You have literally hundreds of goldfish to choose from and the basic types are discussed in a later section. Be prepared to be dazzled but don’t go crazy. There are a few rules to selecting good fish and they need to be followed. As a first basic rule try not to mix the quick, sleek types of fish with the heavy, bubbled types of fish. The sleek fish will get all the food and the others will waste away.
Once in the shop go to the tanks and watch the fish for a while. The fish should be swimming around and look balanced. Never buy fish that are lying at the top or sitting on the bottom. Don’t even think about a fish that floats to the top after it stops swimming. These must be avoided. Also watch for fish that are bullied or bullying the other fish. Bullied fish will not do well and the bullies will only do the same in your tank. Bullying fish are the ones that chase others around the tank and even nibble fins. You cannot stop a fish from doing this.
The eyes of the fish should be bright and full and they should not have any ripped or nibbled fins. Make sure they look like the type should andnot be missing any fins. Check out the fish for disease such as fungus’ or spots. More on this in the diseases section. If there are sick fish in the tank avoid that particular tank. All the fish may be sick and even if they’re not, its better to be safe.
You want the clear eyed, bright-scaled fish. This is the fish that is always searching for food. Choose the one you like or the one that you think has the best colors or personality. The fish will be with you for a long time so be choosey. If you don’t see the exact one you want, wait. The shop will have more on the next delivery and you will have more choice. You can even ask when the new delivery of stock happens so you get first choice.
Now that you’ve picked your fish you can get them home.
Types of Goldfish
This is not a comprehensive guide as there are hundreds of variations in color and new variations are being developed especially in China & Japan.
This is the gold goldfish most people are familiar with. It is one of the world’s commonest pets and these are readily available in any pet shop or fish hatchery. They make a good pet as they are hardy and easy to manage.
The comet is either red or red and white. They were developed in the USA. The comet has a streamlined shape for fast swimming and are not suited to a small aquarium for that reason. However, they are a hardy pond fish and their speed helps them escape predators and forage well in these situations. They also have a larger tail which allows them to swim faster than the average goldfish.
These are oval or egg-laying fish with very short finnage. It is still a twin-tailed fish but as the name suggests the tail is shaped like a fan. These are a commonly kept goldfish and are quite hardy enough for beginners.
This type is similar to the comet except that it has a calico coloring and differences in this variety have resulted in varying tail shapes. Some are rounded and less fantailed than the others.
Another readily available goldfish type, the Black Moor is a great goldfish to begin with. These can grow quite large in an appropriate tank but this takes time. As with most goldfish types, larger ones are quite expensive to purchase. As the name suggests, it is a black fish with telescopic bulging eyes, a largish fantail and long flowing fins. With this fish, the eyes are quite delicate so be careful in handling and with sharp edges in the tank. There are some other colors in the telescope eye fish such as red and white and calico but these aren’t as common.
These can grow to be the largest of the goldfish varieties. They swim very slowly and gracefully. They are an interesting fish with their short bodies, fantail and high dorsal fin. The unusual feature of the Oranda is the hooded growths on its head which take about 6 months to 1 year to get big.
This is a variety with no dorsal fin and a large growth on the head. These fish are slow swimmers and have an intriguing look. They are very popular as an attractive aquarium fish but they are expensive fish for beginners. When mature they are a great sight and an unusual talking point. The Lionhead can also be a bit delicate and you need to make sure your tank is running correctly. Not for true beginners.
The Celestial are similar to the bubble eye but the eyes are turned up towards heaven. The eyes themselves have large bulges underneath them. Again not a fish for the beginner as they are not as hardy as other varieties.
The Bubble-Eye is a striking goldfish even though it is a small thin fish. The colours are red, red and white, black, orange and calico. It has huge bags which hold fluid protruding horn around its eyes. These make the goldfish quite delicate as they can be easily damaged. These fluid sacs are also open to bacterial infection, which cause the bags to release the fluid and deflate. This can be fixed with care and the bags will reinilate. They have no dorsal fin.
A large, slow goldfish that is a variation of the fantails. A short, fat body is matched with short fins but a high dorsal fin. It has unique scales that look like half rounded pearls, hence the name. It has many colours. There are more types of goldfish that are available. You will need to investigate more types and varieties as you become more experienced. Look for names like Veiltail, Pompon, Tosakin, Buffalo Head, Ryukin and others.
The Fish at Home
Now that you have arrived home with a plastic bag full of fish you need to think even more about the fish. It is an exciting time but very stressful for the fish. If the tank has been prepared correctly you can place the bag in the water so the goldfish can have a rest. Give it an hour and gently tip them into the tank. It’s all new for them too so don’t leave the light on and bang on the glass for hours at an end. The result of this will be floaters not swimmers.
Try to only buy one or two fish to start with. This will let the natural cycles in the tank begin in a slow and simple way and the goldfish have a much better chance of survival. Again it is better to feed less than more at this stage. Don’t throw a heap of food at the fish, especially as soon as you put them in the tank. This will only cause the ammonia and nitrate levels to build and the goldfish will die. Alter the first week do a few things. Clean the filter and change the filtration material if you have this kind of system. Change about one quarter of the water in the tank. This allows fresh water to get into the tank without changing the whole system you have established. Do not change all the water, even if it looks dirty. Take things slowly. Some aquarium salt will help this process. You can get this where you bought the fish. This whole process is called cycling the tank.
Maintaining the Goldfish Tank
When your tank is established and you have goldfish in it you still need to conduct some maintenance on the tank. While this can be a bit of a chore you will need to do it or your fish will die. It is part of the process of having pets and you will need to make sure you do it well to minimise the amount of work you have to put in. The right choice of filter will go a long way to helping you here as will not overfeeding or leaving decaying food lying around.
To ensure things are not left to chance you can purchase test kits for things such as ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH. Of course you don’t have to go to this extent and most people with a few fish do not. If the fish are in an outdoor pond type environment it will, of course, not be necessary. However if you intend to breed or have very fancy types you may need to go to this extent. If you have these you can also test for chlorine, dissolved oxygen, phosphate and specific metals. You may need to test out the test kits to decide which ones are best for you. When beginning choose the ones with the clearest instructions and ease of use. Try to work out what they cost per test rather than the overall cost. This will prove cheaper in the long run.
Before you begin to test it is important to understand the basics of your system. Goldfish produce ammonia. This is turned into nitrite then nitrate in a well-run tank. Algae and plants then absorb this nitrate. It is very rare for the algae and plants to do this as they are eaten by the fish. To help the process you will need to change some of the water. The amount is about 25% minimum but it is better to change about fifty percent on a weekly basis. Never change more than this, as it will upset the ecological balance that you have created. Don’t forget to dechlorinate the water that you put into the tank.
When you change the water it is a good idea to clean the tank by wiping any algae off the glass faces of the tank with a chemical free wiper and clean up the gravel a bit. The gravel is a great place for the dirty stuff to hide so give it a clean. You can use a vacuum type system or just wash it a bit to remove the dirt that has built up. Remember that it is important to have a clean home. You don’t live in a dirty environment and your fish need the same level of cleanliness to thrive.
We have talked about filters already so that’s enough for this section but you will need to change the filtration material in the filter, which ever you choose. Try not to do this when you have just changed the water. Wait two to three days as this will allow the balance of the tank to stabilise before the fresh material is added. Don’t wait until it is black and filthy, get in first. Try to do it weekly, especially if you have a lot of fish in the tank.
One of the big problems that people ask us about is algae in the goldfish tank. Algae is a natural part of the goldfish tank but it has come to be a bit of an obsession with some. They think it indicates a sick tank and won’t allow any of it. Try not to be like this. It should be kept under control but some is even healthy for the fish. If you have goldfish in a tank you will get algae and in an outdoor pond you can’t stop it.
If the algae has run wild in your tank you can do lots to stop it. There are three kinds of algae that get into most tanks. The iirst is the bright green stuff that forms on the surfaces of the tank, the second is the hair like algae that forms strands and finally the algae that floats in the water and turns it green. These are all common. If the algae is wild clean out the tank by scraping the sides before you change the water. Use the water change to get rid of it.
Then to stop it coming back keep the light on for less than twelve hours a day. If the plants don’t like this then give them a stronger light for the lesser amount of time, but this should not be necessary. If you don’t overfeed you will cut down on the available feed for them. This also applies to the plant fertilizer. Keep changing the water on a regular basis. Some even let algae grow on all sides of the tank except the viewing side so that this will keep the tank balanced without a problem. Breeders even argue that this is better for the smaller fry (baby fish) as they will feed of it. The choice is yours.
When we talk about water quality and tank maintenance one of the most frequent questions is what happens to all this if we have to move the fish? Moving fish can be traumatic for both parties but if you plan carefully it will be all right. If it is only a short trip to the new home you can fast the fish for a couple of days prior and then move them. This will stop the goldfish producing vast amounts of ammonia on the way as this is what kills them. This is especially so as for weight considerations the volume of water is often low.
Two other great dangers in transporting goldfish, or any fish for that matter, are heat and physical injury. All those warnings about not leaving children locked in cars in the heat apply to fish too. This is a very fast way to kill them and very distressing for the fish. Keep the goldfish separate from all the equipment which means place them in a separate container. This will stop them getting crushed by objects flying around with the momentum of the car. If they are in plastic bags make sure that they can’t get squashed or caught up in the bags.
The tank and all the equipment can be placed in the car if you are driving them. Try to take as much of the old water as you can. This is much easier in a car than any other means of removal. When you arrive at the new home set up the tank, use the dechlorinator, water ager and some old water. Transfer the fish into the new water in a container to get them adapted for a while. Then place it all in the new tank.