Almost everyone has had some experience with a goldfish. They are easy to maintain and are a popular choice for young and old alike. There are many economical kits available which include a bowl, filter and food, making it simple to keep them happy and healthy. If you have decided to try a small goldfish setup, here are a few steps to follow:
Rinse the bowl using lukewarm water - never use detergent or soap. If the bowl is stained, use aquarium salt and a soft cloth to remove it. Goldfish bowls usually require a round undergravel filter plate with a carbon cartridge. Place the filter on the bottom of the bowl, and cover the plate with about an inch of gravel. Doing so will keep the plate in place, but more importantly, it will be a place for beneficial bacteria to grow. These bacteria will remove harmful organic products from your water. If a carbon cartridge is part of the filter, rinse out any carbon dust and ensure that it is properly inserted in your filter system. Add any other decorations you wish at this time.Attach the air pump and ensure that enough air is produced to agitate the surface when the bubbles break. Never restrict the full air flow of the pump, if the air stream is too strong, purchase a ganged valve with one more outlet than needed to bleed any excess production to the atmosphere.
Fill the bowl with room temperature water. Be sure to remove chlorine, chloramines and free metal ions in the tap water supply. Many conditioners are available for this purpose. If you are unsure about your water condition, have a sample tested for you or ask experienced individuals what products are needed to test it yourself. As new water can cause stress or irritation to tender tissues such as the mouth, gill membranes or openings in the natural coating of scales, great care must be taken to properly prepare the water.A simple process to remove chlorine from water is to fill a plastic container and let it stand for 24 hours. Aeration will ensure that all the chlorine from the water before you use it. However, a safer and much faster method is to use any one of the several declorinating products available on the market today.Once the bowl is set up, as evaporation occurs, water should be replaced to maintain regular levels. Having a prepared bowl of water in advance is a good idea, especially in case an emergency arises and you need to remove the fish from the water rapidly. The reserve can be used to refill the water loss caused by evaporation. Tap water can be treated in a plastic pop bottle and then kept covered until needed. This lets the water age naturally and is gentler on the fish when it is used.
One of the biggest mistakes an aquarist makes is overfeeding. You should feed only the amount that the fish will consume in TWO minutes without ANY reaching the bottom. Fat fish are not any healthier than fat humans! Overfed fish have reduced digestive efficiency and create more partially digested wastes to be released into the bowl; the unused food will create excess ammonia in the environment; even low concentrations of ammonia kill fish. Do not think fish are always hungry, as fish evolved never knowing when their next meal will be available, they will always appear to be hungry. If you do overfeed, scoop out what is not eaten. As a general rule, feeding a goldfish every other day is sufficient.