Caring for Goldfish with Kids
Your child has likely asked you at some point for a pet. If members of your household have cat or dog allergies (or if you simply don’t want the time commitment involved with the care of these animals), you should consider buying one of the lowest-maintenance pets available: the goldfish.
Pet care for a goldfish, while misunderstood by many parents, is low-maintenance and can allow you and your kids to have a goldfish as a pet for years to come. A fun way to involve your child is to set up a goldfish care chart which lists the tasks your child is responsible for when taking care of his or her goldfish.
Selecting Your Goldfish
When you and your child visit a local pet store, carefully examine the goldfish before you buy it and buy the one that appears to be the healthiest. Some signs of unhealthy goldfish include:
- Fungus growing on its scales
- Torn fins
- Fins that fall to one side
- Hazy eyes
- Avoid purchasing from stores where you can see dead fish in the tanks or where goldfish are in murky water.
Giving Your Goldfish a Home
While goldfish are commonly kept in bowls (and one to two goldfish can live comfortably within one), a bowl is not the healthiest home for your goldfish because the round shape leaves little room for oxygen exchange. Additionally, bowls will limit their growth potential. While a goldfish raised in a bowl may grow to be 2-3 inches long, one raised in a nurturing aquarium can grow much longer, from six inches up to over a foot.
When purchasing your aquarium, consider the following:
- Your aquarium needs to be large. 20 gallons is the minimum size for a single goldfish, and every additional goldfish will require 10 more gallons of space.
- Goldfish produce a lot of waste. Because of this, it is important to use a filter in your fish tank.
- Keep the tank at room temperature. Goldfish are temperate fish, so they do not need their water heated like tropical fish do.
- Change out at least one fourth of the water every week. This helps ensure that the goldfish live in constantly fresh water, rooting out pollutions in the tank
Given the proper room to grow, you and your child can raise your goldfish for a lifespan of up to twenty years, while a goldfish raised in a bowl may last only two to three.
Feeding Your Goldfish
Some controversy exists as to how often a goldfish should be fed. Instructions on some brands of goldfish flakes will instruct you to feed 2-3 times per day while many articles on caring for goldfish suggest once per day. Some veterinarians even recommend that goldfish be fed no more than every other day.
In general, though, there are some guidelines to follow in feeding your goldfish:
- Use goldfish flakes, not food off your dinner plate. While properly administered greens such as salad can be nice treats for your fish, they can also easily contaminate your tank, leading to sickness.
- Don’t feed your fish more than they can eat in a few minutes. Food that is left uneaten will sink to the bottom of the tank and can pollute the water, leading to fungal infections and disease.
- Scoop out any uneaten food with a net. This helps prevent the pollution and preserve the clean nature of the tank. If your goldfish start swimming crooked or sideways, then you are likely overfeeding them. Stop feeding them for several days, until the goldfish return to their normal orientation, and then continue with fewer or smaller feedings each day. As you can see, pet care for goldfish, while particular, is actually easy to attain.
You and your kids can enjoy raising a single goldfish for years with proper care, and you will never have to worry about a goldfish shedding on the sofa or peeing on the carpet. If your child is demanding a pet, a goldfish may be the perfect option for you.