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Fish Keeping Tips

 

The information in this page is some general guideline for beginning fancy goldfish hobbyist and to serve the purpose of what factors involve in successful fancy goldfish keeping. It is by no mean or intended as a detail treatment on any topic.  

 

 

 

RECEIVING FISH

 

This is by far the most important step. No matter how careful we pack the fish, the fish will arrive with significant stress. Further stress by the new environment may weaken their inmume system and develop problem. Besides a well established aquarium with proper beneficial bacteria, the most critical parameters are pH and temperature difference betwenn the shipping water and the tank water. Goldfish can strive in a relatively wide range of pH and temperature as long as the change is not abrupt.

Before introduce the new fish, make sure the tank water is well cyled, tap water to be treated accordingly, check pH and adjust accordingly to within 6.5 to 7.5. Follow the following simple procedure to prevent temperature and pH shock.

(1) flow the bag as received with the fish in the original plastic bag with shipping water in the tank for about 30 minutes.

(2) if you have a drip system set up, it would be best to release the fish and shipping water to a shallow container and drip slowly the tank water to the container to bring the shipping water pH to match that of the tank's. Then transfer the fish to the tank. If you don't have a dripping system, just open the bag and very slowly add the tank water to the bag until it is approximately three times the original shipping water. The idea is just not to change the pH rapidly.

For aquarist who consider quarantine the new arrival, same precaustion apply when introduce fish to the quarantine tank and from quarantine tank to the final tank. Quarantine must be done correctly. The water quality should be well maintain and only preventive treatment should be used or even no need if fish has no sign of problem. (please note that all the fish we ship has been quarantine and free of problem at time of shipment). Medication is a form of stress to the fish. Many fish killed by wrong quarantine process; unhealthy water, wrong pH and medication are all additional stress add to the shipping stress.  

 

 

 

 

AQUARIUM EQUIPMENT & MAINTENANCE

 

 Keeping fancy goldfish is fun, easy and rewarding. The number one key is to start with healthy fish and keep them healthy with good husbandry. Equipment for fancy goldfish is relatively simple compare to tropical and marine fish counterpart. But proper maintenance and equipment set up is critical to bring out the best potential of your fancy goldfish. Below are some simple useful tips for a successful fancy goldfish aquarium.  

 

The equipment requirement for keeping healthy Fancy Goldfish is simpler compare to tropical or marine fish. They don't require a heater for most indoor fish tanks. Water temperature control in most case is not necessary. Fancy goldfish can thrift in severe cold and hot weather as long as the water temperature change is gradual. The following is a few simple suggestions for the aquarium set-up.

 

The Aquarium:

 

Due to fancy goldfish’s potential large size, high oxygen demand and large appetite, they should be kept in a larger aquarium. The hobbyist should consider a minimum of 20 gallon aquarium.  In the old days, some formulated were developed to figure out how much surface area of the tank water for how many inches of goldfish based on the oxygen enters the aquarium water and gaseous wastes are dissipated from the water at the surface. This no longer applies to a typical aquarium set-up when equipped with proper filter equipments. One should always consider the tank size that will not only support the fish when they are small but when they grow to adult size. One could also transfer fish to an appropriate bigger tank as fish grown.  

 

 

Filtration System:

 

 There are three basic types of aquarium filtration systems: (1) mechanical, (2) biological and (3) chemical. The mechanical is simply some material such as floss or sponge etc. that can physically separate the waste particle as the water flow through them. Most often the mechanical element also serves as a biological filtering function. The biological filter usually some high surface area (porous) material such as floss, zeolite Metala and others placed inside the filter. In the case for more conventional under-gravel is the gravel bed itself  serve as the biological filter media and therefore, smaller gravel grain size in theory will provide more surface area of nitrification processes.

 The key for any bio-filtration relies on the successful cultivation of the so called beneficial bacteria (Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter). For a new tank set-up, it usually takes a few weeks to develop with fish in the tank and proper filter operation. To speed up the process, buy the culture from your local pet store to seed the proper bacteria in your filter media. The bacteria with the oxygen in the water break down or convert the toxic metabolic waste ammonia from the fish into slightly less harmful nitrites and then into a relatively safe chemical nitrate. The nitrate is removed from the tank by water change. The chemical filter uses granules of certain chemical that the undesirable toxin in the flowing water attached to by a process called chemisorption. Common material such as activated carbon is often used. It is because of the absorption properties, when treating fish with medication, the chemical should be removed from the filter.  Nowadays, the filter system is so advanced and easy to maintenance. I strongly recommend the outside power filter with magnetic drive for quiet and energy efficiency operation. The ease of applying a wide selection of bio-mechanical elements and chemical filter media provides a versatile and successful application with these types of filters. With a properly sized power filter,  the water recirculation and exposure to air usually re-oxygenate the tank water enough that no air pump is necessary. Five minutes every other week to rinse the dirt off the filter material and replace new chemical filter element is about what it takes to maintain a vibrant tank of fancy goldfish. The biological filter element normally should not be changed unless they are disintegrated or suspected contaminated so to not disturb the biological filtering function of the filter. When cleaning the filter element make sure not to use any detergent or water with different temperature than the tank as it may kill the beneficial bacteria living in the media. Using the tank water to rinse the media may be a good choice.   

 

 

 

 

The Nitrogen Cycle:

 

 

The disruption of the nitrogen cycle in the aquarium is the fastest common mistake to kill all your beloved goldfish. The reason the nitrogen cycle is so important is the aerobic bacteria that convert the toxic metabolic waste (ammonia) to nitrate which is less harmful to the fish. Ammonia is a very toxic that it can burn the gills, fins, and body of a goldfish. It may break down the circulatory system and cause internal damage to vital organs. Ammonia is given off by goldfish, decaying food and organic wastes in large amounts.

Different type of goldfish has different tolerance to ammonia. Some can withstand high levels and some don't. Luckily, ammonia can be changed fairly quickly by a well running biological filter. The bacteria in the filter uses oxygen from the water to oxidize ammonia into nitrites, in which goldfish can withstand in low levels. Nitrites in moderate to high levels do cause a problem known as brown blood. This condition interferes with the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. If high levels of nitrites are present, the fish can be seen near the surface or corners, breathing heavily. Salt will temporarily counteract high nitrite levels. If you feel you have this problem, add one or two tablespoons of salt to five gallons of water will help until you can find a way to reduce the nitrite level in the aquarium.

Nitrites are usually a problem when breaking in a new biological filter, as the bacteria that convert nitrites to nitrates lag behind those that change ammonia into nitrites. With a well-conditioned biological filter, the nitrites conversion to nitrate is quite rapid. Nitrates in low to moderate levels are rather safe for larger fish but is a problem for the fries as it will cause stunting and weakening of the immune system. Fortunately, nitrates are easily controlled by frequent partial water changes of 15% to 30% a week. Nitrates are also absorbed by plants and algae in the presence of light.  

   

 

 

Cleaning The Inside Of The Tank:

 

 

Understand that the aquarium is a home for hundreds of different minute life forms, and that these billions of lesser life forms help to maintain the biological balance and good water quality of an aquarium, it is best we pay attention to how we clean the tank and not killing these beneficial life forms. The following is a few tips; (1) don't clean the filter element and large water changes at the same time, (2) Cleaning the gravel over an under-gravel filter should be done regularly, but not over cleaned, as this is your major biological filter that keeps ammonia and nitrites in check and (3) Frequent partial water changes of 10-25% in order not to disturb the biological balance of your aquarium.

 

It may be helpful to think of your aquarium as a living colony of organisms; try to maintain as many of them as possible when you clean your aquarium. In doing this you will probably never have an ammonia or water-quality problem. But if you just run the filter without any fish, the beneficial bacteria will die due to lack of food from the fish waste.

  

 

Cleaning the Outside of the Aquarium:

 

With time the outside of the aquarium may have mineral deposits. Normally the deposit can be removed simply with clean cloth and water. To remove stubborn deposit, try using white vinegar. The acid in the vinegar is very effective in removing the mineral deposits and is harmless to the fish in small amount. Never use any commercial glass cleaner. When cleaning with vinegar make sure to rinse the surface good with clean water to prevent the vinegar from marring the glass surface. The vinegar is actually acetate acid that will corrode glass.  

 

 

Water Treatments:

 

Most local city water is treated with chlorine or chloramine to make them safe to drink. If your water quality is good and the chlorine level is light, small water changes can be added directly to the tank without the need to neutralize the water. For larger water change, treat water with commercial chlorine and chloramine remover before adding water to the tank.

 

Feeding:

 

Almost all goldfish keeper observed that goldfish can eat almost non-stop. So the most popular question is how much I should feed them. The heavy eating habits of a goldfish can surprise even the experienced fish keeper. Most tropical fish will stop eating when they are full. To understand how much food a goldfish needs to thrive, the hobbyist needs to understand “why" goldfish eats as it does.

 

Goldfish originally came from a temperate climate with four definite seasons. During the late spring, summer, and early fall, food is plentiful. The goldfish eat hardy and store any excess in the form of fats for use during late fall, winter, and early spring when food is scarce and the water is cold. In fact, during very cold periods, goldfish will often stop feeding all together, and can go for months with little or no food. Goldfish are cold blooded animals. As the water temperature drops so does their metabolism. The goldfish kept in an aquarium experiences a state of constant summer so it eats non stop. The excess is turned into stored fats. Pretty soon, you have one big fat goldfish. Overweight goldfish can suffer problems such as constipation, lack of vigor and activity, and a possible early death. To prevent these problems, the goldfish hobbyist should find a food high in carbohydrates and roughage, low in fat, a protein content of about 30%, and feed their goldfish just enough to keep them growing and healthy.

With experience you'll be able to judge it you're feeding enough. Signs of underfed fish are hollow belly, slow growth, or staying too thin. Underfeeding is usually only a problem for the pet shop owner, where the hobbyist usually has a problem with overfeeding. Signs of overfeeding are fish too round looking, sluggish activity, constipation, and swim bladder problems. Another sign of a fat goldfish is a definite swelling between the base of the head and the first ray of the dorsal fin. Goldfish store a large portion of their fat in this area, and it can swell to a very large and noticeable size. Overfeeding is the number one killer in fancy goldfish keeping. As a simple guideline, food should be consumed in no more than 10 minutes. Feeding once a day is usually sufficient. One of the best thing in keeping goldfish is the fact you can enjoy the feeding any time you want; it is the offer no goldfish can refuse except when they are sick. Make sure you don't over doing it.

  

 

Foods

 

Commercial Foods:

There are all kinds of commercial goldfish food specially formulated for specific kind of goldfish. Food contain higher percentage of protein is for promoting headgrowth. Some color enhancing feed with the addition of chemical or natural plant ingredient. Normally goldfish can bring out their best color with a balance diet and therefore artificial color enhanced feed is not necessary. Slim bodied goldfish can eat just about any type of commercial food whether it's pellets, ground, freeze dried, or flakes. Unfortunately, some of the fancy round-bodied breeds can suffer from constipation or swim bladder problems if they eat dry foods or foods that float. The floating pellet floats because the air inside the food. It is designed for people enjoy feeding the fish in a pond so they can see the fish coming to the surface to eat. Another advantage of floating feed is that it will not sink easily to the bottom and become rotten. Usually pre-soaking dry food and feeding a sinking food reduces potential food related problems for fish tank with bare bottom. Flake foods or mini pellet are good for small goldfish. As a rough guideline, the proper pellet size is about 1/3 of the fish mouth when opened. Fish farmer concern about the size of pellet based on the amount of energy the fish has to search for the food therefore affecting the maximum feed conversion ratio. But it is not the concern for a home aquarist.   

 

 

 

Frozen Foods:

 

Brineshrimp, blood worm, daphnia, etc., are all great foods for goldfish. However, they should be used as a supplement rather than a staple.

  

Live Foods:

Earthworm, blood worm, mosquito larvae, small insects, daphnia, duckweed, algae, and other live plants are all excellent live foods for goldfish. If a balance of live food and plant are fed to your goldfish you can expect superior results. So, if you're lucky enough to have live foods available, by all means use them. The only live, frozen, or freeze-dried food I would not recommend is tubifex worms. Due to the polluted environment they are collected, they can bring problem to the fish which are better avoided. In general when feeding your goldfish with live food, make sure the food is free of infectious agent.

 

 

Common Fancy Goldfish Diseases:

The following is a brief introduction to common fish diseases found in fancy goldfish. 

 

With my 30 years of experience as a fancy goldfish stocking distributor, most problem I found in goldfish are skin and gill fluke, bacterial infection and ick. Most problems are induced by environmental stress as a result of the harsh shipping condition and the transition to the quarantine environment. An effective quarantine procedure is a must to have any commercial success.

There are overwhelming number of commercial medications in the market. Two drugs that is invaluable in my opinion and experience of treating huge number of fancy goldfish on a commercial scale is the Dylox for parasite control and Oxy-tetracycline for bacterial disease treatment. Dylox is banned and the most popular replacement is Praziquantel. The application of Praziquantel is very simple and usually only require one single treatment to eradicate goldfish fluke. Oxy-tetracycline is a broad spectrum anti-biotic and is very effective to treat most goldfish bacterial infection.    

 

Disease Treatments:

Goldfish are not prone to diseases, and are generally very hardy. Normally when fish are healthy and are not under stressed, it can resist disease with its own immune system similar to our human body. The best strategy is not to focus on curing diseases but to prevent them. Attention should be given to (1) quarantine new goldfish before introduce to an established tank (2) prevent stressing the fish from overcrowded condition, (3) keep good water quality (4) good nutrition (5) proper feeding, (6) prevent the use of unnecessary medication, (7) drastic temperature and water chemistry change and (8) maintain a good bio-filtration system for the nitrogen cycle. With the simple aquarium house keeping and proper feeding, there're really not much to worry about goldfish disease. Unfortunately, there may come a time when your goldfish does become sick. The following paragraphs should help you to identify, cure, or prevent the problem. These are the most common problems with fancy goldfish.

 

Fin Congestion:

This problem is identified by large red blood vessels, red hemorrhage areas, and closed fins. Fin congestion is caused by poor water quality usually having high ammonia and nitrite levels in it. To treat this environmental disease make sure your filters are working properly, change your water more often, and reduce feeding until the water quality has improved,. Salt should be added at the rate of two to three tablespoons per five gallons of water. If secondary infections are present (fungus or bacteria), they should be treated with the appropriate medicine such as Oxy-tetracycline. The hemorrhages and frayed fins, if any, should disappear in four to six weeks if water quality has improved.

 

Ick:

This infection is the most common and widespread parasitic disease among tropical and goldfish and is usually fatal if left untreated. Fish usually become susceptible to ick due to a chill, direct infection from a fish with a case of the disease or excessive ammonia buildup. Ick is a ciliated one-celled organism, Ichthyophthirius Multifiliis, which imbeds itself in the skin of the fish. The irritation causes small white blisters to form, appearing as white spots or nodules on the infected fishes' fins and body. Unless treated, the ick parasite multiplies rapidly and the body and fins of the host fish are soon covered. There are many effective ick medicine on the market. Just follow the instruction on the label. Usually the one that claim effective for cold water is better for treating fancy goldfish.

 

Other Parasites:

Ectoparasites which are tiny living creatures that suck fish blood or eat living flesh. They cannot transfer to other types of animals and will soon die when removed from water. These ectoparasites live on the skin, fins, gills and mouth cavity of the infected fish.

Some of the signs to look for are fish rubbing themselves on the bottom or scraping themselves against plants or ornaments. Red streaks on the fins may be an indication of hundreds of thousands of tiny transparent parasites swollen and red with the blood of the host fish. These parasites can weaken even the largest fish and may cause poor color, itching and even death.

The following are description of common type of external parasites found in goldfish. A broad spectrum parasitic medication are available in the market that will cure them all.

 

Anchorworm (Lernaea):

A crustacean and the head section is always embedded within living flesh and the long body (approximately 10 millimeter) hangs fully exposed.

 

Fish Louse (Argulus):

A 6 millimeter saucer shaped animal with two sucker discs and a poison stinger mounted between them. The sting can kill small fish. It sucks blood from the fish.

 

Gill flukes (Dactylogyrus):

A 0.5 millimeter monogenetic trematode that lives in the gills. Monogenetic refers to the ability of this animal to multiply without moving from the infected site. Lays eggs and sucks blood. Spreads easily.

 

Gill Mites (Ergasilus):

A 1 millimeter copepod that stays on the gills, feeding on blood and living flesh. Gill Mites cause fish to gasp at the surface and partially open gill covers.

 

Body flukes (Gyrodactylus):

A 0.5 millimeter monogenetic trematode that bears live young and spreads very quickly. Large colonies appear as red streaks on fins or bodies of goldfish because they suck blood into their transparent bodies. For internal parasite where the symptom is that of a very thin fish, medicated feed is required for the cure and again those feed are available in the market.

 

Costia:

A protozoan parasite. Blood spots, heavy slime coat, lack of appetite and activity, and cloudy clamped fins. Formalin, formalite or other protozoan treatment as directed can be used as a cure.

 

Velvet (Oodinium limneticum):

It is another protozoan parasite. This dinoflagellate attaches itself to the fish by its whip-like swimming organ and then grows more deeply into the fish. A cyst is formed on the skin and from it up to 200 new free-swimming parasites may be released. At the beginning, this disease appears on the skin of the fish as a yellowish-brown film, usually near the dorsal fin. If untreated, it spreads quickly and develops into a series of small circular cysts having the appearance of a yellow velvety coat. Of all the common ailments, velvet is the most difficult to diagnose and is often confused with ick or white spot, but the velvet granules are considerably smaller and more yellow than ick, an upon close inspection, you'll see they are gently moving. This disease is fatal to young fish and must be treated immediately. Adults often carry it without showing distress, but if they are used for breeding, the fry will succumb to the disease.

 

Fungus:

Fungus usually occurs as a secondary infection to bruises, attacks by other fish or an infection with some other organism which has weakened the fish or caused open sores on the body, which serve as an entry for fungus organisms. Fish are also made susceptible to fungus by sudden temperature changes, chill, overfeeding and poor water conditions.

The infected fish appear to have fuzzy white (Columnaris) or light gray (Saprolegnia) areas, which may be like a slimy surface or have a brush of filaments projecting from them. If not treated, the fungus may spread and destroy much of the tissue of the fish, resulting in death.

Tetracycline or commercial medication for fungus is readily available for the cure. Salt added to the water will help reduce fungus infections if your goldfish is injured. The progressive salt treatment can even be used as a treatment for fungus if commercial medications are unavailable.

 

Bacterial Infections:

Signs of these diseases vary considerably. Mouth fungus looks like a cottony, fuzzy growth on the mouth. This very dangerous disease is actually a bacterial disease and responds well to a tetracycline bath.

General signs of bacterial infections are heavy body slime, lack of activity, clamped fins, red inflamed areas on body, fins, gills and head, frayed fins, and little or no appetite. For most goldfish external bacterial infection, tetracycline is about the best drug you can use. It is better to use antibiotics in a quarantine tank if possible, as they will kill the beneficial bacteria in your biological filters. For interior bacterial infections, use commercial medicated food that contains the antibiotics. Lately, all natural extract from plant are available to cure most goldfish bacterial diseases without killing the beneficial bacteria in your biological filter. For example, Melafax.

 

Furunculosis:

This is a cold water bacterial disease that is very contagious. In the early stages small bumps will appear under the scales. As the disease progresses these bumps will enlarge and rupture forming large open sores. For best results any fish with open sores should be destroyed and buried deeply. All other fish should be treated with warm water (75 to 80 degree F), a tetracycline bath, and medicated food containing tetracycline. You may have to switch to another antibiotic if problem persist. Some strains of this disease have developed a resistance to tetracycline.

 

Dropsey:

This disease causes the scale of the goldfish protrude from the body and makes the fish look like a pine cone. Dropsey can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or internal damage done by ammonia and nitrites. In most cases it is not curable. The fish should be disposed of quickly and humanely. A goldfish with dropsey sometime can last for a long time. The best way you could try is by feeding the fish with medicated feed for 10 days and hope for the best.

 

Constipation:

Constipation is so easy to avoid it should never happen. Dry food is a main cause of this problem. If your goldfish eats too much dry food very quickly before it has had a chance to absorb enough water, it will absorb the water in the intestine which can cause an intestinal blockage.

Female goldfish full of eggs and in spawning condition are prompt to this condition, especially if they are too fat. They should be fed easily digested foods like duckweed, algae, chopped red worm, etc. to avoid this problem. Signs of this problem are lack of appetite, lack of activity, and swelling in the abdomen.

 

Swimbladder Problems:

Signs of this problem are the inability of the goldfish to swim properly, with head-standing, floating upside down, sinking to the bottom, or floating at the waters' surface. Swimbladder problems can be caused by poor environmental conditions, improper food, obesity, genetics, bacterial and viral problems.

Genetic swimbladder problems are incurable. Bacterial swimbladder may respond to antibiotics medicated food. Virus problems are usually incurable. It is hard to tell the cause without performing advance analysis because the symptoms are the same.

 

 

 

 

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