The Secret To A Planted Tank With Goldfish

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Vishaquatics

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Hi FishLore,

I'm writing this post because a lot of people want to keep goldfish in a planted tank, but their goldfish tend to eat all their plants. I have been keeping multiple fancy and common goldfish in planted tanks for years now, with no issues. I'd like to share some of my techniques so that the community can start keeping these beautiful fish with their planted tanks.

1) Feed your goldfish a protein-rich diet. Get your goldfish accustomed to eating a diet that mainly consists of live foods such as worms, brine shrimp, or freeze dried foods. This will help your goldfish to shift away from eating plants. Be sure to feed your goldfish flake foods and algae wafers so that they still get plant matter in their diet.

2) Stop feeding your goldfish fresh plant foods. Don't feed your goldfish duckweed, cucumbers, peas, leafy greens, or any other vegetables. This will get your goldfish accustomed to eating plant foods, and they will be more likely to develop a taste for your aquascape.

3) Feed your goldfish multiple times a day. Feed it two to three times a day, and don't be shy with it. Just be sure to up the water changes to prevent algae and maintain water quality. A goldfish that is full will not be munching on your plants. A lot of goldfish try to eat plants because they are starving.

4) Get plants that are hardy. Do not put goldfish in high-tech tanks with delicate plants. Most lowtech plants such as anubias, dwarf sag, jungle val, crypts, amazon swords, ludwigia, java ferns, anacharis, hornwort, water wisteria, rotala rotundifolia, and mosses are all good with goldfish. I do NOT recommend keeping goldfish with delicate plants such as dwarf baby tears, staurogyne repens, high tech rotalas, and japanese pennywort to name a few. The bigger the plant, the better your chances are that it will survive with goldfish.

5) Plant your plants deep into the substrate. Some goldfish like to dig around and uproot the plants. If you are starting a tank and are yet to add fish, I'd recommend letting the plants take root for around 4 weeks before adding in goldfish. This will make you more successful in keeping your aquascape intact.

Goldfish are truly amazing to have in a planted tank. Not only are they fun to watch, but they are hands down the best fish for getting your plants to blow up and explode with new growth. They produce so much waste that goes into both the water column and the substrate, which helps plant growth tremendously. From my personal experience, I had jungle val carpet an entire rubbermaid stock tank within three months. The substrate was just plain course gravel. No ferts. No dirt. No root tabs. Just 5 common goldfish with a big appetite fueled this crazy amount of growth.

Feel free to ask any questions, I'm happy to answer them.

Edit: To clarify some confusion, I am not saying to completely exclude plant foods from a goldfish's diet, which they definitely require. I am simply saying to divert them away from fresher plant foods and give them other sources instead, such as algae wafers, and high quality veggie based flakes/pellets.
 
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Goldiemom

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I have to respectfully disagree with some of your theory. Goldfish are omnivores and need plants in their diet. Feeding them just high protein food is not healthy for them. I too, have plants in my tank but I use java fern, Amazon sword and anubias which they won’t touch. I also use hornwort for the nitrates but they do nibble on it and I have to replace it every couple of months. I feed mine twice a day and tend to over feed a bit. I use a high protein food and bug bites. However, I also feed veggie sticks, peas, oranges and cucumbers to balance out the protein. Their diet should not be based on high protein only. My Goldie’s won’t touch bloodworms but they will eat live brine shrimp. I hatch them myself. Freeze dried foods should be reserved as treats as they are lower in nutritional value and can cause bloat. I prefer pellets over flakes for the same reason. Goldfish gulp more air when eating flakes which also contributes to bloat. Pellets sink and prevent gulping air. One more thing, I see by your profile that you have American flag fish which is a type of tropical killifish. You don’t have these in with your Goldie’s, do you?
 
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Vishaquatics

Vishaquatics

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I have to respectfully disagree with some of your theory. Goldfish are omnivores and need plants in their diet. Feeding them just high protein food is not healthy for them. I too, have plants in my tank but I use java fern, Amazon sword and anubias which they won’t touch. I also use hornwort for the nitrates but they do nibble on it and I have to replace it every couple of months. I feed mine twice a day and tend to over feed a bit. I use a high protein food and bug bites. However, I also feed veggie sticks, peas, oranges and cucumbers to balance out the protein. Their diet should not be based on high protein only. My Goldie’s won’t touch bloodworms but they will eat live brine shrimp. I hatch them myself. Freeze dried foods should be reserved as treats as they are lower in nutritional value and can cause bloat. I prefer pellets over flakes for the same reason. Goldfish gulp more air when eating flakes which also contributes to bloat. Pellets sink and prevent gulping air. One more thing, I see by your profile that you have American flag fish which is a type of tropical killifish. You don’t have these in with your Goldie’s, do you?
Good points you have brought up here.
I rarely feed freeze dried food and give them more live food. I thought it would be a good option to list for people who don’t have live foods. I had stated to feed some veggie based flake/pellet or algae wafers to give them a more balanced diet. You are correct that they are omnivores. I just refrain from feeding them fresh veggies and plants because they tend to try and eat the other plants then in my own experience. With this diet, the goldfish don’t even nibble at the hornwort or salvinia that I have growing at the top. They’re going 5 years strong.

The American flagfish lives with the goldfish and has lived with them its whole life. There’s no conflict in the tub that they’re in.
 

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Good points you have brought up here.
I rarely feed freeze dried food and give them more live food. I thought it would be a good option to list for people who don’t have live foods. I had stated to feed some veggie based flake/pellet or algae wafers to give them a more balanced diet. You are correct that they are omnivores. I just refrain from feeding them fresh veggies and plants because they tend to try and eat the other plants then in my own experience. With this diet, the goldfish don’t even nibble at the hornwort or salvinia that I have growing at the top. They’re going 5 years strong.

The American flagfish lives with the goldfish and has lived with them its whole life. There’s no conflict in the tub that they’re in.
goldfish should never be with tropical fish. You are very lucky that you have had no issues as of yet. They have 2 different temperature needs. In my opinion only, I feel it is abusive and mistreatment to alter a goldfishes diet to protect your aquascaping. Instead of altering their natural diets, perhaps you should consider altering your choices of plants for your tanks. You can do a beautiful job in decorating your tank with the plants I have mentioned above. I wouldn’t consider a planted tank an aquascaped tank. There’s is much more involved in aquascaping than some plants in a tank.
 
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goldfish should never be with tropical fish. You are very lucky that you have had no issues as of yet. They have 2 different temperature needs. In my opinion only, I feel it is abusive and mistreatment to alter a goldfishes diet to protect your aquascaping. Instead of altering their natural diets, perhaps you should consider altering your choices of plants for your tanks. You can do a beautiful job in decorating your tank with the plants I have mentioned above. I wouldn’t consider a planted tank an aquascaped tank. There’s is much more involved in aquascaping than some plants in a tank.
American flagfish are native to Florida, which has a similar climate to SoCal, where I live. The fish live outdoors in stock tubs. The water stays above 60F and below 76F year round in the particular tub that they are in. Average temp year round is around 70-72F. Temp needs are met for both fish in one tub. They are peaceful together and all the fish are healthy. My flagfish are already well over 3 years old, which is longer than their average lifespan of 2-3 years. It is not abusive to feed goldfish a well rounded diet that happens to lack fresh veggies. How is it abusive to feed your goldfish live foods everyday and also feed them algae wafers and quality flakes/pellets? They still get a good amount of plant matter through algae wafers and quality flakes/pellets.

Arguably any planted tank can be an aquascape. Not every aquascape is a planted tank. Some aquascapes are simply just rocks or driftwood.
 

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American flagfish are native to Florida, which has a similar climate to SoCal, where I live. The fish live outdoors in stock tubs. The water stays above 60F and below 76F year round in the particular tub that they are in. Average temp year round is around 70-72F. Temp needs are met for both fish in one tub. They are peaceful together and all the fish are healthy. My flagfish are already well over 3 years old, which is longer than their average lifespan of 2-3 years. It is not abusive to feed goldfish a well rounded diet that happens to lack fresh veggies. How is it abusive to feed your goldfish live foods everyday and also feed them algae wafers and quality flakes/pellets? They still get a good amount of plant matter through algae wafers and quality flakes/pellets.

Arguably any planted tank can be an aquascape. Not every aquascape is a planted tank. Some aquascapes are simply just rocks or driftwood.
@Goldiemom and I tend to have our differences, but I do agree with her, especially on diet.


Do you happen to know what goldfish ancestor's diet mostly consisted of? Mostly plant based matter (and aufwuch). A few generations of selective breeding isnt going to change years of evolution, their digestive tract is for a particular diet.

In fact, I have found the opposite of what your suggesting (and Im not the only one) supplementing their diet with veggies and fruits frequently actually decreases the chance of eating plants... after all, if they have their 'plant fill' why eat the aquarium plants and DIY supplement the part of their diet they missing with your plants!

You alluded to the 'high quality' version of aquascaping in your post, which is probably why goldiemom mentioned that... you are right in saying that an aquascape doesn't have to have plants, but many have had goldies in high tech setups! In fact, probably works out rather well:
- large bioload
- fast growing plants equate to a goldie buffet

Many say supplementing their diet with veggies is the key to success, as well as avoiding plants with a shallow root system.
 

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goldfish should never be with tropical fish. You are very lucky that you have had no issues as of yet. They have 2 different temperature needs. In my opinion only, I feel it is abusive and mistreatment to alter a goldfishes diet to protect your aquascaping. Instead of altering their natural diets, perhaps you should consider altering your choices of plants for your tanks. You can do a beautiful job in decorating your tank with the plants I have mentioned above. I wouldn’t consider a planted tank an aquascaped tank. There’s is much more involved in aquascaping than some plants in a tank.
American flagfish aren't tropical fish.......
 

FlipFlopFishFlake

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Goldies should only be with Goldie’s.
It depends on what goldfish you are talking about. There is no reason a comet goldfish, for example, can’t have tank mates that like the same parameters such as minnows and dojo loaches. While the incredibly deformed versions such as bubble eye goldfish can’t have tankmates due to being outcompeted and risk of damage, many of the hardier fancy goldfish do fine with tankmates as well.

As far as feeding goes, I agree with you that goldfish can’t have too much protein in their diet. If you look at their digestive tract, you can tell that it is meant to deal with large amounts of plant matter, and in my experience goldfish always do better when fed less protein and more plant based foods.
 
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@Goldiemom and I tend to have our differences, but I do agree with her, especially on diet.


Do you happen to know what goldfish ancestor's diet mostly consisted of? Mostly plant based matter (and aufwuch). A few generations of selective breeding isnt going to change years of evolution, their digestive tract is for a particular diet.

In fact, I have found the opposite of what your suggesting (and Im not the only one) supplementing their diet with veggies and fruits frequently actually decreases the chance of eating plants... after all, if they have their 'plant fill' why eat the aquarium plants and DIY supplement the part of their diet they missing with your plants!

You alluded to the 'high quality' version of aquascaping in your post, which is probably why goldiemom mentioned that... you are right in saying that an aquascape doesn't have to have plants, but many have had goldies in high tech setups! In fact, probably works out rather well:
- large bioload
- fast growing plants equate to a goldie buffet

Many say supplementing their diet with veggies is the key to success, as well as avoiding plants with a shallow root system.
Thank you for your input. I have personally found that feeding fresh fruits and veggies for my goldfish encourage them to snack on my plants. Again, this is my personal experience as well as the experience of a few of my friends who I have set up tanks for. Once I switched their diet over to a live food one with algae wafers and high quality veggie flake/pellet, my friends and I noticed that they stopped eating our plants.

To clarify, I am not saying to exclude plant matter from a goldfish's diet. I am suggesting that they receive their plant matter in the form of an algae wafer or flake/pellet, to prevent them from associating fresh plants with food.
 
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Goldies should only be with Goldie’s.
I think that really depends on the size of the tank/pond and each individual situation. Many people successfully keep mosquito fish and goldfish together in ponds. A lot of people keep dojo loaches, catfish, minnows, and koi with goldfish.
 

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I think that really depends on the size of the tank/pond and each individual situation. Many people successfully keep mosquito fish and goldfish together in ponds. A lot of people keep dojo loaches, catfish, minnows, and koi with goldfish.
Bottom dwellers are fine as long as they are temp compatible. My pond Goldie’s love mosquito fish...yummy’
 
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