Goldfish Care – Filters
Goldfish are great for anyone wanting to keep fish, from beginning fish keepers to professionals. These adorable fish come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes to suit almost anyone’s desire. They can live for a very long time, up to 20+ years when properly cared for and can grow quite large (8+ inches in length). To properly care for your goldfish, there are several different things that need to be addressed. But don’t let that scare you. It is actually easy to care for goldfish, they just need some TLC, like any other pet you bring home.
Goldfish make a lot of waste, a lot more than ordinary tropical fish. The ammonia levels from that waste can quickly overwhelm a small tank, especially if it has a poor filtration system. It is recommended to get a large tank, at least 20 gallons for one to two goldfish, and 10 gallons per fish after that. Remember that these are the minimum requirements. Your fish will grow fairly quickly so it is recommended to get a 30 gallon instead.
But just getting a large enough tank is not all. There are a few options to choose from when it comes to filter systems. There is the mechanical filter system, chemical filter system, plant life filter system, and biological filter system. Any one of these systems will work, however, it may be better to use two or more for the best results.
Mechanical filtration systems are those that run on electricity. These usually sit outside of the tank with an intake tube that sets in the water. The motor pulls the water through the tube into the filter and then returns the clean water back to the tank. These systems remove debris, fish waste, excess food and dead matter from the water. Each of these filters typically use a form of chemical filtration system to aid in the process. These are filter cartridges that have active charcoal or zeolite in them and are placed in the mechanical system. They are normally disposable or reusable for a limited time.
There are a few different types of these systems, but the most popular are:
The external box filter that sits on the rear wall of the aquarium. It has an intake tube through which it pulls water into the system and a ‘mouth’ where it spouts the water back into the tank.
A canister filter sits close to the tank or can be hidden from view. It has two water hoses, one that brings the dirty water into the system and the other pushes it out. These types are the recommended for large aquariums, however, they can be a bit pricey.
Plant life filter systems are just using live plants in the tank instead of the plastic ones. These are those plants that are meant to live underwater and provide necessary oxygen while eating the chemicals in the water. One plus side of live plants is they look better in the tank. However, goldfish love to nibble on the leaves so replacing them may be necessary. If using plants, remember they need good lighting to stay healthy. It is also a good idea to have several different types and plenty of them.
Biological filter systems are systems that encourage good bacteria grow. These filters take months to set up in a system as they are beneficial bacteria that develop on their own over time. You can help give them a head start by placing a filter under the gravel in your tank. These filters change harmful toxins into beneficial bacteria and give those bacteria a place to set up and grow. Air hoses are attached to put more oxygen in the water which is good for not only the bacteria, but the fish as well.
The two most common types are:
The under-gravel filter that literally lays underneath the gravel in the tank. It is usually hooked to a hose that pulls the water through it.
An internal sponge filter is a small canister that sits inside the tank. It has a sponge on that outside to trap debris with a filter cartridge on the inside to clean the water.
Most experienced fish keepers suggest using more than one or all of these filter types for the best results. A typical tank will have an under-gravel filter, a mechanical filter with a chemical filter cartridge and several plants. The longer the tank sets, the better the filtering system will become as long as there are consistent partial water changes. A word of caution; when using plant life filters, there is a risk of the plants’ roots becoming entangled in an under gravel filters pockets. A routine check will help to make sure this doesn’t become a problem.