Are goldfish an effective cleaner for horse troughs?

Last Updated on April 5, 2022 by Allison Price

If a recent US study shows, it may be more beneficial to clean your horse’s water trough more often than to try new methods of keeping it clean.

If not maintained regularly, large water troughs can accumulate algae over time. They can also be a breeding ground of mosquitoes.

Some places are fond of adding goldfish to their water troughs. The little swimmers can slow down the growth of algae and help control mosquitoes by eating the larvae.

Recent US surveys of 672 horse owners and carers revealed that 44% used fish to clean their horses’ troughs, while 18% used goldfish to maintain their horses’ water.

This survey was part of a study conducted by Devan N.Catalano and other colleagues at the University of Minnesota.Devan N. Catalano. [Image: LinkedIn]

Goldfish On Horse

Six adult horses were kept in a drylot that contained large (379L/100 US Gallon) metal and plastic water tanks. Five fish were kept in one tank. After one month, the tanks were cleaned and the fish were moved to the second tank.

The research team recorded total dissolved solids and water turbidity (NTU) daily as part of the daily monitoring. They measured water chlorophyll A (the pigment that gives algae its green colour) once a week.

The researchers found differences in the water quality of both types of water tanks. The TDS in plastic tanks was lower, while the metal tanks had higher turbidity and chlorophyll-a.

Goldfish tanks had lower total dissolved substances, but water quality was the same in both with and without fish.

Horses did not seem to prefer either type of water container or the presence of fish.

Researchers concluded that goldfish don’t improve water quality, except for total dissolved substances. They also added: “Frequent cleaning is important, particularly in warm months and with plastic aquariums.”

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!