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Is a Goldfish the Right Pet for You?

Is a Goldfish the Right Pet for You?

By: Meredith Clawson

Goldfish have captivated the interest of humans for thousands of years. Their grace in swimming through the water as though flying through the air, their unique and friendly personalities, and their endless variety of color and shape variations are just some of the reasons why so many people fancy the idea of owning one of these beautiful creatures for themselves.

However, when most people picture having a goldfish in their home, it is often the scenario of a few low-maintenance, two inch long fish swimming around happily in a small glass jar or bowl, neatly decorating the corner of a room on a table or dresser and providing a good subject for conversation. Unfortunately, such a setup is far removed from the ideal home for even one goldfish, which almost always ends up meeting its end long before it should due to the terrible conditions it must endure, unbeknownst to the average helpless (and unfortunately rather clueless) but sympathetic owner. This tragic stereotype is only the first of an onslaught of woefully inaccurate and even dangerous fallacies that plague the minds of would-be hobbyists across the country and even around the world.

Can goldfish make good pets? Certainly. Fish of all sorts can be wonderful pets and goldfish can even outlive the family dog twice over. They can provide years of enjoyment and entertainment – even companionship – to anyone willing to care for them. The bigger question becomes, are you equipped to take care of one? Because, all too often goldfish become what owners regard as “terrible pets;” animals that die quickly and for no apparent reason, or become much more work than what was initially anticipated and a strain on their lifestyle. Most people have no idea that their twelve cent feeder fish from the pet store is intended to grow to be over a foot long and may even be happiest in a pond. Other fancier varieties still grow to be much larger than expected and require proper space (NOT a small glass bowl, or any bowl really – they need a full size tank) and living conditions.

Surprisingly, not all of the negative stigmas about goldfish have come from irresponsibility on the part of the owner. Chain pet stores often sell goldfish that are stressed from constant shipping and transportation, as well as loaded with disease from exposure to so many other fish. This can cause them to come down with illness and even die even if the pet owner is doing everything within their power to take proper care of their fish. By getting goldfish from a breeder directly, that can eliminate a lot of the issues that first time goldfish keepers encounter, as well as avoid sponsoring establishments that treat fish only as merchandise rather than living beings. The sad truth is they themselves do not understand how to educate beginners on what they should be doing.

So before jumping on the goldfish bandwagon, it’s important to know what you are getting yourself into, and what will be expected of you, the caretaker. Goldfish do not come without a level of responsibility, and it isn’t just to make sure they get fed every day. In fact, most goldfish owners end up over feeding their pets and causing lots of problems for their pet’s welfare. It is very likely that over feeding is the main reason why the lifespan of a goldfish is cut short.

A good foundation of knowledge is the place to start if you are serious about wanting to keep goldfish as pets. This website and others like it are good places to get started if you want to learn the basics of goldfish. Beware that there is lots of misinformation everywhere – online and even in goldfish books, so you will only want to read material that is accurate, science-based and not based around misunderstandings.

It is important to have the following at your disposal before getting a goldfish:

If you couldn’t agree to any of the above statements, you may be better off with a pet that is lower-maintenance or even not owning a pet at all. However, if you are capable of providing these things and truly want the best for your pet, you are on your way to becoming a happy and successful owner.

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