Important Equipment And Tank Requirements To Keep Goldfish

The Goldfish (scientifically known as Carassius Auratus) is a freshwater fish of the Cyprinidae family. It is not common knowledge, but the goldfish comes from the same family as the Koi Carp and the Crucian Carp!

Goldish comes in a variety of sizes, but will commonly grow to about 4 inches (10 cm) in length. However, it is not uncommon for them to grow between 7 and 8 inches (18 to 20 cm) if they are kept in a spacious tank.

Goldfish will commonly live for about 30 years if they are kept in the right conditions. The oldest goldfish lived for more than 43 years!

Can You Keep Goldfish In A Bowl?

Most aquarium hobbyists consider that keeping a goldfish in a bowl is completely unacceptable and cruel. It is a common mistake to think that a goldfish can thrive in a small container, but living in a confined space without a filtration system is very harmful to your health. Due to the rounded sides of the bowl, there is a little surface for oxygen exchange and they are generally dramatically too small to house a goldfish.

Important Equipment To Keep Goldfish

Below is a simple list of the most important things to own if you are planning on keeping fish at home. There are many other things which you can own to help improve the quality of your aquarium but this list is the essentials that are necessary to provide a safe and healthy environment for your fish.


An aquarium of at least 20 gallons is recommended for beginners. However larger aquariums are generally more stable and can obviously accommodate either more goldfish or larger fish. It is important to purchase a specialized goldfish tank rather than a reptile vivarium. Aquariums are designed to hold the weight of the water and will not crack, or break, under the pressure.

Aquarium Gravel

Gravel is the most common substrate used within aquariums. Gravel is course enough to allow water flow while also being fine enough to encourage the growth of nitrifying bacteria. Coarse sands, glass gravel, and Creek Stones are all excellent choices. Avoid limestone and calcium-based substrates as they will not promote healthy bacteria growth.

Aquarium Filter

Your aquarium filter should be rated to turn over at least 3 to 5 times the aquarium’s volume each hour. For small aquariums a Hang-On-Back filter is perfect. We recommend using a tried and tested filter, such as the Marineland Penguin Power Filters, as they are proven to be reliable, easy to use and have a high flow rate.

Replacement Filter

It is important to always have a backup filter in case your main one breaks. If you leave your goldfish in your tank without a working filtration system for too long it will cause them to have severe health problems.


A heater is essential for limiting the chance of your goldfish getting diseases. It also allows for the keeping of tropical fish. There are multiple water heater brands that are reliable and affordable. There should be multiple available in your local pet store or aquarium store.

Water Test Kit

It is very important to have good quality and reliable water test kit. A good quality kit will allow you to test for cycling before introducing goldfish into your aquarium. Your water test kit is also the apparatus that alerts you to toxic aquarium conditions which could potentially harm your fish.

Fish Food

Your goldfish should be fed at least twice a day and it is therefore recommended to purchases your fish food in bulk to lower the cost. Better quality fish food will result in your goldfish having brighter and more colorful scales. We recommend using a mixture of color enhancing flakes, regular pelleted fish food, and frozen fish food to create variety.

Aquarium Vacuum

The vacuum is the most important piece of cleaning maintenance. It will clear faces and debris from the substrate of your aquarium. Removal of debris will help to reduce the nitrates in the water and help to make your goldfish not feel stressed.

There are multiple brands available that come in at multiple different price points. We recommend the ‘Python No Spill Vacuum – despite being relatively expensive it is the most efficient, reliable and least likely to spill water onto your carpet out of all the vacuums we have used.

Fish Net

Fishnets are useful for removing dead plant matter, excess food and for moving your fish. They are an essential part of the transportation process as you should never touch live fish with your bare hands.

Aquarium Glass Scrubber

An aquarium glass scrubber is essential to keep your tank clean. It is a fish friendly cleaning product that helps keep your aquarium looking fresh and aesthetically pleasing.

5-gallon Bucket

A 5-gallon bucket is a useful piece of equipment as you can store your goldfish in it in case of a tank emergency. A large bucket is also essential for transporting fish with spiny fins or fish who have a tendency to bite through fish transportation bags.

Aquarium Decorations

Decorations are a perfect way to improve the aesthetics of your aquarium while also providing your goldfish with an interesting area to explore. Common decorations range from real and fake plants to specifically made underwater objects – such as castles and treasure chests.

There should be a wide range of aquarium decorations available in your local pet store, aquarium store and online.

How To Setup A Goldfish Tank?

Once you have purchased everything on the above checklist it is now time to set up your aquarium. Before setting up your aquarium it is important to place it on a hard flat surface.

If the surface is slightly slanted it can cause your goldfish stress and may end up cracking the aquarium glass due to a buildup in pressure.

If you have a large aquarium (anything over 30 gallons) it is recommended to place your tank on either a sturdy cabinet or the floor to make sure that it is safe and secure.

It is important to place your aquarium near a power socket as extension cables are not desirable for both safety and aesthetic reasons-water and electricity do NOT mix!

NOTE: There will be a separate section talking about filtration systems as it is a complex process.

Cleaning the Substrate

Once you have chosen the location of your tank it is important to choose and clean your substrate. Most people opt for some form of gravel to line the bottom of their aquariums.

It is essential that you wash your substrate before putting it into the tank. To clean your substrate place it into a bucket and spray it with a high powered hose. Once the bucket is filled clean the substrate by vigorously moving your hands through the bucket in a circular motion.

After a few minutes remove the dirty water from the bucket while leaving the substrate at the bottom of the bucket. Repeat this process at least four more times or until the water is visibly clearer.

Some substrates may leave the water slightly cloudy but this is nothing to worry about as the cloudiness will naturally settle in your tank over time.

The cleaning process is essential to remove dust, bacteria and any potential parasites that may have found their way into the substrate during the storage process.

Placing the Substrate

Once the substrate is clean it is time to use it to line your aquarium. Gently place the cleaned substrate into the bottom of the tank. It is important to line the tank slowly and gently to avoid cracking the glass.

It is recommended to use a small scoop to speed up the process. Once you have lined the aquarium it is important to smooth the substrate into about a half-inch flat-lining.

Filling the Aquarium with Water

It is recommended to fill your aquarium with a hose pipe – filling an aquarium with buckets is a slow process but is possible if there is not a tap nearby. After the tank is fully using a water de-chlorinator.

Although there are no fish currently in the tank, chlorine and chloramines can build up over time.

It is recommended to purchase a high-quality de-chlorinator as you will need to use it after every water change.

Important Requirements For Goldfish Tank

Heating and Lighting

It is considered best practice to have two heaters in your aquarium. It is important to purchase heaters that will comfortably fit into your tank and not take up too much of the swimming space.

Higher wattage heaters are better due to the fact that they save power and will put less stress on the heating system. Once you have chosen your heaters you should stick them to the glass inside your aquarium.

It is important to place your heaters in a place that has a good water flow to help spread the warmer water throughout the tank. You should heat your tank to between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 24 degrees Celsius).

Most heaters will display an orange light when they are on and working. Lights are normally placed above or behind the tank.

It is important to purchases lighting that has a timer. Aquariums should not be directly lit for more than 8 hours a day.

Filter For goldfish Aquarium

The purpose of the filter is to remove excess food, dangerous chemicals, decaying organic matter, feces, and any other unwanted floating particles.

Fish excrete waste constantly as they swim around in the water. If this waste is not removed quickly and efficiently, the toxins that the fish are excreting will build up to a high concentration which may cause the fish to poison themselves.

Filters are also a great way to keep your tank looking clean and to keep the water clear and cloudless. It is vitally important to the health of your goldfish to provide them with a sufficient filtration system.

There are three main types of filtration systems used in aquariums which will be discussed below. It is recommended to have multiple different types of filters within your aquarium as it will provide the best results and will provide a failsafe filtration system if one breaks down or stops functioning as desired.

Biological Filtration

Biological filtration involves bacteria, microorganisms, and fungi converting the waste your goldfish produce into less toxic substances.

As previously mentioned your fish excrete waste constantly as they swim and this waste, if not removed, will become poisonous to your fish. A biological filter will convert the ammonia in the waste into nitrite, and then the nitrite into nitrate.

Nitrate is dramatically less harmful than anomia and nitrite. However, nitrate does have some harmful side effects such as causing a loss of appetite, eye problems and kidney failures in your goldfish.

Biological filtration is established during the cycling process (there will be an in-depth section on cycling following this one). Biological filtration is necessary for every aquarium but should be accompanied by either mechanical or chemical filtration.

Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical filtration is the process of removing physical waste and unwanted particles. Mechanical filtration works by forcing the water to pass through a strainer.

The strainer will not allow unwanted particles to pass through it. The most common materials used for strainers are a sponge, filter floss, special filter pads, and even aquarium gravel.

The finer the material used for the strainer the smaller the particles that can be caught. However finer materials will need to be rinsed and replaced more often due to the fact that they will get plugged and dirtied at a faster rate.

Many mechanical filters will use a mixture of fine and coarse materials to create their strainers and to provide the optimal balance between water cleaning and filter maintenance.

It is important to clean your filter on a regular basis as it will help to optimize the filtration process. Leaving a dirty filter plugged in will prevent sufficient water flow and may even force water to flow around the filter itself.

Chemical Filtration

Chemical filtration is provided by either carbon or chemical resins. The resins extract toxins from the water in a similar way to a biological filter but are much more aggressive and effective.

Chemical filters are extremely efficient until they are saturated with toxins – once they are saturated they provide no filtration and will, therefore, need to be changed as soon as possible.

Typically 1 square inch of carbon can provide filtration to 2 gallons of water. It is important that your water flow allows for the entire tanks volume to pass through the carbon filter at least every 2 hours or it will not be sufficiently filtered.

Problems with Chemical Filtration

Chemical filtration has a few problems which make it not advisable for beginner fish keepers. If you use water that is has a high amount of minerals or chemicals in it this will vastly increase the rate in which your chemical filter becomes saturated.

Adding fish food, minerals, trace elements, having an overcrowded tank or having insufficient water changes can also quickly over saturate your filter.

If your filter becomes overly saturated and does not get changed, it can start to release the toxins back into the water which negates its previous filtration.

Tankmates for goldfish

Goldfish are peaceful fish and should be kept with fish of a similar size and temperament. They live in waters slightly colder than average and this must be taken into account when choosing Tankmates. We recommend keeping them with the following fishes in a community tank.

  • Loaches
  • White Cloud Mountain
  • Minnows 
  • Rubbernose Plecos
  • Rosy Barbs 
  • Zebra Danios •
  • Red Cherry Shrimp

Plants For Goldfish Tank

Adding living plants to your goldfish aquarium is a great way to make your tank look more aesthetically pleasing. Living plants also help with balancing out your tanks’ water chemistry.

There are hundreds of different types of plants that you can add to your tank. It is normally a good idea to stick to one type of plant as it allows them to thrive most efficiently.

Recommended plants for goldfish tank are: Amazon Sword, Java Fern, Java Moss, Water Sprite, and Vallisneria Spiralis

There are three important variables to get right when using living plants in your tank: lighting, nutrients and carbon dioxide.


Lighting is arguably the most important factor when it comes to growing and keeping plants. Sunlight is responsible for the growth of plants and it is therefore important to replicate this with a bright fixture. It is recommended to have between 1-2 watts per gallon of lighting. For example, if your tank is 30 gallons, you would want between 30 and 60 watts of light.


Aquatic plants require trace elements and vitamins that do not naturally exist in your tank due to the fact that your aquarium is a closed system.

There are two ways to supply your plants with the nutrients they need. Firstly, a nutrient substrate or gravel can be used – these can be purchased from any large pet store or aquarium store.

The second way to give your plants nutrients is to add liquid additives. These liquids contain iron, magnesium, potassium and other elements that plants need. It is recommended to use both methods to optimize the trace elements in your tank.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Carbon dioxide is a major factor that affects the growth rate and overall health of plants. On land, plants utilize carbon dioxide in the air. Aquatic plants absorb carbon dioxide through the water.

The most effective way to provide your aquatic plants with CO2 is with a large CO2 canister, hollow tubing, and a glass diffuser. However, this set up is very expensive and is therefore not recommended for beginners.

A more affordable option is to use a liquid form of carbon, such as ‘Flourish Excel’ made by Seachem, as it can easily be absorbed by the plants.

The Planting Process

Planting your aquarium is an important process and you should take some time deciding where you wish to place each plant. It is also important to plan how you expect the plant to grow over the next few months and how it will end up looking.

During the planting process, you also need to consider where you will place any other decorations (such as interesting rocks, driftwood and plastic aquarium decorations).

The following sub-sections will outline the best planting practices for each of the most commonly used plant types for Goldfish tank:

  • Stem Plants
  • Anubias and Ferns 
  • Moss
  • Hair Grass
  • Potted Plants

Stem Plants

Stem plants normally come with a wire around their base which holds the stems together. When planting a stem plant you must first remove this wire and carefully separate each stem. 

Stem plants can be planted in a large bunch or separated – it depends on what you personally find most appealing.

Stem plants quickly grow so do not be worried if they do not completely cover the areas where you plant them. Stem plants also allow for you to propagate them by using the tops of the plants.

Due to their large size stem plants are a great way to hide your filter and heating system. To plant you should push the stems about an inch or two into the substrate. It will not take long for stem plants to establish a strong root system.

Anubias and Ferns

Anubais and fern plants will need to be attached to either submerged rocks or wood within your aquarium as this is how they grow in nature.

It is considered best practice to wedge these plants between rocks or tie them in place as they have a tendency to become uprooted and float away. If you are choosing to tie your plants in place we recommend using either cotton thread or fishing wire as they will not break or release harmful toxins into the water.

Cotton thread is probably a better choice as it does not have the potential to restrict the plant’s growth.


Moss should be placed onto the rocks and wood within your aquarium. Moss is a very popular choice for beginner aquatic plant keepers due to its hardy nature and the way it sways in the water.

Moss has an increased growth rate the closer it is placed to the surface of the water and it is, therefore, important to plan where you will place it. You should tie your moss, using cotton thread or fish wire, to the desired area in a similar way to how you tie Anubais plants.

It is also possible to plant moss by placing a carbon filter on top of it to secure it in place. By the time the carbon filter because overly saturated the moss should have taken root in the desired location.

Hair Grass

Hair grass is a relatively cheap aquatic plant and is, therefore, a common choice for people to use in their aquariums. It can thrive in lower light and is relatively hardy which again adds to its popularity.

Hair grass grows along the bottom of your aquarium in a similar fashion to grass found on land. When planting hair grass it is important to minimize your handling of its roots as they are very fragile.

Plant each stem about half an inch into the substrate and about half an inch away from the others to allow for each stem to properly grow and spread – hair grass will spread naturally and densely.

Potted Plants

Potted plants will generally come in small clay, or plastic, pots with cotton thread to protect their root structure. It is important to remove the cotton thread and the plant from its pot before attempting to plant.

Once removed from the pot it is considered best practice to dig a small hole in the substrate for your plant’s root system. Once in the hole, you should carefully cover the roots. It will not take long for the roots to become fixed in place and for your plant to start growing.