Developing Your Hobby – Exhibiting and Breeding Your Goldfish

As you gain in experience and enjoyment of keeping goldfish, you may want to progress to keeping some of the more 'difficult' fancy varieties or to establishing a second or larger aquarium. You may even decide to try exhibiting your goldfish or breeding a pair and raising their fry. You will almost certainly want to make contact with others who share your hobby.

Joining a society

You can, of course, learn lots more about goldfish by reading goldfish books, subscribing to fishkeeping magazines, talking to your local aquatic dealer or surfing the Internet. One of the best ways of gaining access to a wealth of information about keeping goldfish, however, is to join one of the many goldfish societies. Joining one will put you in touch with other, often more experienced, fishkeepers and will keep you up to date with information on new varieties and their availability arid showing fish.

Goldfish shows

Some societies will include sections in their shows for pet goldfish, where the main criteria by which the fish are judged are good health, color and body shape. For fish breeders and serious hobbyists, however, rearing and exhibiting would-be champion goldfish is a much more challenging undertaking. Successfully rearing goldfish to produce high-quality specimens with the desirable attributes for the particular variety takes dedication and patience. For serious goldfish breeders, the mark of success lies in showing fancy goldfish.

Breeding Goldfish - and caring for fry

Breeding goldfish is not a task for beginners to fishkeeping. Not only do you need space for a nursery tank in which to raise the babies (and a home for the youngsters that survive), but the eggs and hatchlings need a lot of care.

The goldfish breeding cycle

Goldfish don't breed until they are mature - about two years old. In the breeding season, females will grow plumper and males will develop breeding tubercles (round white spots) on their heads, gill covers and pectoral fins. Males will chase females for several days before spawning (egg-laying) occurs. Once the eggs are laid, there is no parental care - indeed the parent goldfish will often eat their young.

Encouraging breeding

Place two males and one female in the largest possible tank, equipped with a simple sponge filter. Create an artificial summertime in the aquarium to encourage breeding by increasing the hours of lighting, carrying out daily 20% water changes and adding live or frozen food, such as brineshrimp, to the diet. The fish should spawn within a few days. Once they have done so, remove the parent fish to the main aquarium to prevent them eating the eggs and fry.

Caring for the fry

The eggs will hatch in about four to five days and the newly hatched fry will look like tiny hairs attached to the spawning mop at first. For the first few days they don't need feeding, as they are still absorbing food from their yolk sacs. When they swim away from the mops, they need special fry food consisting of microscopic organisms and algae. They will need feeding regularly but take particular care to remove uneaten food and monitor water quality daily.

Assuming they are in no danger of being eaten by larger, adult goldfish, the babies can be removed to the main aquarium as soon as they reach about 2cm (3/4in) long, which may take as little as six weeks. However, be aware that at this size they may still be vulnerable to damage from strong filter intakes, so check the equipment you are using.

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