I desperately need some idiot proof advice on the continuing care of the nursery goldfish which I have ended up caring for over summer (a Treasurer's job is never done). I'd like them to go back to nursery in as good condition as possible - and give them some guidelines on what they should be doing with them! I feel sorry for the poor fish, the more I've read, the more I think they are suffering.
There are 3 goldfish (2 'normals', one with long fins). The 2 normals are fairground fish that we were given earlier this year as they had outgrown their bowl and they are about 2 years old, the fancier one is one of the originals so it's been with us for about 3 years. As far as I'm aware these fish have survived so far without weekly water changes, and just a major tank clean out once a month (which involved the fish being put in a bucket of fresh water, the exiting water emptied from their tank, the walls scrubbed then it filled back up). They have been with me for 3 weeks, and I have started doing twice weekly 15% water changes for them. The filter has never had anything changed, so my mission today is to find an online manual for it and find out what needs buying and get it done.
They live is a 28L 'Aqua One' tank. I know that from doing some research that this is considered too small, but after a troll of preloved, ebay etc I think that's what they are stuck with until a cheap one appears locally. This tank is lined with gravel (full of algae), has a small bridge and a plastic plant (covered in algae). It is gross. The side is green.
On the first day I bought them home, I popped the fish in a bucket with the majority of their tank water, scrubbed the tank out with a blue cloth and put them back with half of their tank water and half new. I am now not sure how I didn't kill them.
I would, ideally, like to empty their tank, scrub it thoroughly and start again. So, new gravel, a new hiding hole, some living plants. Can I do this?
My novice questions are;-
How do I do it without killing the fish?
Should I try to re home some of the fish - how many would be ideal to keep?
Can I have some little snails in the tank? (I'm not particularly bothered about them eating algae, I just like them and think the children would find them more interesting)
Which plants should I buy?
How do I keep the new gravel clean?
Do I need to add anything to the water?
Next time we are having hamsters or something else that I actually understand how to care for!
Good god, I'm surprised those fish have survived as long as they have; the nursery is taking terrible care of them.
First of all, that tank is way too small for any fish (even tiny ones), let alone 3 goldfish. Those fish will need a tank of 200 litres (yes, 200) to live a long, happy life. Please have a look here for more info.
If you can rehome the fish, that would be brilliant. The common-shaped fairground ones would be so happy in a pond if you can find anyone with a suitable one. This time of year is a good time for them to move because it's nice and warm. The fancy goldfish won't be able to live in a pond but will need rehoming for sure. Facebook has a lot of fish groups on there, you'll probably find someone willing to take it on. Make sure it's going to a good home and not another tiny tank!
Yes, there are snails that would live happily in that tank. I would wait until the fish have moved out though.
I wouldn't bother with plants for now. Goldfish shred them and the filter probably isn't coping with the load it already has.
You'll need to vacuum the gravel. If you're just looking after the fish temporarily, don't bother buying a gravel vac, you can make one out of a drinks bottle really easily. Just cut the bottom off a 330ml coke bottle and feed the syphon tube through the neck.
There's a guide to doing a water change here. Don't take the fish out, it will stress them out at best and at worst it could injure them. Don't empty the tank out and scrub it. Just remove up to 50% of the water and replace it with clean, dechlorinated water (dechlorinator is VERY IMPORTANT!!). You'll probably have to do this 3 or 4 times a week until you can get a bigger tank or a pond.
To clean the filter, take some water from the tank and rinse the sponges in there. DO NOT USE TAP WATER. It will kill all the good bacteria.
Please, please rehome the fish as soon as you can. You sound like you're really concerned about their welfare so their luck is already improving
You might want to show this RSPCA article to whoever is in charge of pets at the nursery. If they decide not to go with fish then maybe something like giant African land snails or stick insects would be better.
If you want any tips for setting up a new tank and choosing more suitable fish then I'd be happy to help.
Thank you EauRouge, you have confirmed my suspicions of goldfish cruelty! I have emailed the manager to point out my concerns, and have asked for permission to re-home them, but to be honest, I'm going to get cracking on finding new homes for them anyway.
I'm not even sure why we started having fish as a nursery pet - I came back from holiday a few years ago and the tank and 6 (yes, 6!) goldfish were there. I always assumed that someone must know how to care for them, and that everything was okay with them so finding out more about goldfish care has made me feel desperately sad for them all. No wonder so many died.
I think the fish can move on to a better life - and we will start afresh with a new pet in September. This time, one that at least I have some experience in keeping so I can monitor it daily and ensure that the staff are better educated in the welfare of!