Animal Care

Pet Fish Care

GoldfishThe Right Pet for You?

Goldfish are one of the most popular household pets in Ireland.  It’s very simple to take care of one, and, although they don’t require that much space; as beautiful, living creatures, they certainly require love, care, attention and a healthy living environment.

That said, fish are also like people – they don’t all get along together and may not all tolerate the same living environment. So, do make sure you choose compatible fish that can live happily in the same water temperature and conditions.  Here at the DSPCA, we’d recommend three small fish or one or two medium sized ones per a 20 gallon aquarium.

So, who’d have thought there’d be so many different types of goldfish?

There are many types of goldfish, in fact, too many to go into so we’ve compiled a little selection for you to check out.  If you’d like more info on different species, check out

The Common goldfish: This is a beautiful golden, orangey coloured fish.  He lives in aquariums, ponds and pools.

The CometHe’s high in a gold colour, with a long, slender body and has long tail fins.  He doesn’t possess the extra pair of tail fins but what he does have is a sense of fun and this makes him a charming addition to the fish tank; especially as he is quite sociable and will get on with other fish. 

The Black Moor: Obviously, he’s black in colour and, although some fish can change colour, this guy loves his uniqueness.  His most distinguishing feature is his protruding eyes that go sideways; however, this means he has a hard time seeing things and is partially blind; because of this he prefers to eat his food when it’s sunk to the bottom of the tank, where it’s easier for him to see it.  He enjoys munching on aquatic plants and zucchini, peas and spinach.  If you’re considering a Black Moor as a pet then please keep him with other species of goldfish with similar sight impairments so they all have an equal chance of finding their food.

The Bubble Eye: A very strange looking fish with fluid sacs under his eyes; hence his name. Due to the weight of the sacs, this goldfish is a slow swimmer and likes to swim close to the bottom of the tank. To make sure he receives his fair share of food, he should be kept with similar, slower, fish.

The Celestial Eye: This is a unique, fancy fish with a double tail fin, but without a dorsal fin.  His most unique feature is his eyes which are large and protruding, sort of like, er, fried eggs that gaze upwards. 

So, let’s talk tanks. Does size really matter? If you’re a fish, the answer is yes it does…

Let’s face it, big is beautiful and your fish needs plenty of space to swim, explore and have fun.  So, Supersize him!

We at the DSPCA recommend a 20 gallon tank for your finned friend. Now it may seem like a small bowl will be easier to clean but take our word for it, a large tank complete with a filter is so much easier and your fish will love you for it.

The Set Up – What do I do?

Preparation is everything.  Set up your tank before you bring your fish home. It’s important to allow it to settle before adding the occupant.

First, fill the tank with clean tap water and test the pH.  You can purchase a kit from your pet shop.  Tip! Most fish thrive well in a pH balance of (7); but some do well in a more acidic water environment or in basic water – if in doubt, consult your local pet shop.  Allow the new tank to sit and settle for at least a week prior to adding your fish.  Now this does two things – firstly, it will allow the water time to settle and for impurities to dissipate; secondly, it gives you time to make sure everything works properly.  Before you pop your gravel into the tank, rinse it thoroughly to make sure it’s clean.  Add one pound of gravel per gallon of water.

Where’s the best place to set up my tank?

Set it up against an inside wall and away from direct sunlight, open doors and windows.  You don’t want to have it near drafts because the water temperature must stay constant.  Purchasing a tank thermometer is a good way of keeping track of the temperature.


Ah yes, fish love to accessorize.  We’ve already discussed gravel above, but why not provide a light for your fish?  It’s nice for him to have a fluorescent light in his little home and it makes a nice feature for you to look at and admire too.  However, we recommend you have the light on for 12 hour intervals; that means have it switched on for half the day and off for the other half.

Some fish are jumpers!  Keep a hood or a canopy over the tank because you need to make sure your finned friend stays safe and sound inside the tank.  Tip! Especially important if you have a cat in the house.

Give him a little hiding place; fish love to play hide and seek, so get some plastic sea plants or a little ceramic sea castle for Nemo to explore and hide behind.

Do I need a Filter?

Yes! Without it, fish waste can poison the water in your tank so invest in a high quality filtration system.  When choosing one, make sure it’s sized for your tank or buy one rated for a larger tank.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Feeding Nemo?

While he doesn’t require a complex diet, your fish does need to be fed the correct food and at the correct times in order to maintain his health.  So, below are a few DSPCA tips on feeding Nemo,

  • Do the appropriate research for the type of fish in your tank.  Ask an expert pet food supply store for information.
  • Fish food often comes in pellet or flake form but other items such as bloodworms and brine shrimp can also be part of a balanced diet for your fish. 
  • Some fish like to munch on leafy green snacks like spinach and lettuce.

How much food do I give my Fish?

In general, you should feed your fish only the amount of food he will consume in a minute or two.  Add the food to the water by the pinch full and do this once a day.  Remove excess food every day to prevent polluting his water.

What do I do when I go on holiday?

Get an automatic feeder from your pet store.  These will dispense food at designated intervals. This does two things.  It makes sure your fish is fed and it makes sure food is not wasted; this means the water stays clean and clear.

Slow release tablets are also an option, but may release too much food and this is not good for your fish’s health or the cleanliness of his water.  Check with your pet store or your local vet.

Clean ‘n’ Clear

Always remove uneaten food with a net and please try and do this daily.  If the water is cloudy, it’s time to change the filter.  Use a filtered siphon – available from pet stores – to change twenty per cent of the water every ten days.  Take out several gallons of water from the tank and replace it with clean, pre-aged water every week to remove the chemical build up that your filter leaves behind.  Test the water quality with a kit and scrape away any algae build up.

For more information ask your vet or local pet supply store or call us at the DSPCA at  01-4994700 or email or


Back to top |