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Bubble Eye Tanks and Safety

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Bubble eye goldfish are arguably one of the more unusual and delicate of the goldfish species to keep due to their eye sacs and lack of dorsal fin for balance. However, they are a fun and potentially show-stopping fish that you can enjoy for many years if properly cared for. To set up a space that suits their unique needs is not complicated, but does require a little planning.

Eye Sacs and Tank Safety:

When a bubble eye in my care passed away, I took the opportunity to test it's bubbles against objects of various levels of roughness and sharpness. Only a kitchen knife with direct pressure popped the bubble. That said, while the bubble are fairly resilient and thick enough to withstand some minor grazing, they cannot best a filter intake, direct sharp impact from decor, jagged edges like lava rock, or pressure from above such as getting squished by a rock.

Tank Decor - A bare-bottom tank with natural plants is a no-risk option. Large, smoothed river rocks that cannot be moved by your fish are another option that provides some color to your tank. Silk plants with no fake roots, protruding plastic ends, or jagged fake rock bases will work beautifully. Smooth ceramics that are not hollow would work as well.

Filter Intakes - Most filters will have some type of slatted intake which could harm your bubble eye or the eye sacs. Bubble eyes can be weak swimmers, especially as they grow older and more head-heavy (due to larger bubbles) so a strong filter must be covered appropriately. To cover the slats I recommend taking sponge filter material or something fish-safe that is similar, cutting it to fit your intake and then sliding it over the intake. Then take a small rubber band or removable securing band and place it over the sponge filter. The sponge filter here serves a few purposes: it removes the danger of the fish being sucked onto the filter or getting a bubble caught, it acts as a pre-filter for your main filter (helping to keep it clean and free of the major debris) and adds biological filtration. Be sure that when doing water changes however that you remove the sponge filter and rinse it out in tank water to keep it from becoming too gross or a harbor for bad bacteria. Do this after turning off your filter! The rubber band is to help secure the sponge piece. During a power outage, your sponge can slip off, and if the power comes on and your filter restarts, without the rubber band, your sponge will have fallen off and left your bubble eyes susceptible to injury.

Filter Outflow - This is a bit of a balance you will have to work out with your particular filter. You don't want a current so intense that it pushes your bubble eyes around even a little bit, but especially when they are young and growing, you will want slight water movement to help them build their swimming muscles. Bubble eyes are head heavy and a little wobbly due to no dorsal fin. Ensuring they have good swimming abilities will keep them healthier throughout their life. Note: Not recommended for sick, old, weak fish or fish being treated with medicine. Others keep their bubble eyes in tanks with almost no water movement for ease of swimming. This is ok too. With young fish, it is my personal preference to have a slight current to help them develop. There are many ways to baffle filters than can be found here on Kokos or on youtube if your outflow is too strong and you are unable to turn down your filter.

General Tank Set-Up - 10x filtration like for any goldfish, and a shallower, more square tank is preferable to a long tank that will have a higher swimming area and narrower base. This is because bubble eyes can have fairly impacted eyesight, and swimming up for food is challenging. A shallower tank puts less pressure on the bubbles and allows them a wider area to swim. Bubble eyes are bottom and mid tank swimmers and rarely go to the surface unless looking for food. Because the bubbles add width to the fish, a wider swimming base allows for easier turning and shared space with other bubble eyes. Although some people keep bubble eyes with telescopes, moors, and other vision impaired fish, I feel that they should be a single species tank, or kept with only celestial eyes, as even moors and telescopes have better vision and more ease of swimming and getting to food. They may also be tempted by the wiggling bubbles..

Diet and Feeding: - Bubble eyes need a diet that is the least likely to contribute to any swim bladder issues. Swim bladder issues in any goldfish can be devastating, but especially for these delicate guys. They have a longer, slimmer body that should not have the round egg-shape of ranchu. A fat bubble eye is a wobbly bubble eye! I recommend pro-gold for a pelleted food as it rarely creates swim bladder issues, epashy soilent green gel food (super easy to make) and a variety of proteins and veggies such as bloodworms and greens. Bright colored food is easier for them to find than pro-gold because their vision is limited and finding food on the bottom can be a bit difficult. Putting food on veggie clips or teaching your fish to hand feed can eliminate the struggle to find food on the bottom.

If you take the proper precautions and ensure a safe tank and balanced diet, you are sure to have a happy, wiggly friend!


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Thanks so much! I was wondering about tank safety for bubble eye goldfish but did not have any luck finding a lot.

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