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What you can learn from a pair of gold fishes

This post is about gold fishes and how surprisingly complicated it is to set up an aquarium for only 2 of them…

Some weeks ago, my oldest son received a pair of gold fishes in a small plastic bowl as a present for his birthday. He was very pleased with the present and so was my youngest son who spent hours during the days following their arrival, talking to the fishes and knocking on the bowl with his little fingers to “wake them up”.

The problem with gold fishes is that you cannot decently leave them in a plastic bowl, can you? These lovely little creatures produce an incredible amount of waste, probably proportional to their appetite and thus, the water in the bowl needs to be changed very frequently … too frequently I would say. That was the main reason why all the family decided to buy an aquarium for our 2 beloved gold fishes.

We went to a pet store very close to our house and bought a nice aquarium of 40 liters that we naively thought would be quite enough for our 2 little fishes. Then, when the time came to set up the aquarium, we discovered that the task was much more complicated than we first thought and began searching the Internet for information on gold fishes and aquariums.

And there was the surprise … aquariophilia is a world apart with its own inhabitants, rules, web sites, shops, books etc. And if you dive into this world, you surely learn a lot of things … and also spend a lot of money 🙂

This is the reason why I decided to write a post about some of the things I have learned so far concerning the art of aquariophilia in general and more specifically the branch that deals with gold fishes.

  • First of all, a 40 liters aquarium is a small aquarium … a “nano cube” as I read somewhere! I was really disappointed when I learned that I had spent 85 euros on an aquarium clearly too small even for my son’s 2 beloved gold fishes. Anyway, I don’t plan to change the aquarium for the time being as the 2 fishes are still very small and the aquarium much bigger than the initial bowl.
  • It is easier to set up a big aquarium than a small one. By big people usually mean more than 100 liters: it quickly became obvious to me that I had chosen the hard way.
  • Setting up an aquarium is a long and difficult task (especially if the aquarium is small). When setting up an aquarium, people should count weeks if not months before they can be sure of the result. Don’t rush, is what everybody says because the final result you expect is a real working ecosystem. An interesting information that should also be kept in mind is that putting the fishes in the aquarium is one of the last steps in the setup process: for 1 up to 2 weeks your aquarium will only contain water, rocks, gravels and plants.

Now let’s look at some rules more specific to the gold fishes themselves:

  • Gold fishes should never be kept in a bowl! This very common practice is commonly described as the most cruel thing that a human being can do to a gold fish. Beware, some aquarists may become aggressive when it comes to fishes and their well-being 🙂
  • When setting up an aquarium you should count 30 up to 50 liters per gold fish depending on their age! The main reason for this is that a gold fish is fast growing fish which can reach 20 cm in size. Moreover, gold fishes produce a lot of dirt and may easily poison themselves in a small aquarium. Finally, gold fishes like to swim and “feel” better if they have enough space for it. Our 2 gold fishes would have needed a 100 liters aquarium at least … 😦
  • Gold fishes like “cold” waters (up to 22 degrees Celsius). All other fishes that are commonly found in pet stores are tropical fishes that like much warmer waters: unfortunately it is theoretically impossible to mix your gold fishes with anything else than … a gold fish. I initially wanted to buy some more different fishes for my (too small) aquarium: that was one more reason why I had to abandon the idea.
  • Gold fishes “hate” to be alone: you should always buy them by 2 or 3. This means that you should have a 100 liters aquarium at least and a lot of free square meters in your apartment.

At the time of this writing, I have started the setup process of my too small aquarium. The 2 gold fishes are still in their plastic bowl waiting for the aquarium to be ready. If you are as patient as they are, you will soon learn some more about gold fishes, aquariums and the wide world of aquariophilia. Until then …

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