Goldfish are one of the most popular pet fish. They look adorable with their big eyes and fancy colors. It’s super easy to get one and they are not too expensive. But goldfish are not the easiest pets to take care of and require a lot of maintenance. As for every other pet, there are many pros and cons to getting a pet goldfish. Here are the reasons, why goldfish are not recommended for everyone.
As a whole, goldfish are sensitive fish with a lot of requirements concerning water levels, temperature, and food. They are messy, need a lot of space, and come with many tasks for the owner. For beginners, they can be very challenging and die quickly if the requirements are not met.
Do Goldfish Make Good Pets?
Goldfish can make wonderful pets. But not for everyone.
When we think of a goldfish, we usually have a shimmering dark or orange fish in our mind, floating peacefully in a bowl. Hardy, peaceful, and most of all: Super easy to take care of.
Unfortunately, this is not exactly how a goldfish is like. There are many myths and misinformation that can be found on the internet about keeping goldfish as pets.
Goldfish Need Space
One of the most popular misinformation is, that goldfish can be kept in bowls and that they can only grow to the size of their tank. This is not true and is also very cruel.
A single goldfish needs a tank with 20-30 gallons of water. And while it is indeed true, that the body of a goldfish stops growing in a small tank, the organs, spine, eyes, and fins keep growing.
Goldfish are Messy
Goldfish are very messy. They excrete a lot more waste than most other fish species and are able to pollute a tank quickly. But they do love clean water.
Therefore a big tank is necessary, otherwise, goldfish can be poisoned by ammonia that they produce themselves.
Goldfish are Not the Best Pet for Beginners
Beginner Aquarians often struggle to keep a goldfish in good conditions because there is really a lot to keep in mind and to care of. There are a lot of fish species, that are way easier to care for and have fewer requirements. A great fish for beginners is the betta.
Goldfish are challenging, but with the right care, they can become very old and be great pets.
Things You Should Know Before you Get a Goldfish
Before you get a goldfish from a pet store, there are a few things that you should consider.
Goldfish can Live a Long Life
These little creatures are not temporary pets. When treated properly, they can live for many years. The oldest goldfish was 43 years old!
A goldfish is not a commodity that can be thrown away after a few days or weeks. Every goldfish deserves a kind and species-appropriate treatment to live the best life.
If you are not sure, if you can offer a goldfish this life, you might want to look for a different pet.
Goldfish Maintenance is Expensive
Goldfish need a lot of space. A bowl is way too small for a pet goldfish. The aquarium for a goldfish should be 20-30 gallons of water. A tank of this size can come costly.
But there are not only the cost for the aquarium, artificial and real plants, filter systems, fish net to catch the goldfish, and other one-time expenses. A goldfish also needs species food, a conditioner for the water, electricity for the lamp, and some other expenses.
As long as the goldfish lives, it will continuously cost money.
Preparing a Tank for a Goldfish Takes Time
Most people expect a goldfish to thrive in tap water in a bowl. But goldfish have very specific requirements on the water, they are being kept in. If these conditions are not met, the goldfish might quickly die.
After an aquarium was bought, the water in the aquarium has to be processed. First, if tap water is used, it has to be cleared from chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals. There are special conditioners for this treatment, available at the pet store.
Then the water has to be further prepared in a process called “cycling”. It means, that you introduce good bacteria to the tank. This bacteria can break down ammonia. The process of good bacteria settling properly in the tank can take up to 8 weeks.
Since ammonia can quickly and easily poison and kill a goldfish, this process is absolutely essential but often neglected, leading to quick deaths of goldfish.
Water Levels Have to be Checked Regularly
Once the cycling process is done, and the goldfish lives in the tank, the water has to be checked on a regular basis.
The water levels that you have to keep an eye on are the temperature, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, KH, and GH. The life of your pet literally depends on these parameters, so make sure to understand them and test your water regularly.
If you are not interested in learning these things, that’s perfectly fine. But then don’t get a goldfish.
Goldfish Come With Chores
A goldfish comes with many tasks. You have to feed the goldfish 2 to 3 times a day, clean the aquarium regularly, test the water levels, make water changes at least once a week, vacuum the bottom of the aquarium to make sure that no bacteria or algae growth disturb your fish, etc.
Since goldfish are rather sensitive fish, ignoring your chores can quickly lead to an illness or even death for the goldfish.
Goldfish are Not Cuddly
Obviously, goldfish cannot be cuddled. There are plenty of videos on the internet, where goldfish perform funny tricks such as swimming slalom or pushing a ball around, and swimming through hoops.
But not every goldfish likes to interact with the owner. And they definitively don’t interact with humans like other pets such as cats or dogs would do.
Most goldfish float around in the water and mind their own business.
Goldfish Need Care When You Go on Vacation
A fish tank is heavy and big and cannot be taken to other places easily. If you plan to go on vacation, you have to make sure that your goldfish is being taken care of.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂