Pet World Visit
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.
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.
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.
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.
They even eat unhatched (but indigestible) brine shrimp eggs.
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
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)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Well, the carotenes and because they like to watch their oscars eat.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Frequent water changes prevent most comet goldfish problems.
Water changes dilute any toxins or parasites in the 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
People think of small goldfishes as tough as nails.
Not so. These young comet
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.
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.
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.
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 someone’s
fish bowl or aquarium. They rarely attain their full size potential
when kept in tanks.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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://
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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