How to Play With a Goldfish

Three Methods:Using Food to Encourage PlayFollowing a Training RegimenCreating a Playful Environment

Did you know that goldfish can be trained to do tricks? You can actually interact with your goldfish by teaching them to swim through hoops and push balls around. You can also feed them with your fingers. Playing with your goldfish is a fun and engaging way to enjoy owning a pet fish.

Method 1
Using Food to Encourage Play

  1. 1
    Feed them from your hand. Goldfish will eat from their owners’ hands after getting used to their aquarium for a few weeks. This behavior enables you to teach them tricks, using food as a reward.[1]
    • Feed goldfish different kinds of foods.
    • Goldfish like freeze dried food, pellets, flakes, or fresh or frozen vegetables.[2]
    • Be careful not to overfeed your fish. This can result in a disorder known as swim bladder. The goldfish becomes bloated and floats at the top of the water. The solution is to withhold food for two days or feed it only cooked beans or peas.[3]
  2. Image titled Play With a Goldfish Step 4
    Use food to encourage particular behaviors. You can train your goldfish to do specific things like go through hoops. In fact, just as you do with a puppy, you can train your goldfish to do these things by using a treat system. Show them what you want them to do, then give them a reward. A training kit may provide a hollow stick you can place food in to deliver the treat more quickly.[4]
    • Show them what you want them to do by leading them through a trick with food, either with the feeding stick or your fingers.
    • For example, if you have a hoop set up in the water, hold the food on the opposite side of the hoop from where the goldfish is located. Let them eat the food after they have swum through the hoop.
    • Repeat this training routine with any action you wish your goldfish to make.
  3. 3
    Use a feeding stick. A feeding might make it easier to encourage a goldfish to do particular things. This is because such a stick allows the food to stay under water and doesn’t get in the goldfish’s way. To make your own feeding stick for training, try using food stuck to the end of a skewer.[5]
    • If you don’t have a feeding stick, place goldfish food on top of the water. If your goldfish will eat from your fingers, you can deliver the reward snack this way as well.

Method 2
Following a Training Regimen

  1. 1
    Find a training kit. It is possible to train a goldfish to do tricks. You have to work with them consistently like you do with dogs. One way to train a goldfish is to purchase a training kit. They usually come with toys, a manual, and a feeding stick to deliver rewards quickly.[6]
    • Watch the DVD and read the manual that comes with your training kit. This will help you learn how to train the goldfish.
    • Some kits come with a hoop, basketball court, tunnel, soccer goal, limbo bar, and so on.[7]
  2. 2
    Develop a daily training schedule. If you aren’t going to purchase a training video, you may be able to train a goldfish on your own. Start by building exercises into your daily routine with the goldfish. Select a few minutes that you are able to repeat everyday. Do training at the same time of day.[8]
    • Keep in mind that the goldfish needs to be at least two inches long. This is because fish of this length or longer respond better to training.[9]
  3. 3
    Add one trick at a time. Don’t expect your goldfish to be able to do all the tricks you have in mind right away. Start by training them in one trick at a time. After they become very good at one trick, add another one.[10]
    • Eventually you may be able to add more than one trick into one training session.
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    Come up with your own games. If you don’t have a goldfish training kit, think of your own games. For example, place a rubber band in the bottom of the water so that it stands on its side like a hoop. Drag food through the hoop with your fingers to entice the goldfish to swim through it. Give it the food every time it swims through.
    • Also consider placing a small, thoroughly washed ball into the water and encouraging the goldfish to push it around.

Method 3
Creating a Playful Environment

  1. 1
    Use large and smooth gravel stones. Goldfish love to swim around the bottom of the tank. Because of this, you need to make sure your stones are large so that they cannot be swallowed. Also make sure the stones have no sharp edges so the goldfish don’t cut their mouths.[11]
    • Make sure that your rocks are treated so they don’t change the chemistry of your tank water.[12]
    • An easy way to do this is to purchase rocks at a pet store.
    • If you must gather rocks from your property, boil them before adding them to the tank. Also make sure they are large and smooth.
  2. 2
    Plant artificial plants. Goldfish like to be near plants.[13] However, they also like to eat them. When you are setting up your goldfish aquarium, use plastic plants from a pet store.[14] Avoid cheap plant décor because the plastics can leach chemicals into your goldfish tank water.[15]
  3. 3
    Add wood. Wood will add interest and a natural appearance to a goldfish tank. Since wood needs to be treated so it doesn’t affect the water, do not use wood you find on your own. Purchase either treated wood or artificial wood purchased at a pet store.[16]
    • You can add branches and small, hollow logs to a goldfish tank.
    • Wood can give your fish something to swim around during the day.
  4. 4
    Be careful about novelties. There are many novelty fish tank accessories available on the market. However, purchasing these cheap plastic toys can be hazardous for your tank water. Make sure you purchase plastic novelties from reputable aquarium retailers.[17]
    • Novelty examples include sunken pirate ships, colorful corals, a diver, etc.
  5. 5
    Avoid holes and small caves. Having caves and holes through objects can be fun for a goldfish. However, you must make sure that the holes aren’t too small. If a round opening is too small, your goldfish can scrape its belly or sides, which is harmful to their skin.[18]
    • Instead, estimate how large your goldfish will get by talking to your pet store sales person. The length a goldfish gets depends on its variety.
    • Goldfish can be as small as six inches or as large as 16 inches long.[19]
    • Purchase caves and holes that have a larger diameter than your goldfish will be at full size.
  6. 6
    Give your goldfish lots of room. Goldfish grow fast and produce a lot of waste. Because of this, you should provide one gallon of tank space for every two inches of goldfish. It’s good to provide a ten-gallon tank for one goldfish, even though this may look sort of empty.[20]
    • Goldfish reach full size in two years. Consider this when purchasing your tank.
    • A large tank is good for doing tricks as well. It provides plenty of room for the fish to move around.
    • Goldfish can grow to anywhere between 6 and 16 inches, depending on the variety.[21]
  7. 7
    Add other goldfish. Goldfish like to play with other fish.[22] However, since goldfish are very sensitive to the water they live in, you cannot place them in the same environment with fish who need warmer or saltier water. For example, goldfish should not be placed in the same water with tropical fish.[23]
    • Tropical fish are bad partners for goldfish because they need warmer water and eat more protein than goldfish.
    • Keep in mind that with goldfish, you don’t need a fish to clean the tank by eating algae. Goldfish love to eat so they will eat algae themselves.
  8. 8
    Learn what goldfish don’t like to do. There are many things that goldfish don’t do. Knowing can prevent you from hurting your goldfish or being disappointed when they don’t do what you think they should. For example, goldfish don’t like small fish bowls. They need space to perform well.[24]
    • Goldfish also don’t like being touched on their bodies, bright lights, or loud noises.
    • Do not tap on the tank to get your goldfish's attention. Goldfish hear through vibrations in the water, and tapping on the glass creates loud vibrations that will bother them.[25]
  9. 9
    Observe what goldfish like to do. Goldfish enjoy exploring their environment. Giving them wide spaces, a varied diet, and other goldfish to swim with helps them enjoy their daily lives. Once they are used to you, you can use food to interact with them.[26] Try holding food over one side of the tank, then moving it to the other before feeding them. This will encourage the goldfish to follow you.


  • Make sure you have a way to oxygenate the water for goldfish.
  • Put your eyes really close to a goldfish bowl and watch them come up to you and examine your face.


  • Make sure you feed your goldfish every day.
  • Make sure you never touch your fish. You can damage the slime coat they have to protect themselves from infection.[27]

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Goldfish