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TonySydney

Successful Goldfish Keeping by Chance

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I have not posted for a long time. I lost heart when despite my best efforts with a huge tank, major filtration, regular huge water changes, and expensive menus of imported gel foods. I could not keep my goldfish healthy for long periods of time. I eventually lost all the fish and decided to give up and converted the tank into a tropical fish tank.

 

After about 4 months I was at my favourite aquarium shop when I saw two baby Ranchu I just had to have. I bought them and kept them in a 55 litre bowl so I could quarantine them. I do a half water change everyday - easy to do as they are near a bathroom and I use a large gauge tube to take the water away to a floor drain, when I use a gravel cleaner to remove the waste and water.

 

I also started feeding these fish on live Black Worms (these are cultured here in Australia so are a clean safe food source) I also feed them Duck Weed I cultivate in other aquariums and a garden pond. I mix this up with garden peas I have made into a gel food. The result is the two fish are incredibly healthy and I have kept them in the 55 litre bowl.

 

All those who are feeling judgemental about the bowl I realise my fish will outgrow this bowl and I plan to move them to a bigger aquarium - but I will keep the water changes going every second day and the same diet. It is working for me after about 4 months - with no sick or off days for either fish.

 

An interesting aside: I have a book translated from Chinese on goldfish care and this is how goldfish are traditionally kept there. I am not against filtration, etc. I just thought some one might be interested in my chance discovery.

 

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The bowl has a magnifying effect the fish are much smaller than they appear here.

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It is interesting, indeed sometimes less is best. I find that routine is key. As long as you are consistent with what you do, I don't think it matters too much. It's when you start messing around that things go wrong (at least that is what I have found).

 

In saying that, I think they definitely need a bigger home. And perhaps add a sponge filter?

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It does look very cool. I think the biggest thing people have against bowls is the lack of surface area for oxygen exchange. If you have a bubbler, as FishTankEnthusiast suggested, it might be okay. Pretty fish!!

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The key to healthy GF is good water quality.  With 50% WCs daily, you're providing that.  Not many of us are willing or able to do such a thing.

 

They are gorgeous.  I wish you continued good luck with them.  :D

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It does look very cool. I think the biggest thing people have against bowls is the lack of surface area for oxygen exchange. If you have a bubbler, as FishTankEnthusiast suggested, it might be okay. Pretty fish!!

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Important point.

 

Chinese goldfish bowls looked like this.  They brought particularly nice goldfish in from the pond for short-term display. in these.

 

Your globular bowl has a much better shape than the ones sold today, but it doesn't work well with such small surface area.  Your fish will do better if you fill the bowl half full, even though you have less volume.  A bubbler disturbs water at the surface, but with your small surface and substantial depth you wouldn't aerate the water much if the had an eggbeater running at the surface.

 

Back when I was a kid in the 1950's, most goldfish bowls looked like this and had a volume similar to the contemporary bowls, but had lots of surface area.  With frequent large water changes and very small feedings,  fish could live for years.

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Hi Everyone, thank you for your comments. I agree the with the surface area concerns so I just measured the bowl. It is 450mm across and the water surface is 350mm across. This tank is on a book case in my bedroom and I monitor the fish all the time. They swim all around the bowl and never do the hanging around the top for air thing I have read about & seen photos of in books.

 

I originally intended to only use this as a quarantine tank and then move them into the large tank. That is still my plan, I kept Telescope Butterfly Tails last time and nothing seemed to keep them happy. I became a nervous wreck just waiting for the next problem. Perhaps Ranchu are less problematic but what struck me was how well they were going on the constant water changes (which takes about 10 minutes to do & I am happy to do the work if the fish stay healthy) and the fresh foods only diet.

 

This is the tank I will move them into when they get a bit bigger. They will be sharing it with a school of the Golden form of White Cloud Mountain Minnows. I don't heat any of my tanks because my house never gets below 22 degrees Celsius (that's about 72 degrees Fahrenheit) & White Clouds have an overlapping temperature range with Goldfish.

 

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Anyway I was a bit nervous about posting this here in case I incurred the wrath of someone, but this is not your typical tiny bowl aquarium. It is a good size for these two baby Ranchu and so far they are doing extremely well. A large plant nursery nearby has goldfish and White Clouds sharing a pond and after talking to the owner about this he assured me the goldfish (his are fantails) don't bother the Mountain Minnows and they have completely different diets so there is not competition there either.

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This is the Chinese Book on Chinese Goldfish I mentioned earlier. It does have ceramic bowls in it but the one I was referring to is in the second image:

 

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Not advocating this just having a discussion here...

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I think it's great things are going well for you. That bowl and the scape is beautiful! Fish are nice too of course. I'm so jealous of beautiful clean tanks with well thought out scapes like that.

I have that book and have read it cover to cover. The pictures are great. I also am enjoying The Goldfish Guide by Matsui.

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I like your Goldfish bowl. Its beautfiul.

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i think the bowl the Chinese use has more surface area, here in AU, it's harder to find them like that. some bowls sold mainly for decoration such as floating tee light candles have a bigger surface area.

 

the danger of the less surface area bowl and without filtration or aeration, is the lack of circulation around the wider part of the bowl, trapping and keeping water stagnant/something like that (it's been so long, i forget all the details).

 

but, if you are maintaining healthy water, there is no issue.

 

i had my first 3 inside fish in a bowl without filtration or aeration. i hated how cloudy the water got quite fast (and knew nothing for the nitrogen cycle back then), so every other day they got a 100% wc. so i guess you can always put it down to water quality and fish maintenance. if you're on the ball, then they should continue to thrive until they are ready for their new home.

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Hi Everyone, thank you for your comments. I agree the with the surface area concerns so I just measured the bowl. It is 450mm across and the water surface is 350mm across. This tank is on a book case in my bedroom and I monitor the fish all the time. They swim all around the bowl and never do the hanging around the top for air thing I have read about & seen photos of in books.

 

I originally intended to only use this as a quarantine tank and then move them into the large tank. That is still my plan, I kept Telescope Butterfly Tails last time and nothing seemed to keep them happy. I became a nervous wreck just waiting for the next problem. Perhaps Ranchu are less problematic but what struck me was how well they were going on the constant water changes (which takes about 10 minutes to do & I am happy to do the work if the fish stay healthy) and the fresh foods only diet.

 

This is the tank I will move them into when they get a bit bigger. They will be sharing it with a school of the Golden form of White Cloud Mountain Minnows. I don't heat any of my tanks because my house never gets below 22 degrees Celsius (that's about 72 degrees Fahrenheit) & White Clouds have an overlapping temperature range with Goldfish.

 

92EFAA00-FD16-4186-84C7-FC7CE3FB0C14_zps

 

Anyway I was a bit nervous about posting this here in case I incurred the wrath of someone, but this is not your typical tiny bowl aquarium. It is a good size for these two baby Ranchu and so far they are doing extremely well. A large plant nursery nearby has goldfish and White Clouds sharing a pond and after talking to the owner about this he assured me the goldfish (his are fantails) don't bother the Mountain Minnows and they have completely different diets so there is not competition there either.

 

I have that book too.  The picture of the bowl demonstrates how to siphon.  I doubt the author intended to recommend 4 goldfish in a gallon of water or to imply that they would need only partial water changes. The accompanying text has some interesting comments on summer and winter water changes.  I suspect 20th century Chinese homes rarely had air conditioning.  

 

The bowl, however, resembles in general shape of those used here in the first half of the twentieth century.  You got the goldfish and the bowl in the dime store.  You could chose from orange commons or the old-type, longer-bodied, permanently-black moors.  The instructions that came with the fish said to feed only a tiny pinch of flakes daily and change all of the water every day.  People usually followed the water change instructions for about a month, which gave the bowl time to cycle, then lapsed into maybe one change a week.  It seemed almost everyone had a bowl with 2 goldfish in the living room, and some lasted a decade or more.  However, we considered a goldfish with a standard length of 3 inches gigantic.  By the late 1950s, big 10 gallon tanks with tiny filters became readily available and many people moved their goldfish to them.

 

Hanging at the top for air indicates a fish dying for lack of oxygen.  Sub-optimal oxygen results in a slower growing, less vigorous fish.  Many breeders of fancy goldfish grow out their young fish in water no more than 4" deep, with aeration and 100% water changes and consider the aeration essential.    

 

What size tank do you have pictured?  I like the height.

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I'm glad you've been able to do well with your fish like this. I do huge water changes all the time, buy expensive foods, and have extra filtration etc and I was condescended by someone because of a few losses, half of which weren't even water quality related so I am happy to see someone not conform to the standard rules and keep their fish alive. It looks nice.

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I have that book too, and bought it specifically for the descriptions of traditional Chinese fish keeping.  Also, the Japanese keep Tosakin in a broad bowl, for view from above.  I kept two fish for several years outdoors in a fifty gallon stock tub with no filtration, nor aeration, and they are still with me (but with a sponge filter, and more regular water changes, and better food).

 

The key is understocking, light feeding, frequent (in some cases, daily WC's), and a large surface area. 

 

I currently have one fish in about 15? gallons of water in a big Sterilite tub.  Gengi was not doing well in the cold weather, so I brought him in.  He hates any turbulence, so I turned off his filter/bubbler.  He gets a 3/4 water change (which he also hates) every morning (aged water with Prime and same temps).  Pretty fish, but delicate, and oddly irritable.  I'm more concerned that he is bored and lonley, than I am about his water quality.

 

Good luck with your new fish!

Edited by Distaff

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It's essentially like the bucket to bucket method - just doing daily water changes on a small bowl can work very nicely. It doesn't leave a ton of swimming space but it is certainly not an unheard of method. The water quality is so key and that is one way to maintain it. Bigger tanks with sufficient biological filtration are a way to do it less labor intensively but that doesn't mean plenty of fish keepers haven't done well with the daily changes either. They're just very different methods of achieving the same end.

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The only issues I can see with the white cloud minnows (after quarantine) would be possible predation by large goldies.  I've considered getting some since they are one of the few cold water fishes available the pet trade (not sure why we don't have many others).  Axolotil (spell?, a fully aquatic salamander), and something called a dragon fish are the only other two I've come across that don't call for a heater.  The minnows are the only fish that could be goldfish compatible, based on what I've read.

 

Aside from the electricity use (apparently a heater sized to just ten gallons is 50 watts??), I don't much trust heaters.  Too much on line about them failing and cooking fish, or in The King of DIY's case, blowing up, killing his rays, starting a house fire.  The gal from Inglorious Bettas uses heat tape under many of her little betta tanks - and interesting take off from reptile tub heating.

 

Rachael O'leary (spell?) has a good video on the little white clouds, but last time I checked, they were not on her price list.  I'll get some (for their own tank) eventually.

Edited by Distaff

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Hi Everyone, I am enjoying your feedback and comments.

 

Butterfly I have the book by Dr Matsui but have not looked at it for a very long time. I will reread it again soon. I am feeling very old. I just went to check my bookcase to see if I did own the book: The Goldfish Guide, when I found it I checked what edition I had. It is a 1972 Edition and I bought it new!

 

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Arctic Mama I am very interested in the bucket to bucket method you describe, I thought I had discovered something new. When I did a Google search on the bucket to bucket aquarium method it is well known to saltwater & freshwater aquarium keepers.

 

Distaff, I live in Sydney Australia and we have lots of beautiful fish we keep that do not need heated aquaria. The White Clouds (all three species and the gold form) are all common, as are fish like the beautiful Glowlight Danio (although it was recently banned as an import so I missed out on getting some of these) the other Danios are all common here. Leopard Danio, Pearl Danio & Zebra Danio. The Paradise Fish and the Rice Fish are also available.

 

I wonder if these are popular here because our climate is fairly mild and even some 'tropical' species will survive in a well insulated house on the coast without aquarium heaters?

 

I plan to re-landscape the large aquarium over the Christmas holidays. It has a school of 30 of the Golden Mountain Minnow already and I am not too concerned my tubby little Ranchu, no matter how big they get will ever catch a Golden Mountain Minnow. They are really fast. The goldfish and the Minnows have all gone through quarantine so that wont be an issue when I put the goldfish into the large aquarium. The large aquarium holds 300 litres or 79.25 US gallons. It was built to sit on the antique side board. I wanted it taller but did not want glass bracing across the top (it is an open top tank) and the expert designing the tank for me said I could not go taller without bracing.

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