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Goldfish are undemanding, cheap to feed and pretty to look at, which makes them popular pets. However a lot of owners don't know how to keep them healthy and happy.

First of all, when buying goldfish, you shouldn't let them be placed in those small water-filled plastic bags as these do not hold enough water or oxygen, so the fish usually dies soon afterwards. Because goldfish thrive on a good oxygen supply, you should buy a regtangular aquarium with a large water surface area, avoiding traditional round goldfish bowls. The aquarium should also have a glass cover with a gap of a few cenimetres for air exchange. Try to place the aquarium in a bright area that receives at least an hour's direct sunlight a day. The water must be kept unpolluted with a neutral pH range (between 6.8 and 7.2). Unfiltered aquariums should have the water partially changed several times a week; fltered tanks only need to have this done once a month. If you use tap water, let is stand in another container for about 45 days or buy some de-chlorinating tablets.

The greatest cause of death in goldfish is overfeeding. Only feed your fish what they can eat within five minutes and remove any leftover food. The average goldfish should be fed once a day with a pinch of fish food.

Sick fish are easy to spot. They will sit on the bottom of the tank, their fins and tails drooping, swim on their sides or even float upside down. Diseases can be caused by lack of filtration, incorrect water pH, dirty water, overcrowding and rough handling. Goldfish are also particularly sensitive to changes in their environment. Substances such as sprays, nicotene and new paint will harm the goldfish. If you suspect that your fish is sick take it to the vet and keep it in isolation to prevent the disease from spreading.