Help me play with my goldfish
March 4, 2023 2:29 PM   Subscribe

My three-year-old goldfish is large, healthy, and bored. They need a larger tank, but that can't happen for another few months. I'd like to interact with them more to lift their spirits, but I'll need to make my own hoop and/or install my obstacle course for them. Their body is about the size of my average size adult lady's hand. What can I get at Lowe's to use as a hoop to train them to jump through and set up some obstacles for them to swim through? No rough edges and must be easy to clean. As an aside, we've eliminated water conditions and health conditions (parasites, bacterial infections) as reasons for their minor malaise. I'm positive they are bored. Adding a tank mate is not an option, they are an unusually aggressive goldfish and have killed before :(
posted by OsoMeaty to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I used to get mine to dance. Throw on music I loved, stand in front of the tank and wiggle-dance to the far left corner of the tank, wiggle-dance to the far right corner of the tank, back and forth…. they would follow me, and after we did a few rounds, I’d give them an extra pinch of food.

I suppose you could suspend small shiny objects into the tank or find leaves to drop in (or float on the surface). I think it’s wonderful that you are concerned about how they are feeling.
posted by Silvery Fish at 2:37 PM on March 4 [9 favorites]

Lots of ideas in this blog post about goldfish enrichment activities.
posted by corey flood at 3:08 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just to add: they have live plants, and marbles (they don't care for them), did not enjoy ping pong balls and are too large for those fish games available on amazon. I'm specifically looking for materials I could find at Lowe's (or similar) that I use to make into a jumping hoop or obstacle course for their tank. I am not very handy. We do lots of tank-side interaction. Thanks!
posted by OsoMeaty at 3:32 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]

There's all sorts of 4 inch PVC pipe stuff at Lowes! You can get the connector things like this to use as a hoop or figure out if they can cut you small segments of a complete pipe. Drill a hole and use a knotted nylon rope to suspend perhaps?
posted by foxfirefey at 3:47 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]

Would a ring like this work? It's from Michael's not Lowes, but any craft store would have this kind of ring.
posted by OrangeDisk at 4:29 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Food-safe glass and food-safe unpainted ceramic should be good. I'd go to a thrift store with a lot of kitchen/dining items. Watch out for non-food-safe ceramic -- sometimes the glazes aren't safe.

You could also look on Etsy or elsewhere for e.g. glass napkin rings.

I also made a great hiding tube out of a white ceramic toothbrush cup from, I think, Target.

Also: you can look into making interesting shapes with wood that's made for aquaria -- I wouldn't put random wood in there unless you research what species are safe and how to prepare it.

Even though you say there are plants already, you can add more or rearrange what she has - a change will be interesting for her. I'm a firm believer that making areas inside a vivarium that are distinct and semi-separate makes their world more interesting.

You can add one item that's cavelike (a tiny antique sugar bowl is a thing I used), then after a while, move it to a new location, add another item, or exchange it for a different item (cave made out of stacking flat rocks that are aquarium safe). You might find that she enjoys having the plants trimmed, or if you can figure out how to introduce new food that she can chase.

Anything you get at Lowes needs to be researched. Is the coating on galvanized metal toxic to fish? Are PVC pipes a totally safe kind of plastic for fish? Do the manufacturers of large steel bolts usually coat them with any kind of oil? Are those clear tubes the right kind to make a water bridge?

Oh, maybe Google "aquarium water bridge" if you don't already know about them! You might be able to use that principle to give your fish more room vertically. :)
posted by amtho at 5:44 PM on March 4 [4 favorites]

It's not at Lowes, but you could rig up a feeder ring with some sort of weight and visible line (you don't want them to get entangled in fishing line). The large ring in that link is 8".

Alternatively you may be able to use clear tubing (like airline or filter tubing) to make a ring. You need a tiny piece of a slightly larger interior diameter to hold it together. Or get some 1/4 polyethylene tubing for irrigation and use a 1/4" connector to make a hoop. Some examples of tubing hoops here.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:56 PM on March 4

Rubber O- rings come in various sizes.
posted by Kriesa at 7:08 PM on March 4

With some thin plastic tubing, you could make a ring or just drape it for them to jump. I think it’s awesome you’re trimming your fish. Craigslist/free and Buy Nothing groups are a great source for fish tanks.
posted by theora55 at 5:22 AM on March 5

amtho sorta suggested this above but to expand: One thing they suggest you do with kids is only have a fraction of their total toys in rotation at any given time. Then switch the toys out occasionally. You can do this with the things that your fish finds interesting, too. But don't swap everything all at once, that way there's also always a familiar thing.
posted by aniola at 4:15 PM on March 5

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