If you’ve ever left goldfish out in your pond during several very cold nights, and if your pond is shallow enough, you may have ended up with a frozen pond. But your goldfish may have been just fine. Did they come back to life? Or you may have ended up with frozen fish. If your goldfish were truly frozen, would they survive?
Can goldfish freeze and come back to life? No, goldfish cannot freeze and come back to life. They will die. This has to do with the biological makeup of their cells. Their cells are made up of thin membranes that when frozen, will expand and rupture causing the goldfish to die.
However, having said that, goldfish can survive freezing waters by minimizing their metabolism and bodily functions. There are other fish that can survive after being frozen, but these fish are specifically cold-water fish, and their genetic make-up is very different from goldfish.
Why Goldfish Can Freeze And Not Come Back to Life?
To reiterate, goldfish will not be able to withstand the frozen state, and hence, when thawed, they will not come back to life.
There are multiple reasons for this. Whether your goldfish will survive or perish is based purely on biology.
Recommended Further Reading: How To Take Care Of A Goldfish? (Goldfish Care In 3 Simple Steps)
The cell membrane of the goldfish is made up of a really thin membrane that can rupture easily.
When water goes from its normal liquid state to a frozen state, it expands – when that water expands, it needs room to grow.
If that water is within a goldfish’s cells, that’s when disaster strikes.
Here is how it works:
It is similar to when you freeze water in a plastic bottle.
If you fill it up all the way, you might see the plastic rupture because there was no room for expansion.
Ok, now think of those poor, little goldfish cells.
As with the ruptured plastic water bottle, when you freeze a fish, the fluid inside the cell membrane freezes, and since most of the fluid is made of water, it expands as it freezes causing the cell to rupture to accommodate the frozen state.
Naturally, when cells rupture, this is not good. In the goldfish’s case, this causes death.
Having said this, however, I will add that goldfish can survive in extremely cold temperatures.
So, if you have a fishpond with goldfish and live in an area with freezing temperatures then you will know what I am talking about.
Length Of Time
Ruptured cell walls don’t happen every time a goldfish experiences a freezing cold environment.
It actually takes a pretty drastic situation for a goldfish to freeze to death in that way.
If you were to take your fish and put it in the freezer for days, this is going to result in death.
That fish will be frozen solid and won’t come back to life after you thaw it.
However, apparently, if you were to put the goldfish in the freezer for a short time, then take it out and allow it to thaw, it will survive.
That is because it will not have enough time to freeze through.
Experiments With Freezing Goldfish
There are plenty of YouTube videos that show this in action.
In fact, there was one person who even put the goldfish in liquid nitrogen before quickly moving it into warm water. The fish was alive.
It’s unlikely you are reading because you want to experiment with your pet fish to find out how much it can take.
You are probably here because you are more concerned with the accidental freezing of your goldfish.
This is most likely to happen outside, in a pond.
Related Further Reading:
- Can Goldfish Drown? No, But They Can Suffocate – Here’s How
- How Do Goldfish Adapt To Their Environment? (Wild + Captivity)
- Can Goldfish Choke? Yes – And Here’s How To Avoid It
Goldfish In A Frozen Pond
The cold temperature of the water is unlikely to kill the goldfish unless the temperature is so low for so long that the water becomes frozen solid.
However, if the fish is able to stay alive in the very cold but unfrozen water until it is spring, then once the weather warms up, and the pond starts thawing, you are likely to find your goldfish alive and well.
Helping Your Goldfish Not To Freeze In The Pond
This section is especially for those that live in an area where you experience a really cold winter; this means cold enough to freeze your pond.
When it comes to goldfish living in the pond, during the wintertime, if you aren’t careful then you might have frozen goldfish that will not survive the pond freeze.
But there are ways to be careful that can help your fish make it through.
Here are some precautions that you can take that will give your goldfish a fighting chance:
1. Clean The Pond
As you prepare the rest of your home for the winter months, you should prepare the pond as well.
This means cleaning the pond, removing all the dead plants, debris, and anything that you think will either cause discomfort to the fish or will give off toxic gasses if it rots.
If your pond has a filtration system, then take a look at it and clean that as well.
You don’t want it to stop working in the winter without your knowledge.
Or you don’t want to find out the hard way and have to go out in the winter to clean the filtration system.
2. Aerate The Pond
As the pond freezes up for the winter, it might be difficult for the fish to get oxygen.
So, you can do two things to help the fish get plenty of oxygen.
- If your pond hasn’t frozen through, then just create a ten to twelve-inch hole on the side. This hole will help circulate the air inside the pond.
- Or, to make things easier, you can install a small fountain. This fountain will constantly be circulating the water and might prevent it from freezing up.
Even by doing both these things, you might still lose a few fish, especially those that brave the cold water to come to the surface for some air and get caught in the icy waters and become frozen.
There is no real hope for those fish.
3. Adjust The Goldfish’s Food Intake
As the temperatures start getting cooler, you should ideally change the kind of food you feed the Goldfish as well as the amount.
As for the food choice, you want to pick something that will minimize body waste (feces).
You want to make sure that you aren’t overfeeding your goldfish and they are healthy going into the winter months.
Lastly, you want to slowly decrease the amount of food you feed the Goldfish until one day you don’t feed them until the weather warms up for the spring.
By doing the above, you will not only limit the amount to waste the goldfish produce, but you will ensure that the goldfish are saving up with energy by not having to use it to process food in their bodies.
Interesting Further Reading:
- What Do Goldfish Eat? What To Feed (And Not Feed) Your Goldfish
- Can Goldfish Eat Rice? (Here’s A Definitive And In-Depth Answer)
- Can Goldfish Live In Cold Water? What About Very Low Cold Water?
4. Check The Pond In The Winter
Once again, just like you would inspect your home during the wintertime to make sure everything is still ok with it, in the same way, inspect the pond as well to make sure that the fish are ok.
That they aren’t swimming to the top a lot, if you see a lot of floaters then that’s a sign that something is wrong underneath and you should investigate to see what is going on.
Otherwise, you might lose your goldfish.