Pet Shop Gloucester tips on general snake handling

Pet Shop Gloucester tips. Just a brief post on 5 top tips on handling NON VENOMOUS snakes from your favourite Gloucester pet shop.

  • If your snake has just fed, DON’T HANDLE IT. Handling a snake after it has just fed can be at best unpleasant and at worst dangerous. Snakes swallow their food whole and rely on strong stomach acids to break it down. Whilst this happens relatively quickly, for the first 24 – 48 hours the snake has a large, hard object in a small, confined space. In the wild they would lay up during this period and allow the acids to do their work. Handling causes the snake to move around and this puts pressure on its stomach (or in the case of inexperienced handlers they may actually squeeze the area). This action can make the snake regurgitate the meal (if it hasn’t already as a threat response), bringing up the very strong stomach acid with it, which can cause damage. Even worse, if the snake doesn’t regurgitate and the meal is still undigested other internal organs can be damaged by the pressure, if handled roughly (or dropped). Then of course there is the risk to you. Even a docile snake may strike when it has just been fed or is digesting its meal. It knows you shouldn’t be picking it up even if you don’t.
  • pet shop gloucester reptile boarding

    One Of Our Reptile Boarders Being Fed

For more advice on feeding snakes come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.

  • If your snake is shedding, DON’T HANDLE IT. It’s not so much that it dangerous for the snake (although it may lead to incomplete shedding) but with its eyes clouded over it can’t see. Would you be in good mood if you suddenly had one of your senses taken away? The snake still has other, very accurate senses, so it can and will tag you.

For more advice on problem shedding come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.

  • So assuming your snake is not shedding and has not been fed within the last 48 hours the most important things is to BE CONFIDENT. Most people who keep snakes will tell you the snake can sense it if you’re nervous. I don’t think they have any ability to sense nerves in you at all, however they can pick up on your body language. If you go in with a hesitant hand, that’s shaking or moving in then pulling back etc. the poor old snake doesn’t know what is going on. When they are unsure of a situation they naturally get defensive and may well strike. I can and have, on several occasions, demonstrated this in the shop where I can simulate a nervous owner and get even a cornsnake to strike or conversely, be confident with a rather nippy kingsnake and not get tagged. In fact someone once brought such a kingsnake into the shop, complete with viv. (as they couldn’t get the snake out, it was so aggressive). The snake was hissing and striking at the glass. I opened the viv. picked the snake straight up and it was quite calm. The owner then hesitantly took the snake off me and promptly got bitten on the neck. Which takes us to the next point.

For more advice or demonstrations on snake handling come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.

  • Keep the snake away from your face. If a snake does bite it should only be able, at worst, to get your hand. If it gets anywhere else, guess what? That was your fault. Staring up close into the face of a snake is a bad idea. Snakes are carnivores, their senses for the most part are binocular and forward facing in order to judge direction, distance and to strike accurately. This means they are particularly sensitive to anything immediately in front of them that moves. If you wave your hand about in front of your snakes head, or worse your nose (especially if it’s as big as mine) you are much more likely to get tagged. Also all reptiles can carry salmonella. Letting a snake touch your face near your mouth (i.e. kissing it!!) is really a bad idea.

For more advice on being bitten by snakes (especially if the snake won’t let go !!) call us at our pet shop Gloucester.

  • Wash your hands afterwards. As stated, snakes can carry salmonella. This bacterium is quite likely to be found on the snakes skin. They poop in the viv and move around – it will transfer bacteria onto its skin. You will be letting the snake run through your hands, you will touch it near its cloaca (vent) where the poop comes out so you will get bacteria on your hands. If you don’t wash your hands immediately you will be transferring bacteria everywhere you touch. Salmonella is a dangerous infection, potentially fatal in infants, the elderly and immune suppressed individuals. If you are fit and healthy you will survive but you will never want to get it again. I have had the disease. It is unpleasant, debilitating, incredibly painful and will take some time to recover from. All you have to do to avoid getting it, or giving it to your family, is wash your hands, preferably with an anti bacterial hand wash. We sell them, so you have no excuse. Also some snakes carry diseases that can be passed onto other snakes, the one that springs to mind is IBD (inclusion body disease) that can infect boids (pythons and boas). It is highly contagious and always fatal to the snake. Always disinfect when moving from one boid viv. to another or any other enclosure for that matter. Cross contamination by the owner is the commonest vector for the spread of mites, for example. An alcohol hand wash will kill any eggs on your skin (it dehydrates them) as well as any bacteria and the mechanical action also helps lift dirt that is harbouring other pathogens.

For more advice on reptile hygiene contact us at our pet shop Gloucester 

I hope these tips are of use. If you have any more questions or need more advanced help with anything just get in touch with our pet shop Gloucester and we will try to help.

Easy-Tie Now In Stock

Easy-Tie, the new easy to use tie system to safely secure your dog whilst out on a walk is now in stock at Angell Pets.

Avaiable in two sizes, Easy-Tie removes the need to remove your dog’s lead and use it to tie up your dog to a post, railing etc. This reduces the risk of accidents as you secure your dog and excessive wear on your lead. Works with all leads, including extending ones. In fact it is the best way to secure a dog whilst using an extendable lead.

WHAT IS THE EASY-TIE?

The Easy-Tie is a clever, Patent Pending functional accessory. It allows you to Safely, Easily & Quickly secure your dog to a café table, railing, post etc, without taking the lead off the collar.

Dogs often see the releasing of their lead as permission to roam freely (some with haste). This is bad news if you’re in a public area or by a roadside. The Easy-Tie keeps your dog safe, reduces the hassle when securing them, and is about 10 times quicker than the ‘Old Way’. In short, the Easy-Tie helps you to stay in control of your dog!

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Easy-Tie - How To UseSimply click the Easy-Tie to a café table, railing, post or any other narrow object. Alternatively, you can wrap your lead around a small tree or lamppost, and back on to the lead to create a lock. Features a red lock button for added security.Easy-Tie - How To Use

WHO IS IT FOR?

Easy-Tie is suitable for all dogs, from small pups to the largest breeds.

It has been rigorously tested to the highest of standards and is available for dogs up to 48kg. Whether you quickly pop into a shop, or lounge at your favourite cafe/beer garden, the Easy-Tie offers less hassle, increased safety & speed for when you need to secure your dog.

Many of our customers also tell us that the Easy-Tie is great as a control mechanism for their exciteable puppies (as well as some exciteable adult dogs).

Easy-Tie is now avaialable in our webstore

CLICK HERE to see a video of Easy-Tie in action.

The Angell Pets Team

 

Axolotl basics

Axolotl – the salamander that doesn’t grow up. These facinating animals make excellent pets if given the correct habitat and care. They are cold water, relatively easy to care for (no more difficult than a goldfish really, although there are a couple of important differences) and make an attractive display animal.

Axolotl

All axolotls in captivity originally come from some specimens sent over to Europe for study. Sadly they are extremely rare in the wild. They come from only two high altitude lakes in Mexico. One of these is no longer there and the other is much reduced (broken up into canals), polluted and full of introduced fish that like the odd Axolotl! The last survey failed to find any wild specimens.

Due to their facinating life cycle, size of embryo and strange abilities the Axolotl is used extensively in a number of areas of reseach, such as spinal cord growth, heart function, brain growth, transplantation etc. Of course there are lots of surviving individuals in the pet population too.

Wild specimens range in colour from black through olive to brown. Albinism can occur naturally but due to predation would tend to be selected against. In captivity albinos are common so colours range from “pink” (albino with red eyes), gold (albiono but gold in colour with red or sometimes whitish eyes), leucistic (white, or pink, with black eyes) to “natural” or “black”.

The Axolotl lives in “cold water” ideally between 17 and 20 C. They can and do tolerate colder temperatures in the wild but metabolism would be much slower. They do not tolerate warmer temperatures very well at all, becoming very stressed and long term warm conditions can be fatal (it has to be remembered that warm water can also carry less oxygen than cold water).

The Axolotl is basically a species of salamander (Ambystoma mexicanum, part of the Ambystoma tigrum complex) that remains in the “tadpole” stage throughout its life. This phenomenom, called neoteny is quite common as a survival strategy amongst salamaders living at high altitude but the Axolotl has turned it into the norm. Injection with thyroid hormones or with iodine or high levels of cannabilsm (an Axolotl will eat another if food is not plentiful) will sitmulate an Axolotl to metamorphose into and adult, terrestrial salamander (very similar to the naturally occuring, adult tiger slamander).

The Axolotls is famous for their ability to regenerate parts of their bodies. They can regrow damaged or missing parts of their tails and limbs. If only a part is missing or has been damaged they may extra limbs or digits. They can even regrow certain organs, even parts of their brains.

So for care of the Axolotl. A single Axolotl needs at least a 40-45 liter tank. Obviously a bigger tank is good. If you wish to keep more than one then a bigger tank is a must or you could still find yourself with still only one Axolotl one morning. They do not like currents, so if using a cartridge type internal of external filter it is advisable to point the filter outlet toward the side of the tank to still the flow. Leaving the Axolotl in what equates to fast running water will stress it and could lead to disease as the animals immune system suffers. We use under gravel filtration (I know, “GRAVEL!”, I’ll come to that soon) in the shop and that works well. You get very good filtration, aeration and nitrogen removal but low water currents in the tank. There is not a “this filtration system is best”. Many different types will work if the issue of flow is taken into account. The Axolotl is cold water, you DO NOT need a heater, in fact this could kill your Axolotl. I have heard of some pet supermarkets selling 10 liter tanks and heaters for Axolotls. Don’t buy from these places, they don’t know what they are doing and therefor shouldn’t be selling you an Axolotl or giving  advice on set ups and should be avoided at all costs.

Now gravel. An Axolotl should NOT be kept on gravel. They eat anything that fits into their mouths and that will include gravel. Often this will pass through but not always, so impaction, followed by death is a real threat. If using undergravel filtration use either fine sand or large pebbles (larger than the mouth of the Axolotl) that cannot be swallowed. Some people use external filters with no substrate, just the glass tank bottom. Nothing wrong with that, as long as there is a good population of bacteria in the filter, I just find it a bit sterile looking. It’s a matter of personal taste. Large rocks work well too but can be difficult to keep clean.

In the shop we do use gravel (hold on, let me finish) but it is covered with “cage carpet” – a thin, porous,  nylon matting, which is weighted down with hides and rocks. This keeps the gravel (where the nitrosomonas and nitrobacter grow) and the Axolotl away from each other. It just allows us a bit of flexibility. When we have no Axolotls we can easilly convert to goldfish without having to mature the tank and gravel is easier to keep clean than sand.

If you wish to use plants we would recommend broad leaved. There is less risk of the Axolotl tangling its gills. Thin, trailing plants present this risk. We would also not recommend keeping axolotls with fish. They will eat smaller fish and larger fish could nibble on the external gills of the Axolotl .

Axolotls eat a wide range of foods. Worms, fish, lavae etc. We use waxworms, mealworm pupae, morio worm pupae, blood worm and small fish. We also sometimes feed pinkies (usually if one of the hatchling snakes hasn’t fed). The Axolotls finds food by smell. If it drops onto its head it will generally snap it up straight away. If it falls to the side it may take a few minutes to find it. I have yet to have an Axolotl that will not feed every couple of days. They feed through air pressure really. They open their mouths extremely quickly. This creates very low presssure inside the mouth. The pressure of the atmosphere above (several miles of it!) pushing down, under gravity, on the water around the Axolotl pushes it, with the food, into the mouth. This is basically how all pumps work. It happens very fast. The video below shows this process happening. I have slowed the video down before and still couldn’t see the food move. It looks like trick photograhy (or videography) but it is in real time.

An Axolotl can grow to 18 inches. However this is extremely rare. It is rare for one to get to 12 inches. 9 to 10 inches is the norm. Male Axolotls will have a swelling around the cloaca, absent in females. Females will tend to have a wider body than the male although males are larger overall with a wider head. They can live for up to (and that is UP TO) 20 years.

 

To look after your Axolotl you have to look after your water. Always mature a tank before putting in an Axolotl. You need the bacteria to remove the nitrogenous waste as you would for fish. Also you MUST dechlorinate the water if it comes from a tap. Leaving it standing for 24 hours only removes free chlorine, not chloramines. These are toxic to the Axolotl and to the waste disposal bacteria. Regular partial water changes are essential to good health. For more info on how to look after the water go to our sheet on goldfish care.

 

The Angell Pets Team

 

 

Angell Pet care sheets page

Angell Pet give advice on all aspects of the animals we sell and on others we don’t. In addidtion tyo the advice given to prospective pet owners we have a page devoted to care sheets on this site which is constantly being up dated and expanded.

angell pet care sheet page

Just click on the Angell Pet Caresheet tab for a page of sheets and articles on mammals, birds, reptiles, invertebrates, fish and additional sheets on hygiene, handling and treatments.

The care information for each animal will also be added to the description on our Angell Pet webstore over the next few months.

We also have additional advice on our Angell Pet You Tube channel.

The Angell Pet Team

Does your lamp fitting need replacing?

Reptile lamps (heat and light, not UVB) are normally incandescent, filament bulbs. Halogen are becoming a bit more popular but are still quite pricey so the traditional heat lamp remains the top seller. They produce light, with heat as a waste product (because they are inefficient at producing light – hence the move to energy efficient lamps in the home). Due to the way they work, heating a thin metal filament in an inert gas to prevent burning, they have a relatively short life span, somewhere in the hundreds of hours. Poor care during transport, couriers throwing boxes around for example, can reduce this life further. However one thing that is almost guaranteed to shorten the life, right down to a few seconds in some cases, is a poorly connected or maintained lamp fitting.

ceramic lamp fitting

Lamp fittings usually come with the advice something along the lines of “must be fitted by a qualified electrician”. This is often viewed as a covering strategy by the manufacturer. If there is a problem and damage is caused they will always ask for proof that it was fitted correctly. However it is actually essential that fittings are installed by someone who knows what they are doing. In extreme cases, when fitted incorrectly it can lead to electric shock (and potentially death!) or fire. In less extreme cases a poorly connected fitting will result in shortening the lifespan of the bulbs.

Apart from knowing which wire goes to which terminal, a good electrician will also know that the terminal will have a hole for fitting the wire that is bigger than the diamenter of most wires used. This extra space needs to be filled with as much of the wire as possible, so the ends of most will need to be properly trimmed of insulation and doubled over to fill the space (and the trimming of the insulation needs to be done properly or the wire can be weakened). It is normally at this point that problems occur with a lot of fittings. Any looseness, gaps or weakness in the wire or pulling pressure on the terminals will result in a poor connection. What can happen then is electricity will “jump” across any tiny gaps or heat up the connection or wire at  points of stress. This can lead to heating and cooling of the connection when the lamp is switched on and off, which can make the situation even worse over time. Fittings can become very hot and if the terminal becomes too loose, can start to spark. Once this happens the voltage generated when the spark occurs is enough to blow any bulb instantly.

We obviously sell lots of bulbs and occasionally one will blow before its time. However when this happens repeatedly it is nearly always down to faulty fittings or pulling out a plug without turning off the switch first (ever noticed the spark when you do this? That’s a very high voltage pushing the electricity across the gap created by pulling the plug away from the terminals and this shortens the life of the bulb.)

So if you find that you are going through more bulbs than you think you should, have a serious think about replacing the the fitting (you may be able to see discolouration, even burning, on the terminals). It will save you money in the long run and possibly even your house! It’s worth checking them from time to time anyway, especially if you have an animal that can get to the cable and put strain on it.

 

The Angell Pets Team

Exo Terra waterfall? Want to improve it?

Exo Terra waterfall in small to large. They work with a small pump that sits in the base of the assembly and pumps water to the top through a small hose that then runs down the face of the waterfall into the reservoir at the bottom where the pump sits. The medium and large versions aslo have a small reservoir half way down to take an optional fogger.

A few problems we have found using these Exo Terra waterfalls in our display vivs. include the reservoir running low through evaporation and the pump being very intolerant of running dry (they burn out quite quickly if the go dry), blockage of the pump from substrate or dead crickets etc. and the just awkwardness of the assembly to clean out leading to the water being left a little too long and going off. It really is just too much work to do every couple of days, especially if you have the Exo Terra waterfall in amongst a complex display viv.

Exo Terra Waterfall

 

A cheap, easy to install improvement can be made that drastically reduces the amount of cleaning required, improves the amount of water flow (the Exo Terra waterfall pump itself generates quite a low flow) without causing splashing all over the viv. and improves the quality of the water.

We replace the Exo Terra waterfall pump with a Superfish Aqua 50 filter pump. It is larger overall but still fits neatly into the reservoir or the Exo Terra water fall. It has a higher flow rate than the Exo Terra waterfall pump and has an very efficient cartridge filter. This will clean out and solids from the water in the Exo Terra waterfall and will allow nitrosomonas and  nitrobacter bacteria to grow in the filter membrane which will remove ammonia and nitrate (products of biological breakdown of waste) and keep the water clean and fresh for much longer, reducing the frequency of cleaning and improving the quality of the water available to your reptile to drink (we typically use them with chameleons, tokays, etc.). The pump in the Superfish Aqua 50 also has a higher tolerance to running dry than the Exo Terra waterfall pump (although this still is not to be recommended) and has an easy to change and inexpensive cartridge filter.

exo terra waterfall replacement pump

 

If you have and Exo Terra waterfall it is well worth giving this small improvement a go. Save yourself some work and improve the environment of your animal for very little cost.

 

The Angell Pets Team

Ferret kits now in stock

pet shop gloucester ferretFerret kits from our own Angell Pets breeding stock are now in store. I went over to our breeding centre last night and collected hob and jill kits which are now safely housed in store.

I also brought back Vinny (grandad) to house at home. What a journey that was. He is in full breeding condition and not the best passenger to have in the van (aircon off – windows fully open – he stinks!)

Anyway we have seven hobs ferrets and five jills available for sale. We will be working on the last stages of hand taming and litter training over the next couple of days.

Prices are the same as last year, £25 for a hob and £30 for a jill ferret. This is below trade price (to buy them in from one of our suppliers would cost me £40 each!!!). Our ferrets are always extremely popular and as we have not had the best of breeding seasons so far this year these little beauties will not be around for long. So if you have been waitng for one of our ferrets get in quick. We currently have polecat, silver mitt, sandy mitt and albinos.

Before considering buying a ferret please factor in the cost of neutering. Male ferrets smell very strongly in breeding condition and are at risk of prostate problems. Females MUST be mated to take them out of season (or be given expensive jill jabs) or they will get very ill or die. We recommend all ferrets bought from us are neutered and vaccinated for canine distemper..

 

The Angell Pets Team

Canagan cat food – NEW IN to our pet shop Gloucester

We took delivery at our pet shop Gloucester yesterday of the new Canagan cat food. Inititially we have 375g and 1.5kg bags in stock but will be getting the larger sizes.

pet shop gloucester

Canagan is a biologically appropriate UK sourced food for dogs and now also for cats. It is grain free and has a high meat content, just what cats eat in the wild. Click here to visit their website for more details.

Prices of the new cat food make it a very attractive alternative to the more traditional “premium foods”. These foods have all gone up in price this month as well so the price is even more attractive. 375g bags are only £2.99 and 1.5kg bags are from £11.99 (£12.99 for the salmon). Compare that to Hills which were £13.49 and have just gone up. As it is grain free (cats do not need grain in their diet, it’s just a filler) you feed less as well.

Pop in to our pet shop Gloucester and give it a try or call us and order (free delivery for local customers). Don’t forget to register for your 10% discount on the right first.

 

The Angell Pets Team

Pet shop Gloucester advice series – good hygiene

Pet shop Gloucester advice on avoiding infection from animals through good hygiene.

All animals have the potential to carry organisms (viruses, bacteria, protozoa, multicellular parasites) that can cause disease in humans. The most obvious and common is E.coli bacteria. We carry this ourselves, that’s why you should wash your hands after going to the toilet. Another common one is salmonella, potentially carried by a host of animals including reptiles and birds.

The commonest way of spreading these disease causing organisms is through faecal material (poop), urine, saliva and breath (in the water droplets). So on the face of it owning an animal seems to be a bad thing to do if you want to avoid being ill.

Well you actually stand more chance of being infected by disease from another human than you do from an animal, wild or a pet. How many people do you know who don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet or before preparing food, after blowing their nose, who sneeze, pick their nose, cough and splutter all over the place when they have a cold or worse and every one knows the story about the research into how many individual samples of human urine can be found on bar snacks! I even gave myself food poisoning recently, most likely from blue cheese, although I can’t be sure.

pet shop Gloucester

Humans eh! Dirty, horrible things.

With regard to animals, especially pet animals, the risk can be greatly reduced by ALWAYS following a basic set of rules. It is common sense really when you think about it but it does no harm to reiterate the rules here. You wouldn’t lick a rat’s bottom (I would hope not anyway!) but that is exactly what you are doing if, after handling your pet rat, you bite that little bit of hang nail off or wipe your mouth with the back of your hand.

  • Do not do anything that involves putting your hands near your face whilst handling any pet animal. This includes eating, drinking, smoking, sucking your thumb!
  • Keep your pet’s enclosure clean and dry generally. Remove soiled bedding and use a disinfectant appropriate to the species (household disinfectants can be toxic to animals).
  • Wash you hands IMMEDIATELY after handling you pet or cleaning its enclosure. Also after handling anything your pet touches such as toys, dog beds, scratch posts etc.
  • Do not kiss your pet or hold it close to your face, that’s what humans are for.
  • Cover any cuts, abrasions, sores or scratches with a water proof dressing before handling or cleaning. Also if you pick up any new ones in the process clean these and apply  a suitable dressing.
  • Don’t keep animals in rooms used to prepare food. Never let them walk on food surfaces and don’t wash animal items in sinks used for human food utensils. If you have no choice, always thoroughly disinfect the sink and surrounding work surfaces afterwards and don’t use the same cloths for both.
  • Don’t let animals onto your bed and especially not your pillow.

Follow these rules and you shouldn’t end up as one of the many people with an undiagnosed gastrointestinal infection (24 hour bout of diarrhoea) or one of the very rare cases of rat hantavirus (the only two cases of this flu like disease I know of in the UK were breeders who were in constant contact with rats but clearly didn’t have sufficient infection control).

If you are sensible pets have been shown to reduce disease in humans but if you lick a rat’s bum (figuritively speaking), expect the worst!

Keep visiting for more pet shop Gloucester advice.

The Angell Pets Team

Pet shop Gloucester care sheet – goldfish

Pet shop Gloucester advice series, how to look after goldfish

Goldfish are generally  rated as one of the easiest fish to keep. However there are basic requirements for all fish that must be provided for the fish to remain healthy. Goldfish come in a wide variety of colours and shapes. Whilst most are capable of being mixed as they have similar water quality requirements, not all should be mixed. Mixing normal or comet types with fancy fantails for instance can result in the fins of the fancy fish being attacked. Fancies and fantails with thier long flowing fins and tails tend to be slower moving than the “normal” types and cannot get away from boisterous tank mates.

pet shop gloucester goldfish

A fish tank is a sealed system. With the exception of perhaps oxygen and carbon dioxide, which can enter and leave the system at the surface of the water, anything you put into the tank stays in the tank and nothing can get in unless you put it in. Put food in and you have added energy and nitrogenous waste (from the protein in the food). So the fish will grow (and so may plants) and the waste will build up. In a natural system such as a river or lake, this waste is washed away and broken down (recycled and reused by other organisms). In a tank it cannot go anywhere and you have to establish and maintain the natural waste disposal mechanisms to deal with it.

Solid waste will build up in the gravel or sand and in the filter. Left alone a sludge would eventually build up and begin to rot, releasing toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). To prevent this is easy. Simply stir up the gravel at each partial water change (more on that later) or better still, buy a gravel cleaner that cleans the gravel as you remove water for the water change. Every second water change rinse the filter element in the water you have taken out to remove the solids. Do not rinse under the tap. This will kill all your lovely beneficial bacteria and you don’t want that. Some filters also contain carbon. This does become saturated and will need replacing periodically. The same is true if there is a nitrate removal sponge. Leaving this in for too long will seriously effect water quality.

Dissolved nitrogenous waste is released into the water by the fish in the form of ammonia. Ammonia is highly toxic to fish so it has to be removed. Bacteria that eat the ammonia live on the surface of the gravel and in the filter medium. They break it down into nitrite, which is less toxic and then into nitrate (much less toxic). Nitrate is plant fertiliser. If you do not remove this then your tank will suffer from excessive algae growth. For this reason and those already given you should carry out a partial water change (remove some of the water and replace it with fresh, i.e. treated if using tap water) every couple of weeks as a minimum. How frequently you need do this depends on a number of factors, size of tank, size of filter, number of fish, presence of plants etc. but for an established, reasonable sized, not overstocked tank every couple of weeks should be sufficient.

Having an efficient filter (internal or external) will significantly improve the quality of the water (and reduce frequency of partial water changes to a degree) and improve oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange rates at the surface of the water (by the rippling effect of the outlet of the filter). We do not sell goldfish bowls or recommend tanks without some form of filtration. It is possible to do without but it significantly increases the amount cleaning and water changes you will need to do and with the best will in the world people let it slip. In the end the fish suffers so we choose not to sell them.

pet shop gloucester external filter

There are three main ways of adding filtration. Under gravel, using an air pump to drive water down through the gravel and up and over a tube, internal cartridge or element, probably the commonest form in small tanks and external cartridge or element,  more usual in larger tanks. All work well and have their own benefits and drawbacks which we will not go into here. Any can be used with goldfish.

Before putting goldfish into a new tank it needs time to mature. A week is normally sufficient. This is to allow the natural systems to establish before being presented with waste to dispose of. The process of maturation can be accelerated by the addition of the necessary bacteria in a liquid form. Fish should then be added gradually over a period of weeks to enable the bacterial cultures to grow with the increased waste load.

Pet shop gloucester safewater

Plants make an attractive addition to the tank and can also help use up nitrogenous waste but they are not essential. Fish do like to hide among them and eat some kinds but artificial plants can be used. Ornaments are at your discretion, they can provide hideaways for nervous new fish but again are not essential.

Lighting is also not essential but does bring out the colours of the fish. If using real plants then the lighting is needed to encourage plant growth. Leaving the light on for too long can stimulate algal growth on the glass, gravel and any ornaments and plants though.

We wouldn’t recommend less than a 25 litre tank for goldfish. With regard to the number of fish there is no hard and fast rule but generally it is the surface area of the tank that dictates how many fish it can hold, rather than just the volume of water (larger surface area = higher oxygen exchange rate) so a shallower wide tank will hold more than a  deep narrow tank.

pet shop gloucester aqua 40

Goldfish are omnivores and eat a variety of food stuff. A good flake or pellet food is normally sufficient to provide all the necessary nutrients.

Goldfish are quite hardy. All goldfish are fish farm bred nowadays and can tolerate a wide range of waters. Tap water in this region is medium to medium hard and pH (a measure of the hydrogen ion content of the water) is well buffered (resistant to change)at around 7.4 – 7.6. This is suitable for all modern goldfish and further treatment for pH and hardness is not normally required. Note that if water quality is not made a priority and the tank is not regularly cleaned pH can rise to high levels and effect the health of the fish over time. As long as you do not neglect your routine water changes this will not happen. However chlorine and chloramines are present in the water to keep it safe for us to drink and these need to be remove before being used with fish. Standing tap water for 24 hours will remove the free chlorine but will not remove the chloramines. You must use a chemical (Tapsafe, Aquasafe, Safeguard etc.) to remove these toxic chemicals (toxic to the fish – not you) BEFORE using the water.

pet shop gloucester safeguard

Avoid using real rocks unless purchased for the purpose from a reputable aquarist shop. Some rocks will significantly change the water quality to the detriment of the fish (limestone for example). Fake rocks are resin based and will not effect water quality.

After you have bought your tank, set it up, let it mature for at least a week, you can add your fish. Don’t add more than one or two at a time. Check the fish in the shop for any obvious signs of disease such as a swollen body, damaged eyes or fins, sores, excreta stuck to the fish in a long line etc. The shop should carry out these basic checks in front of you and tick off each element of the inspection. When you get home, put the bag with the fish in into your tank (remember to remove some water first or you will have an overspill!) and leave it for about 15 minutes. This is for the temperature in the bag to equalize with that of the tank to avoid temperature shocking the fish (which can be fatal). Then remove the fish from the bag and put it in the tank. Do not bother to try to “acclimatise” the fish to the water chemistry by  making holes in the bag etc.. It takes many days for this to happen and is just not practicable.

Feed your fish daily. The food should be gone in 1 – 2 minutes maximum. Any longer and you are overfeeding your fish and this will eventually lead to problems. Check the fish daily for signs of disease. Carryout your water changes and filter cleaning and you should have a healthy fish for many years to come.

Pop into our pet shop Gloucester for more specific advice on goldfish.