What do I need for goldfish?


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Goldfish have a number of requirements - and a traditional goldfish bowl isn't one of them! Here are some of the things you'll need on your shopping list.


You need a decent-sized tank for keeping goldfish adequately. We’d recommend something around 90cm/36” as a minimum, although most dealers and manufacturers will try to sell you a smaller one. If this is too big or expensive, then go for a 60cm/24” tropical tank. Tropicals are almost as easy as coldwater fish, you’ll have a greater selection to choose from and they tend to be a little less messy.

The cheapest route is to buy an off-the-shelf aquarium kit. You should be able to get the aquarium, lighting, filtration and heating for £125-150, so you can upgrade to tropicals later.


A kit tank should come with a decent internal filter. If it doesn’t, go for a largish internal model, maybe even one rated for a slightly larger tank, as goldfish can grow large and produce much waste. Alternatively, splash out on a more professional external model which will hold more media and could give better results.

If the filter does not come with the kit expect to pay £30-70 depending on size and type you need.

Plants and décor

Goldfish can nibble plants, so if you want some foliage either get some tough species, such as Java fern or Anubias, or go for artificial ones. Add whatever décor takes your fancy, but the substrate should ideally be fine grit, very small rounded gravel or even sand, as goldfish like to dig in the bottom for morsels of food. Smooth boulders and bits of bogwood can look good.

Expect to pay anywhere from £15-40, depending on what you want to add.

Test kits and other bits

You’ll also need test kits to test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH, as well as a dechlorinator and something to start up your filter. The whole lot should set you back about £15-25, but you might get some thrown in free if you get an off-the-shelf number.

This item was first published in the October 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.