If there were ever a classic, lovable childhood pet that most people could say they owned at one point or another it would be a goldfish. From their beautiful colors to their cute appearance, goldfish make wonderful pets for people of all ages and can be found the world over!
However, the classic image of a small yellow fish that comes to mind when most people think of them doesn’t truly represent the incredible variety of goldfish that’s really out there; there are thousands of them of countless colors and sizes.
One of the more little known varieties is the fancy goldfish; a pet that offers some truly beautiful appearances to give your home a nice boost. With the right research, you can have one of your very own as a beloved and beautiful pet. They can make great companions regardless of the kind of home you live in.
An Overview on the Fancy Goldfish
Originating in Asia, all goldfish can trace their family line back to wild caught fish that were domesticated and bred to be calm and have as many different colors and appearances as desired. They came from rivers and ponds and other bodies of water and used their incredible ability to adapt to make themselves home everywhere, but only a small group became the pets we know today. From these first few arose an incredible variety.
While they generally all have a small round body and pretty double fins, some have become so different it’s almost hard to recognize them as goldfish at all!
The beloved orange and gold color with shiny scales is the most common, though white and black spots are also a possibility when it comes to color and beautiful patterns are often found, similar to their close relatives the koi fish. Colors that are also common include white, black, red and countless combinations of these colors.
Beyond that, even the bodies of goldfish have incredible diversity. Some have small simple bodies with short fins, while others are quite large and have long flowing fins that come off them at every angle. More astounding are the many incredible features. Some have huge eyes that face upwards to help them spot food, while others have large “bubbles” on their face and others have beautiful wavy fins.
There are more varieties than could ever possibly be listed, and even more are being bred and modified all the time. This has been going on for over a thousand years, so expect to be almost overwhelmed by a wealth of choice and history.
Choosing Your Fancy Goldfish
There are a number of basic categories to assist you in making your choice, and you will need to ensure that you have a good idea of what you desire. Generally fancy goldfish can be graded by the amount of care it takes to keep them healthy, and this also corresponds to how expensive they are and how much experience you should have before you buy them.
Simpler breeds tend to have simple rounded bodies without too many extra features, but their colors are still quite beautiful. Some of them are even durable enough to be kept outside in ponds.
As you go further down the list you will find fish with fantastic body shapes including;
- Humps and “crowns” of fatty tissue that actually have the potential to be broken in bad environments.
- Large, telescope type eyes that look upwards or outwards with big lenses that look like glasses.
- Goldfish with growths around their noses to mimic bubbles, and these tend to be the most delicate.
Almost all of these breeds though are still known for beautiful colors and shiny scales that can give them an almost jewel like appearance, and many have actually been bred to have larger and more gem like scales.
As they become more fantastic they also become more expensive, as most locations don’t have the ability to carry the fancier fish safely before selling them. This means you will need to seek out breeders, and a high class fancy goldfish can actually go for hundreds of dollars if it’s from a good breeder.
Keeping this all in mind can help narrow down potential choices, as how much money you want to spend or how careful you are willing to be with a potential pet can help you better decide on an animal that will meet your needs so you can meet its own needs.
Setting Up Your Tank
Deciding upon what kind you want can be an incredible challenge in the face of so many choices, but there are other factors to help you choose.
Different types of fancy goldfish have different needs, and the kind of habitat you are interested in can impact what kind you will be able to keep. A smaller, simpler fancy goldfish may require much less than one od the larger breeds with many special features. You always want to take your pets health into account well before you buy them.
While they can live almost anywhere in the wild from ponds to lakes to rivers, your pet will likely be much pickier, and will want you to provide it a home that is carefully controlled. Almost all goldfish prefer colder water so a climate controlled tank will be a required start, as even those who prefer the water a little warmer will need it at a constant temperature.
Temperatures they can’t stand will kill them or make them sick very quickly. It is best to invest in an aquarium thermometer or get an infrared thermometer for your aquarium.
The tank will also need to be big enough, as goldfish cannot stand being cramped in small spaces and become stressed if they are. A very common misconception is that they are fine in simple bowls, which couldn’t be further from the truth, and many people are told incorrect things by pet stores to encourage them to buy cheap.
Make sure you have multiple gallons ready for your fish and research the specific requirements, though ten gallons is generally seen as the minimum, but for larger fish it can be twenty or more, which can be quite expensive to maintain.
The inside of the tank will usually need to have gravel, ideally with a smooth texture to allow them to forage for their entertainment. Underwater plants are a nice touch too, but be careful as bigger goldfish will happily tear up and eat smaller ones, so fake ones are okay. A nice water flow is good for them as well, but a current that’s too strong will tire them out and buffet them around the tank and result in injuries or death.
Taking Care Of Your Fish
Once you do choose your fish and pair them with your carefully prepared set up, a well planned schedule of cleaning and feeding will be required to keep them happy and healthy as well as free of stress.
Goldfish tend to produce a lot of waste, so a large and powerful filter is always recommended to keep up with them, and you should check it often to ensure functionality. Even with a filter maintenance will be required.
Regular additions of certain chemicals to keep bacteria from growing are great for your fish, so long as you measure carefully. Too much will actually make them sick, while too little won’t keep the water clean. Oxygen is also something you must keep track of, as they need there to be a lot of it mixed in the water and they die very quickly if these needs are not met. Many oxygen filters are sold on the market to keep these levels optimal so you don’t have to worry.
With these basic day to day needs tended to, the fish will also need to eat a healthy diet to stay energized as well as colorful, as being underfed can cause them to lose their vibrancy. To the surprise of many, goldfish are actually omnivores, and in the wild they can be found eating plants and insects as well as the occasional crustacean. A captive diet must reflect this variety. Most foods sold at pet stores can be bought in variety, and rotating these different formulas can give them just the diversity in their diet they need.
Small plant trimmings as well as insects and other treats give them some enrichment as well. However, if they feed at the surface they can lose their balance so ensuring the food sinks can go a long way to making feeding much easier for them.
A feeding once or twice a day is sufficient, and ensure you control the dosage as fish are known to overeat when offered more than they need and this can either make them sick or kill them depending on how much they’d overeat, so don’t give them more even if they keep accepting the food, or give them many treats despite their enjoyment of it.
Fancy Goldfish Tankmates
In your aquarium you may likely want more than just one goldfish, but what kind of company is safe for them depends on many factors.
As fancy goldfish tend to be a little smaller and often have many special features not found in wild fish, they can actually be quite vulnerable. Some fancy goldfish can’t even see due to their features. This makes it very hard for them to defend themselves, so you need to ensure any potential neighbors are just as well mannered as they are.
This will require some research on your part to see what other fish you may want with them and how they are known to behave. Some fish are aggressive even if they aren’t carnivores, and they choose to bite and harass other fish by choice because they feel threatened or it is how they communicate.
Similar sized fish tend to be best, and goldfish actually enjoy having company, as they are often far more social than one might expect. Other goldfish are often their favorite company. Certain animals that aren’t fish can make good neighbors as well, however.
Snails and shrimp are small and tend to be aggressive, and goldfish often live with them in the wild as well, so having them would make your tank more similar to their natural habitat. These animals are also filter feeders, so they can serve a dual purpose of company and keeping the tank clean for the sake of all animals.
Interacting With Your Fish
A goldfish will actually enjoy if you interact with it in a way it doesn’t feel threatened, and you can even train them to preform tricks and play with you if you respect their space and reward them for their efforts!
The stimulation is very good for them. You can feed them straight from their hand if they trust you, and it can be a good exercise to show them you are their caretaker.
In fact, they actually have excellent memories, and will even be able to tell you apart from other humans and show preference for you. With a well cared for life and stimulation to keep them exercised, they can actually live for multiple decades, and some varieties are known to see the age of twenty. This is in harsh contrast to the idea that they die quickly, as in the wild they also live for years and can actually reach great sizes when they have room to grow!
Altogether these animals are beautiful as well as very misunderstood. However they are still very delicate, so while playing with them you will want to make their health your greatest priority.
One thing you can do is make sure that you have clean hands free of any chemicals or contaminants, as in water it is very easy for germs to be spread or the delicate chemistry of the tank to be thrown off. Being so small and fragile, even a tiny change in something like this can make them very sick.
You should also handle them with incredible care. Being small and covered in pretty parts means they can be hurt easily, especially those with particularly strange parts. Fancy goldfish with big eyes can bump them and go blind, and those with bubbles on their faces can rupture them if they even bump into something pointy or hard without seeing it first. Even wavy fins can tear and become infected if you aren’t careful, so always be mindful of how you handle your fish, even when they need to be moved elsewhere.
Breeding Your Fish
Should you choose to have more than one goldfish, you will be presented with the option of breeding them often whether you want to or not.
Goldfish can breed very easily in captivity, and their eggs are laid around the tank attached to surfaces so there are out of the way. You will likely find them in small corners or attached to rocks, and they will be unguarded as goldfish practice no parental care as soon as they may their eggs, meaning that removing them is quite easy.
Thankfully they prefer to breed only once a year, in spring, so you don’t have to worry about eggs all the time. However you will still need to work quickly if you want to have baby fish because parents are known to eat the eggs on occasion. After being moved to a smaller tank with no other predators, including other goldfish, the eggs can be left to hatch after a few days. At birth the baby fish, or fry, will be incredibly small and need specialized food small enough for them to eat.
Almost all pet stores sell food made specifically for the special needs of these tiny fish. Keep a close eye on them to make sure they are responding well, and make any necessary changes slowly to ensure you don’t shock their tiny bodies. They will grow quickly, and at about an inch of length they are generally big and strong enough to join your other fish or be sold to a new aquarium where they will finish growing up quite quickly.
You can do this multiple times a year if you do desire by controlling the temperature so that they think it is spring and time to lay eggs.
Is A Goldfish Right For You?
In summary a fancy goldfish can make an incredible pet if you are willing to put in the time, energy and resources it takes to raise them.
A good startup cost may be expensive, but it is necessary to give your pet the life it deserves, with the health it needs. A well built tank with a well matched fish can give you a beautiful pet that will be at your side for years, and kind treatment will make it very eager to play with you in its own special way.
Your home will benefit both from the simple pleasure of their company and the beautiful colors they will bring into your life, and others visiting will definitely enjoy the beauty they offer as well as the peaceful aura they give their environment with their calm demeanor and easy to please personalities. As such, taking the right steps for care will always be rewarding with a fancy goldfish.