Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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onekatietwo 05-06-2009 06:24 PM

Goldfish Noob with many general questions
So, I haven't really had fish for a looooong time until a week or two ago I got a Betta. And of course, now I'm fully addicted.

Soooooooo, I kind of have my heart set on getting some goldfish, which is a little unfortunate since they're not exactly easy keepers, at least in terms of the size of their environment.

But anyway, I don't even know where to start. I've been doing a ton of reading on the internet and looking into different options, but there is a lot of confusing info out there. Some of the things I read directly contradict other things I read... and then you throw in all the different types and it's just a huge mess.

I have a 20 gallon available to me and it sounds like that might be to small, but I'm hoping it could work. If it absolutely can't work for any type of goldfish, is there the possibility that I could keep them in the 20 gallon until they grew out of it? And how long might this take? That way, I'll ahve some time to browse craigslist and save up some money and find a stand for something larger.

Also, can you guys reccomend a good type to get? Obviously I have my persnal choices based purely off of looks, but I'd rather have one that would fit in a smaller tank and remain fairly healthy.

Thankfully, I have an amazing local aquarium store that DOESN'T lie to/misinform customers just because they want to make sales and/or don't know any better. So hopefully I can go to them with a lot of these questions as well as tips on what type of filter, substrate, plants etc to get.
I just wanted to ask here to streamline the process a bit once I get to actually going to the store and also so I won't appear to ignorant when I go there. ;)

Any tips or information would be greatly appreciated! And sorry for asking such general questions and stuff. I'm sure you guys get sick of things like this, but it really is very helpful and I've already gone back a few pages and read all the threads regarding goldfish. :)

Lupin 05-08-2009 04:50 AM

Hello Katie,

I'd like to start first by saying I am happy you chose to ask first before you buy anything. Goldfish are indeed messy feeders preferring cooler temperature so the first step is you won't need a heater at all. For a 20g, I would not advise putting any goldfish there long-term. They are sociable creatures that should be kept in at least 55g minimum with a minimum number of three goldies.

The smallest ones that you will ever find are shortbodied strains like orandas, and then tosakins and pearlscales. Tosakins are very rare strains until now since they were established as a separate strain in 2004. They are apparently very hard to breed, are delicate and very poor swimmers so these may not be something you want to start with, besides the fact tosakins are very expensive fish.

Here's an image of a tosakin. I am currently searching high and low for the tosakins and will hopefully be able to get them in time despite the cost. sells a few tosakins but be aware these are not something you wish to start with so think twice before you do. Like I said, these are also very expensive so money may be an issue here. Tosakins are meant to be viewed from above so indoor ponds or coffee tables are very much advisable rather than actual side view tanks and outdoor ponds due to their fragility.

As for shortbodied strains and pearlscales, they can work in a 55g minimum. They may still grow to 4-5 inches and despite their size, the filtration must be twice or more than the actual tank water volume to be able to cope with their wastes. Allow one goldfish per 10g for small variants and 15g or more for the likes of shubunkins, wakins, watonais and comets.

Your 20g could work as a quarantine tank for at least a month for a young goldfish if you are willing to cope with the high frequency of water changes and high filtration capacity. If space is not an issue, get a 55g, make sure it is readily cycled and ready for the goldfish. Plan your choices carefully. A 55g could also work for shubunkins and comets but I would keep only at 3-4 shubbies or 3 comets in that tank size.

Good luck!

adiumroot 05-08-2009 06:11 AM

I agree with Lupin. 20g is too small for goldfish. Technically, you could keep a single goldfish in there, but it will be very lonely. And if goldfish are deprived of social contact with others of the same kind, they'll just rest on the bottom, barely moving. Not really entertaining to look at. I really suggest to upgrade to a 55g. Or a 45 for a bare minimum for 3 small breed fancy goldfish. Just make sure you have EXCELLENT filtration and regular water changes. The fish are going to be much happier and it'll look better since your fish are quite active.

Comets and Shubunkins are good beginner goldfish (but not beginner fish, mind you). They require more water volume than the fancy breeds, as stated above. If you feel a little bit more confident, you can go straight to Orandas. I really like Orandas, especially Redcaps. They look really "Brainy". Hehe. After Orandas, Ranchus are a nice next step. I consider Fantails the plain fancy variety (oxymoron, I know).

Also, do not put single and twin-tailed varieties together in a tank since the single-tails swim faster and will outcompete the others for food. An exception to this is the Wakin, which can compete with single-tails equally. This is not a hard and fast rule, though. You can mix them temprarily as long as you make sure that each fish gets a rightful share of food. But generally, mixing the them is avoided.

Good luck goldfishing! I hope you have a great time!

onekatietwo 05-08-2009 02:40 PM

Thank you so much for the information. It's really very helpful!

So it sounds like a 20 gallon aquarium wouldn't be appropriate for any variety for very long at all? I was hoping some younger ones might fit in it for something like three, four, or five months. I'm definitely willing to over filter it and do frequent water changes, but I also don't want to cramp them. Nothing is less pleasing to look at than a fish cooped up in a tiny tank and looking lifeless. To me, it totally defeats the purpose of owning them.

I'm very impatient, so I would prefer to get some young goldfish and pop them into the 20 gallon just as soon as I get it set up and cycled, but it's looking like maybe it would be a better idea to wait on the goldfish until I have at least a 55 gallon secured, at least if I would only want to keep them in a 20 gallon for a month or so.

And wow, Lupin. I'd never seen or heard of these Tosakins. I just did a google search and they're so gorgeous! I definitely won't be starting out with that since I'm just getting back into this fish business and I may make a few mistakes on the way (though I really hope not.) But I think I'm going to keep those in mind for that distant "someday". I have these great dreams of a giant custom aquarium and/or indoor pond as well as an outdoor koi pond, but I don't know if it'll ever happen ;) I think I move and travel too much to have too many pets that aren't that portable.

Anyway, I think i'd prefer to try to start out with some of the 'fancy' variety. I absolutely adore how comets and shubunkins look, but I really am overly paranoid about stunting them, cramping them in small spaces, or having them outgrow their aquarium and I doubt anything too much over 55 gallons would be very practical for me since I'm in college and usually rent rooms.
Are fish of the fancy goldfish varieties really that hard to keep? Orandas for example? As I think I mentioned, I do have some aquarium experience, but its been a while and I've never kept goldfish (or even any tropical fish that are too difficult.)

Anyway, thanks again! I'll start browsing through newspapers, garage sales, and craigslist and try to get ahold of something larger. If things look promising, maybe I'll get some young goldfish to keep in the 20 gallon for a month or two, but otherwise I'm sure my Betta would be pretty psyched to be upgraded from five gallons to 20. That could be fun anyway because I could experiment with putting in a few other things with him in there and if it doesn't work out, I'd still have the 5 gallon to resort to.

adiumroot 05-08-2009 03:34 PM

I haven't owned an Oranda yet, but I've read the wen (headgrowth) can be infected due to bacteria/fungi settling between the headgrowth. We have to ask the actual Oranda owners here about that.

You can consider Fantails, Ryukins or Pearlscale/Pingpong if you don't want a goldfish with a wen yet, since those are an additional concern. Just take care not to overfeed. Also, it's been said that feeding goldfish floating and unsoaked pellets can contribute to swimbladder problems. Though I haven't experienced it yet, I've switched to sinking pellets and if I feed floating ones, I soak them first for a few minutes to let them expand.

I take care of Commons and Shubunkins (wild-type body goldfish). Fancies are said to be more prone to swimbladder problems due to their greatly modified body shape. However, with proper care and feeding, these problems can be avoided.

And your betta will love the 20 gallon! :D Give him some nicely arranged plants and he'll be in paradise. Post pics if you have the time. Good luck!

Lupin 05-08-2009 07:09 PM

I've never had that particular experience on the orandas, Adiumroot but as long as you take precautions, I do not believe it is something to really be concerned of. I think you've pretty much covered what I was thinking. A 55g could fit at least 2-3 shubunkins. They're slightly smaller than comets so no case for paranoia needed there but if you prefer, fancy goldies are your best bet.

Floating foods do contribute to swim bladder issues. For fancy ones whose bodies have been modified greatly into round shape, the internal organs are greatly compressed and thus are very vulnerable to swim bladder disorders so it is best to avoid floating foods. As much as possible, avoid foods containing too much proteins particular bloodworms. Go with spirulina foods, veggies and the like.

What I love in goldfish is the challenge they give to hobbyists. Contrary to popular belief, these are not good beginner fish at all. Even if they are labeled as feeders, they contain too much fats and thiaminase responsible for thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency for most predatory fish. The thiaminase is not easy to purge out and will have side effects to the fish such as HLLE (head and lateral line erosion). This is one reason I frown upon the overuse of goldfish as feeders. People think by feeding their pets with feeder goldfish and rosie reds, they are giving their fish a nutritious diet but this is not the case at all. It simply is the opposite but that's another issue. Thought I'd let you know.:wink:

Here are my fantails under quarantine, Felix and Alessandra. Both are breeders.

Alessandra. She's much bigger and is ripe with eggs currently.

onekatietwo 05-09-2009 04:47 PM

They're really cool looking! So gorgeous. I really can't wait to get some goldfish myself.

I'm not a huge fan of the wen anyway, so I guess I might as well avoid those types regardless, as long as there similar fish with out them.

I think I might be ready for a trip to the fish store and I can ask them as questions as well and see what they have in stock so I don't need to worry about ordering anything.

And thanks again for all the info and tips.

Lupin 05-10-2009 03:36 AM

Katie, be careful with the information you get from your LFS. Try reading this BAS site for information you want.
Bristol Aquarists' Society, Goldfish Varieties: fancy goldfish varieties, how to keep them, and how to breed them

Bottomfeeder 05-10-2009 08:42 AM

IMO a 30 with good filtration can hold 2 Fancy varieties and for 1 'Comet' you need a 75...maybe a 55 with good filtration...

onekatietwo 05-12-2009 01:53 AM

Lupin, I do actually feel pretty comfortable with my local store. Of course, I take all information that I get with a grain of salt, but they're really quite knowledgeable, have been in the business/hobby for years and year, and making a sale really does not seem to be their number one priority. The fish there always appear very, very healthy and they have quarantine tanks around the store just in case they do spot anything nasty. But their quarantine fish honestly look a lot better than the 'healthy' and for sale fish that I've seen in other stores.

They also always ask about your set up before making sale or at least 'warn' you about the adult size of the fish as they are selling it to you.

This store really is a great resource that I wish every community could have for aquarium hobbiests. I do trust them to some extent.

Anyway, I've been seeing awesome deals on craigslist left and right and have come into a bit of money. While I should use it to pay off my car or student loans, I think I deserve a little gift for myself so it looks like I'll ahve my goldfish soon. I might set up the 20 gallon in a few days here to keep them in (provided I find some that are small enough) until I get my larger aquarium. I'm very excited. :)
I don't know where this obsession with goldfish came from.
I think my aquarium screen saver might have something to do with it.

Anyway, i ahve one more question. I have read a lot about goldfish and planted tanks not working out, but I have also seen quite a few pictures of goldfish in planted tanks that looked pretty real.

Are there certain plants that will work with goldfish? Should I just experiment and see what they leave alone? Should I just give up before I waste a bunch of money on plants for my goldfish to kill/eat?
Are their some that they will at least eat/kill slowly?

Thanks again for your help, everybody!

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