How to Tell if Your Goldfish Is Healthy & Happy

Goldfish do best when kept in a tank that meets their specific requirements.

Goldfish do best when kept in a tank that meets their specific requirements.

Although goldfish are often seen as a first-timers' ideal fish (they're plentiful in pet stores and even supermarkets), they're not necessarily as easy to care for as you might believe. Learning your goldfish's needs and the signs of distress or disease will help you keep your goldfish healthy and happy.

Things to Look for

Monitor your goldfish's behavior to ensure it is acting in a normal, healthy way. Goldfish should swim constantly rather than float, bob or sink; they should eat regularly and have an appetite; and they should eliminate waste frequently.

Monitor your goldfish's appearance. Your goldfish should appear shiny; look for dull areas and scales that don't appear right. Keep an eye on their eyes to make sure they don't get dull or start to look different.

Keep watch over the relationship between your goldfish and any other tank mates. Some species of fish are much more aggressive than others, and your goldfish may become victim to other fish in the tank. Goldfish, unlike other families of fish, should actually be kept in goldfish-only tanks rather than mixed with tropicals or other types of fish.

Necessary Steps for Goldfish Health

Keep the water quality high and perform water changes as needed. In many cases, 20 percent to 50 percent changes of the water weekly or biweekly are required and sufficient to the health of your goldfish. Treat your tap water with a conditioner (available at pet supply stores) to neutralize and remove harmful additives.

Rinse the filter media, the part that's fuzzy, in the tank water twice a month.

Vacuum most of your gravel every time you do a partial water change to remove uneaten food, fish waste and other materials that may be promoting dangerous gases or bacteria in your water.

Feed your goldfish daily with a high-quality goldfish flake food. Feed a live or frozen food such as shrimp, krill or bloodworms; also feed rinsed peas or greens in their tank.

Items you will need

  • Water test kit
  • Filtration system
  • Gravel vacuum
  • Healthy, varied food sources


  • Always check your water quality first with a store-bought kit for pH, nitrate levels and others when you start to see problems with your goldfish. Water quality is among the most common reasons for unhealthy goldfish.

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About the Author

With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.

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