Parents eager to instill a sense of responsibility in their children may turn to pets to facilitate such lessons. But dogs or cats may not fit in with everyone’s lifestyle or living arrangements. In such instances, fish may be parents’ best friends.

Freshwater fish tend to be inexpensive and relatively easy to care for. Goldfish, in particular, can make ideal primary companions because they are hardy and are especially inexpensive. “Feeder” goldfish cost mere cents per fish, and while they may be primarily bred to be used as live food for larger prey, these goldfish can still provide many of the same pet care lessons as other pets.

Learning about goldfish

On the way to becoming fish experts, it’s important to point out that, despite their low price tag and availability, goldfish should not be viewed as disposable. These are live animals and deserve the same care and consideration as other pets. National Geographic says that goldfish are descendents of carp and originate in China. There are hundreds of varieties of goldfish found around the globe. In fact, koi are cousins of the traditional aquarium goldfish.

Despite their name, goldfish come in a variety of colors. Commercial goldfish are typically yellow, gold and red. Wild goldfish are almost exclusively olive green or dark gray, according to PetMD. They’re one of the most common aquarium fish and also have some of the longest life expectancies. The oldest recorded living goldfish reached the age of 49. Goldfish come in different sizes, but the average aquarium goldfish grows to between four and seven inches.

Caring for goldfish

Goldfish that are won at state fairs may come home in plastic bags or small bowls, but they are best cared for in traditional aquariums. Goldfish are omnivores that will thrive on a healthy diet made up of pellets, vegetables, algae, and flakes. These fish tend to produce a lot of ammonia waste, so if they are kept in a bowl, the water will need to be changed quite frequently and the bowl should be large. Many aquarium experts say a tank that’s between 10 and 20 gallons is ideal for a goldfish. Such tanks will not stunt its growth and will keep it healthy and comfortable.

Goldfish like relatively low water temperatures, advises the fish resource The Goldfish Tank. They should not be mistaken for tropical fish. Goldfish are typically best kept alone or with other goldfish so that their living environments are easily maintained. Also, some goldfish will try to eat smaller fish.

A clean tank is vital to the health of goldfish. Filtration is ideal, as is an air pump to help agitate the surface of the water and make oxygen more accessible. It’s important to use a dechlorinator product to remove chlorine and other chemicals from tap water so that the fish can thrive.

According to CaringPets.org, people who choose a bowl for their goldfish instead of a standard tank should follow the rule that the greater the amount of surfaces area, the more oxygen in the water. For this to be achieved, choose a wide goldfish bowl over a tall narrow one. In addition, the water will need to be changed every few days, and 50 to 75 percent of the water in the bowl should be replaced with fresh water.

Keeping goldfish as pets can introduce children and even adults to the task of caring for a living animal. With the right care, these fish can thrive and provide many hours of entertainment and enjoyment.


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