Goldfish Freshwater Tank Setup & Ideas

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Goldfish are known for their playful nature and sweet disposition, making them excellent pets for people who appreciate entertaining, gorgeous pets. However, these charming creatures are susceptible to many long-term health issues and require proper care by a doting, responsible owner. We’ll cover everything you need to know about goldfish care, from setting up their tank to maintaining water quality.

Additionally, this guide will include tips on setting up a freshwater tank for your goldfish and some ideas to make it look great. The 13 goldfish tank setup ideas we’ve shared will give you some inspiration!

Goldfish Tank Setup

One of the most important things to consider when setting up a goldfish tank is the size. Goldfish grow quickly and can reach up to 12 inches in length, so you’ll need an aquarium size that can accommodate them. The minimum size tank you should get is 20 gallons, but this is more of a starter size, and we recommend going for larger aquariums in the 30-50 gallon range.

The size of the fish tank you’ll need will also depend on the number of goldfish you plan to have. A general rule of thumb is that for every additional goldfish you add to the tank, you’ll need an extra 10 gallons of water volume to accommodate their needs. This figure increases if you’re dealing with a larger size of fish.

Although a goldfish bowl might seem like an ideal option for your pet, it’s actually not a good idea. The small size of the bowl doesn’t give the fish enough room to move around and exercise, which can lead to health problems. Unlike a larger tank, bowls also don’t contain room for a water filter or other necessary goldfish tank accessories, making it more difficult to maintain water quality.

What Should I Put In My Goldfish Tank?

Besides selecting the right tank size, you’ll also need to choose the right accessories and décor for your goldfish aquarium. These elements will not only make your goldfish feel more comfortable and at home but can also help you to create a visually appealing display.

Some essential pieces of equipment for your goldfish tank include:

Filters

Experienced goldfish keepers swear by the importance of proper filtration, and for a good reason. Goldfish are messy eaters and produce a lot of fish waste, which can quickly build up and severely affect aquarium water quality. Toxic ammonia and nitrite levels are also the leading causes of death in goldfish, so a high-quality mechanical filter and chemical filter are an absolute must.

When choosing an aquarium filter, look for one that’s specifically designed for goldfish tanks. These filters will be powerful enough to handle the solid waste produced by your fish. In some cases, you might need to opt for multiple filters or filtration methods. For instance, someone with a large goldfish tank might use canister filters in addition to undergravel filters or a natural filtration method.

You’ll also need to consider the size of your aquarium when selecting a filter. A good rule of thumb is to choose a filter that can turn over 4-5 times the volume of your tank per hour. If the filter you currently use isn’t strong enough, feel free to purchase an additional filter and use it in conjunction with your existing one. This solution may not be the most space-efficient, but it will still yield clean water for your pets.

Substrate

colorful rocks in wooden box, art Aquarium Fish Tank Gravel Stones Color

The substrate is the material that lines the bottom of your aquarium and can range from aquarium gravel to sandy substrate to colorful rocks. While it’s not necessary to have a substrate in your goldfish tank, many aquarists feel that it makes the tank look more natural and appealing. It can also provide a place for beneficial bacteria to grow, which can help to keep water quality high.

If you do decide to use an aquarium substrate in your goldfish tank, make sure to choose one that’s a size appropriate for your fish. Goldfish tend to swallow gravel when they feed, so you’ll want to avoid using small gravel that could potentially get stuck in their intestines. Aquarium-safe gravel and rocks are the best options for goldfish tanks.

You might also want to consider using a gravel vacuum to clean your substrate on a regular basis. Uneaten food, waste products, and miscellaneous debris can quickly build up in the gravel, so it’s important to vacuum it on a regular basis as part of routine tank maintenance.

Aquarium Decorations

Besides the substrate, there are a number of other decorations you can use to make your goldfish tank more attractive and hospitable for your fish. These include live or fake aquatic plants, rocks, driftwood, and more. When selecting decorations for your goldfish tank, be sure to avoid anything that could potentially harm your fish. Sharp edges and small holes are a few things to watch out for.

Hardy plants are often seen as a goldfish tank staple, as they can lower nitrate levels and make the tank look natural – all while being low-maintenance. Bushy plants like java fern and hornwort are good options, as they provide hiding places for your fish and help to filter the water. Introducing a fake plant or two is also perfectly fine and can add some visual interest to your tank.

hand placing aquarium decor

In addition to plants, you might want to consider using rocks and driftwood to decorate your goldfish tank. As with plants, be sure to avoid anything that could potentially harm your fish. Driftwood can also leach tannins into the water, which can lower the pH. If you do opt for driftwood, make sure to soak it in water for several weeks before adding it to your tank.

Lighting

While goldfish don’t require special lighting, many goldfish owners find that adding an aquarium light to their tank creates a more aesthetically pleasing environment. If you do decide to add lighting to your goldfish tank, be sure to choose a light that’s specifically designed for aquariums. You’ll also want to avoid using a bright light with too much wattage, as this could potentially overheat your tank.

Fluorescent lights and LED lights are both good choices for goldfish tanks. If you opt for fluorescent light, be sure to choose one that’s labeled “full spectrum.” This type of light will help to bring out the natural colors of your fish and make your tank look more vibrant. On the other hand, LED lights are a bit more expensive, but they last longer and use less electricity than fluorescent lights.

Of course, natural light is always the best option for goldfish tanks. If you can place your tank near a window, that’s ideal. Just be sure to avoid placing it in direct sunlight, as this can cause the water to overheat. By relying on natural light, you can also replicate the natural day/night cycle, which is beneficial for your fish. After all, goldfish have a circadian rhythm just like we do!

Air Pump

Last but not least, you’ll need an air pump to aerate your goldfish tank. Goldfish produce a lot of waste, which can quickly lead to poor water quality. The best way to combat this is by providing your fish with clean well-oxygenated aquarium water. An air pump is an essential piece of equipment for any goldfish tank, and it will help to ensure that your fish remain healthy and happy.

aquarium air pump

The water flow created by an air pump also helps to keep your goldfish’s scales clean and their fins healthy. In addition, this added water movement will make your fish tank look more dynamic and visually appealing – though we’re sure your goldfish is already quite lovely.

When choosing an air pump for your goldfish tank, be sure to select one that’s the appropriate size for your tank. If you have a large tank, you’ll need a more powerful air pump than if you have a small tank. In general, the rule of thumb is that you should have 1-2 watts of power for every gallon of water in your tank.

Goldfish Freshwater Tank Ideas

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of setting up a goldfish freshwater tank, it’s time to get creative! Here are some fun ideas to help you make your goldfish tank unique:

1. Self-Cleaning Fish Tank

Fish Tank Aquarium Starter Kits 1.45-Gallon Small Aquarium with Automatic LED Lighting

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance setup, consider getting a self-cleaning fish tank. These tanks have built-in filtration systems that help to keep the water clean and clear. While you’ll still need to do some basic maintenance, like feeding your fish and cleaning the tank glass, a self-cleaning fish tank can help to make things easier.

2. Zen Garden

Couple goldfish

Using large, flat stones and rocks, you can create a beautiful zen garden in your goldfish tank. Goldfish love to explore their surroundings, and this type of setup will give them plenty to do. Plus, it’s a great way to add some visual interest to your tank.

3. Fish Hotel

Umbra 460410-660 FishHotel Unique Glass 2 Gallons Mini Aquarium Tank Bowl for Goldfish Betta Glofish and Small Fish perfect as Home Business Birthday Gift Ideas

If you want to get creative with your goldfish tank setup, consider making a fish hotel. This type of setup features different levels and chambers for your fish to explore. You can even add plants and other decorations to make it more inviting. Who doesn’t love a good hotel stay?

4. Colorful Artificial Plants

Fish Tank Plants Decor

If you’re not a fan of live plants, or if you’re looking for something low-maintenance, consider using colorful artificial plants in your goldfish tank. There are a wide variety of artificial plants available, so you’re sure to find something that fits your style. Plus, they’re generally affordable, and they won’t need any special care.

*Note: Be sure to choose artificial plants that are safe for goldfish. Jagged edges, small openings, and sharp points can injure your fish. Silk plants are generally safe.

5. Cylindrical Aquatower

Midwest 30 Gallon Tropical AquaTower Aquarium Pentagon

Style? Check. Function? Check. The Cylindrical Aquatower is a great choice for those who want a stylish and functional goldfish tank. This setup features a curved front panel that offers a great view of your fish. Its unique design also makes it a great conversation starter.

6. Bubble Wall Aquarium

Apple Shape Creative Acrylic Hanging Wall Mount Fish Tank Bowl Vase Aquarium Plant Pot Fish Bubble Aquarium Decor for Home and Office

What do you get when you cross a wall-mounted aquarium with a bubble? A Bubble Wall Aquarium, of course! This type of setup is perfect for those who want to add a touch of whimsy to their goldfish tank setup. The “tank” is composed of an apple-shaped bubble that’s generously sized and can be mounted on any wall. It’s a great way to add some visual interest to your space.

7. Under The Stairs

under the stairs fish tank
Image Source: Instagram.com

This goldfish tank setup is perfect for those who are short on space. By utilizing the space under the stairs, you can create a stylish and functional goldfish tank that gives your fish the space they need to thrive without taking up too much room in your home. We all know that goldfish need room to swim and grow, so this is a great option if you’re tight on space.

8. Lego Brick

NWHEBET Mini Cube Fish Tank

Have you ever seen a fish tank shaped like a lego brick? While it may not be the most traditional goldfish tank setup, it’s definitely unique. These types of tanks are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer a fun and playful way to display your fish. Some of them even come equipped with built-in LED lights that will make your tank “pop.” Truly a fun and festive way to show off your goldfish.

9. Fish In A Gumball Machine

Gumball Machine Fish Tank
Image Source: www.instructables.com

Need we say more? This is definitely one of the most creative goldfish tank setups we’ve seen. This setup features a gumball machine that’s been repurposed into an aquarium. Not only is it a great conversation starter, but it’s also a fun way to display your fish. And we all love gumballs, right?

10. TV Aquarium

Some of us love a good DIY project, and this TV Aquarium is the perfect example. If you have an old TV lying around, why not put it to good use? This creative setup features a TV that’s been turned into an aquarium in what can only be described as upcycling at its finest. Not only is it a great way to give your old TV a new life, but it’s also a fun and unique way to display your fish.

11. Illuminated Coffee Machine

coffee machine goldfish tank
Image Source: www.pinterest.com

Since we’ve already seen a fish tank made out of a gumball machine, we thought it was only fitting to include one made out of a coffee machine. This illuminated setup is sure to be a real conversation starter – particularly if you have friends who love coffee as much as we do! While it may not be the most traditional goldfish tank setup, it’s definitely one of the most unique.

12. Labyrinth Maze Aquarium

Maze Aquarium
Image Source: www.designstack.co

Did you know that goldfish are some of the smartest fish in the world? They have an impressive memory and can even be trained to do tricks. So why not give them a challenge with this labyrinth maze aquarium? This unique setup features a maze that your fish will have to navigate in order to find their food. It’s a great way to keep your fish entertained, and it’s also a lot of fun to watch.

13. Balancing Fishbowl Aquarium

Balancing fish bowl
Image Source: www.spicytec.com

Last but not least, we have this balancing fishbowl aquarium. This creative setup features a bowl that’s been suspended in mid-air, giving the illusion that your fish are floating in the air. It’s a fun and unique way to display your fish, and it’s sure to be a real conversation starter. Picture it: your guests will be so mesmerized by this setup that they won’t even know what to say.

These are just a few of the many creative and unique goldfish tank setups that you can find. So if you’re looking for something truly different, be sure to check out these options. Your fish will thank you for it!

 FAQs

What Type Of Water Should I Use In A Goldfish Tank?

Goldfish are freshwater fish, so you’ll need to use fresh water in your tank. You can either use tap water or bottled water, but you’ll need to make sure your water is free of chlorine and other chemicals. You can either let your water sit for 24 hours to allow the chemicals to evaporate or remove them by using a water conditioner.

water in bucket

If you’re using municipal water, do your homework and make sure you’re using a safe source of water. Heavy metals and other pollutants can be found in tap water, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Test your water source before using it in your tank, and be sure to have a backup plan in case of contamination.

To make things more convenient, some goldfish owners choose to use a reverse osmosis filter. This type of filter will remove all impurities from your water, leaving you with clean aquarium water that’s safe for your fish. However, remineralizing the water is important, so be sure to add a water conditioner that will replace the minerals that are removed.

How Often Should I Change The Water In A Goldfish Tank?

Nobody wants to be a slave to water changes, but you should change the water in your goldfish tank every two weeks or as needed. Water changes are important because they remove toxins and waste products from the water, and they also help to keep the water quality high.

If you have a lot of plants in your tank, you may be able to get away with less frequent water changes. Plants help to remove toxins from the water, so they can help to keep the water quality high. Just be sure to monitor the water closely by testing it regularly. And if you notice any problems, don’t hesitate to do a water change.

Do Goldfish Need Water Heaters?

Whether or not your goldfish requires an aquarium heater will depend on the type of fish you have. Though all goldfish are coldwater fish, different species have different temperature tolerances. For instance, common goldfish are more adaptable and can tolerate cooler water temperatures. As long as your tank water doesn’t fall below 39 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet should be fine without a water heater.

On the other hand, fancy varieties like black moors and comet goldfish can’t tolerate an aquarium water temperature below 65 degrees Fahrenheit and will prefer warmer water between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Gentle heating with an aquarium heater is necessary to maintain these higher temperatures, especially if you live in an area with a cold climate.

aquarium heating system in front of white background

You can use a standard aquarium heater to raise the temperature of your goldfish tank, but make sure to monitor it closely. Remember that even if your goldfish require a heater, they are not tropical fish and should not be immersed in warm water. Invest in a good aquarium thermometer to keep an eye on water temperature and make adjustments as necessary. 

The Takeaway

Goldfish are one of the most popular pets in the world and for a good reason. They’re beautiful, unique, and relatively easy to care for. We hope that this article has given you some good ideas for setting up your own goldfish tank.

Be sure to do your research before diving in, and remember that even though goldfish are easy to care for, they still require time and effort. With a little bit of planning and some patience, you’ll be well on your way to success.

As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need help getting started. And if you know someone who’s thinking about getting a goldfish, be sure to share this article with them. Happy fishkeeping!

Wanda is a second-generation aquarist from the sunny tropics of Malaysia. She has been helping her father with his freshwater tanks since she was a toddler, and has fallen in love with the hobby ever since. A perpetual nomad, Wanda does her best to integrate fish-keeping with her lifestyle, and has taken care of fish in three different continents. She loves how it provides a nice break from the hustle and bustle of life.

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