The quality of fish you receive can vary massively depending on where you decide to buy goldfish and whether they have been kept in suitable conditions.
Even with the best goldfish care, where you choose to buy your goldfish can be the difference between owning a fish that lives a long life and grows to its full potential and owning a fish that dies just days or weeks after purchase.
Buying poor quality goldfish is one of the most common mistakes new goldfish keepers make!
But with goldfish for sale in so many different stores and via so many websites, how can you be sure to buy goldfish of a good quality from a reputable seller?
Here, we explain the options available, list some recommended sellers and let you know how to tell a good pet store from a bad one!
4 places to buy goldfish
Pet store chains
You can buy goldfish from large pet chain stores such as Pets At Home or PetSmart. However, we don’t recommend this option. A quick search on Google will reveal a number of forum threads and blog articles from people that have had negative experiences with poor advice on goldfish care and ill fish that die shortly after purchase. We’re not saying that all stores and staff are bad, or that all fish will be ill, or that any one chain is worse than others. However, we do believe that you have a much better chance of receiving a healthy fish if you choose to buy goldfish from a quality independent store or breeder, rather than from a national chain.
Independent pet stores
Clearly, with independent pet stores, each store is unique and will vary in quality. We recommend looking for the following signs of a good pet store and suggest that you don’t buy goldfish from a store unless they meet these criteria:
- Large tanks – Do the goldfish look crammed in or are they swimming freely and comfortably?
- Good filtration – Are the tanks filtered? Do they have a large external filter system?
- Clean tanks – Do the tanks have clear, clean glass and water? Are they free from algae?
- No dead fish – An obvious one! If there’s a dead fish in ANY tank in the shop then do not buy goldfish from that shop.
- No ill fish – As above, if you notice white spots or any other illness or injury on ANY fish in the shop then do not buy goldfish from there (including ones that appear healthy).
- Knowledgeable staff – Test the staff’s knowledge by asking a question that you already know the answer to! For example, how big a tank does a goldfish need? Do goldfish need a filter? Etc. If they get the answer wrong then it’s not necessarily a deal breaker if the rest of the shop looks ok, but it is a bad sign and you should be wary!
- Water sample tests – Take a sample of your tank water along and ask the shop whether they are able and willing to test it for you. A good pet shop will offer this service and will be honest with you if your water is not suitable for fish. They may even refuse to let you buy goldfish from them if your water quality is poor. This can be frustrating, but is best for the fish and the sign of a very good pet store run by a responsible seller.
If you can find a breeder in your area than this is an excellent way to buy goldfish. Breeders are usually goldfish enthusiasts with lots of experience of raising healthy fish. Goldfish aren’t easy to breed, so they must be doing something right in order to breed them successfully.
Buying directly from a breeder also means that you know where your fish came from and can be sure that it hasn’t been shipped half way round the world before reaching you. Buying goldfish this way can be more expensive than buying from a pet store, but if you can afford it then it’s almost always a good idea to buy goldfish directly from a breeder.
In order to find a goldfish breeder with goldfish for sale in your area, you should search online or contact goldfish associations who may be able to offer contacts and advice. In the US you could contact The Goldfish Society of America or the American Goldfish Association, while in the UK, you could try The Goldfish Society of Great Britain.
Buy goldfish online
Some people are surprised that it’s even possible to buy goldfish online, as receiving a fish in the post sounds like quite a strange idea! But it is possible and does work well as long as you find the right seller. A good online goldfish seller will use a courier company that is fully licensed to transport live fish, will explain their packaging and delivery process (how will the goldfish be kept safe? can they guarantee a delivery time? Etc) and will have a number of positive customer reviews.
Here are a few of our favorite places to buy goldfish online:
Do you buy goldfish online? Have you bought goldfish from any of these retailers? Was your experience good or bad? Leave a comment to let us know!
And remember: if you’re thinking of buying goldfish then you must first set up your tank – including the filter – and properly cycle your aquarium!