, 2015, 6:44 PM

I have never owned a goldfish. Our family has had a cat, a mouse, hamsters, and dogs, but no fish.

DWDavisRSL wrote on October 10, 2015, 3:08 PM

Thank you for such an informative post. I have only tried keeping goldfish once. I had a ten gallon aquarium when I was a teen and thought goldfish would be an easier to manage alternative to tropical fish. My goldfish lasted for about six months. Had I known the information in your article I would have been much more successful with my goldfish.

cheri wrote on October 11, 2015, 11:04 PM

I never know much about gold fish. Thanks for sharing this