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FAQs About Goldfish Systems 6

Related Articles: Goldfish Systems, Goldfish 101: Goldfish May Be Popular, And They May Be Cheap, But That Doesn't Make Them Easy Aquarium Fish by Neale Monks, Goldfish Disease, GoldfishGoldfish VarietiesGoldfish Mal-Nutrition,

Related FAQs:  Goldfish Systems 1, Goldfish Systems 2, Goldfish Systems 3, Goldfish Systems 4, Goldfish Systems 5, Goldfish Systems 7, Goldfish Systems 8, Goldfish Systems 9, & FAQs on Goldfish System: Tanks (Size, Shape...), Lighting/Tops, Decor, Gravel, Plantings, Heating/Temperature, Aeration/Circulation, Filtration, Water Quality (Algae, Smell, Cloudiness... Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Nitrogen Cycling), Maintenance, Trouble/Fixing, & Goldfish 1, Goldfish Behavior, Goldfish Compatibility, Goldfish Feeding, Goldfish DiseaseGoldfish Breeding/Reproduction

Goldfish Aquarium 11/5/07 Hello again! I have two 2-3 inches Ryukin goldfish, bought it yesterday they are in a 10 gallons aquarium. Now my question is, is it okay for them to be in there? What size of the goldfish will I put them into what size of aquarium? pls reply soon because I am frustrated about their growing size, thanks.! <Greetings. Minimum tank size for a full-grown Goldfish is about 30 gallons, and you should allow at least 5-10 gallons for each additional Goldfish. Fast swimming varieties (regular Goldfish, comets) especially need to be given space to "stretch their fins". Ryukin goldfish don't swim so strongly, but I'd still not keep 2 specimens in less than 35 or 40 gallons. If you do, you'll end up having to deal with cloudy water and persistent water quality problems (which in turn leads to Finrot, fungus, pop-eye, etc.). So there's really no point scrimping on a couple bucks. The filter is pretty much a fixed cost, and the price difference between a 20 gallon tank and a 40 gallon tank is pretty trivial factored out against the 10-30 year lifespan of happy Goldfish. Please do have a read of the MANY Goldfish articles here at WWM. Cheers, Neale>

Panicked Black Moor   7/7/06 Hello! <<Tom with you.>> About four or five days ago I got my first fish, a black moor goldfish named Edgar. I read a lot about the fish before I got one, but it seems I've put him in a bowl too small for him (only a gallon  of water) and have had to clean it three times already, but I am going to get him an actual tank within the next few days. (I have been reading about goldfish bowls and the phrase "torture-chamber" keeps coming up, so I've been really realizing my mistake.) <<Yep. As mistakes go, this one was a "whopper". I do hope that when you say an "actual tank" you mean in the 20-gallon, or better, range. I stress "or better" here because, provided we can help you keep Edgar healthy, you might be tempted - as we fishkeepers are - to add another Goldfish or two. I also stress "Goldfish" since you won't be mixing these with other types of fish. (This isn't "up for grabs". Keep Goldfish with Goldfish...period.)>> I think he's stressed out, or something. When I fed him today he would eat the flakes (Tetra-Fin Goldfish Flakes) I gave him, then spit them back out. So, in the evening I cleaned his bowl because the water was getting foggy. I left him a plastic bag with old water that was sitting in the new water so the temperatures could adjust, and left the room for a moment. <<So, what I'm led to understand here is that you fed your new fish while it was still in the bag that it came home in from the store?>> When I came back it looked like he was having a panic attack so I took him out of the bag and put him in the bowl. I lowered the level of the water in the bowl so it would have more surface area so he could get more air. <<The problem with only a little bit of information... You're correct in that more surface area allows for greater oxygenation in the tank/bowl. The problem is that the surface needs to be agitated in order to effect the oxygen exchange. The water you "dumped" had oxygen in it. Not a lot, probably, but more than would be gained over a static surface.>> (I was wondering if putting him in a bowl with a larger surface area until I got a tank would help him any?) <<Putting your fish in anything larger will help. A large Rubbermaid (or something like it) storage bin would do fine. It won't be "cycled", which is something you really, REALLY need to research but, you'd be giving Edgar more of a fighting chance.>> Also when I fed him flakes again he would swallow them and spit them back out. So I tried a different kind of goldfish food I had, a pellet goldfish food (Hikari Goldfish Bio-Gold), and he did the same thing. It seems that he will eat the flakes that are colored red (I don't know if color matters, or why he would only eat that one kind), but everything else he keeps spitting out. He didn't do this before, and now I'm really concerned. <<Don't dwell on feeding right now. What your pet will, or won't eat, is the least of your worries. You need to get him/her into a healthy, stable environment...now, not later.>> I also noticed that he had a tiny white spot on his dorsal fin, two really small white spots on his tail and one on his right fin, and I was afraid it might be Ick, but I'd read somewhere that black moors can get white spots on their fins during a breeding season, but I've also read conflicting information that they only get spots on their heads. I hope I'm not just overreacting. <<The information isn't "conflicting". What you refer to are "breeding tubercles" and these appear on the head, gill plates and pectoral fins. If you see white spots on other parts of your fish, particularly under these circumstances, I'd suspect Ich.>> He seems really freaked out since I cleaned his bowl. I've been using Jungle Goldfish Care Kit (Bowl Buddies) to treat the water he's been in. He was fine both other times I cleaned it. I don't know why he's acting this way this time. <<Cumulative. Your fish has suffered one stressful occurrence after another.>> I searched your web site and a few others and couldn't figure out exactly why he was doing this. Could it just be the fact that he's in a bowl? <<You read about your fish but you didn't read about what your fish requires. You need to research "cycling". We've got more than enough information on this. You need to research the size of tank your fish requires. (I've already made reference to this.) You need to research the kind of water conditions your pet requires. Water tests, either at home or at the fish store, will tell us a great deal. More than anything, right now, you need to move Edgar to a larger environment. He won't last in a one-gallon bowl!>> Please help! And thank you for being so grateful to help people like me. <<Please, address your questions to me. (Also, sign your post(s) with your name. I like to know who I'm talking to. ;) ) Tom>>
Re: Panicked Black Moor (For Tom)
  7/10/06 Hello again Tom! <<Hi, Myrtle.>> I moved my black moor, Edgar into a plastic bin that held about two and half gallons of water while I found him an aquarium. (I regrettably admit that I didn't have the money for an aquarium when I first wrote you.) <<Happens to most of us at one time or another. :)>> I got a twenty gallon aquarium and set it up today, and was waiting  twenty-four hours for before putting him into it. <<Would like to have considerably more time but I don't think it wise to delay the move.>> I read more about keeping an  aquarium, I treated the water and got a filter, as well as other necessities for keeping a clean tank, like a gravel vacuum. <<Very good!>> I got medication for Ich. It says not to clean the tank or move the fish while treating him for Ich, so I was waiting till I put him in the aquarium to treat him. <<I'd prefer that you treat with aquarium salt for a couple of reasons - we may have to go in this direction, anyway. By way of explanation, certain medications are harmful to the beneficial bacteria we badly need at this point. Salt won't affect the bio-colonies. Next, and probably more important, we can easily maintain the prescribed concentration of salt while performing water changes. These will be inevitable until the tank cycles and will potentially need to be done on a regular/large scale. (As dangerous as Ich is, it's not as deadly as a sharp buildup of ammonia and nitrites will be.)>> (He did start eating, and I  didn't feed him while he was in the bag I brought home from the store, I just worded that wrong.) <<Good on both counts. I rather suspected you hadn't fed Edgar while he was still in the bag but we do run across some "funny" things from time to time. While we're on the subject, I'd like you to limit his feeding until things get more stable. Food breakdown and, likewise, fish waste will be "necessary evils" for the time being but we've got to make the effort to keep the coming spikes in ammonia and nitrites to manageable levels if possible. Any ensuing stress on your pet will only make problems harder to deal with as they come along. And, I do want to emphasize that we're going to have problems. It wouldn't be fair to tell you we're "out of the woods" by any stretch. Fortunately, Goldfish, as a general rule, are about as tolerant of less-than-optimal conditions as any fish can be. Doesn't mean we're going to let him "stew" in sewer-like water, though.>> Thank you again for your help! ~ Myrtle <<I do want you to consider a water test kit as your next investment. The fish store will test your parameters if you bring in a sample but this is hardly as convenient as having a kit at your fingertips and you're going to want to test frequently. Virtually everything you do over the coming weeks will be based largely on what your water parameters are. Without these, we'll be "flying blind". I'll be here if you need more assistance. My best. Tom>>

Re: Panicked Black Moor (For Tom)   7/11/06 Hi, Tom. <<Greetings, Myrtle.>> I moved Edgar into the aquarium about five hours ago, and from what I can tell, he seems to be doing just fine. (Are goldfish supposed to suck up gravel and spit it back out again?)   <<First, I'm glad to hear that Edgar seems fine. As for sucking up and spitting out the gravel, this is very common for Goldfish. Part of their "scavenging" technique.>> I noticed that above his gills on his  back, and also the top of his tail, the black fades into a gray, and I wasn't really sure if this was a problem or just the color he is. I couldn't see this in the bowl he was in, the light in the aquarium made these marks more  visible. <<I wouldn't be concerned about coloring at this point. Goldfish, in general, can/will have "color shifts" during their lives. This may, or may not, be temporary. Good that you're keeping this close of an eye on him, though.>> I just read about Ich and other sickness and fungus freshwater fish can get and seem to have further confused myself and I'm not really sure what's wrong with Edgar. I went back to the store where I bought him and looked at the fish that were in the tank he came out of, and all of them have white spots all over them, some even to the point where their eyes are clouded over. I also noticed more white spots on the bottom of his jaw that I couldn't see while he was in the bowl. I haven't given him any medication because I'd rather follow your advice and treat him with salt. But I really have no idea how to treat him with salt. What kind of salt to I use, how often and how much? <<Use aquarium salt for this, Myrtle. There are other types like Kosher salt that will do the job but I'd rather keep your job simplified. (Do not confuse aquarium salt with Marine salt for saltwater aquaria. Aquarium salt is pure sodium chloride (NaCl) while Marine salt contains additives/buffers intended for our saltwater buddies.) The concentration we're looking to achieve is two to three tablespoons per gallon of water. This should be dissolved in fresh, dechlorinated water before adding it to the tank, not placed directly in with Edgar. So, how to go about this? Again, let's keep this simple. Take the plastic container you last kept your fish in and place two gallons of tap water in it (32 cups). Mark a line on the outside of the container so you'll have a reference when you remove this amount from the tank. Using your new gravel vacuum, remove a total of eight gallons of water from the aquarium. Prepare new dechlorinated (sounding redundant, aren't I :)) water in the same bin and dissolve ten fairly generous tablespoons of aquarium salt in each - a total of four times. Add these back into the tank and you'll have, at a minimum, a solution of 40 tablespoons/20 gallons of tank water or, a healthy 2/1 ratio, which is what we're looking for to start. Since salt can only be removed from the tank through water changes, the only time you'll need to add more salt is when you do a regular water change following the same method as what I've described. (Side note: This point won't be an issue for the upcoming weeks but bear in mind, for future reference, that salt will not "evaporate" with water. If water evaporates from the tank, the salt concentration will increase since we'd have the same amount of salt in less water. May sound like a "no-brainer" but if someone doesn't know this...)>> Am I wrong or is cycling the tank changing 25% of the water every two weeks, or did I get something mixed up?   <<Not "mixed up" really. You're just combining the "mechanics" of the process with the biology of it. Ammonia is the by-product of the breakdown of food/fish waste. "Mechanically", the ammonia can be removed through fresh water changes. "Biologically", we're fortunate enough to have a group of bacteria (Nitrobacter) that actually feeds on ammonia. As ammonia builds in the tank, this bio-colony grows with the increased "food supply". Unfortunately, the bacteria don't quite multiply in exact proportion to the ammonia buildup, particularly with heavy waste producers like Goldfish. During the cycling process, this ammonia build-up eventually peaks out, then plummets to zero as the bacteria multiply sufficiently to break it all down. All this sounds good but, there's a catch. The ammonia is broken down into nitrites, which are just as deadly to our fish as the ammonia is. Enter the Nitrospira bacteria which feed on the nitrites, breaking them down into far less harmful nitrates. The nitrites will spike, and plummet, just like the ammonia did and, when this is accomplished, the tank is "cycled". All of what I've explained is the reason why water testing is so critical during this time. We're actually caught doing a "balancing act" between water changes that remove the toxic ammonia and nitrites and leaving sufficient quantities behind to continue feeding the beneficial bacteria. Too much of the former will starve the bacteria. Too much of the latter can kill our pets. This is why we at WWM so adamantly recommend "fishless cycling". Using this method, there's no life put in harm's way.>> Also, how much should I limit his feeding? He was never really eating much to begin with, should I now only feed him once a day? <<Feed him once every other day for now. He may not be happy about it but I'd rather have him "cheesed off" than dead.>> I have one more question: When it comes time to vacuum the gravel, do I leave Edgar in the tank, or should I take him out first? <<Leave him in. Handling him is many times more stressful than potentially scaring him with the vacuum. Once he finds that there's no danger to him when you clean the tank he may come to see this as a "game" like my fish do.>> Thank you so much for you advice, its been a great help! ~Myrtle <<Always happy to help, Myrtle. Tom>>

New Goldfish Keeper With Questions <Found, re-sent>  7/6/06 OK. I got a voucher for a free goldfish. I think, great, my five year old loves fish I'll get a goldfish for her. Go to the pet shop, ask the assistant, naively, what the cheapest set up I should get so my goldfish does not die. There is this nice small tank (6 litre) with Resun power internal power filter, red gravel and water ager tap conditioner included. All I have to add is the goldfish flakes. My daughter chooses a lovely 11/2 inch all gold fish. The guy says I can put another two fish in the tank (I thankfully, decide only to take the one). I get the fish home dechlorinate the water, set up the tank with gravel at the bottom. Leave the fish in the bag to float in the tank to acclimatize it and then release it into the water. The fish is christened Tom by my daughter. Then. I start to look up on the internet about goldfish care. Aaaahhhh! So, the minimum tank I should have bought is 10 gallons (and that is for one fish). I should have run the tank for 2 weeks without fish first, having introduced some gravel from another tank to introduce good bacteria. The shells that my daughter put in the tank will raise the ph and kill the fish. I don't understand what type of filter I have and whether it is adequate. The fish seems happy enough, but is not eating yet. I have probably put in too much food as I don't know how much to put in as the instructions say enough for the fish to consume in 3 minutes.. but how much is that!!! The food that the fish has not eaten is probably poisoning my fish as I write (though my regular 50% water changes may help even though I don't have a siphon hose yet) So after trying to read as much as I can. Here are my list of probably stupid questions: < No such thing.> Would it be OK to keep the fish in the 6l tank for a few months whilst I try and sort out how and if I can afford/fit a 10 gallon one in my small house. If, the answer is yes, how long can I keep it in this tank? <You can keep this goldfish in this set up for awhile with no problems. You just need to learn to manage the nitrates.> I've read up on the cycling stuff, and ammonia, nitrite and nitrate break downs etc and I know I must keep ammonia down to 0 and nitrite also down to about that level too. I have actually been changing the water 50% twice a day for the past 2 days (because I am so scared the fish will die). After reading a bit more I think this is too much as I think that will prevent my tank from being cycled, but until I get back to a pet shop to get the water test kit, and, because the tank is so small, I thought more would be better. How often and how much water should I be changing (both now and after I get the test kit that will show me my ammonia and nitrite levels are too high, and for how long? <It will take a month or so to get the bacteria established to break down the ammonia and nitrites down to the less harmful nitrates. You want to keep the nitrates to less than 25 ppm. You do this with water changes. A nitrate test kit will help you determine how much water to change and how often. For now I would recommend that you feed you fish once a day. Feed only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Siphon out any uneaten food and replace with clean dechlorinated water. Your fish will start to eat after getting settled in. Grey cloudy water with a fishy smell is the first sign that the ammonia levels are building up and you need to do a water change.> (I've read several sources and I am confused as they recommend different percentages and frequencies and I don't know what would be the best for my small tank) I now also realize I should get a siphon hose to suck out water from the gravel area. < When your tank gets established you can start to take weekly nitrate readings. If you fish generates 5 ppm of nitrate per week then you need to change 25% of the water when the levels reach 25 ppm nitrate. After the water change the nitrate level will be around 17 ppm. Next week the nitrate levels may be close to 25 ppm and another 25% water change will be required.> Is the internal power filter I've got OK? < It should be rated for about 20 L per hour.> I think an under-gravel filter would be too complicated for now. The filter I have says it purifies mechanically and biologically. < Once the bacteria get established it will be fine if cleaned often.> It has a sponge inside that I was advised to clean every 2 weeks when I do a 30% water change. The instructions don't tell me how it filters and I don't understand how it can filter biologically??? < The bacteria that break down the fish waste live on things like gravel , plants and on the surface of sponges. When you clean the sponge you gently squeeze it out in a bucket of aquarium water. The bacteria remain and the waste is flushed out into the bucket.> Should I add an air stone as well or is the air circulating from the filter enough? < The filter should be enough if properly maintained.> I guess I should definitely remove the shells? < Removing the shell is probably a good idea unless you live in the NW where the water is very soft and needs additional calcium.> My friend has the same sized tank with 2 goldfish and another small fish in it (Her place is even smaller than mine). She says I should add some snails to clean the algae and she has some weed that she says she will give me some for the tank. Should I be adding snails to my tank? < Snails can be beneficial in keeping waste and algae under control.> And should I add the weed? < Plants are a welcome addition if you have good lighting over your tank. With out good lighting your plants will die and contribute to the waste.> I thought about asking her for some of her gravel to introduce good bacteria to my tank, but will adding gravel or plants from her tank risk disease being transferred to my tank? < If her tank has been established for awhile without any problems then I think the addition of some of her gravel would be a good idea.> I guess under no circumstances should I get a friend for Tom in this tank and I would need at least a 20 gallon tank if I wanted 2 fish? <This all goes back to the nitrate levels and how much work you want to do. For example, with two fish they would generate 10 ppm of nitrates per week. At the end of three weeks you need to do a 33% water change to get the levels under 25 ppm. This would get the levels down to 20 ppm. In a few days the levels are back at 25 ppm and you need to do another water change. To keep the levels below 25 ppm you now need to do at least a 50% water change weekly instead of 25%.If you missed a single water change then the nitrate levels would jump to 40ppm and your fish would be stressed get sick and lots of problems.> (Obviously with the correct surface area to volume ratio). Do goldfish need companions or are they happy just on their own? < Some fish are less stressed if kept in schools but i think you goldfish will be fine alone.> Would another less polluting smaller type of fish be a suitable companion if all I can fit is a 10 gallon tank??? < Your goldfish will eventually get too big for this little tank. They really get big. I think a much better choice would be a small school of six white cloud minnows. They don't get big, are very easy to care for and are inexpensive.> Finally, if poor Tom does not survive (and I am planning to do my best to keep him happy and alive) please could you recommend some smaller fishes that may be better suited to my 6 litre tank with the best set-up possible for them. < See above.> I think that is it. I'd appreciate a quick answer, as I'd hate to think that I am doing anything else stupid that will kill Tom and I don't trust the Petshop guy now. < So far so good. You are asking all the right questions.-Chuck> Kind Regards, Liz

Please help. Terribly confused and don't want my new goldfish (Tom) to die.   7/6/06 Hi, Thanks for replying, but there does not seem to be a reply below???? Please can you send it again, as the message seems to have been cut off. Kind Regards Liz <I don't see "it" either... though I swear I had... will respond. RMF> New Goldfish Keeper With Questions OK. I got a voucher for a free goldfish. I think, great, my five year old loves fish I'll get a goldfish for her. Go to the pet shop, ask the assistant, naively, what the cheapest set up I should get so my goldfish does not die. There is this nice small tank (6 litre) with Resun power internal power filter, red gravel and water ager tap conditioner included. All I have to add is the goldfish flakes. My daughter chooses a lovely 11/2 inch all gold fish. The guy says I can put another two fish in the tank (I thankfully, decide only to take the one). <... good> I get the fish home dechlorinate the water, set up the tank with gravel at the bottom. Leave the fish in the bag to float in the tank to acclimatize it and then release it into the water. The fish is christened Tom by my daughter. <Good name... this tank/system not ready...> Then. I start to look up on the internet about goldfish care. Aaaahhhh! So, the minimum tank I should have bought is 10 gallons (and that is for one fish). I should have run the tank for 2 weeks without fish first, having introduced some gravel from another tank to introduce good bacteria. The shells that my daughter <I would take the shells out... and what you list as having done is fine/correct, however, what hasn't been done may be of consequence. If you're "lucky" you may not suffer the ill-effects of a non-cycled system (please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and the linked files above). I would be very careful re feeding much of anything at this juncture... and have ready, conditioned, aged water for change-outs of good percentage should Tom show discomfort re. Bob Fenner>

Black moor beh., sys.  7/5/06 I made an outside pond over the winter and put in some goldfish, koi, two Shubunkins, two fantails and two black moors in April.  They all seemed to be doing fine and getting along with each other. <Mmm, "fancies" are best not kept outdoors generally, and most often can't compete with Comet goldfish, Koi over time...> A few days ago one of the moors turned white around the edge of all its fins.  Then it developed bleached out looking sides and its head is turning bright orange.  I thought it was spawning because several of the goldfish were chasing it all around the pond.  That has stopped.  It is still eating and swimming well but the bleached out sides and orange on the head seems to be spreading.  Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. <Moors can/do change color at time... more so in "outdoor", changeable water conditions, but the chasing behavior is likely unrelated.... can be trouble, is likely related to breeding... I would separate this one fish, actually both moors and fantails... bring them indoors, keep in an aquarium. Bob Fenner>

Goldfish Surprise - 07/04/2006 Greetings from Colorado Springs! <Greetings from....; I think I'm in Santa Clara, CA, right now First of all, thank you so much for such a comprehensive website. It's wonderful. <Thanks for these kind words!  We're glad to be able to help out.> My past aquatic experience consists of keeping a feeder goldfish (Henry;) in a 3-cup bowl and performing complete weekly water changes. I was five years old. He survived this torture for 3 years. <Yikes....> Thanks to your site, and many (many) more years of experience, I now know better. <Ah, good.> I have tried with diligence to search your site for answers to my questions, but I fear (and hope) this is a very unusual situation. I'll try to provide as much information as possible. And I thank you in advance for your patience in reading my lengthy missive. Below is my first message sent 6/27/06, possibly lost, <ARGH!  My apologies.  It is a priority of mine to try to find a system we can use to not allow such losses to continue to take place....  Who knows what's not getting to us.... > and regardless, incomplete: I encountered an emergency fish situation this past weekend. A friend literally left the following on my front porch: 3 orphaned goldfish in a Tupperware container of untreated tap water, a reject can of goldfish flakes, and a 10 gallon tank that was filtering sludge and was 60% covered with algae. Argh! Prior to Saturday, I had no aquarium. Now, a true novice, I have a 20 gallon tank (with a 30 gallon filter) and 3 goldfish. I realize this is too small for the current stock, but spatially and financially this was my option. It is twice the size they were used to. <.... and a more conscientious owner, which is by far the most important improvement in these animals' lives....> I was surprised at the size of the fish. From tip to tail, the fantail "Bubbles is about 3 inches long. The common Beluga; is about 4 inches. And the comet Beethoven" is about 6 inches. <And under your care, probably will double or more in length over time.> They are beautiful fish and appear to be healthy. A miracle, I'm sure. <Indeed.  Goldfish are such resilient animals!> Because of the urgency of the situation, I assembled the tank, let it run 3 hours, floated the fish in separate bags for 10 minutes, added aquarium water and floated for another 10 minutes, and set them free. They've survived and seem to be doing well. I'm feeding them Goldfish Crisps. Please consider a more nutritious diet.... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshmalnut.htm .> Here's the problem: The common is constantly chasing the other two fish. He may nip at them, but I don't see any damage yet. (That comet is really fast and doesn't tolerate the common being very close.) <Your use of "common" and "comet" is confusing, here....  the two are synonymous - common/comet goldfish are any that have "normal" shaped bodies and a single tail, and come in one or more of orange, white, gold/brass, or black colors.  Anyhow, the fantail really isn't compatible with these more "normal" fish, as the fantail simply doesn't have the ability to maneuver or eat as well as the others.> As far as I know, these fish have been together since "the beginning" -- whenever that was (surely several months, by now -- they have quite a history, I won't bore you with the details). I have read many posts concerning bully fish, but this one seems to be unique. Could the size of the tank really be the problem? <Mm, possibly.> Or could a chemical imbalance be causing his aggressive behavior? <Who knows.  I don't think they make aquarium Ritalin, though ;)  Likely this is a normal behaviour that you're seeing.> There is a strong ammonia smell near the tank. <NOT okay.> I have not had the water tested since it's only been 3 days. <Doesn't matter how early it is - test it, and right away.  Ammonia in the tank is toxic, deadly.  IF this tank is cycling, you MUST do water changes immediately to keep ammonia and nitrite at zero to prevent permanent damage to the gills of your pets.  This will prolong the cycle, but is necessary.> Help! I don't have a place to put the common if separation is necessary; and strange as it may sound, I've already become attached to the trio. However, I want to do what is best for my fish. Any suggestions would truly be appreciated. [I should add that when I assembled the tank, I treated the water with Seachem's Prime, Stress Zyme, and Aquarium Salt.] After further observation, it appears that Beluga's aggressive behavior occurs most often (possibly only) when the light is on. Could this have something to do with it (or am I just imagining that)? <Nah, not your imagination - and a good observation.  Fish will behave differently during their "night" and "day".  It is normal for goldfish to be more active during the day - including your comet's "aggression".> Also, I was told (by the local large-chain pet store) that a strong odor from the tank at first was normal. Is this true? <NO.  Never with live animals.  Must urgently be tested, rectified.> I'm not so sure it's an ammonia smell (as stated above). It really reminds me of an electrical smell. (Does that make sense? Is that what ammonia smells like?) <This is a very interesting and curious distinction....  It is possible that what you're smelling is ammonia in the tank, but I'm not so sure now with this comment.  Do me (well, yourself, really) a favor - remove the light fixture from your tank.  Take it completely out of the room.  Turn off your filter.  Let it sit a few minutes.  Smell the tank again.  Still there?  Go to wherever you took the light, plug it in, turn it on, smell it.  Is this the origin of the scent?  If so, you might consider replacing the light if it's an old-ish fixture.  Though, to be complete here, this smell can be associated with brand new light fixtures, too, and will fade in some weeks' time.> From reading your site, I realize that the best situation would have been to let the tank cycle before adding my fish, but as stated above, I don't think I really had another option. <Just water changes....  and urgently....> Whew! I apologize for the length of this message, and I anxiously anticipate your reply. And I think my fishes do, too. Thank you! Krista P.S. Is it best to simply trash the home they arrived with or is there something worth salvaging? (I already tossed the filter. The hood is covered with mold. The tank is really covered with algae and smells awful.) <The tank at least is worth cleaning up and keeping on hand.  Save it for quarantine, or whatever else you might use it for.  All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Goldfish Surprise - II - 07/04/2006 Hello, Lisa! <Actually, Sabrina with you, today.  Seems we've gotten our wires crossed somewhere - I see Lisa responded to you as well.> I have happy news. I had a sample of my tank water tested at the pet store (by someone more experienced than me). The nitrites and nitrates were zero. The ammonia was only .25 ppm. <A water change will rectify this.> I bought a test kit, actually two, as you suggested. <Ah, excellent!> One is a strip test that checks 5 different things (nitrites, nitrates, pH, etc.). The ammonia test I bought has a test tube and 2 bottles of solution. (I was told this test is more accurate.) <Much, yes.  The strips can be used as a general ball-park guess, but for accuracy, liquid reagent test kits are important.> Anyway, I tested the water again when I got home. The ammonia level was yellow ~ not quite the deep golden color of a zero level, but not as green as a .25 level. I'm thrilled! <Awesome!  Me too.> Do you think this has something to do with the 30-gallon filter on the 20-gallon tank (maybe a higher level of carbon)? <Not necessarily.  Just the cycle taking its course.> I also used stress-zyme when I set-up the tank. Could this have boosted the biological filtration from the get-go? <Maybe a little, but not an enormous amount. I still don't understand the strange odor coming from the water, though. <I'm still curious about the electrical smell comment.  Smells interest me a great deal, and I think there may be something to that.> Maybe I just don't know what a fish tank is supposed to smell like.   <Should smell rich and moist, like clean wet mulch in a garden after a rain. Thank you so much for your help. I was encouraged that you recommended Prime in your reply because that's what I used when I set-up the tank. Also, it appears that Beluga is treating his tank mates more hospitably. <Wonnnnnnnderful!> And I just acquired a 5-gallon set-up for some tropical fish. I'm hooked. (No pun intended. :-)) <Even more wonderful!> Thank you so much for such a comprehensive website. <As always, I'm *very* glad we could help.> It's wonderful! Krista <All the best to you, your goldies, Sophie, and Marigold,  -Sabrina>  

Goldfish Surprise - III  - 07/18/2006 Greetings from Colorado Springs - again! <And hello again from the San Francisco Bay Area of California!> First, let me say that you guys have been fantastic in easing my concerns about my 3 orphaned goldfish (Goldfish Surprise II - 7/4/2006). To Lisa and Sabrina ~ I thank you.   <We're glad to be of service.> The strange odor, probably the light fixture, is slowly fading. I'm no longer concerned. And water testing is going well. Levels are all where they should be.   <Awesome!!> I have searched your site but seem to have found myself another unique situation.  [To clarify some confusion that Sabrina expressed regarding one of my earlier messages about common vs. comet: I found on another website (before I found yours) the following, and possibly erroneous, distinction that common goldfish have a short, rounded tail while comets have a long, flowing tail - like a comet. That's how I'm differentiating between my 2 non-fantails. Is that okay?]   <I see and understand.  Thanks for the clarification.> Back to the unique situation, a couple of days ago, I found the comet with one single scale sticking out of his forehead ~ at the top of his head just before his body starts. It is both white and orange. The only disease/condition I found characterized by "sticking out scales" is dropsy. His shape is fine and he's exhibiting no other strange behavior, so I don't think he has dropsy. <Nah, this is probably just a minor injury.  Just keep an eye on it.> I have also noticed, however, that he has two small white areas on the very edge of his top fin. Is this automatically ich? <Nah.> Could it be fin damage <Could be.> or age? <Less likely, but possible.> (If damage, could this also explain that rogue scale?) <Yep.> How would I know and what do you suggest I do? <Just watch and see for now.> I understand that if it's ich, the sooner I treat it the better. But I don't want to "treat" him if he's not sick (this is my philosophy with my children, too. :-)). <PERFECT!  I would just keep an eye on it, and if you seriously begin to suspect that it's become infected, consider a mild antibiotic treatment....  Likely this is an injury and will heal of its own accord.> There are no signs of white spots on the other fish. Related to this (because I've been reading the many articles on ich treatments), should I put a thermometer and heater in this tank? I'd originally thought no since it's a goldfish tank. Weather in Colorado is extremely mild (contrary to popular belief). <A thermometer, yes; a heater, probably not.  Good to have one on hand, though, just in case.> However, in the summer our temperatures can range from in the low 80s during the day to the 40s in the evening. Could this outside temperature change drastically affect the water temperature causing my fish stress? <Mm, possibly, but probably not.> We do not have air conditioning, so open windows and fans are our only recourse. Yikes! Sorry for so many questions in one paragraph. <Not a problem.> I so appreciate your advice. Look forward to hearing from you.  Krista <All the best to you and your fish,  -Sabrina>

Uncycled system for goldfish?   7/2/06 Hi please can you help me. we have recently purchased 2 goldfish for our daughters birthday. we bought the tank a week before we bought the fish so that it would be ready for when we brought the fish home. however we brought the fish home and they seem to be constantly attacking each other. Is there any reason that the fish should act like this. i am very worried that they are trying to kill each other. Or is it normal and they are playing. I have never noticed anyone else's fish acting in this way.  Thank you,  -Kristine. <Perhaps just too crowded, but likely this tank was not, is not completely cycled. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm  and the linked files above...  Goldfish System FAQs, ... Behavior FAQs. Bob Fenner>

Re: Uncycled system for goldfish?   7/4/06 Hello, Thanks for replying. after reading some of your FAQs on behavior i have noticed that my fish are suffering from Whitespot and this appears to be the reason they were rubbing together what looked like fighting to me. <Could be (partial) cause or effect here... likely more the latter> I have bought a treatment for them and hopefully they will be better soon. <... Hopefully you have read where you were referred and have the means of testing your water quality. This is the key/base concern here...> I have learnt a lot from reading your site and would like to thank you for your help. its nice to know there is help out there for us beginners.     thanks Kristine. xxxxxxxxxxxxxx <Thank you for your kind words, follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Goldfish Systems Questions  6/30/06 Hi, <<Hi. Tom here.>> I have a few questions about setting up my new tank. <<Fire away...>> I set my tank up and I added water conditioners to get rid of all of the impurities/etc. <<All you need to add is a good dechlorinator to get rid of chlorine/chloramine.>> When I did a water test a few days later the alkalinity and pH were a little low so I bought some pH increaser and added it to the water. <<Since "alkalinity", "acidity" and "pH" all go hand-in-hand, all you have to tell us is that your pH is low. That will tell us that the alkalinity is low. Now that you've had a "science lesson", how low is "low"? (Since I've read ahead in your post I can tell you that Goldfish will do okay in a range from 6.0-8.0 but, probably do best at about 7.0-7.2.) Also, don't use chemicals to adjust your pH levels. Best to acclimate your fish to whatever levels your tap water is at. This provides the most stability for your pets, which is what they really need most.>> But, I don't know: 1. How long to wait before testing the water again? <<When I cycle a tank? Daily. Every other day would suffice.>> 2. Should the filter be running or will it filter out the pH increaser? <<Run the filter and skip the pH conditioner. pH varies over time - downward - and the conditioner is a waste of your money.>> 3. When can I add my goldfish? <<When you've seen the ammonia and nitrite levels rise and, then, fall to zero. Not close to zero but absolutely zero!>> If the pH, alkalinity, nitrate, nitrite and hardness are all at the right amount, is it ok if I add my fish now? Or, do I need to test anything else? <<What you need to test for is ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and pH. Hardness levels are very appropriate to test for but, not a huge issue with Goldfish. The four I've mentioned will do. Side note: If you've had your new tank running for only a short time, don't think you're "out of the woods" because your ammonia/nitrite levels are zero. A new aquarium takes weeks to properly cycle. Test the water and look for "spikes" in either of these. Might be a good idea to research this in your spare time. We've got lots of information on tank cycling!>> What should I do when transferring my fish from his old tank to his new one? Put any type of liquid that helps with slime coating/stress? <<The biggest issue here, provided your Goldfish is healthy, is to introduce him/her into a new tank that has water conditions just like he/she is acclimated to already.  Stability is the key here. Test both tanks and, when they match up, given what I've already suggested, your pet will be fine.>> -st <<Tom>>

My new goldfish ... lessons re life  6/30/06 Hello to the WWM crew! <<Hi, Kenzi. Tom with you.>> I am twelve years old and am having fish for the very first time. <<Congratulations and welcome to the hobby. There's much to learn, though.>> I just got my two new goldfish yesterday.  When I put them into their new tank, at first they just sat at the bottom not moving very much. <<Not surprising. This is a new environment for them. Strange surroundings, etc.>> I was pretty worried, but next time I checked on them they were at the top of the tank. <<Hmmm...>> Ever since last night they have been bobbing with their mouths at the surface. Are they hungry? Or is it just some weird goldfish habit. <<The answer is "no" to both of your questions. Goldfish will "gulp" at the surface when they're having trouble breathing. You need to start doing some "homework" now. You also need to take note of some things that we'll need to know to help you better. For example, how big is your fish tank? Did you let the tank "cycle"? (If you don't know what "cycling" is, you'll have to check out our site and find the information. There's lots of it!) Do you have a test kit to check the water conditions? Does your fish tank have a filter in it? Goldfish are "messy", Kenzi, which means that they pee and poop a lot. This creates ammonia in the water, which is very, very dangerous to them. When the ammonia breaks down is creates nitrites, which are also very, very dangerous to fish. This is what "cycling" is all about. Until the good bacteria are in place to deal with the ammonia and nitrites, your tank isn't cycled and your fish will be in danger. Fortunately, your Goldfish are hardier than a lot of other fish are. Please, research Goldfish and cycling and get back to us.>> Thanks, Kenzi <<You're welcome, Kenzi. Tom>>

Re: My new goldfish ... lessons re life  6/30/06 Hello again, <<Hi, Kenzi. Tom again.>> I got my goldfish from my neighbor, but the fish didn't belong to them. They just volunteered to find new homes for them. <<Nice enough thing to do.>> Before the fish were transferred to them the fish were treated very poorly, and were already not in very good health when I received them (4 of them had died earlier that day).  So unfortunately the bigger of the two (Gouda) died this morning. <<This is very sad to hear. I wish it was a rare occurrence but, unhappily, it's not.>> I had not purchased a big enough tank yet and was temporarily keeping them in a fish bowl.  I am sad to say that is was definitely not big enough but I didn't have anything else and we absolutely couldn't go shopping. I didn't have the time to let the tank cycle, me getting the fish was very short notice and I didn't want them to stay in that bag very long. <<I understand completely. Well, let's see if we can save the one you have. If the worst does happen, we'll certainly leave you with enough information to make a successful run at the hobby when you're ready. :)>> I have researched cycling and it is still a little confusing. <<It can be a little confusing but don't let the "science" of it frustrate you. Think of it this way. You don't have to know how a computer works in order to use one.>> When I researched cycling, it said not to use goldfish, so how can I cycle for my goldfish? <<I can clear this one up for you rather easily. Many people will use fish, often Goldfish, to "seed" a new aquarium with a source of ammonia so that the cycling process can take place. We advocate "fishless" cycling here at WWM rather than using live fish for this purpose. My guess is that you ran across cycling information that recommends against using Goldfish - an example - to start the process. Just a coincidence that the article cited Goldfish, which happens to be what you have.>>    Also, it says every three days I need to empty 15% of the water replacing it with tap water, exactly how do I do that? <<First, you need to get a bottle of dechlorinator from the pet store. There are many to choose from but the main thing is that it needs to remove chlorine/chloramine from the tap water. I use NovAqua Plus (Kordon's), for example. Okay, here's an easy way for you to accomplish the changes. Figure out how much water is in the bowl. A good guess will suffice. Since there are 16 cups of water in a gallon, 2 1/2 cups of water is 15% of a gallon. For each gallon of water in the bowl, take out 2 1/2 cups of water. Now, take another large bowl and fill it with tap water and add some of the dechlorinator (about a half a cap full from the bottle will be more than enough). Let this water sit for about 5-10 minutes or until it's clear again. Use your measuring cup to put the same amount of new water into the bowl as what you removed and you're done.>> I am assuming that when I switch my fish into it's new (bigger) tank I will be able to cycle properly and use the water it's in now as it's "store water." <<Provided the current water has cycled properly, yes.>> Also, I am not sure if I can have a filter. <<For the bowl or, for the new tank? On the new tank, this would be imperative since this is where the majority of the beneficial bacteria reside.>> Instead of having a filter could I just clean the tank more often and if I can, how often should I change it? <<I'm sorry to say that, without a filter on the new tank, your chances of keeping your pet alive and healthy for long wouldn't be good. You'd be testing the water constantly and, even then, you'd end up with ammonia/nitrite "spikes" that would doom your fish.>> I do not have a testing kit either, do you think I could get them at Wal Mart?   <<Yes. Look for the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Master Freshwater Kit, if possible. Easy to use and as accurate as you'll need for now.>> Ok, I think that is about it.  I hope it is still useful once you have replied to my email, because my fish is still gulping for air and I am not sure if I can put it in a bigger container just for tonight. Well, I guess you can't help me with that I will try to research it before I go to bed.  Well, thanks for the help, I'm sure Feta will appreciate the help, too. <<When you go to Wal Mart, look for a large Tupperware/Rubbermaid storage container. They're pretty cheap and work quite well for housing fish in an "emergency". So, dechlorinator? Absolutely. Test kit? Yes. Storage container? A very good option. Continued research? Most important of all!>> Sincerely, Kenzi <<My best and good luck. Tom>>

Goldfish feedback - 6/29/6 Hi there, <<Hello!>> I was doing some research on goldfish and came across your site. <<Awesome.>> Specifically the section where you answer questions throughout the peoples letters. I was rather amused and a bit confused on some of the answers being a tad undefined as to what was being responded to. Made for some amusing answers and guessing what the writer thought was asked about. But my main thing is read was telling someone that 10 gallons per goldfish was the standard. <<I think 20-gallons is best, but 10 is reasonable.>> Um, in looking at the web it is 1 gallon per inch of goldfish. <<Not quite accurate, especially considering how messy they are, but ok.>> In looking at what I wrote maybe your answer person accidentally put in a 0. Not sure, but if your person believes in the 10 gallon theory, they might want to go and check out some more sites about this. <<The person answering was entirely correct.  Most commonly available goldfish grow to a FOOT in length. So even if your inch/gallon rule is accurate, that would mean 12-gallons per goldfish, wouldn't it?  You don't think that goldfish only grow to 1 inch, do you??  I suggest that it is you that needs to do more reading/learning before challenging something you know little about.>> Could you imagine a 100 gallon tank and only 10 goldfish inside it? <<Yes, a 100-gallon tank with 10 foot long fish would be densely stocked.>> Blair <<Get learning, Blair.  Lisa.>>

Re: (gold)fish feedback, discussion - 7/2/6 Um...I did get learning and most goldfish, unless kept in pristine conditions do not grow to 12 inches for a very long time (considering most goldfish have the potential to live 10-20 years...but since most people are not fish fanatics most goldfish live on average 3-8 years). <<That is an issue with how they are cared for, not for how they should be if cared for properly.  There is a distinct difference between 'living' for a time, and thriving for a lifetime.  I think it's gross that people are considered fish 'fanatics' when they simply care for their animals.  If people cared so horribly for puppies, most people would be outraged, and the abusers in jail.>> Also, as you will probably agree (well, I don't know about that based upon how you answered me) unless you are shopping at very specific shops most people buy goldfish around 1-2" to start. <<I totally agree with you.  The vast majority of fish you buy are juveniles, as are most animals we buy are, but certainly you wouldn't buy a doghouse for a Great Dane based on the size it is as a pup, and expect that to last for it's whole life.>> Now not everyone is as smart as you, but I bet most people would notice that if their fish got too big that they need to upgrade their tank sizes. <<See, the problem is that stunting happens before you notice the tank is too small, and the animal doesn't grow as they would in an adequate tank, removing that as a tool to gauge appropriate tank sizes.>> I know I would. <<Have you ever actually experienced this? Have you moved fish in time to avoid stunting? Have you dealt with death of fish due to stunting? I would be happy to hear your experience.  My frustration comes from people thinking they know better than people with experience directly related to what's being talked about, just because they think so.>> So a 1-2 inch goldfish in a 10-gallon tank seems kind of large to begin with. <<Not even a bit.  That is incredibly conservative.  Seriously, please observe the toxin levels and TDS readings in a tank that small with an eating, pooping growing machine. Have you monitored the change in TDS readings over time in such a tank? If not, please do not make conclusions based on zero observation. This is where most of the myths and improper care come from in our hobby.  We should all try to make statements/learn from concrete, experienced-based facts.>> Course you can rest assured that in 6 months when my tank has stabilized I will be upgrading my tank size. <<Why wait until one tank has 'stabilized', only to disturb it? Starting in a proper tank from the beginning is far better for your fish and wallet. ...maybe to 50 gallons, but not to 100 gallons as you suggest. <<Your fish, your call.  Do you have 10 goldfish?  I can absolutely assure you with 100% certainty that they will not be as healthy, or live as long as if given proper care.>> If my fish can grow even close to 6 inches... then I will consider an upgrade. <<You don't seem to understand that they won't grow that big if they are stunted.>> But that will be in several years down the line. <<Never, if not housed properly. Lisa.>>

Possible Bully Goldfish/ New system - 6/29/6 I encountered an emergency fish situation this weekend. <<Uh-oh!>> A friend literally left the following on my front porch: 3 orphaned goldfish in a Tupperware container of untreated tap water, a reject can of goldfish flakes, and a 10 gallon tank that was filtering sludge and was 60% covered with algae. <<Oh gosh, you must be overwhelmed.>> Prior to Saturday, I had no aquarium. Now, a true novice, I have a 20 gallon tank (with a 30 gallon filter) and 3 goldfish. I realize this is too small for the current stock, but spatially and financially this was my option. It is twice the size they were used to. <<It is certainly an improvement, and will do for some time. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshmalnut.htm>> I was surprised at the size of the fish. From tip to tail, the fantail "Bubbles" is about 3 inches long. The common "Beluga" is about 4 inches. And the comet "Beethoven" is about 6 inches. <<They will get much larger.>> They are beautiful fish and appear to be healthy. A miracle, I'm sure. Because of the urgency of the situation, I assembled the tank, let it run 3 hours, floated the fish in separate bags for 10 minutes, added aquarium water and floated for another 10 minutes, and set them free. <<The tank is not cycled. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm. You're going to have to do mega water changes (75% daily) to keep the ammonia and nitrite from building up.  I recommend a dechlorinator such as Prime be used, added to your replacement water.>> They've survived and seem to be doing well. I'm feeding them Goldfish Crisps. Here's the problem: The common is constantly chasing the other two fish. He may nip at them, but I don't see any damage yet. (That comet is really fast and doesn't tolerate the common being very close.) As far as I know, these fish have been together since "the beginning" -- whenever that was (surely several months, by now -- they have quite a history, I won't bore you with the details). I have read many posts concerning bully fish, but this one seems to be unique. Could the size of the tank really be the problem? <<Yes.  It likely is in this case.>> Or could a chemical imbalance be causing his aggressive behavior? <<Very doubtful. Hopefully in time, with improving water conditions, things will improve.>> There is a strong ammonia smell near the tank. I have not had the water tested since it's only been 3 days. <<That's not good at all. You should get on those water changes. Also, you really should purchase test kits of your own for at least ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.>> Help! I don't have a place to put the common if separation is necessary; and strange as it may sound, I've already become attached to the trio. <<That's not strange, they are pets!>> However, I want to do what is best for my fish. Any suggestions would truly be appreciated. Thank you! Krista <<I really do think a larger home is in order, but at least please correct the water parameters.>> P.S. Is it best to simply trash the home they arrived with or is there something worth salvaging? (I already tossed the filter. The hood is covered with mold. The tank is really covered with algae and reeks.) <<A thorough cleaning (no soap) will do. I'd keep it. If you need to, you can use it to move on of the fish if aggression gets too bad, and an extra tank always comes in handy. Happy reading! Lisa.>>

Clay Pots for a Goldie...please no! - 6/28/6 Hi, <<Hello!>> I went to someone's house who had one of those big Mexican clay pots with goldfish inside. (they had it inside the house) <<I'm really very sorry to hear that.>> I thought this was a great idea. <<Horrible idea. Goldfish get very large, and are incredibly messy.  Large, filtered settings please.>> I would like to do the same. <<Please don't. This is very cruel.>> Is it okay to put goldfish in these pots? <<No.>> If it is what do I need to put inside to make it successful.  Also can it be kept in a terrace outside?  Would mosquito's, frogs etc be a factor? Thanks <<All would be a factor.  Please do not do this. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm.  Lisa.>> <Mmm, actually... if these pots are suitably large, filtered... painted/coated to be chemically inert... will work. RMF>

Ryukin tank size, final answer please! Who wants to be a bazillionaire?!   6/27/06 I have an extra 20 gallon high tank (24L X 12W X 17H) laying around and would like to keep a single 5 inch Ryukin goldfish in it. However, everything I read seems to say something different about minimum tank sizes for goldfish.  Even on Wet Web Media I have found conflicting opinions.   Some say 20 gallons is OK, but others say no, nothing less than 30 gallons is appropriate for goldfish. <Twenty gallons will work for small specimens...> So, I am asking for a definite final answer to my question:  will a 20 gallon high be an appropriate home for a single 5 inch Ryukin goldfish? Thank you. Sherry <Not this size/type though. IMO you need a minimum of thirty gallons... Bigger would be better... more stable, better able to dilute wastes, easier to provide for gaseous exchange... Bob Fenner>

Goldfish chasing: Is it bullying?  6/26/06 Hi, <<Hi. Tom>> I got my new fish and 10-gal tank about 2 weeks ago. I've stocked  it with a comet goldfish (3 inches), 2 common goldfish (little over 2 inches  each) and 2 Shubunkins (also a bit over 2 inches each). <<Too little of an environment for one fish of this type let alone five! Six to seven times larger is needed, minimally.>> The problem is that the comet is acting like a bully (I think) because he/she chases around the 2 common goldfish a lot, and now 1 of my c. goldfish is acting like him and  chasing around the only one of the Shubunkin and the other c. goldfish. <<Your tank hasn't "cycled" in two weeks. Almost certainly, they're exposed to ammonia which is toxic/deadly, to fish. Soon, if not already, they'll be exposed to nitrites which are also deadly to fish. The "stress" factor will be enormous and create behavior that these fish would not normally exhibit. They've already become susceptible to disease and infection.>> I need a little help in knowing if this is playing behavior, some sort of mating behavior or if these fish are becoming harmfully aggressive. Or maybe do you think my tank is too small for these goldfish? I could use as much advice as you can give. <<Our site offers more information than you'll ever need. First, research "cycling". Then, research each of your fish. After that, research more. You already sound like you have a "handle" on behavioral issues with your pets. When you have specifics, we'll talk more. ;)>> <<Tom>> Just out of nowhere.. Fancy Goldfish systems, health    6/26/06 Good day. <And you> I have a 50 gallon fw tank with four goldfish fancies.  A black moor, two goldfishes, and a goldfish that is half gold/half black.  I used Bio-Spira to cycle the tank and directly added the fish.  It's been cycled for about 2 weeks with the fish with the following parameters: ammonia/nitrite 0, nitrates 5, ph 7.2 However, one day, the black moor just dies and I would guess that normally, a fish would float up in that case, but he was upside down at the bottom of the tank. <Do float or sink...> The water is crystal clear, but I immediately checked the water with the following parameters: ammonia/nitrite 0, nitrates 10, ph 7.2 A few days later the half black/half gold fish starts hiding in the bottom corner of the tank and I suddenly knew something was wrong as this guy always swam with the other two.  A few days later, that fish passed, upside down at the bottom of the tank.  They both don't look like they have dropsy, no bloating or expanded scales or anything.  Any ideas? <... likely cumulative stress... Fancy goldfish are not as "tough" as folks often believe... Are often "shaken up" from being moved around, and don't "like" all-new settings... best to wait a few to several weeks with new water, fine products like Bio-Spira added before adding them. I would wait a few weeks more and try some new specimens. Bob Fenner> Thank you. Joseph

Goldfish sys. 6/22/6  Ms. Brown tells it like it is    6/22/06 Hi, I never expected to be a fish owner, but when my neighbor came over holding a vase with a goldfish in it and asked if anyone would like it (several other neighbors and I were outside) and if not she was flushing it down the toilet (her son recently won it at a fair).  Needless to say, I couldn't bare the thought it being flushed.  So I have it, I went out bought a 10gallon tank, with a pump.  Bought some artificial plants and ended up buying two more fish to keep Whiskey company. Whiskey is a comet and Gin and Tonic are fantail (I think, from pictures I researched on line). Any way, they were all doing fine...until my 3 year old decided to feed them cheese and the odor coming from the tank was unbearable.  So we had to take all the water out and clean the tank entirely.  Not knowing that much about fish.  I know we didn't do everything correctly.  They all seemed fine earlier today (June 21).  I left for a couple of hours and when I came home Gin, the smaller of the fantail, was dead.  So far the other two seem fine.  (I was observing them later today and saw that Whiskey was nudging and following Tonic around, I'm assuming from reading the other post, that this is normal matting behavior).  Anyway my concern is did Gin die of improper care of  putting them back in a tank, or could there have been something else that caused it and should I now be concerned for the other two? Thank you <<Strictly improper care.  Your tank is not cycled, and is far too small. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm, and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshmalnut.htm. Lisa.>>

Why are my fish dying? Goldfish sys. 6/20/6 Hi! <<Hello.>> I used to have 4 very small goldfish in a 10 litre tank (I know this is too small and I will be upgrading soon). <<Woefully overstocked.>> They were a Black Moor, Orange Bubble Eye, Fantail and a Red Cap Oranda. They have all died one after another (except for the Oranda he is perfectly healthy) with the same problem. They would start turning black (except for the Black Moor) then curl up into an arched position then die. Funnily enough, the healthy one (Red Cap Oranda) has no black on him whatsoever. Everyone says that they just change colour, but when that happened to my fish they died. Do you know the reason? <<This is likely an environmental problem.  Did you cycle your tank? If so, how? Did you do massive water changes very often to buy you (some, if any) time until you get a larger tank? I really want to know what the reason is so I can prevent my Oranda from getting the disease. <<As I said, I don't think this is a disease. Please read on WWM about cycling, and test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.  Ammonia and nitrite need to be 0 at all times, and nitrate under 20.>> Thanks for your help with all the confusing emails I send in! You've been a great help to me! Thanks again. <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Overstocked Goldfish Tank  6/18/06 Dear WWM Crew: <Hi, Sarah, it's Pufferpunk here> I have had a black moor goldfish for about 6 months now and he seems to be sick, but I can't figure out what illness he suffers. He shares a 10 gallon tank with 5 other fish and has always had some trouble getting around, but I figure that's because of his shape. <Could be, but that sounds like 5 too many fish in there.> Recently however, he stays at the top of the tank gulping for air or laying on the bottom.  A lot of times his fins are clamped together. About a month ago I think the entire tank had swim bladder disease; all of the fish stayed at the bottom except the black moor who stayed at the top. I gave them peas and skipped feeding for a few days and they got better. Could the black moor have gotten this again? I'm confused though because he has always sort of acted this way, only now he's worse. Is it just because he's handicapped being a black moor? We separated him from the other fish and gave him peas and are now waiting on your response. <I would bet you if you tested the water, you'd find the ammonia, nitrites & nitrates very high & the pH very low (acid).  Goldfish are piggy eaters & extremely high waste producers.  1 small one would be happy in a 10g by itself.  As adults (their bodies grow about as large as your fist, if they're not stunted), 1 would be ok in a 30g.  You must do large weekly water changes to remove the toxins these fish produce from their waste.  Serious GF keepers do 90% weekly water changes on their tanks.  If you're not presently doing large water changes on your tank now, start with 25% daily (cleaning the gravel with a gravel cleaner) for 4 days in a row & then 90% weekly.  Try to find homes for those other fish & I bet you'll see a great happy change in your moor!  Plan on upgrading to a larger tank as it grows.  They can live quite a long time, some over 20 years.  ~PP> Thanks! Sarah

Low pH in Goldfish Tank  6/15/06 I have a 39 gal Marineland tank with self-contained carbon filter and BioWheel.  I had 2 goldfish ~ 3 years old and 6 - 8 inches in length. Healthy and even survived an ammonia storm when I learned the hard way about cycling when I moved them from a smaller tank.  Repeated water changes and then some Bio-Spira eventually allowed their survival. <Ah, good> My son "won" another small goldfish at the carnival one day and I, with reservation, added the fish to the tank with my 2 mature goldfish.  I routinely do 50% water changes about once a month <Better by far to change about a quarter every week> and it has seemed to work well.  I lost one of the mature fish the other day, about 3 - 4 months after introducing the "new kid".  It had become less active and was spending a lot of time at the top of the tank "sucking air" at the top.  I thought maybe it had gas-bladder or something and I decreased feeding and even added some salts.  After it died, I removed it (probably 8 - 10 hours after death).  I decided to check the ammonia level and pH (duh) at this point.........Ammonia > 6ppm and pH 6.2.   <Yikes!> So, I already know the water exchange drill and performed several a day until I no longer had any ammonia (I'm down to 0 - 0.25ppm using a chemical test kit).  I have also changed the carbon filter. <Good> My problem is that the pH is remaining low for reasons that I can't figure out ( 6.2 +/-). I have done more water exchanges and even used some of the 'pH UP' - "base in a bottle".  After obtaining a neutral pH, it still winds up returning to the low levels.  Do you have  any ideas about why I may still have a problem with low pH despite all the water changes with my drinking tap water (treated appropriately with chlorine binder of course)  and can you suggest any remedies? Many thanks! David Johnson <Mmm, well, this pH (if there is sufficient alkalinity/buffer) isn't "all that bad", but it could be easily raised by the careful addition of "baking soda" (sodium bicarbonate) to the change water. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwph,alk.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Ammonia poisoning ... goldfish, sys., dis.  6/12/06 Hello <Hi there - you've got Jorie here> Please can you help me? <Will try...> I bought a tank and 4 goldfish 16 days and I stupidly thought that adding the fish straight away without leaving a tank to sit for a week would be ok<...> <I'm not exactly sure what you are trying to say here.  I think you mean that you bought 4 goldfish in 16 days?  In any case, from your following statement indicating that you didn't let the water sit for a week, I think you are confusing two issues: (1) if you are using pure tap water, you need to either let the water sit to allow the chlorine/chloramine levels to lower (a few days if there's no aeration in the water, less if you are aerating the H20), or you need to use a liquid dechlorinator, which works almost immediately to remove harmful chlorine/chloramine from the water and (2) establishing the nitrogen cycle in the tank prior to introducing livestock.  Sounds to me like we need to start from the beginning - here are some very helpful articles/links:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm and  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm  Additionally, there's a good beginner book out there by David E. Boruchowitz, which has a title something like "The Simple Guide for Freshwater Aquariums" (sorry I don't have the exact title - I've lent the book to my boyfriend's dad...do an author search on www.barnesandnoble.com or www.amazon.com)  Everything contained within that book is very helpful and I've found accurate, with the exception of his stocking suggestions - he tends to overcrowd his tanks a bit, in my opinion.   In any case, after reading the material I've linked you to, plus other material which you can readily find via www.google.com or the likes, you'll need to invest in a good test kit.  Personally, I like Tetra's Master Freshwater test kit.  Definitely stay away from dipstick type tests, as they are notoriously inaccurate.  When you are cycling your tank, you will need to take daily readings of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate and you will see a spike, and subsequent reduction, in all three.  As long as there aren't fish in the tank, you can allow these three readings to spike, but, obviously, if you are cycling the tank with fish in it (which I don't recommend, as it is cruel...a small bit of fish food or a cocktail shrimp in the tank will achieve the same result), you need to do frequent water changes to get the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate out of the water, as all are toxic to livestock.> <...>as I had a goldfish when I was younger that lived in a bowl of tap water for 3 years but I have found out (in a very stressing way)  that this was the worst thing to do as the following occurred: Day 1 - put 4 fish (roughly 2.5cm each) into a 14 Litre tank with an air pump and filter <1 goldfish, let alone 4, DO NOT BELONG IN A 14 Litre tank (rough equivalent is less than 4 U.S. gallons).  This is cruel and unusual - there is not enough room for the fish to swim and thrive.  You need a min. of a 50-70 gal. tank for the four fish you have.  To be bluntly honest, for the purpose of sparing the poor fish, you should return whatever surviving fish you have and read and research prior to doing anything else with livestock.> Days 2 to 8 performed 20% water changes every other day... <In such a ridiculously small tank with 4 messy goldfish, this is totally inadequate.  Even if the 3-4 U.S. gal. tank were sufficient, you'd need to do at least 100% daily water changes to rid the water of the pollution left behind from 4 goldies.   <...adding Nutrafin Biological aquarium supplement and Nutrafin water conditioner each time, I have since found out should only have done this when there were no fish in the tank. <I am not a fan of using artificial supplements to "quicken" the cycling process.  It is totally not necessary if you've gone through the entire nitrogen cycle (without fish, preferably)> Days 9 and 10 Noticed the fish were not as active and seemed to lying at the bottom of the tank or hiding <Yes, they were likely dying a slow, painful death due to toxic poisoning.> Day 11 Noticed one of the fish had severe problems swimming and its tail was badly torn, then I seen one of the other fish take a bite out of it, so I  quickly put it in the jug I used for water changes but it died about 10 minutes later. Day 12 Another fish died I went to my local garden centre with a sample  of water from the tank and explained what I had done, the test showed the there was a very high level of ammonia in the water, I was advised to do an 80% water change that day and to add some King British Safe Water to get rid of the ammonia and to give a salt bath to the fish in the morning.   Day 13 Found another fish dead which just left one I removed her from the tank and gave her a salt bath and she immediately picked up when she was added back to the tank. I took another sample to get tested and the ammonia level had  gone down but I was told to perform partial water changes until the ammonia was  gone and to keep giving salt baths. Day 14 I went to check on her in the morning and she was at the side of the tank when she saw me she floated up to the top, the man at the garden centre told me I could give her a little food so I broke up 1 fish food flake and put it in the water beside her she followed it around the tank for a bit and did take a few bites but then she went back to the side of the tank again and spat it all back out. I gave her another salt bath and did a partial water change making sure the water was the same temp as the tank when I put her back in the tank she picked up but only for a short period of time and for the rest of the  day she never left the side of the tank she appeared to float at the top and  sometimes all her fins would come out and then she slowly pulled them back in at  the same time as sinking back to the bottom I went to a pet shop and I was  advised to put Sera water conditioner into the water. Day 15 I checked on her in the morning and she was still a the side of the tank sometimes at the top and sometimes at the bottom when she showed all her fins I noticed that she wasn't using her left fin very much and upon closer inspection  noticed that it was red  at the base. I took another sample to the garden centre, which showed there was  1.5 mg of ammonia in the tank. I spoke to the same man as I had done on my first  visit there and explained what had happened he told me to keep giving salt baths  and to add 75mg of soluble aspirin to the bath and use water from the tank for  the bath and to do a water change when she was in the bath and to put the Sera  water conditioner and King British safe water into the new water before adding it  to the tank. I also explained that she wasn't eating and that her fin was sore,  he told me to give her live feed and not to worry about her fin yet as getting rid of the ammonia was the main problem to sort out first. I came back and gave  her a salt bath with the aspirin and did a partial water change. When I put her  back in the tank she swam around for a while but then went back to the side, I  added the live feed and she showed no interest in it at all I then crumpled in 1 flake of food and again she followed the pieces but this time she didn't take any bits into her mouth so I removed the dried food. Today I went to check on her and she is now at the bottom of the tank  hiding behind an ornamental cave and she won't come up for food and she's not moving much she is opening her mouth but not frantically. I bought a water testing kit yesterday and I've tested the water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate the ammonia level is 0.8mg the nitrite level is 0.1mg and the nitrate level is  0mg <You cannot have any traces of ammonia in the water when there are live fish in there!  First off - FIND ANOTHER HOME FOR YOUR FISH, unless you are capable of immediately providing a suitable sized home for the fish.  As mentioned above, you need a larger tank (by far), you need to make sure the tank is cycled prior adding any livestock.  I cannot condone you keeping your 4 fish in such cramped quarters, but if you insist, since you now have your own test kit now, keep doing water changes and keep the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels at ZERO.  That's the only thing you can do at the moment. In all honesty, I expect your fish to die if you keep there where they are now.> Please can you help it's so upsetting seeing her like this especially as  I know this is all my fault I really would appreciate any advice you can  offer I look forward to hearing from you soon <Dawn, I, too, am very distraught in reading this.  In all honesty, your fish are dying right now due to ammonia, nitrite and/or nitrate poisoning.  I'm glad you care and give you kudos for wanting to do what's right.  Please understanding I'm not trying to beat you up, and if I honestly thought there was another solution, I'd tell you.  You really aren't prepared for your fish at the current time, so please try to find another home for them ASAP.  If you absolutely cannot replace them, then keep doing water changes and keep testing the water.  You do not want any traces of ammonia, nitrite or nitrate.  For your water changes, use a liquid chlorine/chloramine remover to make your tap water immediately suitable, and do water changes until all readings are at zero.  But please consider returning the fish, doing some homework, and returning to this hobby once you are better prepared.  In the meantime, please do peruse www.wetwebmedia.com for helpful information about fishkeeping.> Dawn Ord <Best regards, Jorie>

Re: Question I just replied to on WWM...  6/12/06 Hi Bob, Sabrina:    <Hi, Jorie!!>  I just answered a query entitled "Ammonia Poisoning", and I hope I wasn't too harsh.  Someone was/is trying to keep 4 goldies in a 3-4 gal. uncycled tank, and short of immediately purchasing a 50-60 gal. aquarium, the best advice I could give was to find a better home for the fish.  I did talk about the nitrogen cycle, water changes, etc., etc., but bottom line, I kept stressing getting rid of the fish ASAP.  I hope I wasn't out of line - of course feel free to amend my response before posting.        Thanks!    Jorie <My take?  Say what you mean; don't skimp on truth to spare someone's pride at the risk of the life/lives in their care, be honest....  On queries that get me particularly incensed, I'll go have a coffee and chill out a bit before responding.  That doesn't usually change how I respond, though ;)  If you're comfortable with your replies, so am I.  But that's just my $0.02, Bob's "da man".  -Sabrina> <<Da fish man. Who agrees. RMF>>

Goldfish Rubbing Tummies ... comp., systems     6/12/06 Hi, sorry if you've already answered this question, but I did try to scan your site extensively... I have a 10 gallon tank and in it I have 1 sucker  fish, 4 guppies, 2 ghost shrimp and 2 comet goldfish <Incompatible... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshcompfaqs.htm> (one about an inch and  the other about two and a half inches.) A little crowded, I know. <And would continue to become more so... but these animals will be dead w/o your changing...> What tank size  do you recommend? <Posted... for the goldfish alone, forty gallons> My main issue is this: I recently purchased the larger goldfish (today, actually) and the smaller one keeps chasing it and rubbing  itself on it. Mostly on it's tummy, but other parts of the body too. It's not  biting, just rubbing. I thought it was strange and decided to look it up...I'd greatly appreciate your help. Thank you so much, Jessica. PS- I live in Arizona and even during the winter my tank won't seem to stay below 75. Right now, it is at 80. Any advice? Thanks again! <Goldfish can tolerate such high temperatures seasonally... Bob Fenner>

Re: Goldfish and Bettas   6/10/06 Hi, <<Hello, Rachel. Tom here.>> As I read in a previous email, my fish will get sick and die (3 small goldfish in a 10 litre tank, I KNOW ITS TOO SMALL), and that's just why my small orange bubble eye fish did. <<Sorry to hear this, Rachel.>> I am now very upset, and my mum is finally letting me get a bigger tank. (I am unsure how many litres this new tank will be). <<Please plan on about 38 liters of water per Goldfish. Also, consider any additional Goldfish (note the emphasis on "Goldfish") that you may choose to add down the road when you make your purchase.>> I was also wondering if once we got the bigger tank could we put a Betta in there? I really love Betta's and would love to put one in with my goldfish. <<Not what I would recommend, Rachel. A Betta would be just fine in the 10-liter tank, well-heated (26-29C) since they do best at warm temperatures. These temperatures are much warmer than your Goldfish need or will tolerate. Additionally, their dietary needs are quite different. I share your admiration for Bettas but mixing these fish simply isn't advisable.>> Thanks for all your help you've given, you've been so helpful! Great site! <<Thanks for the kind words, Rachel. My best to you. Tom>>

Orandas in Ponds  6/5/06 Hi, Great site!      I have two questions: 1.  Can Orandas be kept in ponds with koi, catfish, and single  finned goldfish? The Orandas are 5-8", the koi are 8-24", the  single tailed goldfish are 8", and the catfish are 10", 14", 18". Right now the  three Orandas are in a 55 gallon tank, and are beginning to outgrow it. <Mmm, not a good risk... the chubbier varieties of fancy goldfish take a beating when mixed with these likes. Can't compete/move for food...> 2. Also, can these be kept in the pond during the  winter? I live in New Jersey. Thanks, Anthony <Mmm, again, not worth trying IMO. Bob Fenner>

Water quality? Mmm, yes... and goldfish health   5/28/06 Good morning, I've been reading your wonderful website for a few months.   I'm having trouble keeping goldfish alive, and it's time to admit I need help.    I have a small tank (Eclipse 3), but it has only one "feeder" goldfish about 2" long in it.   I have only plastic plants, and some tumbled glass in the bottom (the package said "safe for aquariums" even though it was in a home decor store).   <Is safe, as in being non-toxic, not too sharp... but does little to help your water quality, encourage biological cycling...> I set up the tank, used Amquel to treat the tap water, added "Cycle" to help it establish healthy bacteria, <Actually a very poor product for this job. BioSpira is about the best here> and after two weeks, added a goldfish (calico Shubunkin). <This system is too small...>    All seemed well, I made 1/3 (less than 1 gallon, given displacement) water changes.   Then the fish developed ich.   I treated it with a dose of the med that comes in discs and fizzes blue in the tank.   That fish died.   (I noticed when I went back to the store, the entire tank from which I'd selected my fish was empty--they said they'd sold them all, but I wonder....)   Anyway,   I changed out half the water to get rid of the ich med, and went through the "Cycle" process again.    The next fish (another calico Shubunkin) seemed happy, then after a couple weeks, became lethargic, flattened its dorsal fin, and stayed on the bottom.    This is the point at which I discovered your website. I had already been doing regular (weekly) small water changes, and was feeding flakes alternately with floating pellets, and only a very small amount once a day. <... need other foods, more frequently...>   I tried the peeled peas, the blanched spinach--the fish was not interested.   <As your title states, speculates... the environment is/was so "far off", unstable...>   I mentioned that I wanted to offer greens at my local aquarium store (not the one with the ich fish), and the clerk said their goldfish enjoyed algae wafers.   So I bought a small package and added a tiny piece.   The fish did like it, but it didn't relieve the symptoms.   Within a few days, it died. I replaced the filter pad, did a water change, added more Cycle, and bought a test kit.   Here's what I've discovered:   the pH seems fine (7.0), the alkalinity is low (70), the hardness is high (200), nitrites are zero, ammonia is zero, but nitrates are 40.   <Too high by at least twice> Yesterday I did a very small water change (1/2 gallon) and replaced it with distilled water to try to lower the hardness without adding still more chemicals. I want to get another fish, but not until I find out what's up with the tank.   Is the nitrate level high because I don't have live plants? <In part, yes... but really due to the small volume (no dilution effect) and lack of complete cycling (the improper substrate principally here)>   Is it possible that in such a small tank, the little bit of morning sun it catches causes the water to become too warm?   <Possibly a factor. You don't want too much daily/diurnal change here... a handful of degrees F. maximum> I don't have a heater at all, and I've been leaving the light off because the ballast seemed warm. <Good> On top of all this, I have to tell you that I agreed to take the tank home with me when our office closed for a few months.   When it was in the office on someone's desk, there were two goldfish in it, the water came straight from the tap (no treatment at all), they got only flakes and the light stayed on for 12 or more hours a day.   Those fish were completely happy for many months (until they got to my house). I'm really grateful for your patience, and will welcome any suggestions you may have. Thank you, Penny Yorke <Let's see... I would also "just use tapwater", rather than any other source (not distilled)... And I'd switch out the substrate for more fine, natural gravel... and... consider something other than goldfish... which can't live for long or well in such a small system as this. Bob Fenner>
Re: Water quality? Mmm, yes... and goldfish health  5/29/06
Thank you, Mr. Fenner.   I'll get a larger tank, put in the proper substrate and look for BioSpira. <Ah, good>   Is there anything I can do to lower the nitrates in my current tank while I wait for the larger tank to cycle?   <A few things, yes. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm and the linked file at top...> Once I've moved the goldfish to their larger home, is the Eclipse 3 I now have appropriate for any type of fish other than a Betta?    Thank you again, Penny Yorke <Yes... there are some other small-ish fishes, non-fishes that can do well here. Whiteclouds, smaller Gourami species... many others... searchable... Bob Fenner>

Goldfish In Greece - A Rescue Operation, Questions - 05/19/2006 Dearest crew, First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your absolutely fantastic site and your great job. You have already been a great help. <Thank you very much for these kind words!  We really appreciate it.> Ok, there's my story: After pressing a family who was abusing a fish (was living for a month in a box around 10 cm.s x 7 cm.s with no gravel just the dirty water, it was underfed too, I have freaked you out I know, sorry) <Yikes!> to hand it over to me and managing that, I became the happy but completely ignorant owner of this poor goldfish. <Kudos to you for this!> I have had only cats and dogs all my life. I figured out that he certainly needs a bigger tank (new house is about 15 ltrs probably a 5 gallon one ), <About four gallons, still drastically small for a goldfish, but a big improvement for sure.> with gravel, a plastic plant attached in artificial rock, a real plant and a companion goldfish. <So....  two goldfish, now?> It's got a filter (carbon and sponge) and I make 30% partial water changes twice a week. I am a bit confused though with feeding. I fed them last Sunday frozen beans ( boiled and left to cool down ) and they went berserk, loved it. <Yeah, veggies are good for 'em.> The next day got their flakes and some pear (tiny tiny crumbs). Yesterday, I changed the water but today just something looked wrong, they were too mobile, checked their water and yuckies, too much nitrates and ammonia. (Needless to say , I check their water twice a week and so far ammonia was zero, pH 7.2 ) it is sooo frustrating. I have probably overfed them. <Actually, the real answer here is that they are in just too small a space for two goldfish.  We typically recommend about 10 gallons per goldfish, so the two should be in a tank of roughly 75 liters, ideally.> Pleeeeeeease, how often should I give them beans or fruit or shrimps or their flakes? <I'd actually suggest to skip fruit, and take a look here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshmalnut.htm .> I do know that their tank is small but I am planning to move house in the next months and then I will buy them a bigger one. <Excellent!  You may need to do more frequent water changes until then.  Also, please take a look here, too:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm .> A last question, I have put them a couple of metres away from sunny balcony door and window, no immediate light but plenty of light in general during the day. At night, (their house is in my bedroom) there is no light as I am sleeping of course! Is this alright for them though? <Perfectly fine.  They need day/night cycles, just like us.> Thank you once again,  Greek fish! <And thank you for taking on these fish - this will be a great adventure for you.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>
Goldfish In Greece - A Rescue Operation, Questions - II - 05/19/2006
I forgot to tell you that my two goldfish both the abused one and the purchased one have been living with me for a month now and they look bright orange gold, they are vigorous and swimming all the time and I love and care for them as much as my cats. <Sounds great!> Just a note : ). Thank you again,  -Evgenia <All the best to you in your new fishy endeavor,  -Sabrina>
Greek Goldfish - III - 05/22/2006
Dear Crew, Sabrina perhaps? <Ask and ye shall receive!  Sabrina with you, today.> Hope you are doing well! <Very well indeed, thank you!  I hope you are well, also.> I have become a frequent now, don't even read the paper that often! OK, I'll keep my problem short and that is: The temperature has risen something like 10 C up here, which is like 33 C today, going 36 tomorrow. <Yowch!!> I smelled my tank and noticed a mould smell (bugger!). I changed the carbon of the filter, washed the sponge with tank water and tomorrow morning I am doing a partial water change. <Good plan.  The sooner, the better.> (water is resting in the living room for the chlorine to go away). <Please look into getting some chlorine/chloramine neutralizer - there are several such products on the market.  Your local fish store is sure to have some.  Then you won't have to wait to do your water changes.> The last one was on Saturday (tomorrow Tuesday). Tested the water NO3=around 25mg/l (according to the colouring of the strip), <A touch high.> NO2 = 1 mg/l <Should be zero....> GH = between 6 & 7 , KH = 3d and PH 7.4 or 7.6 sth in between). Are my poor fish suffering? <Probably not badly, but be sure to test ammonia as well; this also should be zero.> They are behaving normally, hungry and swimming around. <Sounds good.> I do need to buy this bigger tank but I am looking for a house and it would be such a problem moving with the big one. I saw today a 60 ltr one, longish , a jolly nice tank?. <Indeed!  Ultimately, you'll want something larger for the two goldfish when they get big, but the 60 liter tank will be great for *quite* some time.> Ok, thank you again for the attention <Any time.> and wish you all well, <You too!> Evgenia <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>
Greek Goldfish - IV - 05/23/2006
Dear Sabrina, <Hi, Evgenia!> Nice to get you again! Thank you once more for the help. <I'm glad to help out.> So, is the moldy smell normal because of the heat? <A tank generally shouldn't smell, or so they say.  I've always been able to detect a refreshing, clean, wet smell from most any aquarium - not sure how else to describe it.  But, as a general rule, if it smells bad, there's something wrong.> Should I made more frequent changes like every two days? <Possibly.> And what percentage would you recommend? <As much as is necessary to keep ammonia and nitrite at zero, nitrate below 20ppm.  That may mean you'll have to do a LOT of water changes these first couple of weeks as your nitrifying bacteria begin to establish themselves.> I do use dechlorinate ( is this correctly spelled? ) <Close enough :)  You use a dechlorinator for the water.> but I let the water sit anyway just out of precaution. <It won't hurt anything to let it sit as you've done, but it's probably unnecessary.  While you've got this heat wave going on, a couple of things you can do is change water with slightly cooler water (don't make it too much cooler than the tank, though!) and you can also make some ice cubes in your freezer using aquarium water, and drop a few in if it gets too warm.  Again, though, be cautious that you don't cool the tank too quickly.> Ammonia is zero thank goodness. <Yay!> I wish you a pleasant day,   <You as well,  thank you.> Cheers,  -Evgenia <Take care,  -Sabrina>

Goldfish Stocking Density   5/15/06 I have a 27 hex, currently with one 2" chocolate Pearlscale and one 2" chocolate Oranda.   I would like to add one more of each, approximately the same size.    <<I wouldn't recommend that, one more at the most.>> Will my present tank be large enough for all four growing fish until I upgrade to a 55 gallon aquarium in a few years?   <<No offense but a lot of people send us questions like these with the promise to upgrade, sadly most don't at the expense of the animals..........so WHEN you upgrade then you can add more fish, that would be my advice.....Adam J.....>>

Goldfish sys. 5/7/2006 Help!!! <<I'll try!>> We bought 4 fish to put in our mature <<?>> 30l BiOrb about 3 weeks ago, as advised by the pet shop (which, I now know, is too many for the tank). <<That is ~ 8-gallons.  It really depends on the fish in question.>> Unfortunately Vince, our Black Moor, died yesterday. <<That tank isn't large enough to handle ONE goldfish.  That Moor would have grown to almost 12'(30cm).>> We noticed a strange, fungus type thing growing on him (grayish looking lines on the side of his body) and he was acting quite lethargic, so we put him in a separate tank and tried treating him with gold fish medicine, which obviously didn't work. <<Likely did more harm.  His symptoms were those of an environmental/water quality issue.>> The reason for this message is that Eddie, a red and white Oranda (2.5-cm) is looking ill, he stays near the bottom and the fins under his belly look slightly ragged. I performed a 30% water change last night and treated him with salt tonight. There's no sign of fungus on him, but Wilson, our calico fantail, seems to have a grayish ridge forming on his back. Apart from that he seems quite healthy, he has a big appetite. Pearl, the red Oranda, seems perfectly fine. Please help, Eddie is deteriorating by the minute! <<You're fish will not live long in this tank.  Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm, and the linked articles and FAQ's at the top of the page.>> We used Tetra AquaSafe for the water changes and my local AquaZoo advised me to use Sera Nitravec to boost filter bacteria <<I am not familiar with that product, but in my experience, nothing but Bio-Spira works to 'instant cycle' a tank.  Your fish are likely suffering from ammonia poisoning from living in a tiny, uncycled world.  Please upgrade to a 40-gallon+ (154L+) tank ASAP. Lisa.>>

Missing fish!.. Goldfish sys. - 5/3/2006 I have recently come to own 2 fish. One a goldfish who was bought first and the second a comet who was introduced a few days later. <<So two goldfish.>> Both are approx. 2" long.  They have been in a 12" x 8" x 8" tank which the pet shop said would be fine for just the two. <<Nope, not even for one.  It is ~3-gallons, and is woefully inadequate to house a messy fish like yours.  Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm.  Your comet can reach a foot in length.>> They have been ok until the comet started to chase the goldfish every time I fed them. I awoke this morning to only find the comet in the tank alone. The lid of the tank has to be left about an inch open due to the filter cable hanging over the edge. After checking all possible hiding places in the tank I thought I could have been possible that Sharky had tried to make a break for it. I have cleared the area, moved furniture, checked drawers, handbags, vases and nothing, no fish. Is it possible that the comet has eaten the goldfish? <<Possible, sure.>> If not, how far could the fish jump? <<Not so much 'jump' as 'flop'.  Quite far, I'm sure.  Do you have a cat or a dog?>> Should I get another friend for the comet or will she be okay on her own? <<No.  She needs a much larger tank ASAP, or will surely perish.>> Many thanks. <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Very weird goldfish behavior ... actually quite normal poisoned env. resp.    4/20/06 Hello!  I've read a lot of the FAQ's on the website and their are a lot of circumstances that describe my fish's behavior but none of them happen all at the same time like is happening with my fish.  I've had a fantail for about six months.  It was in a small 2 gallon tank and just recently moved it into a 20 gallon tank. <Much better> I left it there for about a week before I added a black moor and a calico moor to the tank. <Better to quarantine for a few weeks...> The fantail has always been active and both of the moors were very active at the petstore, but now none of them are.  They all sit at the bottom of the tank  and most of the time they are all huddled in a corner together. <Water quality measures?> If they aren't all together, two of them are and the other is at the other corner.  The groupings rotate sometimes the two moors are together and sometimes the fantail and one of the moors is together. One of the pair will sometimes swim away, but it is always joined by one or both of the other fish.  My fantail is also missing a couple of its scales near its tail.  In between sitting at the bottom of the tank it will have "frantic" moments where it will wiz to the other side of the tank and back and then just go back to sitting on the bottom of the tank. <Something amiss with the environment> I don't know the sex to any of the fish and I don't know if this is some kind of mating thing or if they're sick or what.  Although it is very "cute" to see all of them piled up together, I'm still worried just because this is so out of my fantails character. <Me too> The water is also kinda foamy, <A good clue here> but bubbles have always gathered around where the water pours back into the tank from the filter so I don't know if its air bubbles or foam... Any advice?   Thanks!! (I've also attached some pics) <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and the linked files above... and soon. Your fish are suffering from a type of environmental poisoning. Bob Fenner>

New goldfish concerns... same ole lack of cycling situation    4/20/06 Hi, I recently purchased a young lionhead goldfish (about an inch long) and placed it in my newly filled with tapwater 8 gallon tank along with a gold snail who is very active!  ( I can't believe snails move so fast!!) I added a teaspoon of aquarium salt <Not good for snails> and few drops of Cycle liquid beneficial bacteria. <Needs to be cycled... not Cycled (the product) in advance...>   I've had this setup only 5 days but all day long, everyday my goldfish hides in the corner with his nose down on the rock floor...like he's standing on his head. If I push him gently out of his corner he swims around, starts to float to the top then swims around to find another corner to hide in.  Seems he is anchored in the corner by the artificial plants.  I read up on swim bladder so I started dropping 1 or 2 peas in the tank to maybe help.  Is he just shy or stressed? <The latter... poisoned> Sometimes at night i see him swimming a bit until I enter room then he hides. Should I worry? <I would> Should I get him a friend? <Definitely not> He came from pet store in tank with LOTS of other goldfish.  I'd like to get more fish but don't want to upscale my tank size...so should i stay with just one fish?  It's nice to watch them swim...but this one is rarely seen!!!  Should I return him for a more active one? What should I do?  Thanks for helping me out....I'm a first time fish owner...but I'm hooked already!!!!  It's fun! Lori <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and the linked files above, part. the article on Cycling. Bob Fenner>

Re: new goldfish concerns Hi, thanks for your reply.  From your advice I decided not to get another fish.  The snail still moves good, so the salt didn't hurt him much I'm glad to say.  The goldfish is seen swimming around a bit now, eating the peas but as soon as I get close to watch him, he hides. Will he get more accustomed to my presence eventually? < Fish are actually pretty smart when it comes to food and will soon recognize you as the meal ticket.> He still anchors down in the corner, but he's more horizontal under the plants now.  Also when he feeds his tail is higher than his head, so not quite like standing on his head but not completely horizontal either.  Does this sound like an improvement?  Should I add more beneficial bacteria or aquarium salt. Should I change the water.  It's been a week now since I got him and started the whole aquarium.  I appreciate your advice. Lori < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. If things get worse then treat with Metronidazole for internal bacterial infections. If the buoyancy problem only happens at feeding time then feed less food or spread it out into smaller portions over a longer time period.-Chuck>

Black Moor Goldfish dis., env.    4/20/06 Hello,    <Howdy>   I'm in the UK <So are some of the Crew> but your site seems pretty good so I'm wondering if you can help me with my Black Moor Goldfish (Delroy). After researching fishkeeping thoroughly over several months I took the plunge and set up my first aquarium 8 weeks ago. It's a 45 gallon tank with a Fluval filter, air bubbles, natural plants, bog wood and rocks.       I've slowly been introducing my fish, carefully checking the water quality, establishing what I hope is a happy and healthy environment for my new friends. I added my fourth fish two weeks ago. Last Tuesday my first fish, Pug, mysteriously died. He had been acting completely normally, swimming fine, eating fine, a very happy Pug I thought. After immediately checking water conditions and inspecting Pug's little body I could find no outward signs of disease, infection or injury. To be on the safe side I asked my local aquatic centre (I'm very lucky to have a dedicated centre near my home) who tested  the water further and found it to be perfect. They concluded that Pug was probably a weak fish, I had been unlucky and that as long as I kept an eye on the others I should be fine.    <Some aspects of water quality can/do change quickly...>   I've had my face glued to the tank for a week and all seemed fine until yesterday Delroy began to try biting the other two fish (a red and white Oranda - Fluval, and a Fantail - Petrie). He seemed to be acting aggressively towards them for about an hour, but today seems ok. What I did notice however is that his poo was white. I've been searching the web and can't find anything about white poo. Can you help because I'm worried he might have an internal infection or something. <Might...> I apologize if I'm being paranoid but I was devastated when Pug died and have worked hard to create a happy home for my fish, so if something is wrong I want to put it right! Any advice?      Thanks   Shelley <No information on the size of this system, history of water testing... I encourage you to peruse our Goldfish Disease articles and FAQs files: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshdisease.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Lola, the Pampered Picky Eater - 04/19/2006 Hi Sabrina <Steve!  Good to hear from you!  I hope your Abelmoschus crop is doing well - I'm still interested in trying to grow this plant some time.> This is about Lola, the large fantail. <I do very clearly recall.> She was very stable for several months on a diet of mashed, cooked, peeled peas, cooked zucchini, and minced, boiled greens.  When I feed her the greens, she has large, dark green, well formed stools, which she doesn't have with the peas.   <Sounds like good goldfish poo.> Other vegetables like mashed, cooked beans and carrots seem to constipate her--as evidenced by a period of immobility and large, well formed stools.   <Immobility is definitely a symptom to avoid....> I was--and am--concerned about a varied diet so I thought I would give both goldfish (Golda and Lola) some defrosted, frozen brine shrimp enriched with Spirulina for protein.  I was hoping...    They both loved it.   <Adult frozen or live brine shrimp is another very good food to use to help correct constipation, actually, as it is very high in "roughage" content.> Golda was fine, but 3 days after the seafood, Lola stayed on the bottom, dorsal fin clamped, barely moved and barely ate!    <Yee-IKES!  Any possibility that this was coincidence and related to some other variable?  Water parameters ideal, I trust (ammonia, nitrite ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm)?> She didn't interact with Golda at all--even though Golda was constantly nudging her, trying to get her to move.  This was the worst she had been ever.   <Disturbing.> The next day, a long, irregular white thread started to emerge from her anal spot.  I had read that this was not a good sign.   <Indeed....  Can be a symptom of a number of internal complaints (including constipation), but usually associated with parasites.  I would probably wager that it was from constipation (again).> After fasting for a day, I returned to her usual diet of peas.  It has been 3 days of slow recovery--and a few long, thin green stools-- but she is definitely improving and eating more!    <Ahhhh, good.> Today she raised her dorsal fin when I fed her and she actually started to resume her old feeding behavior of chasing Golda away from the peas so she can (try to) eat them all.  (Golda is no dope--she sneaks in when Lola isn't looking and gulps down a lot.)   <Heh!  I'm glad she's improved....  Whew!> She is still "resting" with clamped dorsal fin but not nearly as much.  Now when I enter the room, she gets up and swims around.  It appears that mashed, peeled peas are the only food she can tolerate without digestive distress.   <What about the other greens that gave her well-formed stools but no distress?> I read that a constant diet of peas can cause cataracts.   <To be honest, I wouldn't know - however, a diet of only one thing can in fact be harmful, just for not giving "well-rounded" nutrition.> I am completely at a loss.  Just about everything besides peas causes some distress as evidenced by immobility and then large stools.  (When she gets just peas, I never see stools.)  Yikes!  Could she be that fragile? <Yes, she really could.  "Fancy" goldfish are notorious for having digestive issues, and once in a while they can be as bad as Lola.  "Fancy" goldfish are bred to be (literally) deformed - deformed, shortened bodies leads to deformed "innards", too.  In Lola's case, deformed to the point of being dangerously unhealthy.  For this and other reasons, I am not a fan of selectively bred fish; I'm still not even sure where I stand on things like fancy guppies and long, fancy finned Bettas....  But I won't get on my soapbox now, I promise.> What do I give her for better nutrition?   <Hey, I don't know if I'd written this before our last correspondences:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshmalnut.htm .  In Lola's case, I would try with some aquarium plants like Anacharis/Elodea/Egeria....  Maybe also some floating water lettuce or Watersprite, as these plants have tasty dangling roots that would be of good nutritional value.  If it were me, I would also experiment by keeping a small tub outside with water lettuce or Watersprite in it and "change out" the one(s) I keep in the tank every few days - this way, not only would the plants have a chance to grow their roots back, but you'd be brining in some nice tiny little organisms living on the roots that would also be consumed by the goldfish, adding more nutritional worth.  I canNOT speculate how this would cause Lola's sensitive tummy to react, but if it were me/my fish, I would try it.  You know her better than I do, though, and know better what you can/should risk....  A tough call with the experiences she's had thus far.> How much protein does she need?   <Mm, not a great deal.> Has anyone tried baby food with goldfish?   <I don't know....  Honestly, I fear this would foul the water significantly and very quickly, so I wouldn't recommend it.> Do I need to boil the greens even more than 5 minutes? <Nah, even 5 minutes is longer than I do; they just need to be soft enough for her to munch.> As usual I am so grateful for your help with Lola.   <And I am glad to be of service to her and you.  Thank you for your diligent care of your animals!> Steve <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Lonely Comet  - 04/19/2006 Good Evening to All from Denise and Josh in Seattle, WA. We recently purchased 2 small comets (1 1/2 in. each, tip of head to tip of tail) at our local Petco and they stated that our 2 1/2 gal tank would be a safe size for our new pets.  After reading your site I see that is not correct and we need to correct this. <This is your most immediate issue.  Goldfish produce massive amounts of waste, and that waste builds up fast in a tiny tank!  This is the direct cause of your problems.>   My question is after acclimating them to their new home, Marbles died.  I had the store do a water check and all checked out. <Not possible.  Unless you let your tank cycle for 30-40 days before adding fish, your fish are producing far more waste than your biofilter can handle.  I believe that your petstore personnel are being lazy with their water testing.  In the future, ask for exact values.  Better yet, get your own test kit and understand your pet's environment.>   It was explained that perhaps Marbles was confused by the type of food (flake) but Jimmy has <No, it literally takes weeks for a fish to starve to death.> no problem eating (once a day as advised).  We did not want Jimmy to be lonely so we purchased Maynard.  They did well and stayed very close together for 3 days until I noticed Maynard pushing and nudging Jimmy from behind, trying to nibble (no missing scales) and chasing him.   <Even usually mild mannered Goldfish will become aggressive if there is not enough space for them.  2.5 gallons is woefully overstocked for Goldies, they should have about 10 gallons per fish!  Keep them separated until you can get them an appropriately sized home.> I put Maynard in a separate tank and now Jimmy seems frantic!  He is eating well but seems to either hide in the plants, behind the filter, or darting around in a frenzy.  Could he miss his more aggressive counterpart? <Goldfish do well interacting with other Goldfish, but they are not a schooling fish.  That is, they do well in groups or as solitary individuals.  Your Goldfish isn't "lonely", I suspect he is suffering due to environmental issues.>   Should I try to put Maynard back in?  Jimmy is only slightly smaller but I don't want him to get hurt.  Again, Jimmy's water checks out well in the normal range. <There is no "acceptable" range for Ammonia and Nitrite.  These chemicals are deadly in any concentration, if they are not 0 PPM, your tank is still cycling and your pets are in trouble.  Please read the following two links, one on Cycling and aquarium, and the other on Goldfish systems: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm   Any help will be very much appreciated! Thank You! Denise and Josh <Good luck! Jason N.>

Greetings from Australia, Goldfish systems    4/12/06 Hi, <Howdy> I have searched your site for the last few days and have learnt sooooo much! Thank you for 'being there'. As I haven't found exactly the answer to my problem, I shall ask. I have a 120litre (32 gallon?) <Yes, about this> tank with 4 x 4-5 inch goldfish. I have had them for 8 years and one was at least 5yo when I inherited him so I am very much attached. <Gorgeous finnage at this/these ages> The tank was 'restarted' about 12 months ago when we added new gravel. Recently I purchased an Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Freshwater Master Test Kit to check on the pond I'm cycling. (Separate issue - working well) I had never bothered with test kits because the fish had been alive for so long I figured I was doing 'something right' (OK - I've already learnt my mistake) Imagine my shock (and guilt) to find pH = 6 (Could be lower - the test bottoms out at 6), Ammonia = 4ppm, Nitrites = 0, Nitrates =160ppm (or higher). <Unusual that these fish were/are alive. The low pH actually likely saved them from the toxicity of the ammonia and nitrate> The temperature is 16c (60F). I don't have tests for water hardness. Ammonia levels are so high I wondered why the boys weren't already dead so I assume that they have acclimatized? <To some extent, yes> This will probably explain why they were always 'sleeping' (And I thought it was just old age) The sad thing is that they have been like this for years. (I am such a bad mother) I was running an undergravel filter only so assume it has failed - Immediately did a 50% water change and vacuumed the gravel. That dropped Ammonia to 1ppm but didn't change other readings. I have removed the very old pieces of driftwood <Ah yes> and added as many algae covered rocks (from another tank) as I could get, I added 'cycle' (Can't seem to get Bio Spira here) and an Ammo Free Ball but I am unsure whether this will confuse the ammonia tests and/or starve the bacteria feeding on the ammonia. <Mmm, don't think so to both> Next day I went out and bought another filter (a Fluval 4plus with carbon insert) and did a 25% water change with the new filter installation. This has brought the levels to pH = 6, Ammonia <1 >0.5, Nitrates 40-80ppm, Nitrites = 0. <Better> I am still running the UGF and will do so until the new filter has cycled. The fish are swimming around now and are obviously much happier but I know there is still work to be done. I've tested my tap water and pH is 7.2 and 0 Ammonia, Nitrites/Nitrates. I have always added AquaMaster Goldfish Tonic Salts and Oafi Aqua-safe to treat the tapwater. I tested this mix too and it reads pH 7.2, O Ammonia, Nitrates/Nitrites also. After all this my questions are: How do I slowly and permanently bring the pH up to good levels and keep them stable? <You're doing so... with upgrading gear, and water changes... this is the best method> How do I get my nitrates down and will constant water changes deplete the bacteria? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm and the linked files at top> Why with all this are my nitrites 0 (thankfully)? <Presence, metabolism of certain kinds of microbes> With the pH and temp low I assume this has somewhat protected them from Ammonia toxicity so do I alter the pH when Ammonia is zero or are they related somehow? <You are wise here... both need to change at the same time. That is, if the pH is elevated, the ammonia and nitrate need to be correspondingly lowered> Any help to make Shadow, Tiger, Freckle and Bloats' remaining days happy and healthy would be greatly appreciated. Mitzi <As they say in S. Cal. I would "keep on keeping on" with what you're doing. Bob Fenner>

Goldfish barrel-pond questions - 4/11/2006 Thanks for your informative website. I've been reading it and taking notes, but would very much appreciate some feedback if possible. <Okay> I recently set up a half-barrel water garden which was previously used with success by a family member a year or two ago (but in storage since then, so no living good bacteria present). I read a few articles online and thought it seemed like a simple enough endeavor.   Just enough education to be dangerous, right? <Perhaps> I placed the barrel in an area that gets a few hours of sun daily; our coastal weather rarely gets hot. I calculated that its capacity is just under 43 gallons. I filled it with tap water, added a de-chloramine solution (Kordon's Pond AmQuel), put in 18 stems of Anacharis, a bog plant (society garlic) and a hardy lily  both potted in aquatic plant media, and topped the barrel with water hyacinth from a friend's pond, covering about 60% of the surface. I plopped in a small mechanical filter also acquired from the barrel's previous owner, not sure of the brand or size offhand, but the type that pulls water through a sponge to trap particles. <These are very appropriate technology here> I also put some small pebbles in the bottom, not entirely covering it. When everything was in place for a day or two, my husband went down to the local pet megastore and bought four small "feeder" goldfish, though I told him to only get two. I know now: Not enough time. The little fish seemed happy enough for about 10 days, during which I realize now we were overfeeding them the  flake food from the megastore. <Likely don't need to fed at all during the colder months (water temp. below 55 F.> One of them grew noticeably bigger. Then they seemed less active and I noticed the bronze colored ones had changed color to a dark gray. They became increasingly listless, and the worst affected was sitting on the bottom with fins clamped. I went online and determined that we likely had a water quality problem. <Mmm... actually much more likely a cycling, lack of cycling issue> Another megastore visit, this time for test kits. The tests revealed that the water was very acidic; 6.2 on the strip, but that was the lowest it went so it could well have been lower. The ammonia kit read .25 ppm (one of these color-coded deals, this seemed the closest color match). Nitrate 0 ppm ("safe" on my color chart), nitrite .5 ppm ("caution" on my chart). <Bingo...> The fish were clearly all getting worse, so I panicked and decreed that a total water change was in order, pulled everything out, hosed out the barrel and started anew. I know:   Too extreme. <Yes> While the fish were in a pot awaiting their freshened barrel, I noticed they were all covered with a whitish-blue coat. No! More Google, back to the store for QuICKCure, <... toxic...> which I have dutifully applied for the past three days. I reintroduced the fish as gently as I could, taking a couple of hours to add in small amounts of the new water with their old. The new water, our tap water, is alkaline, a big contrast. <Fine if you just change out, or even just overflow for a bit every week or so... while watering your garden perhaps> The tough little guys survived and seem happy once again, darting about and munching the Anacharis, since I have cut food down a couple of flakes which they consume inside of two minutes. The bronze fish are showing the bronze color once again on their bellies and the whitish-blue coating has largely abated but is not yet entirely gone. So that's the background. Sorry it's a bit long winded but I want to be clear. I don't know why the water became so acidic. <The barrel, potting soil, feeding... captive aquatic systems are "reductive" (as in RedOx reactions... trading/stealing electrons...) do go "acidic" in time. You don't list much in the way of countervailing "alkaline reserve" (perhaps the pebbles)... so not much to "buffer" this change in pH. Understanzee?> We have had an incredible amount of rain since I put the barrel together (probably 10 inches or more over a two week period) but I don't know if that might have contributed? <Yes, could have> My questions for you are if this system is sustainable as is or if I need to add a better filtration system/additives to support these four fish. <What you list should work out for these few fish for a good few years... just do be careful re feeding... and do the water changes> I have no intention of adding more fish. The cavalier water garden articles I read made it seem that the fish would be fine with the plants and no filtration at all. If something further is needed, any recommendations? I can't seem to find a product that's appropriate for my 43 gallon outdoor barrel. Everything is geared towards 10 gallon indoor tanks or 1000 gallon koi ponds. <I sense marketing opportunities....> Also, my internet perusal showed that the coating on the fish was likely a secondary illness that had the opportunity to set in because of poor water quality. <You are very likely correct... and perceptive> Is that right, and is QuICK Cure the right thing to use? <Mmm, I would avoid this as much as practical... one ingredient is formalin... a biocide... crosslinks proteins...> Thanks so much for any advice you can offer. Linda <Do feel free to write-back if this is not clear, complete (enough)... and peruse WWM re cycling: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm Hold off on "supplemental" (the fish are nibbling on indigenous materials) feeding till there is no detectable ammonia, nitrite. Bob Fenner>
Re: goldfish barrel-pond question/s  - 4/11/2006
Thanks for the fast response. I have read the cycling info at the link you provided and will follow those steps. I have three follow-up questions on what you wrote. <Ah, good> First, what can I do to provide an alkaline reserve? I haven't read anything about how to balance the system's pH. <... Mmm, please see WWM re pH, alkalinity...> And second, as Quick Cure is toxic, what would be a better medication to use, since the fish still show symptoms? <Posted as well... under Goldfish Disease... simple salt is almost always the best cathartic with these fish> Or should I leave them be for now, without medication? <Bingo> (Though I'd like to know for future reference.) Finally, on regular water changes, how much and how often? 20% weekly, or more? <... also posted my friend. Enjoy the process. BobF> Thanks! Linda
Re: goldfish barrel-pond question  - 04/11/2006
I spent the past two hours reading the site; somehow I had missed all the info on pH before. Then I retested the water and found that it's gone very acidic again and there are small levels of ammonia. Poor fish. They've gone through quite a bit in the past week. As I formulate a plan to deal with buffering the pH longer term, I wanted to ask if you think I should buy a plastic barrel liner first -- to cut out the contact with the wood and make stabilizing the pH simpler? Thanks again. Linda <Mmm... you could... (realize I have no way of knowing the "history" of your barrel... many are recycled from the alcohol biz...), but I might try using simple baking soda here (in the absence of an alkalinity test kit, testing...) to bolster the acidic trend... Barring this however, a liner is prudent. Bob>

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