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Are Goldfish easier to keep than Tropical fish? Which should I chose Tropical or Coldwater Fish?

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

Goldfish or Tropical Fish

Rightly or wrongly many people assume that Goldfish or Coldwater fish are the easiest fish to keep. This blog is here to cover the main points when keeping any fish, and to help you make the decision which fish will be the best for you.

It is often thought that Tropical fish are difficult to look after, that they are more work, there is more to do. However generally this is not the case. Keeping tropical or coldwater fish is actually very similar, all you need is the right information in the beginning to help you with setting up.

Keeping Goldfish and other Coldwater fish.

Keeping Goldfish

Initially setting up an aquarium for coldwater fish is likely to be a bit cheaper, as you do not need a heater, and you might not want a light. There are reasonably priced starter kits that include everything you need to get going. We only sell aquariums with filtration systems, as this makes caring for your fish easier and creates the right environment for your fish to live in.

When keeping coldwater fish the aquarium size is a really important consideration. We would not recommend an aquarium smaller than 15litres for coldwater fish. Coldwater fish are normally larger than most tropical fish, and will grow larger than most tropical fish. Common goldfish can and will grow up to around 20-25cm (8-10"), and can live 10-15years. Purchasing a smaller aquarium is fine but will definitely need to be upgraded, throughout the life of the fish.

It is a myth that fish only grow to the size of their tank. Fish will regulate and slow their growth down if kept in a smaller aquarium, but this is un-natural for them. They do not stop growing completely.

As already mentioned coldwater fish are generally bigger than tropical fish, then it stands that they eat more and therefore produce more waste. They are definitely dirtier than tropical fish. With this in mind, it is important to consider the type of filtration you need and how much cleaning you will have to do.

Young children will love goldfish, they are larger and very colourful. They are all very different and it is easy to chose different patterned fish and give them names. They are very interactive and will learn when it is feeding time. They will always be on the go, and come to the front of the aquarium when they see you.

Keeping Tropical fish

Tropical fish

Setting up a Tropical aquarium is very similar to setting up a coldwater aquarium, you just need to have a heater and thermometer as well. The heater does all the work, and when set correctly will heat the water to a set temperature and keep it there.

Tropical Fish are generally smaller, and can be kept in various sizes of aquariums. The smallest we sell is 10 litre, and depending on which fish you chose will depend on how many you can keep in the aquarium. Probably the most popular fish are Neon Tetra these are a fairly small fish growing up to 4cm (1.5") long. They are a shoaling fish so need to be kept in a small group. As tropical fish are mostly smaller you can keep more fish in each aquarium, but you will normally need more of each variety to keep them happy.

As you long as you choose fish that are suitable for the aquarium size, and do not overstock, keeping Tropical fish should be relatively simple. They eat less and therefore produce less waste than Coldwater fish.

There are lots more choice of fish, and they are very colourful. However being smaller it is not so easy to distinguish one from another, and can be difficult for children to give them names. Some fish can not be kept together, some are peaceful and some are aggressive.

Things to consider:

Coldwater Fish

  • Grow larger

  • Less choice

  • Can be dirty/messy

  • Cheaper initial set up

  • Will need to upgrade the aquarium

  • Long lived

  • Not so many varieties to choose from

  • Easy to distinguish and name

Tropical Fish

  • Generally smaller fish

  • Lots of choice

  • Less mess due to size

  • Costs a bit more to set up.

  • Selecting the right fish for the aquarium size, mean they are less likely to out grow their aquarium

  • Not so long lived

  • Need to consider which can live together

  • All one species look very similar, so naming can be difficult


Goldfish grow larger, great for kids naming etc, but can be dirty and therefore cleaning more often is likely.

Tropical fish, lots of choice, smaller brighter fish, regular cleaning is often easier.

If you would like to find out more about individual fish we have in stock you can do so over on our Facebook Page. You can also join our Mailing List for regular tips, offers and new product information.

What ever you are thinking we are here to help and advise you. There are lots of great blogs on our website that will help you to make the right decision when choosing fish. If you have any questions please email us for more help

Not sure if we are the right shop for you? Check out our reviews over on Google

If you are thinking of setting up a Tropical Fish tank for the first time then we have a great beginners guide for sale. It runs through everything step by step, helping you to set up your tank right the first time.



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