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Goldfish: Types, Behaviors, Lifespan, Costs & More

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Taking a trip to the pet store to pick out a new aquatic friend can be a difficult decision, as you’ll need to assess its needs in relation to your lifestyle.

With this in mind, goldfish might be an awesome addition to your home, as they tend to be easier to take care of due to their hardiness and peaceful nature.

What Is a Goldfish?

Goldfish, or Carassius Auratus, are freshwater fish.

They are within the minnow and carp (Cyprinidae) families.

Their name comes from their original coloring.

But as breeding continued over the years, they now come in many different colors.

Goldfish live in the wild but can be pets too.

What Is the Purpose of a Goldfish?

Domestication of goldfish started many years ago, and their primary purpose was to swim around in ponds within ornamental Chinese gardens.

People used them for exotic aesthetic purposes and as luck and fortune symbols.

What Is the Origin of Goldfish?

Eastern Asia is the native home of the goldfish.

Ancient China seems to be their exact place of origin and where domesticated breeding began.

Then, by the 1800s, goldfish came to the United States and started serving as pets here.

Similar Alternatives to Goldfish

Goldfish relatives generally have similar needs and even have similar appearances to the goldfish.

Some fish that are similar to goldfish include:

  • Gold Barbs: Relatives of the goldfish with a sloped back and yellow/gold coloring.
  • Gold White Cloud Minnows: Skinny peach-colored goldfish relatives. They are outgoing and peaceful little fish.
  • Kohaku Koi Swordtails: Koi fish are distant relatives to goldfish. They are calm and easy to care for. This species usually comes in varying patterns of orange, black, and white.
  • Red Rasboras: Goldfish relatives with a black triangle or wedge towards their tails. They usually stay under an inch in size and are rather peaceful.

How Much Do Goldfish Cost?

Goldfish can cost as little as $0.16, depending on the store you go to and the size of the fish you choose.

If you opt for a fancier species of goldfish, the price will be higher at around $5 or more.

Goldfish Behavior

Goldfish are rather calm and docile.

Unlike other species of fish, they usually won’t nip at tank mates or act aggressively.

They typically enjoy being with other fish, as they have very social personalities.

They thrive most with other peaceful fish.

What Do Goldfish Do for Your Tank?

Goldfish can help clean your tank by ingesting algae.

These bottom-feeder fish will typically eat algae off of the rocks at the bottom of the tank, off decorations, and even off the sides of your tank.

Is a Goldfish Dangerous?

Goldfish are not a dangerous fish species.

They rarely show aggressive behavior to both tank mates and humans.

The only time they might show slight aggression is when they feel the need to fight for food and other resources.

Other than this, they keep to themselves most of the time and usually don’t cause any issues.

Goldfish Lifespan

A goldfish’s lifespan is highly dependent on nutrition and environmental conditions.

Sickness is usually the main cause of goldfish deaths.

How Long Do Goldfish Live?

Goldfish have the potential to live up to 30 years or more.

However, many pet goldfish don’t reach that age because of incorrect care and improper tank conditions.

How Fast Do Goldfish Grow?

Goldfish can grow quickly, especially if they have a large tank with the correct parameters.

Because of nutrition and water differences, growth rates vary significantly.

It can take years for some goldfish to reach their full size.

So, growth rates can probably vary from a few centimeters to an inch per year depending on living conditions.

How Big Can a Goldfish Get?

Typical pet goldfish usually grow to about four to eight inches and weigh up to around 10.5 ounces.

However, they can grow up to 23 inches and weigh up to 6.6 pounds at maximum.

Wild goldfish usually reach the maximum height and weight, while pet goldfish usually stay at much smaller sizes.

Tank & Water Requirements

Proper tank and water parameters are key in keeping your goldfish healthy.

Best Tank Size for Goldfish

Never put your goldfish in a bowl.

Goldfish do best in tanks that are around 20 gallons.

When it comes to this species of fish, larger tanks are better.

They need a lot of swimming room due to their potential size, so I use 30-gallon tanks.

Best Water Parameters & Conditions for Goldfish

Goldfish thrive well in water temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees.

However, they can survive in higher temperatures if needed.

The pH of a goldfish tank should always hover near neutral, which is a seven on the pH scale.

Oxygen levels should be around five milligrams per liter, and ammonia and nitrate levels need to be under 0.05 milligrams per liter.

Do Goldfish Need an Air Pump?

Without proper amounts of oxygen in your goldfish tank, the fish could suffocate.

While goldfish don’t always need an air pump, it’s still a good idea to have one.

Having an air pump will ensure your fish is receiving enough oxygen.

Best Habitat for Goldfish

A filtered 20-gallon freshwater tank with the correct water parameters, decorations, gravel, and plants is the best habitat for goldfish.

They should also have some tank mates to keep them company.

Do Goldfish Need Live Plants?

While it isn’t necessary to have live plants in your goldfish’s tank, it can’t hurt to have them.

I like to include live plants in my aquariums because have plenty of benefits to your tank and fish, including:

  • Providing oxygen
  • Absorbing nutrients and pollutants like carbon dioxide and ammonia
  • Providing hiding spaces for your fish
  • Controlling algae blooms

Tank Mates

Social fish like goldfish need tank mates to help them thrive in their environment.

Luckily, goldfish get along well with each other and other species of fish.

How Many Goldfish Should Be Together?

It’s usually a good idea to have at least two goldfish in a tank for companionship.

However, you can add more than two goldfish into a tank.

They will gladly interact with each other and sometimes start schooling behavior when in large groups.

What Fish Make Good Tank Mates for Goldfish?

Goldfish should always be with other non-aggressive community fish.

Some great tank mates for them include:

  • Other goldfish
  • Zebra danios
  • Dojo Loach: This type of loach typically minds its own business at the bottom of the tank and acts peacefully.
  • Gold White Cloud Minnows

Aggressive fish that chase your goldfish around and bully them will make your goldfish stressed out and sometimes sick.

You should avoid putting fish with different aggressiveness levels in a tank together because they won’t get along.

Some people find that goldfish don’t survive very long when living in a tank with aggressive fish like cichlids.

Which Fish Should Goldfish Avoid?

You should never put your goldfish in a tank with aggressive fish, as goldfish don’t typically defend themselves.

One fish species that you should completely avoid is cichlids.

These fish are very aggressive and can only tolerate a singular male fish from each aquarium species you have in your tank.

Breeding & Reproduction

Breeding goldfish at home can sometimes be difficult because it is hard to differentiate males from females.

You should also know that goldfish tend to eat their eggs and sometimes their freshly-hatched young.

So, if you’re purposely breeding them, you should remove the eggs as quickly as possible and put them in a separate tank.

Do Goldfish Breed Easily?

The goldfish breeding process itself is rather uncomplicated.

When breeding starts to take place, you’ll notice the male fish starting to purposely bump into the female fish.

This encourages the female to lay her eggs.

From here, females will drop their eggs, and the males can fertilize them.

Fertilization for goldfish eggs happens outside of their bodies.

How Long Does It Take for a Goldfish To Have Babies?

Once the male goldfish fertilizes the eggs, the incubation period is rather short.

The eggs will typically hatch within two to nine days.

The incubation period is highly dependent on the temperature of the tank water.

Warmer temperatures allow for quicker hatching times, while colder temperatures will prolong the process.

How Long Is a Goldfish Pregnant?

Unlike some other fish species, such as guppies, goldfish don’t technically get pregnant because they don’t spawn live young.

Concerning the eggs, there isn’t a specific amount of time that the female carries them.

How to Care For Goldfish

Goldfish aren’t needy fish.

They are very hardy, so they can handle slight changes in water parameters and their environment if needed.

You will generally care for them just as any other aquarium fish by providing them with a big tank, tank accessories, food, and medicine if needed.

General Care For Goldfish

To prepare your goldfish for its new home, you’ll need:

  • A 20-gallon tank or larger
  • Goldfish food to feed your fish at least twice a day
  • A filter, an air pump, and a heater for potential temperature drops
  • Water conditioner to reduce environmental stress
  • Gravel and a few decorations and plants
  • Water testing kits to make sure the tank water has optimal parameters

The primary thing you need to worry about when it comes to goldfish is the ammonia and nitrate levels in their water.

Goldfish release a lot of ammonia and waste, so you’ll need to do water changes once or twice a week.

Goldfish Diet and Feeding

Goldfish are in the omnivore category.

So, you should feed them goldfish-specific flakes and pellets, and live food like brine shrimp for protein.

Most goldfish flakes and pellets provide your goldfish with the essential nutrients they need and a little protein.

Supplementing with live food will provide them with the rest of their daily protein.

Common Problems With Goldfish

Poor environments and insufficient nutrition can weaken your goldfish’s immune system.

When this happens, they can catch a host of diseases.

Some diseases that goldfish can get include:

  • Anchor worms
  • Fish lice
  • Ich
  • Other parasites
  • Ulcers
  • Spring viremia of carp (virus)

You can usually treat parasites and bacterial infections with chemical additives for the tank water.

However, viruses don’t have cures, so your goldfish would need to go into quarantine in a separate tank.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions people have about goldfish.

Will goldfish get lonely?

There isn’t much information on whether goldfish can get lonely, but it seems as though they might not have the capacity to understand loneliness.

They are social creatures, but not in the sense that they need a companion to survive.

But, they do enjoy the company.

How can you tell if goldfish are male or female?

Male goldfish usually have thinner bodies and long fins, while females are more round and have shorter fins.

Upon further examination, female goldfish have lumps at their vents while a male’s vent is flat.

If this doesn’t help you, watch for breeding behaviors such as chasing and bumping if you have multiple goldfish.

Males chase the females until they eventually release their eggs.

Wrapping Up

Goldfish can make great aquatic pets, especially for first-time fish owners.

They have the potential to live a long time, are one of the easiest fish to take care of, and will promote peacefulness in your home aquarium.

Simply provide your goldfish with nutritious food and a clean tank to keep it healthy for years to come.

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