Many a child has had a goldfish as his first pet. Indeed, goldfish used to be given out as prizes at county fairs. Goldfish are relatively easy to care for so they make great pets for kids who are learning to be responsible animal caregivers.
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Pity the common goldfish, as he is usually sold as a "feeder fish" for larger fish. However, if you put a common goldfish in a large tank or pond and care for him, he can grow up to a foot in length if given the chance. These fish come in beautiful colors and patterns and have very slim bodies, making them great swimmers. They are able to live in water that has become a little polluted, so if your child forgets to clean the filter or do a water change, the goldfish will probably be fine.
Comets, often kept in community tanks in the pet stores with common goldfish, are also sometimes sold as lunch for larger fish. This means they are very inexpensive. However, like any other fish, they do require a clean tank and suitable tank mates and decor. Filtration is very important, as all goldfish put out a lot of waste that fouls the water easily. The comet also comes in an array of amazing colors and patterns.
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The shubunkin goldfish is another hardy fish recommended for children. They are always calico and come in a variety of nontraditional colors such as blue and purple as well as shades of gold and orange. They are also good swimmers, good eaters and good for children as long as the tank is kept clean and well maintained.
Fantails are beautiful fish with the graceful, veil-like split tails. Fantail goldfish, Ryukin and black moors are all fantail goldfish types recommended for beginners as they are hardy and don't grow nearly as big as a common goldfish or comet. There are some varieties of fantails not recommended for beginners due to their delicate fins or telescopic eyes, so avoid the bubblehead (also called the lionhead), oranda, veil-tail and celestial fantail types. Fantails come in a variety of gorgeous brilliant colors and patterns, and black moors have scales with shades of silvery-white contrasting with a velvety black body.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.