How do I keep a goldfish barrel algae-free?
August 3, 2004 3:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking after a neighbour's goldfish while she's recuperating after an accident. They're outside, in a half-barrel. The problem is that algi builds up in the water fairly quickly. Are there any tips to help keep the water cleaner, and improve the fishies' quality of life, in between changing it every week or so?
posted by Blue Stone to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
Take the barrel out of direct sunlight - you shouldn't get much algae then.
posted by BigCalm at 5:33 AM on August 3, 2004

I'm suprised that they survived outside to begin with. Goldfish can be ridiculously fragile.

in loving memory of Gatsby, Daisy, and Nick
posted by PrinceValium at 7:24 AM on August 3, 2004

are these goldfish, or koi? Here's what I came up with when I searched for koi and algae.
posted by crunchland at 7:57 AM on August 3, 2004

I'm suprised that they survived outside to begin with. Goldfish can be ridiculously fragile.

My mom keeps two goldfish outdoors in a small in-ground pond all summer (in Maine). (Flouting local laws about ponds and fish, I might add.) They seem fine, and have been fine for two or three years now. The only problem is they keep getting larger, so she has to increase the size of the pond every summer.

She brings them indoors in the fall and keeps them in an enormous brandy snifter. In both places, she has a number of strange water plants (plants who take root in water rather than soil) floating around in the water to keep the algae at a minimum.

I don't know the names of the plants, but she got them on the recomdendation of her local pet store.
posted by anastasiav at 8:22 AM on August 3, 2004

Take the barrel out of direct sunlight

Yeah, and keep the water cold, if at all possible--it holds more O2 or something. Add ice cubes every once in a while!

(I'm not kidding--my beloved goldfish Jaws died years ago because his bowl was on the windowsill and as the seasons changed, a greater amount of sunlight came through the window, raising the water temperature too much and killing my poor fishie. *sniff*)
posted by Asparagirl at 9:40 AM on August 3, 2004

So what sort of accident did the goldfish suffer?

Sorry, I couldn't resist.
posted by terrapin at 10:03 AM on August 3, 2004

toss in a couple of escargot
posted by Fupped Duck at 10:33 AM on August 3, 2004

Barley Straw. You can find little floating balls of the stuff, and it will keep the algae away.
posted by ewagoner at 10:43 AM on August 3, 2004

How much you feed them is definately a factor. It's been a while since we kept an outdoor pond (since moving to maine and not being the lawless sort like anastasiav's mom) but with indoor aquariums the fastest way to get algae blooms is to feed the fish more than they'll eat. Fish food is usually ripe with phosphorus which is good for fishes but also for algae!

Do you best to only put in as much food as they will eat entirely in about five minutes time, that's the simplest thing.
posted by nelleish at 3:53 PM on August 3, 2004

Just stick the hose in the half-barrel and overflow it a bit every couple of days. That much chlorinated water won't hurt them--or anyway it never hurt my grandmother's.
posted by jfuller at 5:20 PM on August 3, 2004

Snails. They work perfectly.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:03 PM on August 3, 2004

Response by poster: Wow. Lots of great things to try.

I'll definitely shift them out of the sun.
When I cleaned the barrel last time, I scrubbed away all the smooth algae on the sides, clearly that's what you don't do, crunchland. Thanks.
They get 6 pellets (2 each) of concentrated food a day - over-feeding was something I was warned about.
I remember hearing something about straw some time ago. I'll see if I can get some and try that.
They get filled up with tap water, so like it or not, that's all they get - seems they're ok enough. I'll try overflowing the barrel.

An abundance of answers. Thank you one and all.

And snails - regular garden snails? Won't they drown?
posted by Blue Stone at 3:03 AM on August 4, 2004

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