Category: Cyprinids

All about Cyprinids.

Goldfish, Part IV

In this article, I will talk about goldfish diseases and why every goldfish should be quarantined before being introduced to your other fish.

First of all, if you start with healthy fish and provide the proper conditions, there should not be any health problems. I would like to point out here that when orandas are maturing and getting their head growth, they sometimes get what looks like little white patches on their head. This is sometimes mistaken for either ich or fungus and treated as so. It is not necessary to treat this; it is a normal occurrence and will disappear as the head growth comes in.

Another common mistake is when the male goldfish is in full breeding condition they will sometimes grow breeding tubercles. These are small white bumps that appear on the first ray of the pectoral fin and gill covers. Once again they can be confused with ich or fungus. It’s not necessary to treat for this. This is a good sign: if the fish are in breeding condition, they are obviously being looked after properly.

Now in my opinion most problems that I have seen with goldfish can be fixed by doing more water changes or moving the fish into larger quarters. I don’t believe in dumping a lot of medications into the aquarium or pond. If it is absolutely necessary to treat a fish, remove it into an isolation tank for treatment. This saves on medication costs as well. Also it is best not to treat fish that do not have anything wrong with them.

Blood streaks in the fins are caused from poor water quality, usually high ammonia. Do 50% or more water changes often. This should improve the water quality.

Anchor worms are parasites. These look like little white sticks sticking out from the gills or body of the fish. I had one pond that had anchor worms in it. I brought it home on one of my new goldfish and introduced it into the pond of healthy fish that I already had. First of all, this could have been avoided if I would have placed this fish in quarantine. When I asked other goldfish people and read the books that I had, I was told to take all the fish out of the pond and dry it out for a few weeks. That was a lot of work, but I tried that anyway. So I started the pond over by adding water from the other pools or ponds so there was no ammonia peaks. I put the infected fish back in, and noticed the anchor worms a couple of days later. I also treated with some sort of medication that was supposed to fix this problem. Then finally, I was told to take these parasites out of the fish when I saw them with tweezers. This is what finally worked. It left an open wound but I added salt to the water and they healed quite quickly. Remember to quarantine all new fish coming in. It’s not worth the trouble or the risk of contaminating the whole tank or pond.

Swim bladder problems are very common in goldfish. This usually affects the shorter body types, such as ryukins. As mentioned before, soaking flake foods and pellets before feeding to your fish will probably avoid this problem. There are also other causes for swim bladder problems but the above is the most common.

Other problems such as ich, fungus, and velvet can be treated with a medication from the local pet store. Just follow the directions on the package. However, raising the temperature will usually get rid of ich. Adding aquarium or sea salt will help to eliminate fungus and velvet.

This is the conclusion to this series on goldfish. These truly are beautiful fish with a lot of history. So if you have room give them a try, it’s actually quite a challenge. If you are looking for more information on goldfish, I would recommend the following books.


THE OFFICIAL GUIDE TO GOLDFISH 1991 BY: The Goldfish Society of America

Goldfish Society of America`s Handbook on Goldfish Culture: The New Goldfish Hobbyist

Goldfish and Ornamental Carp: A comprehensive guide to the care of Both New and Popular Varieties. I986 By PenzesiTolg

Chinese Goldfish Published by Tetra I990

Goldfish Guide I99I By: Dr Yoshiichi Matsui and Dr Herbert R. Axelrod

Goldfish In Hong Kong I993 By: Man Shek-hay This book has wonderful pictures!?

Goldfish, Part III

As promised in this article, I will discuss breeding and shipping of eggs and fry. Goldfish can be very challenging to breed, especially if one is trying to produce certain characteristics or a quality fish.

With every spawn there will be many culls. Fry with deformities, weak, poorly colored, lacking fins, having more fins than they are supposed to, strangely shaped fins and body, as well as other defects. It is very necessary to cull all these unwanted defects or characteristics out to produce any good fish at all. Of course this may not be enough to get quality goldfish if you start with poor parents. It’s very important to start with quality fish and hope for the best. Be satisfied with a few fish that came from your attempts, at least you can say “that fish was hatched and raised right here”. It’s a lot more work and trouble for the hobbyist to breed goldfish than it is to breed tropical fish.

My first attempt at breeding goldfish was pretty funny I have to say. I had about ten pet-shop quality goldfish that I had started out in a 120-liter aquarium (this was not nearly enough room for them, but I was a beginner at the time). Then I moved them to the pond. I really didn’t have any intentions of breeding them. One day when I was feeding them I saw a patch of fungus on the floor of the pond. All the fish were accounted for. On closer inspection eggs were discovered on the side of the pond as well, only these were dried out, instead of being fungused. Okay, so now we knew these fish were breeding. So a water change was done. Then I put two plastic containers in the bottom of the pond. The next morning these containers were covered with eggs. I moved them to the 120-liter aquarium, and soon they were all covered with fungus. For some reason, I didn’t clean this tank out right away. A couple of days later, my husband asked me if I should try feeding the “stick fish” something. I didn’t even know they were there. I hatched some baby brine shrimp (not really knowing what the brine shrimp were suppose to look like) and started feeding these fish two or three times a day before they were even free swimming. I guess what saved me was that I did several water changes. These fish eventually became free swimming and grew. Having had a mixture of fish in the spawning action, (poor quality orandas, black moors, calico, and orange goldfish). I had quite a variety of colors and (Ha!) characteristics. I did not cull one of these fish, and there was about 30 of them. When they were about 3 cm long the local store was willing to buy them, and I was quite proud for having raised them. Watch out! This is how the fish bug starts!!!!

As time went on and I collected more books and information, and I realized that I wanted to find some quality fish. I have found that good quality goldfish are very hard to find. Most pet shops didn’t even know what I was talking about: “We have goldfish, what’s wrong with them?”. Then finally after a few years, I found the perfect goldfish store. I was delighted! They let me handpick my own fish. I was allowed to take the fish out of the tank and put them in another bucket to examine them carefully. It’s easier to check for problems or characteristics such as even bubbles on bubble-eyes, or even for double anal fins, if the fish is separated from the rest. Sometimes this took us quite a while, but we were left on our own, so it really didn’t matter.

I was also invited to go to two different goldfish farms. I don’t think they actually spawned the fish at them; they were more like wholesalers that only carried goldfish. I was also able to handpick some goldfish from these places. As careful as we were when selecting our fish, we still ended up with anchor worms from one of these farms. This will be discussed in part four of this series. It took me a few years but I ended up with quite a nice selection of fancy goldfish. I had two orange and white orandas, three black moors that turned into red telescope-eyed goldfish, several ryukins, and three orange, three orange and white, and two calico bubble-eyes. I also added a very nice small orange and white bubble-eye that I bought for $2.50 from a local pet shop at the time. This $2.50 goldfish won third place in a Koi and Goldfish Show. The competition was very tough in this particular show, so imagine how surprised I was. Okay, so now I had some better stock to work with.

It took a while for these fish to grow and mature. As with the first ones, the first breeding was a surprise. One day I heard a sudden KER-SPLASH, and when I went over to one of the ponds. There were eggs everywhere. I kept some of the different types together, so to collect only ryukin eggs, I moved the other types into other quarters. Then I chose only the ryukins I wanted involved in the spawning. This is called the flock method, when more than three spawners are used. I added several blue yarn mops attached to Styrofoam pieces and left them floating. Within a couple days these mops were full. I filled some buckets with pond water, added an air stone and left the mops floating. By now however I had a little more knowledge with spawning fish, and I waited for the stick fish to get free swimming before I started feeding the baby brine shrimp. Culling had to begin right away. Goldfish have huge spawns and I’m sure there wasn’t even a 1/3 of that spawn in the mops, but there were still too many for us to raise in the space we had available. The fry from this spawn were better than the first ones I raised and again a pet shop was happy to take the 30 or so that I raised.

I raised several spawns using the flock method. It produced a wide variety of color markings. I should add here that the stock I chose was red and white, orange and white, and solid white. Being a member of The Goldfish Society of America at that time I had met quite a few goldfish enthusiasts. I even shipped some of these ryukin eggs to fellow hobbyists.

To ship the eggs, the fish were set up using the above method. When the mops were full, I would take a large bag, put just enough water from the pond to cover the mops and Styrofoam, and tied the bag as if there were fish in there. I put it in a Styrofoam cooler and sent it off on the bus. I was always amazed at how this actually worked. The bus would not except fish, but when I told them it was just fish eggs they looked at me kind of funny but they shipped them anyway. Shipping goldfish is easy as well. Use a large bag and put only three small fish per bag. Fill the bag enough to cover the fish and maybe just a touch more, leaving lots of room for air exchange. When treated like this, they will come through shipping with no problems at all, provided they are not in the bags for more than two days.

The next method I tried used a pair. I chose a solid white male ryukin with a nice humped back, and a red and white female with a smaller humped back, but very nice coloring. I decided to move this pair into the 80-liter. This was not a good idea; I mentioned the mess I had to clean up in previous articles so I won’t go into that here. There were literally hundreds of eggs, maybe even thousands, the next morning. The next day there was fungus all over the aquarium. A couple days later, black stick fish appeared on top of the fungus. This is where I started to do water changes, to get rid of some of the fungus and to try and keep the ammonia down. A couple of days after that the stick fish were free swimming, so I cleaned the rest of the tank and filled it with pond water. I did 90% water changes daily for the first month.

These little stick fish were fed baby brine shrimp three times a day for the first month. Then small sinking goldfish pellets were dropped in. They were not big enough to actually eat these pellets, but the pellets softened and they picked at them all day. They were still getting baby brine shrimp every day, just not as often. They started to really grow quickly after the pellets were added to their diet.

The culling process starts at day 10. I really dislike this part of breeding fish, but in order to raise a few good fish this must be done. Remember it’s better to give goldfish too much room than not enough, especially when raising fry. At 10 days of age, the fry were carefully scooped out into a white bowl, and checked for a double tail and a straight back. If this wasn’t the case they were culled or fed to other fish. We counted out 1000 and spread them around in pools and in aquaria. At 30 days culling was done again. Each fish was placed in the white bowl and checked again for deformities or unusual characteristics. Culling is an on-going process when raising goldfish. Remember that goldfish need lots of room and lots of oxygen so even if there are no defects, culling must he done to fit the spawn into the space available. We continued the process for five months more, which brought us down to about 50 fish. I then sorted through them again and came up with eleven that had potential to be what I was looking for. The remaining 39 were put in a pool outside. This is where they started to get some color. Some were red and white and some were white. The local pet store took all the ones with red. Another store took the solid white ones. I told this store that they were ryukin goldfish, but when I went back a week later they were labeled “Rare China Pearls”. When I asked the person working in there that day about them, I was told that they came from a really exotic place (he couldn’t remember where) and they were very rare. Imagine, I never really considered my fish room a really exotic place. Anyway, the eleven remaining fish were raised a while longer in a pool, and they were weeded out one by one until there were only three left. I gave some of the eleven better ones away to friends. So I ended up with a few fairly good fish and one of the white ones might even have been better than the original male.

I never did raise any fry from the other types, as there just wasn’t any room with all the ryukin fry that I had. They are my favorites after all. I’m not 100% sure but I think to raise the bubble-eyes that they would have to be hand spawned or striped. I think this should be left to the experts, as a hobbyist could do much damage to their fish. I have never tried this because I liked my fish and didn’t want to hurt them. When they didn’t spawn, it didn’t really matter.

Unfortunately my orandas, telescope-eyes, and veiltails were not old enough to be spawning when I had to give them up because we were moving. Unfortunately, these beautiful fish were just given to a local store, where they had no appreciation for the quality of fish that they were. They were just amazed that the fish were so big. ?

Goldfish, Part II

This month as promised, I will discuss goldfish housing and maintenance. Should I use a goldfish bowl, aquarium, or pond? What about other containers?

Goldfish get to a very large adult size and need a lot of oxygen. It is recommended that as large a container as possible be used. Its true that a 40-liter aquarium can house two to four small goldfish for a while but they will not reach their full growth potential or be as healthy as they could be.

To properly house goldfish, they (all types) need 75 square centimeters of surface area for every 2 centimeters of goldfish. That means 120 to 200 liters of water for every goldfish. Ponds make the perfect homes for goldfish. Remember fancy goldfish are slower moving than the single tail varieties and should not be housed together. These are also cold water fish, so they should not be housed with tropical fish.

I kept six beautiful bubble-eye goldfish in a 1.2 meter by 2.7-meter indoor pond. This pond was constructed out of wood (2x4s). The inside sides of the pond were lined with good one-sided plywood. The floor inside this frame was lined with styrofoam. For draining this pond, a two centimeter deep well (about 15 centimeters wide) was left at one end. Then a pond liner was nailed to the top of the wooden frame. The outside and top of the frame was covered in wallboard to match the wall. This is an 800-liter pond. This allowed just over 130 liters of water for each bubble-eye goldfish that I housed in there. A pond pump with a filter box was used. This pump had a bubble fountain attached to it to keep the surface water gently moving. One has to be careful with the fancier goldfish as they can not take a strong water flow into the filter or any strong current caused by the filter.

I also used soft-sided kiddy pools to house some of my goldfish. These pools were larger than the homemade pond. I kept some ryukins, black moores, and orandas in them. On one of the kiddy pools a large inside canister filter was used along with a large outside box filter. The other pools didn’t have any filtration but had fewer fish, and were stocked with water lilies and other pond plants.

Water changes were done about once a month. Because goldfish are cold water fish all we had to do was dump some water (outside) and refill with the hose from the outside tap. Of course, caution must be taken to ensure that the water being put into the pond is approximately the same temperature. With these conditions provided, my goldfish grew, matured, and spawned on a regular basis.

I have housed two orandas in a 270-liter aquarium serviced by an outside canister filter with a sponge on the intake tube so that these clumsy fish didn’t get pulled in. This was a bare aquarium, as goldfish have delicate fins and features that can be damaged by ornaments or plastic plants. Even if these items don’t appear to have rough edges, they can still damage goldfish.

Other smaller containers can be used for quarantine and temporary housing. The idea here is to not leave them in to cramped of quarters for too long a period. Remember that surface area is most important. So a low shallow container with a large surface area is much better than a goldfish bowl with a very small opening in the top. The tall skinny ornamental tanks are simply not suitable for goldfish. Also remember that some of these fancy goldfish are best viewed from the top.

Yes, I have actually used a cat litter pan to quarantine a bubble-eye goldfish for a short while. The litter pan met the requirements of having a large surface area for oxygen exchange, even though it was quite shallow.

I have heard all sorts of people say that they wouldn’t keep goldfish because they are dirty fish. First of all, what does that mean? I take that to mean they put five fancy goldfish in a 40-liter tank, over fed, didn’t do any water changes, and ended up with a dirty tank. I would say that could make these fish dirty fish. In my experience if the above mentioned is avoided there shouldn’t be a problem. My pond, pools, aquaria, and substitute containers were always crystal clear.

Ideal water conditions for goldfish are a pH of 6.8 to 7.6. They can live with a pH as high as 8.0. They prefer moderately hard water but can live in very soft to very hard water. Ammonia poisoning is especially harmful to goldfish, the first signs being blood streaks in their fins. I kept my goldfish in a pH of 7.5 in soft water with no problems.

Goldfish will eat almost any kind of food being fed. If fakes are being fed, they should be soaked in water before feeding to the fish. Feeding dry fakes may cause swim bladder problems and fish swimming upside-down. Pellets are a very common diet for goldfish. Any commercial brand is fine. I fed a variety of small pellets including wheat germ pellets for goldfish. Again I did not feed the larger sites of pellets as they can also cause swim bladder problems. My outdoor fish also got earthworms, assorted bugs, and mosquito larvae. On the very odd occasion they may even have gotten frozen bloodworms.

On one occasion (when I was running the fishroom of a pet store) I had a customer come in and tell me she had a 20-liter aquarium with four fancy goldfish in it. She found another one that she wanted that day. She asked for my opinion, of whether I thought she could fit another one into that tank. I thought that I had convinced her that her aquarium was already overcrowded when she left. A short while later she came back, figuring I wouldn’t be still working in the fish room. So, since she had to deal with me anyway, she told me that she was sure there was enough room to fit just one more. So I bagged the fish she chose, and she went happily on her way. I wondered if that 20-liter aquarium was the one I saw for sale three weeks later? I guess I’ll never know.

On the other hand, when visiting a fellow hobbyist’s house, I was oooing and ahhing over her beautiful koi. Then a very nice red and white fish caught my eye. She began to laugh at me because the approximately 40-centimeter fish was a 10-cent feeder fish that she had bought to seed her pond with. This was a very nice single-tailed goldfish that had brighter coloring than her koi.

Goldfish can be very beautiful if the proper conditions are provided. Lots of room lots of water changes (especially if kept in smaller containers), cooler temperatures (no heater needed as long as temperatures don’t drop below freezing), and lots of oxygen (air exchange). The hobbyist will find that goldfish are not any dirtier than any other fish. These fish are just as challenging, if not more so, than tropical fish. One more thing I have to add here, goldfish are truly not a fish for children. I have been told many times in stores that they don’t need to carry quality goldfish because they are meant for children to keep in goldfish bowls, and it just really didn’t matter. It makes you wonder how one store that specialized in quality goldfish has survived for over 25 years just selling goldfish to the children. I wonder how many four-year-olds buy $300 goldfish?????

In part three, breeding, and shipping will be discussed.?