Do Goldfish *need* Filtered Water?

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MadMen | 20:45 Sun 12th May 2013 | Animals & Nature
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Really quick question as I'm right in the middle of something and can't stay and chat (boo hoo)...

My kids wanted goldfish, so today we went and got 4. Got the bowls and accessories somewhere else and then went to Pets At Home for the fish.
Noticed on every fish tank that held goldfish there was a little sign that said "needs filtered water" - or something like that.
I called a lad over and told him we wanted 4 of the medium sized goldfish and said "will they be fine in just a bowl if I clean the water every other day"?
He looked at me like I was mental and said "sorry madam but I won't be able to sell you the fish if you don't have a filter". Me: "Eh"? Him: "Yeah, it's against company policy I'm afraid. If it were just me here then I'd let you have them, but I can't".
Me: "well I had goldfish for years as a kid and we never had filters, they just swam around in a bowl". Him: I'm not saying they'd die, but I'm afraid we can't let you have them without you having the proper kit. Me: It's a bloody goldfish, not a horse! Him: Lol (he actually laughed out loud) sorry. Me: Urghh. (looks at kids who are starting to look disappointed) Ok, well I'll have to buy two filters as well then. Him: That's fine, but I still won't be able to let you have the fish today. Me: What?! Him: The water needs to be filtered for at least three days before the fish can go in there. So you can buy the filters now and then come back in three or four days for the fish. Me: Are you serious? Him: Afraid so. You can always go to the new aquarium shop just out of town and they will probably let you have them there and then, if you don't care about the fish. Me: Ah, ok. Fair enough.... and off I went.

So, I went to the other place and got four goldfish but felt SO guilty I got two small filters.

My question is, just how important are the filters? I cannot believe it was so much hassle to get two bloody goldfish!
I purposely didn't want filters, or anything that required plugging in, because I have a major OCD about things left plugged in at night and I now won't be able to sleep properly knowing they're plugged in and whirring away.


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Just ensure you have correct fuses in your plug and you will be totally safe!
21:01 Sun 12th May 2013
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OOoh, that's my favorite area. Always on the lookout for more Easter Island statues! :)
we've got some new ones.

round fishbowls should be outlawed.
If you keep your fish in a tank that is too small for them and/or overfeed them you will need some kind of purification system. Filters do not remove anything they just keep the water clear. I have kept freshwater tropical and coldwater fish and marine fish without fancy filters, all you need is a bottom sand filter operated by an airlift pump and a big enough tank. In order to get more fish than recommended in a display tank we simply had a large reservoir tank out of sight and pumped the water up to the display tank from whence it overflowed back to the reservoir. The surface area of the reservoir maintains oxygen levels and as importantly gets rid of carbon dioxide, that is the most imporant design feature.. Do not put 'oxygenating' plants in the tank because they do not produce oxygen at night, in fact they consume it. Just tell the man in the shop that the fish are for your pond.
You need to leave the water for a day or so to allow the chlorine to escape, an alternative is to use sodium thiosulphate to neutralise the chlorine, one crystal about 1mm across will be more than adequate for as big a tank as you are likely to have at home. I once did this for a display pond at an exhibition in London using London tap water and putting the fish in the same casualties.
Not much I can add to the already excellent advice but just scale it up a bit.

I have a pond of about 1250 gallons in which I keep Goldfish, Koi, Mirror Carp, Roach, Orfe and Rudd.

To keep them happy I have a UV and biofilter the size of a small dustbin powered by a pump pushing about 1000 gallons an hour. The pump runs 24/7/365 and connected to an RCD spur.

I have only changed the water once in about 20yrs and some of the fish are about that old as well. Only occasionally do I lose a fish and then only to Herons.
jomifl: "Filters do not remove anything they just keep the water clear. "

I thought a filter builds up beneficial bacteria in the media that gets rid of the baddies that the fish's output creates.
WW filters may remove particulates from the water in the tank so that they are now in the filter. If the filter removes algae which would normally absorb ammonia and other waste products then it would be a disadvantage. Tropical marine tanks do need filters but if the tank is big enough a filter is not neessary. To avoid build up of waste products and concentration of calcium salts due to evaporation it is a good idea to replace say 5% of the water once a week. This maintains a fairly constant water chemistry and avoids traumatic complete water changes which upset the equilibrium of the tank.
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Thanks for the further responses. Again, it's much appreciated :-)

Dave, I have a fair few already, but I'll have to come and have a look!

Not sure why round fish bowls should be outlawed...? :-/

Some excellent advice here, which I will put into practice.

Many thanks :)

because of the tilted in rim which limits oxygen transfer from air to water, MM and the "perception" that all you need to do is plonk the fish in and leave it alone. additionally in sunny conditions the bowl can act as a lens and overheat the poor fish.

I want one of these but the dogs would drink out of it
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Ah, I see. It's not actually a bowl like the one I think you and wildwood are referring to.
It's more a plastic kids bowl, not glass and not perfectly round.

Hang on....
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See, they are perfectly happy :-)

not really big enough.........but no, not the horrible traditional bowl shape
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I couldn't get anything bigger as there's nowhere else to put it.
think you know what my answer would be to that :-)
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Get a bigger chest of drawers?

In all seriousness, I think the bowl we have is absolutely fine. They wouldn't sell them if they were cruel or not big enough. Those fish are only small. They were in a bucket in the shop!
I'm sorry but that's a really naive attitude. The shop is out to make money and will sell anything to anyone to do so. They don't care if the fish die, they know you'll go back for more. If you look at the link I posted at the beginning of this thread you will see it is recommended that at a minimum goldfish need 20 gallons. These fish can live for tens of years and grow to over 12 inches in length. They should only be kept in ponds IMHO

I used tap wáter and then one day the council put Flouride in and it kileld the goldfish!
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Well, I'm happy to say my water is fluoride free, so that shouldn't be a problem! :)
Jomifil....your advice is dangerous so keep it to yourself.

Just on a side note, how nice is it to see a shop that won't sell fish to just anyone. I went to [email protected] to buy a few gouramies for my 5 foot high tech planted tank and they wanted to know everything....what i kept, filteration, lighting, decor etc etc...and i've been keeping trops, reef and koi for 40 years !!!!!

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