Goldfish For Sale Online: The Best Places to Buy in 2018

Can you order goldfish online and have them shipped directly to your door?

You bet you can!

Just in case you're not from Canada and can't order your new fish directly from us, here are our favorite places to look online for new fish.

Quick Navigation

Buy Goldfish On eBay

Interestingly enough, there are a lot of goldfish available for sale on eBay right now.

If you like what you see in one of the pictures below, feel free to click on through and it will be available on ebay right now.

If you're looking for a different style of fish, just change the name in the box below and it should load a custom list just for you.

If you stil don't see what you're looking for, click here (or the button below the pictures) and it will show you ALL the goldfish available right now.

Buy Goldfish From Dandy Orandas

Dandy Orandas sells imported goldfish via auction.

Buy Goldfish From King Koi

King Koi sells imported goldfish and ships North America wide.

Buy Goldfish From Gary Hater

Gary is a master breeder, and one of the founders of The Goldfish Council. His fish are amazing!

Buy Goldfish From Water Pigs USA

Joshua is a breeder out of Florida, and we mainly know him for his wonderful line of butterfly telescopes.

Buy Goldfish From Genki Koi

Genki Koi deals with imported Japense koi and goldfish.

Buy Goldfish From April's Aquarium

April's Aquariums sells imported goldfish via preorder sales.

Buy Goldfish From ProAquatic

ProAquatic sells imported goldfish primarily into the Greater Toronto Area.

Buy Goldfish From The Fish Sempai

The Fish Sempai sells imported and locally bred goldfish in Canada.

Buy Goldfish From The Pond Experts

The Pond Experts sell imported goldfish and koi in Canada.

Buy Goldfish From Coast Gem USA

Coast Gem USA sells imported goldfish in the USA.

Buy Goldfish From See's Goldfish

See's Goldfish sells US-bred goldfish in the USA. They offer a 90 day protection plan.

Buy Goldfish From Rain Garden Goldfish

Rain Garden Goldfish sells Hawaii-bred goldfish in the USA.

Buy Goldfish From Zhao's Fancies

Zhao's Fancies sells USA-bred fish in the USA.

Buy Goldfish From East Coast Ranchu

East Coast Ranchu sells USA-bred fish in the USA.

How Do I Know Who To Support?

Okay, so you now have a huge list of potential sources to buy goldfish from. How do you know who to support?

Although the following article will give you a lot of extra detail on all of these subjects, here are some opening thoughts that you can start to run through your mind.

Do They Sell All The Fish I Want?

This seems obvious on the surface, but shipping will often be the most expensive part of a live fish purchase. If you can get all the breeds you want from one source, it will save you money in the long run.

Mixing fish from different sources can sometimes result in health problems too if one group of fish doesn't have resistances to something another carries, so even if you plan to build up you tank over time, sticking with one source can be a good idea.

Look For Reviews

Although almost any business will have at least a few people who are angry at them on social media (welcome to the internet!), reviews are still the best way to know how they treat their customers overall.

If you remember that it only tends to be really happy and really angry people who are inspired enough to leave a review (take both with a grain of salt), you can start to build a pretty accurate picture of how a company does business by checking out their reviews.

One interesting development on that subject is that some companies that have had issues with customer support have taken to hiding their reviews on Facebook and other social sites. If you can't find any formal reviews at all, maybe give a thought to what that can mean as well.

Don't be afraid to directly ask someone for references if you can't find any, though realize that they'll tend to pick their biggest fans to send you to if they respond.

Ask About Disease And Quarantine

A recent survey of members of The Goldfish Council asked us to comment on whether the difficulty in obtaining healthy fish was hurting the growth of the goldfish keeping hobby in general.

Almost universally, we all agreed that it was.

On a personal level, this is why Erica and I started breeding our own goldfish; we simply got fed up at fighting off things that came in with fish we purchased.

As a result, before sending anyone any of your hard-earned money, be sure you know how they handle and take care of your fish. You probably wouldn't think it was okay for someone to sell you a sick dog or cat, but for some reason we don't always hold fish suppliers to the same standard.

When inquiring about this subject, consider asking your potential supplier how they handle disease. If they can give you a calm and reassuring explanation of how that happens if it happens, that's a good thing; even the best fish can get sick like any person can. If they claim they never have issues, or it's impossible to get a sick fish from them, consider that at least a bit of a sales pitch (or even a mild red flag).

If they import, insist that they give you a detailed breakdown of how they quarantine and prepare fish for sale. Make sure importing problems are their responsibility rather than yours, in a nutshell. If what they tell you doesn't pass your gut check, consider taking a pass and talking to someone else.

Reward Sources Active In The Hobby

In a nutshell, look for people that give back to the hobby rather than just seeking to profit from it.

Profit certainly isn't a bad thing (no sane person would run a business or sell something for long if there wasn't incentive to do so), but if the only time you interact with them is when they're trying to sell you something, that's not always good for the fishkeeping hobby in general.

If you see sellers attending conferences, making informational videos on YouTube, sharing tips and tricks on Facebook, or creating articles to help you be more successful as a goldfish keeper, consider supporting them in their efforts. If you decide to purchase a fish from someone because they've helped you in the past, both of you end up coming out ahead.

If they're just a source of fish, have strange restrictions on the care their fish required, or have a toxic personality that requires you to dance around and not "make waves" just to keep them happy, please don't reward that over someone trying to make a positive difference.

What's the Difference Between Buying Goldfish From a Pet Store Vs Buying Online?

Disease and Health Issues

If you read a lot of articles on the web about buying goldfish, most will point fingers at pet stores as being the worst sources of buying fish.

The reasons generally listed include:

  • stores not treating for anything but the most visible dieases like ich (and only because it's obvious)
  • stores selling "dirty" imported fish
  • stores not quarantining and instead selling on the same day that fish arrive

Though that's often true for most big chain stores and all but the most responsible local pet stores like Aquarium Co-Op in Washington State, it's worth mentioning that even poor online dealers are often guilty of the same things.

As a result, it's worth talking to both your local store AND your online dealer to see how they handle the fish they sell. You can find responsible shining examples both online and in-person, so that's not automatically what differentiates buying online from a brick and mortar store (let's just call them pet stores to keep things simple).

Hot House Flowers

One question you should ask any fish breeder or seller is whether their fish can be eventually mixed in with fish from other sources (after a suitable quarantine period, of course), or if you need to do anything special to keep them alive and healthy.

If they come back and say that their fish do not tolerate this (from a disease resistance perspective or something else) or they require arcane and ridiculous water preparation rituals in order to honor their guarantees, I strongly suggest you find your fish somewhere else.

There's a bit of an alarming trend forming in some areas where goldfish are being either artificially sheltered from all disease or pushed too hard to be big and beautiful quickly, and it's resulting in what I call "hot house flower" goldfish.

These fish will often be healthy and wonderful when viewed in isolation, but they can become real maintenance nightmares compared to a "normal" goldfish (who are generally quite tough animals).

As a result, take a long hard look at whether you REALLY want a fish that might fall over dead if you accidentally share a net with another tank, can't be mixed in with your other fish, and requires you to rearrange your life to give it special water that's been blessed by magical water fairies.

Personally, after having experience with such fish, I'm not sure they're worth it.


Pet stores make money from selling to the average customer that walks in off the street, and those customers aren't usually the big spenders. As a result, though you can often find good fish in stores, they're often mislabeled and/or fairly low quality examples of the common varieties of goldfish (decent comets, orandas, fantails, moors and ranchu with terrible backs are the usual suspects around my local stores).

If you can clean them up from the parasites that they're usually carrying (unless your local store is one of the good ones that do this for you) they'll make great pets, but they probably won't be the textbook examples of exceptional fish that you see in magazines or as online feature models.

Online stores have the advantage here, since they can specialize in fish that the general public barely recognizes.

If you go to breeders like ourselves, you might even be able to find exceptional, show-quality fish that the average store couldn't afford to raise and keep.

Ease of Transition For the Fish

If the local store has had the goldfish for a while, it's had a chance to adapt to your local water.

If they sell through fish quickly however, there isnt' really much differnce for the fish whether it's shipped from the wholesaler to your pet store or the online seller to your house.

This one is probably a wash for both online and pet stores, with a slight edge to pet stores that offer a 30 day replacement guarantee.


Both online and local pet stores that sell imported foreign fish will usually have the options of cheaper fish than a local breeder can sell, but not always.

Price tends to depend more on quality of fish than anything else, and only you can be the judge of whether a fish is "worth" the price that someone is asking.

The edge will go to pet stores most times just because there isn't a shipping price waiting for you at the checkout.


Pet stores allow you to bring fish home the same day, but usually have limited selection.

Online stores let you browse through fish even in your pajamas in bed, but require that you wait for your fish to be shipped in the mail.

Convenience depends on what you prefer in the end.

If you desperately want a particular variety in a particular colour, you probably want to go online. Odds are you won't find a blue egg phoenix at Petsmart after all!

If you want a fish today, however, that cute little black moor at your local store will probably make a great pet for years to come with the right care.

In The End

As you can see above, there are plusses and minuses to getting fish from either online or pet store locations.

If you get healthy fish, pay a price you can afford, and end up with a fish you love, you'll win either way.

That said, if you found this page and read down to this point, odds are that you're looking to purchase a goldfish from an online dealer.

The prospect of being able to get fish that aren't available in your local area is exciting, and at this point your heart is probably already set on finding your new gorgeous fish online.

Let's make sure that experience (whether you order from us or one of the other great vendors above) is as successful as it can be!

7 Key Steps To Making Sure You Have A Great Experience Ordering Goldfish Online

Before ordering goldfish online, make sure:

  1. you choose fish that you'll love
  2. to know why you're buying the fish you are
  3. you know how to set up an aquarium for goldfish
  4. you know how to take care of goldfish on a day-to-day basis
  5. you know exactly when and where your goldfish will be arriving
  6. you know how to transition your new fish to your tank
  7. you know what to do in the event of an emergency

Make Sure You Choose Goldfish That You Love

It might sound funny to lead with this requirement, but make sure you're buying a goldfish because it makes your heart dance rather than for some external reason (someone else thinks it's nice, you think it's rare, it's expensive etc).

Taking care of goldfish is rewarding and I've enjoyed almost every minute doing so, but it's is also a relatively time consuming and potentially expensive hobby.

Since taking care of fish you're not wild about is just as much effort as taking care of ones you look forward to seeing every day, start out by choosing fish you WANT to keep.

That might be something fancy and exotic, but it also might be a slightly chubby "basic" fish that doesn't quite swim straight (we call them our wabi-sabi special needs friends around here lol).

The Facebook goldfish forums are full of posts from people asking other people to confirm that they've chosen a good fish to buy, but remember, in the end the only opinion that really matters is your own.

Make Sure You Know Why You're Buying the Fish You Are

This statement is made up of a couple of different points, and we can cover them here together.

What Use To You Want To Make Of Your New Fish?

Are you buying a pet fish, a breeder fish, or one for a public display?

Pet Fish

If you're buying a pet fish, then the only limitations you have are the amount of space you're putting aside for the new arrival (and if you don't know how to size a goldfish tank then I have a great free guide here), the amount of work you're willing to put in, and the tank mates it will go in with.

If you need to upgrade the amount of space you need to keep the number of goldfish you want to keep, then please do so before you order the fish. The number of people who swear they're going to upgrade their tank size next paycheque or next month is quite high, but life has a way of making sure that never happens sometimes.

If you only have a small amount of time to work on your aquariums each week, then don't choose a small tank that will require multiple water changes a week. Doing a change on a large tank isn't much more work than doing one on a small tank if you something like this water change helper, so do yourself and favor and set yourself up for success.

If you want to create a tank with lots of life and variety in it, take the time to learn what kinds of goldfish (or other fish) are compatible with each other. Don't mix fish that are going to injure each other (no "sucker fish" or "cleaner fish" please), and don't make a cute-but-near-sighted black moor compete with a rocketship like a comet for food.

Breeder Fish

If you're thinking about breeding fish, consider going to a dealer or breeder that line breeds goldfish to get your seed fish (or breeder fish).

By getting fish which "breed true" (where at least a good portion of their babies look like the parents), you'll be more successful in carrying on a line of fish that looks similar to what you started with.

There's really no issue putting unrelated fish togther in a breeding tank, but considering goldfish genetics are always trying to revert back to their wild-type grass carp cousins <shudder>, you probably won't actually get something that looks "halfway between mom and dad" but is in fact a random mix of funny looking traits.

Even if you take, say, two butterfly telescope goldfish from two unrelated stores and cross them, if the genetic background of the two fish isn't compatible, you probably won't get many (or any) fish that look like the parents.

It can take many generations of selective breeding to create a line of goldfish (one that breeds relatively true), so unless you're up for a decade or so of work, maybe think about looking for fish that are already line bred (and do join us over at The Goldfish Council if you're interested in breeding).

Display Fish

When choosing fish for a display, consider keeping that display relatively consistent.

Though home tanks can be whatever you like, tanks set up for display or to bring good fortune to a home or business play by a slightly different set of rules.

If you're interested in the principles of feng shui, for example, you may want to taylor your display tank to abide by one of the various guiding principles below:

  • One: New beginnings
  • Three: Growth and development
  • Six: Mentor luck
  • Eight: Money and abundance
  • Nine: Long life, considered the luckiest number

The most common choice for such a tank is nine fish, and that's often a combination of eight red fish and a single black fish. The single black fish becomes a symbol of protection by absorbing any negative energy that enters your home, and it's health and happiness become very important as a result.

Are You Buying The Fish For An Existing Tank?

We've already spoken about choosing tank makes properly, but it's worth mentioning one more time that not all fish (or even all goldfish) are compatible. Feel free to check with us if you're not sure, or join our Facebook group if you need an immediate response from someone.

Even more importantly, however, do you have a quarantine tank to temporarily house the new fish for a few weeks to a few months to make sure both they and their new friends aren't sick?

Though the better stores will do some quarantine themselves and some are even silly enough to try to "guarantee" fish to be disease free (more on that later), that still doesn't mean that fish adapted to conditions in one tank potentially hundreds of miles away won't need a period of adjustment when you bring it home.

A newly arrived goldfish will get stressed by the darkness and bouncing of travelling in a box, the potential temperature and pressure changes from air travel, and then the change from dirty bag water into your new fresh aquarium water. It can't help but be vulnerable to normally safe bacteria etc that live in your water, and that will be made even harder if there are already fish in the tank that have yet another set of creatures that live on their skin and in their digestive systems.

Do yourself and your new arrivals a favour and have an aquarium (or even a storage tub from Home Depot etc) set up with clean water, a filter, and peace and quiet.

On Buying "Disease Free" Goldfish 

One of the deeper truths you'll learn about goldfish is that they can be some of the easiest and most carefree fish to take care of if they're healthy (that's why they're called "beginner friendly" by some), but one of the most frustrating and heart breaking to own if they're not (and why other people say they're most definitely NOT a beginner's fish).

As a *tiny* word of warning, the following section isn't isn't meant to scare you off owning goldfish even though it's not the most fun thing you'll read today. Hopefully it helps to arm you with the tools to make sure you'll be successful keeping goldfish, however, no matter where you get them from.

Though goldfish breed happily if provided with the right water conditions and in theory can be bred "anywhere", most stores don't breed their own and instead import from overseas. This is because imported goldfish are generally cheaper due to lower labor and water costs in Asia right now, and most of those are grown in outdoor ponds. From the breeders the fish are sent to distribution centers in their home countries, from those distribution centers to wholesalers in your country, and from those wholesalers to the place you bought your fish from.

In all of those places, they can (and usually will) pick up some form of disease.

The reason for this is that outdoor ponds are outdoors, and birds and other critters can't help but introduce things into the ponds.

When fish are spread out in huge ponds they don't get exposed to very many issues, but when they come into a home aquarium or dealer tank and are much closer together, they suddenly spread things between each other much more easily.

Though it's a testament to how tough goldfish actually are that they generally don't show many signs of the parasites and bacteria they carry on their skin, gills and in their guts, but even the toughest of them will only take so much.

When fish get brought into dealer tanks or pet stores, most times the tanks aren't sterilized between shipments of fish. The tanks are often also organized into banks or racks which also share filters and water, and so anything one fish brings in is easily spread to others.

Most stores don't treat fish with any useful or properly dosed medication, and instead rely on selling the fish before it dies (then selling you the medication you need to solve their problems). 

As people like yourself are becoming more aware of the value of keeping healthy fish, they're pushing back on dealers to be more proactive with disease management.

Some are doing a good job of it, and some not so much.

Our own experiences ordering from even places that "guarantee" disease free fish is that, well, they still need a little bit of help most times.

For our own part, each of our indoor tanks is on completely isolated and automatic water change systems, and none of the tanks share nets or water change equipment as a result. 

When we keep fish outdoors to benefit from the sunlight and tasty bugs outside, they get thoroughly dewormed before they come back inside.

And lastly, if any fish come into the house, they get quarantine medication whether our microscope scrapes and fecal sample tests come back clean or not.  If my resident biologist wife Erica sees something we recognize they get targeted treatment on top of the quarantine meds, and if it's something we're unsure of we have good relationships with a local aquatic vet, the local university veterinary school, and the provincial health labs for both Alberta and British Columbia. 

Even after those treatments are done, new goldfish get kept in an isolated room and have to have at least two disease free months before they're allowed to join our normal tanks. If they show any disease in quarantine, that two month period restarts only when they test out clean again.

Is this taking things to an extreme? You better believe it. We love our fish, however, and want to make sure that people like you can also love them as well.

All this is to say, be sure you check with your dealer to see what they do before ordering new fish.

If they claim that their suppliers quarantine, or they only keep fish for a couple of weeks or less before sending them on (most disease can take at least that long to even show up), I would suggest either finding a new source or being prepared to treat for disease.

Suppliers who turn fish over quickly will usually have cheaper fish, but the price of medication (if it's even available in your area and you know what to order in the first place) quickly makes those "cheap" fish very expensive.

Whew, depressing bit over...back to happier subjects!

Are You Buying The Fish You See in the Pictures and Videos You See, Or The Fish You Hope It Grows Into?

You've found your dream fish, and your finger is poised over the "buy" button. Before you click, take a minute to think about whether you're buying the fish in the picture, or what you hope that fish will be later on.

Most breeders and sellers will have fish available at a wide range of ages and sizes, with the smaller or younger fish often being less expensive (though with koi, that can actually be the opposite of what happens).

It can be very tempting to opt for smaller fish for a variety of reasons. They include: -smaller fish generally travel better than larger ones since they make less waste and consume less oxygen -it's less expensive to ship smaller fish since they require less water -smaller fish, being cheaper, are...well...cheaper -you get to watch your fish grow up

That said, goldfish of all types are notorious for changing colour as they age, so the cute colour pattern you picked out on a young fish (especially if it involves black markings) will usually change as the fish ages.

In terms of size and wen growth, it's also my personal experience that most of the potential of a goldfish has to be captured within the first year. That means that if you want to get the biggest and fanciest fish you can (100% not everyone's goal), you will have to provide the fish with fairly specialized care and feeding.

If you just want a healthy pet fish, this isn't a big deal, and most standard goldfish care will be fine.

If you want your young fish to grow up to be like the photos your seller may have shown of their parents, then you need to be able to "groom" the fish (raise it) like the breeder did.

Transporting a fish in the mail also takes a little bit of a toll on most of them, so the odd ripped fin or hint of redness in the fins is to be expected. That isn't neccessarily a sign that the shipper did anything wrong, but instead is just the result of bouncing around inside a box in the mail for a day or more. Most of the time that damage will heal with no sign left, but be aware that it won't neccearily look like its sales video until it's fully recovered and adapted to your care.

Make Sure You Know How to Set Up An Aquarium for Goldfish

Lastly, though here at Arctic Lights Aquatics we go out of our way to produce all kinds of materials that you can use to educate yourself on goldfish care, and send out a detailed care package of information well in advance of your new fish arriving, most other online sources of goldfish tend to assume you know what you're doing when you order fish from them.

Some will even get twitchy, snarky, or even stop responding if you ask them basic questions.

As a result, you should really have the basics of setting up an aquarium down pat before ordering a goldfish online.

If you can answer the following questions, you're probably good to go.

  1. is your aquarium the right size for the number of fish you want to own?
  2. do you know if the fish you're buying are adults, or what their adult size is?
  3. are you going to need a bigger tank later on as your fish age?
  4. is your filter going to cope with the load you're adding?
  5. is your tank cycled for the load you're going to ask of it?

If you weren't sure about some of those, maybe take a few extra weeks to do a bit more reading and learning before committing to bringing your new friend home (hint: there's lots on this site to help you get there).

Make Sure You Know How to Take Care of Goldfish On A Day-To-Day Basis

The upside of taking care of healthy goldfish is that it's actually fairly simple in the grand scheme of things. If you keep clean water and feed good food, the you generally end up with healthy fish.

As a result, before you order your new fish, be sure to have good grasp on both of those.

Some fish will require a special diet to develop the special characteristics you might be looking for, so if you're ordering young fish be sure to research the proper "grooming" techniques or food they might require. Examples might be:

  • having the right light and aquarium colour to get black fish instead of olive ones
  • feeding the right food to make sure your fish gets the right sort of wen growth
  • following traditional care techniques to end up with the body shape you want

Sometimes the dealer or breeder will know this information, and sometimes you'll need to hunt it down on your own.

With adult fish, you just need to feed a healthy diet and you should be good to go.

On the clean water side, the best advice I can give you is to change water for a reason rather than just doing things out of habit.

MOST people change what basically comes down to random amount of water each week. They do so because they polled their friends and did the same thing they did, they asked the store where they bought their fish, or they looked online and found an article that said to change "25% a week" or something else.

Relatively few people change the right amount of water for a reason that's repeatable, however.

Some easy guidelines we recommend are:

  • for adult fish in unplanted tanks, keep less than 40ppm nitrate, 0 nitrite, and 0 ammonia. Less is better.
  • for adult fish in planted tanks, keep between 20ppm and 40ppm nitrate. Plants use nitrate as fuel, so you can't let those drop to 0.
  • for young fish (3 months to 6 months old), keep nitrate around 10ppm or less
  • for baby fish (3 months old or less), keep nitrate as low as you can get them 

Does that mean you have to test? 'Fraid so :)

If you test each week for the first month and then every month or two afterwards, however, it's not more than 10 mins of extra work however.

If you notice that there isn't a "change x% each week" in there, you're quite correct! Each combination of tank/fish/plants will be unique, so you'll get to learn exactly what your own tank requires.

Though most people won't, if you take the time to do this little exercise, you'll take your fish keeping to the next level and have FAR fewer problems in the long run.

Make Sure You Know Exactly When and Where Your Goldfish Will be Arriving

Though shipping is expensive, the quicker you can get your fish to your door, the better. Fedex is my preference, but to some extent your shipper will determine what carrier you'll end up using.

Tracking is not even an option with fish, so even if it's an extra cost, buy it. Check it often, and be sure you know when your fish will be arriving.

Make SURE there's no chance that some unsuspecting post worker will leave the box on your doorstep in the wintertime. Up here we have a service called Flex Delivery which ensures that all boxes will get delivered to an indoor location, so if you have a similar option, be sure to use it.

Lastly, even if it's inconvenient, don't wait too long to pick up your package and get the fish into clean water. Have your tank setup and cycled long in advance, and have a little bit of leeway in your personal schedule to move things around if the box suddenly show up early or ends up late.

Trust me, your fish will thank you.

Make Sure You Know How To Transition Fish To Your Water

Matching Temperature

Before the fish even arrives, get in contact with your seller and ask them what sort of bags the fish have been packed in. This affects how you will help them adjust to your tank water

Generally there are two types of bags that sellers will use to pack goldfish in to ship; breather bags, and regular bags.

As the name implies, breather bags allow gasses to pass through them in order to give fish the ability to breath longer in the bags, and for waste gasses to escape.

If shipping times are short (overnight shipping is used, for example), they can be great ways of making sure fish survive journeys in good condition.

If a fish comes packed in a bag that's full to the brim with water (has no air gap), it's usually a breather bag.

If your fish are coming in breather bags, NEVER float those bags in your aquarium in order to match temperature. Doing so can cause your goldfish to suffocate, since gasses can no longer pass through the bag wall.

If the temperature inside the shipping box is significantly different from the temperature in your tank, just place the bag on the lid of the aquarium for an hour or so and allow them to come to about the same temperature that way.

Regular bags, on the other hand, always come packed with half to 2/3rds of the bag filled with air (or oxygen from a pressurized bottle), and the rest as water and fish.

Though regular bags don't allow gasses to enter and exit the bag, they have the advantage of keeping the pH in the bag lower over longer journeys (the pH will drop as the goldfish breathe and release carbon dioxide).

Though this might seem to be a bad thing (and it is for aquariums over the long term), extremely low pH keeps the waste products that goldfish produce from becoming toxic.

Regular bags can be floated in the aquarium in order to temperature match (careful not to overflow the tank!), and will come to a temperature match much quicker.

Matching Water Parameters (Acclimation)

In terms of matching the water in either type of bag to the water in your tank, follow the directions your seller will include.

Some sellers will recommend that you open the bag, add a few drops of Prime or another water conditioner, and add a few scoops of water every 15 mins or so until the bag is mostly full of new tank water.

An alternate version of this is to place the fish and bag water into a bucket with that same few drops of Prime, then to setup a drip system to slowly transition the fish from bag water to tank water.

For my part, I always "plop and drop" my goldfish straight from a temperature matched shipping bag straight into the tank they're going in.

The reasons for this are as follows (for goldfish, other fish may vary):

  1. the fish are generally stressed by being confined, and getting them into a more open space really helps them to settle down
  2. you can't transition the fish slowly enough for their body chemistry to have time to adjust to the new water. They'll adapt just fine over time on their own, but the water itself doesn't have to change slowly.
  3. water in breather bags can become extremely toxic because of gas exchange allowing ammonia to build up. Prime detoxifies this in theory, but it's better in my opinion to just get the fish out of the ammonia-filled water as quickly as possible
  4. water in regular bags will be generally only mildly toxic because the lower pH will convert ammonia into a less toxic chemical called ammonium, but as soon as the built-up CO2 from the fish breathing is allowed to escape as is replaced by regular air, the pH in the bag will rise and the ammonium will revert to ammonia again. As mentioned before, this is extremely toxic, so getting the fish out of the bag as quickly as possible is a good plan.

There's no need to use nets with goldfish unless you simply can't stand the thought of touching fish, and so after washing your hands with a gentle soap and rinsing well, just lift the fish out of the bag and place it in the tank (a helper to hold the bag is very welcome!).


There are two main schools of thought when it comes to lighting a tank for new goldfish.

The "turn the light off" school would offer that a darkened aquarium is less threatening, and can give the fish a chance to chill out and hide while it adapts to its new surrounding.

Any fish already in the tank (not applicable to you because you're quarantining them though, right?) are less likely to notice and come up to bug the newcomers, and they can find a place to swim to unmolested.

Those who leave the light on say that fancy goldfish don't have amazing eyesight, and so giving them the ability to better see any obstacles in the tank is a good thing. The can also see any locations that fish are already hiding out in, and won't be encountering fish they're not expecting as often.

Either is fine, but if you have the option of dimming your light, that's a great medium ground.

No real wrong answers here.


If you can avoid it, please hold off feeding your new arrivals for a day or two after they arrive.

Their system is already having to adjust to the new water conditions from your local water, so asking them to digest food a the same time can be a little too much.

Since goldfish can go weeks without food with no major issues, an extra day without noms isn't going to kill them (no matter what they try to tell you!)

Quarantine Medication

The subject of using medication on new fish is one that has no single right answer.

Those opposed to it say that you should never use medication without knowing exactly what you're treating, and sometimes mumble something about "developing drug resistance".

Though I'm completely in agreement that it would be great if we could all be using drugs to treat the exact parasites and diseases that our fish have in each and every case, that suffers from a few issues:

  1. very few people have access to vets that know goldfish well (the vet in charge of Canada Border and Inspection Services asked us what species of goldfish we were bringing in when we talked to him...there's only one species of goldfish)
  2. most fancy goldfish tend to be very stoic, and won't show signs of illness or disease that people will recognize until they're almost on death's door. Those fish can be extremely ill, but nature has taught them that weak fish get picked off first by predators and so they won't show weakness if they can avoid it. As a result, sickenss isn't noticed until it's very advanced, and treating extremely sick fish is even harder than treating mildy sick ones (or doing preventative treatments on healthy fish)
  3. unless a disease is obvious and visible to the naked eye (ich, velvet, fish lice), most people don't know what they're supposed to be treating. Diagnosing those other diseases generally requires at least a microscope, and bacterial issues may require you to know how to perform stains and to heat set slide preparations. I'm lucky that Erica has lots of lab experience and is able to do this for us, and we even went so far as to have a decent microscope and camera available for recording issues we find (this one is amazing, including the camera that people seem to want to complain about:

    ...but most people don't actually want to purchase and learn to use one.

From the drug resistance perspective, that's most often created by using drugs to partially kill of issues, but not finishing the course of antibiotics (for example). If all the pathogens are killed off properly, that doesn't create resistance.

As a result, if you properly use a the medication as recommended (that means no "half dosing for sensitive or scaleless fish" etc), you're not contributing to the problem.

The argument FOR quarantine medication, and why we I meds on each and every fish that enters our program no matter what the source, is therefore the reverse of the above.

What I would do as a minimum for new fish:

  1. use this medication trio on every fish that enters your house. One dose of each medication used at the same time has been proven to be safe, and to dramatically reduce the number of "unexplained" losses of fish by people who have used it.
  2. If you're in Canada IchX is easily available, but substituting PraziPro and MetroPlex  for General Cure is an option since those are the components of General Cure, but that's not a combo we've personally tested (we have a stockpile of meds from before they were removed from sale in Canada). There's no easy replacement for erythromycin unfortunately, so bacterial issues may involve the help of a vet (blame the idiots who were using it on themselves even though we have universal healthcare).
  3. Watch the fish for obvious signs of illness, and treat them as they come up. The fish needs to be symptom free for at least two weeks before adding it to the display tank

Our program also includes:

  1. levamisole per this article for red worms if required
  2. PraziPro at 10mg/L on all fish to treat for parasites per this article
  3. skin scrapes (always) and gill biopsies (as required)
  4. isolation for at least two months disease free

Peace and Quiet

Though it can be tempting to spend the first day oohing and ahhing over your new fish and taking all sorts of pictures of them to share with your friends, do remember that your fish will be scared out of its wits at first.

If you notice that the fish is spooky and easily startled, that's a sign that they're still adjusting to their new surroundings.

If you can place your quarantine tank in a quiet room that isn't used often, that's ideal, but even having some plants or few smooth rocks to hide behind will be a welcome chance to feel safe if they become nervous.

If you need to do water changes, by all means do them, but don't go crazy and do a ton of them trying to be extra dilligent unless your tests are telling you do.

In the end, the more you can leave them alone to settle in for the little while, the better off they'll be. Enjoy your fish, and observe them enough to make sure they're not sick, but use your best judgment.

Make Sure You Know What To Do In the Event Of An Emergency

Since the act of packaging a fish into a box and having them bounce around in the bottom of an airplane or postal van is stressful on the fish in the best situations, the moment you open the box shouldn't be the first time you wonder how best to take care of a stressed fish.

Pet stores will do their best to help you, but not all of them are armed with the correct information.

Your online dealer should help you if you have any problems, but not all of them are equally open to helping you in the time span you might require.

In order to be a little bit self-sufficient, if you know how to treat basic diseases like ich, costia, flukes, bacterial infections and skin lice, you'll cover most of what you might encounter from the average imported goldfish.

Though strains of the diseases vary and your local water conditions may require adjustments, this can mean:

  • Ich: which we treat with Aquarium Solutions IchX and NOT heat (too much stress on the fish, takes too long) 
  • Costia: which will make us drop a supplier if we see it, but we treat with salt, heat, and/or malachite green and/or formalin if required
  • Flukes: which get treated with PraziPro, common in outdoor fish (though still harmful)
  • Bacterial Infections: treated with API E.M. Erythromycin
  • Skin Lice: manual removal and dimilin or similar

Beyond that, be sure to know where to turn if you happen to encounter less common problems (we have an extensive guide to treating goldfish problems on here, for example, over and above the simple shortcuts above).

Some suggestions would be:

A Note For Canadians Ordering Goldfish From The United States

Unfortunately, most US suppliers don't ship to Canada.

We personally get around this by shipping all our personal goldfish purchases to the nearest FedEx or UPS Station near the border (Great Falls, Montana for us), where we meet them to pick up the packages.

Make sure that the package will contain an invoice which will be part of the documentation set that you show to the inspector at the border point of entry.

In addition to your proof of ownership, you'll need to print out and complete the Importer's Declaration of Ownership for Pet Aquatic Animals Form (Form 5685) which you can find here or more directly here (until they change the link, anyway).

Though goldfish are on the list of allowable animals to be brought in to Canada and you should only need to tell them that the animals are for your own aquariums ("personal use only"), unfortunately you will usually be dealing with customs officials who are both confused and surprised by relatively expensive live animals. Though we've had this conversation a number of times, and have even spoken to the regulating vet at Canada Border and Inspection Services, it's still something you should be prepared to deal with.

There are no inspection or border fees per say, but you will have to pay GST and any applicable provincial or territorial sales tax.

In The End, Just Be Prepared to Own Goldfish

In the end, if you're a new goldfish owner or are not comfortable caring for fish that are stressed or sick, then I'd personally wait to order fish online until you have a bit of experience taking care of fish you get from local stores or fellow aquarium owners.

It's amazing what you can find in the average pet store if you're patient, and those fish can provide an easy intoduction to goldfish keeping without the extra investment of shipping costs.

Good luck! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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