When it comes to pets for the classroom, a goldfish might seem a bit boring to some. But goldfish actually make wonderful class pets. They are inexpensive, simple to care for, aren’t messy, don’t make distracting noises and will not cause allergic reactions in students.
When most people think of goldfish, they think of a small – to medium-sized golden orange fish. But goldfish actually come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They have been selectively bred in China for hundreds of years, and in the United States since the 1800s. This has resulted in lots of beautiful varieties in practically every color of the rainbow. While most goldfish are small enough to fit in a bowl or small tank, some have been known to grow over a foot long!
Children enjoy watching and feeding goldfish, and they can be quite educational. You can show the students how fish use their gills and mouths to breathe underwater and point out other aspects of fish anatomy. You can let them move their fingers around the glass and watch how the fish reacts. You can also use the class fish to start a discussion about cold-blooded animals and how they are different from warm-blooded animals.
Goldfish do just fine by themselves, but they are docile enough to be kept in pairs and groups if desired. However, if you plan to house them in an aquarium with other species, make sure that the other species are as friendly. Some fish will fight with or even eat other fish, and that’s probably not a lesson you want to teach in your classroom!
Caring for a class goldfish is quite simple. It may be kept in a bowl, but will be healthier and happier in a small tank with a filtration system. Snails may be kept in the tank to help keep it clean. The fish should be fed daily, with care taken not to overfeed. Automatic fish feeders may be used over the weekend. One-third of the water should be changed each week, and water conditioner is recommended.
While they generally make great pets for the classroom, goldfish do come with some disadvantages. One of the most important is that they tend to have a short lifespan. If the class fish dies in the middle of the year, you’ll have to deal with lots of disappointed and grieving students. However, since goldfish are so inexpensive, they can easily be replaced. It can also be tempting for students to place their hands or other objects in the water, which can be bad for the fish. It may be wise to keep the fish out of reach when it is not being used for a lesson.
A goldfish is an unobtrusive pet that provides lots of learning opportunities. As long as you have the time to keep the tank clean, it should make a wonderful addition to your classroom.
The Featured Pet of the Week is: The Common Goldfish!
Goldfish are well known fish that are great pets because they are very attractive, have great personalities with their keepers, and are “easy” to keep. This is definitely true, and for this reason the common goldfish, Carassius auratus auratus, is actually a great fish for beginners. Working in a pet store for a number of years, I have had my fair share of caring for goldfish as well as many other fish and animals.
When people would come into the pet store to get goldfish they generally wanted them for one of two purposes, as feeder fish or as pets. Goldfish are often a first pet for children. They are a fun, yet a fairly inexpensive introduction to the world of fish keeping, and pet keeping in general. I would then help them get all set up for their goldfish with an aquarium set-up, food and a care sheet.
Goldfish are quite colorful and can easily be found at almost any pet store. Common goldfish are inexpensive and make a great starter fish. They will eat almost any type of fish food offered to them and get along well with most other community fish. Though they are sometimes put in a goldfish bowl or a smaller aquarium when they are young, they do grow into large fish so will soon need a much larger aquarium. Goldfish can also do well in ponds. This is because they are naturally cold-water fish and don’t need to have strict temperature control like many tropical fish do. Common goldfish will also usually fare well with other pond fish, such as koi.
Goldfish are considered hardy and can survive in many conditions, but they must be provided with a good environment. The Common Goldfish can get quite large, over 12 inches when they are kept in large enough aquariums or ponds and in optimum conditions. Optimal conditions for goldfish are dependent on a lot of oxygen in the water, and good water quality. A habitat that is not optimal can not only stunt their growth, but will also decrease their lifespan. Small goldfish bowls or fish tanks that are too small will not provide optimum conditions and your pets won’t reach their potential full size.
Provide the best environment by keeping pet goldfish in a good-sized aquarium with a heater, proper filtration for good water quality, and other social fish as tank mates. This will keep them healthy for the duration of their lives. Of course, the more fish you plan to keep in your aquarium, the larger you will want it to be.
Goldfish need a lot of oxygen, so you will want to get a tank with a lot of surface area. Surface area helps to increase the amount of oxygen in the tank. Also, goldfish produce a lot of waste (in comparison to other fish), so you will want more water volume per fish to help keep it cleaner. It is recommended to start with at least a 20-gallon tank for your first goldfish, and then to increase it an additional 10 gallons for every additional goldfish. The general rule is that you should provide a minimum of 1 gallon of water for every 1 inch of fish length. But as the goldfish become larger, this rule doesn’t apply as well because larger fish consume more oxygen and produce even more waste.
Goldfish are very social creatures and thrive when living with other fish. Therefore, they do very well with other goldfish and a variety of community fish. They act as scavengers as well, and so if kept in a community tank, there is little need for other scavengers or bottom feeders. One thing to keep watch out for is to make sure they do not have any diseases – such as ich or parasites. Whenever adding new fish to an aquarium, watch for any signs of a problem and treat the aquarium accordingly.
In conclusion, if you would like to get a fish that is easy to care for and hardy, starting with goldfish may be the way to go! To learn more, visit the Common Goldfish page!