Impulse Buying – 5 questions before you buy pet goldfish

Do you have a place where you go to when you are feeling down, and it can just seem to lift your spirit up? I call this a “happy place”. My “happy place” or rather places are the local fish stores where I can view and buy pet goldfish.

Local Fish Store

My favorite is this local fish store which is about 20 minutes drive from my home called Xianlong Aquatics. I love it because it is huge, clean, well maintained and with friendly workers. Whenever I am having a bad week, you will definitely find me there during the weekends.

Going through the store and checking out their goldfish do boost up my mood. I am pretty sure some online fish stores give this kind of effect too.

Ryukin Goldfish

… but a “happy place” can be dangerous too…

Don’t you think that when you are at your “happy place” and your mood starts to improve, you tend to lose a bit of your self control. When you see all these pretty goldfish and they are like calling out your name, all you could think of is BUY, BUY and BUY.

Black Butterfly Telescope Goldfish

Does this ever happen to you?… or is it just me? Well if you are like me, STOP! Calm yourself down and consider these before you succumb:

Questions to ask yourself before you buy pet goldfish…

1. Have you set up the fish tank?

Do you have a tank or a container of some kind which is already set up and cycled for your new goldfish? If your answer is “No”, then please forget about buying that goldfish for now. You need to get the necessary equipment, set up and cycle your fish home first before even considering to buy pet goldfish.

If you have a fish tank that is already set up and cycled, hooray… you are a step closer to owning that new goldfish.

2. Is your fish tank big enough?

As goldfish can grow to be very big (i.e. potentially over 12 inches) and they produce a lot of wastes, they do need a lot of space. The common guideline is to have 20 gallons of water for the first goldfish and 10 gallons each for subsequent ones.

Jikin Goldfish

Is your fish tank big enough for all of your goldfish? If not, you really should get a bigger tank. If it is not now, at least plan to get one later when your goldfish grow bigger. Please, never keep them in a bowl!

To be frank, I do stretch this guideline a little. I have 5 goldfish in a 50 gallons tank and I constantly remind myself that I should not buy more fish.


3. Are you keeping the goldfish with other fish?

If your tank is a community tank, make sure that the pet goldfish are compatible with the rest of its tank mates, and vice versa. Goldfish are cold water fish (but are able to tolerate a wide range of temperature), will eat anything that could fit into their mouths and can be slow swimmers especially those with rounded bodies.

They are also easy target for fin nippers such as tiger barbs and seen as food for bigger aggressive fish. In my opinion, they are best kept in a goldfish only tank.

Tiger Barbs
Tiger Barbs
4. Is that goldfish healthy?

No matter how pretty the goldfish are, they will not be pretty for long if they are not healthy. So before you go ahead and buy pet goldfish, look out for any signs of disease such as below:

Body, Head & Eyes: lumps, lesions, fine white dots (like sprinkle of salt), cottony stuff, growth, scales all sticking out, pop eyes, ragged fins

Behavior: seem to always float on the surface and have difficulty swimming downwards; at the bottom of the tank all the time and have difficulty swimming up; remain stagnant and not active; fins clamped up; keep scratching themselves on the tank glass or decorations,  consistently gasping for air at the surface

Butterfly Telescope Goldfish

Look around in the fish store’s tank as well. If there are such signs on the other goldfish in the tank, then it is very likely the goldfish that you are interested in is infected as well. So it is not recommended to buy any fish from that tank.

This will be rather difficult to determine if you buy pet goldfish online. I guess you will need to do some research and find out more about this online supplier from their customers’ feedback. Get from a reputable online supplier.

5. Is it within your budget?

As with any hobbies, I think we should always have a budget on how much we are willing to spend for it. It shouldn’t cost us an arm or a leg.

Goldfish come in many different grades based on how they compare to the standards specified for their breeds. The higher grade they are, the higher their price is as well.

My goldfish are not the high grades ones but I think they are still beautiful nonetheless. I know… this is like what every parent think of their kids. Anyhow it is your hobby and it is entirely up to you, isn’t it?

My Ranchu Goldfish

Besides that, if you are setting up a tank for this, you should take into account the cost that goes into getting a new tank (the bigger the better), filter, substrate, decorations, lighting, water conditioner, etc. You need to include the cost of fish food as well.

Why bother with these questions?

The whole point of goldfish keeping is keeping them alive, keeping them healthy and keeping them happy. Whether we are starting off in this hobby or just to increase our existing goldfish population, it is a responsibility for us as fish keepers to look after their welfare. They are living beings too, aren’t they?

So we should always ask ourselves these 5 questions before we buy pet goldfish. We should use these questions to remind us of their requirements, on whether we are keeping their well being in minds… or are we just acting out of impulse. Making the right decision will help our goldfish keeping experience more enjoyable and with less headaches.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever bought a fish out of impulse and then regretted your decision? Please share your experience on this in the comments section below. Looking forward to hearing your stories!



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10 Replies to “Impulse Buying – 5 questions before you buy pet goldfish

  1. These are definitely great questions to ask before buying any kind of pet! I ‘m not a huge lover of fish, but I would definitely ask myself these questions before purchasing a dog! I think sometimes as consumers we are so caught up in the buying process that we don’t think through our decisions! This is most important when we are dealing with living things like goldfish for sure. When I am getting ready to buy my next pet, I am definitely looking back at this post. Thank you!

    1. Hi Bailey,
      That is so true about how this applies to all pets. I think people sometimes forget the responsibilities and commitment that come with being a pet owner whether for fish, dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. The buying process is just a start of these responsibilities.

  2. Holy Goldfish Batman! I had no idea the recommendation was to have 20 gallons of water for 1 goldfish. I’ve often seen goldfish living in tiny little 2-3 gallon bowls and I had thought this was totally fine. So in the case of having something like a 50 gallon freshwater tank…how many fish can you keep in it? I often have 10-15 in my tank, is this way too many?

    1. Hi Craig,
      2-3 gallon bowls are definitely too small for a goldfish. Most of these bowls do not have any filter which makes them even worse for a goldfish or for any fish in general.. well maybe a betta will do fine with frequent water changes.

      The reason goldfish require more gallons per tail is because they can grow big and produce a lot of wastes. In my opinion, you can stretch your 50 gallons tank to house up to 5 goldfish (like what I am doing) long term. If you have more than that and they are still small, a 50 gallons could be fine for now with more frequent water changes. Long term wise, you should consider getting a bigger tank.

      However if your question is about other freshwater fish which produce less wastes, the general rule is 1 inch (length of the fish) per gallon.

  3. That looks like a real fish lover’s paradise! Great to see a post geared at responsible pet ownership like this. Truly taking the time to ask yourself, “can I take care of this pet?” is so important.

    Great post!

    1. Hi Eric,
      Thanks for the comment. Yeah.. fish keeping or pet keeping is great. Responsible fish keeping or pet keeping is even greater. After all, we are dealing with living beings.

  4. Hi! I know what you mean, when I was younger I loved to watch the fishes in the pet store. So calming, and such vivid colors! I never thought about these things that you mentioned above, great tips. I think that getting a pet demands that you also look for it’s best and that you take care of it:-)

  5. Wow I love your happy place! I think I will get carried away too looking at those beautiful fishes (electric blue ones are my cincher!) and the colorful corals and ornaments. I will keep your 5 questions in mind next time I get enticed into the shop!

    1. Hi Moon,
      Hehehe… happy place can have a lot of temptations! I really love going to all these clean and well kept fish stores, and have to constantly remind myself not to do any impulsive purchases. 🙂

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