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What’s the Price of a Pet Goldfish in 2021? Goldfish Cost Guide

Nicole Cosgrove

When it comes to considering a pet goldfish, there are two types of people. The first is the type of person that believes you can just run to the store, grab a $10 fishbowl, a $0.30 goldfish, and a $5 container of fish food, and you’re all set. The second is the type that believes that the setup for a goldfish is going to cost hundreds of dollars for a tank and all the equipment needed.

If you’re the first type of person, then you may be surprised to hear that there’s more to it than that, but you can still get a pretty swanky goldfish setup on a budget. If you’re the second type of person, then you may be pleased to hear that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a pretty swanky goldfish setup unless you want to. Let’s talk about the price associated with a pet goldfish in 2021.

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1. The Fish

ryukin 5 Pack Live sm. Mixed Goldfish_Amazon

This is going to be the most variable cost aside from the tank. You can get a feeder goldfish from most big box stores for about $0.18. This will be your typical Common or Comet goldfish. If you’re more interested in a fancy goldfish variety, you can find some at big box stores for about $5. If you’re in the market for something a little rarer, you can use local and online retailers and breeders to find the perfect fish but be prepared to spend a little more. Some rare goldfish can sell for more than $300! Generally speaking, most people are going to spend less than $40 on a goldfish.


2. The Tank

GloFish Aquarium Kit Fish Tank_Amazon

When it comes to choosing a fish tank, you can really decide how rich your blood is. You can pick a fishbowl for about $10-20, but you’ll still need to invest in a filter and other necessities. Fish tanks can easily exceed $1000 when you start looking at large and custom builds. The size, material, and included products will all influence the cost of a specific fish tank. For a quality tank, expect to spend around $50 or more.


3. The Filter

FREESEA Internal Aquarium Power Filter_Amazon

The cost of a fish tank filter is extremely variable based on the size of the tank and the type of filter. When it comes to keeping goldfish, don’t skimp on the filtration system! Goldfish are big bioload producers and need great filtration to maintain their water quality and keep them healthy. A best guess estimate of what you’ll spend on a good filtration system for your goldfish tank is around $5-15 for every 10 gallons of tank water. Canister filters tend to be the most expensive, while internal and sponge filters tend to be the least expensive. However, this is because canister filters usually provide better filtration and do a better job of maintaining water quality than internal or sponge filters.


4. The Substrate

CNZ Decorative Ornamental River Pebbles Rocks_Amazon
Image Credit: CNZ, Amazon

Substrate isn’t required for a goldfish tank, so if you don’t feel like substrate is your thing, then you can skip this one. If you’re intending to keep plants, then a substrate is a good idea. Some people swear by gravel in their goldfish tanks, but goldfish have been known to get gravel stuck in their mouth. This can be dangerous and can lead to death if you’re not home to see it happen and help out, so oftentimes sand is recommended, although some people prefer substrate that is too large for goldfish to get in their mouth, like pebbles and river rocks. It’s recommended that you use 1 pound of substrate for every gallon of water in your tank. Be prepared to spend $1-5 per pound of substrate.


5. The Décor

majoywoo Natural Large Driftwood_Amazon

This is fully optional! Fish tank décor can be anything from aquarium ornaments to bubblers and air stones. These are not necessary in most tanks but can be a nice addition to help improve the aesthetics of the tank. You can also use décor to make the tank a more interesting environment for your goldfish. If you have a long-finned goldfish, like fancies and Comets, then avoid anything with rough edges that may snag plants. Also, avoid anything that your goldfish may find their way into and get stuck. You can spend anywhere from a few dollars to $50 or more for aquarium décor, depending on what you purchase.


6. The Plants

Greenpro Microsorum Pteropus Java Fern_Amazon

Plants are technically optional for your goldfish tank, but they can bring a lot to the tank. Not only do they enrich the space and create interest for your goldfish, but plants absorb nitrate and provide oxygen, helping to keep the water quality high. Keeping live plants with goldfish can be tricky, though. They are notoriously hard on plants and love to uproot or eat them. Some plants can stand up to the abuse goldfish throw at them, though. The cost of plants will depend on the size of your tank and the type and number of plants you purchase. Some plants that can be great goldfish tank additions include hornwort, Vallisneria, and Java fern.


7. The Food

Zoo Med Spirulina 20 Fish Food_Chewy
Image Credit: Zoo Med, Chewy

Plan to invest in a few different foods for your goldfish. Don’t go overboard, though! Anything you haven’t used within about 6 months probably should be tossed. You’ll want to have a good base diet for your goldfish, which usually consists of pellets or other commercial food. It’s a good idea to invest in gel food and some frozen or freeze-dried foods. Expect to spend upwards of $5 per product for commercial pellets. Gel foods, freeze-dried foods, frozen foods, and live foods are all going to be more expensive.


8. The Supplies

Seachem 3 Piece Treatment Kit_Amazon
Image Credit: Seachem, Amazon

This is the category that never ends. Yes, it goes on and on, my friends. When it comes to keeping goldfish, there are plenty of supplies you should have on hand. Some of them are simple and inexpensive, like a fish net that will likely cost you around $3, and others are more expensive but good to have on hand, like medications. There are some things you definitely need to keep on hand at all times, though, including water treatments for removing chlorine and lowering ammonia and nitrite levels, and filter media. Additional supplies for keeping your goldfish happy and healthy can cost you anywhere from a few dollars to more than $20.


Totals

Fish  $1-40
Tank  $15-50
Filter  $15-100
Substrate  $0-50
Décor  $0-50
Plants  $5-25
Food  $10-30
Supplies  $10-20
Total  $56-375

This is the average low to high cost of owning a goldfish in 2021. This doesn’t account for extras and is rough estimates of products that you may want or need for your goldfish.

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In Conclusion

Owning a goldfish doesn’t have to be a particularly expensive hobby, but it is an investment. When considering a goldfish, keep in mind that they can live for decades and can get quite large, so they are a commitment. Other expenses not accounted for here include the continued cost of food, medication, water treatments, and other maintenance expenses. The hobby of goldfish keeping is enjoyable and enriching, but it is a decision you should plan ahead for to ensure you can give your goldfish the best life possible.


Featured Image Credit: dien, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.