December 2005


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Lessons Learned "Quick Hits"

We are soliciting short lessons-learned from hobbyists: events that possibly left you sadder, but measurably wiser. Have a good one? Please send it to the  . Here is yet another submission from the Webmaster:

Occasionally it is necessary to bring a dormant goldfish, that is wintering outside, indoors. Some people do this to breed fish in mid-winter, others may do it out of necessity due to a pond mishap. While the consensus is that it is not great for the fish, most people who have done it have not noted special problems if they are careful.

The first concern is to not traumatize the fish too much when catching it from the frigid pond. Picking it up by hand and placing it immediately into a 5-gallon bucket full of pond water is one good way, though not particularly pleasant for the pond keeper.

After you've placed the fish in the bucket of pond water, bring the bucket indoors, preferably to a place that is not too warm or bright, like a basement or heated garage. Not more than 2 fish in 5-gallons. If the water is 40F, the ideal is to have the temperature rise a degree or two an an hour. So that the temperate would be around 60F after being left overnight. If you put in an air stone, only put it right at the surface, so as not to create current and not raise the temperature too quickly. It is probably unnecessary until the fish start to become active.

Once the temperature in the bucket is within about 5 - 10F of the tank water temperature, you can start blending tank water into the bucket. Do this 2 or 3 times over an hour; remove a gallon of bucket water and add back in tank water. Once that is done, lift the fish out of the bucket and place in the aquarium. Don't worry if the tank is still 5 degree F warmer than the bucket. The fish will handle this ok, though they may seem a bit shocked for a day.

Give the fish time to "start up" again. Don't feed for a day or two and then feed sparingly for a week. Also watch closely for any signs of protozoan parasites or fungus; while these should not be a special problem, they are the common opportunistic infections when fish are weak. If you see problems, ensure your water quality is good ... 50% daily changes might be needed if the filter is not ready for the fish load.

One final note. Goldfish can be warmed up fairly quickly in the manner described above. However, the opposite is not true; they need to be cooled far more gradually to go into a proper dormancy.