Keeping cold water fish in an aquarium
Ask many people what comes to mind when they say the word ‘ goldfish or goldfish ‘ and they will probably associate it with small round fish tanks, a sprinkling of gravel, an eye-catching ornament and the occasional bit of ‘grass’.
In many cases there would be no filtration or aeration at all and every couple of weeks, the unlucky fish is removed from the container, placed in a bucket, while the water was discarded from the container and replaced with unconditioned tap water.
In the time between these water changes, goldfish were seen at the surface gasping for air. Living in his unfiltered and un-aerated bowl (which is admittedly too small), this poor unlucky goldfish is in a state of permanent stress and, unsurprisingly, will only survive a few months (and ‘survive’ in this case does not mean ‘live’).
This is incredibly cruel and is unacceptable in these times. The lifespan of the common goldfish should be about 25 years, by which time it should have grown to over 30 cm in length. Let’s see how to set up an aquarium for cold water fish successfully.
Installation of an aquarium for cold water fish
It’s best to go for the largest tank you can accommodate and afford, as goldfish grow quickly and require a lot of room to swim. One of the most common mistakes many aquarists make is not choosing a large enough tank to start with, as goldfish will invariably quickly outgrow many small ‘starter tanks’.
It is also best to invest in a specially designed aquarium stand or cabinet, as once it is filled with water and decor it will become very heavy and most home furnishings are not designed to withstand such a load. The stands/cabines also raise the aquarium to a good height so that children can see the fish, without damaging the glass.
The aquarium should not be placed in corridors and other places adjacent to doors, as they are drafty, have frequent foot traffic, and closely closing doors will cause unnecessary stress to the fish.
The tank should be kept away from areas near windows as sunlight will cause problematic algae growth in the tank and you may encounter excessive temperature fluctuations.
Many children request that their pet’s fish tank be located in their bedroom; this is not a good idea as the aquarium filter needs to be kept running 24 hours a day and this can create some background noise which can keep the child awake at night. So people are tempted to install the tank without a filter or turn off the filter at night; this is totally unacceptable as the quality of the water will deteriorate.
Once you’ve found the correct position for your tank, now it’s time to put a bottom on the outside rear glass of the tank. The bottom makes the fish feel safer and also prevents you from seeing the bottom through the back of the tank. It will be difficult to attach the bottom once the tank is full, so now is the best time to do it.
Then you must add the chosen aquarium substrate. It is available in the form of aquatic grade gravel or sand, and there are many types and colors available to choose from. However, “standard” aquatic gravel or sand are the best choices as they do not reflect bright, unnatural colors and therefore can make fish feel safer.
Please note that aquatic gravel/sand can be very dusty and therefore should be thoroughly rinsed under clean tap water before being placed in the tank.
The aquarium filter
The aquarium filter is an extremely important piece of equipment that will support beneficial bacteria. It is these bacteria that break down the waste produced by the fish and convert it into less harmful substances. If the filter (and bacteria) were not present, the fish would be swimming in their own toxic waste and suffering. Here we explain better how a fish tank filter works.
We typically recommend using an internal filter that sits inside the tank for small aquariums, a waterfall filter for medium-sized aquariums, and for larger aquariums, an external filter that sits outside the tank.
Internal filters operate inside the aquarium and are available in various sizes to fit different tank sizes. The water is drawn through a foam sponge cartridge by a small pump located inside the filter. Bacteria colonize this sponge and break down the waste produced by the fish.
The filter should be placed just below the water level so that when the water is pumped back into the aquarium, this will cause a «ripple» effect on the surface. This wave oxygenates the water, which makes the goldfish much more comfortable.
An additional air pump can be used to help aerate the water, although if the filter outlet is positioned correctly this is more of a decorative feature.
The foam sponge cartridge should always be cleaned with mature water drawn from the aquarium during a water change (we recommend a 20% change every fortnight). NEVER rinse sponges with tap water; chlorine and chloramine (bactericides in tap water) kill all beneficial bacteria and will cause huge water quality problems.
The foams should only be replaced if they lose their shape (squeeze them and they should spring back into shape). But remember, replace only one sponge at a time, or in the case of small filters that only contain one sponge, cut the sponge in half and replace half at a time. This way you won’t lose all the beneficial bacteria.
Lighting and other equipment for the aquarium
Most tanks come with a hood and aquarium lighting already installed. The lights should be on 9 to 10 hours a day. This is natural for your fish and lighting left on for longer periods will likely result in nuisance algae.
Decoration such as rocks or bog wood should be placed in the aquarium before filling with water so that the tank does not overflow (note that bog wood should first be soaked in a separate container of water for a few days before adding to the tank). aquarium to avoid brown tannin that discolors the water).
Plastic plants can also be added at this stage, but if you intend to keep live aquarium plants, wait until the tank has partially filled. Varieties like Elodea densa and Cabomba caroliniana tend to do better in cooler water, though be aware that goldfish may nibble on them because they like some green food in their diet.
Cycle or mature the tank
Once the tank has been filled and a dechlorinator added, the filter can be turned on and you should let the tank run for several weeks before adding any goldfish.
This is what is known as cycling or maturation of the aquarium, and if you do not know what it is, you should read this article dedicated to how to cycle the aquarium step by step, where we explain everything you need to know about this vital process.
We recommend that you test your aquarium water after the tank has been in operation for a week, start testing the water to make sure it is ready for your first fish.
Patience is of the utmost importance here – it is unfair to the fish to attempt to introduce them to the tank if you are not ready for them; you will end up losing them, something that can be completely avoided, not to mention the fact that you could also get very discouraged from the beginning.
Water quality can be monitored through the use of ammonia and nitrite test kits that can be purchased, and some stores may even offer a water testing service for a small fee (call your local store to verify that they provide this). service).
If your aquarium water is ready, we recommend that you introduce the fish into the tank very slowly to avoid overloading the filter: one or two fish to start with, then if there is no deterioration in the water quality after 2 weeks, you can add another fish or two..
Introducing the fish in your aquarium
With regard to acclimating your new fish to its tank, this should be done with care, as the chemistry of store water may differ slightly from that in your own aquarium. You should turn off the lights in the aquarium and let the bag float on the surface of the water for 10-15 minutes to allow the temperature of the water in the bag to adjust to that of your aquarium.
After this time, you should undo the bag and slightly roll the sides down so that the bag is still buoyant. Every 10 minutes, gently add a cup of water from your tank to the bag, so the overall process takes about 40 minutes. Then gently turn the bag on its side and allow the fish to swim out on their own.
As tempting as it may be to turn the aquarium lights back on, you should leave the lights off for a few hours to allow the fish to adjust to their new surroundings.
feed in moderation
It is advisable to feed sparingly, especially in the early stages of your tank (eg a very small amount every other day), to avoid contamination of the tank. Manufacturers will likely state ‘feed 2 or 3 times a day’ on their food containers, but this can do more harm than good in a newly set up aquarium.
It will take weeks for the filter bacteria to colonize the sponge, so the less debris there is, the better equipped the filter is to deal with the breakdown of this debris. You should make sure to immediately remove any uneaten food.
Once the tank is more mature, and when you are confident in monitoring the water quality with the use of test kits, you may be able to feed your goldfish small amounts of food once or twice a day.
You should vary this between flake foods, sinking pellet foods, and frozen foods like bloodworm, which can help their digestive system.
As mentioned above, a 20% water change should be done bi-weekly. If you have a gravel substrate, this is best achieved by using a ‘ gravel cleaner ‘ (siphon) which will agitate the gravel and remove some of the waste products trapped between the gravel while also removing some water from the gravel. tank.
If you have a sandy substrate, gravel cleaners cannot be used, and you will need to hose off the water. This is also a good time to look in your filter and rinse the sponges with the water drawn from the aquarium. The impeller that drives the filter motor should be removed and cleaned every two months to remove limescale and dirt buildup that could cause it to stop working.
A dechlorinator should be added to the replacement tap water before the water is added to the tank, as the chlorine will harm both goldfish and sponge bacteria.
After a few weeks you may notice some algae build up on the glass, you can remove it as needed with an algae remover blade.
It is worth noting that we do not recommend keeping ‘fancy goldfish’ (i.e. goldfish varieties that have a ‘dovetail’) with common (single-tailed) goldfish, as the Fancy varieties are slower swimmers and generally compete for food when common goldfish are present.
So, before you buy your tank, you need to decide if you’d like to keep common goldfish with other single-tailed varieties like shubunkins or sarasa comets, or maybe you’d prefer to have several fancy goldfish (e.g. orandas, ryukin, pearl flakes, moors, ranchu, lion heads, etc.) together.