How To Take Care Of Goldfish – A Complete Guide

How to take care goldfish
How to take care of goldfish is one of the questions among the goldfish aquarium keepers.
Goldfish is the most common and oldest fish in the aquarium hobby. Knowing the background and its history is the best way to start, how to take care of goldfish
GoldFish come in all range of stunning colors, shapes, sizes, fins, eyes, etc. There are more than 200 varieties of goldfish in China.
Selective breeding over the centuries has produced several colors and varieties of goldfish. In ancient China, goldfish were a popular species among the elites.
Breeding and cross-breeding, over and again, has produced some types of Gold Fish that are so different from their ancestors, you can barely recognize them as Gold Fish. While however, some types of goldfish are hardier than the original wild goldfish.
Let’s continue reading to know how to take care, goldfish.

History and an overview of goldfish:

Goldfish is a freshwater species in the family of Cyprinidae of the order of Cypriniformes. It is a relatively small member of the carp family, which is native to Eastern Asia. 

In the beginning, various carps were reared for food like most of the fishes by ancient Chinese. Goldfish was one of the common fishes eaten by ancient Chinese. In the wild, they were a dull grey or silver grey or olive green color.

The first orange-red goldfish was produced by natural mutation during the period of the Jin Dynasty (AD 265–420). By the 7th-8th century, goldfish became part of the ornamental ponds and water gardens.

During the 17th century, goldfish entered Europe through Portugal, and it first came to North America in the mid-1950s. Before we knew it became the most popular fish in America’s aquarium trade.

The lifespan of goldfish:

44 years old goldfish

The average lifespan of common goldfish is 15 years. However, there are instances where goldfish have lived for over 40 years. They can live a long life and easily outlive your dogs and other pets if they are well cared for and with good memories.
The oldest living goldfish was Tish belongs to a family from the UK. The longest-lived goldfish on record is 43 years.
However, most of the fancy goldfish’s average lifespan is sadly 5 to 10 years. The reason is centuries of selective breeding have taken them far from their original hardy carp and made them a fragile species.
Nonetheless, most goldfish don’t make it past a few weeks. Generally, if they survive the few weeks in their new habitat, they make it to live long enough life.
The reasons behind the short lifespan of goldfish are:
Keeping them in a bowl of unfiltered water, instead of a tank or a pond of clean water, improper diet, keeping them in uncycled water, and taking care of all the necessary steps before introducing them to their new home.

Goldfish Physiology:

Goldfish go from cute to monstrous look when released in the wild. There are over 200 types of goldfish; they come in all range of stunning colors, shapes, sizes, fins, eyes, etc. Most of them are in golden-orange, and some of them are silver-grey with golden spots, or olive-green spots, or even black spots.
They come in single-tailed, double-tailed, fancy fins, etc. Some goldfish types have their eyes popped out such as Bubble eye goldfish, Telescope goldfish, Celestial eye goldfish, and much more make us believe whether they are earthly or some celestial species.


The longest goldfish, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, measures 18.7 inches (47.4 cms) from the nose to fin and belongs to Joris Gijsbers of the Netherlands. There are a few other goldfish measuring 16 inches (40.64 cms), 15 inches (38 cms), etc. in Europe and other parts of the world.
In general, they grow up to 12 to 13 inches (30.5 – 33cms) in an aquarium tank or a pond. Goldfish is not something that you are used to seeing tiny golden colored fish in a glass bowl. They belong to the carp family; can grow to their fullest potential with optimum water quality and space. Some carp can weigh as much as 50 kg.

People around the world pull out occasionally monstrous goldfish from the lakes, ponds, and other water bodies; they are far from goldfish that we are accustomed to seeing in a constrained space.

The adaptability of goldfish:

Most of the goldfish species are hardy; some of them are hardier than their original ancestor, Prussian carp. They adapt to a wide range of temperature, pH, hardness, etc.
When released in the wild, they form a school; however, they don’t get stressed or feel threatened when alone in captivity. They can live with other species of similar size and temperament.
Whereas, some of the varieties are delicate and need at most care. Goldfish types like Ranchu, Celestial eye, Bubble eye, Pompon, etc. neither see very well nor swim well.

The intelligence and the memory of goldfish:
Goldfish are far more intelligent than what we think of them. Most of the goldfish varieties can see and remember to the extent of distinguishing people from one to another.
They have strong association learning abilities and social skills. They can see more colors than human eyes can see the primary color Red, Blue, and Yellow; whereas, the fish can see 4, a tetrachromate.
They can perform relatively complex tasks, such as swimming through the maze or even push a ball into a net.

Steps to how to take care, goldfish:

Choosing your goldfish:

Purchasing a healthy goldfish is the first big step, and will take you a long way into how to take care of goldfish; unless you have a long experience with fish keeping and goldfish to nurse an unhealthy fish back to a healthy fish.

While purchasing the goldfish, you would want to look for a fish:

  • that swims actively in the tank without any floating or sinking problems.
  • with a complete set of fins, or without any other genetic defects.
  • that is effervescent, and always on the move and curious.
  • The tank water in which the fish living is clean.

Besides the above points, the type of goldfish you want to choose makes a vast difference in the size of the tank to accommodate and the care routine.

The common goldfish, such as a comet, shubunkins, wakins, Jikin, and Watonai, are small when they are babies but can grow over 12 inches(30cms). These common varieties are more suitable in a pond or a large aquarium tank. However, they are hardy and need minimum care.

If you are tight on space, you can choose on the double finned or fancy goldfish kind. Some of the fancy goldfish are hardy and are adaptive, such as Tamasaba, Ryukins, Black moors.

Solitary confinement of the new goldfish is the first step to care for your goldfish:

Any new fish you bring home needs a solitary confinement period of 2 to 4 weeks. Though the pet store is supposed to quarantine each shipment, they don’t have space and can’t afford weeks of quarantine. Therefore, it is wise to keep your newly bought goldfish in a separate recycled tank.

The reasons are to destress the fish from transportation. And also quarantine them from developing any disease, treat and build their immune system before introducing them into your community tank. 

Solitary confinement will prevent your new goldfish catch any disease from the other fish, as well as the spread of any disease to your existing community from them.

Aquarium supplies for your goldfish care:

While building a home for your goldfish, you want to remember their history and origin. 

Tank size:

Choose the largest tank that you can afford because the bottom line is the spacious habitat equals healthier fish.

If you are setting up your first aquarium tank, then you want to purchase the following supplies to take good care of your goldfish.


The right filtration tank is the top on the list of equipment to provide a quality home and care for your goldfish. Filtration is not just for filtering out the suspended particles or debris from the water. Your aquarium filter houses beneficial bacterias/enzymes that are necessary to keep the desired water parameters. Beneficial bacteria or enzymes process the ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate. This process is called the nitrogen cycle.

The level of ammonia and nitrite admissible in the aquarium tank is zero, while nitrate being a less hazardous element and is allowed to build to a certain level (>20 ppm)before you do the water change.

A Heater:

Though goldfish can live in cold water, their immune system can take a thrash as the cold water will stress out your goldfish; it is true more so with fancy goldfish or double-tailed goldfish. The delicate nature of the fancy goldfish has less tolerance level to disease and bacterial infection.

Goldfish immune system is at its best at the water temperature range of 68° to 74° F(20° to 23° C).

Most importantly, stable water temperature is essential in keeping the goldfish out of stress. A heater keeps the water temperature steady.

An Aquarium light:

Aquarium light helps in differentiating the day and night, which is essential for the fish and the other aqua lives to prosper. Visual effects are an added perk of aquarium light.

A test kit:

To ensure good quality of water, testing various parameters regularly is essential. The parameters include temperature, pH, dGH, dKH, dissolved oxygen, ammonia, nitrite, nitrates, etc.

Water changer and cleaner:

A good siphon vacuum cleaner for the water change and clean gravel and the tank is another essential supply in taking care of your goldfish.

A net:

When you need to scoop out leftover food and other solid wastes from the tank, you will need a net

Some more supplies that will provide an ideal home for your goldfish:


Some aquarists recommend bare bottom for the goldfish tank. Having a substrate such as gravel or pebble looks clean and provides the surface for beneficial bacteria growth. It also provides a surface for algae growth and the plants to take root, which can help in maintaining water parameters stable. Plants and algae help in dissolved oxygen levels through photosynthesis.

Having gravel or sand gives a natural riverbed feel and aesthetically appealing. It also provides something for the fish to forage.

Live plants:

Live plants can be the best decor for your aquarium tank. While using live plants, take caution in choosing hardy plants such as Anubias, Hortwort, java moss, java fern, etc. Goldfish are omnivores, and they love to consume plant matter.

Bubble Walls:

Bubble walls help in increasing dissolved oxygen levels in the water. It also adds sparkle to the water. It is an excellent supplement to aerate the goldfish aquarium tank. 

Conditioning the water – A goldfish care routine:

Your tap water contains chlorine and chloramines, which will kill your fish. Before adding the water to the tank, treat the water with a conditioner. Before adding the fish to the tank, recycle the tank water to establish a colony of beneficial bacteria/enzymes in the water. Also,  adding a starter bacterial culture to the tank with few cycles will speed up the process.

Acclitamize your goldfish to the aquarium:

Do not drop the fish with the water in the bag. Scoop the fish in your hands, and leave them in the tank. Before doing, make sure the water temperature in the fish bag and tank is close enough. If not, leave the fish bag in the aquarium to float for 30 to 40 minutes till both the temperature equals.
Do not feed the fish right away. You want to wait for 12 to 24 hours for the fish to acclimatize into its new home. And start to feed sparingly, while keep running the filtration to avoid excess waste than the good colony of bacterias.

Feeding or diet care for goldfish:

Diet form an important care routine in how to take care of your goldfish.

What you feed them, how do you feed them, how much do you feed them, and when do you feed your goldfish have a direct health consequence on their health and the water quality.

Goldfish are omnivores; hence, they need both animal matter as well as plant matter to keep them healthy. In nature, the goldfish diet consists of crustaceans such as shrimps, crabs, barnacles, etc., insects, algae, protozoa, and other plant matters.

They are opportunistic feeders; they will not stop eating their accord. That is why over-feeding will endanger their health. The selectively bred goldfish have a convoluted intestine tract. Over-feeding also promotes undesirable water quality as the goldfish produce more waste and fecal matter. Most time, it is due to incomplete protein digestion.

Goldfish food-specific feed consists of less protein and more carbohydrates compared to other fish food. It comes in both flakes as well as sinking pellets.

You can also feed them with blanched peas, lettuce, cabbage, and other leafy vegetables. Goldfish will benefit from live or frozen bloodworms, brine shrimps.

Variation is the key to a healthy and balanced diet for goldfish. You can feed with sinking pellets, floating granules, etc. as much as they can eat in 3 to 5 minutes for 2 to 3 times a day. 

Duckweed is another good source of protein that contains a trace of minerals, vitamin K, vitamin P, and pigments such as carotene. 

Duckweed, brine shrimps, bloodworms, etc. help bring out the bright orange/yellow-red color from your goldfish.

Signs that you are over-feeding your goldfish:

  • excess waste
  • leftover food
  • dirty water
  • unhealthy fish

Goldfish care routine:

It is just not enough to set up your tank and feeding them regularly on how to take care of goldfish. There is more to taking care of a goldfish than the initial setup and feeding.

All pets need maintenance, such as clearing the litter, taking out for a walk, occasional vet visits, etc.

Similarly, our goldfish need a routine water change. The filtration removes suspended particles and other solid wastes along with housing and propagating a colony of good bacterias/enzymes. A set of bacterial enzymes digest the ammonia produced by the fish wastes into nitrite, and another kind of bacterial enzyme turns this nitrite into nitrates.

Nitrates are less harmful and allowed to build in the water, up to 20 ppm. Over 50 ppm, it will be harming your goldfish. 

A routine partial water change will keep the nitrates level under 20 ppm, which is the desirable level. You can perform this process with an aquarium siphon without bothering your goldfish.

You would want to test the water regularly for all the basic parameters that include nitrate along with pH, dGH, dKH, ammonia, nitrite, etc. If your nitrate level is higher than 20 ppm, you may not be changing the water as much as it requires. 

You want to pay attention to how your goldfish swims, where they spend their time, how they look, etc. Isn’t the reason why you got your goldfish in the first place? Watching them can destress you and improve your mood and health. 

When you spend your time watching them, it is easy to spot any unusual behavior or appearance. So, you will be able to attend to any issue at the early stage.

Goldfish Care and disease:

Generally, regular monitoring of your tank water with your test kits ensures the correct water parameters and the health of your goldfish. However, like us, they can also fall ill sometimes. When you see any sign of illnesses, the first thing you want to check is whether you have introduced any new decor or new species into their habitat. 

Once you rule out that, the reason for their illness could be just a general one.

Some common illness that goldfish suffer include:

  • White Spot disease
  • Fin Rot disease
  • Swim Bladder disease
  • Lice and Worms
  • Dropsy
  • Black Spot or Smudge 
  • Fish Pox or Carp Pox

You can avoid most of the diseases if you strictly follow the care routines, such as regular water change, testing the water parameters, and correcting them to the desired levels. 

Quarantining the new species and treating them for any disease before introducing them to the goldfish tank. Taking care to clean up aptly any decor before putting it in the aquarium tank. 

And feeding rightly will help you to take care of your goldfish healthy.

Tankmates for goldfish:

goldfish tank

Finding good tank mates is a crucial phase when it comes to taking care of your goldfish. You might want to keep a pure goldfish aquarium with one type of goldfish, or you might want to mix a few different types of goldfish to add different perfective to your aquarium.

It is the simplest solution to find a tank mate for your goldfish to keep with other types of goldfish of a similar size.

Other tank mates can be schooling fish such as White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Harlequin Rasboras, adds more colors to your goldfish tank.

Shrimps such as Ghost shrimp, Red Cherry Shrimp, Amano shrimps, Bamboo Shrimps are valuable additions to the goldfish tank as they clean while goldfish dirty the tank. Shrimps can minimize the load on the filter. Just make sure to add enough hiding places in the tank, such as caves, tubes, some live plants, etc.

Platies and Bristlenose Plecos also make good tank mates to your goldfish.

Some large snails are also a great addition to your goldfish tank as they are good clean-up agents.

A detailed goldfish tankmates list. 

How to take care of goldfish – A warp-up:

Goldfish make a perfect species for first-time owners. They are hardy and resilient and easy to maintain, and if properly taken care of, they can outlive your dogs and cats. 

House them in a large tank of 20 to 30 gallons/fish depending on the type of goldfish, do a regular water change, run the filtration, weekly test for the water parameters, and correct the numbers if it has gone off the limit.

Feed them varieties of high-quality commercial food along with some home-cooked vegetables.

If you follow these care regimens, your fish can live to its optimal age and bring you joy and peace.

Don’t forget having a beautiful goldfish aquarium can help you with your moods, reduce your stress levels, and improve your health.

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