Goldfish in a Vase!

Goldfish Vase

My brother and his girlfriend have left me their vase (!!!) of three small goldfish for 5 days. The vase has some plants inside and some pebbles at the floor but no pump or filter. They usually do a 50% water change every few days and feed once to twice daily. The fish have been I would like to get them a proper tank and water pump, but I am concerned that suddenly changing the environment will shock the fish.

I don’t think that they will take home a tank greater than 10 gallons.

What do you think of this pump? I don’t see a water intake area for a sponge though…

Fish now in five gallon aquarium






  1. Oh, it’s an excellent idea, cycling the pump in the pond. Even with the proper maintenance the cycle is difficult to coax along. Wish there was a way to test the pump you drop in your pond. Like a time to say it’s cycled

  2. Thanks Venus. It will depend on how willing they are to measure the tank chemistry and do water changes. I just feel that the extra pump in case may be good if they were unable to get the cycling done properly. It remember how difficult it was for me to grow good bacteria in a tank before. We will see how things go then

  3. This is tough. In the time the pump you drop in your pond cycles, the pump in their tank will be well on its way. During this time the fish will definitely be exposed to dangerously high levels of ammonia and nitrite with 20% water changes

    Strange, but as delicate as the cycle is, try keeping it from forming; no easy task

    Ammonia is the problem. As the waste builds up, so will ammonia levels. He would probably need to exchange 50 to 70% daily in order to keep ammonia from reaching levels that require more than a single dose of Prime

  4. Hi Venus,

    I dosed Prime (0.5mL) for the whole 5 gallon tank yesterday. Bro and his girlfriend will be taking the fish and tank home later today with Prime and fish supplies.
    I’ve directed them to this blog in case they want to go more in-depth into fish keeping. Should the directions be 20% daily water changes with Prime to treat just the new water?

    I’m going to buy an extra pond pump and sponge to put into the pond to cycle and grow good bacteria for 1-2months. Hopefully when we trade out the new pump for the old one in 2 months, their fish will still be around!

  5. With .6 for a reading, I would go ahead and single dose the entire tank size. You could wake up to 1. ppm; the fish exposed. Of course, with the fish going home anyway, he’ll probably be starting with fresh water

  6. Hi Venus,

    Tap ammonia is close to 0 (yellow test tube). I’ve been adding 0.1mL of Prime to treat the 1 gallon of water replaced daily.
    Now that ammonia has increased from 0.1-0.3 to 0.3-0.6, should I still be adding 0.1mL Prime to just treat the 1 gallon of water changed, or how much Prime should I be adding?

  7. Measured tank water ammonia as 0.1 today. Did a 20% water change with tap water, matching temperature and added Prime to the new water. I’m assuming the amount of Prime I add should just cover the volume of the new water added and not the whole tank?

  8. Yep. I’ve been using white filter pads. Will need to find a proper sponge. The pet shop doesn’t sell them though. I’m thinking my best bet is Amazon Prime again but I’m afraid of ordering the wrong item.

    Will test tap water for ammonia tonight!

  9. That ammonia reading is coming from your tap, not the tank. I would bet on it. Every city disinfects water, and if you remember, I looked at your water report. You have chloramines, not chlorine. Chloramines is chlorine with ammonia, also called combined chlorine. It gives the disinfectant staying power. Chlorine, being a liquid gas, evaporates when exposed to oxygen, and this is why you’re not getting a reading. Test ammonia in tap

    Check the type of sponge; white indicates it’s a filter pad, not a filter sponge, as they’re black. Using filter media causes the motor to overheat

    Your brother is in for a surprise huh? lol

  10. Hi Venus,

    I added the pump with sponge. I tested the tank water and ammonia was 0-0.1 (negligible) so I didn’t do a water change today. Will do tomorrow?

    pH of the tank water is 8 but KH is 30. I tested tap water to be the same, although I recall our tap water being as low was 6 before. I wonder how it changed??

  11. Cut an aquarium safe sponge (you may still have a sponge or some remnants) just a little larger than the intake, and fasten with a rubber bank. You can also buy real sea sponges to use. If you get one that’s large enough, you can trim the inside of the sponge so that the pump fits inside it. Of course you have to cut a hole for the jet. Some people don’t like seeing the pumps, and this is a way around that

    I’ll check into the comment issue

  12. Are these fish at your jparent’s house? If so, it might be a good idea to use pond water as their freshwater source. We know it’s healthy. Otherwise, you’ll need to buffer same parameters to the same levels. If their at your house, better test tap water just to be safe

  13. Swim bladder issues are really common with goldfish, but this is because they’re fed improperly. If you feed less more often, and feed a variety, the fish won’t experience issues. Fantails are by far the hardiest of the fancy goldfish

    The swim bladder organ uses the gases created in the intestinal tract to perform. The bladder is connected to the tract by a tiny tube where the gas is exchanged. If the fish wants to rise, the bladder takes on gas, then releases the gas if the fish desires to sink; amazing isn’t it? If the tract slows or becomes impacted, gas is trapped in the bladder, and the fish loses the ability to sink. To put it bluntly, a floating fish is constipated. They don’t have stomachs. They’re constant grazers in the wild, and this is how we must feed them in captivity. In the wild they eat mostly vegetation because it’s in abundance. Most goldfish are fed nothing but flakes, and fed way too much at one time

    Sounds good with the amount. It’s hard to judge how much to feed, but important is to be consistent. Feed same amounts same times daily

    Definitely keep that lid off. This is the biggest mistake goldfish keepers make; enclosing their tanks

    Oh…so you’ve had fannies before huh, and you won’t become attached? We shall see

  14. Hi Venus,

    The fish have been in the vase for 2 months. I’m surprised they looks somewhat okay too! They weren’t very active in the vase though and they’re grazing at the rocks in the tank.

    I fed them for the first time this morning. I’m having difficulty gauging how much to feed because they’re so tiny. They’re about the length of my index finger. I put about 2 flakes in per fish. Is that too much? I pre-soaked the flakes in a cup of the fish water and poured into the tank. I will feed tiny spinach bits tonight, as I have a batch that I feed the koi.

    Will start the water changes tonight. The fish are alarmed every time I remove the tank lid, so I’m permanently keeping it off now. Is that better for oxygen too?

    Haha, they are very cute fish but I’ve kept fantails in the past with swimbladder. I refuse to become attached LOL

  15. Yes, start the 20$ water changes right away. The fish have already been poisoned by ammonia. The levels were high enough to do some damage. Ammonia burns fish. The burns appear as white marks on the body, that turn black as they heal. This is what you’re seeing. Because their fins aren’t clamped, I would guess the burns weren’t too severe; just in the nick of time

    Ammonia causes inflammation of the interior gill, causing fish to be deprived of oxygen, so watch for fish overworking their gills. We may need an aloe treatment. Aloe not only soothes burns, but reduces inflammation. It’s very effective

    Prime will convert the ammonia to a safe form, but you’ll still get a reading. Prime converts 1.ppm of ammonia and nitrite with every single dose. Do not exceed four doses, so this means if ammonia or nitrite reach 4 ppm, exchange enough water to lower levels to amounts that can be safely converted. This prolongs the cycle time, but the fish will be safe; well, as safe as possible. Many a fish has been poisoned by water treatment. A lot of fish keepers don’t know that you’ll still get a reading for toxins after using water treatment. This is because the toxin isn’t eliminated, just converted

    I hope your brother shares your compassion for these little beauties

    Freshwater is oxygenated, and it will take a day or two for the water to fill with Co2. As a refresher; carbon dioxide is created from the waste they produce, as well as ammonia

    It’s likely they’ve been fed improperly. Most people believe flakes should be sprinkled on the surface once or twice a day, and the fish are often fed too much at one time. Feed less more often. Hold a small pinch of food beneath the surface, and release in a spreading motion, making the fish work for their supper. Feed goldfish just as you do your Koi, offering a healthy variety

    Do you know how long they’ve been in the vase? I see no signs of clamped fins, indicating they’ve been poisoned by ammonia. I think you’re right. They’re just a little floatie from improper feeding. Give them some peas

    They look like happy campers

    Fantails are the hardiest of the fancy goldfish variety, and such beautiful fish. Are you getting attached to them yet? lol

  16. Hi Venus,

    The 3 goldfish are little fan tails. I bought a 5 gallon tank as 10 gallon was not available. I was going to wait for the Amazon pump to arrive before transferring the fish but the vase was very cloudy so I transferred tonight. The tank currently has gravel and the built in filter/pump which I will replace with the pump tomorrow. PH is 7.4-7.6. The fish look like they are having a bit of trouble swimming against the action of the tank pump. Not sure if it’s that or that or that they are bloated and are floating up a bit and trying to swim downward… Should I be doing daily 20% water changes starting tomorrow?

    1. PS. One of the goldfish looks like it may be developing finrot (small white breaks on the ends of its tail). The ammonia level of the vase was 2.4 before

  17. No tubing necessary. That’s more for rigging a water feature

    The very last line of my comment above; the plant won’t last long; it will starve without nitrates to feed on. The pebbles are too large for a goldfish house. They should be small enough so that the fish can move them around, although there’s no space for bottom feeding in the vase. It’s pretty much like you or I being locked in a bathroom

    Natural pea gravel would be found at a lawn and garden store. They sell small bags for a couple of dollars. It’s always interesting to see how the coloration varies from state to state; country to country

    That’s a siphon, and it’s definitely a gravel vacuum; just a more complicated one that won’t work as well. You’ve got to be really strong to siphon water with a hand pump; I can’t do it. I use my mouth with a plain vacuum. They also make motorized vacuums, which are also called pythons. The link shows a simple vacuum, but you might do okay with the one you’ve chosen. You can always get extra hosing gravel vacuum

  18. Hi Venus, the pond pump will arrive tomorrow if I place the order now. In the link, there is an extra item recommended; tubing for the pump. Is the airline tubing necessary?

    For such a small space, can this be used to change water/clean the gravel:
    I worry that gravel vacuums will vacuum the fish too because they’re so small.

    Where can I buy natural pea gravel? Can I find it at a pet shop? Or use pet shop fish tank rocks?

    What do you think about the existing live plant? and pebbles?

  19. Now that’s just sad; goldfish in a vase. Let’s not place blame; it’s not their fault. The industry leads us to believe it’s the norm. What most folks don’t know that goldfish average two inches in body growth their first year, and an inch there after. Just like Koi, they never stop growing, outliving most cats and dogs. Their lifespan is half that of a Koi, and just so you know, many people keep them with their Koi. These little guys would make a light snack for your fish right now, but in a year or two; maybe

    The standard stocking level for goldfish and Koi is 2.5 gallons of water per inch of fish body. There’s more than one reason for this standard; keeping nitrates low, keeping oxygen levels up and just as important, giving the fish enough space to do what fish do; swim

    Yes, a 10 gallon tub is okay for now, and that pump will probably get the job done. Wrap a small sponge over the intake; the grill you see at the bottom of the pump. That’s a volume control just over the grill

    The kids have been changing the water daily I would bet. This keeps the fish from being poisoned by ammonia, but that’s not why they do it. To keep their living decoration looking good. Would you believe many of these fish will be deprived of food for the same reason? Ammonia, if you remember is a toxin created from waste. It’s deadly

    The saddest part of the vase, the water will lose oxygen within a short time after the water change. I would guess their lifespan living in a vase is three to six months if the owners are ever vigilant with daily water changes

    You’ll need plenty of Prime on hand. Yours is pond strength, so just a few drops will treat 10 gallons; read the label carefully

    Daily water changes are in order if the fish are to be protected from the toxins that form in the cycle. It will take about 8 to 10 weeks for it to complete. The amount of the water change depends on the toxin levels. Prime treats 1. ppm ammonia and nitrite with a single dose. You can use as much as four doses, so water changes must keep levels at amounts that can be converted by the Prime. This means 4.ppm max. Ammonia peaks at 8.ppm with most testers; nitrites at 5.ppm. As one toxin increases, peaks and then begins to decrease, the next toxin in line builds to do the same

    The goal is to get the toxins to convert without injuring the fish in the process, and remember; the friendly bugs will build their colonies in the pond pump, so never wash. Rinse the sponge in old tank water as needed in order to keep the pump running smooth and the water clear

    You might pick up some natural pea gravel for a substrate; adds to the mineral value of the water, and gives waste a place to settle, waiting to be vacuumed up. Yes, you’ll need a gravel vacuum; get one with a smaller mouth. Big mouth vacuums are for large tanks and small ponds

    There; that’s it. Here’s hoping the owners get into it, and do it right.

    You may not realize it, but you’ve rescued your parent’s pond fish, and now your brothers. Most people think of these fish as feeder goldfish, but most are comets. If they live for a few years, they’ll be worth more than a few dollars

    The plant in the vase won’t live long either; no nitrates to feed on

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