I got a Goldfish from a fair...

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Common Goldfish

How often do you still hear this phrase uttered by friends and family, or just on the internet? You would think, in this day and age, giving animals away as prizes would be outlawed BUT this is still a very very common occurance.

So are you one of these people who has wound up with a Goldfish from a fair? This little article will hopefully guide you into the proper requirements for this fish.

What do I do with it?

So you have your Goldfish, most likely you have it in a small container of water such as a bowl, vase or plastic tank yes?

Sadly this is COMPLETELY unsuitable and no doubt will come as quite a culture shock. The fishkeeping world has moved on in leaps and bounds since the "fish bowl" myth was concocted. Keeping your Goldfish in a small unfiltered bowl will lead to its very early death and there is no way to keep them healthy in such a container.

I don't have time for an aquarium

If you don't have the money, space, time or inclination to keep this fish you may have a problem. Rehoming Goldfish is difficult! Pet stores are very very unlikely to take them. Your best bet would be to pick up a large plastic storage box, a 60-80 Litres (15.9-21.1US G.) one will do with either a filter or an air stone and regular partial water changes, you will need dechlorinator too. And then try and find a friend or relative with an established Goldfish pond, that would be the best route for this fish!

Please note it is illegal and potentially damaging to release these fish into public waterways.

But I want to keep it!

If you want to keep this Goldfish you need to find some cash and start finding new housing asap. The storage box mini-pond mentioned above would be better than any bowl or small tank for the time being.

No doubt you've found yourself with a Common Goldfish or Comet Goldfish. These are very large pond fish, easily getting over 25.4cm (10") excluding the tail. To keep them in a tank you need something over 200 Litres (52.8US G.) just for one with a canister filter rated for DOUBLE the volume. This won't come cheap but you can find bargains second hand on freelistings and auction sites.

Long term they would be happier in established fish ponds though. Goldfish need ponds over 2271 Litres (600 US G.), that's larger than a lot of these "patio" ponds you see sold so don't fall for that! If you plan to upgrade to a pond, do lots of research on pond keeping to get it right.

These are big and long living fish, you could have this fish for over 15 years, the oldest on record were in their 40s.

But why would they give away a fish if it was difficult?

Because people still play the games and win them. If you don't like the practice of animals as prizes, boycott these games and encourage friends and family to do the same! Once the stall holders stop making money out of it, they'll stop doing it.

The fish that remain and aren't won are "disposed of", they have short miserable lives and are unlikely to be taken with the fair folk when they leave. There have been stories of them thrown away in drains, even poured down nearby rabbit warrens! But don't feel that playing the game is "rescuing" these fish, if you partake, the game will continue.

Other species have been known to be given away as prizes, including Fancy Goldfish, Rosy Reds and maybe even Betta splendens. Common Goldfish are the most likely victims however, as they are cheapest to buy from wholesalers.

If you have any queries about keeping your prize, please check out all our fish care articles on this site, you can also leave comments on the "discussion" tab above.