Just Rescued 2 Goldfish--help!!

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smellyvegetarian

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Hello all,

Today my kiddos went to a class at a local nature center, and while there we found out that one of their ponds is being overrun by non-native goldfish. Apparently someone dumped 20-30 last year, and while the staff thought they had gotten them all out this past week they learned that they missed some--and now there are 300! You can probably guess where this story is going.

When I was a kid, having a goldfish meant buying a bowl, some gravel, and fish food. So when my kids asked to take on a few goldfish I said okay. We went straight to Petsmart to get supplies, and there found out what a commitment a goldfish actually is. Ahem.

SO, long story longer, we are now spending our Friday night setting up a 37 gallon tank in our living room. We have the fish in bowls for the time being, but I am concerned about leaving them in the bowls overnight. I have been cramming as much info about keeping an aquarium into my head as possible, and I am a bit overwhelmed. The tank is set up and we have water conditioner, but can I put the fish in tonight? I don't know what the less stressful option for them is? They are not small goldfish--one (aptly named Thor) is about 4-5" and the little guy (Loki) is about 3 1/2". I fear the bowls are just much too small.

Please help!! Thank you!!
 

2211Nighthawk

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To be frank, you didn’t help them much by taking them on. Those are probably common goldfish that get to a foot long if not longer. A 37 is nowhere near big enough for them long term, it needs to either be a 200g tank or a pond.

Daily water changes until the tank is set up though. If you can get a bubbler in the bowls even better. They don’t need a heater.
 
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smellyvegetarian

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That sounds pretty dire. I am pretty sure we did do them a favor, though--I am pretty sure it was rehomed or dumped for these guys. The nature center is very focused on preserving the pond's native ecosystem.

The gal at Petsmart did a calculation that said the minimum tank for 2 goldfish was 29 gallon? I thought I was giving them a little extra space (at least temporarily) with a 37?

My biggest concern is transferring the fish to the tank in the next few hours instead of after getting the tank water just so.
 

Lunnietic

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Goldfish are hardy, but do grow fast and will end up outgrowing the tank pretty easily. They are also super messy. Ive been told 1 goldfish can be semi-okay in a 29 gallon by itself for a few months.

They really are pond fish though. They have huge bioloads and are poop machines.

It would be better to put them in the tank imo then leave them in the bowls.
 

Demeter

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Nope, don't rely on pet store employees. They are there to make sales and it seems the 1in of fish per gallon rule is still popular. It is very inaccurate and no one should use that rule. Common goldfish, as attractive as they are to own, are just not meant for the average home aquarium. A pair of the short bodied fancy goldfish would do fine in a 37gal, but not commons. They grown too large and swim too much to live comfortably in a tank.

I'd find someone with a koi/goldfish pond and release them there.
 
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smellyvegetarian

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Wow, sounds like we are better suited to be their foster home for a while, then? Oy wish I had known that before I paid for an aquarium! Ah well. It isn't the first time we have considered having one, so if we need to rehome these guys and get the kids some new freshwater friends, so be it. The table and tank and gravel are already in place, so we will at least try to get these guys more comfortable for the night.
 

2211Nighthawk

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Wow, sounds like we are better suited to be their foster home for a while, then? Oy wish I had known that before I paid for an aquarium! Ah well. It isn't the first time we have considered having one, so if we need to rehome these guys and get the kids some new freshwater friends, so be it. The table and tank and gravel are already in place, so we will at least try to get these guys more comfortable for the night.
By al means, please do. id save all the goldies if I could but I can’t. A 37(?) gallon is plenty big enough for a pair of fancies. I have a Goldie (hypocrite over here...) and he is the most personable fish ever and I love him to death. They are a commitment though, Jupe is 10 this spring.
 

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Nice for Jupe!
No expert here, but these guys can be happy with you for a time. Enjoy. You have time to find a forever home
And, yes, when they leave you have a head start with a 37 gal for many new friends you can pick carefully . Have fun.
 

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In my experience people tend to overstate how quickly goldfish will outgrow a tank. While you definitely will want a larger tank or pond eventually, the 37 should be pretty good for a while.
I think you did a good thing saving them. I got five of my common goldfish from a similar situation. They overtook a lake and the city had plans to electrocute all of them. I managed to mine before that happened and they currently live in a large pond I built in my yard.
While it is true that goldfish produce a lot of waste many people don't mention that waste is proportional to feeding. Want less waste? Feed less. Pretty simple. I hope you have good luck with your new pets!
 

Daniel Kraus

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In my experience people tend to overstate how quickly goldfish will outgrow a tank. While you definitely will want a larger tank or pond eventually, the 37 should be pretty good for a while.
I think you did a good thing saving them. I got five of my common goldfish from a similar situation. They overtook a lake and the city had plans to electrocute all of them. I managed to mine before that happened and they currently live in a large pond I built in my yard.
While it is true that goldfish produce a lot of waste many people don't mention that waste is proportional to feeding. Want less waste? Feed less. Pretty simple. I hope you have good luck with your new pets!
There’s the problem that they may not seem to be growing and you think they have time but if they’re stuck in the tank it will stunt their growth and eventually kill them. While you may have some time you won’t have a lot. My grandfather got a goldfish that grew about 4 inches in 6 months. That’s ridiculous. And you shouldn’t just feed the fish less so they produce less waste that’s just mean to the fish! They like to eat just as much as we do and it isn’t their fault they produce waste so feeding them less hen they should just to cut back on it is ridiculous.
 

Skye_marilyn

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I say you find someone in the area with a pond and then rehome the goldies. After that you can cycle your aquarium, then stock with more beginner friendly schooling fish like guppies, tetras, rasboras, and so on..your kids would enjoy an aquarium with lots of smaller fish more as they would really get the full experience and be able to observe schooling behaviors. You could get two fancies instead, they would be more individual and probably become members of the family as opposed to being part of a large aquarium of small fish. With goldies you get the benefit of being able to name them and treat them more like a cat or dog.
 
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smellyvegetarian

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Thanks, everyone.

4 inches in 6 months?!? Good Lord! Hubs and I have talked about putting a pond in our yard and rehoming this little guy to it when he is no longer little. I suspect that is a whole other can of worms as far as learning to care for it!

Sadly, we found little Loki on the bottom of the tank last night. The kids were devastated. Of course he wasn't going to make it at the nature center, either, but it is still sad. The only major change was that I had added a bacterial supplement to the tank a few hours before (per the instructions of the person who helped me set up the tank). Would that have killed him? Thor seems to be hanging in there. We have cloudy water this morning that I *think* looks like bacteria bloom. Can that be harmful to Thor?

One more question--I am feeding sinking pellets, and they don't seem to get eaten up. I put some in the day we got the tank, and I have observed Thor taking them then spitting them out. I haven't added more since because I am afraid of creating too much ammonia with the uneaten food? The Petsmart gal says that is his way of nibbling? Now I have some uneaten food on the bottom of the tank and a leaf of kale hanging in the tank, and I am unsure of when/how I ought to feed Thor again? Goodness, these little guys are complex!
 

FishGirl38

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I bought 3 goldfish to cycle a 10 gal tank when I was a newbie, they're extremely hardy and survived the initial stress. Now they're each about 8 inches long, I have them in a 45 gal. and trust me, the tank is much too small for them. I'm waiting until spring time when I can transfer them to my uncles pond. I've had them, about a year and a half (possibly 2 years).

the 37gal will be okay for the goldfish for now. For feeding, I wouldn't leave any uneaten food in the tank. I feed as many pellets as my goldfish will eat (about 4 each, but mine are big), and once a day. They truly are mess monsters, and they're always 'hungry', overfeeding adds to the ammonia in the tank and because he's a goldy, he's already prone to adding lots of ammonia to the tank.

Goldfish are messy, last night when I fed my goldfish their 4 pellets, my one female spit every one out (and then went back to them later). It's just how they are sometimes, but don't worry, if he does spit em out I would stop adding more till he finishes what he's spit (and waited a half a day or so).

The bacterial medication wouldn't have killed him. Medications can really only help in any situation (unless you overdose or mix 2 incompatible medications), They'll never poison a healthy fish if used correctly.

Also, for future reference, the color of the goldfish may change over time. If he's half red and half white, and his red starts to turn white, it is normal. They might undergo a color change as they mature, it happens with most fish but for me and my goldfish, it almost looked like they were losing scales. Just know it's normal and no need to worry. Many goldfish are actually born black. (so I've heard).

In the picture I've posted, the all orange (larger one) used to have alot of black on his head. And their is an all white one behind the two (you can see the end of his tail) that used to be majority red and little white.

I have always fed my goldfish flakes, never pellets. Pellets are better for fish that stay at the bottom of the tank, corydoras, loaches, shrimp, etc.

I am sorry to hear about Thor.
I used to feed my goldfish flake, (I swear by flake, don't care much for pelleted foods), but as they started getting bigger it became IMPOSSIBLE to feed them flake. they'll take large gulps of it and then spit it all over the aquarium. Pellets are much more contained and easy to remove if it does get messy. Flake would be great for now while they're small (if they're not eating the pellets) but you're probably going to want to go with pellets in the long run. Don't feed them floating pellets. I read they're bad for goldfish's swim bladder. Always use the sinking ones.
 

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Saejj

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Thanks, everyone.

4 inches in 6 months?!? Good Lord! Hubs and I have talked about putting a pond in our yard and rehoming this little guy to it when he is no longer little. I suspect that is a whole other can of worms as far as learning to care for it!

Sadly, we found little Loki on the bottom of the tank last night. The kids were devastated. Of course he wasn't going to make it at the nature center, either, but it is still sad. The only major change was that I had added a bacterial supplement to the tank a few hours before (per the instructions of the person who helped me set up the tank). Would that have killed him? Thor seems to be hanging in there. We have cloudy water this morning that I *think* looks like bacteria bloom. Can that be harmful to Thor?

One more question--I am feeding sinking pellets, and they don't seem to get eaten up. I put some in the day we got the tank, and I have observed Thor taking them then spitting them out. I haven't added more since because I am afraid of creating too much ammonia with the uneaten food? The Petsmart gal says that is his way of nibbling? Now I have some uneaten food on the bottom of the tank and a leaf of kale hanging in the tank, and I am unsure of when/how I ought to feed Thor again? Goodness, these little guys are complex!

Here is my take, from someone who has kept two healthy goldfish in a 50 gallon tank for several years now. Your fish probably died because of the water parameters, this is something most people don't consider when they first start keeping fish. (It's also possible the fish didn't adapt well from the change of natural pond water, to a home aquarium. I wouldn't be surprised if the others didn't make it either). However, you need to buy a water test kit as even a small amount of ammonia in the water can easily kill your fish. This goes for nitrites as well. Even a small amount of ammonia and nitrites will be stressful to your fish, if not lethal. When establishing a new tank, it takes some time for the beneficial to grow and be able to handle the load of such ammonia and nitrites. Look up and read about what's called the "Nitrogen Cycle" and make sure you really understand that if you want to keep these fish. In the mean time, the water needs to be changed daily to avoid the buildup of toxic ammonia and nitrites. This can and likely will be a matter of life or death for them. Buy a product like Tetra Safestart or Marlineland Bio-spira to help speed up this process. The understanding of the nitrogen cycle is essential if you want to keep your fish alive.
As for the tank size, 37 really should be okay for now. It would be advisable to upgrade in the future, but I don't see any immediate danger. This may be my first post here but I have a lot of personal experience with my own goldfish, who are not being kept in a pond and are perfectly fine. I have an adult Shubunkin goldfish (long bodied), 4 years old in my 50 gallon with his fancy goldfish partner, and he is just about 1 foot long now. So clearly his growth has not been stunted by the size of my tank. I feel it is an exaggeration for people to constantly recommend they be kept in 100+ gallon ponds, when they fail to consider the huge amount of children who buy goldfish to be kept in bowls, on a daily basis! Like, please be realistic. The fish can still have a comfortable healthy life while not living in a pond; think about that relative to the prison cell like life it would have in a bowl or something similar. I'm thinking about relativity here. The fact that you are willing to invest in something as large as a 37 gallon tank shows to me that you are willing to be a responsible fish parent. It's not like you are keeping the fish in a bowl or a small 2-5 gallon tank.
The fish will be fine as long as your water parameters are in check, so get that taken care of. Let me know how things go.
 
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smellyvegetarian

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Thank you all for the responses! I have had a conversation with my son that we are probably on borrowed time with Thor (assuming he lives), and that within a year or two we may have to A> buy a bigger tank, B> rehome him to a friend's pond, or C> get crazy and build our own pond (not out of question, I suppose, if we have plenty of warning and can save our pennies).

So mid-afternoon today Thor developed cloudy eyes. My kids were devastated at losing Loki, so I gave up on Petsmart and made an emergency trek to the only proper aquarium store in my area to see if there is anything I can do for Thor.

I took a water sample in, and believe it or not our water tested perfect! It makes absolutely no sense. Both fish are failing, but our water is fine? The guy at the shop recommended a 25% water change, getting any uneaten pellets off the gravel, adding his preferred water conditioner/bacteria supplement, putting aquarium salt in the tank, changing the food, adding an air pump fitted to a bubbling ornament and a bio sponge, plus a mesh bag of bacteria (I forget what that was called LOL). We did all of it about 7 hours ago. Thor's eyes are still cloudy though, and he is acting very strangely. He is moving erratically (kind of shaking his head side to side while facing the side of the tank), and seems kind of manic, for lack of better terms. He moves his mouth a lot, too. It can't possibly be oxygen, because we now have a filter, a bubbling dragon ornament, and the bio sponge all bubbling away. We offered him 7 pellets of food (per aquarium guy) and a slice of cucumber, and to my knowledge he has eaten none of it. I am so frustrated, because everywhere I google it just says the water must be wrong...but according to the test it isn't?!?

Sigh. Who knew fish are so tough! The aquarium guy pointed out that at least if Thor doesn't make it we will have a totally prepped aquarium if my kids want to try again. It is a sad thought, though--they are really quite attached to him. I even think he is cute...he is quite social, and several times earlier today seemed to "play" in the bubble stream from the air features.
 

Danjamesdixon

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When you say your water tested 'perfect', what does that actually mean? Did they use a liquid test kit, did they do the test correctly, and what were the numbers the test showed up?

I used to work in an LFS - even the fish house manager didn't do the test correctly.
 

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You are trying so hard. Whatever happens know that you will be a great fish family . Hopefully Thor pulls tbrough, and any future fish will be lucky to live with you.
The pond can be quite simple and enjoyable, btw, and family will enjoy that, too.
I'm hoping for best outcome to you all.
 
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smellyvegetarian

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Well, they told me there were no values that were of concern with our water. In all honesty I didn't watch them do the test; they whisked the water away to test it while showing me all of the things I could do to support a healthy aquarium. Here is the report they gave me:

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Ph: 7.5
General hardness: 120
Salinity: 0
Chlorine: 0
Carbonate Hardness: 1.6

This morning Thor's eyes are looking a smidge better but now his tail fin is looking frayed. The poor little guy. Maybe it is just too stressful coming from a beautiful wild pond to a tank environment? Or maybe they already had some kind of infections going on when we got them? Idk. I am getting very near my wit's end LOL. At least he was still swimming along this morning, though; I half expected him to have expired overnight. My son is worried that he can't find the pellet food, and he doesn't seem to have touched the cucumber.

Thanks for the support, everyone, and for sharing photos of your beautiful tanks! So inspiring!
 

pRoy33

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We had a similar experience. Someone gave my 1yr we old a "carnival" goldfish. He didn't make it more than a couple days. But it sent me down a path to now having two tanks! It can definitely be stressful. If he doesn't make it, don't give up though! There are lots of folks here who can help you get the 37 running the right way.
 
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