photo of telescope-eye and
by Erik Olson (from the
photo a really big goldfish
in a tank, by EO (from the
- Goldfish info. (long draft).
by howardr-at-col.hp.com (Howard Rebel) (14 Sep 1994)
by howardr-at-col.hp.com (Howard Rebel)
Date: 14 Sep 1994
The quanity of ill goldfish traffic on the net indicates
that it is time to repost this.
This is a short guide for doing goldfish first aid. While
it will not solve all problems it will many of them.
Please answer the questions at the end of the guide prior
to seeking specific help.
First aid for problems regarding floating or sinking is simple.
Stop feeding for about a week or so. If it goes away it is/was
a digestive problem and the the diet will need to be altered.
Floating is most often caused by the fish eating dry food which
absorbs water from the digestive tract and causes digestive
problems of which floating is an indication. Over time this
will damage the swim bladder and the fish will be unable to
'hover' in the water (at this point the fish is called a sinker).
Once a fish becomes a sinker it will be one for life. Fish with
this condition my live for several years if provided with a good
(non dry) diet.
Non dry foods include soaked dry food, veggies, and veggie based
jell food (instructions for jell foods have been posted here in
Not all fish will recover, some will stay floaters, some will become
sinkers. I have found that the commercial dry foods tend to
produce more floaters even when soaked.
In many other cases first aid for Fancy Goldfish is to do a
100% (or nearly) water change. First season/age the new water by
running an airstone in it for two or more hours. Seasoning the water
for 24 hours better. A small amount of hot or cold water can be added
to the aged water to bring the water to tank temperature. Please be
sure to use declorinator if required. It is not necessary to id or
understand the nature of toxin for this work.
The water should be within a degree of the water in the tank.
Add uniodized table salt at about 1 teaspoon per gallon.
Change the water every day or two until the problem is understood
Small water changes (under 50%) are of little value because they
do not lower the concentration of toxic compounds enough to do
much good when the levels are high enough to cause problems.
When in doubt regarding the nature of the problem stop feeding and start
changing the water until the problem is understood. Because most problems
are due to either feeding or water quality this is sound advice.
A few question are in order. If you answer these we can better
help you with your goldfish problem.
How large is the tank? ie: 10 gallon, 20 Long, 20 tall etc.
How long has the tank been set up?
What temp is the water?
How many goldfish do you have in this tank and how long are
they not counting the tails?
Do you understand the ammonia-nitrite-nitrate cycle?
What type of filter(s) are you using?
Do you have any airstones or bubblers in the tank?
How often do you clean/need to clean the filters?
How do you clean the filters?
How often and how much water do you change?
How do you prepare the water to be used in the change?
(what do you add to the water)
(do you season it?)
What, how much, and how often do you feed?
(Do you vary the diet?)
(who does the feeding?)
(F) Goldfish neophyte
Temperature is in degrees F.
Gallons are US gallons.
It has been said that the only way to kill a goldfish is with a
gun. While this may be true of common goldfish it is not true
of fancy goldfish. Fancy goldfish are at a disadvantage compared to
the common goldfish their survival requires a degree of knowlage and
Fish: Buy your fish from a store that knows goldfish.
A good goldfish store may isolate newly
arrived goldfish for a week prior to putting them
on sale. During this week the fish are treated
with antibiotics to prevent/stop problems that
may have developed during shipment. The loss
rate for fish thus treated is MUCH lower than
fish not treated.
Do not buy fish that do not have erect dorsal fins
as they may be sick.
Do not buy fish float on the surface or have to
work at getting to the bottom of the tank.
Do not buy fish that are much smaller than their
siblings as they may be runts.
Be very skeptical about the health of the fish. If there
is a sick fish in a tank the others may be sick as well.
If you do find a fish in a tank with others that are ill
treat the well fish as you would the sick ones which you
did not purchase.
Only a small percentage of a goldfish spawn will
grow to be quality fish. Most of the goldfish
seen in petshops fall into this group.
Goldfish breeders cull their fish and sell the
results to the fish stores. Some end up as
feeder fish others end up as small fancy fish with
problems that were obvious to the fish breeder
but may not be to you. The breeder sells the fish
as soon as it is clear that it will not develop
into what he considers to be a good fish.
The changes of buying a small fish at a pet store
and have it grow to be a prize specimen is
small. Your changes are much better with
larger goldfish because what you see is what you
get, the majority of the development is done.
When buying bubble eyed goldfish avoid fish with
bubbles that are too large or to small. Bubbles that
too small when you buy the fish may not get large enough
and bubbles that grow to fast may get so big that the
fish can not swim.
When buying fish with head growth avoid fish with head
growth that covers the eyes.
Tank: A 20 gallon long is about the smallest tank I use.
A ten can be used for a while but even two fish will
outgrow it and keeping the water in good condition is more
difficult in such a small tank.
Some will tell you to avoid deeper tanks (know as tall tanks)
because some fancy goldfish can not tolerate deeper tanks,
I have not found this to be a problem and think that it
may be a effort on the part of fish retailers to explain
away sick fish sold to their clients,
Keep all sharp objects out of the tank. Many types of
goldfish will harm themselves if given the chance.
Food: Depending how far a goldfish was shipped, how long it was
at the pet shop and what it was feed at the pet shop you
may need to take special care in feeding it the first few
weeks. It may have been on reduced or no food to make shipping
easier. The pet shop may have feed their fish reduced diets to
reduce the amount of tank cleaning they had to do. In any
case start out by feeding light easy to digest food and
slowly over a period of two weeks allow the fish to adjust to
a normal diet.
If you feed pellets or other hard food soak it to
soften them prior to feeding. Hard dry pellets absorb water
from the digestive track. The absorbtion can cause the fish
to float near the surface become very sick.
A lot of what goes worng with gancy goldfish seems to be linked
to dry foods both pellets and falkes. If goldfish are feed food
in more natural moister forms they will survive longer and live
a more healty life. If you must feed dry foods moisten if prior
Even after soaking pellets are too rich for some goldfish.
A question often asked is how much should a goldfish eat.
Take a look at the fish and immagine how big its little tummy is.
Then think about how much would fit in it and feed him a bit less.
It is easier to determine how much pellets to feed then flakes but
be sure to soak them as they will expand to about twice the dry
size. Moist foods such a jell based, live, and frozen foods
contain such a high percentage of water that is is difficult to
overfeed these foods.
Goldfish tend to swim up to the food grab a mouthfull and retreate
to gulp it down. I feed enough so that each fish in the tank
can get two mouths of food.
Goldfish need mostly carbohydrates, read that as veggies. I cook
up a batch of carrots, string beans, peas, baby lima beans, and
zuchinni(sp). When it is well cooked I run it through the blender
to liquify it. I then reheat it (microwave) and add knox jelitin(sp)
to bind it. This is a good base food but should not be the only food used.
It can be made more nutritious by adding 1/3 part Formula II Ocean
Nutrition frozen food (comerical).
Try feeding earthworms that have been sitting in water over night
(they will not crawl out). These are a mild laxitive and a worm
once a week will keep you fish regular.
Some goldfish like cooked Romaine(sp) lettus. Get one of the plastic
clips with a suction cup and hang the lettus from the tank wall.
He may not take to it at first. If so try fasting him for a day or
two and leave the leaf in over nite. Once he gets the hang of it
you will have fun watching him attack the leaf.
Feed him twice a day for the most part but you can skip feeding up
to a week without problem, do not feed more to make up for missed
If you ever find him floating with problems getting to the bottom of
the tank stop feeding until the problem goes away and then feed less
or moister food.
Goldfish go through a cycle in the wild where they get fat
during the summer and loose it over the winter when the water is cold
and they do not eat. Some books suggest that we reduce feeding to one
feeding per week for 8 weeks to simulate the winter fat loss. This will
also induce the fish to mate. I would not worry about this for about
another 6 months or so.
Temp: Goldfish do fine in a wide range of temperatures but do not
tolerate rapid temperature changes well. It has been said
that a 2 degree shift will signal them to span. Use a heater
to keep the tank at a constant temp esp if your tank is small
or the room it is in has a wide temperature range.
Goldfish seem to benefit from a seasonal
temperature change. I would suggest a temp of not more then 75
in the summer and somewhat less in the winter ( temps + or - 5
deg are OK but must be stable). Do not panick if your fish are
exposed to higher temperatures as they can weather them so long
as there is sufficent oxygen in the water. Do not expect fish
in crowded tanks to do well in warm weather. All transition should
Water: Water quality is important. When you first set up a tank you
will need to daily tests of amonia and nitrate levels to monitor
the cycling of the bio filter. After the tank has cycled a
regular maintance schedule should be followed to ensure that the
water quality remains good.
Nets: Do not use nets to catch or move fancy goldfish. Doing so may
disturb the slime coat and lead to problems such as ich, velvet,
Instead do what he pros do. Wash you hands with hot water (no
soap) and catch then with your bare hands. This may take a little
getting used to but after a while it becomes natural.
Howard Rebel howardr-at-col.hp.com