Cramped goldfish in dd's class - Mothering Forums
Pets > Cramped goldfish in dd's class
carfreemama's Avatar carfreemama 10:42 AM 09-30-2010
I went to drop some money off for a school field trip at dd's class this morning. They were all crowded around a little table. On the table was a little tank; I'm guessing 5 gallons max, as it looked about half the size of our 10-gallon tank.

In the tank was a very large goldfish. He had room to swim, but not by much. There was no greenery, not even gravel. They just got him this morning. Apparently, he's going to be there for the winter and going back to his "real home" in the spring.

Dd really wants goldfish, but the aquarium store we go to says they're really meant to live in ponds and aren't suited to tanks at all. He looks like he's living in a cage full time (though I guess that's what aquariums are. We inherited ours and we are careful about creating habitat, though and not overcrowding).

I can't get this little guy out of my mind. Dd is so excited and I'm glad they have the fish, but he's a living being!

Should I just MMOB, or can I help improve his quality of life?

nd_deadhead's Avatar nd_deadhead 11:31 AM 09-30-2010
He'll never make it to spring under those conditions. Goldfish are messy eaters, and huge poopers, so they need a lot of water to dilute the mess, as well as frequent water changes. 10 gallons for one goldfish is a bare minimum, assuming good filtration, weekly partial water changes, and no overfeeding.

Gravel on the bottom isn't really necessary; it's easier to clean out uneaten food and poo if it isn't trapped in the gravel.

If you could donate a 10 or 12-gallon tank to the class, that would help a lot!

I don't blame you for worrying about this fish. Fish are pets, not moving decorations, and should be given the best possible care. There are lots of small fish that would be great for a classroom - goldfish are a really poor choice.
lynsage's Avatar lynsage 11:35 AM 09-30-2010
I bet you could get him a bigger tank from Freecycle. If kids are going to keep an animal in the classroom, they (and their teacher) should be learning to take the best possible care of it. I would ask the teacher if they are planning on moving him to a bigger tank, getting him some gravel, etc.

Is it a pond koi that they're planning to overwinter indoors? That's what it sounds like from your description.

Here is a link with some info on keeping koi indoors.
Doodlebugsmom's Avatar Doodlebugsmom 03:11 PM 09-30-2010
I would be worried about the poor fish too. I would do everything I could to find a larger tank to donate.

If your dd really wants a pet fish, I recommend a Beta. Each of my kids have their own Beta and tank. They have tanks similar to this one, which is relatively inexpensive. We've had our Betas for almost two years, and we really do love them.
carfreemama's Avatar carfreemama 04:32 PM 09-30-2010
Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like I need to intervene.

I suppose it's possible he was just delivered in this tank and he's going to be moved to something more appropriate, but that's not the feeling I get. The tank looked old and I'm not positive there was a filter. I'll have to take a closer look. I clicked on the pictures of the koi, but it doesn't look like him. I wonder if I can get a photo.

We were planning to upgrade to a 20 or 30-gallon tank, so I could donate ours to the class fish. It's still only 10 gallons; which still looks way too small by the recs on that link. But still better.

Are they temperature sensitive? I worry about keeping the temperature constant in the school after-hours.

I will have to approach this very delicately with dd's teacher. She's a great teacher, but I don't quite know how to approach her. Her class (room size) is small and the tank barely fits on its tiny table.

I'll make an excuse to go to dd's class in the next day or so and get a really good look. It was hard to see exactly what was going on with all the kids around the tank today. I'll keep you updated.

Oh and BTW, we inherited 3 harlequin rasboras and bought 6 more, on the advice of the fish store. They are an awesome business and showed dd all the different possibilities they had for alternatives to goldfish and why they should live in ponds. Then, of course, dd asked if we could build a pond.

Whole 'nother question; we live in NS and have cats in the neighbourhood. But I'd be willing to try...
nd_deadhead's Avatar nd_deadhead 01:01 PM 10-01-2010
Goldfish are temperate (not tropical), so they don't require a heater. They are most comfortable at less than 70°F. If it gets too warm, the oxygen content in the water goes down. How cold does it get in the school on weekends? 60° would probably be tolerable; Cycling from 70 to 50 every weekend might be very stressful for a goldfish.

Keep us posted!
carfreemama's Avatar carfreemama 08:54 PM 10-02-2010
I got a good look at "goldie" and his tank. I figure he's only about 5 inches, maybe 6; so not a big guy. But I was right about the tank, it's small.

I really want to word my concerns delicately to dd's teacher. I think I'm going to step up my plan to get a new tank so I can donate our current one. The table looks big enough to accommodate a 20 gallon.

Is the size of the tank the biggest priority? Will a 10-gallon tank help him make it through the winter? What about greenery/habitat for the tank?

I think I should have the bigger tank ready to go before I approach her. I hope he'll be okay for a few weeks, until I can get everything set up. I'll let you know!
Oubliette8's Avatar Oubliette8 05:26 AM 10-03-2010
The most important thing is a good size tank with a good filter system on it. Goldfish are terribly dirty. He probably is a pondfish, people like to keep them in ponds, and they grow quite fast there. But, if he comes from a shallow pond it may not be deep enough for him to survive the winter there. (deeper ponds the fish simply hibernate in the bottom over winter).

A little greenery would be nice, just to give him a spot to hide, but its not 100% necessary and it wouldn't need to be something expensive. Goldfish can destroy real plants so a cheap plastic plant would be fine. And caution the teacher about adding shells or other non-aquarium items, they can change the water and kill fish.

If you donate your tank, be sure not to drain all the water out or wash the gravel. Your tank will already have "good" bacteria in the gravel and its VERY important to keep it. A tank with brand new or cleaned gravel has wildly fluctuating chemical levels for several weeks, and that kills fish. Keeping the bacteria allows them to start regulating the waste levels immediately.