How To Keep Your Goldfish Alive For 15 Years

The longest-living goldfishon record was 43 years old. But chances are your goldfishdidn't even live a quarter that long. In fact, most goldfish don't survivepast their fifth birthday, and that's a major problemsince they're supposed to live forabout as long as your cat. So why are goldfish dying so young? The usual culprit behind your goldfish's untimely demiseis, well, poop. You see, goldfish waste contains toxins like ammoniathat can burn gills and even damage the brain. In the wild, this isn't a problem. 
How To Keep Your Goldfish Alive For 15 Years
Freshwater lakes and ponds are home to armiesof bacteria that break it downinto less harmful chemicals. But in your home tank,there's no bacteria to be found. You have to introduce it, and that's where a lotof goldfish owners slip up because you can'tjust buy a fish the same day you get your tank. The process of growing bacteria takes patience. First, you'll need to remove chlorinefrom your tank water using a conditioner.

Chlorinated tap water is fine for you to drinksince it kills off germs, but it's not so greatfor the bacteria you want to cultivate. Once you've created a safe space for the bacteria to grow,they'll come from all over: the air,the outside of the tank, and any rocksor plants you stick in the tank for decoration. You can also buy commercially sold bacteria culturesgrown in labs.  After that, all they need is dinner. Fish food will do. As the food breaks down, it releases ammoniafor the bacteria to eat, and finally, you wait for a while. Depending on how much bacteria you start with,the process can take about two months. That's right, two months. But then there should be enough bacteria.

You can double-check with a simple water test kit. But here's the thing, all the bacteria in the worldwon't keep your fish alive if the tank is too small. You see, as these bacteria gobble up goldfish poop,they produce some waste of their own, and if it's not sufficiently diluted,it can kill your goldfish. A dinky, single-gallon bowl is much too small,and even the 10-gallon tank you seein every pet store won't cut it. A single adult goldfish needs at least twicethat much water to thrive.

That's almost 40 kilograms of water,2000 times heavier than your goldfish,and even with a huge tank, you'll still needto replace about 30% of the water every two weeksbecause besides poop, goldfish release hormonesand pheromones into their environment, which, if left unchecked, can stunt their growth. That might help explain why goldfishin healthy environments can reach the sizeof an American football, while your last goldfishwasn't much bigger than your index finger.

Once you have a big, detoxified tank,Goldie just needs one more thing: your attention. Because you're not swimming in the tank with her,it's hard to notice if something's wrong with, say,the water quality.  So oftentimes new goldfish ownersdon't realize anything's amiss until it's too late,and common diseases like fin rot, white spot disease,and fungal infections have already taken hold. So it's a good idea to pay careful attentionto how the water looks and smells,and anyway, spending time with your goldfish willbe worth it since you can teach Goldieto swim through hoops and eat from your hand.