Debunking Myths about Goldfish

Ahhh the goldfish, one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet. The goldfish has long been plagued with myths that insult them for their intelligence and personalities. We are here now to bust these myths and shed light on the truth about our humble finned friends.

Myth 1: Goldfish can be kept in a bowl

Tons of people claim to have kept a goldfish alive in a fishbowl for 15 years or more.
But here’s the thing: Keeping a goldfish in a bowl can be cruel but keeping a goldfish in a poorly maintained large tank is just as cruel.
Although the goldfish are capable of surviving in a range of conditions, a bowl is not an ideal home if you cannot take care of it properly. Goldfish can thrive in a fishbowl but there’s very specific care that goes into keeping a goldfish healthy in a fishbowl. They require an environment with proper filtration, aeration water volume for dilution of waste, room to grow, and a home for good bacteria to mature. Thus, a small bowl is not the best option unless you can provide them with all the necessities to survive.

Myth 2: Goldfish can only remember for 3 secondsGoldfish are known for their terrible memories with some even claiming that they have a mere 3-second recall. Despite the lack of scientific backing, this myth has spread widely and remained largely undisputed by the public for decades. In truth, goldfish can hold their memories for up to five months and have a sense of time and routine. There have been reports of goldfish jumping out of the water out of sheer excitement when they see their owner walking through the door, indicating that goldfish do indeed have a good memory.

Myth 3: Goldfish do not live long

In fact, goldfish are one of the longest living fish you can adopt/own. Goldfish have a lifespan averaging about 10-15 years, with some varieties living up to 30 years when provided with proper care. The current record holder is being held by a 49-year-old goldfish! Unfortunately, many goldfish do not reach their lifespan potential due to inadequate housing conditions that can meet both their behavioral and physiological needs. It is thus possible that this myth came about because of goldfish dying prematurely due to these poor conditions which they are kept in.

Myth 4: Goldfish and Koi are the same species

Though both fish do belong to the same family, Cyprinidae, Koi Cyprinus Carpio are selectively bred common carp while goldfish are the domesticated descendants of crucian carp (Carassius). Both are closely related and are even capable of hybridization, but they are not the same fish.

Myth 5: Goldfish are herbivoresGoldfish eat both plant and animal material and are omnivores. In the wild, goldfish would eat fish eggs, invertebrates, and smaller fish species. As a goldfish owner, you can feed them a staple diet of high-quality goldfish pellet while giving them additional fresh food such as romaine lettuce, cucumber, oranges, duckweed and more. Frozen invertebrates are also a delicious treat option for goldfish. If you are thinking of creating a multi-fish palace, remember that if your goldfish is large enough to swallow another fish, he probably will.

Myth 6: Goldfish produce toxins dangerous to other fishGoldfish are in fact not toxic in any way. Like all fish, goldfish excrete ammonia. This myth most likely stems from the sheer large amount of ammonia they excrete. Due to them being a heavy-bodied species, goldfish excrete more waste than other species. They are also messy and eat a lot, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t be kept with other fish. Basic requirements such as good filtration will be able to handle the biomass of the goldfish and an aquarium large enough can easily dilute the waste of the tank inhabitants.

Myth 7: There is only one type of goldfish

There are more than 200 types of goldfish around the world! The common goldfish you see are fantails, lion heads, ryukins, comets, orandas, bubble eyes, and commons. Goldfish generally tend to fall into two main groups: hardy goldfish and fancy goldfish. Hardy goldfish have slim bodies and a single tail, whereas fancy goldfish have an egg-shaped body and twin tails. Having hardy and fancy goldfish living together in the same aquarium is not encouraged, as the faster moving hardy goldfish will dominate the access to food and bully the fancy goldfish.


Under the right conditions, goldfish are a great choice for any fish keeper regardless of their level of experience. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to learn as much as you can about any species you intend to keep. Don’t forget to share these information with others and do some more research of your own, and maybe someday we can finally put all these goldfish myths to rest!


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