Unfortunately, many new goldie owners are led to believe that goldfish live happily in bowls – and this couldn’t be further from the truth!
A goldfish that lives a whopping four months in a bowl didn’t even come close to its full life expectancy, yet most people think that’s normal and just keep replacing Bubbles.
There are many different types of goldfish, and every single one of them will outgrow a bowl – in fact, most of them will even outgrow a 20 gallon aquarium as well. For the purpose of this discussion, we’re going to group goldfish into two categories – fancy and single-tailed.
The fancies have a double tail and a very round, egg-shaped body that can grow as large as a softball. Single-tailed goldies are a very stream-lined fish that can grow up to a foot in length, and sometimes over! An example of a fancy goldfish is an Oranda, and by single-tail we are referring to breeds like Comets and Shubunkins.
But I’ve Always Kept Goldfish In a Bowl?
There are many reasons why your new goldfish can’t live its life in the confines of a glass bowl. Here are some of the most important ones.
1. Goldfish are very messy fish in general.
If you were to keep a baby goldfish in a bowl, you would be doing multiple water changes per day in an effort to keep the water quality pristine. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the time to dedicate to such an endeavor.
Goldfish are not only very messy when they eat but they are also constantly grazing which leads to quite a bit of fish waste throughout the day. It’s hard enough to keep the ammonia levels from breaching deadly toxicity in an adequately sized fish tank – imagine how much more work a bowl is going to be.
2. Goldfish grow very large, very quickly.
Goldfish don’t stay small for very long, and as they grow that tiny bowl won’t be enough room for them to comfortably turn around in. Expecting a goldfish live in a bowl is similar to buying a dog crate with your Chihuahua in mind, and then deciding that you’d rather put a Great Dane in it.
3. Goldfish need oxygen and plenty of it.
Goldfish rely heavily on well-oxygenated water to function properly. A bowl just cannot provide this for them. Once you place them in an environment where the oxygen is limited they will begin gasping at the surface and showing signs of distress.
The surface area is a large factor in aerating the water – a bowl does not provide a very long or wide surface and thus does not have good potential for aeration. Just remember, the bubbles from your air stone do not magically put oxygen into the water – the disturbance at the surface of the water does.
4. Goldfish need a good filter, it’s not an option.
Because they excrete so much ammonia throughout the day a goldfish needs a good filter that can remove the waste from the water. A good filter should be able to filter at least twice the amount of water you have in the tank, and it should provide all of the three types of filtration – biological, mechanical and chemical. It would be impossible to find a filter that meets these requirements and still fits on the side of a fish bowl.
Some Final Considerations About Having Goldfish Live in Bowls
Aside from the above reasons, keeping a goldfish in a fish bowl is just cruel. You wouldn’t subject any other kind of pet to this kind of inhumane abuse, so why would you be willing to let a goldfish live in an environment that forces it to swim around in its own waste?
Provided that it receives good care, that tiny goldfish has the potential to live a couple decades. They may not be able to come out of the water and sit on your lap or kiss your face, but they do recognize their owners. If you aren’t willing to commit to the level of care that a goldfish requires then you should probably consider a different type of pet that doesn’t require as much space and maintenance.
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