Goldfish Deserve Gold Medal Displays

Posted by Aquatropic Staff on December 6, 2022

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What was the first bowl of water you kept without parental guidance? For many, if not most of us, it was a goldfish that we won at a fair, or was given to us as a gift. I won mine throwing a ping pong ball into a tiny fish bowl, and had it for more than five years in what would turn out to be the most boring tank I've ever owned. This is regretful, because keeping goldfish is interesting, and we're going to talk about how to avoid that pink-rocked, square 10 gallon aquarium to make your next goldfish display one worthy of the beauty of these fish.

The place to start is with picking your fish. Too many goldfish displays start with letting your choice fall to chance. Today, you and your family have dozens of choices for the kinds of goldfish you can buy for an aquarium. A quick glance at will give you a list of the types we regularly stock. With few exceptions, these fish are all very hardy and easy to keep. The trickiest ones to keep are the fish with very bulbous eyes and these should be left to experienced aquarists. You can mix and match pretty much all of the goldfish you find for a display, with one rule: don't mix fancy with sleek. The fish that have short bodies and ornate fins are much slower swimmers than the slender bodied fish. As a result, the slender bodied fish will get more food and may pick on their “prettier” cousins. Goldies are fine to keep with other fish species, though you should avoid very aggressive fish and fish small enough for the goldfish to eat.

Match the tank to the fish; the bowl was invented in the 18th century, and we should leave it there. That being said, today's slower swimming, smaller growing fish don't need a massive aquarium. A 20 gallon tank would be fine for one to three of these fish for many years. A 40 gallon breeder tank or a standard 55 gallon tank would allow you to keep several in a single display. The temperature of the display should be focused on stability. Goldfish can live in a wide variety of temperatures, but like any tropical fish, get stressed by quick changes. If you have an area of your house that is out of direct sunlight and a consistent temperature between 70F and 80F, you will not need a heater. Filtration should be strong, though either under gravel or hang on back filtration could be utilized. Try to achieve filtration that is at a least five times the volume of the tank every hour, a bare minimum would be twice the volume of the display every hour for tanks that are very lightly stocked.

These conditions allow you a wide variety of display options. Contrary to popular opinion, goldfish do very well in planted aquariums; the plants just need to be chosen carefully. Goldies will eat some plants, and should, but plants like Java Fern, and Amazon Swords are tough and unpalatable to the Goldies. You can / should also plant some things like Hornwort or Pondweed as these grow quickly and give your Goldfish something to nibble on that is palatable. Some of these plants are tropical, and so you should plan your aquarium temperature, or plant choices accordingly.

Another great display for goldfish lies in decorative rock or driftwood. No one ever said that goldfish had to surrounded by plastic treasure chests. Using realistic gravel colors and natural looking surroundings make goldfish look even more stunning. The contrast between their very cultured appearance and river-like smooth rock settings can be amazing. Avoid sharp gravel, rocks and driftwood as your ornamental Goldfish can injure their mouths on it, as well as swimming inadvertently into sharp bits. These aquarium displays are also great choices for the bendable “bubble wall” type diffusers. Most goldfish do well with the added oxygen of the massive bubble walls which enhances the river like appearance of these aquariums.

Today's myriad of hyper ornamental goldfish were made for minimalist displays, and interesting bubblewalls tie into these aquariums as well. In a tank that has only one large piece of driftwood in it, or a single interesting hunk of rock, a bubble wall can help add activity and contrast as well as masking filtration and air tubing. Bright LED light against natural, but monotone gravel can really push focus to the fish itself. Often, these displays take inspiration from “zen gardens.” Think slower moving goldfish, and perhaps only one in a display to further enhance this aesthetic and feel. Thousands of years of captive breeding have blessed us with Goldfish that always see humans as a source of food, and thus don't need cover, so you have lots of options as far as minimalist displays. Use this opportunity to showcase a very cool (but inert) piece of rock from your local rock shop or Local Fish Store. We would suggest oversize / redundant filtration and utilizing an interesting Plecostomus in these displays to help you keep the features sparkly clean. Whenever sourcing rocks from anywhere but a fish store, do some research to make sure it won't leach anything into your aquarium.

There are lots of ways to make a Goldfish display that will have your guests gushing. Leave the fishbowl in the past and head over to youtube for some inspiration. Goldfish keeping is undemanding, and very rewarding. With a little thought your display will be something you're proud of for years. With a little maintenance your goldfish could live there for a decade or more! Let your children “win” a goldfish, but always tell them you need to go and pick it up later at any Local Fish Store partnered with us here at Aquatropic!