An overdue update!

January 5, 2012 Leave a comment

The Goldfish Gazette has been inactive for a loooong time – not due to a loss of interest or topics to discuss, but rather due to other priorities in life. Now that things are beginning to settle down we plan on revamping this blog and keep it active once again. Thanks to all our readers and visitors for the interest and appreciation shown. Keep tuned and happy new year!

Categories: metablog

Did you know? You goldie (fish) can outlive your goldie (retriever)

September 28, 2009 4 comments

It is a common misconception that goldfish are a short-lived, disposable-kind of pet that will last for a couple of months at most… when in fact if properly cared for, a goldie can easily outlive your family dog!

Unless killed by an untreated illness or inadequate conditions, goldfish will live for a few decades: a goldie that lived for less than 10 years is a sign that things were amiss, in fact. A goldfish life expectancy should be at least 15-20 years, and up to its 30s.

Tish the goldfish (Source: BBC News)

The current record holder is said to be a goldfish from Yorkshire named Tish, that died in 1999 at the venerable age of 43.1
He took the title from Fred, another British goldfish that was 41 in 1980.1 In recent years a new contender, Goldie, allegedly 44 years old, claimed to hold the longevity record.2

You may want to keep this in mind before returning home with a pet goldfish because of an impulse buy. It may not look like it now, as you carry it in a small plastic bag, but that tiny critter could outlive even you! 😉


1 Source: UK Oldest goldfish has his chips (BBC News) – August 7, 1999
2 Source: Oldest goldfish record at risk (BBC News) – 14 January, 2004

Art: Les Poissons Rouges de Matisse

September 26, 2009 2 comments

Goldfish have been a recurrent theme in Matisse’s art. Born in 1869 in France (d. 1954), Henri Matisse is regarded as one of the greatest painters of the 20th century. A prolific and versatile artist, in his creations he favoured intense and expressive colours, and often depicted intimate or natural scenes.

Goldfish in a bowl are integral part of the scene in many of his works, including:

Femme et poissons rouges [1921-23]
(also known as: Woman before an aquarium)
Art Institute, Chicago (USA)

Poissons rouges [1909/1912?]
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (Denmark)

Intérieur avec bocal [1914]

Poissons rouges et sculpture [1912]
The Museum of Modern Art, New York (USA)

Poissons rouges et palette [1914]
The Museum of Modern Art, New York (USA)

If you’re interested in further reading, you may find these pages about Matisse’s art of some interest:
The Poissons Rouge [sic] Paintings, in English
Matisse, son œuvre, in French
Fauvism, in English

To plant or not to plant?

September 24, 2009 2 comments

The answer is yes! While a fully planted tank, complete with CO2 system and whatnot may be impractical for many goldfish keepers, a couple of plants in your tank are really cheap, easy to maintain and most of all they do really make a difference for your goldies.

Plants provide many benefits to you tank (and fish):

  • they provide oxygen
  • they absorb from water chemicals that are harmful to fish
  • they outcompete algae, meaning that if your plants strive, it is less likely that algae will
  • they will also protect eggs and fry if your goldies reproduce
  • finally, they have a doubtless aesthetic value: a planted tank is very beautiful to see

Given so many advantages, you may wonder what is holding you back from planting your aquarium.

Well, I’ll tell you. First of all, plants are living entities: as such they need nutrients just like fish do. Root fertilizers in tablet form and liquid plant fertilizers will help them grow lushly and healthily. (A tablet will usually last for a month, so in the long run fertilizers are very cheap!).
They also need plenty of light: keep in mind how much light a certain plant needs when choosing which ones to add to your tank. Some plants need lots of light and you may have to buy a special lamp for them – some others however are hardier and simpler to maintain.

Another disadvantage is that goldfish are usually disruptive and may devour plants if they find them to their liking. However this can be controlled, as goldies seem to have a predilection for water plants with small, tender leaves while they will ignore plants with larger, tougher leaves.

I’m still experimenting with different plants in my aquarium but one plant I personally recommend with goldfish is Egeria densa (also known as Large-flowered Waterweed, Brazilian Waterweed). It is a beautiful, hardy plant that goldies do not eat. It also grows pretty fast, so in a matter of weeks you will be able to get more new plants for your tank simply by trimming the first one!

Other coldwater plants with large and/or tough leaves are suitable as well, such as Anubias or Vallisneria. (If your goldies eat any of these, don’t despair, just try with other plants then! Some goldies are more disruptive than others!)

Egeria densa

On the other hand, I definitely advise you against all plants with small, tender leaves (hint: leaves that look like fennel), such as Limnophila sessiflora, Cabomba caroliana, Ceratophyllum demersum, and similar plants. They are going to be nothing but a fresh salad buffet for your goldies! (Which is not bad per se, but rather pricey!)

But in my experience there are more plants goldies do no eat than plants they eat, and the advantages of a planted aquarium outnumber those of aquarium devoid of plants.

Remember that if you are going to set up a new aquarium, it is a good idea to cover the tank bottom with a substrate material where plants will root. On the other hand, this may be impractical if you already have a functioning aquarium and you simply wish to add a few plants to it. In that case you can plant them directly in the gravel.

Remember, plants are useful to your fish and beautiful to see – live plants, that’s it! Plastic plants are of no use. Your goldies need them less than they’d need a bike. If you have plastic plants in your aquarium, just throw them away and go buy a little live plant instead! 🙂

Photography: der Doppelgänger

September 13, 2009 1 comment

Symmetry underwater. Our red fantail meets face to face with his reflection, just below the water surface.

(This picture was the Picture of the Month winner in August, and was featured on the home page of the Acquariofili forum in September – thanks guys!)

How much water do goldfish need?

September 12, 2009 Leave a comment

If you’ve done your homework and done a little research before choosing a tank for your goldfish, chances are you are probably now more confused and frustrated than before. Different sources give different and often incompatible answers… so who should you listen to?

You will likely have been told that each goldfish needs 10 gallons (if you live in the US) but strangely enough only 20 litres (1 litre = 0.3 gallon) per fish if you live in Europe; alternatively you could have been told to calculate 5 litres for each cm of length of the fish, or consider 40 litres for the first goldfish but less for any additional fish. As a matter of fact, you are often told any quantity ranging from 5 US gallons to 50 gallons per fish. So, which answer is true?

All and none.

There are only two rules you can safely take for granted when choosing the right size of your tank:
1) a bowl is always inadequate (insufficient volume compared to fish size; insufficient surface area for gas exchange; no room for a filter; impossibility to keep steady water parameters, etc etc)
2) the larger the tank, the better (goldfish are active swimmers and can grow to a considerable size; the largest the volume of water, the steadier water parameters are, etc)

But aside from these basic principles, there is no such a thing as a universal golden rule, and it’s only experience and good sense that will help you choose the right tank size for your goldfish.

Think about it. Goldies come in a wide range of varieties, from slender swimmers such as Shubunkins and Comets to the clumsier Pearscales and Ranchus, and usually range from approximately 3 cm / 1 inch to 20 cm / 8 inches. When you think about such diversity, you realize there can’t be such a thing as a universal rule.

The “litres-per-cm” rule may deceptively give you the impression that it can be universally applied, but it is just as relative as the others: in fact the litres-per-cm rule can be especially misleading if you have very small fish because it can induce you to think that a very small goldie can live in a 20 litre tank. However such a small amount of water is inadequate to set up even a simple aquarium. If you want to have a chance to keep steady water parameters you should consider a tank no smaller than 50 litres. Said so, the litres-per-cm rule also fails to point out another important factor: it is advisable to keep no less than two goldies together. While a lonely goldie will survive, goldfish are by nature social animals and will benefit from the company of another member of their species. (In countries such as Switzerland, where I live, it is explicitly forbidden by law to keep less than two goldfish in the same tank).

When choosing the size of your tank you should keep in mind the quantity and quality of fish you are going to keep, as well as your future plans. Are you planning on keeping the goldies in that tank also when they grow up? (Bear in mind that if your goldies do grow up and develop their full potential, chances are as adults the only tank suitable for them will be actually a pond!)
Or do you have serious intentions to upgrade it later and move the fish to a larger tank? (“Serious” means you have the well-being of your fish in mind and that you won’t wait until the old tank is too small for them to set up a larger one!)
Whichever choice you make is a personal matter, and you should ponder it honestly and carefully.
Many fish keepers will advise you to purchase the largest tank you can and stick to it, and it’s good advice indeed.
Personally I decided that I’d rather set up different tanks in the course of the years, in order to better suit the needs of my growing fish at any given time. This way I am given a chance to experiment a little with different plants and kinds of environment, in order to provide my fish with the one that better suits their needs. (I must say I’m more concerned with finding the ideal environment for my fish than creating a marvelous piece of furniture. 😉 )

However this amounts to loads of work. If you want my advice to keep things simple, I suggest that as a starter you buy a 120-150 litre (30-40 gallon) tank for two young fancy goldfish. This will provide them with a suitable environment for a long while. Keep live plants in it and learn to observe your fish – their behaviour, they growth, etc. (Measure them if necessary and keep track of it.) As months pass by you will get to know your fish and their needs, and that will give you a better idea of any future changes you may need to make (including providing them with a larger tank sometime in the future) than any advice a complete stranger can possibly give to you! 🙂

News: Like a fish out of water

September 11, 2009 Leave a comment

The good news for Sparkle, a 18 month old British goldfish, is that he survived an impressive leap and fall and – incredibly enough – the grand total of 7 hours out of water.
The bad news for him is that he survived the ordeal only to be put back in the diminutive plastic bowl he was trying to evade from in the first place.
Let’s hope the happy-ending incident will persuade his young owner to provide him with a more suitable tank.

Photo: North News & Pictures Ltd

Read more in the news:
Goldfish makes leap for freedom… and survives out of water for SEVEN hours – 26th August 2009 (The Daily Mail)
Goldfish jumps out of tank and survives for seven hours – 26th August 2009 (The Telegraph)

Why goldfish?

September 11, 2009 Leave a comment

I have been asked on multiple occasions why I chose to keep goldfish – especially those “ugly” mutants produced by selective breeding and known as fancy variants.

Goldies are messier than most tropical fish, the “regular” type grows huge and is unsuitable for most indoor tanks, and the “fancy” breeds are just plainly unnatural. Then why would anyone, especially somebody concerned with animal well-being, want to keep them?

There is of course no single answer to this question, and different people will have different answers.

My own answer may probably not be the same as yours – in fact you may even strongly disagree with it. But I hope that in spite of that, you will respect it just as I respect other goldfish keepers’ choices and the reasons behind them. Is it because they are beautiful and unusual? Because they are easily available or the diversity? Or…?
As long as we struggle to guarantee the well-being of our fish, I honestly think the reasons behind our choice are strictly a matter of personal decisions and should be regarded as such.

Now, my answer to the question.

Personally, I am not a hard-core aquarist. In fact, I can hardly be called an aquarist at all. As a matter of fact I have very little experience with fish compared to other animals, although I have been dedicatedly applying myself to this discipline for months now and learning from more experienced aquarium enthusiasts and my own goldies.

So, why goldfish? In my humble opinion fancy goldfish shouldn’t probably have been bred in the first place. Biologically speaking, it was just a bad idea, if you ask me. But they have – for centuries. And there’s a huge worldwide market for them. It’s part of a long time tradition that won’t die easily and personally, my refraining from buying any goldfish for years hasn’t made any difference. Nada. Many people will still buy and breed goldfish regardless of those who boycott them – and that’s because they actually like them and want to care for them, as simple as that.

However, I have seen endless goldies suffer and die because they were given inadequate care (beginning with my own first ones, goldies being sadly a typical gift to give to an unexperienced child). Let’s admit it: goldfish are popular. And seriously misunderstood. People take for granted their goldie can live alone in a bowl and that should simply be replaced when it will die in a short time… but goldies are actually long-lived fish. I used to have a goldie that lived for about 10 years – and in spite of that it still died too young.
If we want to keep these creatures as domestic pet, fine – it’s nothing to be really ashamed of. However, it would benefit both them and us to learn together how to provide them with the actual care they need. I doubt the majority of goldfish keepers wants to intentionally torture their pets… but it happens, most of the time.

This is the main reason why I decided to create this blog: to collect and share information and experience about the obscure and misunderstood practice of goldfish keeping. If what I learn from other fishkeepers and my personal experience will help my own goldies live happily and healthily, it will have been worth it. And if even more goldies can live healthy thanks to it, it will have made a difference. 😉


September 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Welcome to the Goldfish Gazette! I created this blog to share my interest in goldfish – one of the most fascinating and misunderstood species – with other enthusiasts and owners.

News, tips, information, thoughts, concerns, as well as my personal, every day challenges when dealing with my fish are among the topics that will be discussed here.

Whether you are an experienced fancier or have recently acquired your first goldie, I hope you will find the topics posted here of some interest and will share your thoughts and personal experience with us.

Welcome, and happy reading!