Comet/Feeder Goldfish Info
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Comet/Feeder Goldfish Factoids

Origin U.S. Fish Farms
Maximum Size Easily 12 inches plus fins
Lifespan Easily 10 years
Temperature Prefers cooler waters
Water Type Very flexible
Breeding Breeds best in spring

LA Pic
"Eaten!  I don't want to be eaten."

LA Pic
Excellent looking menu.  Only 2 or 3 DOAs (turtle food) on top.

Most feeder goldfish (alias comet goldfish) come into this world with one purpose in life -- to be eaten.  (Which pretty much tells the story of all fish life in the wild.)  Feeders that don’t get eaten grow into the comet goldfishes that you see in ponds.  

LA
Comet fins grow longer indoors.  Colors diminish.

Comets.  Actually, comet goldfishes grow very long tails -- thus the comet name.  No one pays too much attention to this nicety anymore.  Tails seem to grow longer on indoor specimens -- often as long as their bodies.  Large comets with short tails nearly always start growing longer fins when brought indoors.  

LA Pic
Outdoor comets look great.

LA Pic
Note breeding bumps on gill cover of this male comet goldfish.

American Fish.  The Chinese and Japanese get credit for inventing the fancy varieties of goldfish.  We Americans get credit for the comet.  We sell them by the ton -- actually many fish farms sell them by the pound, but it adds up to tons.  A slightly fancier calico version called the shubunkin (or poor man’s koi) is just as popular but not as common.  Most of them get shipped overseas.

Good Eaters.  All goldfish start out life as tiny eating machines not much bigger than one of your eyelashes.  Most baby fishes die unless they find small, moving animals (protozoan) that trigger their eating reflexes.  Not so with baby goldfishes.  They are not picky eaters.  They even eat unhatched (but indigestible) brine shrimp eggs. 

Fry Foods.  Because they eat anything, comet goldfish fare well on flake and other prepared foods even at their youngest stages of life.  Just be sure to crumble the fry’s food into dust-fine powder or feed them the special fry food made for egglayers.  This makes goldfish easy to raise.  They are survivors.

Eat Anything.  Baby comet goldfish eat anything small enough to fit in their mouths whether it moves or not.  Other fry eat baby brine shrimp because they can’t resist their twitching, tasty bodies.  Goldfish will even eat the empty eggshells.  You can see the brown shells in their amazingly long (long for a ¼-inch fish) digestive tract.

Best Fry Food.  Naturally, comets fare much better when they eat the actual newly-hatched brine shrimps.  It’s fun to watch them turn orange as their long intestinal tracts fill with tiny shrimps.  

LA
This gal here will throw multiple thousands of eggs.

Big Spawns.  Because comet goldfish are easy to breed and very prolific (one medium-size female may throw 1,000 eggs at a time).  Young goldfish make excellent feeder fish.

LA Pic
Comet goldfish eggs on top of this wood and many more on right side of this wood.

LA Pic
Comet goldfish eggs all over this hornwort.

LA Pic
All of those eggs came from this little girl (three-inch max) chased by six males.

Spring Spawns.   Warmer water triggers comet goldfishes to spawn in the spring (and sometimes in August).  When the temperature rises 15 degrees, they start thrashing around and throwing eggs everywhere.  This explains why they nearly always spawn when you bring outdoor goldfishes inside.  They really can’t help throwing those eggs when they warm up 15 degrees.  

LA
Here's 200 "medium comets" straight from the fish farm.  Look a little crowded?

LA Pic
Out of their bag, they look like this.  Medium comets measure about three inches.

Goldfish Farms.  Out of those huge spawns, goldfish hatcheries rear the babies in outdoor ponds and supply them to retailers year-round.  They raise portions of the spawns under conditions that enable them to control their growth within certain ranges.  Most of the feeders that you get all year long came from those initial spring spawnings.

Early Summer.  Every June we get brownish feeder goldfish from the April hatching.  For a short period these young, off-color feeders are more fragile than their older brothers and sisters you bought in May.  

LA
Several baby goldfish in a four-inch bowl.

Camouflage.  Comet goldfishes start out tiny and tasty.  They grow bigger but still stay tasty.  Bigger critters enjoy eating them at nearly any stage.  Brown goldfishes survive better in the wild because predators can’t see them as well.  They blend into their environment much better than their flashier older brothers and sisters.  Camouflage colors, of course, provide no protection against catfishes at night.  

LA Pic
Sarasa
comet goldfish get even redder than the solid "golds."  Lotsa carotenes here.

Carotenes.  Besides being tasty and easy to catch, comet goldfish contain carotenoids that bring out the reds and oranges in the fishes that eat them.  That’s why oscar keepers buy so many goldfishes.   Well, the carotenes and because they like to watch their oscars eat.

LA Pic
Sorta crowded comet goldfish.

Crowded.  Most feeders are kept in very crowded conditions.  Crowding can stress comet goldfish and enable nasty germs to get a foothold.  It usually won’t hurt a predator fish to eat a sick fish.  Their stomach juices eat up the germs.  However, it could hurt that predator if you dump in several sick fishes that don’t get eaten right away.  Examine your feeders before you feed them out.

Quarantine.  Keep a close eye on your comet goldfish no matter who sells them to you.  Fishes sold by the thousands per week don’t get as well inspected as fishes sold one or two at a time.  Keep them in a separate tank -- not with your oscar you’ve been babying for three years.

Prophylaxis.  Put comet goldfish in two-day old water with one teaspoon of salt per gallon.  Add a water conditioner (We like NovAqua) and a standard ich remedy at half strength for three days.  This adds about 20 cents per tank to their cost.  This is the cheapest fish life insurance you will ever buy.

Add Salt.  Why salt?  Salt decreases the harmful effects of nitrites in the water.  Nitrites are always a problem in new tanks.  Salt also helps comet goldfish build their slime layer (their first defense against diseases) and decreases osmotic pressures.  They need salt -- especially in new tanks.

Ammonia Remover.  New tanks with inadequate filter systems also generate enough ammonia to stress and even kill comet goldfish.  Ammonia comes from the digested food the fishes process and from any uneaten food that spoils on the bottom.  If your feeders look a little wilty, use an ammonia remover before their gills burn out.

Clean Water.  Frequent water changes prevent most comet goldfish problems.  Water changes dilute any toxins or parasites in the water.

Cool Water.  Goldfishes do not need a heater.  We call them “cold water fishes” because they can live under the ice.  You can crowd the heck out of comet goldfish if you keep them in cool water.  It holds more oxygen. Tropical fish cannot stand these temperature extremes.

Test Fish.  People think of small goldfishes as tough as nails.  Not so.  These young comet goldfish are fairly fragile.  So why are they nearly always used as test fish when checking whether a tank will support aquatic life?  Because of their price.  Anyone would rather lose a few econo goldfishes than a dozen African cichlids.  We test our new tanks with larger feeder goldfishes.

Small Bowls.  Goldfishes are tough enough to survive in “goldfish bowls.”  The advantage of bowls over the so-called “executive (with the emphasis on execute) aquariums” is that no one thinks the bowls are aquariums.  Most people realize the limitations of goldfish bowls -- they get dirty fast.  Ditto for those executive aquariums, except that executives don’t realize they are still fish bowls.

Fun Night.  We give hundreds of comet goldfishes away on school fun nights.  Actually, we’ve started giving out “Winner Certificates,” because by the time a nine-year-old kid carries the free goldfish he won around for two hours, the poor fishes lifetime warranty is usually expired.  Certificates give Moms a chance to say “No” and give us a chance to put the winner’s new pet in enough good water to assure its survival.

Size.  Those little two-inch feeder comets could live for up to 10 years and attain a foot in length (plus fins).  When you see huge goldfishes cruising the local golf course, you know where they came from.  They outgrew someones fish bowl or aquarium.  They rarely attain their full size potential when kept in tanks.

LA Pic
Sarasa comets look pretty good.  For some reason,  most goldfish with a red and 
white pattern show much brighter reds.

LA Pic
Goldfish kept outside develop deep, rich colors.

Color.  Indoor goldfishes seldom show the bright reds we see on outdoor specimens.  Why?  They need special foods to bring out their red color -- foods high in carotene.  When kept out in full sunshine, comet goldfish find and eat sufficient algae to color them to the max.  Indoors, they need foods high in spirulina and crustacea or “color foods” to bring out their color potential.

 

More on Color.  The advantage to feeding your feeder goldfish color foods is the way they let you feed the color foods to your predator fish.  When your predator eats the goldfish, he also gets a fair helping of color foods.  This can really brighten up your predators.

Overfeeding.  If you overfeed your feeders, you cause problems.  Solution?  Add some mystery or trapdoor snails.  Snails eat whatever’s on the bottom, no matter how stale.  This means fewer water changes and healthier fish for you.

Plants.  If your tank has access to light, add some plants.  Plants “eat” a good deal of the pollutants your comet goldfish give off -- carbon dioxide and ammonia for starters.  Some people also like to add plants because their goldfish snack on the leaves.

Livebearers.  Moons and guppies make poor tank mates with comet goldfish.  Ditto mollies and swordtails.  They continually pick, pick, pick on their slime layer.  This won’t kill the goldfish but it has to be an irritant to have something chewing on you all day long.  If you work in a big office, you know what we mean.  Livebearers really stress goldfishes.  

LA Pic
At three inches, they're ready to go in outdoor ponds.  They grow fast.

LA Pic
Every fall we get buckets of comets from pond keepers closing down for the winter.

LA Pic
When you get right down to it, goldfish really catch your eye.

LA
Here's one of the feeder goldfish that was born without a tail.  Tough little devils.

Last Words.  We’ve mentioned slime more than once.  Comet goldfish crank out much more slime than other fishes.  You need to wipe your tank front more often with comet goldfish.  Add a Plecostomus to help keep your glass clean. LA.
 

Tommie Eakins, Knoxville, TN, August 31, 2007
Hi, First off, kudos on having such a WONDERFUL website!  I stumbled 
across it while googling possibilities for new fish.  Your attention to detail and incredible amounts of knowledge are a great resource. The creative writing keeps things entertaining and enjoyable. Excellent job!
I just wanted to point out an observation regarding the sentences  "You need to wipe your tank front more often with comet goldfish.  Add a Plecostomus to help keep your glass clean." on the page http://
www.aqualandpetsplus.com/Live%20Food,%20Goldfish.htm

It is well documented (google will reveal many instances) that COMMON 
plecos tend to really enjoy sucking the slime coating off of common  goldfish and comets.  I don't know about Koi, though.  I personally had to remove a 10 inch Pleco from a pair of foot long Comets (indoor) due to this problem.  I kept noticing a scale missing from the comets here and there... could not for the life of me figure out what was going on, but one night as I happened to be passing by the tank a few minutes after lights out, I saw the pleco dart full speed at a comet and drill it in the side, followed by the unmistakable glimmer of two shiny scales floating free.  I got on the magic internet, and sure enough, plenty of people have had the same 
problem.  Apparently, it is the same problem as you described with 
livebearers -- the Pleco really likes the taste of the slime coating on the goldfish.  I don't think they mean any harm, and I never experienced any long-term problems in the comets as a result (the scales grow back in a few weeks to a couple of months), but without action, I'm sure that the goldies would be much more susceptible to illness due to the raw spots on their sides.
In fairness, there are some goldfish/pleco keepers who swear that they've never had a problem, and I don't doubt that, but there certainly are a number of us who have experienced this behavior.
Interestingly, many goldfish owners report that bristlenose plecos and other similar (mainly smaller) species have not shown the same behavior.  Beats me as to why, though.
Just wanted to bring this to your attention!  Hope all is well,

A:  Right you are.  And hungry plecos are even more likely to nail koi.  I'm adding your comments to my comet page.  LA

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