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Fish Health

Getting Your First Goldfish: Things You Should Know

easiest fish to care for

So, you want to become a goldfish keeper? Good for you! Goldfish are beautiful animals and can provide lasting enjoyment for many years. But, before you head out to choose a fantail or comet, or even an Oranda, there are a few things you should know about goldfish.

The first step in keeping fish is learning which type of goldfish is best for you and your lifestyle. 

Most pet stores sell three main types of goldfish: the Fantail, the Black Moor Telescope and the Common goldfish (also known as a Comet). Fantails and Telescopes are classified as “Fancy Goldfish,” which have double tails and shorter bodies; whereas the Common and the Comet are long and narrow with only one tail. 

Though the hardiest of the varieties, Common or Comet goldfish (which are very similar, the difference being the longer tail of the Comet) are the least recommended for the beginner. This is due to the large size these fish achieve. Each of these are typically sold when they are only a few inches in length, but don’t be fooled; these fish have the potential to grow over a foot long! 

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Common goldfish require a large volume of water to prevent stunting. 

Damage from stunting is permanent and will shorten the lifespan of your new pet.  When selecting a tank size for fish, the general rule of thumb is one gallon of water per 1 inch of adult fish size. If you have six fish, each of which are about 1 inch in length, you would immediately need at least a 6-gallon tank. In a few months, you will need to upgrade to a 20-gallon tank assuming those fish grow to 3-inches in length. 

However, the rule of thumb for the common goldfish is to plan 40 gallons per fish, with a pond being the most ideal setup (if you do choose to have a pond, you’ll also want to learn how to keep your dog out of the koi pond).

If you can afford to provide this much room, great. If not, it is probably better to take a look at one of the fancy goldfish instead. You do not want to end up with a pet that you unexpectedly do not have the means to provide for. 


Fantails and Moors both have the same tank size requirements of at least 10-20 gallons per fish, which is typically much more feasible for the average owner. They do not grow as large, but will still reach a decent length of 6-8 inches when full grown. This is one of the reasons why glass bowls are not proper homes for goldfish of any type. As you can see from the image below, goldfish can rapidly outgrow a bowl and providing proper aeration and filtration is nearly impossible. 

Black Moors are relatively hardy but tend to be trickier to keep because of their delicate eye protrusions. The Fantail is the hardier of the two, (in fact the hardiest of all fancy goldfish) and able to live equally well in aquariums or ponds, as well as being the most readily available. 

[note type=”warning” icon=”yes”]Warning: You may find the goldfish hobby to be addicting after getting your first fish! Be sure that you do not overstock your aquarium by putting too many fish in, as you can end up with a lot of problems down the road.[/note] [load_module id=”584″] [heading style=”2″ color=”#33bfde” style_color=”#33bfde”]Checking for disease first[/heading]

Examine the fish for any signs of illness beforehand. Unfortunately, illness is rampant in most pet stores, so unless you can afford to buy from a breeder, you will want to make sure you start off with the healthiest fish you can. Steer clear of fish with the following issues:

  • White spots on the fish are a sign of a parasite called ich. 
  • Slimy patches indicate sickness and possible parasite infestation
  • Clamped fins, which mean the fish is not feeling well

Keep in mind that this step does not guarantee you will not bring home a sickly fish. Chain and independent pet stores alike must have their fish shipped to them from overseas, and passed through several intermediaries – a process that causes significant stress. They are then crowded into display tanks with many other stressed fish. In their weakened state they are susceptible to picking up pathogens. 

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[heading style=”2″ color=”#33bfde” style_color=”#33bfde”]Selecting the right supplies for the tank[/heading]

Once you have figured out which kind of goldfish is best for you (and you know what size of an aquarium you will need to take care of it), you will need to assemble the proper equipment necessary in order to take proper care of your fishy friend. 

Goldfish produce a large volume of waste and need correct filtration in order to keep their water clean. The filter should be rated for the size of tank you will have. An oversize filter can help with cleaner water, but it may blow the fish around more. You will need to make sure the current does not disturb your pet or blow them around in the tank. An airstone isn’t necessary if you have a filter, but the bubbles can help oxygenate the water

Another thing you will need to get is water conditioner. I find Prime by Seachem to be superior, as it removes ammonia which is sometimes found in the tap water. Water conditioner takes out the harmful chemicals the water companies put in that will harm your fish.


[heading style=”2″ color=”#33bfde” style_color=”#33bfde”]Taking your new fish home[/heading]

It will be important for you to make sure the transition from the store to your home is as smooth as possible. Ask the pet store worker if they can give you as large of a bag as possible and net the fish out gently – the less chasing around the better.

If possible, have someone in the car with you hold the bag steady to avoid as many bumps as possible. It is also a good idea to place the fish bag in a paper bag, as that will block out the light and distractions and keep the fish calm.  

You will need to discuss the best “fish calmant” with the pet store. We have used Stress Coat for years with great success.  These liquid supplements help reduce fish stress and heal damaged tissue, torn fins, and skin wounds by replacing the natural secretion of slime that is interrupted by handling, shipping, fish fighting, or other forms of stress. 

So there you have it! Now the work has just begun – taking care of a goldfish is no easy task. But getting off to the right start is an important step when it comes to keeping this beautiful creature. 

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