Aquatic plants add to the beauty of your aquarium

They also help aerate the water and provide your fish with shelter and nutritious nibbles. Choose plants suitable for coldwater aquariums. Goldfish do enjoy eating plants, and also tend to uproot them from the gravel when feeding, so you may need to replace plants from time to time. Plants rooted in rock wool are more secure than bare-rooted ones. Alternatively you can buy plastic plants, which last forever and only need cleaning to maintain their appearance.

 

KNOW YOUR GOLDFISH

Goldfish are living ornaments.

They form a decorative feature in any room. Unlike other ornaments, however, they require a degree of commitment in terms of time and attention. Compared with most pets, goldfish are very low maintenance - they can even be left for up to a week when you go on holidays. Nonetheless they will not survive real neglect. The artificial environment in which they live needs to be set up with care in theorist place. And then need regular cleaning and water changes to keep the water healthy and allow the fish to breath.

 Goldfish are the most popular household pets in the world

Goldfish are the hardiest of aquarium fish. After the initial cost of setting up their home, they are cheap and easy to care for. In fact, they make the ideal pet for people who lack the time or space for a more demanding creature,but beyond that they have advantages in their own right. The common goldfish is uncommonly beautiful creature, with its brilliant colouring and graceful movements. Fish in a well-maintained aquarium are a joy to watch, and provide a great antidote to the stress of modern life. 

Why goldfish are gold

The goalfish's scales are actually transparent.Beneath them lies a thin layer of skin containing pigment (colour) cells and also a layer of crystalline material called guanine.  It is the guanine 

which creates the characteristic metallic sheen. Not all goldfish are metallic: some varieties lack guanine, and they have a 'matt' rather than 'gloss' appearance. The actual colour of the fish

(for not all goldfish are golden) depends on the type and combination of pigment cells, and

indeed there are white (silver) goldfish which have no pigment cells at all.

Comets are easy to keep,but need more space.

The Comet is a 'stretch' version of the common goldfish, with slimmer body and longer fins, especially the deeply forked tail fin, which may be as long as the fish's body. It comes in all the metallic colours, including variegated, and also in non-metallic calico (lack mottling and coloured patches on a silvery blue background).

Fancy fins.

Long, trailing, double fins are graceful and attractive. They are also at greater risk than normal fins of   injury,infection and parasite infestation. Long-finned fish are slower swimmers than 'normal' goldfish and more sensitive to water temperature. Fan tails and Japanese ryukin, with fins of mo date length, are reasonably easy to maintain, but veil tails are not recommended for novice.

 

INTRODUCTION

Don't mix !!

Comets, Shubunkins and common goldfish are tougher, faster, more active and more aggressive than fancier varieties. Don't try to house the two types together, or the latter amy become stressed or injured, and will find it hard to compete for their share of food. 

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A LONG LIFESPAN

Goldfish are long-lived. Given the right conditions, they may attain 25 years or more - the record is 43 years, but this is unusual. In pond and large aquariums, they may live 15 to 20 years. In smaller aquariums, a 5-10 year life-span is more likely. 

COUSIN KOI

The Japanese koi resembles the goldfish in many respects, but is descendent from a different species of carp and has two pairs of 'whiskers' (barbels) around the mouth. Do not confuse the two! Koi are not suited for aquariums, as they grow to a much greater size (up to a metre long) and require a large, deep pool.

Interesting Facts
 Goldfish have a long history as pets.

They originated more than a thousand years ago in southern China, where fish breeders discovered that the drab-coloured wild Crucian Carp, normally a dull brass colour, occasionally produce 'sports' with brighter colours, shinier scales or unusual fin shapes.

How goldfish swim

When swimming, the goldfish relies on its rear end and tailfin for most of its propulsion. Its fins add balance,

manoeuvrability and breaking power. The two pairs of fins on the underside (pectoral and pelvic fins) help with steering and stopping, while the single fin at the rear of the underside (anal fin) and that on the back (dorsal fin) assist balance in the water. Fancy goldfish with unusual body shapes or fins may be handicapped in swimming. Short-bodied goldfish are low on power, while those with fancy fins have steering problems.

How goldfish breathe

We breathe air, from which our lungs extract the oxygen we need. Fish  'breathe' water, extracting oxygen from this with their gills. If water quality is poor, there will not be enough oxygen for the fish to breathe. Water passes in through the fish's mouth and out through the gills, inside which thread-like blood vessels near the surface take in oxygen and pass out waste carbon dioxide.The gills are covered by a protective shield call the operculum, whose curved shape you can clearly see behind the eyes. Fish have a highly efficient respiratory system, but they need clean, well-aerated water to supply enough oxygen to breathe. 

BEDTIME

Yes, goldfish do sleep at night, although they cannot close their eyes. Sleeping goldfish usually sink to the bottom of the tank and their colours fade slightly. They sleep best in the dark, so turn off the tanl lights at night. They need undisturbed sleep to remain healthy. 

DON'T TOUCH

Fish scales are covered by a thin layer of skin, which produces lubricating mucus to help the fish to glide through the water and also to guard against infection. If you need to handle your goldfish, make sure you have wet hands to avoid damaging this fragile skin. 

FANCY VARIETIES

Fancy goldfish are usually more delicate.

The more a variety departs from the 'natural' goldfish shape , the more likely it is to need extra care. There are three main areas which novices should approach with caution: body shape,fin shape and eyes. Egg-shaped goldfish with short fat bodies are more fragile, long trailing fins require more care than the shorter type, and bulging eyes are prone to injury and infection.

Egg-shaped goldfis
Short-bodied (egg-shaped) varieties such as the fantail and Orlando have shorter swimbladder, the organ which provides buoyancy and enables the fish to maintain its balance. This makes them slower,more awkward swimmers and also more prone to swimbladder disease, which affects ability to swim - affected fish may sink to the bottom of the tank or float helplessly on top. The compression of the body may also affect digestion, so special attention needs to be paid to their diet.
Goggle eyes.

A number of varieties have abnormal eye configurations. The 'globe-eye' is commonest, with bulbous protruding eyes.these globe eyes take two to three years to develop fully. Even more extreme are celestial goldfish, with hugely protruding eyes permanently turned upwards, and bubble-eyes, with vast fluid-filled balloons around their eyes. Google-eyed fish tend to be delicate. They have difficulty seeing and finding food, and are prone to eye injury and infection.

Installing an air pump and filter is well worthwhile.

Maintaining good water quality is the key to goldfish survival. Water is a fish's life support from which it obtains oxygen to breathe - but also a fish's toilet. In the small, closed environment of an aquarium, oxygen is quickly used up, and waste products build up to poison the fish. Regular partial water changes go a long way towards improving aeration and removing waste, but a pump and filter make this task easier and keep oxygen levels high.

 

What size.

Buy the biggest tank you can accommodate, to provide optimal living conditions for your fish. The smaller the container, the less oxygen is available for the fish, and the faster the water becomes polluted with goldfish waste. Goldfish are active and also fast growing, so they appreciate space. If you have room, a 55-litre tank 60cmX30cmX30cm is a god start. This would house 5 young goldfish quite comfortable and allow them room to grow.

 

Choosing the right site for your aquarium is important.

You want to enjoy easy viewing, and the fish want to enjoy peace and quiet without the risk of passers-by bumping into their home. The ideal site will be also be well away from draughts or heat sources, to avoid sudden or extreme changes of temperature, and not in direct sunlight, which will over-heat the water, reduce its oxygen content and encourage the growth of algae. You also want an electric socket nearby, so that you can plug in a filter, light and other equipment without having hazardous trailing wires.

 

Choose your container with care.
Traditional goldfish bowls are not recommended, as they offer only a small water surface area to absorb oxygen. However, it is now possible to buy a large-capacity 'all-in-one' goldfish bowl with built in air pump and filtration system, which provides the right environment for fish. The alternative is a glass or plastic aquarium. These are available in various sizes and shapes, but a long rectangular tank is usually better than a tall, narrow one - surface area for oxygenation is more important than depth of water. Some tank available in pet shops are more ornamental than practical.

ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT

FILTER MAINTENANCE

Mechanical filter media need regular cleaning to remain effective. How often you need to do this depends on your aquarium set-up (for example, how many fish you have). Don't wash filter under the tap, as tap water may destroy beneficial bacteria: use water from the aquarium itself. 

LIGHTING

Lighting is an attratcive extra and also encourages plant growth. Fluorescent lighting is recomended - ordinary light bulbs are unsuitable, as they heat up water. Lamp fittings must be shielded from condensation and splashes by protective glass. Most modern aquariums come complete with suitable light hoods. 

HEATING

Goldfish are coldwater fish. They don't need a heater in their tank unless you live somewhere where winters are very cold and the temperature of the tank drops below 18C/65F. They are more likely to need a fan to cool water surface during the hot summer months.

A filter cleans the water by removing waste

It draws the water through a filtering medium and traps solid particles, returning clean water to the tank. Biological filters also develop beneficial bacteria which breaks down waste products produced by the fish and render them harmless There are many different kinds of filter available, including box filters and undergravel filters, powered by an air pump, and internal and external power filters, which have their own pumps. Your local aquatic shop will be able to advise you on what best suits your aquarium.

 

An air pump increases the amount of oxygen in the water.

The pump is attached to an air stone which pushes out a stream of bubbles, circulating and aerating the water, and also helping waste gases ( carbon dioxide and ammonia ) to pass out of the water through the service. Most pumps need to be positioned on the shelf above the level of the tank, to prevent water siphoning backwards. The same pump can operate both a box or under gravel filter and an air supply to the airstone. Seek advice on the best type for your tank.

 

Safety first.

Water and electricity make a dangerous combination. when setting up a tank with a pump, filter or lighting, make sure all wires are tucked safely out of the way where no one will trip over them, and invest in a circuit breaker to cut off the power if there is an accident. Treat electrical equipment with respect. always switch off the power before handling it, and never touch either the equipment or switches with wet hands.

 

External Filter

Internal Filter

Plan your lay-out before adding water.

Start with the gravel (unless you have an undergravel filter, which needs to be put in first) rinsing it thoroughly before use. Lay the gravel deeper at the back of the tank, sloping towards the front. This makes cleaning easier by encouraging debris to drift to the front, where it can't be siphoned off. Position rocks and ornaments, pushing their bases securely in to the gravel. Now place your pump and airstone in place and tuck the airline under the gravel. You can use a rock to conceal the airstone. 

Now add water

When you are satisfied with your arrangement, you can start adding the water - ordinary tap water will do provided that you treated with a conditioner to remove harmful chlorine disinfectants. To avoid dislodging the gravel and spoiling your careful lay-out, lay a small plate on top of the gravel and pour the water slowly onto this. When the aquarium is half-full, add the plants, tucking roots under the gravel and weighting them down with small rocks. Now you can add the rest of the water. If you have a power filter this should be the last item to install.

 

Be patient when setting up your aquarium

Now comes the difficult part: do nothing!! Start the filter running, then leave the aquarium alone for at least 3 days before you bring your fish home. (Even if you don't have a filter, remember to add a chemical dechlorinator, available from any petshop.) This rest period allows the water to mature, dissipating any chlorine and establishing the temperature. Allowing the water to mature in this way insures a safe environment for your new fish and gives plants time to establish themselves.

 

AVOID SEASHELLS

Seashells and coral me look like suitable decorations for an aquarium, but don't resk using them. They may leach out chemicals into the water, making it too alkaline for goldfish. They also create a hygiene problem, as they tend to trap waste particles.

DRIFT WOOD DECOR

Pieces of driftwood used as tank ornaments are another potential hazard. Never use pieces picked up from a beach. Driftwood needs expert cleaning and curing to make it safe, so only pieces labelled as fit for this purpose are suitable.

PREPARING THE AQUARIUM

AQUASCAPING

Aquarium furnishing

Decorating your aquarium with plants, rocks and ornament create a pleasing effect to the human eye and also makes a more interesting environment for fish. Goldfish prefer a world with a few places to hide rather than a totally bare environment. It is up to you whether you choose a natural look or create a fantasy underwater kingdom. A printed background stuck to the back of the tank will continue your theme while concealing wires etc. in the background.

 

The aquarium floor

Gravel or sand is usually used to cover the aquarium floor. Aquatic dealers and pet shops stock a wide range of gravels, both natural and coloured and in different sizes, which are safe for aquarium use. Medium-sized gravel is best - fine gravel or sand cannot be used with undergravel filters, and coarser gravel may lodge in a fish's throat. Do not be tempted to collect your own gravel or sand from riversides or beaches - it may be polluted.

 

Rocks and ornaments

Aquatic dealers and pet shops and also the safest source of rocks and ornaments insuring avoidance of rocks with sharp edges which might enjoy your fish and calcium based rocks who is material content affects the water chemistry a wide variety of ornaments is available including figures powered by the air pump don't be tempted by ornaments not designed for aquariums as some plastics and metals are toxic to fish.

 

TAP WATER

Goldfish are remarkably tolerant as regards water. You can buy test kits to check the pH levels or the hardness of softness of your local tap water, but your fish should be able to cope with it anyway. Just remember to dechlorinate your water.

TANK CYCLING

If you suddenly add fish to a new tank, their waste will build up ammonia in the water before beneficial bacteria develop in the filter to tackle this,  and the fish will be poisoned. Protect your fish by maturing water beforehand and not adding too many fish at once.

 

GRATEFUL FOR GRAVEL

Rinse gravel thoroughly before use, stirring it hard until the water runs clear. Most fishkeepers feel that  gravel makes an attractive aquarium flooring. Goldfish and natural bottom feeders and enjoy rooting around in it, and it provides a growing medium for plants. It is always sensible and humane to provide some gravel as a substrate for your fish.

Goldfish come in more than a hundred varieties.

Some have the normal streamlind form while others have short egg-shaped bodies, or fins which are long and trailing, doubled, split, or in case of the dorsal fin,absent. Some have unusual heads,with a fleshy hood, warty 'pompons' on the nose, huge pouches beneath the eyes, or 'telescopic' eyes on stalks. And not all goldfish are gold - they may be white, black,brown, blue, purple or variegated.

Best for beginners.

As a general rule, the nearer a goldfish is to the original, natural design, the easier it is to keep. The common goldfish, which resembles its wild ancestor in all but colour, is the hardiest of the tribe. With no exaggeration to distract the eye from its beautiful colour and metallic sheen, it is also one of the most attractive. It is the most popular goldfish,and is recommended for novice fishkeepers.

Shubunkins are also suitable for the novice.

The shubunkin is a very distinctive colour variety combining matt and metallic scales. It is shaped like the common goldfish, but beautifully patterned, with a silvery blue background speckled with black spots and patched with areas of violet, red, orange, yellow or brown. It was developed in Japan, and its name means 'brocade' (a patterened fabric). 

Buy fish from a reputable source

Good aquatic dealers pet shops and Provin breeders will have well-kept fish and knowledgeable staff check the aquariums cloudy water of a crowd and a dead fish lying on the bottom means you should go elsewhere the look of the fish themselves they should be active and free movement not skulking flawed in a golf in for the service avoid any fish with spots sores lumps parasite or damaged fence and they are tank meets as such problems may be contagious asked stuff about goldfish care if they don't know the answer fish in their care are unlikely to thrive choose fish carefully a healthy golfer should swing freely and without effort although long friend fancy varieties will move more slowl

 

How many fish can your tank accommodate

Calculate the surface area of your tank. The general rule is 1cm of fish per 60 cm² (1in per 24in²) of water surface. So a tank measuring 60 x 30 x 30cm has a surface area of 1800 cm² which means it can hold a total of 30cm of fish. And remember that your fish will grow, so allow for this. If you do not have a pump and filter, go for the minimum number of fish. In any case, it is always better to understock than overstock, to give your fish the best possible living conditions.  Ideally, buy one or two small fish to start with and wait a few weeks before adding more. This allows the tank to mature, gradually developing beneficial bacteria in the filter to tackle waste.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bringing your fish home

Your fish will be supplied in a plastic bag of water. Don't just tip them straight into your aquarium. To minimise shock, turn off the aquarium lights. Float the unoppened bag in the aquarium. Open the bag by removing seal or band. Roll the bag down from the open top to form a collar so that the bag will float in the aquarium without support. Float the bag for approximately 20 minutes, during this temperature equalisation period, regularly add small amounts of water from the aquarium into the bag. Gently release the fish into their new home. Do not turn on aquarium lights for at least one hour. The fish need to be left in peace to settle in, so wait till next morning to start feeding. 

EASY VARIETIES

THE AQUARIUM

YOUR FIRST FISH

GOLDFISH FOOD

Types of food

Goldfish food is available in flake or pellet form and provide an optimal nutrition for your fish. Most goldfish keepers favour flakes as they are easily nibbled and float well, giving fish enough time to consume it before it settles into the gravel.  Providing occasional treats, such as finely shredded greens lettuce, spinach, shelled peas and live food help to supplement fish’s diet.  Suitable live foods include daphnia, brine shrimp and bloodworm.  Don't try catching your own from a local pond as they may introduce disease. These foods are also available in frozen form.

How much to feed

Give only as much as your fish will eat in three minutes. At first, time your fish eating, give a small amount and watch them, if they finish early give a little more and if there is still plenty of food left after three minutes reduce the amount next time until you get it right. Given the chance goldfish will eat until they are too full to swim, but overfeeding is more dangerous than underfeeding. Over-fed  goldfish produce more waste than filters can handle, while leftover food fouls the water further

How often?

Young fish requires extra nutrition, so you can feed it up to 3 times a day. As your goldfish matures number of meals per day can be reduced up to one a day or even once every other day. If you feed too often, your goldfish will become fat and unhealthy, healthy goldfish will survive for a week or more without food. If you are going on holidays for a week, it is safer to leave your goldfish unfed or use a holiday block (slow releasing food block), rather than leave your fish in care of a friend who me over feed them.

Cleaning kit.

Filtration removes considerable pollution, but not all. For easier aquarium maintenance your cleaning kit must include a siphoning vacuum for cleaning the gravel and changing water, algae scrubber, and a pair of buckets, one for removing old water from the tank and the other for maturing replacement water. Reserve these buckets for aquarium use only. Regular maintenance is essential: a neglected environment means dead fish! The frequency of partial water changes depends on the efficiency of your filter, the amount of live stock in your aquarium and the amount of food your offer to your goldfish daily. Usually once a week is enough, more often if you don't have a filter. When carrying out a partial water change take out no more than 30% of tank water using siphon (gravel cleaner), replace water that you siphoned out with fresh. Don’t use straight tap water - fill a bucket the day before and let it stand overnight to reach room temperature and use a water conditioner to remove any chlorine.

Filter maintenance.

Pumps and filters also need regular attention. Check the instructions for your particular model, but in general filter media need replacing periodically and filter element should be rinsed out weekly. Be sure to rinse in used tank water, not under the tap - tap water destroys beneficial bacteria. Check that the airstone is not clogged with algae or chemical deposits and that the hose is free of kinks. These checks can be carried out at the same time as the weekly water change.

Remove any algae.

As your tank matures, you may find a lot of algae growing in your tank. If there is only a little, it is harmless, and in fact the fish will enjoy nibbling at it. Algae are easily removed from glass with and algae scrubber that has an abrasive surface to remove algae from the glass before it grows too thick to cause a problem. Too much light promote algae growth, move your aquarium to a shadier sport to help solve the problem.

AILMENTS

Choose wisely

Not all species of fish have the same nutritional requirements, therefore only buy fish food made especially for goldfish.  Ask your local aquatic dealer for foods that provide complete balanced nutrition. The right diet will not only keep your fish healthy but help to develop their colour to its full potential.

Goldfish have a very simple digestive system, breaking up their daily feed into three or four mini meals a day will suit them better, it also makes their life more varied and interesting. Short bodied egg shaped fish have even more delicate digestive system and require extra care when feeding.  So-called ‘fancy goldfish’ are prone to buoyancy problems, and floating foods can cause a problem if the fish gulp air when feeding. It pays to soak their food for a minute or so beforehand so that it sinks below the surface.

AQUARIUM MAINTENANCE

NO SOAP PLEASE

Never clean outside and especially inside of the fish tank as well as any ornaments with soap or household cleaning products, it might poison your fish. Use only products specially designed for aquarium use.

Gravel care.

Regular gravel maintenance must be carried out. Debris accumulated in the gravel on the tank floor can be vacuumed up either when you notice it or during the weekly cleaning routine; in addition, it helps to stir the top layer gently every two weeks to allow water to circulate through it.

WATER AND ELECTRICITY DON'T MIX

When cleaning your tank call man remember to switch all of electrical equipment and unplug it at the mains before you start work.  Take care not to splash nearby electrical sockets.

Prevention is better than cure

The main cause of illness in goldfish is poor water quality, so regular water changes and proper maintenance of filtration and aeration systems is essential. Overfeeding and overcrowding can significantly contribute to the water pollution. Introducing new fish, plant or tank ornaments can bring in diseases, so don't add anything to the aquarium unless it comes from the safe source, a reputable aquatic dealer or pet shop. If you have space for a second tank, quarantine a new fish in this for a month before introduction.

Warning signs

The fish which displays unusual behaviour or reluctant to feed, may be ill. Any changes in a fish's appearance and behaviour should never be ignored. Sick fish may float, sink, whirl or swim sideways. Other signs to beware include sudden bloating, fins clamped tightly to the body, fish scratching themselves against tank object, sticky faeces trailing from the vent, and spots, sores or discoloration of the skin. Seek advice on treatment from your aquatic dealer.

Various parasites and bacterial infection can affect your fish. The signs to look out for are damages or blemishes to fish’s skin, fins or tail. Some skin problems may not be visible but fish’s frequent scratching and rapid breathing may indicate its discomfort. Others signs of ailments can be growth, blotches, lumps or white specs, thread-like parasites trailing from the body, a velvety coating to the skin, or shredded fins. Ask your local specialist shop for suitable medication.

TEST AQUARIUM WATER REGULARLY

Test kits are available to check the levels of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates in the water.  These are by-product of fish waste which build up in an aquarium and can be harmful to the fish

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