Fun with Goldfish
An Introduction to the First Pet Fish
Goldfish are native to East Asia. They were the first fish kept as pets, by Chinese royal families - thousands of years ago. Yellow is the Chinese Imperial color, so only royalty could keep "gold" goldfish - one reason there are more orange & white goldfish today!
Comet goldfish Red Cap Oranda fancy goldfish
"Fancy" goldfish (with funny eyes or oddly shaped heads) were first bred about 700 years ago, and goldfish keeping became popular all over the world: first in Japan, then Europe, and finally in America about 150 years ago.
Weird Facts about Goldfish:
Your Goldfish's New Home
- A group of goldfish is called a "troubling".
- Goldfish kept in tanks can live 10-20 years.
- Goldfish have good eyesight - they can tell people apart.
- Goldfish can grow to be over a foot long.
- Goldfish are smart - you can train them to do things, like swim through hoops. (Training is easy with the R2 Fish School !)
- Goldfish colors react to light.
- Goldfish don't have a stomach!
Goldfish are pretty tough. They don't need heated water like most freshwater aquarium fish. Lots of people keep them outside, in ponds, all year round. They can even survive under a layer of ice, as long as there is enough oxygen in the water.
You can also keep goldfish in a fish tank, like most people - but not in a goldfish bowl.
Goldfish normally grow to be 10-14 inches long - much too big for a fish bowl. Without room to grow - or room for oxygen - they're very uncomfortable and unhappy.
A goldfish needs at LEAST 20 gallons to live in - and 10 more gallons for every goldfish friend you add. If your goldfish is in a bowl now, just move it to a larger tank as soon as you can.
Add a powerful filter with strong circulation, plus a daylight lamp to create a healthy habitat (but turn off the lamp at night - your goldfish needs beauty sleep!).
Friends for Your Goldfish
Goldfish are naturally social. They might pick on newcomers to the fish tank, but it's rare for goldfish to hurt each other. Once they are friends, goldfish "school" or swim together in groups. (You could say it's troubling...)
Your goldfish is a coldwater fish - most freshwater aquarium fish are tropical and can't be kept in the same tank with a goldfish. But there ARE easy-to-find coldwater fish you can keep with goldfish. Read more about the fish you want to see if they'll get along with your goldfish or not!
Decorating Your Goldfish Tank
Goldfish like to dig around in gravel (so avoid undergravel filters) and nibble on plants.
Make sure that any decorations you put in the tank are aquarium safe, without sharp edges.
Be sure to pick out some decorations and plants (real or fake) to make your goldfish feel at home. They make great hiding places for your goldfish to explore and escape to if they're feeling nervous.
Feeding Your Goldfish
Goldfish eat lots of different things...almost anything, even if it makes them sick. So don't feed them too much - only what they can finish in about 2 minutes, twice a day.
There are lots of goldfish foods you can buy that are healthy, but eating the same thing all the time gets old. Treat your goldfish once in a while to real food - it tastes better and is good for them.
Freeze dried fish treats are a hit, or hatch your own brine shrimp (you can buy a hatchery, or try making your own from a 2 liter plastic soda bottle)! Goldfish can also eat fruits, vegetables and even some meats.
Ask your parents to put aside a tiny bit of the vegetables they're cooking for dinner (BEFORE seasoning), and let your goldfish have a little taste!
Feed very small amounts - if it's not gone in 2-3 minutes, take it out. You can feed leafy greens foods with a lettuce clip. Peas will float, while other things might have to be attached to a sinking feeder.
Things goldfish like to eat:
Reeeally fat goldfish - don't overfeed!
- Leafy greens like lettuce & kale (no iceburg lettuce or cabbage)
- Boiled, skinned peas
- Cucumber, Squash & Zucchini (remove seeds)
- Fruits - peeled, cut into tiny pieces
- Clam - cooked, chopped
- Hamburger - cooked well, chopped
- Shrimp - cooked, chopped
- Oat Flakes
- Wheat Germ
Use your goldfish's favorite treats as rewards when he does those tricks you're teaching him. He'll learn much faster!
Fancy goldfish have trouble digesting if they don't get enough fiber, so they should always have vegetables in their diet. There are special foods for fancy goldfish.
When feeding dry fish food to fancy goldfish, soak it thoroughly in water before putting it in the tank - otherwise, it can expand inside them and cause problems. Let them go a day every week without any food!
Keep a goldfish journal! You can keep track of all kinds of things, like how fast your goldfish is growing, what tricks you are teaching it, and what it likes - or doesn't like - to eat. You can also use it to help keep track of important maintenance tasks, like when to do the next water change, or when to change filter cartridges.
Ask an adult to help with maintenance tasks like cleaning or water changes. Most adults find it a little confusing in the beginning too, so it's nice to get some help until you know what you're doing.
For more details about daily care for your goldfish, take a look at our goldfish care guide.
Enjoy Your Goldfish!
Remember, your goldfish is pretty smart, likes to play and will get attached to you. Since he's stuck in his tank, make sure you spend some time each day hanging out with him. Take good care of him, and you'll have a friend for many years!