Top 5 Goldfish myths
There are many misconceptions when it comes to the care of Goldfish so here we’re going to debunk what I think are the top 5 Goldfish myths.
It’s highly common for most people to have owned a Goldfish at some point in their lives. Perhaps when you were a kid you won one at a funfair and that’s how your love for fish keeping started. Or perhaps you have kids that bugged you for a dog, but you didn’t have the time or money to commit to such a long-term responsibility, so you compromised. The next day you ran down to your local pet store, grabbed a little bowl with some multicoloured stones, a plastic plant and Bill and Bob the cute little goldfish twins. A month later your kids are holding a fishy funeral over the toilet for Bob, closely followed by Bill a week later.
The Goldfish Bowl
Many people believe that all a goldfish needs to survive is a bowl with some chemically treated tap water and a pinch of flakes once a day. Whilst goldfish are hardy fish and are capable of surviving in a range of conditions, a bowl is not a suitable home. If you want your goldfish to survive long term then it needs adequate space, filtration and aeration, just like every other fish. So, a bowl cannot be considered a ‘Goldfish bowl’, maybe a shrimp bowl instead? This Goldfish myth has probably led to the death of millions of goldfish over the years as the poor goldies are either poisoned by their own waste or are ultimately killed by cramped conditions, see our article on the effects of aquarium size here.
The common goldfish can reach up to 18 inches if properly cared for. Even smaller breeds of goldfish can reach up to 7 inches, which is a far cry from the 1-inch baby you picked up in the pet shop. Another common misconception is that fish only grow to the size of their tank. Most fish are what’s known as indeterminate growers, meaning they continue to grow until they die. What stunts the growth of a fish is actually poor water quality, which is more likely to occur in smaller aquariums or enclosures without adequate filtration. Smaller breeds of goldfish ideally require an aquarium upwards of 90 litres. Larger breeds such as the common goldfish are better suited to large outdoor ponds unless you want to invest in a 240 litre tank, but preferably larger.
Did you know that the longest living goldfish recorded was 49 years old? Yet most people believe that a goldfish is long-lived if it makes it past a year. The short lifespan that people are used to hearing about in goldfish is down to improper care and the ill-suited conditions they are kept in. Properly cared for and in the right conditions a goldfish can live up to several decades, a longer commitment than that dog you were so worried about getting!
Goldfish are generally kept in cold water aquariums (technically room temperature). However, they are plenty capable of surviving in warmer temperatures too. Their native habitat is central Asia, where summers often reach over 40 degrees Celsius. This means that goldfish are capable of making themselves at home in tropical aquariums. The downside to keeping goldfish in warmer conditions is that it speeds up their metabolism meaning they create much more waste and grow quicker, which in turn has a negative effect on the water quality. If you do decide to keep a goldfish in your tropical aquarium, then a decent quality external filtration system is a must, along with regular 30 – 50 % water changes. Sufficient aeration is also key to their survival as warmer waters hold less oxygen. If you are going to keep your goldfish with other tropical fish then please ensure you do your research and stick to peaceful species, goldfish are gentle giants and are easily bullied by more dominant fish, plus some tropical fish will actively attack the slime coat on the goldfish.
Everyone knows that goldfish only have a 3-second memory, right? Wrong. This rumour probably started in order to justify keeping goldfish in unstimulating environments such as bowls. Various studies show that goldfish are capable of remembering things for periods of time as long as three months. Much like other pets, they do have a sense of time and can learn routines. Approach a tank at dinner time and watch what happens! Goldfish are actually known as one of the most intelligent aquarium fish out there and some people enjoy training them to complete tasks such as swimming through hoops in order to earn food.
So, there you have it, my top 5 Goldfish myths that have been set straight. All in all, goldfish can be really fun and interesting fish to keep, as long as they are kept in the appropriate conditions. They are a hardy and adaptable fish which makes them easy to care for, as long as your basic knowledge is correct in the first instance. I encourage everybody to do adequate research before they pick up any species of fish, especially if you’re just starting out as a fish keeper.
Be sure to check out the rest of the articles on SeriouslyFishy for more in-depth information on how to set up your first aquarium and keep your water quality top-notch!
If you would like to read more on Goldfish, here is a good read from National Geographic.