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FAQs About Goldfish Systems: Tanks Themselves, Size/Shape

Related Articles: Goldfish Systems, Goldfish 101: Goldfish May Be Popular, And They May Be Cheap, But That Doesn't Make Them Easy Aquarium Fish by Neale Monks, Goldfish Disease, Goldfish Nutrition, GoldfishGoldfish VarietiesGoldfish Mal-Nutrition,

Related FAQs:  Goldfish Systems 1, Goldfish Systems 2, Goldfish Systems 3, Goldfish Systems 4, Goldfish Systems 5, Goldfish Systems 6, Goldfish Systems 7, Goldfish Systems 8, Goldfish Systems 9, & FAQs on Goldfish System: Lighting/Tops, Decor, Gravel, Plantings, Heating/Temperature, Aeration/Circulation, Filtration, Water Quality (Algae, Smell, Cloudiness... Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Nitrogen Cycling), Maintenance, Trouble/Fixing, & Goldfish 1, Goldfish Behavior, Goldfish Compatibility, Goldfish Feeding, Goldfish DiseaseGoldfish Breeding/Reproduction

Goldfish are NOT bowlfish... A minimum sized/volume should be no less than thirty gallons to support even just one Goldfish long-term. Too small volumes won't provide sufficient oxygen, room to move, or space to dilute wastes. Squatter, rather than tall and narrow... more surface area the better.

please help. Poisoned in a bowl /RMF; brusque as usual       7/10/16
<Holly... what's with the lack of punctuation?>
i have had my goldfish, jack the fish, for 4-5 years. this past week i was out of town and having him fed. when i got home his bowl was terribly dirty.
<Uggh! Mate, goldfish are NOT bowl-fish. Yours has been Bonsai'd by metabolic poisoning.... >
i changed the water and cleaned the bowl and then two days (maybe 1 1/2) later my fish developed dark red spots all over his body. i added melaleuca to the water and salt yesterday. he is not looking any better today. however, he is eating and seems fine. i am really worried about him. i have included a pic. thanks so much for your help!
<READ here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/gldfshsystems.htm
You want this fish to live some sort of quality existence? It's up to you to supply it. Bob Fenner>
please help /Neale       7/10/16

i have had my goldfish, jack the fish, for 4-5 years. this past week i was out of town and having him fed. when i got home his bowl was terribly dirty. i changed the water and cleaned the bowl and then two days (maybe 1 1/2) later my fish developed dark red spots all over his body. i added melaleuca to the water and salt yesterday. he is not looking any better
today. however, he is eating and seems fine. i am really worried about him. i have included a pic. thanks so much for your help!
<Hello Holly. Goldfish invariably sicken and die in bowls. Maybe quickly (most die within weeks of being purchased) but some survive for longer periods. As you've discovered, bowls contain so little water they can't dilute overfeeding problems. Apart from the fact your fish clearly has ammonia burns and likely bacterial secondary infections, I can't offer you any useful advice if you continue to keep him in a bowl. Just isn't viable. Daily water changes and treating with anti-Finrot medication will help in the short term, but longer term, you need to plan an aquarium, 25-30 gallons minimum. Do read here:
Melaleuca products such as Melafix are extremely unreliable and potentially harmful, and salt provides no real value here. These two products sell well (and continue to be sold) because they're cheap, and those aquarists with little knowledge about fish healthcare make their purchases based on cost rather than usefulness. I can't think of any situation where Melaleuca is the answer, and salt is only useful in very specific situations, such as treating against Whitespot where copper isn't safe. Anyway, do read; do write back if you need some help going forwards. Cheers, Neale.>

Do I have Enough space for all my aquatic pets?      8/5/15
I have a 29 gallon tank with a 350 gph filter and an 80 gallon sponge filter. The current residences of my tank include 2 fantail goldfish, 2 mystery snails, and 1 Nerite snail. My question is do I have enough room in
my tank for all these critters to live out their lives in my 29 gallon tank?
<Mmm; possibly... At least for a handful of years.... I would not add more goldfish
I also have a 765 gallon pond with 12 pond goldfish. I could put one of the fantails in there if I must. But I would rather avoid that because fantails do not do well in ponds. I also use algaecide in my pond, so adding the snails to the pond might be harmful to them.
Your thoughts on my problem would be most appreciated. Thank you.
<See WWM re stocking GF. B>
Re: Do I have Enough space for all my aquatic pets?      8/5/15

Thank Bob. :) I have looked over your stocking information as requested.
Very informative. According to what I understand from your site and the information I get from other sites, I would need 20 gallons for 1 fish and another 20 gallons for the other fish. Making a total of 40 gallons total required for my 2 Fantails to thrive throughout their entire lives. Is this correct?
<Mmm; well; strictly speaking/writing... yes. Though growing up a bit crowded will "bonsai" the two.... again, they should be fine living together for several years in the 29>

And would I need to add on an additional 10 gallons for each of my 3 snails? I have 2 mystery snails and 1 black horned Nerite snail. Would I really need a 70 gallon tank to keep them all?
<How many times need I key the same stmt.?>
All I have to work with right now is the 29 gallon tank and a 765 gallon outdoor pond. It will likely remain that way for 2-4 years. I have been advised that they will live "a handful if years" in my current tank. But I have no other choice but to be stuck with what I have. Should I put one or even both fish into my pond to give them a better shot at living?
<I would not>
They were both purchased as small fish. They likely will not get very large. Or should I move the snails?
<Neither these. As you have stated, the algicide will kill them>
We use algaecide in our pond. So I doubt that would be a suitable home for the snails. What can I do other than buy a larger tank? Thank you.
<Learn and be patient. Can you make yourself calm? B>
Re: Do I have Enough space for all my aquatic pets?      8/5/15

Yes Bob, I can do my best to be calm. I do suffer from anxiety though.
<Yes; have yet to encounter a human that doesn't... myself included of course. Have you considered meditation?>
Being calm for me can be extremely difficult at times.
<Again; we share this trait. Some of the blood pressure med.s I've taken for decades cause me to be very anxious>
Thank you for being patient with me. I just want to be as sure as I can be that I am doing all I can for them given my circumstances. Thank you for your help. :)
<Am very glad to render my friendship, input Cam. BobF>
No choice but to put single tails with fancies      8/6/15

What do you do if you have no choice but to put fancy goldfish with single tailed goldfish? My fish are fantails and comets. I need to put them together in my 765 gallon pond. My pond is an outdoor pond. I have 2 fantails and 12 comets. I live in the Arizona desert. I cannot give any fish away. And I cannot return them to the store. And buying a tank or using another large container is out of the question. What should I do?
Thank you.
<... leave them in the aquarium. B>

Re: No choice but to put single tails with fancies        8/7/15
Thank you Bob! :)
Just need a little clarification      8/8/15

My 2 fantail goldfish, 2 mystery snails, 1 horned Nerite snail, and 2 ghost shrimp all share a 29 gallon tank, with a 350 gph power filter, and 80 gallon sponge filter. I have been told to keep the goldfish in the tank.
They are 3 inches long. I just need some clarification on where to keep the Fantails as they mature.
When they are larger, and older, can I move them into my 765 gallon pond with my 12 pond goldfish? Or do I just continue to leave the Fantails in the 29 gallon tank? Thank you.
<Same answer>
Re: Just need a little clarification      8/8/15

Thank you! :)

GF sys.         3/1/15
I just want to be sure I got this right
My tank is 30" L x 12" W x 18" H
The store I got the tank from said it was 29 gallons.
<About this... see WWM re>
It has a sponge filter and air pump rated for 80 gallons. It has a 100 watt submersible heater.
<I'd add another>
I currently have 1 fantail goldfish and 7 ghost shrimp in the tank.
<Oh? No need for another heater then... set the one to 70 F.>
I know the fish might eventually eat the ghost shrimp. But I do not have room for them anywhere else right now.
The store said the fish would eventually grow to be 6 inches. The goldfish is currently 2 inches long.
<They're right>
As far as gallons and filtration go, is my current setup ok for the fish and shrimp to live their lives out in? Thank you.
<Ah yes. Bob Fenner>
Re: I just want to be sure I got this right         3/2/15

Thank you Bob! :)
Should I return this fish? GF stkg repeat        3/8/15

I have a 30" L x 18" H x 12" D tank. The store said the tank was 29 gallons. It currently has an 80 gallon rated sponge filter. It contains 7 ghost shrimp and 1 fantail goldfish. They said the goldfish will reach 6 inches. I was told I could put another fantail in the tank. Today I placed an order for a calico fantail that will be 6 to 8 inches. It was a small one. Do I have room for this goldfish, or should I cancel my order? Thank you.
<You can maintain two adult fancy Goldfish in 29 gallons without problems.
My rule of thumb is 20 gallons for the first Goldfish, 10 gallons for each additional one, to a minimum of 30 gallons for two Goldfish since they're sociable. Cheers, Neale.>

Is 29 Gallons enough for 1 goldfish?      2/26/15
Will 30 gallons with a sponge filter rated for 80 gallons be enough for 1 fantail goldfish?
<Should be ample. Be prepared to reduce flow rate through sponge to avoid pushing the Goldfish about too much if it struggles at all. Cheers, Neale.>a
Re: Is 29 Gallons enough for 1 goldfish?       2/27/15

I forgot to ask. C an the fantail goldfish can live in a 29 gallon tank for all of its life? Thank you.
<Yes. Two, even; provided they're fancy rather than standard Goldfish (which get a bit bigger and need more space) and from compatible varieties (not all fancies are equally bullish/delicate). Cheers, Neale.>
re: Is 29 Gallons enough for 1 goldfish?
Thank you so much Neal! :)
<Most welcome. Neale.>

goldfish... Real troubles     1/14/14
I am very new at having fish as pets.  Yes we bought our fish at Wal-Mart.  We just have a plain bowl no filter no bubbler. 
<Ahh, won't work... this fish will soon be dead unless you come to understand and provide for its needs...>
We got the cold water fish so we did not need a heater etc.
<Not so>
At our home we have very hard water.  But we have a reverse osmosis purifier so we used that water.
<... GF need mineral content; likely the hard, alkaline water is fine. RO won't do>
 We left it sit a day and put 1/2 a tablet of Start Zyme.  The fish are in one day and the water is cloudy already.  We thought they were feeding too much food to them so we changed the water and in one days time it was cloudy again. There are 3 fish in the bowl.
 They are swimming around and they look very healthy. 
What are we doing wrong?
<Unfortunately, quite a few deadly errors... the volume of the system, no filter, aeration, heater (and thermometer); the system isn't cycled...>
  The "Fish" Expert, (He has about 9 tanks and is starting to raise fish to sell.) at Wal-Mart said we would be ok with these fish in a bowl that was not regulated.

We are open for any help and guide lines.
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm
and as much of the related, linked files at top as you find you need to gain awareness here.
I have a new eBook and print copy out on Kindle (if you're a member you can borrow for free) that is more "all in one" in reviewing the basics of goldfish care. I dearly desire you to be successful; not suffer the ill-feelings of having killed these animals. DO read ASAPractical, stop feeding for now; change all the water out with new daily (that's been treated, stored for use)... Bob Fenner>

Goldfish question. :)   Env. dis.   5/16/13
Hey! I've had a Goldfish for about 20 years! Just in a small bowl with just water and nothing else, (s)he's just recently developed a hugely swollen stomach. Only one fish in the bowl so not pregnant, also has dark patches under it's otherwise golden orange scales. Any ideas? Cheers, Benedict
<Hello Benedict. Well, the fish sure isn't pregnant! Almost certainly Dropsy or similar; do read here for treatment and causes:
As impressed as I am that your Goldfish is its second decade, the immediate cause is likely environmental. Bowls aren't good homes for Goldfish. Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish - tank size - cycling     8/29/12
Short story - I took my 3 yr old to the fair - ended up with a goldfish. This was about 3 weeks ago. I *knew* nothing about fish.
Giving away fish at a carnival should be banned.
<Happens far too often, fish treated like trinkets instead of living things.>
I purchased for 8 dollars a small plastic container from the fair people.
Next day he was gasping for air. Being that I knew nothing about fish - I rushed to PetSmart - got him a lovely 2 gallon tank with filter. He stayed in there a week while I researched how to take care of him. Realized way toooo small of a tank for him. Got him a 20 gallon. He's doing great. I continued my research - I probably need a bigger tank.
There is no way I can get a bigger tank for this fish. I've already dumped about 600 dollars on tank, accessories, water testing kits.
<Education can be expensive. Despite how common goldfish are, they really aren't beginner fish. That's especially true in a tank. Honestly, I think you would be better off to see if a pet store will take it, or see if you can give it to somebody with a pond. Ponds are really where goldfish belong. Then, you can do a little research and get some fish that will be more appropriate for your setup, and will give you enjoyment instead of headaches. I'll address the questions regardless, though.>
1st question: About cycling:
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwestcycling.htm>
As much as I would have loved to do fishless cycle - I couldn't keep him in the 2 gallon any longer, he was suffering. <Good that you recognized this. Many just leave the fish there.>
I've had him in the 20 gallon for about a week. I am testing free ammonia every day and shows nothing.
<Hmm. One week is not long enough to fully cycle a tank, and usually not long even enough for the nitrite to spike. Check the instructions on the ammonia test kit. Some of them give instant results, others require a five minute wait period before reading.>
Do I do the water changes? Or wait until I see some free ammonia level go up?
<Should be done weekly with goldfish. They are messy.>
There is a slight reading for total ammonia, is this harmful?
<thought you just said there was none, but yes, any ammonia is bad. The reality is that you won't be able to completely eliminate ammonia until the tank is fully cycled when there is a fish in the water, so the best you can do is minimize it with partial water changes.>
I'm going on vacation in a few days for a week. I bought him an auto fish feeder, seems to work great. Do I do a water change before I leave? I'll be gone for 7 days.
<This is not the best time to cycle a tank. Ammonia will build up while you are gone whether you do a change or not. Obviously, a large partial water change before you leave can only help.>
2nd question: Adding more fish
I really want to add another fish, he must be lonely? Can I? If so, what type of fish? The goldfish is about 2-3 inches.
<You definitely do not want to add more fish before the tank is cycled.>
I've read everything about how I need a bigger tank for goldfish - so can I add a different type of fish - one that stays small? Any suggestions?
<Feeder minnows maybe, while the goldfish is still small anyway.>
I hate to see him in there alone. An aquatic frog maybe?
<Goldfish are cold water fishes, check the temperature requirements of the frogs. Might be too cold in winter.>
I don't know what to do with this goldfish in the future when he outgrows the tank. <Move him.>
Can I take him to a goldfish pond?
<Once the tank cycles, you will be able to keep the goldfish for a while, but it will ultimately outgrow the tank. Goldfish can get very large. A pond is a perfect place for him .>
I really care about the goldfish first and foremost. Just need some good advice. I have no room for a bigger tank!
<As I mentioned above, I think you'd be better off rehoming the goldfish and stocking the tank with something that stays a bit smaller. However, should you decide to keep the goldfish, remember they are messy and need frequent partial water changes.>
<Welcome. - Rick>
Re: Goldfish - tank size - cycling 8/29/12

Thank you Rick! <Welcome.>
I appreciate the fast response.  Regarding my
question about ammonia below.  I am using the tests correctly.  I bought an API master kit.  I still have the 2 gallon tank mentioned below and trying to cycle that one as well.  The 2 gallon measures 4.0 ppm (no fish in there).  The 20 gallon measures .25 ppm.  I did a 25% water change with water conditioner and it still measured .25 ppm.  I then did a 50% water change and it was still .25 ppm.  Then I decided to measure my tap water which low and behold was 2.0 ppm!  I added the water conditioner to the tap water and the measure was .25 ppm.  I was very confused and did some research where I learned about "free ammonia" and "total (includes bound ammonia) ammonia".   The API measures total ammonia.   From what I read the bound ammonia is fine - it's the free ammonia that is toxic.  I figured I'd never know if I had bound or toxic ammonia and my water is never going read 0 ammonia since it is in my tap water so I bought a Seachem test which measures only free ammonia.
<Be aware that if you have ammonia in your tap water, that is done to react with the chlorine to form chloramine. They do that because chloramine is more stable than simple chlorine. What that means is that you have to be sure to treat the water with some kind of Dechlor. While forgetting to do that with simple chlorine will irritate the fish, the chlorine will be driven off eventually. Not so with chloramine, it sticks around for a long time.>
So with the Seachem test the 20 gallon tank shows 0 ammonia.  The 2
gallon shows .25 ppm.  I am wondering is it normal to have 0 ammonia for the first 9 days of a new tank with a fish in it?
<Not really, unless you have a lot of live plants in there. That would be an exceptionally quick cycle unless you seeded it with an object from an established tank.>
How long until ammonia builds up to show a reading?
<See the link from last time, there is a graph. In my tanks, I've noticed the ammonia starting to build up after a couple days. Check also for nitrites, the second phase of the cycle. It's possible you are already in the nitrite phase, but you should still be reading some ammonia while the nitrite starts to spike.  Finally, test the nitrates. That is the end phase of the cycle. While 9 days would be unusually fast to cycle the tank, it could happen.  If you read low-level nitrates and nothing else, that would be my guess.  My own cycled tanks usually read 0,0,0 because I have live plants soaking up the nitrates.>
 I also have a Seachem free ammonia alert reader that stays in the tank - that is showing 0.
<The ones I've seen don't last more than a month or two. I think those are good for monitoring water chemistry when treating for disease. For every day use it's overkill and not really cost-effective.>
I've decided to keep the goldfish over the winter and either build a pond (ha ha - husband not diggin this idea) or find a pond for him.
<He will be digging it, or else you will! Best, Rick>
Re: Goldfish - tank size - cycling 8/29/12

Rick -
 I forgot to mention this.  On the day I set up the 20 gallon tank I poured a bottle of Tetra SafeStart in the tank right before I
added the fish.  I didn't mention this because I kind of just wrote this step off since most experts don't believe that the bacteria in a bottle works.  But now I am kinda wondering if it does. 
<I've been a skeptic and have never tried it, but the owner of one of my local fish stores says he's heard good things from his customers.  If it works, it explains a lot.>
I don't see how it would be possible from everything that I am reading that there is no ammonia in this tank after 9 days of feeding a fish in there and one water change?  Is it possible that this bacteria actually established in the tank??  <Occam's Razor says yes.>
I have had 0 readings for nitrites and nitrates as well.  I'm doing the tests correctly - I am getting all of the expected readings on the 2 gallon tank that is currently cycling.
<Seems to have worked. - Rick>
Re: Goldfish - tank size - cycling    8/29/12

Thanks so much.  I'm pretty surprised that SafeStart worked but I doesn't look like there is any other explanation.  My 2 gallon just tested negative for Ammonia on day 17.  The Nitrites and Nitrates are off the charts.  I've been occasionally adding fish food to it to keep creating ammonia but should I just leave it alone now and let the cycle complete?
<Glad I could help. On the small tank, you do want to keep feeding it, but you also want to do some partial water changes. There is a level of nitrite that can overwhelm the cycle and cause it to fail, and the partial water changes will help to avoid that.  How do you plan to stock the 2 gallon tank? There are a few animals that can live in there, but the selection is slim. - Rick>

Jumbo Oranda and Appropriate Tank Size - 8/28/12
I ordered an Oranda that will be 3- 4 inches upon its arrival. It will be the only fish in the entire tank. I am aware this fish will grow to be 8-12 inches long. Provided I change 50% of the water in the tank weekly, is a 30 gallon tank with a 350 gph filter appropriate for this fish for its entire life span? What size tank should I get if it is not appropriate?
<As before, if the water quality stays good, and the fish remains under 1/3 the length of the tank, the 30 gal is fine. You can always add more filtration if you need it.  My 29 gallon tank is 30 inches long, so I would not want a fish longer than ten inches inside.  Since a 10 to 12 inch Oranda would be an exceptionally large individual, chances are good that it
will be able to stay in the 30 gallon tank.  If the fish turns out to be one of the exceptionally large individuals, I'd probably go to a 55.
Unfortunately, you won't know that for a while unless you have information on the parents.. -Rick>
Re: Jumbo Oranda and Appropriate Tank Size - 8/28/12

Thank you so much for your reply. It was very helpful.<My pleasure.>
And thank you as well for your time and patience with my string of questions. I am very nervous about losing my fish again because of something I forgot to take into account. You all have been a extremely helpful. Thank you again.
<I guarantee every one of us has lost fish due to human error. It's important thing is to learn from it.
 Just watch that water quality when your new fish arrives. I suspect your cycle crashed when you cleaned the tank and will have to cycle again, which is stressful for any fish. That means daily or more use of your water test kit and probably also daily partial water changes until the cycle is complete. A few live plants will help. Here is a nice write-up on the nitrogen cycle:
Good luck - Rick>

Oranda Size and Tank Size 8/28/12
<Cam. Not sure if this was answered, I was drafting a reply and it vanished, so my apologies if this is a repeat. My PC is acting wonky.> 
I have a 30 gallon glass tank.
Marineland Penguin Bio-wheel filter 350
50-70 gallon filter
rite size c filter cartridges
2 Top Fin 3000 air pumps
4 airline hoses
4 one inch airstones
9 watt UV sterilizer
Water specifications include:
ph 8.0
nitrate 0
nitrite 0
gH 180
<All fine. UV sterilizer is overkill. I use mine only when I have a known illness in my tank. Orandas are sensitive to bacterial infection, though.>
temperature 75-78F (let me know if 78F is too high)
<80F is the upper end of the range, so 78F is fine for summer. Might want to back off to 68-70 in the wintertime.>
Filter cartridges are supposed to be changed monthly (according to the directions on the box).
<Some of that is to get you to buy more filters. I try to extend the life of my filters as much as possible.  Regardless of how often you change, in the first email you said you have multiple filters. I suggest you change them out in different weeks to avoid crashing your cycle.>
Weekly water changes of 50% will be made once fish are in the tank again.
<Good. Use your test kit to determine if you can back off on the size of the water change to 25%. The test kit will tell you if it's okay.>
I lost my last Oranda yesterday. <Sorry to hear that.> I lost her due to the damage she received from a previous water quality problem. The water quality problem was last Friday. I have since corrected this water problem by changing out all the water in the tank. I tested the water out yesterday. It is fine now (see specifications above for test results).
<New water with no fish should be good. Keep checking when populated. You may have lost your cycle with 100% water change. If so, you may be in for a month of large daily water changes.>
I ordered a medium sized red cap Oranda. 
I have received some wonderful advice and assistance previously from your site.
But my question is will the medium Oranda be able to live its entire life out alone in the 30 gallon tank I have? <If it stays less than 1/3 the length of the tank.> If it gets to be large in size should I get a larger tank? <Either that, or rehome the fish.> How many inches are large Oranda?
<7 inches typical, but can get larger.> What exact tank size should I get for a single large Oranda? <The 30gal should be fine for a few years. After that, base your decision on the size of the fish. I'd go up to a 40gal or 55gal if the fish dictates that it's time to change. Should be able to keep more than one then.>
Thank you for your time.
<Welcome. - Rick>

Goldfish in too small tank    7/27/12
Hello, Crew.
I need some no-nonsense advice I think. In our house we have a 3-4'' goldfish (not fancy, I suspect he was sold as a 'feeder') living in a 10 gallon tank.
<I see.>
I know this is not a large enough habitat for this fish. My sister brought three goldfish home from her prom (they used fish as centre-pieces...) in a small bowl. After two died I finally managed to convince my mom to buy a proper tank with a filter but 10 gallons was as large as she was willing to go.
<Oh dear.>
Buying a larger tank it not an option.
<Ah, that makes things tricky…>
What I need to know is whether it is *at all* possible to keep the fish *happy* in this tank (I don't want to just keep it alive, I want it to thrive).
<Not really. Sure, you could keep him alive, and compared to letting him "take his chances" by returning to a pet store, you may well decide keeping him in a nice, if small, aquarium is better than the alternatives. But as you seem to realise, this isn't the right way to keep Goldfish, any more than it would be "right" to keep a dog but never take it for walks.>
I think the only other option is to somehow find someone with a large pond and release him- and I think this is what you will recommend, but I admit I worry about him being eaten by a heron or meeting some other untimely end (I'm already rather attached).
<I see the conundrum. On the plus side, a nice pond is about as good as it gets for Goldfish, and assuming the pond keeper takes reasonable precautions to keep cats and herons out, pond Goldfish generally do better (and look happier) than their cousins kept indoors.>
And I keep thinking about an aunt of mine who released her family's domestic rabbit into the 'wild' when she grew tired of caring for it... I don't want to be like her.
<That's a much different thing. A garden pond is still a secure, managed environment; turning a pet animal loose in the wild is a death sentence in most cases. Some survive in the wild -- there are "wild" Goldfish in the UK for example in many places -- but most don't make it.>
I just want to give him the best chance at a happy life and I need an experience aquarist to tell me how to do it! Thank you so much for your time (and your incredibly informative website) and I think the fish will thank you too.
<Perhaps you can encourage your Mom to get interested in the Goldfish, and within a year or two, upgrade the tank with her blessing? In the meantime, keep up with water changes, minimise quantity of food, offer more fresh greens and less flake/pellet food, and generally ensure the 10-gallon tank is as clean and healthy as it can be. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Goldfish in too small tank     7/29/12

Thank you, Neale.
I'm happy to say that I was talking to my aunt and she has a 40 gallon tank she wants to downsize and my mom agreed to trade her our 10 gallon, so now everyone (fish included) is happy!
<Woo hoo! Do check out my piece on stocking 10 gallon tanks. They're easily overstocked, but can be great community tanks if you choose species with care. The article covers to common species; e-mail back if you want some ideas of more unusual community fish.
Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish Question, filtration per stkg., vol.     1/30/12
I have a 29 gallon tank. It has 2 filters. One filters at 20 gallons, the other at 30 gallons. Combined that is roughly 50 gallons of filtration.
There is currently 1 Oranda goldfish in this tank.
My question is, if I were to increase filtration to 70 gallons, could I another goldfish with the Oranda that is already in the tank?
<Greetings. Your key misunderstanding here is that the "filter for a 20 gallon tank" statement on a filter means anything. It means zilch. Or at least, it's wildly misleading. When a manufacturer sells a filter as "suitable for a 20 gallon tank" what they mean is "suitable for a 20 gallon tank in the best possible situation, i.e., lightly stocked with small, Neon-sized fish that don't make much/any mess." It's much the same as "servings per box" on cereal packets, or "battery life on 3 hours" on a laptop -- at best, a guideline, at worst, total fiction so far as real-world usage goes. A better (if still imperfect) approach is to use gallons/hour turnover rates. All (non-air-powered) filters will have the gallons/hour turnover rate stated on the pump somewhere. If you have a 30 gallon tank, then for small fish a turnover rate 4 times that will be adequate, i.e., 4 x 30 = 120 gallons/hour. Bigger fish that make more mess would need up to 6 times, and Goldfish, being very big and very messy, would need at least 6 and ideally 8 times turnover rates, i.e., for a 30 gallon tank, 180-240 gallons/hour. With that in mind, go back and look at your filters, and act accordingly. Of course, this is a guideline as well, albeit a more flexible one that scales up or down depending on the types of fish being kept. The acid test is whether your aquarium is clean. Provided the water is clear, and detritus like faeces are being removed from the water, and above all else, ammonia and nitrite levels are always at zero, then your filter is doing its job. If you find the water gets murky or smelly, then more filtration and more water changes will be needed, doubly so if you plan on adding more fish. In theory, a 30 gallon tank should house 2-3 fancy Goldfish without problems, but do be aware that in such small tanks and in such small groups, Goldfish can sometimes be aggressive, especially if you have a male harassing a female all the time. Cheers, Neale.>

Oranda system    1/18/12
Hello. <Hi>
I have a 29 gallon tank with a 30 gallon filter.
I have 1 Oranda goldfish in this tank.
Will this goldfish be alright by itself in the tank?
<Should be okay assuming the tank is of regular shape.>
If yes, can I add a second goldfish without changing my current system setup?
<I would not. In a 40 gallon setup, perhaps.>
Thank you. <You are welcome, Sugam>

Goldfish Question, sys./vol.  1/17/12
I have a tank that holds 18 gallons.
<I see.>
I am considering putting 1 goldfish in it.

Some sources I have read suggest some fancy goldfish can be kept in 10 gallons of water.
<Nope. Even Fancy Goldfish will get to 15-20 cm/6-8 inches, excluding the fins. That's about the size of a man's hand. Imagine that, with great long fins behind it, moving about in a tank that's, what, 45 cm/18 inches in length. Sure, lots of people *put* Fancy Goldfish in 10-20 gallon tanks, but the vast majority of them die within a year, "enjoying" only the most miserable existence until then. Goldfish are social, so you really want 30 gallons so you can keep two or three of them.>
Would 1 Oranda goldfish be able to survive in 18 gallons of water?
<No. Well, it might "survive" in the same way polar bears "survive" in cages, right up until it starts getting Finrot, Fungus, Dropsy, or something else that kills it. Is that ethical, humane animal ownership? I think not.>
Would any kind of goldfish survive in 18 gallons of water?
<No. But lots of other options. White Cloud Mountain Minnows would be great! You could keep 10-12 of them in there, perhaps with half a dozen Red Cherry Shrimps if you wanted. Obviously you'd need good filtration, but in a centrally heated home, you wouldn't need a heater.>
Thank You.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Goldfish Question    1/18/12

Thank you for your previous reply.
I have one last question.
Would 1 goldfish survive in a 1 gallon tank?

If so, which type of goldfish?
<No fish at all. One gallon isn't enough for fish, even Bettas.>
Thank you.
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish full of air - Please help   12/27/11
I started an aquarium a few months ago, a Bio Orb 60 (60 l)
<Mmm, these are really poor systems for most all aquatic life... too little surface area, paucity of water movement and filtration... Please read here
re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BiOrbF.htm
 with two 4-inch goldfish.
Recently, I have added two more goldfish  

 into the aquarium, a week apart. One is about one and a half inches, and really feisty, and the other is about two and a half inches, and a total lamb. They all seem to get on well, and given the size of the tank, I consider the aquarium complete.
<These fish won't live long or well here>
One of the 4-inch goldfish developed a habit of eating bubbles quite early on.
<... these fishes... are physostomous... Have connection twixt their throat and swim bladder... use this in part for aerial respiration. Your fish is gasping... "for air">
After talking to some other fish keepers and checking the net, I concluded that it could be due to the fact that the dry pellets I was originally feeding them floated, and she might be expecting food to exist at the surface, so gulped bubbles in a hopeful manner that she found some food. I have also heard that those pellets are full of air, and also as she had to come to the surface, she was eating them and swallowing air in the process.
So I switched to fish flakes,
<... trouble. Please read here:
 and made an effort to release them under the water surface, so that they would not float back up. But her habits seems too set in now to quit. I'm not sure if you have seen a Bio Orb 60
<I have... some friends (CASCO, SeaClear/Tradewind...) bought the company a few years back. Oh, how I wish they hadn't... These expensive "toy" systems are worse than worthless. NONE of them can/do support aquatic life for anything near reasonable time frames. They are fish killers>
before, but the way they are set up is that the air pump pumps air through the centre of the tank via a tube, and the bubbles float to the surface, and then across to the rim. I have tried discouraging her from eating bubbles, by tapping sharply on the glass
<My friend... DON'T do this... IS extremely damaging>
 when she is doing it, in an attempt to condition her behaviour,  but all its appeared to have done is that it has made her behave as though she is a naughty child caught eating sweets before dinner - she runs away when she sees me near the tank, to where 'she' believes she is out of sight, on the other side of the tank, and carries on eating bubbles. To prevent the bubbles moving across the water like that, I increased the water level so that the bubbles gather around the water-friendly
aquarium light, i.e. they won't end up at the rim where she eats bubbles, but now she still gulps air as though she was still eating bubbles.
A little while ago, I noticed her resting at the top of the tank, with her top fin out of water. I realised that her being partly out of water can't be good, so I kept a closer eye on her behaviour. She needs to struggle a bit to swim to down to the gravel in the tank, and the moment she stops swimming she floats up again. A couple of time she sort of floated on her side - just for a moment, but she did. I checked the net again and also your site forums - thanks for making other people's emails available for reference by the way; a lot of comfort for a worried fish owner!
 - and came to the conclusion that it could be swim bladder disease.
<... no>
 I followed a medical regime, and also changed their diet - fearful that I might have been overfeeding them, I semi-starved her for a few days (I know some people suggest to totally starve them for 3 days, but I didn't have the heart to completely deprive them of food (they have got their 'begging' trick down to almost
wrenching my heart out!)) and fed her a thawed frozen de-shelled pea once a day for 3 days, then fed them flakes in the morning and a couple of peas at night (for all fish) from then on. But her habits have not changed. Its painful to see her struggle so much - I don't think she is in any pain, and she likes her food, but I want to try and improve her lifestyle if I can.
I'm on top of water maintenance - every one to two weeks I change about 25% to a third of the water - using the de-chlorinator as necessary and weekly I use the water cleaner that also balances pH. I also added aquarium salt to the tank a month ago. I don't think overfeeding is the problem - the other 4-inch fish (same size), he is the same breed, and eats more of the food, but has none of the problems she has.
I'm not sure what to do.
<I am. See below>
 I honestly don't think she had a bacterial infection such as swim bladder - I think she is just full of air. Is there something I can give her to help her expel the air, that might solve her problem. I am always checking their bodies for signs of other illnesses, but I haven't seen anything.
Please advise.
Kind Regards
<IF possible, convert the Bi-orb to something else other than an aquarium... a fancy vase or palludarium perhaps. And read here:
re what these fish really need. A system of several times this volume, w/ sufficient surface area, water movement and biological filtration. Yes, you've been duped... this "tank" can't accommodate these goldfish, not even one specimen. Bob Fenner>
Re: Goldfish full of air - Please help -- 12/29/11

Hi Bob,
Thanks for your prompt response!
I agree that they are overpriced - I'm just glad I didn't buy it new!! But thanks for the heads up. I will look into a suitable aquarium.
Unfortunately, as much as I love my fish, I have many financial constraints on me at the moment (don't we all in this economic climate!),
<Ah yes>
 so until I am able to replace the Bi-Orb, could you suggest some temporary measures that I can put into place immediately, given the problems mentioned in my last email, i.e. my fish gasping for air, and being full of air, etc.
<Yes... though it may seem antithetic, do drain this system down 1/4 to 1/3 from the top... having more surface area is of greater use than the total volume... AND do be VERY careful re feeding... just a few pellets twice a day... AND DO change out about 20% of the water per day... and replace w/ simple tap water (cold)... to dilute metabolites>
Also, I read your article about flakes; is my feeding regime okay, or should I change it and how?
<Look to Spectrum brand pellets... is what I feed my fancy goldfish exclusively>
 I feed them  flakes in the morning and a couple of thawed frozen de-shelled peas each at night. Am I under-feeding/overfeeding?
 I have four fish; two 4-inch goldfish, one that is about one and a half inches and one that is about two and a half inches.
Kind Regards
<Keep your eyes on the ads for sales, perhaps a used system of size... CraigsList in your area. Your fish will weaken and die soon w/o being moved to a suitable environment. Bob Fenner>
Re: Goldfish full of air - Please help    12/30/11

Hi Bob,
<Hello Sama>
Thanks very much for your advice, I will follow your suggestions. In addition to lowering the water level, I have put in some oxygenating tablets that I had bought previously, hopefully this will hold till the new tank comes
<Mmm, they're only good for hours really>
 - thanks for the CraigsList reference. Also, I will stick to Spectrum brand food. Thanks so much for your help!
<Certainly welcome>
On a separate note, do you know why only one of the fish is gasping for air, and none of the others, including the one of the same size and breed?
<Can be ascribed to "different fitness level"... fishes have high hematocrits (packed cell volumes)... i.e. lots of hemoglobin; but low dissolved oxygen... about 8 ppm w/ our atmosphere at 21% (210,000 ppm)... Have to work hard to respire... and given some types of insults... e.g. exposure to nitrogenous metabolites, hemolyze... lose oxygen carrying capacity. The one is "weaker" from such.>
Kind Regards
<And you. Bob Fenner>

Re: difference... more...?  -- 10/12/11
I grew a gold fish from a little guy until he outgrew the bowl..he was gorgeous about 5-6 inches long( in a BOWL), died when we moved to an oiled heated house, lesson learned too late, we now have propane heat, is this going to affect my aquarium? AN
<No easy answer to this. I don't see why an oil heater should cause problems for fish. But any heating system that isn't in perfect working order and produces carbon monoxide, for example, can be just as dangerous to fish as it can to humans. So if you place an aquarium near a furnace or boiler, there's always a small chance of problems. Think of a the miner's canary. So, place the aquarium near a vent or a window that's normally kept open, and you should be okay if you have any worries. But honestly, if conditions in the house are killing fish, then they're certainly harmful for you, too. Cheers, Neale.>

Shubunkin Goldfish (9/13/2011)
Hello, I just bought my Shubunkin goldfish (SM) two days ago. At first he wasn't really moving around or anything, I know that it takes time for them to get adjusted to a new environment. This is my first pet and I am not sure if the vase I have him in is good enough. It is a Beautiful Fish Vase, I bought it because they didn't have any tanks at the store (Wal-Mart).
Yesterday he was swimming around regularly, I am assuming he had got used to his surroundings, but today when I cleaned out his vase he has stayed at the top of the water line gasping for air it looks like. He doesn't have his mouth at the top were air could come in be he is still at the top. He doesn't eat the Goldfish Pellet Food I try to feed him, not even when they soften up.
I have read that since it is not a tank the water line should be at the maximum surface area, which is around the middle of the vase.
Thank You,
<Hello Courtney. The fundamental problem is that a Goldfish can't be kept in a vase or bowl. What you see on TV isn't always true, and this is one of the biggest misconceptions people still have about pet animals. In short, you are killing this fish by keeping him in this vase. He's suffocating, and by the look of his dorsal fin, he has Finrot too. His life expectancy doesn't look good. Please do read here:
You'll need at least 20 gallons for a single baby Goldfish, and realistically 30 gallons for one or two adults. Anything smaller is inhumane. There's a problem we get around September when young people going to college buy pet Bettas and Goldfish as dorm room buddies, and then a few days or weeks later write to use about why their pet is dying. The immediate cause is invariably housing, and the reason for that happening at all is lack of reading. So it's up to you now. Keeping this fish in a vase isn't humane, and you will kill this animal by doing this. Goldfish have a lifespan of 20-30 years in good conditions; in bowls they're lucky to last more than a few months, and at best, they're hanging in midwater, gasping, and basically dying by inches instead of all at once. Can't get a bigger tank? Return or rehome the fish. There are lots of fish-shaped ornaments that'd work great in a bowl, or else some cut flowers, which is really all they're good for. Sorry to be so negative, but there it is. Hope you're able to make a better home for this chap, Neale.
Re: Shubunkin Goldfish (9/13/2011)
So is it possible to put it in something else?
<In a bowl? Sure. Cut flowers. Pet rocks. One of those troll things with the big hair. But not a fish, no. Despite what you see in Tom & Jerry cartoons, a bowl isn't a fish home.>
I don't really know how to measure gallons, like I've said I am a first time pet owner.
<The average bowl sold in the US, for example, will contain around 1 gallon.>
Should I be going to look for a small tank for the fish?
<A Goldfish needs a BIG tank. Go get a side plate from the kitchen, one measuring about 8 inches across. That's how big a fancy Goldfish will get within 2 years. They are extremely poor choices for first time aquarists.
Bear in mind Goldfish are POND fish, and as soon as you bring them indoors, you need to plan accordingly. Many people don't, and end up killing their Goldfish.>
I really don't want the poor guy to die, he was in a tank with a lot of buddies but now he's all alone.
<Indeed; alone and dying.>
Should I look into getting a tiny plant for the tank as well?
<No point. Certainly won't magically make the bowl a healthier place. If you remember your high school science, plants need strong light to grow, to do photosynthesis. There's no light above your bowl, just ambient room lighting, and that's not enough for aquatic plants. Plastic plants are fine, but obviously without any fish in there because a bowl isn't suitable for fish, but if you want a vase of water with a plastic plant in it, then sure, go ahead and try that. You may perhaps be picking up my extremely subtle intimation here that bowls are useless. If you are, you are quite right. Pet shops sell bowls to complete beginners because they're taking full advantage of your ignorance to take money out of your purse or wallet.
In return, you get something about as useful as a chocolate teapot (as we say in England).>
And what about him not eating?
<Least of your problems. He's not eating because he's stressed and his environment is toxic. A bowl is adequate for a few days or a couple of weeks, provided you do daily water changes using dechlorinated water. Don't feed the fish because he won't be in there long enough to make a difference. You'll either be rehoming him or putting him in a 20+ gallon aquarium. Those are the only two humane options here. Some tips on surviving with a bowl for a few days here:
Don't for a second delude yourself into believing you can keep this Goldfish in a bowl for more than a couple of weeks. If you try, the fish will die, if not quickly, then within a few weeks or maybe months, and in that time you'll have this sad, miserable animal staring forlornly at you all the time! Very bad karma. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Shubunkin Goldfish (9/13/2011)

Well when I said TANK I meant TANK! What will happen if I place a Betta in with this fancy goldfish?
<Goldfish and Bettas need much different conditions. Bettas need warm water (25-20 C/77-86 F) with a very gentle current; Goldfish need room temperature water and a fairly strong water current from a big filter able to handle their massive amounts of waste. They are not viable tankmates even if you happened to have a big enough aquarium, at least 30 gallons, for both species. It should go without saying that Bettas cannot be kept in unheated bowls; unless of course you happen to live in Thailand so room temperature is precisely the same as they'd experienced in the wild!
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Shubunkin Goldfish (9/13/2011)     9/14/11
Alright so the fish is now still grasping for air but when the attention is on him he will go back to the middle of the tank; he is still not eating the food. He hasn't ate since I've had him.
<You need to be doing daily water changes of 50% of the water for the next few days. Feeding isn't really an issue here, and he certainly isn't starving (fish can go weeks without food, and in ponds, Goldfish spend the entire winter without feeding). Go shop around for an aquarium, or else spend the next few days finding a new home for this fish. Those are your priorities. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Shubunkin Goldfish (9/13/2011)

Thank you
<Most welcome! Cheers, Neale.>

How Many Fish Should I Have In My Tank, Freshwater... GF care 11/26/10
Hi guys,
I'm only very new at this, and I'm finding it very frustrating the information I've been given <by> my the various local pet shops, which just confuses me more.
<We'll try to help.>
I have a 120L tank with cold water fish in it, fantails ,comets, a black more a peppered catfish and comets.
<Seems like too much, I would not have more than 3 goldfish in this sized tank, and even then it's pushing it a bit.>
Every time I talk to the local pet shop they give me different answers and I am left wondering what to believe. I even had one of them sell me a paradise fish to put in with the above in my cold water tank! Needless to say it attacked one of my "boggle" eyed fish and I had it back on their counter within the hour!
<At least you were able to return it.>
My main concern is I'm not sure how many fish I should have in the tank. I would like them to grow big as at the moment they are only between 1cm- 3cms.
<For the moment, goldfish in general get big and messy, and need lots of space. I would go with a trio here and think about a larger tank for them at some point.>
Also I've noticed some of them are losing their scales, they seem rather happy other than that?
<Check your water parameters, they should not be dropping scales.>
Worried Beginner
<See our goldfish section for more.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind1.htm >
Re: How Many Fish Should I Have In My Tank, Freshwater 11/27/10

Thank-you from the sounds of that my tank is WAY too full, I have like 12 in there!
<Oh yes, way too many.>

Sick Lionhead Goldfish   11/13/10
Hi I have a Lionhead fish that is about 7 years old. He has never been unwell. However over the last few months he has developed a very swollen abdomen, and has gradually eaten less. He now just sits at the bottom of the tank only moving a little. He shares the tanks (a large BiOrb)
<... unsuitable... Way too small a volume for even a single goldfish. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GldfshTksF.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BiOrbF.htm
with a common goldfish which is perfectly healthy.
<Mmm, no... foreshortened, stressful lives>
The fish has a very swollen abdomen and a half cm white lump to the side if his head.
If you could give me any information this would be most appreciated.
<Read. Bob Fenner>

Re: Attn Neale, GF, not tiny QT  11/9/10
Hi Neale
Deborah here again.
<Hello Deborah,>
You helped me with Sparticus. I added a new fish and he died today. I think it wasn't in the best condition at the store and got worse when I brought it home. I have a 29 gallon tank with 1 very healthy goldfish in there. I've had him for about year 1/2. A 50 gallon filter and a 30 gallon filter Aqueon outside tank.
<I see.>
I have a small 5 and 1.5 gallon tank that I would like to use as a quarantine or to pull a fish out when its sick so I don't have to medicate the whole tank.
<Would not recommend this. A hospital tank needs to be at least as good as the main tank. If it's a worse environment, then using it will make things worse.>
Is it okay to start another small filter on the tank so when I have to pull a fish out I can use one of the extra filters that have the good bacterial through cycling?
<All filters need to be matured, and once matured, constantly "fed" with ammonia, whether from fish or some other source. A common approach is to place the hospital tank media in the main tank's filter, and remove as required. Hospital tanks are also operated using Zeolite ("ammonia remover") but you need quite a lot of this for it to work with something as messy as goldfish, and it also needs to be replaced every few days, the aim being to keep ammonia at zero and to replace the ammonia before the Zeolite is saturated. Zeolite can be cleaned using hot water and then recharged a few times by soaking in brine, but I wouldn't recommend beginners do this.
Instead, replace Zeolite as required. The plus side to Zeolite is that it doesn't use bacteria, so you can use medications that might harm filter bacteria without problems.>
This way the first signs of distress I can catch it in time and pull him out into the proper set up. I would be able to put the big tank water in there and tap and medicate. Does this sound safe?
<If the hospital tank was 10+ gallons and the biological filter maintained appropriately when the tank was unoccupied, yes, it can be safe.>
What would you suggest
<Do read:
Although aimed at marine fishkeepers, the basic rules hold for any hospital tank.>
Thank you kindly
<You're welcome, Neale.>

Goldfish Tank, Deathtrap 11/5/10
Hi everybody,
Thank you for all your help in the past with my tropical tank. Everything is running fine, with healthy fish, which I'm sure is due to your help.
I am writing today because I have come across a product that has concerned me. (see link below)
This is a "tank" being sold to keep a goldfish in. From what I can tell it is very small and has no filter (It looks like the edge of a sphere, with dimensions H: 37.7 W: 37 D: 11.5 cm). This seems like such a bad tank for a goldfish.
<A deathtrap for any fish.>
I would really like to write to the shop selling it and inform them of how much damage this would do to a goldfish. Even if they took no notice, I would then feel better having tried to stop people buying this and killing their fish.
My main question is, is this really as bad a tank as I think it is?
Thank you for any advice you can give,
<Unfortunately tanks like this are all too common in the hobby and have been around for years. Please do let your voice be heard, perhaps it will do some good.>

Regarding Calico Fantail... fishbowl    9/4/10
<Hello Katrina,>
Recently I bought a Calico Fantail, and in the last couple days, when I feed him, he will swim up to the food, nibble at it, make some bubbles, and quickly swim away. He will do this a couple of times before actually eating his food. Sometimes he will do this while swimming backwards. I keep him in a large fishbowl and regularly switch out about half the water.
<Not good enough I'm afraid. Despite Goldfish bowls being widely sold and seen on TV, they're NOT suitable homes for Goldfish, any more than you can keep a German Shepherd Dog locked up in a garage for its entire life. Bowls are cruel, and eventually kill the Goldfish placed in them. Your pet isn't eating because he's stressed. As he grows, he pollutes the water more and faster, so even if you get away with things for a few weeks or months, eventually there comes a point where the waste he produces reaches dangerous levels before you do your water change. That's likely happening here. Because you are looking after this pet so badly, he's getting sick. If you don't fix things, loss of appetite will move into bloating, Finrot, septicaemia, and eventually death. Do read here:
Also, his swimming seems to be a little more erratic than usual, swimming up and down the sides and back and forth pretty quickly. I don't have any plants in the bowl yet.
<Least of your problems.>
Could this behavior just be because of boredom?
Otherwise he seems completely happy and healthy.
<No, he's really not. When Goldfish act odd or stop eating in bowls, they're not happy and they're not healthy; they're starting down the slippery slope to death. I'm not trying to be mean here, but I am being honest. You're killing this animal.>
I would like to ensure that I am doing everything properly, and keeping him healthy, as I am already quite fond of him. If you need any more information, please ask!
<Nope, the word "bowl" was enough to diagnose the problem I'm afraid. Nothing more needs to be said. Either upgrade the bowl to a 30 gallon aquarium with a filter, or switch to another pet, perhaps a cactus. Bowls are basically useless. Pet stores sell them because there's lots of people out there who buy animals before buying books about their care. Shame that, but there you go.>
Looking forward to your reply,
<Hmm'¦ we'll see about that!>
Thank you, Katrina.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.> 

11-year-old Goldfish, Laying on Bottom of Tank, env...   6/2/10
Rhonda, my 11-year-old Goldfish, has been lying on her belly on the bottom of her tank for the last 3 days, with very limited swimming or movement.
Her top fin seems droopy. She makes an effort to swim when I come over to her tank, and is trying to eat, but it seems like she is spitting the food out or not able to swallow it. I feed her floating pellets, which she's been eating for the last 8 years. She is in a 10-gallon tank with a Whisper filtration system and live plants.
<10 gallons is too little.>
I do not usually change the tank water -
<You must! 25% weekly.>
I have actually never tested the water before today - everything tested normal except for the Nitrite level, which was at 200ppm (very unsafe). I am making a partial water changes to reduce this level.
<200 ppm nitrite (with an "I") is deadly, so I doubt you have this. But you may have a 200 ppm nitrate (with an "a") level, and that is certainly highly toxic if not immediately deadly.>
Would you suspect that this Nitrate level could be the culprit for her behavior?
She does not seem to be tipsy,
so I don't know if this is a swim bladder problem or what.
<"What". You're keeping this fish very, VERY BADLY, and that's finally killing her. She's not that old -- Goldfish live 30+ years -- and the fact she's survived 11 years is more about how tough these fish are than your fishkeeping skills (which are, to be honest, minimal).>
Occasionally she has rested on the bottom of the tank for short amounts of time in the past, but she has never done this for such a long amount of time.
Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you for volunteering your time for our aquatic friends - this website is a goldmine of information! I am grateful for any information you might be able to provide.
<It's kind of you to say such things, but I'm concerned you've so far not managed to find the gold in our mine. Do please start reading here:
-Sarah M
<Cheers, Neale.>

11-year-old Goldfish, Laying on Bottom of Tank, ScottT's go    6/2/10
< Hi Sarah>
Rhonda, my 11-year-old Goldfish, has been lying on her belly on the bottom of her tank for the last 3 days, with very limited swimming or movement. Her top fin seems droopy.
<I've had this happen before also. Not to worry, I think it is fixable.>
She makes an effort to swim when I come over to her tank, and is trying to eat, but it seems like she is spitting the food out or not able to swallow it. I feed her floating pellets, which she's been eating for the last 8 years. She is in a 10-gallon tank with a Whisper filtration system and live plants. I do not usually change the tank water - I have actually never tested the water before today - everything tested normal except for the Nitrite level, which was at 200ppm (very unsafe). I am making a partial water changes to reduce this level.
<Great idea with the water changes. Change a few gallons a day until the nitrites go away. Maybe add a chemical product to detoxify the nitrites quickly today too. It wouldn't be bad to make a once a week water change routine.>
Would you suspect that this Nitrate <nitrite?> level could be the culprit for her behavior? She does not seem to be tipsy, so I don't know if this is a swim bladder problem or what. Occasionally she has rested on the bottom of the tank for short amounts of time in the past, but she has never done this for such a long amount of time.
<In my experience this is completely water quality related. I had an overstocked tank in which half of the fish exhibited that exact behavior.
Once I installed a plant filter and increased my water changes, they all started floating again. A droopy dorsal fin is a sign that the fish isn't too happy. High nitrites, pH might be low, and a number of things that are hard to test for. If you do even a 10% change weekly, Rhonda will be much happier.>
Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you for volunteering your time for our aquatic friends - this website is a goldmine of information! I am grateful for any information you might be able to provide.
-Sarah M
<Hope this was helpful, Scott T.>

Re: 11-year-old Goldfish, Laying on Bottom of Tank   6/2/10
Hi Scott and Neale!
Thank you both so much for your expert advice, and lightning-fast response.
I did intend to write "nitrates", as you noted - I apologize for my confusion. I have made about a 15% water change thus far and Rhonda appears so much happier already - she's swimming and eating like normal, with a little more zest than usual!
She is still resting on the bottom of the tank, but only occasionally - the improvement in her behavior is substantial.
I forgot to mention that I normally add Aquasafe and Stress Coat water conditioners when I do change the water - I have been using these products for about 8 years. Do you feel these are good products?
<Dechlorinator is certainly essential with every water change. Stress Coat falls into the "meh" category to be honest; it's useful when shipping/handling fish, but otherwise redundant. Neither produce removes the need for an adequate aquarium and regular water changes.>
I did read up on the Goldfish 101 information page, and will definitely be testing and changing her water regularly from now on. I had (very incorrectly) assumed that oxygen was the only significant concern, and that having a filter and live plants would take care of it all.
<Not the case at all. Yes, you can create an ecosystem where the plants balance the fish, but for that to work you need 100s of gallons, a couple of inches of small minnows, and intense sunlight. Seriously. Any attempt to balance fish and plants in a home aquarium just won't work. It's been done in labs, and the ratio of animal to plant life required is extremely different to what you've got in your mind.>
I am including a couple of just-taken pictures of Rhonda.
<She looks cute. Probably needs company though; Goldfish are gregarious animals and quite "intelligent" by fish standards.>
Do you think she does need a larger tank?
She is about 4.5 in. / 11 cm., head-to-tail.
<For an 11-year-old fish she's really very small, and poor conditions are likely to blame. In any case, Goldfish shouldn't be in anything less than 30 gallons/110 litres for two adults. Can they survive in small tanks?
Sure, some of them do, but the mortality rate is high. The sad fact is the most Goldfish end up dead within a few months, and small aquaria are very largely to blame.>
Thank you very much!
<My pleasure.>
-Sarah M
<Cheers, Neale.>

Grossly stunted, or more euphemistically, "Extremely Bonsai'd"... RMF

My black moor is acting "funny" -- 5/4/10
I bought a black moor and a fan tail goldfish a few days ago, they are in a one gallon fish bowl
<... where they will die soon. Unless you read, understand, act quickly:
and the linked files above. Follow directions, don't write us w/o searching, reading first. Bob Fenner>
with a bubble pump and my black moor is worrying me. Today the fish sat at the bottom of the bowl not moving a whole lot and when it did it would either swim around the bottom (skim the bottom of the bowl) or he would flit around and settle again in the same spot on the bottom of the bowl. He does come up for food and swims just fine then. My fan tail is just fine and the moor scurries away from my fan tail when ever they are near enough that their tails touch. I'm fairly new to having fish so I do not know what to expect, I feed them slow sinking crumbles and have read that, that is the best food to feed them. I put something in to remove chlorine and chloramine due to our city water sometimes having high concentrations of both. Can you help me?

Fed up Fan Tail ! Bring in another Carassius auratus X C. goeblio w/ industrial dis.   -4/6/10
I have a fantail in a 35L tank.
<35 litres? Much too small for Goldfish.>
She stays mostly at the bottom of the tank in one particular spot .
When I feed her she tries to eat the flakes but with little success and her poo is now clear . She has no marks on her body and nothing around her mouth although it doesn't open very wide , I have also been doing regular ammonia tests and changing half the water weekly . I have looked on your site but cant find anything relating to her symptom , would be very grateful for some advice .
Many thanks Rebecca in the U.K
<Do read here:
Goldfish are social fish that need large tanks. You seem to be providing neither of these essential requirements. The problem with your fish likely comes down to these. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fed up Fan Tail ! The incredibly stupid biz of BiOrb making, selling, and buying   -4/6/10
It seems incredibly stupid that BiOrb , a well known brand of tank, should put in <sic> there instruction booklet what fish to put in what tank and how many.
<Funnily enough, I'm writing an aquarium book at the moment, and I have just written a bit about expensive spherical aquaria with minimal practical value. A quick look at their website showed photographs of 60 litre (16
gal.) spherical tank with 5 goldfish in them -- despite the fact you'd need at least 210 litres (55 gal.) to keep 5 goldfish happy and healthy! Very definitely misleading, and arguably against the Trades Descriptions Act in the UK.>
What fish do you put in a 35L tank?
<Do read here:
35 litres is about 9 US gallons, but because of the tall, cylindrical shape of the 35 litre BiOrb tank, it can't hold as many fish as plain vanilla rectangular aquarium. BiOrb tanks are VERY overpriced for what they are, and practically every experienced aquarists weeps when they see some poor soul carrying one out of the pet shop! If someone gave me one of the things as a gift, I think I'd probably go with a male Betta and a bunch of attractively coloured algae-eating shrimps, such as Cherry Shrimps and Bumblebee Shrimps. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Pearlscale Goldfish with possible swim bladder disease -- 2/12/10
I bought a Pearlscale goldfish from a local pet store about a week ago. He is about an inch long, so I think he's fairly young. I have him in a five and a half gallon tank with a small carbon-cartridge filter, gravel, and a few decorations.
<Too small -- if he grows as he should, this will work just long enough for you to purchase a suitable home -- thirty gallons as a minimum for one goldfish, and a larger tank if you ever wish for him to have a buddy.
Please read here on the proper way to house goldfish:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/goldfish101art.htm. If you choose not to provide what he needs, this situation is going to get more unpleasant for you, and positively dire for the fish.>
I was told a small goldfish could cycle a tank himself so I wouldn't need to purchase zebras to cycle with before hand.
<He certainly can cycle the tank himself. He's doing the same thing Danios
would do. Do you understand the nitrogen cycle? The problem is not whether or not the tank is cycling, but the effects on your goldfish as he lives in his own toxic waste products. Please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm. I really prefer the fishless cycling method -- it's much cleaner and much more humane. In any case, if this tank is in the process of cycling, your water changes need to be large and daily if you want this fish to live until the tank is cycled.>
I changed a gallon of his water after two days, more than half his water two days after that, and another gallon two days after that. I use city water treated with a dechlorinator. I don't know the water parameters except the temperature, which is room temperature (about 68 degrees).
<You should buy test kits. Your ammonia levels are likely extremely high.>
Before I even took him out of the pet store bag I noticed him floating strangely (picture attached). He floats completely vertically with his head down and his tail up. However, he moves pretty easily around the whole tank and only floats this way when he is at rest. I fed him about two small goldfish pellets his first day in the tank and tried to feed a thawed frozen pea, but the pieces were too large and he didn't eat most of it.
I haven't fed him anything for three days and today I gave him half a pea, which he ate quickly. However, he does not seem to be improving. In fact, I think he's floating vertically more than he was at first. It's been almost a week and he's only getting worse. Is there anything else I can do? If it is swim bladder disease, how long will it take to get better?
<Please understand that there is no such thing as "swim bladder disease."
It is a name for a group of symptoms caused by things like poor water quality, poor diet, etc. So, think of it as if someone said, "I have knee pain." The pain itself is not a disease. It's caused by something -- they fell on it the day before, or they have issues with the joint, or something.>
I read things on your website about goldfish nutrition, and I don't know what he was getting fed at the store, but they seem like smart fish people, so I would hope they were feeding him right. I would like to avoid keeping live plants in my tank. Is a diet of terrestrial vegetables enough and the occasional food pellet enough to support him?
<Can, but he likely has other problems right now.>
I'm not sure this is a nutritional issue. He doesn't look bloated (but it's hard to tell since he's supposed to be shaped like a golf ball). His scales aren't stretched apart or sticking out funny. He's just floating weird.
<There's a chance that he was damaged in the process of netting him at the store. There's also a chance that he's suffering in a tank which is too small and not cycled. He was likely not receiving the right food at the store, and so if this is a problem with feeding, it's going to take a while for him to regain regular digestion. My best guess, without having seen him pulled from the store's tank, or knowing your water parameters, or knowing what the store fed him, is that this is likely an environmental issue -- the uncycled tank. I would return this fish to the store, properly cycle the tank, and then buy a Betta for it -- really, the only commonly-available fish which can live in an aquarium this small. There are other choices, though... please read here:
Thanks for your help.
<You're welcome. Please check out the links provided above, and explore the linked files on the goldfish pages. There's just oodles about goldfish care archived on WWM, and you'll find that while you're not the first to make these common mistakes, such as tanks that are way too small, and failing to properly cycle an aquarium, the fact remains that what's wrong with your fish is likely due to a lack of care on your part.>
~Hannah Fearing

Black Moor Goldfish... env....    1/26/10
I recently bought a medium black moor goldfish about 3 weeks ago. I have him in a small fish bowl, about 1.75 gallons. <A dismal life for any fish.>
He's the only fish I have. I've been good about changing his water once a week. I just changed it 2 days ago, and I've noticed it's cloudy again already. I live in an apartment and have city water, so I let the water set out for several days before I changed the water to let the chlorine and all out.
<Are you absolutely sure that your city does not use chloramine in the water supply? This will not evaporate, as chlorine does, and must be removed with a product, such as Prime.>
I noticed yesterday he has developed white spots on his nose. I don't know if it is Ick or the cotton-disease or something entirely different, but either way, I don't know what I should do.
<Fix environment. Unless you do, there will be some new symptom of illness every week until he dies. If you provide what this fish needs, you will find yourself pleasantly uneducated about fish diseases and illnesses and
the myriad of symptoms which accompany them, because your fish will be healthy.>
He's also been picking up the pebbles from the bottom of the bowl a lot
<Normal. Do be sure gravel is large enough to prevent it becoming lodged in the mouth.>
and hanging out at the top of the bowl more so than usual.
<Oxygen is diffusing into the water at the top of the bowl. He's trying to breathe in an oxygen-poor environment.>
I've never had a fish before, so I have no idea what to do. Can you help?
<Goldfish need much, much more than what you're providing this fish. Prior to writing, we ask that everyone first read what is archived here on WWM.
The answers to your questions and more can be found in the following pages:
and any linked files you find in these pages.
If you have never had a fish before, one would think you would read prior to purchase, or, at the very least, after purchase. I have never ridden a motorcycle, so I wouldn't just jump on one and drive away, expecting to have a positive experience. Please take the time to read and fix this fish's environment with something in the range of a 20 to 30 gallon aquarium with heavy filtration. This will provide room for a buddy goldfish, as well, if you choose a 30 gallon tank, and goldfish enjoy the company of other goldfish. Your fish can live for twenty years or more with proper care. Please write back if you have any questions after reading.

Please Help with sick/dying goldfish  1/20/10
Good evening,
I have been researching on your site ever since I got home from work and have not been able to find an answer to my problem. I have 2 small fancy goldfish in a 5 gallon aquarium.
<Too small. This is why the fish are sick/dying. For two Goldfish, you need at least 20 gallons even for babies, and 30 gallons for adults. This is non-negotiable. Bear in mind there are no "small" Goldfish, merely juveniles. They get to at least 15 cm/6 inches in the first year of their life, and Fancy Goldfish will eventually reach about 20 cm/8 inches. That's about the size of a large rat. Take a look at your 5 gallon tank. Could you even fit animals that size in their? No.>
I have a hang on the back filter and an air stone for circulation and I do about a 2 gallon water change about once a week. The tank is in my classroom at school and over the Christmas break I used an automatic flake feeder.
<These cause more problems than they cure. In a big aquarium, there's always the risk these things will add too much food given the absence of the aquarist to keep tabs on water quality; in a small aquarium, adding an automatic food dispenser is basically adding a time bomb. Goldfish are herbivores, and the bulk of their diet should be plant material. A clump of Elodea (Canadian Pondweed) can be added before holidays, and will provide adequate food for them across a couple of weeks. Plants contain little protein, so the risk of water quality problems is minimal.>
I also put in a small 'preset' heater because I was worried about the building getting very cold when closed up for the break. The temp stays around 78. When I got back from break about 1/2 the water had evaporated and my snail had died. I did an immediate water change. I noticed that the orange fish had some fuzzy white stuff on its tail, but that seemed to clear up.
Friday everything seemed fine. This morning after the MLK 3 day weekend, the calico was listless and sitting on the bottom of the tank. His tail is noticeably drooping. He seems to have either lost a lot of scales or they have lost their 'shine'. On very close inspection this afternoon I realized he has a bunch of small holes on the side of his head (I did not see them at first because of his coloring). My first reaction this morning was to do a water change, then I tested the water and it was good except the nitrates were just a bit high. I had some Maracyn left over from a previous incident, so I put some of that in too. He did eat just a little when I fed them this morning, but I am very worried, especially by the 'holes' since I did not find anything like them either on your site or on the 'fish care' chart in the Maracyn box. The children are very worried and I'd like to save him, if I can.
<The "if I can" bit is the nub of the problem. These Goldfish need a proper home. Unfortunately, and I say this as a fellow teacher, what a 5 gallon tank teaches children is WRONG. It tells them that animals can be kept in spaces too small for their needs, and if they get sick and die, that's fine, because we can go buy another animal to stick in there. From my perspective as a biology teacher, that's a bad lesson. We should be teaching children that animals are precious, and that keeping them is a responsibility as well as a pleasure. Moreover, keeping animals properly is expensive, and if you aren't willing to make the financial sacrifice necessary, you shouldn't keep a pet animal. Anyone who told you a 5 gallon tank was acceptable for Goldfish was either lying to you, and else ignorant. That you hadn't done your research first is another issue. In any case, stocking 5 gallon tanks is difficult, and there's almost nothing that does well in them, with the exception perhaps of Bettas and some of the freshwater shrimps.
Furthermore, everything you need to know about Goldfish is here, and as you'll see, almost everything people think they know -- without picking up a book -- is wrong.
Until such time as these Goldfish are moved to sensible quarters, they're doomed. So while I could opine that they likely have Fungus and/or Finrot because of exposure to chronically poor water conditions, the cures available are predicated on the assumption environmental conditions improve. Hence the "if I can" statement involves substantial upgrades to the aquarium as well as the addition of suitable medications. Unfortunately my experience is that all too often people will prefer not to spend the money, and instead rationalise things to a "we'll wait and see what happens first" scenario, which basically ends up as watching the fish die by inches. For me, someone who likes animals, that's incredibly depressing.>
Thank you so much,
<Happy to help. I hope I'm not sounding too hectoring, but e-mails about sick goldfish in bowls are really, really bad ways for me to start the morning. I hope you're able to fix things. Cheers, Neale.>  

Re: Please Help with sick/dying goldfish   1/21/10
Sorry to have ruined your day, after reading your email mine was pretty much ruined, too.
<Believe me, I get to satisfaction from that.>
That and having to spend the day telling each group of children as they came into my room (I'm a speech therapist, not a classroom teacher, so kids come into my room 2 and 3 at a time) that my fish was sick and probably dying and it was my fault for putting them in a tank that was too small, and no, I'm not getting another one if he dies.
<I can see that would make for a difficult day. But do think about alternative livestock you could use. Cherry shrimps, Apple snails, Triops, even carnivorous plants can make entertaining focal points for scientific and natural history discussion. Pond water is great, because it often comes teeming with tiny critters like snails and water fleas. Without fish, all these systems need to do well is sunlight and aeration. Such tanks can last for most of the year with minimal maintenance beyond topping up with water.>
In my defense, my comment about "if I can" meant "if there is anything at all that I can do and it's not too late" NOT "if it's convenient and cheap and if not then oh well, I'll just get another fish".
<Good to know.>
It is NOT "Fine" with me if the fish dies.
<Also good.>
I'm afraid I was operating on years of apparent mis-information including: a fish to water rule of one gallon per inch of fish (2x1.5 inch fish = 3 inches, so 5 gallons should be sufficient); goldfish don't outgrow their environment; if you don't over-feed, have a good filter, and do frequent water tests and changes then the water will be healthy; goldfish don't live that long so 2-3 years is pretty good; and packaged goldfish food is actually for goldfish.
<Yes, all common myths. In your own field of speech therapy, I'm sure you often hear lots of ignorance from people outside the field: lack of language skills implies stupidity; people who don't talk don't have anything to say; there's nothing you can do to fix speech problems; and so on. All received wisdom in the population at large, but also completely wrong.>
Also, the pet store sells 5 gallon tanks (not to mention 3 and 1 gallon ones). I see that my error lies in researching after the fish was sick and not before I even put it in the tank. I won't make that mistake again.
<My work here is done then.>
I have a friend that has offered a larger tank, that I will have to set up at home since my small room at school cannot accommodate it, but unfortunately I don't think this particular fish is going to make the transition.
Hopefully his tank mate will fare better.
<I hope so too.>
I hope you have a better day tomorrow,
<All the better for hearing from you. Cheers, Neale.>

Quick question pertaining my goldies. Sys.  1/9/10
I have a Calico Ryukin and a fancy goldfish and have had to put them in a 10 gal tank,
<Too small a volume.>
how long will they be OK together like this?
<Not in this tiny world, no>
The calico seems extra skittish, he spends a lot of time in the corner and if the big guy goes into his corner he jets into the other. The big Goldie seems fine though.
What would you recommend I do for them on a limited income?
<A bigger system>
I know 10 gals is pretty small for them, I am working towards getting them a 30 gal tank, but it's going to be difficult so that brings me back to the question: how long do I have?
<W/o water quality tests, testing, can't tell. Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Goldfish tank size 11/29/09
Good morning, WetWeb crew!
<Good morning, Sarah,>
First, I'd like to thank every one of you for the help you've given me over the last three years. It's been half a year or more since I've contacted you, but I remain very grateful for the time and effort you put into both your website and the amazing Q&A service - as a newbie aquarist when I discovered your site, I can honestly say my fish and I wouldn't have got this far without you (especially Bob and Neale). Many, many thanks to you all.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
My question is hopefully a fairly simple one; I have three goldfish, currently in a 125 litre (just under 28 UK gallons) tank, and I would like to know if this is big enough.
<Yes, especially for Fancy Goldfish; the standard Goldfish (things like Common Goldfish and Comets) can get too big for such tanks, and are best treated as pond fish.>
The goldfish are perhaps 4/5 inches, 2 inches and 1.5 inches respectively from snout to base of the tail (sorry, would be more exact but the biggest one rarely stays still - best to err on the side of caution and assume 5" I
I have done a lot of reading on this subject as I want to do the best I can by my fish, and I've used your search function to read everything I can find. Unfortunately, many posts are regarding different-sized goldfish to mine and there does seem to be some conflict of opinion at times, depending on the person posting a reply. I'm struggling a little to find common rules due to the sheer mass of material; according to your logged replies, my tank's size is just within normal range or a bit too small. I understand that it's not an exact science so I'm not grumbling at all, but I would really appreciate some clarification based on my own circumstances if possible.
<Since Fancy Goldfish get to about 6-8 inches in body length, that's the number to bear in mind. Given the size of your tank, you should be fine with Fancy Goldfish of that size, especially if filtration is top notch.>
Thank you once again for your time, and for all the help you offer the aquarists and fish of the world!
Warm regards,
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
RE: Goldfish tank size
Dear Neale,
Thank you very much for your quick reply - that's a weight off my mind!
The filtration is for six times the tank size, which I think is adequate based on my reading on this site, and they are fancy fish so it all sounds okay.
<Six-fold filtration rates are adequate for Fancy Goldfish, but if you find the water getting silty, or the mechanical filter medium in the existing filter needs cleaning very frequently, adding another filter may be a solution. I usually recommend eight-fold turnover rates, but with the proviso that water turbulence is reduced via a spraybar or similar since Fancies find it had to swim in strong currents.>
Thank you again for all your help,
<You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Fluffy fish. GF hlth.. Env. "classic"    9/17/09
Hi there
I have 3 goldfish, not too sure what kind, as have only had them for a couple of weeks, though now, one of them seems to be fluffy, it looks more like a blowfish than it does a goldfish,
<Likely Fungus and some sort of systemic bacterial infection. Not promising, I'm afraid. Both these things are caused by bad maintenance in almost all instances, so it really comes down to finding out how YOU made the fish sick. Once we've established that, we can talk about cures and prevention.>
also doesn't seem to be very happy, e.g., hiding in the plants and treasure chest in its tank, the tank is a 9ltr,
<Dismal. Look, a single Goldfish needs something like 25 gallons/90 litres.
You cannot, repeat CANNOT keep Goldfish, or indeed any fish, in a 9 litre tank. Just won't work. Did you read anything before buying these poor fish?
I hate being the person doing the scolding all the time, but if you had read anything about goldfish, you wouldn't have bought a 9 litre tank.
Here's how it goes. Person decides to buy a pet fish. Walks into shop.
Sales clerk sees totally ignorant person browsing 9 litre tanks, and thinks, "Sucker!". Sells that customer 9 litre tank, plastic plants, bubble-operated ornaments, and all the other junk he can think of. Customer
walks out, and a few weeks later all his/her fish are dead. Neale gets an e-mail via WWM, that exasperated wannabe fishkeeper is frustrated, and Neale has to explain that they did everything wrong. Neale, since he likes animals and cares for them, gets worked up, and writes a short-tempered e-mail back to that wannabe fishkeeper. Everyone loses, especially the Goldfish, who's dead.>
just changed the water and put water conditioner in two days ago, fish only came out with this yesterday, any ideas would be greatly appreciated,
<Read here:
You need a MUCH bigger tank. No excuses; if you don't want a bigger tank, or can't afford one at least 90 litres in size, then don't keep Goldfish.
What you're doing is cruel and thoughtless. You also need a filter, and water changes should be limited to 25% per week so that water chemistry doesn't vary too wildly. Goldfish prefer hard water, so you need to think about that too. Hard water isn't salty water, so don't imagine for a nanosecond that adding "aquarium salt" will make things better. What else?
Oh yes, diet. These are herbivores, so if you're feeding just flake or pellets, you'd likely to end up with constipated Goldfish. See here:
they belong to my 5 year son,
<No, it doesn't belong to your son. It belongs to you. Let's remind ourselves we're talking about animals here, not toy soldiers. Animals come with responsibilities, and a 5-year-old couldn't possibly handle them. So, let's get real here, it's your aquarium, not your sons. What are you going to do about it? Why not show to your son that animals have needs that have to met, and while they're fun to have around, they're also hard work. Don't want to teach that lesson? Then don't keep fish.>
Grrr, would hate for it to die.
<As would I. An anti-fungal medication (not salt, or tea-tree oil such as Melafix) will fix the cotton wool growths that you see. As for the bloating, if you're lucky, that's constipation, and proper feeding will fix
it. If you're unlucky and it's dropsy (in which case the scales will stick out from body, like a pine cone) than the fish is pretty well doomed short of a trip to the vet for antibiotics.
Hope this helps, Neale.>

Cheers... GF? Sm. sys.  9/17/09
Thanks for email back,
<No problem.>
I actually didn't buy the fish or the tank, they were a gift to my son for his fifth birthday, I had absolutely nothing to do with the purchase of anything to do with either the tank or fish either, thank you for all the useful info, and I am sorry you got frustrated with it all
<Well, I'm not frustrated with you; if I was, I wouldn't have taken so long to write back. But I do get frustrated that people (for whatever reason, good or bad) buy small fish tanks, stick goldfish in them, and then see them die. It's senseless, it's easily avoidable, and yet it still happens.
All I can hope is that now you do know what to do, you'll listen to your better angels and make your Goldfish happier and healthier.>
Sent from my iPod
<Sent from my MacBook Pro. Cheers, Neale.>

Chocolate Oranda fish 5/17/09
I've just bought two Oranda fish for my daughters and put them in a 21 litre tank.
While looking on your site to find out how to sex them I've discovered the keeping of them is going to be much harder than I imagined! Firstly I haven't got the room for a huge tank so what can I do to make their lives less miserable in pitifully small surroundings?
<Nothing. 21 litres (or 5.5 US gallons) is simply too small for Goldfish, full stop, end of discussion. Even a tank five times that size would be "adequate" for two Goldfish rather than "comfortable". I can't stress too strongly how many Goldfish are stuffed into too-small bowls and tanks, and then die shortly thereafter. It's a shame these small plastic aquaria are so inexpensive: they are basically a con, and despite being "cheap" in terms of pounds, shillings and pence, they're utterly useless for keeping fish, so the shops that sell them are essentially tricking people into wasting their money. If the tank had a heater, you could keep a single male Siamese Fighting Fish in there, but without a heater, that won't work. So you see my point about these tanks being useless!>
Secondly, what's this about peas, what kind of peas, and what else can I feed them?
<Cooked or tinned peas generally work. Beyond that, Goldfish aren't fussy, so if Petis Pois are what you have, they'll eat them!>
Thirdly it said on the box not to overcrowd the tank but I read that the wee things need hidey holes, help!
<Goldfish don't really care about caves, but they do like things like plastic plants that provide shade and structure to the aquarium. But otherwise, provided you don't use garish colours such as My Little Pony pink and blue, which will stress them, they aren't fussed. Just think about the colours/objects in a pond, and go with that.>
I've got a filter in my tank that I'll clean out regularly (but not too regularly because I don't want to stress them out) and I've got an air pump to put oxygen in the water, is this ok?
<So far as it goes, yes. These Orandas won't live long in 21 litres though. Grab a ruler or tape measure. Look at how big 20 cm/8 inches. That's the size of their bodies when mature; the fins are on top of that! Now, compare that size to your 21 litre aquarium. See my point...>
Oh and I live in Scotland so I think it's a hard water area although no clue about ph!
<Some of Scotland has hard water, but a lot of Scotland has soft water. Hence, as you may know, England brews beer (where hard water is required) while Scotland distils whiskey (where soft water is best). Since Goldfish need hard water, and never do well in soft water, this is a key piece of  information. If your kettle "furs" up every couple of months, then you probably have hard water.>
Lastly I'm sorry about being so fish ignorant I thought watching them swim about would relieve stress but I think this is a myth!
<It's not so much a myth, but rather fishkeeping is easier and cheaper compared with keeping, say, a dog or cat. But a fish is an animal, and like any animal, it has needs. You ignore these at your peril! Some folks assume fish are like pot plants, so that all you do is add water. They're not, and our post bag each day underlines the fact much can go wrong if you don't follow the rules.>
Please help me I don't want to be a fish killer or traumatize my children!
<Many of life's dramas can be read by reading a book about something before we actually do that thing...>
Sorry again
Yours Suzy.
<Cheers, Neale (who went to school in Aberdeen, no less).>

My goldfish (Pearlscales; big fish in a small tank)   4/22/09
Hi there,
I read your answers to peoples' questions regularly as I have 3 tanks myself. One tank with 5 tiny Pearlscales - fully cycled - no problems; next tank has 3 larger Pearlscales - cycled media still waiting for full cycle - water changes every alternate day and use Prime and salt .
<Tiny = babies. Do remember Goldfish grow big, and quickly! These are very messy fish, so you will need a big tank.>
slight nitrite readings but fish very happy.
<These two facts aren't related. Nitrite, any nitrite, is dangerous. Even if your fish seem happy, they can still be biologically stressed, and you won't see trouble until its too late. Fix the nitrite problem.>
On the weekend on I bought 2 large Pearlscale ping pongs from LFS for $70.00 each.
<Yowser! Expensive fish! Hope you've got a good tank for them. Let me summarise briefly: seven Goldfish will require a large tank, at least 250 litres (66 US gallons) to do well. You'll need a reasonably robust filter,
something with a turnover around 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So a 250 litre tank would need a filter rated at 1500 litres per hour. Sure, these fish aren't strong swimmers, so you'd use a spray bar and a few bits of smooth bogwood to break up the water current. But you will need generous turnover just to keep the ammonia out of the water and the silt from the substrate. Goldfish across the board need hard, alkaline water: pH 7.5, hardness 10+ degrees dH. If you aren't doing all these things, or prepared to, you'll have problems. And if you're spending serious cash on pedigree Goldfish, then you want them to last their full lifespan of 20-30 years!>
They looked o.k. at the shop, but when I got them home, after floating them for 15 min.s in bag, I put them in small QT Tank bought for purpose.
<"Small tank" and "Large Goldfish" should never go together.>
I had put in cycled material in filter and heater and airstone, checked ph, ammonia, nitrite and temp before putting them in - all good.
<Define "good". Are we talking about 0 ammonia and nitrite, pH 7.5, and a temperature around 18-20 C?>
The orange one just went to the bottom and sat there breathing heavily. he made a few attempts to rise over next day, but mostly just sat on bottom.
The white one looked more lively and was breathing ok. However, I noticed they were very pale around gills and gills were mottled.
<Uh-oh; get them out of the small tank, and put them in something reasonable; 100 litres or so for 2 large Goldfish, at minimum, even as a quarantine tank.>
Both their faces had a bluish tinge and eyes were a bit opaque.
<Mucous; this almost always means they're reacting to some negative aspect of their environment. Mucous production is the first line of defence a fish has against things like poor water quality or sudden pH changes.>
They both ate a little - i went to Uni next day and rang LFS to say one was not well. Came home and white one was not breathing well either gills were sunken, mottled red and white and noticed a couple of flat largish looking spots in rather than on their tail fins and dorsal fins but other wise not a mark on their bodies. Woke up today and both were dead.
<Unfortunately, I'm not surprised.>
Took them back to LFS with water from tank. They said I had an elevated ammonia reading - between 0ppm and 0.25 so there was nothing they could do.
<The tank was too small, the filter likely inadequate, and so ammonia accumulated in the tank faster than either the water could dilute or the filter remove. Completely predictable if you put these fish in "small"
tanks. I really cannot stress this enough: Goldfish need BIG tanks.>
I was mortified to think that something i had done had killed them, but they were never really well and only lasted 2 days - from Sunday to Wed.
<While I can't be sure, if the fish were happy at the retailer, and died within days or being brought home, then it is very likely you *did indeed* do things that caused their death. Review what Goldfish need, and act
accordingly next time:
Help - what could have been wrong.
<Hope this helps, but I'm sorry I couldn't help sooner. Cheers, Neale.>

Need Help (Another sick Goldfish, another 10 gallon tank...)  4/12/09
Hi All,
From Tyson & Jolene
We have just recently got started in to the aquatic world and have not had the best luck. Just last week we bought a 10 gallon tank and added about 40% cover fro the fish. We treated the water with Aqua plus which removes both Chlorine and Chloramine and let the water sit to become room temperature or the same as the previous water the fish were in.
We bought 2 Shubunkin goldfish both about 3 inches in length. All started out great the were swimming around and enjoying their new home or sow it seemed. We fed them once a day about 10 pellets of Hikari Wheat-Germ. On the second day we had the fish one (Drum-Stick) started acting strange always going to the surface and almost gasping for air. The fins seem fine, all standing and no deterioration but he was moving around rather slow but there did seem to be an almost spasm or twitch to his tail which we accredited to stress.
The other fish (Frout) almost seemed to get agitated and attack the side walls as if another fish. Both fish were opening and closing their mouths as if eating almost constantly is this regular?
On day 3 of owing the fish when we came home Drum-stick was floating on the top on his side and one of his eyes had turned red. When you touched him he would swim away but always float back to the top with the same side up.
What would cause this? The next morning he had passed.
I have taken a water sample and Drumstick back to the pet shop but I will no have the results for this email. I changed the water and Frout seems to be doing better but he now seems to be still opening his mouth constantly.
He ate a couple pellets but no many. Do you have any suggestions of what we might do to give this fish a good and happy home?
Tyson & Jolene
<Hello Tyson and Jolene. This is the third or fourth such e-mail today!
Must be a record. If you check today's (4/12/2009) FAQs, you'll find a number of messages about Goldfish:
So please, save me from typing all that out again by reading those instead!
In particular, let me draw your attention to the fact 10 gallons is too small for Goldfish, and nothing you do will help short of buying an aquarium at least three times the size, assuming you want to keep multiple
Goldfish (if you were feeling particularly cruel, you could keep a singleton in 20 gallons I suppose, but they're social fish, so why bother?). You also need a robust filter, not some poky hang-on-the-back
unit. Do read my article on keeping Goldfish, here:
Let me summarise though: Goldfish are pond fish, not aquarium fish. If you want to keep them indoors, you need a big aquarium. The fact your fish is/are sick/stressed simply demonstrates that water quality is poor and you're nor providing the conditions this species needs. I cannot stress this strongly enough; whatever ideas you have about Goldfish coming from seeing Goldfish swimming in bowls on TV, that's garbage in reality. Any pet store that told you a "small" (i.e., baby) Goldfish would be fine in a 10 gallon tank saw you as being someone inexperienced enough they could "sell a bill of goods to" as the Americans say. I prefer to deal with reality, and with Goldfish, that means a 30 gallon tank and a reasonably powerful internal or external canister filter optimised for biological and mechanical filtration. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Telescopic goldfish, var., sys.  -- 04/12/09
i just bought 3 telescopic goldfish and after i put them in my tank i noticed that one of them have a lot smaller dorsal fin is this normal ? is it bad ? and this is a stupid question will it grow back ?
<Assuming that these were store-bought rather than pedigree Goldfish, yes, this is probably nothing other than variation. Won't grow back, but not a problem either. I hope you have a nice big tank, and that it's already cycled and adequately filtered. Telescope-eye Goldfish get to about 20 cm in length and three specimens will need at least 125 litres/30 gallons.
Funnily enough, I've just answered a couple of queries today from people with sick Goldfish in too-small tanks. In the meantime, do see here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: telescopic goldfish -- 04/12/09
have two more question. i only have a 10 gallon tank right now plan on getting bigger is this ok for now ?
and my water wont stay clear why tank to small?
<Precisely so. Goldfish need at least 20 gallons when small, and 30 gallons or more as adults. They are schooling, messy fish -- so don't skimp on filtration!>
when should i get another tank ?
<As/when the pet stores open in your area. It's Easter Monday tomorrow here in the UK at least, and that's a bank holiday. But Tuesday the shops should be open. Buy a big aquarium with a heavy-duty filter. Don't get mislead by using small, weak filters just to save a few bucks; trust me, you'll regret it. Cheers, Neale.>

New Tank Set Up, Goldfish  5/1/08 I've had tanks in the past and miss them. <Come on back to the fold...> I am getting ready to start a new tank and at our local aquarium store, I found a 37gal tank but it is square and tall. It looks really cool and I wanted to see if that would be an issue in the long run with fish. I know that goldfish need longer, wider tanks to swim in, but if I were to keep smaller freshwater fish, would this be a problem? <Not likely if kept circulated, filtered... carefully fed and maintained> I am not keeping cichlids or fish that will grow large in size either. Aquarium stores want to sell you something. <Is their job> I tested the guy by asking if this tank was good for goldfish, knowing it wasn't and he said "sure"! I appreciate your help and your honesty in answering this question for me. <Mmm, as stated, these fishes do prefer more "squat" profiles than "show" for swimming, gas solubility reasons... Bob Fenner>

Safest way to introduce a new goldfish 10/13/08
Hi everyone,
I'll start by thanking you all for the tireless work you do in answering everyone's questions and posting articles. It really is very generous of you and I know the info I have received on your site has made all the difference to my fish's happiness and my enjoyment. I have thanked you before but it's worth doing so again.
<Thanks for your kind words.>
I have an 8 gallon tank (currently empty) which previously housed a small Black moor for about 8 weeks. During that time it never really cycled and got stuck at the nitrite stage with me doing water changes every day to prevent nitrites getting to high (they remained at around the 0.5ppm level with water changes).
<Likely "cycled" as far as it could; in small tanks the supplied/installed filter may never be able to remove the nitrite and ammonia sufficiently quickly enough to cover the mess created by Goldfish.>
So, when the new 35 gallon tank arrived I moved the fish in almost straight away (after 3 days testing) as I figured if he was going to be stuck in a cycling tank he would much prefer it to be the larger and more interesting one with the decent filter which (thanks to Neale) is rated just over 6x water volume.
I'll add now, for everyone else who reads this mail, if anyone wants to know the advantage of housing a goldfish in a bigger home (beyond the water quality problem - which is in itself a great reason to do the right thing) they should see how ridiculously happy my fish seems now he has space, real plants to munch and something to do all day. Despite him seeming "fine" before I swear now he's almost giddy with glee (perhaps I am anthropomorphizing to a certain extent but the different in behaviour really is remarkable).
<You get it! That's the point to upgrading Goldfish to bigger tanks -- it isn't that they won't survive in small bowls or tanks (some certainly do survive) but you don't see them at their best. Spending a little more money up front turns your pet from being a lingering fishy ornament into a happy, active pet.>
Anyway, back to my question... The final stage in the "Make Fat Tony Happy" plan is to get him a friend in the form of another fancy goldfish. I am now unsure how best to go about it. The options as I see them are:
1) keep the smaller tank going, keep feeding it and wait until it cycles then use it as a quarantine tank for the new fish before moving it to the 35 gallon.
2) wait until the bigger tank has fully cycled then add the new fish straight in
<Also possible; quarantining is the ideal, but if there's only a single fish in the existing tank, and treating with anti-Finrot or anti-Whitespot is safe (as it is with Goldfish) I might be tempted to risk introducing diseases rather than expose a new fish to unhealthy (non-zero ammonia) conditions in the small tank. It's really 6 of one and half a dozen of the other.>
I would really prefer option 1 as it seems the safest option for everyone. However, I am concerned about the lack of cycling in the smaller tank when my fish was previously kept in there.
<Well, you'd certainly need to keep adding the odd pinch of flake to ensure the existing filter stays "alive".>
Perhaps 8 weeks wasn't long enough or perhaps in my concern for the fish I was keeping the nitrite levels too low and now that I can allow them to build up as they want the cycle will come with time?
<Most tanks cycle in under 6 weeks. Goldfish being Goldfish, short term exposure to ammonia and nitrite doesn't usually cause undue hardship to the more robust varieties (Moors, Comets, Shubunkins, etc.). It's the delicate fancy varieties that are most sensitive (Ranchus, Pom-poms, Celestials, etc.).
Or perhaps the silly small tank and silly little filter just never will be up to the job of housing a goldfish, even just for 3 or 4 weeks and even if I cycle it without a fish as soon as I add one we'll hit water quality problems immediately.
<This argument certainly has its merits.>
I guess I'm just asking your opinion on the safest, least stressful approach for both my existing fish and the new one? As I can now do water changes in my sleep I'm not looking for the easiest option at all, but the best one for the fish.
<I'd make sure the existing Goldfish and its aquarium is in good condition, and then add a new fish to that aquarium directly. The risk is small, and any potential penalties in terms of diseases shouldn't be difficult to handle. Do take care choosing tankmates: Moors are best kept with their own kind, classic Fantails, or single-tail Goldfish like Standard Goldfish and London Shubunkins that aren't quite so frenetic as Comets (these latter are best left in ponds). Moors they tend to be a bit hard on the more delicate Fancies, taking the food and asserting their dominance too easily in the "pack". Basically, don't combine them with anything [a] lacking a dorsal fin; or [b] with weird growths on its head.>
Thanks again!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish (BiOrb - the old, old story) 11/25/08
Hello, I was wondering if you can help me, I own a biorb tank ( the medium sized one) and I have had three fantails and a lion head living in there for over a year with no problems. Then all of a sudden they all seem to have got some mystery illness. They are all just sitting at the bottom of the tank with little movement; they hardly even come up to feed anymore. The worse symptom is that they are all covered with this white substance all over their body like a cobweb even in the gills, and the goldfish's tail seemed to just gradually disappear?? Two of my fish have already died and the other two have still got the disease rather badly. I have been looking around and I cant find anything to do with this strange white cobweb like substance all over their bodies. I clean them out once a week by doing a 2/3rd water change and they seem to perk up for about 10 minutes after I've done it. Thank you for your help x
<Hello! I never like answering questions about Bi-Orb tanks because I know they're expensive and people don't want to hear what I tell them. But the problem is that these tanks are rubbish. They are certainly of no use whatsoever for keeping Goldfish. They are too small, don't have enough surface area for oxygen to get in, and the filtration system is too weak. They are the wrong shape for Goldfish. Everything about them is wrong, except for the fact they contain water, which at least makes them better than trying to keep a Goldfish in a rabbit hutch. But that's the only "good" thing about them. In terms of usefulness, they have none. The reason your fish look happy after a water change is suddenly they're in good water conditions. After a while the water goes bad again, and they become unhealthy. The white "cobwebs" are likely Fungus, and will need to be treated using something like eSHa 2000 or some other proprietary formalin/copper-based medication. Avoid rubbish like Melafix, Pimafix or the use of salt. Finrot may also be present, and this will likely be why the fin membranes are dissolving. Medications for this include some of the formalin/copper-based ones that also treat Fungus, or you could use an antibiotic such as Maracyn or Furanace. It is possible you're also seeing excessive mucous production, which appears as whitish slime on the bodies of Goldfish when they are stressed. In any case, beyond treating for Fungus and Finrot (I'd encourage you to treat with a medication that cures both) your Goldfish will need a bigger, at least 30 gallon aquarium with a decent filter. Do remember NOT TO USE carbon in the filter when using medications. Your Bio-Orb is of no further value to you. By all means voice your frustration at your retailer for selling such a piece of rubbish, but I'm afraid your Goldfish don't have any options but to move to a new home.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Goldfish (Bio Orb - the old, old story) 11/26/08
Thank you for getting back to me, sadly the last two fish died this morning. I did have an idea that it could be the tank, but then i thought why would anyone invent a tank for goldfish, that goldfish cant be kept in.
i did put them in another tank a few days ago with treatment but it must have been too late. don't worry i wont be using it again, luckily i didn't pay for it anyway i got it given (i wonder why).
thank you for the honest reply.
<Sorry to hear the bad news. By all means use the Bio Orb for Cherry Shrimps and so on. But I don't recommend their use with fish. Cheers,

Black Moor, BiOrb - 01/25/2006 Hi, <Hello.> I recently bought a 30L BiOrb and was advised by the pet store that it is very suitable for a Black moor goldfish. <30 Liters is just shy of 8 US gallons; this is less than the 10 US gallons that we tend to recommend as a bare minimum per goldfish.> I have introduced a 1 inch black moor. Is this tank suitable? <He will certainly need a larger space as he grows.  Whether it is suitable right now will depend upon whether or not you can keep ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm, in this small space.  Black moors, like all other goldfish, produce a great deal of waste - you might not be able to keep up with him.  Furthermore, the surface area of these and other "bowl" shaped systems is really inappropriate for fish.  A ten or fifteen gallon tank would probably be cheaper and more appropriate a home for him.  I really would have this social animal in a tank of 30 gallons or more (115 Liters or more) and provide him with another goldfish pal.> The instructions with the BiOrb claim the filter cartridge should be changed every 6-8 weeks, but I have since read that the stones in the filter cartridge can be thrown away (if this is true when should they be thrown away?) <If the "stones" are black (carbon), a week or so is fine; they lose their efficacy at that point or sooner, but in your case it won't be harmful for them to stick around for the time the instructions recommend.> and the sponge swilled in the partial water change tank water, and re-used time and time again until worn out then cut in half when introducing a brand new sponge (half a sponge at a time). Is this correct? <This would be fine.> Also how often should I be carrying out a partial (30%??) water change, weekly? Because the instructions only advise this to be done every 6-8 weeks! <Oh my.  With a goldfish (read: poop machine) in this tiny tank, weekly water changes of 20% would be effective at his current size.  Waiting 6-8 weeks would be asking for trouble....  Disease, toxic water conditions....> I am quite confused after purchasing a tank that is supposed to be a very simple and easy way to have a pet fish!!!! <Goldfish are not the easiest fish to care for.  They're serious waste producers.  Keeping their environment clean is a challenge, and in this very small system, it will be even more challenging, and impossible as the animal grows up.  You might consider smaller, less "poopy" fish; a single male Betta/Siamese fighting fish makes a great companion that's easy to care for.  Or if you like groups of fish, a few white cloud mountain minnows or zebra Danios might look nice.  I would go for a Betta; they're great on personality.> Also the black moor has an upturned right anal fin (I think its called this the two small fins at the back end bottom of the fish) <Good description - these are ventral or pelvic fins.> it sticks up against the right side of its body - will this cause him problems when he grows? <Nah, not at all.  It may be a genetic deformity, or maybe the fin was broken when he was quite young and grew funny.  This won't be an issue.> Someone please help, I don't want to cause any harm to this fish! <Please take a look here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm , here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshdisease.htm , here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshmalnut.htm , and here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm for some good information to help you out.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Goldfish Aquarium 11/5/07 Hello again! I have two 2-3 inches Ryukin goldfish, bought it yesterday they are in a 10 gallons aquarium. Now my question is, is it okay for them to be in there? What size of the goldfish will I put them into what size of aquarium? pls reply soon because I am frustrated about their growing size, thanks.! <Greetings. Minimum tank size for a full-grown Goldfish is about 30 gallons, and you should allow at least 5-10 gallons for each additional Goldfish. Fast swimming varieties (regular Goldfish, comets) especially need to be given space to "stretch their fins". Ryukin goldfish don't swim so strongly, but I'd still not keep 2 specimens in less than 35 or 40 gallons. If you do, you'll end up having to deal with cloudy water and persistent water quality problems (which in turn leads to Finrot, fungus, pop-eye, etc.). So there's really no point scrimping on a couple bucks. The filter is pretty much a fixed cost, and the price difference between a 20 gallon tank and a 40 gallon tank is pretty trivial factored out against the 10-30 year lifespan of happy Goldfish. Please do have a read of the MANY Goldfish articles here at WWM. Cheers, Neale>

Question about my hexagon <goldfish> tank  8/30/05 Hello, <Hi there> I have a 32 gal. hexagon tank with 2 fantails that are about 3 to 4 inches long. Pity buy from Wal-mart about 3 years ago, I know, bad me. I have read that a hexagon tank is bad to keep them in due to the restricted O2 exchange, <Mmm, not as "good" let's say as the same gallonage/volume shaped in a more flat fashion> but they are in there with a bubble disc, a bubble curtain, 9 live plants, was 10 but they ate one, and an external filter with and aeration valve. <Sounds very nice. Years back, I helped form, run an aquarium service company... We had many Hex-tanks with fancy goldfish...> There's no problem with the current being to strong and the water is good. They have been in there for about 2 weeks now and seem to be doing fine, is there anything i should be worried about either now or later on down the road with the tank? <Mmm, no... other than doing regular maintenance... weekly water changes with gravel vacuuming, providing a mixture of foodstuffs for good nutrition... Bob Fenner>

Goldfish problems - 4 fish and a shoehorn 7/10/03 - (AKA- my goldfish has a shoeprint on its face) Hi there <Howdy> I have 4 goldfish, approx. 6-7 inches in length each, living in a 10 gallon tank with an underwater filter. <good heavens... that is overstocked!!! Really sad to hear. The tank can barely hold one at this size responsibly> I have tested all my water levels (nitrate ammonia etc) and the water quality seems to be within limits. <ahhh... no comment> I do not know the sex of any of my goldfish but they are all 7 years old and  were bought when they were approx. 1 inch <interesting> 1 of my fish is bloated but is not showing symptoms of dropsy and has now developed a mouth condition. <water quality (bacterial count, other un-testables) is a challenge here I'm sure> It looks like the skin is shredding from its lips and they are swollen. It also has what looks like a bubble of air or fluid at the tip of 1 of its fins. I would be grateful if you could advise me as to exactly what might be wrong with it and how to treat it. Thank you Dawn <these fish really need a larger aquarium to be held properly if not ethically. The sickness is no surprise considering the living conditions. Yikes... Imagine living in an elevator for 7 years with 3 people... who ate beans all day long... and sang campfire songs... off key. Quality of life issues here have manifested into a real issue of pathology. My advice is to remove the other 3 fishes (sell, trade or upgrade to a larger aquarium) and treat the afflicted one in the 10 gallon tank as if it was a QT vessel. Use a Furazolidone and Nitrofurazone mixed drug. Best regards, Anthony> 

Tank Too Small 11/-5/03  Dear Sirs or Madams:  <Hi, Pufferpunk here>  My son has a 5 gallon tank that was given to him as a gift. Rather than continue with the grisly details, first a bit of history:  The tank was occupied by 4 fish (I believe they are all Orandas) but was getting very dirty very fast. I cleaned the filter often to no avail. (speeding up the story now) Want to a large retail pet place (maybe not a "SMART" idea?) and they told me I needed a snail to keep tank clean. Put snail in tank and it was chased into a corner and died (which further clogged my filter with snail guts).   Recently one Oranda has passed (due to snail guts poisoning the water?). I have one orange, one orange and white, and one black one left. Is there an algae-eater type fish that I can introduce that will help keep my tank clean without conflict?  <Please no more fish in that tank! Actually a 5gal tank isn't large enough for even 1 goldfish. The rule of thumb I go by with goldfish is 10g/2", if small fish (<3") & 10g/1", if large fish (>3"). So right now, you're talking about getting at least a 30g for your fish for now. You'll need a much bigger tank in the future. Goldfish are heavy waste producers & need a lot of space to live. The easiest way to keep goldfish long lived (they can live 20+ years!) & healthy is to change 90% of their water weekly. In addition to very good filtration, over & above what is recommended for a tank it's size. You will need to fishless cycle your new tank before adding the fish. You can do it in a week. Read this article & all the recommended links: http://www.tomgriffin.com/aquasource/newtanksyndrome.shtml   Goldfish can be cute, interactive, long-lived pets, if taken care of properly.>  Any information that you can provide me is greatly appreciated.  Sincerely, Hotdaddydog1 <I hope this helps--Pufferpunk>   

Angry Goldfish 10/16/03 Hello, <Hi. Pufferpunk here>    My son recently acquired a 2.5 gallon aquarium with a Whisper brand filter.   He had 3 goldfish...a black moor, a small fantail goldfish and a larger black, white and orange colored goldfish.    <Way too small a tank for even one goldfish!> All cohabitated fine with the larger fish being a little aggressive at feeding.  The black moor has since died from ich but the others have been treated and are doing well.  Suddenly however the small fantail has chased, and nipped constantly at the larger goldfish to the point where my son has had to use a separation screen to protect the larger one.  The small fantail now hangs by the partition following the other ones every move.  What is going on here? <Goldfish are very messy fish, that urinate & defecate much more than other fish.  This requires a lot of water to dilute the toxins of ammonia & nitrites caused by all this waste.  For small goldfish (<2") at least 10g/fish is necessary.  Goldfish can grow quite large & normal lifespan is 20+ years if cared for properly.  larger goldfish require housing of at least 20-30g/fish.  I have found great success in keeping goldfish healthy by changing 80-90% of their water weekly to remove the ammonia build up in their water.  You also need to clean the gravel at the same time.  There is an excellent article titled, "Are Goldfish Really for Beginners?" in the December 2003 issue of Aquarium Fish magazine.  I highly suggest you & your son read it.  You should be able to pick it up at your local fish store.  I think w/more room the aggression problems will be solved.>      Thanks, Debbie <Your welcome--Pufferpunk>  

Small tank, big fish Hi: <Hello> My Daughter just got a ten gallon tank and about a 4" Goldfish and a Plecostomus. How many and what other types of fish would be good for this tank. <Oh my....  I don't think it would be a good idea to add *any* more fish to this tank.  Goldfish are very messy and produce a lot of waste, which makes the water turn toxic, so any more than just the one goldfish would be really hazardous.  Unfortunately, that's bad news for the goldfish, because they are schoolers and like to have other goldfish for company.  The plecostomus, if it's just the 'generic' type, will grow to a staggering foot and a half or more, depending upon what species it is, but they grow slowly, so you probably don't have to worry about him just yet.  My recommendation would be to give the goldfish back to the fish store, and instead, get some smaller, easier to maintain fish like guppies, platies, or swordtails, and perhaps some small bottom feeders, like Corydoras or Kuhli loaches to add some fun to the tank.  This would probably be a lot more fun than goldfish, anyway.  Here's a couple of good articles to help you on your way:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtips4beginners.htm ; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm .  Hope all goes well,  -Sabrina.> Thank You  

Fancy Goldfish  I got my wife a 10 gallon tank for her birthday and she picked out a fancy goldfish for it. The store clerk said the tank should be big enough, but we have read that the tank may be too small. My wife is also worried about the fish getting lonely. Is it better to pair them up? If so what size tank would you recommend getting for two fancy goldfish? Thank You for your help. Jeff  <<Dear Jeff; Yes, a ten gallon tank is too small. Good call! Goldfish can do quite well in groups; the problem is tank size and water quality. Keeping one goldfish in that ten gallon is a better idea than two, but since you realize you will need to upgrade the tank anyways....goldfish should have space to grow, so you may start with two, but keeping one goldfish per ten gallons of water is a better idea. Fancy goldfish can grow to the size of a decent grapefruit. One more thing, if this is tank has been set up recently, chances are you are cycling with this one goldfish. Take a sample of your water to the LFS when you go back, and get your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates checked. If the ammonia or nitrite readings are too high, you will need to wait a bit longer before adding the second fish. If you have nitrates, you may add the second one. Always do small, frequent partial water changes to control the ammonia/nitrites/nitrates. -Gwen>> 

Goldfish are Not "Bowl" Fish! 4/2/4  Hi, Pufferpunk here>  Hi, I recently bought a couple of small goldfish which I have in a large vase, and I was wondering whether it would be safe to put in a bamboo shoot ? Please help.  <forget about the bamboo, you have much bigger problems. Goldfish are not "bowl" fish! A vase is not a proper home for ANY fish. You need at least a 10g tank/goldfish (while small). Please give them a proper home with a filter & room to swim. Goldfish are heavy waste/ammonia producers & require huge weekly water changes, but do not completely clean the whole tank. Read up on the care of goldfish & cycling a tank.>  Thanks  <Goldfish grow to over 12" & can live up to 20 years if cared for properly. ~PP>  

Goldfish are not Bowlfish!  4/7/04 Hi. <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I found your site while researching about goldfish, and I have found it really helpful, but I have a problem.   <Great, lets see if I can help.> Let me precede this email by saying that I have never had goldfish before, and that I got most of my information from the pet shop attendant (which I have never done before while purchasing pets, and now I know I will never do it again).   <Smart idea!> I was told that it was fine to keep 3 goldfish (A black moor and 2 feeder fish) in a 2.5 gallon tank. <Huge mistake!> I'm a college student, and I don't have much space, but I will buy a new, much larger tank as soon as I get home (beginning of May).   <Too late.> I was also told that I would need to do a water change about 2 times a month. <Wrong again!  GF require 10g/fish, up to 3" & then 20+g/fish when bigger.  GF grow to 12+" & can live over 20 years.  They are heavy waste/ammonia producers & require large tanks, heavy filtration & huge water changes, because of this.  Most long time GF keepers say that weekly 90% water changes is not considered too aggressive.  The only fish that could possibly exist in a 2 1/2g tank would be a Betta.> I have had the 3 goldfish since Saturday (today is Tuesday) and yesterday night I saw my smallest fish swimming around quickly, as if something was wrong.  After a while, however, it looked okay again, but this morning I found it dead in the tank.   <Not surprised--sounds like ammonia poisoning.> This has upset me very much, because I feel I have done everything I was told, and that I have been lied to.   <Not lied to, just advice from the ignorant & uncaring.> My other two fish seem fine, but I'm really worried that they too will not live long.   <You've got that right.> I am going to do a water change today, hopefully that will help, and as soon as I am able, I will go to the store and buy a water tester kit. Is there anything else I can do? I'm very upset, and I want to do everything possible to keep my fish alive. <Like I said, no goldfish will live long in a tank that small.  I suggest returning them immediately.  If you must have a fish in there, get a Betta.> Thank you so much for your help, <Sure & whenever you life is settled enough for a larger tank, then we can talk goldfish.  ~PP>> 

Burst bag of goldfish... and quick action saves the day She Saved the Fish! Hi I was looking through your website in desperation. I'll tell you why..... I went shopping yesterday and found on the sidewalk a goldfish in a burst plastic bag, it was gasping so I ran into the nearest shop, filled the intact part of the bag with water and the fish started swimming :) Went to a dollar store, got a Tupperware and took it home in that. Went to the nearest aquarium shop and asked for help. They gave me a bag of gravel, a 1 gallon bowl, Aqua Plus tap water conditioner, and a pH balancer and some flake food. As he was in about 50ml of water, I put him pretty much straight into the tank, which I now know is a bad thing to do, I think he went into cold water shock. Amazingly the fish survived the night, and I am now rather attached to him. Anyway, he started hanging out near the surface a lot this afternoon, and I figured he's not got enough oxygen, so I took out some water; the tank is now 1/2 full. I figure I need a bigger tank right? He's about 2 inches long, and a plain old garden variety goldfish as fast as I can tell. DO I really need a pump, filter, etc. etc. etc.?? Please help as I have become a fish owner not so much by choice as by commitment, and am therefore completely clueless about what to do, but want to give this poor fish a good shot..... Yours in desperation, Jehannine <<Dear Jehannine, good for you for rescuing a homeless fishie :). You are on the right track, and yes, he probably does need a bigger bowl, er, tank. A tank with a filter would be the best thing, but if you cannot manage it, a bowl will suffice as long as you get one large enough for him to have some space to grow...regular goldfish will grow to 12 inches in length. Stunting him by keeping him in too small a bowl will not help in the long-term. Plus, twice weekly water changes will be necessary to keep him healthy. The smaller the bowl, the more often you need to change the water. A ten or twenty gallon tank is best, with a filter and some gravel for him to dig in. You will still have to do water changes, but not quite so often. Goldfish can live a very long time, upwards of 10-20 years. You can do a search on the Net, and read up on goldfish and their care. Here is a good place to start: http://www.petlibrary.com/goldfish/goldfish.html  Good luck and have fun :) -Gwen>> < Welcome to the world of aquarium fish. If you really want to keep him happy for a long time then we have our work cut out for us. Little goldfish bowls are basically little death traps for goldfish. Those bowls really are only suitable for Bettas and related fish. Your goldfish needs to have the water circulating or it will suffocate. You need a little air pump with an airstone to keep the water moving all the time. Unfortunately these little pumps can be quite noisy. Your bowl could use a little undergravel filter that fits in the bowl under the gravel. Until the bacteria bed gets established in the gravel you will have to change the water every couple of days to keep the ammonia levels down. Maybe after a couple of weeks you may not have to do as many water changes. In the meantime don't overfeed and go to the fish store or library to get a good book on goldfish and do some homework. See if you really want to keep this guy for the long haul. If you do then you will eventually need to buy a tank. -Chuck> 

What am I doing wrong? Goldfish systems and losses Hello <Hello there.> I know that you can help me. <I will sure try!> I have been trying to start a freshwater tank for some time. I have been doing everything that the pet store has advised, but I can't get my goldfish to live longer than a week! <Yikes... that's not good.> I've let the water in the new tank run for at least a week before introducing the fish, <Try letting the tank run longer.  Set the tank up and let it run for at least two weeks.  During this time add a small amount of the flake food to the tank (with no fish in it), the flake food will break down and feed the bacteria needed to promote a healthy tank.> I've treated the water with a conditioner recommended to me, and the 10 gallon tank is properly aerated. <A 10 gallon tank is small for goldfish, you will only be able to keep one maybe two small ones in there.  They are very messy fish.  You will also need to have a filtration system on the tank not just something to aerate the water.  Small hang on back filters like "Whisper" are very inexpensive and are needed on this tank.> The goldfish develop white spots and eventually their fins begin to rot. They get very weak and soon die. I've treated for ich and fin rot, and I've brought a sick fish to the pet store for advice. Nothing is working and I am getting very frustrated. I have thrown out all of the rocks and plants and I would like to try again, but I am scared of losing another fish. Please help! Tiffany <Well Tiffany, was this tank used for anything else in the past?  Perhaps it was exposed to chemicals or something, even cleaning solvents can remain in a tank that will kill fish.  You can always tear down the tank and rinse it out with very hot water and start fresh.  Set up the tank, gravel and decor inside it.  Fill with water, and turn the filters on.  Let it run for two weeks at least, during this time place in a few flakes.  Maybe once every three days.  Break them up to fine powder, this increases the surface area and they break down faster.  I suggest you also invest in test kits for Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates. Test your water and when these are at zero parts per million then it will be safe to put in goldfish.  There are many good books on the topic of starting a freshwater tank. I suggest your going to your local library and getting some out.  Also look over the articles and forum on WetWebMedia.com, there you are sure to find some great info.   Best of luck to you and your future fish family! -Magnus>  

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