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Fish Health

A Guide to Fancy Goldfish Care


Goldfish are members of the carp family, and have been bred for over a thousand years. Along with common types such as comets and shubunkins, there are several different varieties of fancy goldfish sporting unique characteristics such as double tail-fins, egg-shaped bodies and telescoping eyes.

Some of the different types of fancy goldfish include fantails, lion-heads, black moors, red capped orandas, ranchus, bubble eyes, celestials, pearlscales, and many more.

Fancy goldfish have different needs and require different kinds of care than common goldfish. Keep in mind that different varieties may need different care than others. What follows is a basic guide for caring for fancy goldfish.

[heading style=”2″ color=”#33bfde” style_color=”#33bfde”]Tank Size[/heading]

The first mistake that most people make with goldfish is thinking that they can be kept in a bowl. Goldfish are members of the carp family, and these fish release a lot of ammonia and waste into the water. Wild carp usually live in flowing rivers, which carry away the waste that the fish produce, but in a bowl, the waste will accumulate in the water until it can hurt the health of the fish and cause ammonia burns. For this reason, fancy goldfish should always be kept in a properly cycled tank, where established bacteria strains will break down ammonia as it begins to accumulate.

An adult fancy goldfish can reach a length of 12 inches (1 foot) if properly cared for. A fish this size would need at least a 40 gallon tank, and that’s just for one fish. People commonly buy a small tank for a few small goldfish, then keep getting progressively larger tanks as their goldfish keep growing. Instead of wasting money on multiple tanks, the best thing to do would be to buy as large a tank as you can and stock it lightly, based on the type of fancy goldfish you’re getting. Some varieties such as lionheads can get huge, fast. Anticipate a lot of room for these gentle giants.

[note style=”5″ type=”success” icon=”yes” class=”template-style”]With proper care, your goldfish can live for twenty years or more.[/note]

[heading style=”2″ color=”#33bfde” style_color=”#33bfde”]Filtration[/heading]

As mentioned before, goldfish are very messy and will produce a lot of waste. For this reason, it is important to use a filter that is appropriate to your tank size. Different people prefer different types of filters, such as cartridge filters or biowheel filters, but the important fact is to have one. Some people even put two filters on their goldfish tanks to compensate for the large volume of waste that goldfish produce, and to serve as a backup in case one burns out.

Be sure to purchase a filter that is appropriate for your tank’s size. Some fancy varieties are poor swimmers and might get caught up in a fast current, so be sure to keep an eye on your goldfish. If you need to reduce the current, you can place decorations in front of the filter intake valve to cut the flow.

This is NOT the right bowl for a goldfish:

[heading style=”2″ color=”#33bfde” style_color=”#33bfde”]Heat[/heading]

Goldfish are coldwater fish, meaning that they do not need a heater. However, fancy goldfish cannot survive at temperatures lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so they cannot be left in an outdoor pond year round. If you want to put goldfish in a pond, you may want to opt for common types of goldfish, such as comets and shubunkins, which can survive colder temperatures without a problem.

[heading style=”2″ color=”#33bfde” style_color=”#33bfde”]Food[/heading]

There are several brands of commercial goldfish food out there. The best thing to do is to purchase a few different types of food and alternate between them to give your goldfish some variety in its diet. Different types of food may be available in different forms such as floating pellets, sinking pellets, wafers, crisps, and flakes. Your goldfish may have individual preferences, but if it has swim bladder problems, the best option would be to choose a sinking pellet. This prevents your fish from gulping in extra air at the surface of the water when it eats, which can cause problems with buoyancy.

Goldfish are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and other animals, such as insects. Many of the commercial foods out there are high in protein, but do not contain the fiber, vitamins and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. A diet high in protein can cause digestive issues and aggravate swim bladder problems. To ensure that your goldfish maintains proper health, you should provide your goldfish with soft, cooked food such as shelled peas, carrots, orange, flash-boiled spinach, flash-boiled lettuce, and squash. Peas are especially good because they can clear digestive blockages and help alleviate swim bladder issues. Some pet stores sell clips that attach to the side of the tank and hold spinach or lettuce, allowing goldfish to graze.

There are some commercial fish foods that are advertised as being vegetarian, but if you check the ingredient list, many of these do not even contain vegetable matter. Often, high protein fish meal is first on the list, and if any algae or vegetable matter is present, it’s listed as one of the last ingredients. Look for fish foods that contain Spirulina, algae, or a mix of vegetables. These should be among the first few items in the ingredient list. Do not buy a “vegetarian” fish food before checking the ingredients.

[heading style=”2″ color=”#33bfde” style_color=”#33bfde”]Decor[/heading]

Goldfish need Aquatic Decor because they like to hide behind plants and swim around them. However, goldfish are also notorious for eating and digging up live plants, so you may want to stick with silk and plastic plants, with silk being the better option of the two.

Do not buy any decorations with sharp edges, especially if you are keeping telescope or bubble eye goldfish, as pointy edges can hurt their eyes and pierce their eye sacs.

Be sure that you also don’t buy any decorations with small holes that they can get stuck in. Goldfish are rather nosy, and if they can fit themselves into something they probably shouldn’t, you can bet they probably will. If you want a safe cave for your goldfish, a clean jar or mug turned on its side will do just fine.

Don’t overfill your tank with decorations; after all, your goldfish need some room to swim around in there!

[heading style=”2″ color=”#33bfde” style_color=”#33bfde”]Bubblers[/heading]

A bubbler is a fun addition to any tank. It will help to oxygenate the water, and the goldfish will enjoy playing and swimming around in the bubbles. Pet stores sell various types of bubble disks, bubble wands, air stones and more; some even come with LED lights. You’ll need to buy an air pump and some tubing to hook up the bubbler. If you don’t like the look of a tube in the back of your fish tank, some stores sell air tubes that are disguised as plants.

Be sure to also buy a one-way check valve for your tubing; if the power goes out, the tube may end up acting as a siphon and start draining your tank, causing a watery mess. Another way to prevent from happening is to place the air pump on a shelf above the fish tank.

[heading style=”2″ color=”#33bfde” style_color=”#33bfde”]Illness and Swim Bladder Problems[/heading]

Fancy goldfish have been bred to have compact, rounded bodies. Unfortunately, their egg-shaped bodies can affect their internal organ development and make them prone to a host of different problems, including swim bladder disease. The swim bladder is an organ that allows the fish to control its buoyancy- it helps the fish swim up or down in the water column and keep its body right side up. Fancy goldfish with rounded bodies may have malformed swim bladders, impacting their ability to swim. Some signs that your goldfish has a swim bladder problem include swimming sideways, sinking and struggling to reach the surface, or floating and struggling to swim to the bottom. Headstands are also a troubling sign.

Unfortunately, there is no real cure for most swim bladder problems. Sometimes fish will start to swim oddly if they are constipated; in this case, fast your goldfish for a day or two and then feed it shelled peas, about one pea per inch of fish. Fasting your goldfish one day a week and feeding it shelled peas as part of its diet will also help a fish with chronic swim bladder problems. If your fish floats, you can try putting an empty mug or jar in the tank that the fish can go into so it can stay near the bottom of the tank with the other goldfish.

Sometimes a healthy fish can develop swim bladder problems over time, and sometimes a swim-bladder problem can develop into dropsy, which has no cure. The best way to prevent swim bladder problems from developing or becoming worse is to give your goldfish has a large enough tank, keep the water clean and provide it with a healthy diet.

Learn more about aquariums:

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