Figure out where you are going to keep your goldfish tank. Just make sure it isnít in any cold drafts or near a window where the hot sun could kill your fish.
Use an under gravel filter and a pump for your goldfish tank. It does not need to be an expensive filter; however, it must be powerful enough for the tank size. Really, a 20-gallon tank is easier to maintain than a 10-gallon tank. You must use gravel in your tank and not sand (It will clog the filter). You must vacuum the gravel if you have an undergravel filtration system. A plastic grate on your filtration system sets under the gravel.
Maybe one of your parents or guardian can help you install the filter. Install the filter before you put anything in the tank. Place the filter at the bottom of the tank and bring the tubes up the side of the tank. Put a couple inches of gravel into the tank. There will be a set of tubes that need to be connected, so connect the pump airlines, or power head to the correct lift tubes.
Filtration is very important. Many people have thought that their fish have died because they were overfed which isnít quite true. It was not that they overate; it is because they couldnít finish the food that was given to them.
The food goes to the bottom of the tank and rots. The fish die in two ways, bacteria is formed because of the rotting food and the fish become ill. Also, bacteria wipe out the oxygen in the tank. If your filter came with a carbon cartridge you do not want to use it. The carbon cartridge can cause toxins to get into your tank; it also does a lousy job filtering the water. What's more, if you must medicate a sick fish the carbon will destroy the medication.
Filters help keep ammonia and nitrite problems in check. I mentioned in the last article that you would need a test kit to check ammonia and nitrite levels. You must set up your tank and let the process run for a couple of weeks before you add the fish. You need healthy bacteria to grow in your filter and that will help keep the ammonia and nitrites in check. Running the filtration system for a while in your set-up tank will help achieve this. You also want the water to be at the correct temperature before adding goldfish. Since your filtration system is setup; finish your tank with everything you got for it such as bridges and plants, things where the fish can have some privacy.
You will need an inexpensive gravel vacuum. When all the food finds its way to the bottom of the tank bacteria will build up. Make very slow movements when vacuuming the tank so that you do not scare the fish. Youíre working from under the fish; just donít make movements that will make the fish think the vacuum is chasing him.
In two more weeks, you will be ready to buy your fish. Remember, you only want to start the tank with no more than three fish. Depending on the size of the tank you may add more fish later.
Two more things you will need at home before you buy your fish are a net and food. You will need a net to catch your fish in order to clean the tank. Gently dunk the net under the water. Donít chase the fish with the net. Put the net near the bottom of the tank and gently draw it upwards scooping the fish from underneath. You will have already taken some water from the tank and placed it in a clean container. Gently let your netted fish swim out of the net by placing the net in the clean container with water from the tank. The contain has to be small enough to place in the fish tank so that the goldfish can again become accustomed to the water temperature before you let them swim free.
The reason for this is to be able to clean the tank once in a while. you never replace all the water unless it is an emergency. You will lose the beneficial bacterial. You will need to vacuum it daily. You fill the cleaned tank with clean filtered water. Make sure the water isnít ice cold; it should be around 70 degrees fahrenheit. We will have a complete lesson on cleaning fish tanks in the near future.
Donít forget to place the container with the fish in the tank until the fish adjust to the new water. The thickness of the container will determine how long the container of fish must stay in the container before they can swim back into the tank.
Goldfish are omnivores, which mean they will eat plants and meat. The fish food you find in pets shops are usually shrimp, flies, and vegetables. These have been dried and turned into either pellets or flakes. If you have small fish the flakes will work fine. Larger fish will prefer the pellets. These foods you buy in the store are healthy. I imagine you wouldnít want to eat the same thing every day and neither does the fish. You can get brine shrimp at the pet store. Goldfish loves these tiny shrimp that live in the ocean. But, brine shrimp must live in salt water.
Only some fish, salt water fish, can be in salt water. Salt water fish canít survive in fresh water.
Your goldfish lives in freshwater and will die if there is salt in the tank. Use the net to drain the shrimp before placing them in the water. Net a few fish depending on how many fish you have in the tank, then allow the salt water to drain a short while before letting the little shrimp swim out of the net. Brine shrimp come in a container with marine salt water they will live for around a week or so in the refrigerator.
You can experiment with other live prey like flies or even inch worms. Just make sure they didnít come from an area that has been sprayed with chemicals or poison. They may enjoy earthworms. If your fish are small the worm will need to be cut into small pieces. Remember, donít over feed your fish the leftover food will rot and kill your fish.
The first kid that emails me will be the person to decide what exotic pet we will learn after we finish learning about goldfish. You can contact me by clicking (toward the top of this page) on my name Diana Geiger. Make sure you put your email address in the box above the message box.
Fish experiment. Next week we are going to do a fun experiment; so that you can learn how your fish swim. Make sure you have an empty soda pop container with a lid.