The goldfish debate Argh!!!

armadillo
  • #1
Sooo frustrating. So I know the theoretical recommended volume for goldfish (20G for the first one, 10G for each additional one) but no way could I make my parents believe this.

So we've negociated and they've agreed to keep "only" three of the current five in their 12G.

How can I convince them when they see lots of goldfish at friends' houses who live to a ridiculously long age when alone in a tiny fishbowl that never gets cleaned?

Do you guys have any references of scientific work that supports that recommendation?

I can't tell them they'll die, as I don't know that. Unfortunately for them, goldfish are very resistant to nitrogen poisoning.

I can't tell them they'll get stressed, as they'll ask me how I know that.

So now they think am making it all up that they need a lot of space.

So I've found this link: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Animal_Care/Goldfish, but it does not state why it's bad to stunt their growth, and my parents just won't trust me that it just is bad.
 
Kevin
  • #2
cant help...sorry
I know nothing about goldfish...except for they poop constantly
 
Neville
  • #3
HEY i'm keeping two 3" orandas in my 10 gallon for a month now, they look perfectly all right, if u want to keep them in a smaller tank u have to perform frequent water changes(25% water change every week), and feed them dime sized food twice a day.
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Mmmmm. I am looking for valid arguments to get my parents to upgrade, not another success story about how they're fine in small tanks, although am glad it's working out for you.

It's a tough one, because they'll either stay small, in which case the owner says: it's fine, it's got lots of swimming space; or they'll grow, in which case the owner will say they're fine, am not stunting their growth.

But they're supposed to reach mammoth sizes (we're talking over 1kg per fish), which they absolutely can't do in a 10G. + they're such high polluters, I'd be curious about nitrates/ite/ammonia at this stage.
 
purple_phoenix
  • #5
If you look under 'Introduction and Description' it tells you about the space they need, and also temperature. If they need a little more convincing, 'Setup and Water Preferences' explains about filtration and aeration too.

I hope it's helpful
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Thanks so much, PP. That guy really loves his fish, doesn't he?

I've saved it as one of my favorites. Thanks a lot for that.
 
purple_phoenix
  • #7
Yep, he absolutely does!
I only searched on google, but the site is quite interesting really. I've found myself trying to sex the goldfish that I gave away in February.

Good luck convincing your parents!
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Thanks!
 
Neville
  • #9
fancy goldfish don't grow that big, max 6", but Kois and comets grow bigger.
 
purple_phoenix
  • #10
I don't think she mentioned whether or not they were fancy goldfish or their size at the moment, but still -- 3 6" goldfish in a 12g tank wouldn't be suitable.
 
fishgirl
  • #11
Can you get your folks to read some of the posts on here? and other fish keeping sites? That might help them to understand what goldfish (well all fish) need. And that just because the fish "can" live in a small dirty room it does not mean they should.

You could tell them that it is just like keeping puppies or kittens in a small crate that is and only cleaning to every 2 or 3 days. Yes they will not die but they will be healthier with more room.

Maybe the reason your folks keep telling you no more tanks is that they don't feel that they should have to pay for your hobby.

Dont nag them about getting a bigger tank...Just nag them about learning.

I don't know how old you are but could you do some kind of job to make some money to help pay for your fish and up keep?
Maybe ask if they are some chores around the house that they can pay you for doing?
When I was growing up my Mom and Dad had a list of paying chores that we (my sibs and I) could do on top of our non-paying chores that we HAD to do?

I hope I gave you some useful advice.

Good Luck on helping your Mom and Dad understand more about fish keeping.
 
gremlin
  • #12
You could always ask them how they feel about staying in the same room and never having anything else to look at - like say being locked in and elevator or a bathroom. Goldfish need the room to swim around or they could develop behavioral issues. My sister had 3 comet goldfish in a 20gal tank for about 6 months when one of them started to pick on the other two and another one would just sit on the gravel at the back corner of the tank. all her water parameters were fine, she had a couple of ornaments for them to swim around and through and several plastic plants for them to hide behind. about a week after she noticed the strange behaviors, she found one dead for no reason she could find, one was still hiding all the time with fins clamped and the other just plain acted crazy. It would swim in circles like it was chasing its tail. She brought the two surviving fish to me and I put them in my outdoor pond (at the time it was a smaller one than I have now-about 100 gallons). By the end of the day, they were back acting normal and healthy and have now grown and are two of my larger goldfish. There was never anything wrong with the nitrAtes or nitrItes or ammonia or temp or any of that. She bought several different testing kits and they were always green and go. The water was clear. she would keep it vacuumed and did partial water changes in case the ammonia was a problem. The only thing we could figure was the lack of room. A happy, healthy fish will swim around and investigate its tank. A sick or unhappy fish will just sit. Most of the ones that I have seen kept in a fishbowl or small tank are not very active. they just sort of sit there. It's much more fun to watch a happy active fish in a larger tank, otherwise you might just as well take a picture of a fish to look at. it would be cheaper and better for the fish.
 
sirdarksol
  • #13
Define "ridiculously long age". Some people think that a fish living 5 years is really long, but goldfish can live for decades, if they are kept right.

If they don't believe you, I doubt they would believe me, but scientifically, this is what's happening to their goldfish:
Goldfish continue to grow their entire lives. Nothing stops this. It can be slowed, but it cannot be stopped. This growth is really fast in juveniles, and seems to slow as the adult body requires exponentially more energy to grow in all dimensions (they don't just grow longer, they grow "taller" and wider, too). If a goldfish is kept in too small of a body of water, the buildup of waste products in the water will stunt the fish's growth. I'm not sure if this is because more energy is used just to keep the body alive, or if it's a defense mechanism to try to keep the goldfish from outgrowing the body of water. Even if it's the latter, however, it's only meant as a temporary thing. In the wild, carp live in large bodies of water. These may periodically dry up, limiting the amount of space, but if they stay that way too long, the carp will die, just like goldfish will if kept in a small tank too long.

I am under the impression that, though the goldfish's body slows its growth, the organs continue to grow at their normal rate (or at least closer to their normal rate). So, on top of swimming in higher concentrations of nitrate, they are slowly being crushed from the inside out.

Lastly, goldfish are smart creatures. We've discussed that they have much larger than 3 second memories. I think that their memories extend into months or even years. Keeping three goldfish in a 10 gallon tank their whole life is like keeping a dog in a 4'x4' kennel its whole life. Yes, they technically will survive in there for awhile, but they will be constantly stressed, which will make them sick in the long run.
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
Actually, I think they're fancy. But 5 fancy in a 12g tank is ridiculous, right?
I don't think she mentioned whether or not they were fancy goldfish or their size at the moment, but still -- 3 6" goldfish in a 12g tank wouldn't be suitable.
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
HI Fishgirl

My dad said it wasn't worth reading posts on here as we were all biased as official fish-nuts. He's legendarily narrow-minded, you see. I showed him other goldfish sites, but he says the same thing.

I like the idea of comparing to puppies/kittens. That might work, thanks for the tip.

Oh they don't pay for my hobby. I have left home about 15 years ago, and haven't lived in the same country as them since then, LOL.

Can you get your folks to read some of the posts on here? and other fish keeping sites? That might help them to understand what goldfish (well all fish) need. And that just because the fish "can" live in a small dirty room it does not mean they should.

You could tell them that it is just like keeping puppies or kittens in a small crate that is and only cleaning to every 2 or 3 days. Yes they will not die but they will be healthier with more room.

Maybe the reason your folks keep telling you no more tanks is that they don't feel that they should have to pay for your hobby.

Dont nag them about getting a bigger tank...Just nag them about learning.

I don't know how old you are but could you do some kind of job to make some money to help pay for your fish and up keep?
Maybe ask if they are some chores around the house that they can pay you for doing?
When I was growing up my Mom and Dad had a list of paying chores that we (my sibs and I) could do on top of our non-paying chores that we HAD to do?

I hope I gave you some useful advice.

Good Luck on helping your Mom and Dad understand more about fish keeping.
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
Thank you, Gremlin. That sort of examples will really help make my point.
You could always ask them how they feel about staying in the same room and never having anything else to look at - like say being locked in and elevator or a bathroom. Goldfish need the room to swim around or they could develop behavioral issues. My sister had 3 comet goldfish in a 20gal tank for about 6 months when one of them started to pick on the other two and another one would just sit on the gravel at the back corner of the tank. all her water parameters were fine, she had a couple of ornaments for them to swim around and through and several plastic plants for them to hide behind. about a week after she noticed the strange behaviors, she found one dead for no reason she could find, one was still hiding all the time with fins clamped and the other just plain acted crazy. It would swim in circles like it was chasing its tail. She brought the two surviving fish to me and I put them in my outdoor pond (at the time it was a smaller one than I have now-about 100 gallons). By the end of the day, they were back acting normal and healthy and have now grown and are two of my larger goldfish. There was never anything wrong with the nitrAtes or nitrItes or ammonia or temp or any of that. She bought several different testing kits and they were always green and go. The water was clear. she would keep it vacuumed and did partial water changes in case the ammonia was a problem. The only thing we could figure was the lack of room. A happy, healthy fish will swim around and investigate its tank. A sick or unhappy fish will just sit. Most of the ones that I have seen kept in a fishbowl or small tank are not very active. they just sort of sit there. It's much more fun to watch a happy active fish in a larger tank, otherwise you might just as well take a picture of a fish to look at. it would be cheaper and better for the fish.
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
Thanks, Sirdarskol.

Well, they claim they know friends who've kept their goldfish for the last 15 years, hardly change the water, and keep it in a bowl. Ridiculous as in goldfish would do themselves a favour by being notoriously susceptible to lack of room and waste build-up, but because they are so resilient, they sustain this abuse and it's seen as culturally acceptable to keep them in outrageous conditions.

That stunted growth thing is the crunch for me. I just think that if I have to stunt my fish' growth for it to live in my set-up, then I need to change set-up. My parents think that it's a handy tip of mother nature, why not enjoy the ride and just take advantage of that fact and continue to house them in too small tanks. And I can't tell them that I knwo for sure that the stunted growth is uncomfortable, or that the internal organs keep growing. I just can't find a reference ascerting that for sure. Although it's my belief that it can't be good for the fish (stunted growth), I can't seem to be able to quantify this.

Define "ridiculously long age". Some people think that a fish living 5 years is really long, but goldfish can live for decades, if they are kept right.

If they don't believe you, I doubt they would believe me, but scientifically, this is what's happening to their goldfish:
Goldfish continue to grow their entire lives. Nothing stops this. It can be slowed, but it cannot be stopped. This growth is really fast in juveniles, and seems to slow as the adult body requires exponentially more energy to grow in all dimensions (they don't just grow longer, they grow "taller" and wider, too). If a goldfish is kept in too small of a body of water, the buildup of waste products in the water will stunt the fish's growth. I'm not sure if this is because more energy is used just to keep the body alive, or if it's a defense mechanism to try to keep the goldfish from outgrowing the body of water. Even if it's the latter, however, it's only meant as a temporary thing. In the wild, carp live in large bodies of water. These may periodically dry up, limiting the amount of space, but if they stay that way too long, the carp will die, just like goldfish will if kept in a small tank too long.

I am under the impression that, though the goldfish's body slows its growth, the organs continue to grow at their normal rate (or at least closer to their normal rate). So, on top of swimming in higher concentrations of nitrate, they are slowly being crushed from the inside out.

Lastly, goldfish are smart creatures. We've discussed that they have much larger than 3 second memories. I think that their memories extend into months or even years. Keeping three goldfish in a 10 gallon tank their whole life is like keeping a dog in a 4'x4' kennel its whole life. Yes, they technically will survive in there for awhile, but they will be constantly stressed, which will make them sick in the long run.
 
Barbrella
  • #18
There's a big difference between surviving and thriving.

We could survive living in a tiny cell our whole lives if it were kept clean and we had food, but we wouldn't be happy or thrive.

We're obligated to give any creatures we bring home the best lives we possibly can.

Anyone who has watched fish (goldfish, bettas etc) in a tiny, bare, cramped space, then seen them in a large, decorated aquarium can clearly see where they're happier.

Well, they claim they know friends who've kept their goldfish for the last 15 years, hardly change the water, and keep it in a bowl.

Right. My mother in law is 87. She has been smoking for 70 years, never eats vegetables and loves to eat fat. Just because she lived this long does not mean this is a recommended lifestyle for long life and good health!
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
Oh, Barbrella, you're full of striking examples, LOL! The MIL is definitely one I can use!!!
There's a big difference between surviving and thriving.

We could survive living in a tiny cell our whole lives if it were kept clean and we had food, but we wouldn't be happy or thrive.

We're obligated to give any creatures we bring home the best lives we possibly can.

Anyone who has watched fish (goldfish, bettas etc) in a tiny, bare, cramped space, then seen them in a large, decorated aquarium can clearly see where they're happier.



Right. My mother in law is 87. She has been smoking for 70 years, never eats vegetables and loves to eat fat. Just because she lived this long does not mean this is a recommended lifestyle for long life and good health!
 
sirdarksol
  • #20
I'm amused that your parents are willing to claim to know a bunch of people whose goldfish have impossibly survived a huge buildup of waste and mineral in a tiny bowl, yet won't accept more scientifically sound, believable statements.

In the end it sounds like, unless they can be made to care about the psychological wellness of their fish (and it sounds like your parents see animals as "things" rather than "beings"), this is going to be an impossible fight.
I will, however, be trying to get more scientific info.
 
gremlin
  • #21
"Thank you, Gremlin. That sort of examples will really help make my point."

no prob - glad to help any way I can
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
Well they're not claiming it, it's true. It's my cousin. She's had hers for ages, in those conditions, and she brags to my parents about how little water changes she gives it.
I'm amused that your parents are willing to claim to know a bunch of people whose goldfish have impossibly survived a huge buildup of waste and mineral in a tiny bowl, yet won't accept more scientifically sound, believable statements.

In the end it sounds like, unless they can be made to care about the psychological wellness of their fish (and it sounds like your parents see animals as "things" rather than "beings"), this is going to be an impossible fight.
I will, however, be trying to get more scientific info.
 
gremlin
  • #23
"Well they're not claiming it, it's true. It's my cousin. She's had hers for ages, in those conditions, and she brags to my parents about how little water changes she gives it."

so it may be low maintenance, but does the fish swim around and is it entertaining or does it just sort of sit there like a picture?
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
Well this is the claiming part. They claim that its' really happy. I presume that means swimming round. But I haven't seen it with my own eyes.
 
purple_phoenix
  • #25
This is mad.... Have you had any luck in the way of convincing them to get a bigger tank yet?
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
Mmmmh. Difficult to say. I think I got through to my mom, but she tends to change her mind. Am going over there next week-end to check the situation.
 

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