be the most popular pet in the United States but all too often the orange
fish can be found floating at the top of their bowls. Why do goldfish die?
"Like with many
pets, people are often unaware of what goldfish really need, they don't
get the advice they need and they don't know the right questions to ask,"
Paula Powell, director of husbandry at the Dallas World Aquarium, told
UPI's Animal Health.
"But even if
the goldfish owner deals with water temperature, filtration and feeding,
the fish could die because it was inbred or diseased -- some varieties
do not do well."
a member of the carp family, is a pretty hardy fish that with proper care
can live 10-to-15 years and even up to 20 years, Powell said.
What a pet owner
should not do is to wake up one Saturday, decide having some goldfish would
be a good idea, buy them and the aquarium and think it will take only a
few hours on the weekend to set everything up.
"There's a plethora
of reference materials in libraries, pet stores and the Web on tropical
fish and each fish deserves to have its owner do a little boning up because
if properly maintained a goldfish can be a 10-year or more commitment,"
George Parsons, director of aquarium collections at the John G. Shedd Aquarium
in Chicago, told UPI.
When a pet owner
determines what type of goldfish he or she wants, that person also must
decide how many fish, what type of aquarium, what type of filter, vacuum,
gravel or heater will be needed. Prepare to do some math.
Sanctuary, a Web page on petlibrary.com, suggests using the following formula
to determine how many fish can live in a
-- Surface Area = Length
-- Inches of goldfish =
Surface Area divided by 30
if the tank is 18 inches long, 10 inches deep, and 10 inches high, multiply
the length (18) by the depth (10), which equals 180 square inches of surface
area. A goldfish needs 30 square inches of surface area for each inch of
fish. This size tank could accommodate six one-inch fish, three two-inch
fish, two three-inch fish, or a combination.
tank as large as you can afford because the more water there is the more
time people have before waste can hurt the fish," Parsons said. "The larger
the tank the larger the margin of error."
Placing a tank
should be given consideration. A tank can be very heavy and should be placed
on a strong surface. The water for a 10-gallon tank weighs 85 pounds; a
100-gallon tank weighs close to a half-ton, according to petlibrary.com.
A tank should
not be placed near a sunny window or a heater, but it should be near an
electrical outlet, a little out of the way so people and other pets don't
knock into it and somewhat close to a water faucet because water will have
to be changed.
you will spill water around the tank inevitably, never put the tank on
an appliance, antique, etc.," advises petlibrary.com.
"Goldfish grow quickly, especially when cared for well, and they will need
as much space as you can provide. A small tank or fishbowl does not provide
as much space, and can sometimes stunt the growth of goldfish or cause
other developmental problems."
If gravel is
chosen for the aquarium, it must be washed. Nonporous rocks can be added
but Parsons warned gravel and rocks can trap food and fish waste, which
makes cleaning more difficult.
recommends purchasing rocks and plants from a pet dealer because rocks
from nature can contain pollutants that could poison the fish.
Most tap water
contains chlorine, which needs to dissipate before being added to the tank.
One way is to fill a bucket and let it stand for 24 hours before pouring
it into the tank. This allows the water to warm to room temperature --
the right temperature for goldfish.
recommends letting a new tank run for two weeks before adding fish so any
faulty equipment or hidden leaks can be addressed.
fish, often given as prizes in contests, live in crowded tanks, often aren't
fed enough, may be inbred, and start out with a lot of strikes against
them," Parsons said. "But a common goldfish is available in many grades
in pet stores and other pet outlets."
He warned never
to buy a fish from a pet dealer where dead fish are floating in the tank
"because the rest of the fish can be sick, or get sick later. Seek a knowledgeable
and reputable pet dealer and never buy from a tank that is cloudy or has
also recommends taking fish home in a shaded container or perhaps in a
picnic cooler, to maintain body temperature, so the fish are not stressed.
"The tank water
is best changed on a schedule such as twice a week. More often and it stresses
the fish, less often and the fish won't have enough oxygen and won't eat,"
Parsons said. "Since it's impossible to tell if a goldfish is male or female,
it is possible a couple could mate but it's unlikely because goldfish need
temperature changes and seasonality to spawn."
and careful planning, the fish still can get sick. How can you tell?
"Some may never
tell that a fish is sick until it starts floating at the top of the tank,
but some hobbyists study their fish carefully and can detect signs and
symptoms of disease," Dan Conklin, of the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, told
UPI. "New fish added to an established tank should be guaranteed for a
while to make sure they are not sick, because some fish may appear healthy
but are carriers of disease."
the best place to get advice for a sick fish is the pet dealer because
a there are few fish veterinarians and it makes no economic sense "to take
a five-dollar fish to a vet that charges many times that amount."
He said goldfish
can die from water that is too hot or too cold, a buildup of ammonia from
food not eaten or fishwaste and overfeeding, so although keeping a goldfish
without filtration or heaters or fans is possible, it might not produce
Still, it is
possible to keep a goldfish with gravel in a goldfish bowl. UPI's Animal
Health babysat a goldfish that lived in a goldfish bowl for three weeks
with aqua gravel. This important assignment was for a 7-year-old girl who
had gone on vacation. The fish survived.
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