20 Gallon Tank Aquascape Ideas For Butterfly Goldfish

Ryan Neidinger
  • #1
I just got a 20 gal tank for a butterfly goldfish I want to get and I need some ideas on aquascaping. I don’t know much about goldfish so pretty much what can I put in and what would make the fish happy to have with it. Can’t wait to hear some ideas
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LunaSky
  • #2
Goldfish are known to be bottom peckers. I really don’t have much experience with goldfish but that much to do know. Small pebbles that can fit into their mouths and sand isn’t a good idea for your aquascape.

No jagged rocks or sharp ends on wood as it can tear its fins and get infected.

Goldfish are also pretty messy so make sure your getting the waste off the ground and in between plants and rocks.

For sufficient viewing, planting a corner heavily and some bottom shorter plants throughout the tank if you’re using live plants. Never used fake plants so I have no comment on that.

If using live plants, the lighting on that 20 gallon won’t be sufficient and plant choice will be slim.
 
Rook
  • #3
I have a really thin layer of sand in my goldie's tank and he loves it. His favorite thing is to take mouthfuls, sift out the juicy bits, and spit the sand back out. It's really cute to watch!
 
mjfromga
  • #4
Sand is a natural substrate for goldfish in the wild. They love to sift through the bottom. It literally is what they spend most of their lives doing. Robbing them of this by going bare bottom bothers me.

Live plants and goldfish sometimes don't mix. They will eat any wispy plants such as Wisteria. Thick leaves like Anubias and Java fern might be left alone by them. They also uproot plants often.

Avoid gravel with goldfish. So many will eat it and have internal issues or get it stuck in their mouths. It also allows a ton of debris to collect in between it which will foul water.
 
RoseLorek
  • #5
I use sand for my 20 gal aquarium which has 2 fancies in. I know some people are against it but my fish seem totally happy with it! They love sucking it up and spitting it out and they're constantly sifting through it (they eat any algae or left over food) and I think the white sand looks beautiful. I also HIGHLY recommend real plants. Amazon swords are a good choice because they are very low maintanence and grow really easy. Egeria densa is also a very good choice as the goldfish actually snack on it! This plant can actually be planted or float at the top of the tank depending on preference. I know I heard that plants actually love sand so you don't have too worry about putting any soil in the aquarium which can be a big pain and put off. All in all we all have our personal preferences, I personally love natural looking aquariums. I have 3 real plants and stones straight from lake michigan which me and my husband grabbed while taking a dip. Out of it all i'd recommend real plants the most as they're important sources or fibre and oxygenate the water really nicely
 

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mjfromga
  • #6
That's a nice tank. I prefer black sand but admittedly it isn't the most natural looking. I don't have any natural looking fish. Crowntail Bettas, Blood Parrots, and Fancy goldfish aren't natural looking fish so I actually prefer a bit of an artificial look.

My water has ZERO GH and though I love live plants, I had ZERO success with them. They always melted and died and I ended up with more water quality issues WITH them than without them. I have to buffer my water with baking soda as well, which also probably isn't good for them. Even the easiest plants to grow I could never grow except for Water Wisteria, which my goldfish ate.

After having fancy goldfish indoors for a while with questionable success and then trying them outdoors, I refuse to keep goldfish indoors now and all my indoor tanks are tropical fish.

Also for a Butterfly tailed goldfish, a standard 20 gallon isn't the best type of tank. The depth of it isn't ideal for that type of fish. They seem prone to swim bladder issues. Depth worsens this. On top of that, the special tail of a butterfly can be weakened and warp oddly when they have to go up and down in too deep of water. Then it sometimes will look funny from the top.
 
Bryangar
  • #7
is a natural for goldfish in the wild. They love to sift through the bottom. It literally is what they spend most of their lives doing. Robbing them of this by going bare bottom bothers me.
Is it though? I thought goldfish were man made fish with no natural habitat?
 
mjfromga
  • #8
Goldfish are descendants of the Prussian Carp, which isn't even indigenous to America but can now be found here due to manual introduction over the years. Like many modern day ornamental fish, mutations in the genes have been exploited to make fish we can keep as pets and to enhance visual appeal for sale purposes.

Much of the behavior of the natural fish remains because much of the wild genetics remain. This is why goldfish will often spend much of its day sifting through substrate. It's just what is normal to them. It isn't possible to remove the instinctual behavior of the fish even though we change its appearance though selection of mutated fish.

Goldfish aren't found in the wild, true. Well technically they CAN be and have been found in the wild and pulled from natural bodies of water in large numbers on multiple occasions, but they are illegally released fish and considered an extremely invasive and nuisance species.
 
Rook
  • #9
Much of the behavior of the natural fish remains because much of the wild genetics remain. This is why goldfish will often spend much of its day sifting through substrate. It's just what is normal to them. It isn't possible to remove the instinctual behavior of the fish even though we change its appearance though selection of mutated fish.

Yep! My goldie was an impulse rescue (he wasn't in great shape, and I know this isn't 'rescue', but...yeah). All I had on hand was a bowl, so I had him in a substrate-free bowl for a couple days while I set up a 10 gallon (he's small right now and I found someone with a goldfish pond who's willing to take him in when he gets a little bigger!). When I set up the 10g, I put some sand in because I'd read somewhere that they were sifters. Within five minutes of being in his new tank, he was sifting through the sand like he'd been doing it his whole life (and he most certainly hadn't experienced sand before then). Definitely an instinctual behavior!
 
mjfromga
  • #10

Here you can see the goldfish attempting their instinctual behavior even though they cannot actually do it and probably have never been able to do it. They just go down and faceplant into the glass. I just have an ethical issue with tanks like these for goldfish. It can be argued that these fish are fine and just as happy as fish with substrate, but it just doesn't seem right to me.
 
RoseLorek
  • #11
Is it though? I thought goldfish were man made fish with no natural habitat?
all 'man made fish' as you put it weren't just cut out and stuck together with glue or made from a factory machine they came from REAL fish, fish that had preferences and a natural habitat. It's like saying because dogs have been bred a lot they're 'man made'
Dogs still are social, intelligent and meat eaters just like the wolves they descend from. Man does interfere but that doesn't mean the animal isn't still an animal with 1000s of years of built up instincts in its heritage. Considering how long these animals have been around when you compare how long we've been breeding them to get desirable traits isn't enough to knock out they're 1000s of years of survival adaptation. You can put the fish in a tank but the tank can't take the fish out of a fish!
 
Bryangar
  • #12
Alll 'man made fish' as you put it weren't just cut out and stuck together with glue or made from a factory machine they came from REAL fish, fish that had preferences and a natural habitat. It's like saying because dogs have been bred a lot they're 'man made'
Dogs still are social, intelligent and meat eaters just like the wolves they descend from. Man does interfere but that doesn't mean the animal isn't still an animal with 1000s of years of built up instincts in its heritage. Considering how long these animals have been around when you compare how long we've been breeding them to get desirable traits isn't enough to knock out they're 1000s of years of survival adaptation. You can put the fish in a tank but the tank can't take the fish out of a fish!
You might have missed the point. A man made fish is not naturally found in the wild, so it technically doesn’t have a natural habitat. Don’t take my comment to heart, it’s not that deep.
 
mjfromga
  • #13
She didn't miss your point I don't think. She was saying that even if the fish can't be found in the wild, they still retain most of their natural instincts. This is the same thing I was saying.

You tried to exploit a technicality that was irrelevant, that we already knew, and that really didn't add anything to the thread. I think that's why she replied in such a manner. I think she believes you were just trying to be smart and weren't looking to help anybody. Lol I agree with her.
 
Coradee
  • #14
Please don’t derail this thread any further, the Op’s question is about ‘scaping his goldie tank, not about goldfish in the wild.
 
Bryangar
  • #15
She didn't miss your point I don't think. She was saying that even if the fish can't be found in the wild, they still retain most of their natural instincts. This is the same thing I was saying.

You tried to exploit a technicality that was irrelevant, that we already knew, and that really didn't add anything to the thread. I think that's why she replied in such a manner. I think she believes you were just trying to be a smart behind and weren't looking to help anybody. Lol I agree with her.
True, sorry! ignore my comments lol
 
mjfromga
  • #16
My bad Moderator, you're correct. The quotes still show our original text by the way, you edited only the original posts... so the entirety of what we said can still be seen. Just wanted to point that out in case you missed it.

Anyway as far as the scape goes, I think sand is great for goldfish for reasons I mentioned. I REALLY wanted to discourage a bare bottom tank, which is why I pressed the issue and it got off topic.

I don't agree that goldfish like to hide. They aren't like Cichlids. If a goldfish is hiding, he is probably sick or something. They don't need hiding spaces and tend to just get stuck in them or injure themselves on them.

I think bubble wands or bars make for a pretty tank as well. With goldfish tanks, usually less is more.
 
saalice729
  • #17
As far as scaping the tank goes, definitely less is more. I always recommend sand bottom, and the more sand the fish has to sift, the happier he will be. I usually stick with decorations that are taller rather than wider for this reason. I do have a large rock structure with a little cave opening. My fish will go in there sometimes to rest, which I recommend if you have a strong water current. The cave is open on the bottom so they can sift sand in there, too. Stay away from sharp edges or creating areas where the fish might get stuck. The decorations are really more for your enjoyment than the fishes', honestly my goldfish could care less what their tank looks like as long as there is food and space to swim.
 
Reaganp1234
  • #18
My tank is kinda lame since my driftwood is curing currently, but goldfish do best with sand substrate, and in my opinion it’s much easier to clean with these messy fish. I have Anubias plants in my tank with them, and they can’t chew them up since the leaves are pretty thick, especially on the bigger plants. I like to keep my tanks on the more simpler side when it comes to goldfish. I try to give them lots of room to swim, but at the same time giving them places to hide. my tank is a 40 gallon breeder. Here’s some photos :

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