We all know the goldfish and many of us already have one. They're a common family pet and usually adorn a living room cabinet, sideboard or backyard pond. But what do we really know about them? Let's learn about the goldfish and their needs!
Origins of the goldfish
This small freshwater fish is very popular all over the world where people keep them in aquariums and ponds. It is also a very old breed, first recorded during the Chinese Jin dynasty from 265-420BC!
Goldfish originate from China where they were first recorded as a colour mutation of grey and silver carp fish. In fact, there were orange, red and yellow varieties.
Worshipped during the Tang and Song dynasties, owners would often put them in jars made of porcelain or crystal, set with precious stones.
Today, there are a large number of different breeds. They can be found in various shapes, sizes and colour combinations including black, brown, red, orange, yellow and white. Types of goldfish include the Black Moor, Bubble Eye, Celestial, Fantail, Panda Telescope, and the Oranda, among others.
The right environment
Goldfish have long life expectancy, with some living up to 30 years in the right aquatic conditions. Most will live 10-15 years in a large, clean and healthy environment. This includes plenty of water.
They are a social breed, known to live in shoals in the wild. While able to live alone, it's important goldfish are provided with plenty of space to swim around. This is often larger than most people realise. In fact, round fish bowls were banned in Rome in 2005 due to welfare and sight concerns for the animal. As some goldfish can grow to a foot in length, a small tank will stunt growth and cause harm and premature death to your pet.
A good rule to follow is providing an aquarium containing at least 80L of water for one fish, and an additional 40L for every other fish added. A vase or glass jar will be too small and the quality and length of life will be short. The temperature of your tank should also be consistent at all times; larger tanks will adapt less to changing outside temperatures.
During winter months, the temperature should be set between 10°C and 12°C. If you wish to breed your goldfish, the temperature will need to be raised to around 22°C.
Goldfish will happily eat flakes and pellets designed specifically to them and found easily in pet stores. You can even feed them steamed peas and vegetables (the cooking will help to break down the food for better digestion). Do no feed them bread as this can upset the balance of water nutrient levels and also cause digestive pain to your fish. Bloodworms and larvae purchased in a pet store will also be well received.
However, be sure not to overfeed your fish. Goldfish can be greedy and additional weight can mean serious trouble for your pet. They are also known to produce a lot of waste compared to many other fish so you will also have your work cut out for you!
Memory of a goldfish
True or false: goldfish have a 3-second memory.
False. In fact, it couldn't be more untrue! Studies have shown that goldfish feel pain at least 24 hours after the first occurrence, and they can recognise their owners with regular sightings (usually during feedings) after about three months. They can also identify different shapes, sounds and colours.
You might not have realised just how clever these (not always so) little creatures are! But remember: if you want to adopt a goldfish, when it comes to the tank, always go for bigger!
Where do your goldfish live?