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FAQs About Goldfish Systems: Water Quality, Initial, Ongoing... pH, Hardness, Algae, Smell and Cloudiness

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, Goldfish Nutrition, GoldfishGoldfish VarietiesGoldfish Mal-Nutrition,

Related FAQs:  Goldfish Systems 1, Goldfish Systems 2, Goldfish Systems 3, Goldfish Systems 4, Goldfish Systems 5, Goldfish Systems 6, 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, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Nitrogen Cycling), Maintenance, Trouble/Fixing, & Goldfish 1, Goldfish Behavior, Goldfish Compatibility, Goldfish Feeding, Goldfish DiseaseGoldfish Breeding/Reproduction

MUST be: Established/Cycled.

Ideally: stable, low temperature (60-72 F.), some alkalinity/hardness, middling alkaline pH (7.2-7.5). Absolutely necessary: NO Ammonia, NO nitrite, LOW nitrate (under 20 ppm max.). Salt as a general ingredient is not advised. Stored water (dechloraminated or not) is suggested... set aside for a week or more.
"99% of unexpected fish deaths are caused by water quality issues" NealeM.

High pH causing frayed fins?       4/17/16
Hello there,
I have been having issues with frayed fins in my adult veiltail goldfish, and am at my wit's end trying to figure out what is causing it. I am rigorous in my tank cleaning practices - I change 50% of the water weekly and have no detectable ammonia, nitrite or nitrate (I know no nitrate is unusual, but I have confirmed it many times with two separate API liquid test kits). However, the water in my city is extremely hard, at 8.1 pH, 180
ppm kH and 235 ppm gH. Is it possible that this could be causing the frayed fins?
<Not likely; no... these values are fine for "modern" fancy goldfish
Of note is the fact that there is absolutely no redness, fungus or anything around where the fins are torn; they are simply ragged. My tank is decorated with a smooth piece of driftwood and many live plants, so there isn't really anything she could be cutting herself on.
<Are there any "algae eaters" present?>

She does spend a lot of time resting on the bottom, but she swims normally and has a great appetite - she just seems to become winded easily. I have an external canister filter and two air disks (I added the second one yesterday in
case oxygenation was the issue). My tank is 50 gallons and set at a temperature of 72F. She is in there with her fry, who have experienced none of the fin or bottom sitting problems the adult goldfish have. I returned the father to my boyfriend's tank when he was experiencing the same fin fraying, and he has improved greatly since. My boyfriend is on the same city water I am, but lives on the other side of town. We both live in Watsonville, California, which is between Santa Cruz and Monterey.
Any idea why this would only be affecting the adults, and not the fry?
Could it be the hardness or pH, or something else entirely in my tank water that my test kits don't pick up? If it is the hardness or pH, is there something I should be doing to correct it? The only additives I use are Ultimate water conditioner, and Excel and Flourish for the plants.
Thank you,
<Nothing "jumps out"... again, are there sucker-mouth catfish, the Chinese Algae Eater present? Bob Fenner>
re: High pH causing frayed fins?       4/17/16

Thanks for the quick reply, Bob. I do have an albino bristle nose Pleco named Pacman, who is about 5 inches and has been with us for several years (since he was a juvenile). I've never seen him bother or even interact with any of my fish at all; he is very solitary.
<Night time.... needs to be separated>

In addition, Pacman lived in my boyfriend's tank up until about a year ago and his fish did not have frayed fins - it only occurs in my tank, and only with the adults.
Glad to hear my water values are fine, at least. I fill my tank from the patio hose faucet, and was concerned something could be introduced through the piping. Should I try filling from the sink using buckets (the Python
water changer can't hook up to any of my indoor sinks), or is this not likely to be the problem?
<Remove the Loricariid. BobF>
re: High pH causing frayed fins?       4/17/16

Will do ... I have an extra tank I can put him in. Thanks!
<Welcome. Oh, do search/read on WWM re compatibility of these two fish species... common for "Plecos" of various sorts to "ride" goldfish... their mucus being "sweet". B>
re: High pH causing frayed fins?    4/18/16

Update: So I have been paying close attention to what's going on in my main tank, and noticed that my veiltail's own babies seem to be the culprit!
<Interesting; but am sticking w/ the cat. Many fish offspring do feed on their parents slime coats. See my article archived on WWM re "The Function of Body Slimes in Fishes".>
I got up early this morning to find about 3 of them chasing her around the tank and nipping at her fins! Is this unusual? Do young goldfish often gang up on slower-moving adults? The babies are around 9 months old.

water changes; GF      10/24/14
I have a 20 gallon aquarium with one currently, 4 inch Shubunkin., If i change out 2 gallons of water three times a week is that sufficient?
<Mmm; yes; though this "comet" related variety of goldfish need MUCH more room than a twenty ultimately. 20% change-outs once a week are fine; via gravel vacuuming. Best done w/ stored water per the SOP on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Rift Valley Salt Mix - safe for Pearlscales?    /Neale      5/13/13
I have a two-year old Pearlscale goldfish, about the size of a Macintosh apple, that has had a number of problems, some or perhaps most due to my initial ignorance in providing the correct care (despite my best intentions and doting habits). I have continued to educate myself through your site's FAQs and others to provide the best conditions possible with my present set-up. He is currently alone in a 20-gallon tank (started out in a 10-gallon with an Oranda friend who died after several months) until I can afford his next upgrade, hopefully 40 gallons, and later adding one or two friends if/when he remains without issue for an extended period . Without going into the entire history of Eggbert's various problems, my mistakes and the corrective actions I have taken (upgraded tank size, upgraded filtration with 10x GPH, frequent 50% water changes, daily when problems occur, and two to three times weekly when doing well; vegetarian-based diet, etc), I have a question I hope is simple.
Is the recommended Rift Valley Salt Mix, which contains a small amount of marine salt, safe for Pearlies? My Pearlscale has intermittently had blisters that appear to be filled with clear fluid -- at times one or two small ones, other times sudden outbreaks of multiple larger blisters, which I've read is a common problem for this particular fancy goldfish. One of the stronger theories for the cause of these blisters that I have read is that Pearlscales are more sensitive to salt than other goldfish and may have a more difficult time with osmoregulation. Therefore I never use regular aquarium salt for him anymore should an issue arise, as most fish forums tend to recommend this for stressed or ill fish, among other measures. Would the marine salt be safe for him as part of the Rift Valley recipe, or should I just use the recommended amounts of Epsom salt and baking soda, minus the marine salt?
Thanks very much,
Mary Kay
<In a word, yes, at the concentrations recommended, Rift Valley salt mix, whether home-brew or store-bought, will be perfectly safe with Goldfish.
But if you want, you could leave the salt out altogether and still receive the benefits of buffering the pH and raising the hardness. Cheers, Neale.>
Rift Valley Salt Mix - safe for Pearlscales?   /RMF     5/13/13

I have a two-year old Pearlscale goldfish, about the size of a Macintosh apple, that has had a number of problems, some or perhaps most due to my initial ignorance in providing the correct care (despite my best intentions and doting habits).
<Ahh! Good traits for an aquarist>
 I have continued to educate myself through your site's FAQs and others to provide the best conditions possible with my present set-up. He is currently alone in a 20-gallon tank (started out in a 10-gallon with an Oranda friend who died after several months) until I can afford his next upgrade, hopefully 40 gallons, and later adding one or two friends if/when he remains without issue for an extended period . Without going into the entire history of Eggbert's various problems, my mistakes and the corrective actions I have taken (upgraded tank size, upgraded filtration with 10x GPH, frequent 50% water changes, daily when problems occur, and two to three times weekly when doing well; vegetarian-based diet, etc), I have a question I hope is simple.
<Me too>
Is the recommended Rift Valley Salt Mix, which contains a small amount of marine salt, safe for Pearlies?
<Yes it is>
 My Pearlscale has intermittently had blisters that appear to be filled with clear fluid -- at times one or two small ones, other times sudden outbreaks of multiple larger blisters, which I've read is a common problem for this particular fancy goldfish. One of the stronger theories for the cause of these blisters that I have read is that Pearlscales are more sensitive to salt than other goldfish and may have a more difficult time with osmoregulation.
<A possibility, yes>
Therefore I never use regular aquarium salt for him anymore should an issue arise, as most fish forums tend to recommend this for stressed or ill fish, among other measures. Would the marine salt be safe for him as part of the Rift Valley recipe, or should I just use the recommended amounts of Epsom salt and baking soda, minus the marine salt?
<I would include the marine (synthetic sea) salt>
Thanks very much,
Mary Kay
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Goldfish Water Quality    8/27/12
   I have a 70 gallon filter and a 30 gallon tank.
<Filter rated for a 70 gallon tank, or 70 gallons per hour throughput?
Maybe needs to be a bit larger or compensate by more frequent water changes.>
   I plan to put a red cap Oranda in the tank.
<I'm glad you are keeping these in filtered tank and not a bowl. This should be ok for now, but they can get fairly large. One in China reached 15 inches in length. 7 inches more typical, but goldfish are very messy.>
   I had two other goldfish in this tank, but they both died. I think I had a nitrate problem. Both the fish spent a lot of time at the bottom of the tank, then started listing to the side before they died. I was too late to rescue the smaller of my two previous goldfish when I noticed  the problem. But I managed to save the larger of the two by changing out all the water
in the tank and changing both of my double filters.
<Changing the filters was counter-productive. You lose the much of your nitrogen-consuming bacteria. Better to rinse the filter media in the outgoing water unless it's worn through.>
Then the larger of the two survived for a few more days before staring to list to one side again. The fish would not even eat and spat out any food I tried to give her. We decided that it was best to put the fish down, rather than let it suffer more. That was this morning. Do you think the second fish died because she was damaged by the previous water problem?
<Poor water quality is a prime suspect.>
   I tested the new water before I put down the second fish this morning.
<testing the water before a water change would be more informative.>
   It appears the nitrate and nitrite levels are at 0.
   ph is at 8.0, the proper level for goldfish I believe.
   gH is at 180, which I believe is acceptable for goldfish.
<Check temperature also. These are not tropical fish, water should be a little cooler, but Orandas can't tolerate cold water either.>
   I tested the 30 gallon tank with a small African cichlid I have for a few hours today. Then placed the African cichlid back in its original 10 gallon tank The African cichlid fish did fine in the 30 gallon tank with the new water.
   Is my 30 gallon tank safe now for the new red cap Oranda goldfish I plan to get now?
<I'm not sure moving the cichlid for a few hours proves much.  While goldfish are pretty robust, the Oranda is sensitive to water quality and the wen (head growth) is prone to infection. Read the information in this link:
and you will find some info directly related to your symptoms here:
Sounds to me like water quality problems either from not finishing the
cycle or maintenance schedule too infrequent.. Regardless, take the time to understand the needs of the fish before you make another purchase. Good luck, - Rick>
Re: Goldfish Water Quality 8/27/12

Thank you for your reply. <No sweat.> But sadly the only tank I have available for the life of the goldfish is 30 gallons. Can the redcap Oranda live out its life in a 30 gallon tank by itself if the water quality is kept good?
By many sources they can. But I would like to know what you think an gold fish like the one I want can live its life out alone in comfortably.
<Probably a good portion of its life can be spent in that tank, but if it does start to become cramped, worst case you can always give it to a friend with a pond and start over with a small one.   Should be fine alone, or you can try a few minnows as tankmates, especially while the Oranda is small.
They have a compatible temperature range and won't get that big. For two Orandas, you'll have to take water quality measurements regularly until you see how often you need to perform water changes. That's especially true as they get bigger. Might be okay, or it might be a lot of work I wouldn't put more than two. If you do try two, let us know how it goes, and use common sense about moving them out if they get too big.- Rick>
Re: Goldfish Water Quality 8/27/12
Thank you for replying so quickly. <Timing was good.>
Just two more questions. Can a large Oranda live alone in a 30 gallon tank if the water quality is kept good?
 <On further reflection, I think you probably could keep a pair in there if you are diligent about water changes.>
What size tank would you recommend for a large Oranda?
<Larger is always better, of course.  In my mind a 30 gallon is borderline for Orandas, not exactly too small, but not quite big enough. You'll be fine for a couple of years while the fish are small, of course. As they start getting bigger, test the water quality regularly before water changes.  If they get bigger than about 1/3 the length of the tank or you just can't keep the water clean, it's time to start considering the next size up.  Goldfish are really better suited for ponds, but that doesn't
mean you can't make a tank work.>
And my GHP is 350.
<Ah, good. - Rick>

Help! pH is too high for Oranda!      6/26/12
Hello, crew!
I have been fighting with what I thought was a fluke or Costia problem: my goldfish are presenting with frayed and split gills. Oddly enough, this is occurring in all 4 of my tanks despite the fact that I never do anything to cross contaminate. I have not added any new fish. The most affected are my 7 year old Oranda and my 2 year old Lionhead. Two out of three of my Telescopes also have some degree of gill damage.
After treating (several times) for flukes and once for Costia I finally took gill samples and did not find any parasites. In frustration I enlisted the help of the Vancouver Aquarium
<Ah, good>
 and the verdict is that my pH is so high that it is causing gill damage.
My pH ranges throughout the year from 8.5 to 9.0.
<This is too high; and depending on the cause, toxic, caustic>

 I was advised to try to drop it to about 7.8 to prevent further damage to the severely split gills of the Oranda.
<Easy to do...>
After researching various methods of pH reduction I am still at a loss as to how to proceed. I am leaning toward installing an under the sink RO filter and then mixing tap water with RO water.
<This, reverse osmosis water blending, is the best approach... any source of less-high alkalinity blended water is what you're shooting for... For some folks, collecting rain water... >
I perform two 20% water changes a week on the tanks so using peat moss in the filter will not work- the pH will yo-yo too much. I have a 45 gallon holding tank that I rest the water in for a couple days prior to tank changes. Will mixing R/O and tap water result in a stable pH?
Has anyone on the crew run in to this problem?
<Many times, places; yes>
Thank you!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Soft water, and GF sys. use f's  (Bob, please do double check for errors!)<<Excellent as always>>    4/10/12
Hello, I am thinking about my goldfish tank with 12 yr old goldfish in it, I have always used the water from my tap which comes from a softener we have in basement, I was reading about it and it says it takes out all the minerals, I cant understand how they lived this long if your never to use softened water.
<Hmm… no: unless you use a reverse osmosis system, your domestic water softeners DOES NOT remove minerals from the water. What it does is REPLACE the minerals that form limescale (what we call "temporary hardness") with minerals that do not form limescale, typically sodium salts. This is why you need to top-up or recharge these filters with salt. Furthermore, these standard domestic water softeners don't much affect the "permanent hardness", the minerals that don't form limescale. Such systems are therefore not producing what aquarists call soft water, which is why aquarists spend all that money on reverse osmosis systems costing hundreds of dollars to buy and maintain over a year. You can see this is much more expensive than the pennies per week domestic water softener!>
I always do water test and they all come back in the good range, with exception to ones I do not understand
KH is 180-240 and GH is 0, Ph is 8
<Okay, the carbonate hardness is the temporary hardness, the stuff that buffers pH upwards. It is stuff like calcium carbonate. General hardness is the permanent hardness and the stuff that has little effect on pH but does affect osmoregulation of the fish. An example is magnesium sulphate.
Now, having said all this, this seems opposite to what I just said above about domestic water softeners! All very odd.>
can you explain this and what it will do to the fish, they are fine , they eat, swim etc. but with them being so old should I change anything I change 2-3 gallons out every 4 days, should I change this to longer or shorter intervals? I have wonder shells that have minerals in them but they say the fish will be stressed for a bit until they get used to the improved water??
<Wonder Shells are nothing more than lumps of calcium carbonate. They add carbonate hardness (KH) to the water. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on the situation, and spending money on these shells seems a bit silly if baking soda does the same thing!>
they have some problems but have for 2-3 yrs now, one with white PopEye, does fine, and one sits at top of tank in horizontal position , I give him a pea and then he is fine
what do you think?
<I would not use the water from the domestic water softener but from the drinking water tap (which should bypass this softener). Check water chemistry of drawn water at once and then 24 hours after being drawn, and if it varies much, do leave to stand for 24-48 hours before water changes, ideally using an aerator to churn it up a bit. Some types of water (e.g., well water) contain unstable components like CO2 that come out of the water within that time and dramatically affect its pH. If necessary, use the Rift Valley salt mix described in the linked article, maybe at 50% the quoted dose. Best of all, keep water changes smaller and frequent, perhaps 10% 2-3 times weekly rather than big water changes every couple of weeks.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Soft water     4/10/12

Thank you for the reply, I was confused a bit but with reading it over I can understand most of it!! However one part that suggest I don’t use water from softener and use it from tap is a problem for me as all the water sources are from the softener, I do take the water for changes and sit I out for 24 hrs, will this help?? Since I cant do as suggested and worry of to drastic a change for these old guys, should I do something else or leave as is?? Can I add something to help with osmoregulation of fish? How have they lived this long with no changes? Thanks again your advice is priceless!
<Do go by the numbers, just like a scientist or medic would do when faced things that seem odd. If the carbonate hardness test kit is high, but the general hardness is low, then what you need to add (if using the Rift Valley salt mix) is general hardness, i.e., Epsom salt, rather than carbonate hardness. Play around with a bucket of water until you get something that seems right for the species you have. In almost all cases, middling general and carbonate hardness values are fine, as is a pH between 7 and 7.5. As for the survival of your fish, fish can adapt to all sorts of seemingly harmful sets of conditions if exposed to them gradually -- and if you're going to make changes to the water chemistry, make them gradually, replacing 10-20% of the water in the aquarium at any one time, and doing the overall water chemistry change over weeks or months rather than just one day. If the fish are fine now, don't worry too much. Ideal values are important for long-term health, but in the short term, there's no rush, so don't make sudden changes. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Soft water    4/10/12

I was reading the article you sent me, I wondered since my kH is already high if I didn’t use the baking soda and just the Epsom salt if it would cause any problems, and possibly help the water to NOT be so soft? It looks as though my kH according to the test strip is in good range, but need something to increase the 0 reading on the gH?? If I just used the Epsom salt and not the baking soda or rift salt would there be a harm or drastic change that would cause problems, even later on if I kept doing it?
<Do see previous reply. If KH is fine, but GH low, add a little Epsom salt. I'd start with half a tablespoon per 5 US gallons and see what you get. As/when you create "good" water, replace the water in your aquarium in small batches, maybe 10% every 3-4 days, until your aquarium is fully converted to the new water chemistry. No mileage at all in rushing into things. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Soft water    4/12/12

Thank you again, you’re a kind man! I  like talking with you! It helps me a lot
<Glad to help, and thanks for the kind words. Neale.>

Bloaty goldfish caused by damaged gills?   2/28/12
Love your site!  We have a 20 U.S gal tank with two calico fan tail (Ryukins body shape) fish about 2-1/2 inches and 1-1/2 inches long.
<Will need more room in time, with growth... the best way to monitor is NO3 accumulation...>
  The set up is: hang on back filter for 30 gallons plus 20 gallon sponge filter, ammonia -0, nitrites - 0, nitrates - 20 -still trying to get that down,
<...As when you can't keep this under 20 ppm>
pH about 8 though finding it hard to stabilize less than that with pH Down,
<Leave as is; not worth the stress on your fish to lower thus>

 one live plant, temp at 72 degrees with heater to help with possible swim bladder problem).
<Not usually temperature related in aquariums... almost always genetic, nutritional>

 After two botched attempts at cycling due to ignorance we are finally cycled, but I think our larger fish has some burns on her gills.
 There are small black spots on the part that sticks out beyond the gill plate.  She is often gulping at the surface, and I believe as a result, she is also often upside down, seems to lose her bearings, etc.  She is eating (sinking pellets in the morning, free grazing on broccoli or lettuce during the day, two peas at night) and defecating (small greenish)
regularly.  Is there anything I need to do for her so she no longer needs to gulp at the surface?
<Just time going by, your good care>
  I would like to do right by her since I gave her and her tank mate a rough start.  Should I try to bring the pH down with something else that hopefully won't hurt the plants?
<Ditch the pH down>
Thanks so much for sharing your information with us newbies!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Moving to an area with significantly higher KH  12/15/11
Dear Crew, Long-term reader of the site here, hoping you can help me out with a quick question. Before I start, let me thank you very much for WWM; it's been a total lifesaver on many occasions and I really appreciate all the work you volunteers put in. It would be great to have your advice now, if possible. I'll be moving to a new area in the next couple of weeks, along with my goldfish. I've read your very helpful article on moving, which has made my preparations a lot simpler, but I have one question I'd like some help with if possible. I've just tested a sample of the local water to find that although the pH matches the current tank water perfectly (7.5), the KH value is around 7.2 (as opposed to 4.5 in the current water).
Although the new value sounds great for goldfish in the long term, I'm concerned about the impact of such a dramatic change. As noted in the relevant WWM article, I'm going to keep the goldfish in their buckets and very slowly acclimatise them to the new water over several hours on arrival. However, would you also advise raising the KH value in the current tanks with Malawi salts before moving to reduce the difference between the two?
<Mmm, no; I wouldn't do this. The difference and present and new KHs will be fine. Your goldfish will easily make this transition in one go>
And if I were to try this, how much would you say I could safely raise the KH by over the couple of weeks before moving? And what should I ideally be aiming for to reduce the shock on arrival? Many thanks as always for your time and help, and for the amazing site. Kind regards, Sarah
<Again, I would not attempt to modify the hardness of either your present water or that of where you're headed to. You may notice some added tendency for algal growth in the new setting, but your fish will be fine.
Oh! Please read here on the excellent site Goldfish Connection re:
Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Moving to an area with significantly higher KH   12/16/11

Hello Bob, Thank you very much for your reply, it was a big help (as was the article on Goldfish Connections).
<Welcome Sarah>
 I always thought pH shock occurred when there was a dramatic change up or down
<Mmm... w/ some (small mostly, w/o integumentary mechanisms...)
organisms... Not so much w/ anything but larval fishes really>
 - ah well, you learn something new every day.
<Me most every few minutes...>
 I appreciate your time and thanks very much again. Sarah
<A pleasure. BobF>

Need help with figuring the amount of crushed coral. 10/07/11
GF Sys., loss, lack of alkalinity

Hello Wet Web Media, I hope things are going well for all of you. I've written for information and direction from your sight before and loved every treasonable pearl of information and insight that I've received actually applied. I want to say thank you in advance.
Here is what I have now:
The first tank is a 75 gallon tank
Filtration = 1 Penn Plex canister (265 gph) and a Marineland Penguin Biowheel 300.
I also have an Aqua Euro USA 1/10 Max Chiller.
Temporarily stocked with:
2- Black Moore <Moors>, one telescoped each are 1 and a ½ inches long from mouth to tail. (This is there <their> permanent home)
3- Fantails each are 1 and ½ inches long from mouth to tail. (Moving to the 240gallon)
3-Ruyunkin each are 1 and ½ inches long from mouth to tail. (Moving to the 240gallon)
2-Blue Oranda each are 1 and ½ inches long long from mouth to tail. (Moving to the 240gallon)
Ammonia = 0.ppm
Nitrites= 0.ppm
Nitrates = 20.00ppm
Ph= 7.6 when I do a 25% water change about every 2-3days, however this will quickly drop down to 6.0 within 8 hours.
<?! You NEED to bolster the alkalinity here. READ: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhardness.htm
and http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwph,alk.htm
And at least use a commercial buffering product, perhaps Neale's mix to kick up your alkaline reserve. Too-low pH and too quickly/vacillating can be real trouble>
I've actually tested to see what the water was doing every hour and watched my ph levels drop down so low.
I also have a 240 gallon tank (96"x24"x24") that I'm still setting up. I plan to have only 18 Goldies in this oneI also have a 10 gallon qt tank
I've read that to buffer the water so that it will stay stable at 7.2 or 7.6 you can use crushed coral. Now I've tried just using a mesh bag full of crushed coral however that wasn't enough.
<Mmm, no; wouldn't be>
My ph levels would just drop so rapidly down to 6.2 as though there was something gulping it down with a very wide mouth asking for more and laughing at my efforts.
<A lack of buffering capacity. Again, do STOP placing life/livestock till you understand, have solved this issue>
I toke liberty to clean and then mix some of the crush coral with my river rock substrate. Now, 1st: would this be okay to do. If so how much would you advise for me to use in this 75 gallon tank and anticipating having this same problem in my 240 gallon tank how much would I use in this one as well. I'm not concerned about the price because I have a 40lbd bag of crushed coral that I got from my lfs for $25. 2ndly, if this isn't good then please enlighten me with your valuable treasure of information so that my Goldies can thrive and live long healthy happy lives.
<Well... Am not a fan of the use of such gravel/substrate w/ fancy goldfish... Too sharp for their mouths, bodies when seeking food, flashing against the bottom... PLEASE look into additives you can place/mix in w/ your new water during change-outs... OR water that you have thereabouts that isn't run through a/the filtration process that is removing nearly all mineral. Do you understand?
Mmm, read here as well: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GldfshH2OF.htm
Particularly the bits on GH and KH.
Bob Fenner>
Thank you for your time and insight; it's much appreciated by both me and my Goldies. Dedra
Re: Please help me save my babies; GF sys... water quality
Hello Neale;
I guest that I should have addressed my issue to you because I just don't understand what the last individual had said to me.
<That appears to be Bob Fenner, owner of this site.>
I've corresponded with you before in the past and had no problems understanding what you have instructed me to do.
<Good to know.>
Yes it is so obvious that I need to bolster the alkalinity.
<Well, only "obvious" if the pH drops down between water changes. If the pH is more or less stable, then leave it alone! Doing two water changes per week instead of one may be the best way to arrest small pH drops. Remember, pH drops in fish tanks because of the water pollutants accumulate over time. With each water change these are removed, so a water change is a bit like hitting a "reset" button. If you do two water changes in a week instead of one, you reset the tank twice, each time resetting the tank after a smaller pH drop. Now, alkalinity is the property of water that prevents pH drops. The more alkalinity, the less the pH can drop.
Freshwater aquarists hardly ever talk about alkalinity though; instead they talk about carbonate hardness. The two things are the same in terms of what they do, but the chemistry is looked at in very slightly different ways.>
I need to know with what being that I haven't a clue on what to use.
<My recommendation is simple. Use the Rift Valley salt mix described on the following page, but at only one-half the dosage recommended.
Where you see level teaspoon or tablespoon measurements per 5 US gallons, use half teaspoon or tablespoon amounts. The resulting mixture should create hard, alkaline water of the sort Goldfish love. You should find the pH somewhere between 7.5 and 8, and that it doesn't vary much between water changes, even if you happen to skip a week by accident.>
Could you please help me and instruct me through this faze.
The crushed coral is lying underneath the river rock so that my Goldie babies will not get hurt buy it.
<I would not use crushed coral in a Goldfish tank. Goldfish like digging, and plain smooth silica sand (sold in the US as pool filter sand) is the best thing, or else fine gravel. Coarse gravel is often used by sometimes they swallow pieces and it gets stuck in their throats. In any event, you can carry on using what you have, but do be aware that crushed coral in the aquarium or filter gets covered with bacteria, algae and dirt, and eventually stops buffering the water. So while it's useful in marine aquaria, even there it isn't relied upon to help with water chemistry.>
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Please help me save my babies;   10/11/11

Thank you so much Neale :). I understand now and will use the Rift Valley salt mix you recommend.
<Glad to help.>
Once again I've learned something from you and am very please and satisfied. Hope you've enjoyed your vacation.
Cheers, Dedra
<Thanks for the kind words. Best of luck, Neale.>

Wonder shells    10/6/11
Hello, will wonder shells, those mineral blocks alter my ph or kH? I don't want to lower my ph or kH but do want to add some minerals as my gH is 0. I had replenish in tanks, they don't seem to like it!! Freshwater with comet goldfish, they acted funny and stressed, I have water that is softened through a tank in basement, have always used it but wonder if it would be good to add some mineral, have any other suggestions if you don't recommend wonder shells, I did a small water change so if wonder shells are ok can I add them if there should be some remaining replenish In water?
Thanks for all you help
Nice to have someone to ask
<Yes will affect pH and carbonate hardness. Pointless products. Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Wonder shells   10/6.5/11

Thank you, I am a bit confused now, it does tell about water softeners and how they remove what is needed for goldfish, I have no other source and you say the replenish and wonder shells are pointless , what can I do to help with the water quality for fish health and still keep my ph and kH the same, I read one part says I have hard water at the range I have kH?? My kH is 180 using test strip, so maybe I am getting the minerals they need or at least have some hardness to my water??
<Your water is probably fine for Goldfish. 180 mg/l calcium carbonate is fairly (carbonate!) hard water, and should buffer the pH adequately between water changes. If you want, you could add some Epsom salt for general hardness, perhaps a teaspoon per 5 US gallons, but there's no overwhelming need if the pH stays around 7.5 and the fish are all happy. Cheers, Neale.>

Water cloudiness in freshwater tank 8/30/11
Hello WWM crew,
I am concerned about the persistent water cloudiness in my JBJ 28 gallon cube. The tank was started nearly two months ago and cycled with media taken from two very mature Eheim filters. It is stocked with two small Ryukin goldfish and two Nerite snails. Further, it is home to a large portion of Anacharis and several other plants.
Despite repeated 30% water changes, media cleanings and the addition of poly filter to the mechanical filtration, the cloudiness remains.
<I see.>
The goldfish are fed sparingly, and allowed to eat the ever growing Anacharis. They do not appear to be in any distress. No chemical or fertilizers are dosed, nor is anything non-essential added to the water.
Circulation is maintained through the return pumps and a small powerhead directed at the surface. Lighting is a 105W quad bulb of indeterminate age.
We're using sand for a substrate, but it was thoroughly cleaned prior to placement. In fact, the cloudiness didn't start until about a month ago.
We've also noticed that the cloudiness diminishes, but not disappears, the longer the tank light is on.
Water chemistry, acquired via dip strip, is as follows:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
PH: 7.2
Total Hardness: 150 ppm
Total Alkalinity: 80 ppm
Temperature: 78F (A bit high for goldfish, I know)
After perusing the FAQS, it appears the most likely culprit is a bacterial bloom.
<Or diatoms, or silt.>
We've had stable water chemistry, added mechanical filtration and done multiple water changes. What do we need to do to clear up this water?
Thanks for your help,
<There are a few approaches. Sometimes the easiest approach is to rebuild the aquarium from scratch. Take out the fish and the rocks, rinse thoroughly the gravel or sand until it's spotlessly clean, and replace the mechanical media (filter floss) in the filters without removing the biological filter media (sponges and ceramic noodles). Replace as much of the water as possible, keeping water chemistry and temperature the same.
Put the fish back and hope for the best. Another approach is to beef up the filtration, with more mechanical media. Perhaps a whole other filter, e.g., an inexpensive internal canister filter you can stuff with just filter floss. Replace the filter floss every couple of days until the water is clean. Thirdly, you can try using so-called "filter aids" (e.g., Interpet Aquarium Filter Aid) that clump together tiny particles making it easier for filters to remove them. This can work great if silt is the problem, but if you have an ongoing problem with bacteria or diatoms, it's a short-term fix at best. Fourthly, you can try UV sterilization. These units plug into the return flow from an external canister filter and kill off bacteria, diatoms, and also parasites like Whitespot. They're very effective, but expensive to buy. Finally, you should really try and understand what's causing the bloom. Bacteria typically bloom in unstable tanks, and diatoms are much the same, but with the added factor of lighting as well. Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish in a 55 gallon aquarium; water qual.   7/24/11
A little background: Bought aquarium, set it up, let it run for about a month and a half. Did tests and water changes trying to get the water right for the kinds of fish we wanted to put in it. After almost two months while at the Wal-mart (not the best source of fish) we bought 5 common goldfish. My daughter got tired of looking at an empty aquarium. One fish died and a couple days later we brought home 5 more goldfish. I did put anything in the aquarium to let it start its biological filtration. So we have been doing water changes and added microbacter7 to get that going.
<Would not place too much faith in these "instant cycling" products. Instead, go slowly, provide a source of ammonia other than fish for the first three weeks, small pinches of fish food will work fine, add one or two small fish after 3 weeks, and then do daily 25% water changes for the next three weeks to keep ammonia and nitrite levels as close to zero as possible (ammonia less than 0.5 mg/l, and nitrite less than 1.0 mg/l).>
The PH is not high from the tap but after it sits in the aquarium it becomes 8.0 to 8.2 ppm, even before we added fish.
And the KH and GH have always been low.
<Not good for Goldfish.>
About 5 drops before fish and aquarium salt was added, now KH and GH at 6 drops.
<No idea what "drops" are in this context. Use the chart on your test kit, and read this article to understand the mg/l, ppm, or degrees system used:
I have started since yesterday using ph down to get the ph down because I feel it is too high for the fish.
<No, no, no do not ever change pH directly!>
How can I get the hardness of the water up and get the ph down?
<You don't need to and probably can't anyway.>
Please help. Everywhere I look it says with lowering ph it lowers water hardness and vice versa, no info how to make them opposite.
<Forget about the pH. Instead, accept that your water has a high pH, probably because of dissolved chemicals in the water, potentially including ammonia. Start mixing your tap water when new with a good quality conditioner that neutralises copper, chloramine and ammonia as well as chlorine. Then read the article mentioned above, and add a quarter to a half the dosage of "Rift Valley salt mix" described there. This stuff is very cheap to make from Epsom salt, sodium bicarbonate, and marine aquarium salt mix. This will make the water nice and hard, and that in turn will ensure better health for your fish.>
Thank you for your time.
<Cheers, Neale.>

aquarium cloudy after evening feeding  7/24/11
Dear WWM crew,
<Hello Helen>
I would greatly appreciate it if you could offer any suggestions or insight as to the cause or solution to my current aquarium trouble. I have a 220l heavily planted tank that has been running for over two years. It is, I believe, a pretty stable system and I haven't changed anything much in it (other than plant trimming and usual maintenance) in months. The tank statistics are:
Water chemistry:
ammonia = 0,
nitrite = 0,
nitrate = 10ppm,
PH = 7.2
KH = 6ish degrees
GH = 8ish degrees
temperature 23 degrees
2 fantail goldfish of around 2 inches and 4.5 inches long
4 Crossocheilus siamensis
around 10-20 wild-type guppies
5 Corydoras trilineatus
breeding population of cherry shrimp
a variety of plants including several common Hygro species, crypts, Anubias, etc, Indian fern floating on top
(I know goldfish are better kept in larger groups - I had 3 until recently but one died and I am reluctant to get another at the moment as we plan to move in a few months and I don't want to increase my livestock before having to move the tank)
<Good. In this volume, I would stick w/ just the two you currently have>
Feeding: usually flake in the morning and a mix of floating and sinking pellets in the afternoon or evening
tank is lit by 2 39W T5 lights, these run about 12 hours/day
filtered by a Fluval 305
<I'd add more... perhaps a hanging/outside power filter in addition>
Now, the problem is that in the evening, usually an hour or so after I feed the fish, I notice that the tank looks a bit cloudy. Not a lot cloudy, just not that "crystal clear" look when you really think that your tank looks great.
In the morning it generally, when I stop to pay attention, looks fine. I haven't noticed it going cloudy after the morning feed, but that could be because I'm not usually around looking at the tank then, whereas in the evening I am sitting on the sofa and have time to watch the fish.
My first thought was that it could be something like an algae bloom that would clear up by itself. But it's been happening for months now.
<Is likely a (bacterial mostly) bloom of some sort...>
My second thought, after doing some reading on WWM was that it could be silt kicked up by the fish rooting around in the gravel after feeding. So I made an extra effort to rinse the filter sponges often (I did it every few days for a couple of weeks) and to vacuum the gravel more thoroughly than usual.
I am not sure whether this made any difference at all. Certainly it didn't make a big difference. However I have not vacuumed under the large piece of driftwood, as I would have to uproot a bunch of plants to do so, and I have not uprooted the plants in other areas to vacuum the substrate where it is heavily planted, so there are areas where there will be quite a lot of detritus and plant roots that haven't been altered (other than by the fish and the plants' growth) in a long time.
The third thought was that maybe it was something living that could be killed by a UV sterilizer. So I hooked up my little "portable" 24W sterilizer to the tank for a few days. This did seem to make more of a difference but not to completely solve the problem. When I took the UV tube out the cloudiness has returned. What I don't understand is that if the problem is something alive that is growing in response to the food entering the tank, why would it keep doing so for months. My understanding is that the filtration etc should adjust to cope with variations in the tank's bioload (and the bioload has not increased in months, if anything it has decreased) and such problems should thus self-correct in an otherwise stable system.
I realise I'm sounding vague here. The whole problem is quite subtle, and my efforts to fix it have not resulted in anything clearly changing. Do you have any suggestions for a next approach?
<Yes. I would give up on the flake food; just feed the pellets twice a day... See if this makes a difference. I suspect some part of the flakes are driving a daily expansion in microbial population>
While I don't think this is harming the fish, I worry that it's evidence of some ongoing problem and really it's just plain bugging me.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Hello... forgot bb referral... Stand refinish... principally, and GF sys., moving  11/23/10
Hello there!
I hope all is good with everyone.
I just wanted to send in an update and a couple of questions please (mostly of my progress and for a bit of reassurance. I learn better that way. :)).
Last week I wrote to you about the upgrade from a 20gal. tank to a 55gal. I received great help from Neale and Bob and I've like to send them my gratitude.
Of course Bob sent me a couple of links and along with other reading I'd like to say that I now feel more confident about my project than before (mucho more)!
Here's a quick overview- recently I bought a used 55 gallon set-up for my goldfish who are now, but not for long, in a 20 gallon tank. There are three fish in the planted 20gal. one Ryukin and two Orandas. The new-ish fifty gallon tank is rectangular with unfinished wood stand. Since the tank is nine years old I sanded it down, stained it waited 24 hours, and sprayed 2 bottles of polyurethane (I put the first coat/bottle on and let it sit for two hours and as instructed then I put the second coat on) -did this is the screen room outside.
I waited another 24 hours after that to put to set it up in my room next to the 20gal to make it easier to transfer by buds. I followed all the instructions on the needed dry time, however I still smell some of the stuff (frown).
<This will be about for several more days, no worries>
It smells like a mixture of freshly cut wood, the pages of an open book, and oil from a lamp. Mind you this is my first stain and finish project and I'm pretty proud of myself, but I'm still concerned about my fish. The smell isn't strong, but I notice the difference. Naturally I threw open all the windows and turned on so many fans the roof might fly off, but every time I leave and come back there's that new furniture smell. Will it harm them to some degree????
Will they at most just get "high"??? (0_o)
<Not really>
It's been little less than 24 hours and the trio is eating and swimming beautifully with fins raised. I haven't tested the water in the new tank yet I'm waiting until a day before the transfer to do so to check to give it a chance to settle in with the gravel and new filter.
<Do move a good deal of the "old water" w/ the fish>
There are no leaks however while cleaning the tank I noticed that the silicon in some areas around the trim have more of an opaque white shade than the translucent color in others. The inside bottom of the tank has long hairline scratches from the precious owner who was careless when removing the gravel. I don't know what this will do in the long term. Now that I am noticing all these flaws I am ready to just trash this set up and get a brand new one. I have put in two types to gravel and I'm planning to use gravel from the old tank.
I have a BioWheel 200 on the new tank now and will be adding the two HOB filters from the old tank
to this one.
I'm currently deciding if I should get a canister later on and call it a day or keep the HOB since I've never had problems with them in the 20gal. I have plant lights ready so that the 55gal can be a planted tank also,
however while straightening up the house in preparation for Thanksgiving my dear mother put the hoods that the lights would have gone into outside....it rained that afternoon...Yay mom! So now that the 55gal has nothing covering it and there's that smell is in the room I wanted your opinion about a 25% water change and carbon in the filters when/before I transfer the fish?
<Fine if you want>
The person who adopted Pepper (calico Ryukin with deformed swim bladder... bless him he's a waddler) to me suggested I use a bio-cycled substrate it for the plants and Seachem for food. Your thoughts?
<Unnecessary with the movement of substrate, water, filter/s>
I've been feeding them seaweed, some flakes, and Spirulina flakes, Hikari goldfish pellets and, and little kitchen veggies every now and again. The two Orandas can eat anything and have no buoyancy problems, but the moment Pepper eats something other than the seaweed he flips upside down and hangs out at the surface like a Cirque du Le performer. Can you suggest something that will give him what he needs in nutrients and also not affect him that way?
<Posted on WWM>
May be...gel food w/ Epsom salt? Thank you again for spending the time to read my long e-mail. I read your website a lot and there's so much information sometimes it makes me more worried than necessary, that's why I really do appreciate the time everyone spends e-mailing me back. This gives me a little boost of confidence in knowing that I'm taking the right steps and precautions. (I'm a newb)
I hope you have a blessed day. :)
<Cheers, BobF>

pH and KH query (re. goldfish) - FAO Neale if possible, thanks! 11/18/2010
Dear Crew,
I have a question which I hope you can help me out with. I've recently been getting to grips with the complexities of pH and KH for my goldfish, thanks to the helpful articles on your site. However, I've run into a problem which I haven't been able to solve by reading. The tank pH is presently 7.6-7.8 and the KH is approximately 5 (raised from very soft, acidic city water over the past few months) and my problem is that the KH is still too low. From my reading, I understand that it should be around 6-7. However, raising the KH any further with the Malawi salts I've been using will also raise the pH again (and it's already borderline too high). I've read a lot on WWM, but while I've found a great deal on lowering pH, it's usually to achieve a pH of around 6 (which is of course too low for goldfish). How can I raise the KH while fixing the pH at 7.5 or thereabouts?
I'd really appreciate any advice from you, and thank you very much in advance for your time. I know you get this a lot, but WWM is my Bible!
Best wishes,
<Hello Sarah, and thanks for the kind words. The Malawi salt mix can be tweaked up and down as required. Reduce the Epsom salt to lower general hardness, and reduce the sodium bicarbonate to lower carbonate hardness.
Reduce or skip the marine salt mix to reduce both general and carbonate hardness slightly. Now, note that carbonate hardness is important primarily in how it steadies the pH. If you have a pH of 7.6-7.8, and it stays there from one week to the next, then there's no need to raise the carbonate hardness further. In an aquarium, you can't easily raise pH without raising carbonate hardness. Furthermore, there's a complex relationship between pH, carbonate hardness, and carbon dioxide concentration. So pinning down
precise values is tricky. Instead, just go by the "feel" of the thing -- if the pH is steady between 7.5 and 8, and the carbonate hardness is within the tolerances of the species being kept, then you've created the hard, basic water conditions goldfish, livebearers and other fish like these enjoy! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: pH and KH query (re. goldfish) - FAO Neale if possible,  11/18/2010
Dear Neale,
Thank you very much for your quick reply; it's much appreciated. It sounds as if it'd be best to keep things stable, then; pH and KH are both within acceptable limits, and I've finally achieved pH stability with water
changes, so it's all good. As it happens, I buy pre-mixed Malawi salts at present (taking heed of the note in the WWM article that beginners should avoid mixing their own at first) - however, I'll save your email for future reference as that's very handy.
Many thanks again for your help, and enjoy your weekend!
<Glad to help, Sarah. Yes: provided the pH is stable, you don't need to worry about the precise carbonate hardness, assuming the water is broadly within the tolerances of the fish being kept. Have a good weekend yourself, Neale.>

Goldfish care advice please 10/4/10
Dear Crew,
I hope you'll extend your usual kindness and patience to an unusually idiotic reader today.
<Will try my best!>
The back-story: I completely neglected to attend to the KH needs of my goldfish, having wrongly believed that a pH of 7.5 meant that the KH was right too (horrible wrong assumption). I recently found that the tank KH was 2.5, obviously appalling, and am gradually raising it with Malawi salts. It's up to 4.2 now and I'm making very gradual changes, given how long these conditions have been in place.
<Good. Yes, KH is a commonly overlooked aspect of fishkeeping. If you live somewhere with hard water coming out of a chalk aquifer, as is the case across London and Southern England, you never need worry about KH in your life. But if your water is soft, or else has high general hardness but low carbonate hardness, then you can find pH drops substantially lot between water changes. With all this said, Goldfish aren't particularly fussy about KH, and provided the pH stays stable, ideally around 7.5, you're fine.>
I want to make sure that I'm not inadvertently neglecting any other aspects of my fishes' care, and was hoping you might check this for me. Finrot has been a recurring concern of late, and while I suspect this is probably KH-related, I just want to be sure that I'm not ignorantly harming my fish in any other way.
<KH itself is unlikely to cause sickness. Why KH matters is almost entirely down to pH stability. KH is the "carbonate reserve" that neutralises the acids formed between water changes. The higher the KH, the less pH drops between water changes.>
I regularly test for pH (7.5), ammonia (0), nitrate (<5mg/l), nitrite (0) and now KH as well (which I believe should end up around 10 degrees when I'm finished, is that right?).
<That's a bit high, though Goldfish won't mind it. Certainly should be at least 5 degrees KH otherwise you'll find pH drops noticeably. If you have soft water, a 25-50% dose of the Rift Valley salt mix should do the trick nicely. I'd use the 25% dose, then see how things go. If the pH stays fairly steady, then you're fine sticking at that dosage.>
I have one four-inch goldfish in a 26 UK gallon tank, and two others (around two inches or a little less) in a 28 gallon tank. Both are maintained at 18-20 degrees C, both have filtration for 8x the tank volume.
I always use dechlorinator when changing water. I feed small amounts of peas and spirulina flakes (gone within seconds of feeding), and have some elodea which is destined for their tanks post-quarantine.
If there are any glaring concerns in the above, I'd really appreciate it if you would point them out.
<All sounds promising.>
Thank you very much for your time, and I hope you don't mind helping me.
Kind regards,
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Goldfish care advice please 10/4/10
Dear Neale,
Many thanks for your assistance; you've helped to set my mind at ease. I really appreciate your time and advice. Enjoy the rest of your evening!
Best wishes,
<Glad to help. Good luck, Neale.>

Question re. cloudy water in goldfish tank  7/19/10
Dear WWM Crew,
First - thank you as always for maintaining such an excellent site. It's been a great help to me over the past four years, and I'm sure it will be for many more to come. I really appreciate the time and effort you volunteers put into the site.
<You are welcome>
I hope you'll help me out with a question today, as I haven't been able to find the answer on WWM this time. I have one 4-inch goldfish living in a 25 UK gallon tank (this came about recently after he got aggressive with the
two smaller fish that shared his previous tank, and had to be separated from them). My problem is that the water in his current tank has turned very grey-white and cloudy over the course of today; obviously I dove for WWM immediately and found a lot of responses saying the cloudy water is likely cycling-related.
<This and food/s, feeding practices generally... perhaps filtration, or a lack thereof>
This seemed possible, since the new tank was set up 5 weeks ago (although using gravel and filter media from the previous tank, so cycling never occurred). However, tests today (as always) showed 0 ammonia/nitrite and under 5mg/l nitrate, with 7-7.5 pH.
<Good values>
I haven't recently added any substrate, so it's not sediment. The filter media has recently been squeezed out in aquarium water and is reasonably clean month-to-month anyway. There are currently no plants (they're quarantined) and I cleaned all the (shallow) gravel with a pump today, so there is no decaying matter in the tank (neither was there any before, so far as I could tell). The only unusual thing is that I added some fungus/Finrot medication last Wednesday for some damage to the tail, but I've used it before and this has never happened, so I'm stumped.
<Medicines can indeed produce grey et al. water>
I did wonder if it might be an algae bloom earlier today, when the cloud was faint and I wasn't sure if it might actually be green rather than grey-white, but it looks more grey-white than green now. However, we did have the blinds open in that room yesterday afternoon (fairly bright day, although not direct sunlight), which is unusual, and there seems to be a light scrim of greenish algae in places around the meniscus.
<Mmm, actually a good sign.>
The only action I've taken so far was to change 25 litres,
which did nothing whatsoever to relieve the cloudiness (which has significantly worsened since, in spite of a total lack of obvious cause). I also didn't feed him this evening,
<Also good>
on the grounds that it might worsen the situation - depending on what the cause is, of course. If you could kindly offer your opinion, it would be very gratefully received.
Many thanks for your time,
<Can you add any further aeration, filtration here? Perhaps a mechanical filter (box, sponge, hang-on...) from another, established system? I do agree w/ you that this cloudiness is most likely due to a "run in period" issue... And would feed sparingly, or not at all if you come up with measurable ammonia or nitrite. Perhaps a read through here will help: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm
the third tray down w/ the yellow header. Bob Fenner>

Re: Question re. cloudy water in goldfish tank   7/25/10
Dear Bob,
Many thanks for your reply, and apologies for not writing back sooner; I've had some computer issues to go along with my cycling issues over the last week. Fortunately, regular water changes and a reduced diet seem to have taken care of the cloudiness - amazing how little food my goldfish seems to actually need, and I thought I was under-feeding anyway. At least I know now.
Thank you kindly for your time and attention - it is very much appreciated.
All the best to you,
<Thank you for this report. BobF>

Help ! More from "Weird water Chemistry"   3/20/10
Hi Crew
<Hello again,>
Neale helped me a couple of weeks ago with my bizarre tap water when I was cycling a 55. The tank is cycled and stable and I also have two other aquariums with similar parameters. I am doing everything I know to do and everything that has been suggested and I still have unhappy fish. I am hoping someone can look over my specs one more time and perhaps also look at my city water site and see what I am missing.
my city water site is
<That's certainly rock hard water.>
My 8 week cycled 55 G has three fancy 3.5" fish in it.
Filtered with Filstar Rena XP3 (with Nitrazorb) an Emperor 280, Top Fin 40 and a submersible water pump for surface gas exchange. I vacuum thoroughly every 4th day and top off. I use water that has been aerated for 5 days ( this drops the tap PH of 9.5 to 8.4) I keep the Ph at 8.4 in all three of my tanks. I use Rift Valley salts to keep PH and KH stable ( KH at 120) My dechlorinator is KoiRX Detox Plus. Water temp is 70.
Change water is matched in temperature and PH at 8.4.
The fish mostly bottom sit, motionless.
<Not a good sign.>
They wake up and are lively when I feed them. After feeding or 15-20% water change, one fish returns to bottom sitting, one exhibits swim bladder problems and one floats gulping at the surface. They all yawn excessively.
I am feeding cooked, shelled green peas and cooked spinach, occasionally with blood worms. While the tank was cycling, I fed ProGold and they looked great for a few weeks.
I have Nitrazorb in the 55 and this holds the nitrate at 10 (the resident amount of nitrate in my city water) between 4th day water change.
<Should be fine.>
My 20 G with two small fish exhibits the same symptoms. My 40 gallon has three comets who eat well but one floats nose down and the white one is losing the orange spot on his head. I've had this fish 3 years and just this week, the color is rapidly fading. There has been no fluctuation in PH. I do not have Nitrazorb in the 20 and 40 and Nitrates test at 20 between 4th day changes. I cannot get them lower with water changes, only Nitrazorb will lower Nitrates.
<I don't think nitrates are the issue here.>
this week I purchased a GH test and have gotten some very strange readings.
I am assuming these are false high readings. I use API test.
Change water after aeration is 10 drops, 179
40 gallon tank 16 drops before it turns green
55 gallon (running 8 weeks) 30 drops before turning green
20 gallon (running 3 years) 45 drops and still orange..... I gave up at this point.
<As would I. The point is that the water is very, very hard.>
I have diatom problems in every tank which I try to keep cleaned away. I assume because the silica is high in my tap water. I added a Phosphate/silica pillow in the 40 last week, but no improvement yet.
<Diatoms will generally do well in aquaria anyways, and only things like snails make much impact on them. If you have some fast-growing plants then their growth is slow, but even then, I still need to clean diatoms from my tanks once every couple of months.>
If anyone can see what I am missing or unaware of...what mistakes I am making.... Please help !
I work very hard to keep my lovely fish healthy and well and this city water is incredibly frustrating !
Many thanks for your time.
<Amy, my gut feeling here is you have two options. The first is to use a certain amount of RO (or rain) water to create softer water. A 50/50 mix of RO and tap water would probably create something well within the tolerances of Goldfish and indeed most community tropical fish. This is precisely how I maintain most of my fish, using rainwater, which in England at least is almost "on tap"! In the continental United States rainwater may not be so abundant, but RO water is convenient if expensive. The second option is to keep just fish adapted to these very hard water conditions. Livebearers, Goodeids, Rift Valley cichlids, Central American cichlids and (with a bit of salt) brackish water fishes would all thrive under such conditions. A tank of orange Sailfin Mollies for example would make a nice alternative to Goldfish, and there are even some very nifty Koi Swordtails on the market as well. Another thing you might do is get in touch with a local aquarium club. I don't know if there is one on Topeka, but there are certainly clubs in Wichita, KS, and in Independence, MO. Both may well have online resources such as bulletin boards or forums, and you could find out from people in your local area precisely what fish do well and which ones don't.
Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Help ! More from "Weird water Chemistry" (RMF, any additional input?)<<>>
Thank you much for your fast reply. I have a variety of fancy Goldfish that I adore and I very much appreciate your help and thanks for hanging in there with me. Others that I have consulted simply disappear after a couple of email exchanges.
I can purchase water at my LFS until I can get an RO installed.
<<Have just re-read your prev. posts. I would blend such water about half with your tap/source... Let "stand" for a day or more before using>
I am thinking a unit that produces 50 G a day would suffice.
<More than enough for your pet-fish and potable uses>
Is there anything I need to know before buying one?
<Mmm... some basics re storing, using... These can be searched, found on WWM>
If I use 50/50 with tap water, are there any changes that I need to make in testing or additives required that I need to be prepared for?
<<There are, but I don't think you will need any for your purposes>>
Many many thanks.
<<Welcome. BobF>>

Re: More re: Help (RMF, thoughts on very weird water chemistry?)   6/14/10
Hi guys
I have had a rash of problems and wonder if there is still something missing in my water management. I put in a Reverse Osmosis and use Rift V. S mix
<... your source water parameters are what?>
and have maintained (with constant struggle as the Ph wants to rebound) parameters at 8.4 PH 8-10 KH 15 GH 0 ammonia 0 nitrite and nitrate never over 20 and I try to maintain it at 10. Temps at 78. vacuum and top off twice a week. I use a Koi RX conditioner and Dr. Tim's first Defense after changes. Can I be missing something?
<... Am coming into this conversation en media res, but would ask, what's so bad re your source water that you don't use it in at least some sort of blend? Have read through your prev. corr., and all you stock is common/comet goldfish?>
55 tank with three 4" fish and a 25 tank with two smaller goldies.
I had fluke/ich that came with two LFS goldies 2 years ago. They always seemed healthy, but finally showed illness in March (no new additions to tank) and I took them to an aquatic vet (to the tune of $600 for diagnosis)
The gills were choked with Ich and Flukes with no outward exterior signs.
She gave one injection Droncet and prescribed Flagyl oral (2 one week courses 10 days apart) and Baytril oral for the full 30 days. these symptoms abated, as well as the bacterial bottom sitting sores. The fish seemed normal for a short while and now have a different problem. whitish patches on the tail fins that look like mold....flat patches, not stringy and they make the surface of the fin look rumpled. No rot at all on fin edges. edges are pristine. Another tank also has this now as well, and this tank was treated with Prazi instead of orals. One fish also has barely discernable fuzz on the belly where it sits as well. All are bottom sitting again, showing mild swim bladder problems and they are also starting to yawn again, so perhaps the flukes are back.
<... this is very strange... Where would new Trematodes come from? Have you looked at samples under a 'scope to determine what this is?>
This has all started in 3-4 days. I am so careful with water changes and parameters... WHAT am I missing that I cannot get/keep these fish healthy?
I just can't afford another $600 bill at the fish vet. I do have Metro Med and Medi Gold on hand.
<... hypochondria kills more livestock than biological disease. Your issue/s are likely environmental>
Any suggestions or ideas you might have would be greatly appreciated. Wits end, truly. I love these fish.
<Please respond to the above questions... You have perused WWM re goldfish systems, simple water quality? Bob Fenner>

Re: More re: Help (RMF, thoughts on very weird water chemistry?) Bizarre... GF... reading  6/15/10
Hi again
I do use a mix of RO water (to lower the GH)
<... not necessary with Goldfish...>
along with my tap (source) water, as Neale recommended earlier. Our City water is difficult, with a PH 9.7,
<Good gosh! Really? I would have your municipality out to check this. I would stoop to batch processing this water with a diluted inorganic acid... Likely a trashcan somewhere convenient, with cut Muriatic (3M HCl)...
testing a couple of times to see how much acid it takes to whack some of the easier alkalinity (and pH) down>>
KH 53, GH between 300-400 and resident levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. No matter what I do with the water, the PH wants to rebound and the KH is used up quickly, so I watch it carefully and try to make small
adjustments in the tanks so that it doesn't go off the charts. I use Rift Valley to make adjustments and aerate the mixed water in big tubs 3-4 days before using it.
I have a 55 G and a 30 G.. both with the same symptoms, as I was not careful with equipment for a long time, when there were no visible problems. I have one Ryukin, one Chocolate Pom Pom Oranda, two girthy Telescope Butterfly and one small fantail. I started two years ago with the Ryukin and Fantail. They were both very small when I got them, 1 1/2 " approx. Though they both seemed healthy and active, the Ryukin is now as large as my hand, and the Fantail is not more than 2".... she has not grown at all. I am assuming from this that these two fish came with problems and it took a long time for the parasites to overwhelm them.
<Mmm, not altogether likely... else why would one fish grow so well?>
These two have been in a 30 G tank with as much filtration as will physically fit on the tank. There have been no new additions to this tank, no live food and no live plants. There is no explanation for why they are sick now other than that the problems came with them.
I too feel like there have to be environmental issues here. After more than a month of antibiotics,
as previously explained I have not even finished the full course yet and I now have a new white patchy discoloration on fins (not on the edges) they ALL are showing some swim bladder issues
<... from treatment/s>
this week and the two Telescopes are the worst... either bottom sitting or floating nose down, tail up... sometimes upside down. They swim during meals and eat and then retire to a corner again. These two do not show signs of fungus/bacteria on their fins. The 55 G. has 3 fish and they all seem to spend way too much time at the surface sipping bubbles, and the Pom Pom spends all his time hanging out in the bubble stream from the Filstar spray bar. They are beginning to yawn again as well, which makes me think that the Ich or Flukes are likely back again. The swim bladder issues are worst after feeding. Pellets (ProGold, Goldfish Connection) cause terrible swim bladder symptoms. Even shelled cooked peas accelerate SB symptoms, but not as much as the pellets. They lose weight and seemed depressed if they have an all vegetable diet for very long.
a month ago, the aquatic vet did gill and body scrapings and also did gill biopsy. She said that both fish had gills choked with Ich
<... lo dudo>
and mostly dead Flukes ( I had finished one week of AquaPrazi just before taking the fish in to her) There was absolutely no visible outward signs of Ich... it was concentrated in the gills, so I was unaware of it. I am thinking perhaps I should take the fish back to her this week to do scrapes again and find out if the Ich/Flukes have returned....but I hate to stress the fish repeatedly, as she is 2 hours drive away. She will not give me advice about tank management.... she said the only thing she can offer is to examine, test and treat the fish and I will have to consult other experts to solve any possible tank/water/management issues.
I think I am keeping the water parameters in a good range. There are only very small fluctuations and Nitrate is kept low. It is so very frustrating to be following the advice of knowledgeable folks trying to help me... and still feel like I must be missing something, or there is something I am not noticing.
I have the standard test kit...is there more that I need to be testing for?
I have a scattering of 1-2 inch river stones in the bottom ...
<I'd get rid of these... not only of no use in the way of augmenting bio-filtration, but some are composed of toxic materials>
a lot of glass bottom showing,
<I'd use suitable gravel... Again, read on WWM re how to care for your goldfishes, or better, spend the money you're throwing away "treating" them on a few good goldfish books... used or new... See the reviews on Amazon.com>
and discovered today that I have Planeria
or nematodes of some kind stuck to the glass under the rocks. Do these give off a toxin? could they cause fin problems for the fish that are sitting?
<... no>
Whew... sorry for this lengthy dissertation.
No doubt I am some kind of hypochondriac :) but I know that I do have sick fish !!
Thank you so much for taking the time to try to help us.
<My young friend... do look into those books... spending some quality time reading them. BobF>

Re: Problems with Goldfish (RMF, thoughts on super-saturation of gases vs. pop-eye)<<>>   2/28/10
Hello again, thanks for the help,
<You're welcome.>
I wanted to ask another question,
<Go ahead.>
I am changing from whisper 20 to 40 on one 20 gallon tank with one 8 inch fish in it and putting a whisper 60 in another 20 gallon tank I have with 3 - 4-5 inch goldfish in it, will this be too much filtration?
<Look on to filter or its packaging, and determine its turnover. For Goldfish, you need at least 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, and for Standard (as opposed to Fancy) Goldfish, 8 times the volume of the tank is desirable. It cannot be stated too strongly how messy Goldfish are, partly because of their size, partly because they're plant eaters (so like cows and horses, defecate a lot), and partly because they stir up the substrate (making the water cloudier than otherwise). I wouldn't keep Goldfish in a 20 gallon tank, and invariably Goldfish kept in
tanks this size end up in poor health and the aquarium looks grotty and murky. So if you're in the process of shopping still, save your money, and get a 30 gallon tank. For a 30 gallon tank, the minimum sensible aquarium
for 2-3 adult Goldfish, filters rated at between 6 x 30 = 180 gallons per hour for Fancy Goldfish (the ones with two tail fins) will be okay, while Standards (with one tail fin) would do better with a filter rated at 8 x 30 = 240 gallons per hour.>
I am keeping the old filter pads in there for awhile, but can too much flow on the filters cause this supersaturation?
<Not really, no.><<Agreed>>
I have BioWheels in each with aerators too. I read somewhere where supersaturation can cause cloudy or Popeye, I cant find out enough on supersaturation ,
<No. If you have a lot of fine bubbles in the water, it is possible that the water becomes more than normally saturated with gases, and potentially these gases can come out of solution inside the body of the fish. The tiny
bubbles accumulate inside various places causing damage, including inside the eye, hence the potential link with Pop-eye. Having said this, such problems are exceedingly rare, and only likely to happen in aquarium with
extremely high turnover rates and vast amounts of splashing that would allow super-saturation of the water. As such, it's normally a problem in marine aquaria, or was in the past at least, because filtration methods that used to be popular include much mixing of air and water, e.g., trickle filters and wet/dry filters. It's far less of an issue now because of the shift towards live rock filtration. Immeasurably more Goldfish are killed by tanks that are too small for them (like your 20 gallon tank) than super-saturation, so I wouldn't allow yourself to be distracted by this issue.>
understand that it is the nitrogen coming from bottom of tank and bursting at top to dissipate?? But can find out how to prevent it? Can you explain first if it is okay to make these filter size changes and a bit about what causes supersaturation? Thank you very much
<Filter turnover rates give you an approximate (some would argue *very* approximate) handle on how well a filtration system will remove ammonia and solid waste from the water. Turnover rates also indicate how quickly oxygen levels will be "recharged" as water from the bottom of the tank is pumped to the top. Hence, higher rates are usually better. All tanks are different, and you can have low turnover rates but excellent water quality if other factors are at work, such as rapid plant growth, which both adds oxygen and removes ammonia. This is important when fish that don't like strong water currents, like Gouramis, are being kept. But Goldfish eat plants, and produce vast amounts of solid waste, so without a good filter, conditions get bad very quickly. They are air-breathers *in extremis* so will often get by with low turnover rates if the water quality isn't too bad, but such tanks look murky and the Goldfish tend to just "hang about" since they're minimising oxygen consumption. Eventually even that doesn't help, and they sicken and die. It's important to understand how big Goldfish get, between 20-30 cm/8-12 inches, depending on the variety.
That's a BIG fish by aquarium standards, and many would argue, they're pond fish not aquarium fish. Fancy Goldfish are deformed, so can't swim well, so you do need to balance turnover against current, for example by using a spray bar to spread out the current. But other varieties, like Comets and Shubunkins, are active swimmers and enjoy a good water current. Cheers, Neale.> <<I don't think hang on outside power filters can produce the circumstances (pressure, fine air entraining...) that generate gas super-saturation issues, like "Popeye". Could be tested for. RMF>>

Re: Problems with Goldfish (RMF, thoughts on super-saturation of gases vs. pop-eye)   2/28/10
Thank you again, MY water quality is really good with crystal clear water, However in explaining the turnover for filters I need for goldfish, NON fancy type, you mentioned 8 times the turnover but then I think you said that supersaturation occurs when you said only likely to happen in aquarium with extremely high turnover rates and vast amounts of splashing that would allow super-saturation of the water.
<Actually, no... this action is much more likely to "de-gas" the water.
Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/PdBblDisease.htm
and the linked Related FAQs file above>
I leave a space about 1 1/2 inches at top so it can make a splashing noise and allow more movement on top of water, should I fill it to top instead, If water is good and fish eat, why is it so bad to have them in 20 gallon tank?
<Dilution of wastes, provision of surface area for biological filtration and gaseous exchange, room to move... Please read here:
and the file above "size"...>
I ask this as when I moved them to the twenty years ago, I had so many problems and about lost them all? Thanks again for you time, you've been very kind in answering my questions! I do have well water with softener and they have lived well in it for years, Could you explain why this is so bad, you mentioned it in another email,
<This too is posted. Please search, read on WWM before writing. Bob Fenner>
Re: RMF Re: Problems with Goldfish (RMF, thoughts on super-saturation of gases vs. pop-eye)
Oh I missed something in last message, what is RMF??
<Sorry for the confusion Cathy. This is the acronym for my name, Robert Milton Fenner, aka BobF, who generally "puts all away" here on WWM and conspires w/ my fellow Crew Members>
Re: Problems with Goldfish (RMF, thoughts on super-saturation of gases vs. pop-eye)   2/28/10
Thank you again, MY water quality is really good with crystal clear water,
<If you say so. But seriously, long-term success with Goldfish in 20 gallon tanks is not likely, certainly not once they are more than, say, 10 cm/4 inches long. They are pond fish after all, so a small aquarium really isn't what they need.>
However in explaining the turnover for filters I need for goldfish, NON fancy type, you mentioned 8 times the turnover but then I think you said that supersaturation occurs when you said only likely to happen in aquarium with extremely high turnover rates and vast amounts of splashing that would allow super-saturation of the water.
<No. As I said, it's not the turnover that's the issue, it's the mixing of air and water, and specifically, where the water is cooler when it mixes with the air than when it warms up inside the main part of the aquarium. That's something that can -- very rarely -- happen in tanks with external wet/dry filters and the like, but isn't going to happen in the average aquarium. Compare the water movement in a river or the sea, and now think about your aquarium. If the fish are fine in the wild, what makes you think weak (by comparison) currents in an aquarium are going to cause problems?>
I leave a space about 1 1/2 inches at top so it can make a splashing noise and allow more movement on top of water, should I fill it to top instead,
<Splashing at the top of the aquarium actually does very little in terms of oxygenating water. That's a myth. There's very little you can do to increase the rate at which oxygen is absorbed by the water, but what high turnover does is draw oxygenated water down to the bottom of the tank more rapidly. So it's like comparing a low heartbeat rate with a high heartbeat rate: the higher the turnover (the heartbeat) the more oxygen is carried around overall.>
If water is good and fish eat, why is it so bad to have them in 20 gallon tank?
<Partly, it's to do with dilution. All fish produce a certain amount of waste regardless of the size of the tank. The bigger the tank, the more this is diluted, and the less likely you are to have water quality problems. It's also about pH stability, because fish wastes lower pH between water changes, and again, the bigger the tank, the slower this process will be, so the smaller the pH changes when you do your water changes. Then there's socialising issues, about fish needing a certain amount of space to swim and interact with (or avoid) each other.>
I ask this as when I moved them to the twenty years ago, I had so many problems and about lost them all?
<Fish won't die from being moved from a small tank to a big tank *if* water chemistry remains the same *and* water quality remains good. But if you take fish from a small tank where the water chemistry was X, and then stick them in a bigger tank where the water chemistry is Y, then the shock could kill them unless you carefully acclimated them across, say, an hour, using the drip method. As for water quality, they may well be okay in the small tank if water quality was good, but if the big tank is not cycled, and water quality is rubbish, then the move could kill them.>
Thanks again for you time, you've been very kind in answering my questions!
<My pleasure.>
I do have well water with softener and they have lived well in it for years, Could you explain why this is so bad, you mentioned it in another email,
<In short, water softeners don't soften water. What they do is remove the mineral salts that create lime scale in pipes and appliances. Usually, they do this by replacing calcium and magnesium salts with sodium chloride (table salt). The resulting water is slightly saline, which may or not be a problem, but the key issue is that the water now has no carbonate hardness.
Since carbonate hardness is what keeps pH steady, this so-called softened water is pH unstable, and it's easy to have wild changes in water chemistry that can kill your fish. On the whole it is recommended you don't use water from a domestic water softener in an aquarium. Hard, basic tap water -- even well water -- is fine for aquarium fish, so long as you choose species, like Goldfish and Livebearers, that like hard water. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: RMF Re: Problems with Goldfish (RMF, thoughts on super-saturation of gases vs. pop-eye)
Oh I missed something in last message, what is RMF??
<The initials of Bob Fenner, owner of this site and general all-around fish expert. If I'm somewhat outside my limited field of expertise, I do like to have Bob look over my outgoing messages and append any thoughts/corrections he deems appropriate. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Problems with Goldfish (RMF, thoughts on super-saturation of gases vs. pop-eye)   2/28/10
Hello again, I have another question , since my water is probably alkaline for the most part, a pet store owner told me to add aquarium salt to tank,
<Non sequitur. Salt has nothing to do with hard water, and neither improves nor worsens hard water conditions.>
( I was asking her what I can do about one with cloudy eye ) in a tank by himself and another with the Popeye (in another tank with 2 others) that you said might be an injury. With this all this in mind, should I use aquarium salt??
I did when she told me but I noticed after a while that the smaller one with Popeye had started to change color and lose a few scales so I quit putting it in, but if you think it would help, ill start again!
<All this is here at WWM. Read about aquarium salt, here:
Read about Pop-eye here:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Problems with Goldfish   2/28/10
I thought alkalinity in water meant soft! Sorry
<Nope, alkalinity is roughly the same thing as carbonate hardness. Water with high alkalinity tends to have a high pH and high general hardness.
Even if you had soft water, adding salt wouldn't fix that either. Salt has NOTHING to do with hardness. If your retailer thinks it does, he/she need to go back to school. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Problems with Goldfish, sys., filter flow rates   3/3/10
I got my 60 whisper filter today, I has double filter cartridge area and move 330 gallons per hour, is this too much for my 20 gallon tank with 3 common goldfish,
<Far too much water current.>
will it cause supersaturation or will it do well for them. I read below where you stated they need 8 times the gph and you said 240 gallons per hour is good, I need to know as if this wont help at all or cause problems I will return it, thanks for the help Cathy
<I would return this. As I said, 6-8 times the volume of the tank is good. More is unnecessary, indeed, stressful to the fish. Cheers, Neale.>

pH confusion, FW, GF tank   2/9/10
<Hi, Angela. Melinda with you here today.>
I'm very confused with the pH in my 20 gallon goldfish tank. I tested the water from the tap and the pH reads between 7.6 and 7.8. I have tested a few times from the tank and it shows 6.0 (or "yellow") on the API test. I
use NovAqua+ and Amquel+ to treat the water. Could that be affecting the pH? I'm thoroughly confused as to why it's so low. Thanks for your help!
<Do you test KH at all? Please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm. This article was so useful to me, and completely cleared up my confusion about water chemistry. I use this mix with every water change on every tank. I just love the stability and neutral pH that it gives me (I'm sure my fish do, too!), and this salt mix is so cheap and easy to make that it's no problem to use it regularly. KH and pH totally confused me until I read this article (okay, I read it a few times, but I'm a literature person, not a science person!). Basically, the hardness of your water is going to determine how elevated and steady your pH is. If your water is really, really soft (my carbonate hardness routinely tested at 0!) then you're going to see the problems you're seeing with pH. Raise KH, and you'll find pH is steady and will more closely match what's coming out of your tap (mine stays at 7.2). The waste that your fish excrete causes the water to become more acidic over time, as well, so if you're not doing plenty of water changes (20 gallons is pushing it, really, even for just one goldfish), then this can be a problem, as well. I think between these two issues, you'll find the remedy to your problem. I have never heard of either of the products you mention affecting pH, but have read that they can cause false positives on Ammonia tests, so I stick with Prime. In any case, please write back if you have any questions.>
Re: Ph confusion  2/9/10
Thank you very much for your response! I have 2 goldfish in the 20 gallon so I make sure that I do small water changes about every 4 days. So it's ok to use marine salt with goldfish?
Also, if the pH comes out normal out of the tap and I add the salt mix, will it just keep it neutral, not raise or lower it?
<Right. Like I said, mine stays at about 7.2 all of the time with the mix I use (the community recipe). Go slowly, adding per the directions in the article, and when you get to where you want to be, KH and pH-wise, add just
enough with each water change to keep the amount pretty much the same in the tank. If you do a five gallon water-change, then you'd add 1/4 of the mix for the entire tank. Just keep up with how much you've got in there so that when you get where you want to be, you know how to keep it that way.>
Thank you again, this has been so confusing to me. I try to do everything right but I had no idea how delicate water chemistry can be!!
<You're welcome. I think that this mix really takes a lot of the guessing out of chemistry -- it sort of "fixes" everything without much work at all!>

Re: goldfish and water quality   6/7/09
Hi Neale, Thank you very much for your advice.
I have left the last mail for the reference here. I have right now three questions. But, first the water parameters Ammonia=0.0 mg/l, Nitrite=0.0 mg/l, Nitrate=b/w 0-10, pH=8.0.
<Sounds fine.>
This week on Wednesday KH dropped to 40mg/l, and pH started to rise and went to 8.5, did a partial water change and added baking powder (1/2ts/20l) and Seachem's Neutral Regulator. I went through similar episode of pH fluctuation in January and had started using Seachem product, three week ago I discontinued its use, (thinking tap water with KH =120mg/l will work fine), as it causes algae in my tank.
<There shouldn't be any relationship between hardness and algae, except to say that hard water tends to be healthier water, and healthier water will encourage the growth of green algae. But diatoms are indifferent to
hardness, since they're limited by the silicon content, and blue-green algae blooms relate to poor water quality and poor water circulation.>
1). My red head Oranda (Luna) has developed one more pink-red spot this one is on the caudal fin near the tip but not at the tip. As previously mentioned has two very fine pink veins in her fins but they are not close to this spot. She is not in distress, swimming fine, eating every thing and has nice coloring. I have just done 20% water change. 1Ts of Epsom salt and 1Ts of aquarium salt has been added.
<What do you mean by "T"? Teaspoon or tablespoon? I would not add additional amounts of either if you're using the Rift Valley salt mix as described earlier on in our conversation. That mix relies specifically on the tablespoon quantity of Epsom salt versus the teaspoon quantities of marine salt mix and baking soda. If I'm not making myself clear here, you SHOULD BE using that recipe, perhaps at half-dose initially. Note that "aquarium salt" (as opposed to marine salt mix) will not have the effect we're after, and has zero impact on fish health. It's a cheap but worthless addition in most cases, and used clumsily can cause more harm than good. If you raise salinity but don't raise the carbonate hardness as well, which is what the baking powder does, you're not doing anything helpful. Please don't improvise! That Rift Valley salt mix is given for the simple reason that IT WORKS and is both cheap and easy to make.>
Is she coming down with fin rot b/c of fluctuations in water quality? How should I treat it?
<Could be Finrot, sure. Causes unknown, but either water quality or chemistry issues seem probable. Treat with some type of Finrot medication, such as Maracyn.>
2). But, during the afternoon (12-5) has started sitting at the bottom.
In fact both are doing it. If somebody comes by they get up, kind of shake their body and start swimming a little sluggishly and then will be fine by the time evening comes i.e. swimming vigorously. During the day nobody is at home, so it was not discovered before but, am sure it is fairly recent development as it was not there last weekend. What do you think could be causing this behaviour? Are they coming down with something?
<Likely environmental. Goldfish need a spacious tank (30 gallons upwards) and strong filtration. With the best will in the world, specimens kept in tanks smaller than this are sluggish, stressed, and ultimately short lived.
That's a fact of life, and I can't wave a magic wand to make things different.>
3). My third question is about your suggestion of using crushed coral. I have been researching that option, I wanted to clear one point before I put the bag in. When our tanks KH drops, the pH goes up that is water becomes more alkaline not acidic. Doesn't crushed coral increase alkalinity of the water?
<Yes it does, and that's the idea. Alkalinity is not the opposite of acidity, despite what you learn early on at school. The opposite of an acid is a "base". So a pH from 7 upwards is "basic". Alkalinity specifically
means how much mineral content their is in the water to mop up (neutralise) any acidity; in our case, it's essentially the same concept as carbonate hardness. So when I say that Goldfish like hard, alkaline water, what I really mean is water with a high hardness (measured in degrees GH), a high carbonate hardness (degrees KH), and a pH above 7 (i.e., it's basic rather than acidic water).>
Should I just go back to Seachem and resign myself to cleaning up huge amount of algae each week, as it will keep my goldfishes happy and healthy.
Thank you for all the help, your advice is really appreciated.
<The algae problem is because your aquarium is unbalanced. I clean algae from my big tank next to me here literally once every 3-4 months, and then all I do is wipe down the front glass with a sponge. The secret? The tank is big enough for the fish being kept, strongly filtered (8 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour), and stocked with lots of floating plants that grow rapidly and inhibit the growth of algae.>
Best Regards, Midhat.
<Cheers, Neale.>

A Teacher's Job is Never Done, FW sys. maint.   5/16/09
Hi WetWebCrew!
What a Very Excellent Website you Have!!!
If there had been internet invented when I was eight years old and just starting out in aquaria, I would not have had to beg my dad to take me to all those aquarium stores so that I could pick people's brains about ...
(insert troublesome aquatic problem here).
Okay, here's my latest troublesome aquatic problem:
I am a teacher of severe and profoundly handicapped children in an inner city public school. When I came to the school two years ago I was greeted with a sad and sorry 55 gallon aquarium at the top of the main stairs of the two story building.
After acclimating myself to my surroundings, this year I took on the task of rehabilitating this problem that poked my aquarist-eye each time I walked up the stairs to my classroom.
The 55 gallon tank had been there for eight to ten years with an undergravel filter only. The teacher who was "taking care" of the tank did her best but did not have the slightest idea. The tank itself was inhabited by leftover fish from aquatic habitat projects of the fourth and fifth grade science curriculum and stray goldfish from classroom tanks that got dumped when Summer break rolled round.
Okay, so Now that I am (somewhat) influential in my new school so we had a little fundraiser for the aquarium to get this thing off the ground and functioning.
It is now functioning (in spite of the fifth grade teacher who dumped 44 guppies from a local fish store straight into the tank on a Monday morning before I got there - she also had 60 freshwater snails which she put in the quarantine tank that I had set up)
*Talk About An Aquarium Nightmare!*
So now we have a 55 gallon freshwater tank inhabited by three of the cutest fancy goldfish that you have ever had the pleasure to meet - a red cap Oranda, a bright red Oranda, a calico Fantail with a couple of sparkles, a Pleco (thankfully staying small) and asstd. guppies, but not many. Two 10 gallon tanks flank the 55 gallon for teachers who need to have eco projects or whatever (Just do NOT put them in the big tank!!). The children are fascinated and creating tank backgrounds and stopping daily to visit. The goldfish are so social - I KNOW they miss the children when the weekends come!
My problem is this:
It is May and Summer Break is upon us. My cute goldfish are doing very well in their 55 gallon tank with Elodea so they are fine for the weekends when I am away and they do not have children to play with and me to be there everyday, doing what we all do, as aquarists. I have no problem driving in and taking care of them once a week. But I am not necessarily happy with the idea of the custodians feeding them over Summer break and I am thinking I might take these three very cute goldfish home for the Summer.
But they are in city water and I have (very nice) well water. It is hard water, but so is our city water. Should I start bringing my well water to school and acclimating that way? Do I have anything to worry about? I have kept aquaria for years in my well water and I have not had to do anything except buffer it a little because of the hardness (I have African Cichlids at home and they like the hard water).
What do you think?
<Hello! The short answer is that either city water or well water will likely be fine. Goldfish enjoy much the same conditions as Rift Valley cichlids (what I assume you mean by African cichlids) -- namely hard, alkaline water. Of course Goldfish prefer slightly cooler water conditions, around 18-22 C/86-72 F being ideal. Feeding Goldfish during vacations is actually very simple: hide away all the flake/pellet foods, and simply dump as much Elodea in the tank as you want. They can easily survive grazing this stuff for a couple of months. Depends on the temperature a bit: the cooler the tank, the less they eat, and here in England Goldfish don't eat at all during winter when kept outdoors. Plecs and Guppies will need warmer water than Goldfish, which is why I'm not wild about mixing these species, though many people do. These two species will be more difficult to maintain in terms of feeding, since Guppies at least need daily feeding or else access to a good growth of green algae. Plecs are more or less similar, though sliced vegetables can keep them going a good few days without problems. Hope this helps, Neale.> 

Re: A Teacher's Job is Never Done  5/16/09
Thank you Neale!
The part of your response I like the best is the hiding of the flake and pellet foods. I think I will need to wean my little goldfish puppies from this treat as we go into the Summer Break. It is just so much fun for the kids to get to "feed" the fish so they (the fish) rely on it a bit too much. I will start bringing blanched greens and peas.
Thanks So Much for your Support!
<Happy to have been of help, and I hope your fish do well over the summer.
Good luck! Neale.>  

Algae eaters with common goldfish? 05/09/09
Hello WWM Crew,
I was wondering what find of fish you might recommend for a 20 gallon tank with 4 common goldfish.
<None. Your aquarium is [a] two small for four Goldfish; and [b] doesn't need an algae eater.>
The tank has way more than six times the filtration (possibly ten times) that is required for normal fish since they *are* goldfish. The largest one is named Fran and she's about 4" long at this point, the smallest one is Karl and he's about 1.5" long. Virginia and Beatrice are around 3" to 3.5" long. They are all voracious eaters of algae wafers, goldfish flakes (as a treat), cucumber, zucchini, and the occasional blood worm for special occasions. (Christmas or a job promotion.) They do nibble on some of the algae in my tank, like off some rocks or the fake plants I have in there, but they really aren't "cleaner fish" and are quite ineffective, even when the algae is their main food source for 3 or 4 days. (As incentive.)
<Goldfish eat filamentous algae, but they don't have teeth so can't scrape algae from rocks. But cleaning the tank is really your job! Failing that, you could add some fast-growing floating plants to slow down algal growth, and perhaps add some Nerite snails as grazers, though these need good water quality to survive. The combination of Nerites and plants is a hundred times more effective than any fish!>
Temp: 72 degrees Fahrenheit. (Common goldfish don't really *need* heat, but my apartment gets practically to freezing temperatures during the winter from shoddy insulation, and my fish get so... sad.)
Again, I have about ten times the usual filtration.
I make weekly 25% water changes.
The pH is about 7.4
Nitrates are 0ppm
Nitrites are around 5 to 10ppm at the moment. (Just tested it)
Alkalinity is 100ppm
TH is at 0.
<All sounds swell.>
All 4 of my fish are thriving and have been in the 20 gallon tank for 4 months. The water is clear, the gravel (while frequently strewn with poo) is clean and is vacuumed with every water change.
My only issue is all the algae that builds up. Only *some* of the tank is hit by sunlight during the day, but that is clearly enough for the algae to thrive almost as well as my fish. (I am very proud of my fish, even if they are just common goldies.)
A friend of mine suggested a "Japanese trap door snail." But the father of my significant other, Jeremy, has this beautiful Pleco with a swirling black and chocolate brown pattern, and Jeremy likes him (or her) very much.
So, Jeremy would really much rather have a Pleco than a snail.
<Plecs usually cause more problems than they fix. Think of it logically:
Fish produce ammonia, ammonia becomes nitrate, and nitrate feeds the algae.
The more fish, the more algae. If added to an aquarium that already has an algae problem, a Plec will usually make it even worse, because they're such large and messy fish.>
I've been looking at the Hemiancistrus subviridus, or the (Green Pleco/ L200 / lemon spotted green Pleco/ green ghost Pleco) as a likely candidate.
<A nice fish, but not appropriate here. Hemiancistrus subviridis needs fast-flowing, very clean water and a much larger aquarium than you have. In a 55 gallon system maintained at, say, 24 C/75 F this would actually work
rather nicely with Standard Goldfish or Comets, but not in the tank you have.>
The Dekeyseria brachyura (Butterfly Pleco/ flounder Pleco/ L168) also looks nice and it's smaller than the L200, but the temp and pH is rather different from what my current babies are thriving in.
<Quite; another inappropriate fish.>
So, to restate my first question (since this email is rather long). What kind of algae eater would you recommend putting in with my goldies?
<There really aren't any. At a pinch, some of the Garra might work, such as Garra rufa or Garra flavatra, but even then, your aquarium is simply too small. The Goldfish you have will soon outgrow it, and until you have a
sufficiently large tank for four, at least 20 cm/ 8 inch fish, it's not worth adding anything else.>
If any, that is. Also, what plants would you recommend popping in with them? I'd like to give them some more variety in their diet.
<Elodea is generally fine. If you want to give them a "treat", the squished cooked peas usually go down well.>
Thank you very much!
Your avid fan,
I'm going to upgrade them to a 40 or 50 gallon tank as soon as I have the space and funds.
<Cool. Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Algae eaters with common goldfish? 05/09/09
Thanks for answering my question so quickly!
<Most welcome.>
I sort of figured that I wouldn't be able to add another fish, but I just
couldn't resist asking in case there was a miracle fish or something. ;)
<Few miracles in life, unfortunately. Just hard work and education!>
Jeremy has really taken a liking to the Hemiancistrus subviridis, so how would I go about making a 55+ gallon tank with "fast flowing water"? Don't worry, this won't be for a while, I just like to plan ahead for my future endeavors.
<When we're talking about "fast-flowing water" what we mean is a high level of water turnover, and that the circulation of that tank should be thorough, from top to bottom. In a general sense, that means the use of external canister filters more often than not, because these have both the high turnover rate and also the facility where the inlet and outlet can be put at different ends of the tank. The overall result is water with LOTS of movement. So for a 55 gallon tank, we'd be talking about a canister filter rated at, say, 8 times the volume of the tank per hour, i.e., 440 gallons/hour. That's a big filter to be sure, but you are, after all, trying to recreate something like the rapids around a waterfall, which is where these Plecs like to live.>
I will definitely check out the elodea and shall thaw out some more peas for them. They don't usually know what to do with them, but Karl is a little brighter than the other three, so he'll probably set them straight.
I'll give you an update when I finally have a decently sized tank for my goldies, maybe even some pictures! I know some people think goldfish are unexciting, but I think they're quite pretty and very photogenic. (But I am their mama, so I'm biased.)
Thank you again!
<I'm a Goldfish fan too, and like the fact they genuinely enjoy human company, something that isn't obvious with most fish. Hundreds of years of breeding has done to them much of what we've done to cats and dogs: create genuine animal companions. They're also a lot smarter than some suppose, and widely used in labs for all sorts of behavioural experiments. They can learn things like how to push buttons to get food, and apparently can remember such tricks for at least three months! Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish system: Cloudy water Likely a bacterial bloom 4/7/2009
<Hi Lorna>
I have a 55 gallon tank that is 4 months old with 3 6 inch Goldfish in it.
All the levels on test strip are fine.
<Test strips are notoriously inaccurate>
Water temp is 74, I do a 25 percent water change weekly and feed flake food once a day.
<Water changes are excellent, Goldfish do need a more varied diet though.
You can read more here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/gldfshmalnut.htm .>
The milky white cloudiness I cannot get under control and haven't since I've had the tank.
<Milky white is usually a bacterial bloom.>
I have used clarifier 2 times in the last 3 days and no help.
<It won't help.>
I am a good fish Mommy and cannot get it clear, any help out there would be great!!
<Do need some more information. What kind of filtration do you have on this tank, gravel, decorations, etc. In the meantime, you can read more here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cloudywaterfw.htm >

Cloudy water, GF
I have a 55 gallon tank that is 4 months old with 3 6inch goldfish i it.
<Good size for these fish.>
All the levels on test strip are fine, water temp is 74, I do a 25 percent water change weekly and feed flake food once a day.
The milky white cloudiness I cannot get under control and haven't since I've had the tank.
<Likely bacterial; do review filter turnover and efficiency. Goldfish need a hefty filter system, and things like hang-on-the-back filters can be easily overwhelmed. Choose a filter with a turnover rate 6-8 times the
volume of the tank in turnover per hour, i.e., 330-440 gallons per hour.
Remove things you don't need like carbon and ammonia remover, and concentrate on mechanical and especially biological filter media. Bacteria bloom in warm water rich with the food they like to eat; they don't do so well in clear, fast-moving water.>
I have used clarifier 2 times in the last 3 days and no help.
<Clarifier only helps with silt; it has little/no value when used against bacteria because the bacteria are multiplying all the time.>
I am a good fish Mommy and cannot get it clear, any help out there would be great!!
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Goldfish system: Cloudy water Likely a bacterial bloom 4/7/2009
<Hi Lorna>
I have a Topfin60 filtration I bought the tank as a starter, everything was included in it.
<Ahh, yes, a bit underpowered for what you have in the system>
Would a BioWheel filtration make a difference on the clarity of the water?
<It would certainly help.>
Or to add another filtration period?
<More water movement\filtration would definitely help.>

Re: cloudy water  4/8/09
Thanks so much for info.
<My pleasure.>
Do you recommend a BioWheel filter?, and I have 2 bubble stones going in tank 24/7 should I have them going all the time?
<Filters should certainly be running all the time, but as for airstones, they rarely make any difference either way. Back in the day they were used to power undergravel filters, but nowadays they really don't do anything when compared to even a mediocre power filter, and certainly don't add much oxygen. So if you want to switch them off, go ahead. I've not personally used the Bio Wheel filter, but have mixed feelings about these hang-on-the-back filters. On the one hand, the fact they expose the water and filter media to air ensures a good oxygen supply for the bacteria, so biological filtration can be efficient. But the flip side is they have little potential for mechanical filtration and lock you into using space-inefficient filter media. The fact the inlet and outlet pipes are close together limits water circulation throughout the tank as well. At best, these are filters for use with small fish like Guppies and Neons; I would not rely on them for large fish such as Goldfish, cichlids or Plecs.
As always, I'd choose a filter with turnover adequate to the size of the fish as well as the aquarium; a turnover 4 times the volume of the tank is fine for small fish, but allow turnover rates 6-8 times for bigger, messier fish. Unless there was an overwhelming reason to do so, I'd always recommend external or internal canister filters for those looking for optimal water quality, and undergravel or sponge filters for those with
modest needs and a tight budget. Provided they are of adequate size/turnover for the tank, all of these are better, in my opinion, than hang-on-the-back filters.>
I also have 3 plastic plants. 2 live ones, a big resin looking rock with holes in it, and small pea size gravel on bottom. I changed filters and cleaned pump real good and this morning the water was a bit clearer, also
did a water change.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Goldfish pH -05/15/08 Good afternoon, I haven't contacted you for some time, but you were all very helpful to me some time ago when I was having problems with my three goldfishes. Thank you once again for your help then; they are all currently happy and healthy! My question today is regarding raising the pH in their aquarium. It is currently far too low, around 6.5 - we have just moved house and the water is quite acidic. Although the pH is creeping up gradually I want to get it up and keep it up, preferably around 7.5. I have done some reading and have obtained various suggestions, from using bicarbonate of soda at every water change, to adding marble chips or crushed coral to the filter. There is also a recommendation in an article on WetWeb to use Lake Malawi salts. I am sure that any of these would be effective, but naturally I want to do the best thing for my goldies. I just wondered if any of you lovely people could offer some advice? Many thanks if you can and I look forward to hearing from you, Sarah <Hi Sarah. Very important this -- pH isn't the thing to worry about, it's carbonate hardness! What fish care about is that pH is stable. Yes, Goldfish prefer a basic pH (i.e., between about 7 and 8) but what really matters to them is that there isn't rapid pH decline between water changes. In fact, Goldfish can adjust to slightly acidic pH down to about 6.5, provided it doesn't go any lower and doesn't bounce up and down between water changes. So, the thing to do is ensure the carbonate hardness (which you measure with a KH test kit) is nice and high. Remember, carbonate hardness is the stuff the inhibits acidification by "mopping up" acidity. Anyway, that's where the Lake Malawi salts (and so on) come in. By adding these to the water, you send the carbonate hardness to around 5-10 degrees KH, and that's the thing that slows down the pH drop between water changes. And that, my friend, is what makes your goldfish happy as can be. The old school approach is to buy a bag of crushed coral of the sort used in marine aquaria, add them to the filter (in a filter media bag), and stick into a canister filter. The carbonate will dissolve into the water, and hopefully keep the carbonate hardness high and the pH level steady. Every few weeks you will need to clean the carbonate under a hot tap to wash away the slime, and maybe once or twice a year replace it completely. Adding Malawi Salts are an alternative approach that is perhaps more fiddly but is certainly more reliable and accurate. Malawi Salts can be purchased off the shelf or made at home for pennies. Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish -10/31/08
Hello WetWebMedia crew. I have a question. I currently have a 75 gallon aquarium with three fancy goldfish, two are about three inches long and the other is a baby. The pH is 7.6, and I have no ammonia or nitrites. I currently have about 6 old plastic plants that are starting to break up in the tank and I would like to get rid of them and get something more natural looking. I want to get some large pieces of driftwood, rocks and maybe attach some java ferns to them. When I get the driftwood can I take out the plastic plants all at once?
I know they probably hold a lot of beneficial bacteria and I'm afraid that if I take them out the biological filtration will crash.
<Don't worry about it. Compared with the filter in your aquarium, the bacteria on the plants are contributing virtually NOTHING to water quality. So provided the filter is left running, you can change as much of the decor as you want. Do be careful with bogwood though: Goldfish dislike acidic water, so if you are in a soft water area, adding too much bogwood can cause the pH to drop. This will not be a problem if you tap water is hard.>
What is your opinion on this matter? Thanks, Pawel.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Goldfish 11/2/08 Thanks for the advice. Now, you mentioned that if my water was too soft the bogwood would be a bad idea. Well I went out to buy a test kit and from what it tells me is that my aquarium water has a general hardness of 6 (107.4ppm), and a KH value of 3. I'm assuming that I have a soft water. <Indeed, this does sound like you have quite soft water. Goldfish actually prefer hard water, so anything you can do harden the water will be useful.> The thing is that I have some crushed coral in my hang on power filter (not a lot at all, just two cartridges of it) and I've been having a steady pH of 7.6. <These filter cartridges are pretty useless to be honest. Bacteria cover them within days, rendering any chemical filtration practically non existent. Much better to add a mineral salt mix to the water. Cheaper and far more effective. Use something like a half-dose of Rift Valley Cichlid salt mix, i.e., adding to a 5 gallon (20 litre) bucket of water: 0.5 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) 0.5 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) 0.5 teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements) Don't do a massive water change all at once; instead just add these minerals to each new bucket of water you add during regular weekly water changes. That will gradually change the hardness and pH to something Goldfish prefer. If you still don't get the hard water you want, you can double this dosage without any problems. Throw away the stupid crushed coral modules in your filter and replace with filter wool or whatever to support biological/mechanical filtration, as you prefer.> Do you still think that adding a few pieces of the bogwood would be detrimental? <In soft water, yes.> I don't want a fluctuating aquarium. Or do you think that the crushed coral is doing its job? <Doesn't sound like it judging by your numbers. Goldfish want 10+ degrees dH, i.e., moderately hard to hard water.> By the way, would I ever need to replace the crushed coral, and does it lose its buffering capacity over time? <If put inside a filter, small amounts of crushed coral will be virtually useless within a couple of weeks, and all chemical media -- coral, carbon, Zeolite -- need to be replaced at least monthly even in the best of circumstances. These chemical media modules are mostly used as away to siphon money out of your pocket into those of the retailer and manufacturer. Their practical value in freshwater fish keeping is close to zero, and experienced freshwater fish keepers almost never use them. Carbon is another total waste of space, by the way. Big water changes, particularly if the water is treated with a chemical buffer mix as described above, will do a FAR better job of stabilizing pH and removing dissolved organic acids from the water. But water changes are free, so aquarium hardware manufacturers would much rather trick people into buying modules of carbon and crushed coral and Zeolite and other stuff they just don't need. Call me a cynic, but I'd sooner spend that kind of money on myself, not my fish tank.> Thanks so much. <Cheers, Neale.>

pH problems, FW, Goldfish   1/14/09 Hi Neale, <Hello Midhat,> Thank you very much for your advice regarding the snail. Have a question regarding pH, have been getting variable reading of the pH. We have one 1.5 inches long red Oranda and 1 inch red cap Oranda in 20 gallon tank with a filter, live plant (Red Ludwigia) and a decoration rock. <Well, the Ludwigia won't last long. Putting aside the fact Goldfish eat plants, Ludwigia repens is a very difficult plant to grow. It needs a lot of light and a decent, iron-substrate. Plants aren't easy to maintain, and once they start dying, they pollute the water. I'd recommend you add no other plants to this tank other than cheap pondweed (Elodea or Egeria) that you allow the Goldfish to eat. When these plants start looking shabby, throw them onto your compost heap and buy some new ones!> Today in the morning checked the water it had a pH of somewhere b/w 8.5 - 9.0 according to the test strip, did a quick partial water change of 10% (didn't want to bring it down very quickly), another reading was taken it was 7.5, at once took a sample to LFS and got the water checked, turned out to be 8.4. At the pet store they gave me 'Neutral Regulator ' by Seachem to adjust the pH to 7.0 (whether high or low just brings pH to neutral value). <Would actually suspect the test kit is either [a] inaccurate or [b] difficult to read. Dip strips can be notoriously inconsistent. Some brands are better than others. Another factor can be the time of the day, though that depends on how strongly the plants perform photosynthesis. I assume you don't have strong lights, so this particular problem isn't likely.> My question is should I use it? <Will do no harm, provided you use precisely as instructed on the packaging.> As on your website it has been mentioned several times that no tempering with the pH should be done. <Broadly this is true. It's much better for people to get fish that "like" the local water chemistry, so that you don't need to mess about with pH or hardness. If you live in a hard water area (e.g., your kettle becomes furred up with lime or you need a lot of detergent in the washing machine) then it is very unlikely that pH will vary much between water changes. Hard water is really very good stuff for keeping tropical fish happy!> I also got a live pH monitor by Mardel and is showing the pH value of 7.4 continuously and bought new test strips (API) they are giving the value somewhere b/w 7.5 - 8.0. Tap water has the pH of 7.5. I am really puzzled by this, as never had any problems with the pH before. <Honestly, my gut feeling is that you aren't using the test strips right, or else they just aren't very reliable. The liquid test kits tend to be more consistent, even if they are marginally more difficult to use. In any case, try using the test strips every day for the next three or four days, performing the tests at precisely the same time, to factor out any daily variation. If the test results are essentially the same from one day to the next, that's really all that matters.> My fishes are not showing any signs of stress just some yawning on behalf of red Oranda. <If the fish aren't stressed, I'd not worry too much. If pH changes suddenly, fish quickly react, often gasping at surface or darting around the tank nervously.> Your advice will be greatly appreciated as don't know what to do, nothing is making sense. Thank you very much. Best Regards, Midhat <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: pH problems... Mmmm, no. Goldfish sys.   2/11/09 Evening Neale and Mr. Fenner, <Evening!> Sorry for emailing you again and thank you very much for you advice. The WetWebMedia crew has set up an amazing website. Thank you every one for educating us. <I'm sure that Bob will be pleased to hear you say this.> <<Ah yes>> First some back ground information. We have a 20 g tank with two goldfishes, 1 red Oranda (1.5") named Goldie and other is red cap Oranda (1.15") named Luna, two filters (1 sponge filter and the other is HOB), one ceramic decoration, and one red Ludwigia (Neale your advice was amazing about it needing iron rich substrate, it is doing amazingly, has nearly tripled in size in one month and for some reason goldfishes don't like it). <Cool.> Our Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate are zero, GH=180, KH=180 and pH =8.0 (I know YIKES!). <The pH and hardness is just fine for Goldfish. Water quality is excellent. Don't start messing about with it! Just leave it alone.> Our tap water parameters are Nitrite and Nitrate zero, Ammonia=1.5, GH=120 (medium hard), KH=120, pH=8.2 (just increased recently from 7.5). After passing through the water softener and filtration system they are Nitrite and Nitrate=0, Ammonia=1.5, GH=b/w 0-30 and KH=0 and pH=6.0. <Too soft for Goldfish. Please DO NOT use water from a domestic water softener in an aquarium. These don't actually "soften" the water in the way aquarists mean it. What they do is replace the lime that furs up washing machines and pipes with salt. That's not a problem for a washing machine, but it's really bad for fish. It's why you don't drink from the domestic water softener tap, but from one that by-passes it. The ammonia level is too high as well, for no real reason I can fathom. So all in all, bad water. No further discussion required, because YOU ARE NOT putting this stuff in your fish tank.> We use tap water for the tank. I have been using Seachem's Neutral Regulator which keeps pH at 7.0, removes chlorine, chloramine and ammonia but it is not bringing down pH just introducing green spot algae problem b/c it contains phosphate based buffers. (We have premixed to-be-used tap water sitting out for a week with double the amount of Seachem but still it is at 8, going to triple the amount to see what happens). Is there any other product that you would recommend. <Why are you lowering the pH to 7? PLEASE, Goldfish LIKE HARD WATER. They like a basic pH around 7.5-8.0.> I need advice regarding the proper method to bring pH down. <For gosh sakes, LEAVE IT ALONE!> I have been doing daily 4 g water changes with the mixture of tap water and filtered water with Seachem's Neutral Regulator, it has Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate all zero, GH and KH=80 and pH=7.0, for past few days it has kept the pH at 8 otherwise if it is left alone goes up to 8.5. <Just use the plain tap water, the one with GH=180, KH=180 and pH =8.0 mentioned at the top. This is PERFECT for your fish. A 25% weekly water change should offset any pH changes before they get serious.> Should I continue with this strategy hoping it will eventually bring it down. Both the goldfishes are otherwise completely healthy with amazing appetite, just Goldie sometimes starts to yawn a little. I am a little at loss because aquarium setups are RedOx system but our moves in the opposite direction with each day pH going up a little. Haven't even changed the carbon filter in HOB this months. LFS also confirmed that pH is at 8 for both tap water and tank. <Fine.> I saw a similar question on pH FAQs and the answer was to get something that lives in similar water conditions b/c tinkering with the pH is never good but we don't want to give up our goldfishes they are like members of our family with their own distinct personalities and quirks, likes and dislikes and we are very attached to them. Sorry for it being such a long email. We would be really grateful for your advice. Thank you very much. <Happy to help.> Best Regards, Midhat. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: pH problems  2/12/09 Hi Neale, <Midhat,> Thank you very much for you advice, every where I read they said goldfishes live in water with the range of pH being 6.5 - 7.5 <Goldfish will survive here in England under ice for three months, and in the wild can tolerate up to about one-third the salinity of seawater. But neither of these things is "good" for them, and what you want to do is provide them with their favourite conditions. That is, unquestionably, hard, basic water. What in the UK we call "liquid rock"! Keep the pH around 7.5, and the hardness above 10 degrees dH ("moderately hard" on whatever scale you're using) and your Goldfish will love you.> that was the only reason that I started to change the pH. Now I wont try to mess up with it. <This is Neale's golden rule: don't mess with pH. Leave it alone! Unless you're an expert fishkeeper trying to maintain a very exotic species, it's ALWAYS best to let your fish adjust to your local water chemistry. Choose fish that LIKE your local water chemistry, and things are even simpler.> Thanks once more. Best Regards, Midhat <Happy to help. Cheers, Neale>

Goldfish, sys.  5/30/07 Hi, <<Greetings. Tom here.>> I have had a fan-tailed goldfish for a few months now. <<How large is the tank? 30 gallons would be a decent size for one of these fish. (With deference to my learned co-worker, Neale, Goldfish are pond fish. If you do choose to keep them in an aquarium, make it BIG!)>> So far things have been going well, but last week things took a turn. <<Sadly, they frequently do with Goldfish.>> I did my normal partial water change and then the water turned a kind of cloudy yellow. <<Any other factors involved? Cloudy white would be indicative of a bacterial bloom whereas cloudy green would indicate an algae bloom. Cloudy yellow, quite honestly, doesnt strike a chord with me.>> I changed the filter, thinking the new one I had just put in wasn't working correctly then went to the pet store for advice. <<Okay. Im starting to get a picture here but its a bit fuzzy yet. When you say that you changed the filter, are you referring to the filter media or, the entire filter unit? Also, when you speak of the new one I had just put in, what does this reference to, exactly? By way of explanation, your old filter was seeded with beneficial bacteria controlling ammonia/nitrites. So far, so good. A new filter would contain none of these bacteria leaving your fish at dire risk unless you used media from the old filter. Even changing the media in an existing filter must be done piecemeal, i.e. not all of the media at the same time, or you run the risk of ammonia and/or nitrite spikes. Still, theres a piece of the puzzle missing here.>> I was told to get an algae destroyer and follow the directions. I did this and by the next day the water looked beautiful. <<All right. Lets say you did, in fact, have an algae bloom. The algae destroyer merely clumps the particulate matter into pieces large enough for the filter media to capture and, hopefully, hold.>> However, last night the fish was on the bottom of the tank. <<New tank syndrome. Definitely a water quality issue and likely due to the filter change in whatever form that took.>> When I came over to look he moved around and now he is pretty much staying at the top of the tank swimming in a horizontal position. I did another partial change this morning when he was still acting like this. Occasionally he will swim around the tank but his nose is pointed up and he always returns to the surface. <<Only two reasons for a Goldfish to hang at the surface. Its expecting food or, its stressed, as in, unable to breathe properly, for example. I believe weve a case of the latter.>> I have not fed him since last night. Another thing is that since last night he has been having long poops that are mostly white strings with small parts that are food colored. I went back to the pet store today, my water tested ok and they gave me an antibiotic tablet to put in the tank. <<Something of a shotgun approach. First, it was algae. Now, its bacteria. In fairness, I dont know what information they had to go on so I dont want to slam anyone out of hand.>> Is there anything else I can do? <<At this point, I recommend massive water changes. You say the fish store told you the water tested ok. Please understand that, from my perspective, this doesnt mean a lot. By that, I mean that ok from one persons point of view doesnt necessarily mean ok from mine. We like to know specific readings. For example, a little ammonia but no nitrites or nitrates could mean that your tank is going through another cycle. Looks like ok but isnt. That could depend largely on the filter issue that I addressed earlier. Change at least 50% of the water every couple of days. In the meantime, please write back with any additional information you might have and, as a personal favor, sign your name. I like to know who Im talking with. Best regards. Tom>>
No need for deference! Tom, There's no need for deference here -- I agree with you 100% about goldfish being pond fish. But, in the UK at least, fancy goldfish aren't safe overwintering outdoors, and the delicate things like Orandas are best considered indoor fish. As for aquarium capacity, 20 UK gallons (24 US gallons) would strike me as the absolute minimum for juvenile goldfish and quite a bit more for adults. Cheers, Neale <Thank you for including me in this corr.. Will accumulate. RMF>

Re: Damage is Done.  8/6/07 Thank you Neale! I took readings across the board last night with the fantails' tank. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 5-10ppm nitrates, pH 7.4-7.5. All good. I siphoned the gravel last night with very little trace of waste. <That all sounds ideal for goldfish. The only "extra" is to check the hardness. Goldfish like hard water and hate soft water, so if you have a water softener in the home -- don't use it! Give the goldfish "liquid rock" as well call it here in England. They love it!> I take readings in all my tanks on the weekends. <Good.> Maybe I did overdose with the flocculent. <Perhaps.> Regarding Malawi Bloat, I read that it could be caused by too much protein intake. Funny thing is I placed a cooked scallop with an elastic around a rock in the evening for the bumblebee cats. The mbunas tore the thing apart and the largest Mbuna was darting around the tank with half of it in his mouth. Oh God! Another mistake...Malawi bloat expected in the morning! <No-one really knows what causes Malawi Bloat; as I said last time round, salt is one of the suspected factors. It's most likely caused by different things in different circumstances, since it isn't a "parasite" but a symptom of organ failure. So like a fever in a human, can be cause by all kinds of things. That said, Mbuna are herbivores (more or less) so you want to balance the diet in favour of greens, not meat. A good meaty food is raw mussels. These contain a lot of marine algae, so are brim full of vitamins, and most fish love them. They're also very cheap, and best of all, among the most ecologically sound food animals on the planet.> He seems to be doing fine. Can't wait to move them from the 30 into a 55. I feel cramped just looking at them. <Cool.> I can't get my Plecos to nibble on lettuce or seafood. Any tricks or shall I just keep trying? I placed a romaine lettuce leaf in his favorite hang out last night and he ignored it. Zucchini the night before...didn't touch it (the guppies on the other hand are a different story). <Above all: patience. Vegetables contain mostly water and little protein, so don't pollute the aquarium. Even if they fall apart to green gunk, that stuff is harmless. So you can't really "overfeed" greens. Lettuce should be blanched first to break the cellulose cell walls. Plecs have adapted to eat algae (mostly) which is easier to digest than plant material. Hence we need to cook the plant material a bit to break the cells and make it more toothsome for the catfish. Vegetables like carrot, sweet potato, and zucchini often need to soak for a few days before the catfish catch on. But believe me, once they learn, they love it! Cucumber is another good food, though it contains little nutrient value and shouldn't be relied upon. As you've notice, many other fish enjoy their greens, too. It's often overlooked, but many of the fishes we keep are primarily or extensively herbivorous in the wild: cichlids, livebearers, barbs, characins etc all enjoy greens and will be healthier and have better colours when provided with it. Even predatory fish often enjoy some greens and will eat them at certain times of the year. Big predatory catfish take fruits and seeds during the seasons when fish are scarce. I have a pufferfish that enjoys cooked peas! So experiment, since you're unlikely to cause harm. Just wash, and perhaps blanche, any greens you have to hand. Obviously avoid anything potentially toxic, like chili peppers or rhubarb!> Not important you get back to me on this one. Thanks again, I so much appreciate your service. <No probs. Neale>

Re: Damage is Done. 8/7/07 Neale, regarding hardening the goldfish's water, am I essentially reintroducing trace elements and minerals? Here's a product I located: Aqueon - Goldfish Water Renewal - 4 oz. Replace your goldfish aquarium water's trace elements with this simple formula. These essential compounds are necessary for fish and plant survival and become depleted over time. Special liquid restores these minerals and promotes health, color and vigor in your goldfish. Thanks again! Lisa <Lisa, sounds like garbagio to me, real snake-oil stuff. Anything that says "promotes" in the description gets a suspicious look from me, because that doesn't commit the product to doing anything either way. Kind of like when breakfast cereal says it "may help reduce heart disease". Yeah, right... Anyway, skip that stuff, and just to regular water changes. I've forgotten what your water chemistry was. If it's hard and alkaline right out the tap, then the goldfish are fine. If it's soft/acid, then fill one of the compartments in the filter with some fairly well pulverized crushed coral. That will raise the pH and hardness automatically without any further work. Periodically it'll need cleaning or replacement, but otherwise it's idiot-proof. What you're aiming for with goldfish is pH 7.5, hardness 10-20 dH General Hardness. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Fantails - pH and Hardness 08/17/07 Hi Neale, Sorry to be a pest. Just want to check in with you regarding the hardness and pH status of the fantails tank. The crushed coral has brought the pH to nearly 8.0. This exceeds their range of 7.6 (obviously) and the hardness has not increased from very soft. Am I endangering the fantails with this pH level? They are happy however I want to make sure this is the right thing. Thanks Neale. You are great. :) Lisa. <A pH of 8.0 is fine for goldfish. Here in England the pH of our very chalky water can get to 8.2, if not more, and goldfish positively thrive in it. It's important not to fixate on pH; it's the total dissolved solids that actually matter biologically, the pH is simply a useful first-pass approximation. Anyway, the calcium carbonate should be raising the carbonate hardness (that's the KH test kit). The dH test kit is measuring calcium oxide, which crushed coral doesn't contain so much of. The main thing here is that the dissolution of coral into freshwater is slow. If you're doing a 50% weekly water change, there will be only a modest increase in pH and hardness over time. The main reason for adding the crushed coral is to act as a buffer; if the water becomes acidic (which is normal in aquaria) the coral will prevent it. Dissolution is faster in soft/acid water than hard/alkaline water. So it's more an insurance policy than anything else. Bottom line, if the fish are happy, and the pH stays between 7.5 and 8, and the KH is around 5-15, and the dH around 10-20, your goldfish will be thriving. Cheers, Neale>

Alkalinity & pH 9/20/06 Hi! <<Hello, Angi. Tom>> When I measure my pH it is normal for my goldfish (7.5)...but when I test the Alkalinity it is low (40 - 80 ppm).   <<Okay.>> What should I use to raise the alkalinity and not raise the pH.  I have Buff-It-Up (which didn't do anything), Stable 7.5, and Alkalinity Buffer (I think by Sea* something).  This has me totally confused (I'm very new at this).  Oh, my water is hard from the tap.  If my pH is 7.5 which is alkaline why would my alkalinity reading be low?  I am sooooooooo confused!!!! <<Easy to become confused by all of this, Angi. Perhaps it would be beneficial to use the term "basic" rather than "alkaline" to alleviate confusion between the terms alkaline and alkalinity. (Works for me!) Okay, "alkalinity" is a measure of a sample's ability to resist changes in pH (downward) in the presence of an acid. By the very same token, "acidity" is a measure of a sample's ability to resist changes in pH (upward) in the presence of an alkali, or base. In simple terms, it's "buffering capacity". Where, on either side of "neutral", a sample tests on the pH scale, at a given time, has no bearing whatsoever on its "acidity" or "alkalinity". This is borne out by what you've discovered, i.e. your sample tested "basic" (alkaline) but its buffering capacity (alkalinity) is low. Frankly, this isn't a stable condition since naturally occurring carbon dioxide in the air mixes with water to form carbonic acid. Additionally, there are other organic acid "dynamics" that take place in our aquariums that compound the problem. What this means, to you and others in this situation, is that your pH levels are in a precarious position. (Just what you didn't want to hear, right?) Hence, you need to increase your alkalinity (buffering capacity) in order to resist a plummet from a slightly basic pH level (7.5) to an acidic one (>7.0). Here's where things get stinky, er, sticky. It simply ain't easy to increase alkalinity without raising the pH levels. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) provides excellent buffering capabilities due to the "bicarbonate" element but, if not added very, very judiciously, can drive your pH up dangerously. The products you mentioned above are, to greater or lesser degrees, of questionable efficacy. Honestly, I would look to small but frequent water changes rather than trying to chemically alter your water parameters. In the time that you'll spend playing around with various "buffers" and "stabilizers" as well as the requisite parameter tests to ensure that you haven't screwed up somewhere along the line, you could have, easily, performed a simple water change. In the long run, you might find yourself acclimating your Goldfish to pH levels outside of the "ideal" but, many credible sources suggest that you're better off keeping your fish at your tap water parameters than to "artificially" rearrange them.>> Thanks for you time. Angi <<Hope this helps somewhat, Angi. Best of luck. Tom>> Re: Alkalinity & pH 9/20/06 Thank you sooooo much Tom! <<Oh, stop. You'll make me blush.>> Frequent water changes is exactly what I'll do (I sort of enjoy it anyway).   One little question....when I'm doing like a 50% water change and gravel cleaning, would it be best to remove the fish to a bucket of the original aquarium water?   <<Angi, you don't really want to go with a 50% water change. That falls into the "massive" range. Keep it to about half of that and you'll be "golden".>> They are constantly sucking on my arms!! LOL!!! <<They like you, Angi! Nothing like some good fish kisses. :)>> I have 2 tanks (29 gal with 2 Oranda -- about 4" body size not counting fins)(40 gal with 2 moors and 2 Ryukins --- about 2" body size). I've decided to get rid of the gravel in both tanks.  It's a real pain trying to feed them because the only ones who see the food coming are the Ryukins.  The rest have to try to get what has fallen between the gravel (1/2" gravel)....so the gravel is outta of here! <<Oh, they'll scavenge, anyway. Won't be as much fun for them but, it'll be a whole lot easier on you!>> Take care and thanks soooooooooo much again!!! Angi <<You're most welcome, Angi. 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 bubbles    1/19/06 Hi. My name is Elizabeth and I have a question about my goldfish, Schroder. I recently set up a bigger tank for him (5 gallon vs. 1 gallon), being careful to let it run for a day and put all the requirements in it to help stimulate good bacterial growth. He's been in it for about a week now and he has started to make a lot of little bubbles at the top, kinda like a Betta would for a nest. However, I read on your website that goldfish don't make nests (unless I misunderstood the response). I'm just wondering if I should be worried or not. Thanks for any help you are able to give!! Elizabeth <Can be worrisome... the bubbles are likely the result of excess slime/mucus from the goldfish... combining with air, persisting... An indication of "not-ready" conditions in the water/system. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files at top. I would add the old water if you still have it, to the new tank... feed very carefully, and get/use ammonia, nitrite test kits... and BioSpira. Bob Fenner>

Green Water 1/21/05 Hello. I have a 29 1/2 gallon fresh water tank that holds 7 fish ranging from different Oranda's, fancy tail gold fish, etc. (all of the goldfish family). About a month ago, I thoroughly cleaned out the tank because of the extreme amount of luminescent "green" water/coloring, to almost the point of not being able to see through the tank. Less than 2 weeks later, the "green" stuff came back. I asked my local pet store and they recommended changing 50% of the water. So I did. (maybe more than 50%). Only to find now that the growth of this green stuff had increased more rapidly. 1 week later I had to change most of the water again. I again consulted the local pet shop, and they recommended a couple snails, along with turning the lights off for approximately 12 to 14 hours a day. It is now not even a week later, and I can barely see through the tank. I have had most of these fish and the tank for about 3 years, and have never encountered this before. I have searched the net to find answers to no avail. This is my first "big" aquarium and I am not too knowledgeable on all the aspects of an aquarium this size. Come to think of it...about a month ago I purchased a "Koi". None of this has ever happened before introducing it to the tank. Could the Koi have something to do with this? <It sounds like you have a problem with excess nutrients in your water, overstocking, maybe overfeeding, all of which can contribute to algae problems.  Take a sample of your water to the fish store and have them test it for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, and if you can, get your phosphate level checked, too.  Koi grow way too big for the average home aquarium, I would take this fish back to the store.  Please also see the following links on algae control in freshwater systems.  Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm   http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgaefaqs.htm>

My darling goldfish   2/9/06 Hi! I've searched your site for the information I need. I'm pretty sure it's there somewhere, I just didn't come across it. Hopefully this will be pretty easy and painless. My fish, Schroder, has been a little ill as of late. Now I know it's due to a pH problem (I got the water tested) and have been very slowly treating it back up. It's been a couple days since I started very carefully adding a pH decreaser. Here are my "stats": Ammonia: 0 out of .25 Nitrite: 0 out of.5 Nitrate: 10 out of 40 pH: above 8.4  (I know, scary...) Alkalinity: above 300... I was told that this would decrease as I fixed the pH Hardness: 250 out of 300 Chlorine and Chloramine: 0 Salinity: .3 out of .3 (I know... I need to slow down with that, <?> just trying to reduce as much stress as possible and heard this was one of the ways) He's stopped darting over all, though his eyes are kinda cloudy. At the moment, though he seems to be feeling better already, he is staying pretty still and when he does, his back fins are hanging down real low. He also hasn't been eating for 3-4 days and I'm worried about that mostly. I know his spirit will pick up once the pH is down, but what should I do in the mean time? I've tried peas, baby shrimp, his regular food, but nothing. He's still trying to poop, it looks like, but it doesn't look healthy. Thank you for any help you can give. :) Lyz <Do adjust pH by changing new water outside of the system, and slowly drip/add this to the system... and reduce the amount of salt present through these change-outs. Bob Fenner>

Goldfish With High Nitrates   3/24/06 Hi Bob Fenner, < Chuck, this time.> I have two goldfish (one's a common goldfish and other is a comet) in a 40 gallon tank.  I've had them since early 2003 and they are both a fairly good size (say 7 plus inches. My concern is that my nitrate levels are sky high and I can't seem to get them down regardless of doing frequent water changes, adding buffers as directed, reducing food amounts, and just regular tank maintenance.  I'm now changing 10% of the water weekly and changing the carbon filter every 4-5 days. The common goldfish now demonstrates this floating behavior.  When he rests and is not actively swimming he floats with his fin up.  He was flipping right over but he seems to do it less now but is still imbalanced.  This has been going on for just over three weeks now.  Some days he seems to get better.  The folks at the pet shop said I should feed them sinking pellets so that way they don't swallow too much air and get it trapped in their bellies.  I'm wondering if this is really the case since I haven't seen anything to that effect on the website FAQs section.  Can you help me sort out what is really happening in the tank? < The high nitrates have stressed you goldfish and they may be starting to get an internal bacterial infection. A big feeding of floating pellets could cause this condition too, but I think it would go away after awhile. Start by doing a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Check the nitrates in your tap water. Agricultural areas tend to have high nitrates in the ground water from years of crop fertilization. Feed once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. If they don't improve after a couple of days then treat them with Metronidazole. I read about introducing plants into the aquarium but the two fish are rather aggressive with plants and won't let them grow.  Is this another symptom?  Please advise. Thanks, Christine < Goldfish are not really aggressive but rather hungry and continually nibble and tear plants up.-Chuck>

Goldfish losing scales - bad water levels  10/19/05 Hi,   I am having a little bit of  trouble with my goldfish and I would love any help that you can give me.  I have had Harry, a Red Cap Oranda for  almost a year.  He is about 2 inches  long, (just body, without tail) and he lives alone in a 5 gallon tank. <Too small...> I change 50% of the tank water once a  week. <Too much...> I switched from flake food to  pellet or stick food a few months ago because I found that I am able to make  sure that there is no uneaten food left on the bottom of the tank to  decompose. <Good>   However, I am wondering  if the food may not be so good for him, because it almost looks as if it doesn't get digested and just goes through him and stays practically whole.  I feed him Tetra brand food Tetra Exotic sinking mini sticks for ornamental goldfish. <A very good food> My main problem is this recently, I  have noticed that he is missing some scales. I see missing spots on his body,  and I see scales floating in the water.   <Not good> Sometimes there is just one floating scale but sometimes there are a few  stuck together a big chunk of scales.  At first I didn't think much of it- that they would just grow back.  But he keeps losing them; there are a  couple patches missing on each side.  Doesn't look like there is anything on his body besides missing scales nothing growing out of them or any other colored spots on him.  He sometimes scratches against things like the airstone at the bottom of the tank, or the plant in the middle of the  tank. <Mmm, what type of plant?> I took out an ornamental rock <Could be a/the source of trouble here...> when he got bigger so he would have a lot of room to swim and left one plant in  the middle so he has a hiding place.  I recently moved (little over a month ago) to a new place.  Since moving, I haven't checked the  levels of water (until today) because at my old place, they had always been fine  Ã¢ the pH used to be around 7.2, no ammonia, and very low levels of nitrate.  I checked the levels today and even went  out and bought new test kits in case they had expired.  The pH is about 6.0 <Too low... would keep neutral (7) or higher...> the lowest the  test kit will read, the ammonia is about 4.0, <...?! More than 1.0 is deadly toxic> and the nitrate is between  20-40. <I'd keep below twenty ppm>   I was really surprised,  because like I said, I change half the water twice a week.  I was also surprised that both ammonia  and nitrate existed at the same time in the tank. <Not I... your system is so/too small... the water changes too large... your biological cycling microbes are checked or bumped off too easily...>   I have been freaking out a little  because I have no idea how these levels got like this.  I changed the water last 2 days  ago.  After reading the levels, I  just now changed half of the water again and tested again, but there was no  change in results.  Also I checked  the level of the tap water and it is 6.8 so I think I will have to start using  pH up is that correct? <Yes... or just small amounts of baking soda, sodium bicarbonate... to the water that is to be added after changes> I don't  like the idea of using it, but I think I will have to.  I add some salt to the water when I change it about a tsp, because I am afraid of using more, even though I think  I should be adding more like a tbsp.  I am wondering if maybe the pH test kit is inaccurate because my water  isn't exactly freshwater anymore.  If there is a little salt, like a tbsp per 5 gallons, will the pH test  kit for freshwater not be accurate and will I need a saltwater test kit? <The kit is accurate for both likely... no worries> Harry seems to be acting great energetic, loves to eat.  I am  wondering if maybe when I switched the food, I may be feeding him too much now,  and maybe there is more waste and that is making more ammonia? <Maybe... Sabrina has just looked up the composition of this food... it's a bit high (42%) protein... from fishmeal... I would only feed this half the time... using greens et al. listed on WWM on Goldfish Nutrition the other half> I don't know,  just a guess.  About how many   pellets should he eat a day?  He can  eat about 10 in a min.  I would  guess that I give him around 20 a day, which seems like so much, but they say to feed what he can eat in 2 min. I feed him throughout the day.  Like 4 pellets every few hours or  so.  (And he is still always looking for  more food!) <Don't use this as an indication... I would not feed period if the ammonia is over one ppm... and would NOT adjust the pH till the ammonia is below one ppm (these two coupled together, high pH and ammonia presence, are much more toxic>   I bought a new plant today, one that is softer so in  case it scratches against him, it won't hurt him. <A live plant?> So what should I do at this point?  I am hesitant about using Amquel or any  of that stuff, because I don't like not knowing the levels of harmful  ammonia.  Should I just keep  changing the water every day about 50% until the levels improve and maybe use pH  up? <Do keep changing the water... but no more than 25% in one day, cut back/out feeding to an absolute minimum, don't change the pH... and do look into getting a larger system... at least twenty gallons>   And I'm also confused about why  the water is so acidic when the excess ammonia in the water should, in theory,  make it more alkaline.  Any  ideas? <The concentration of ammonia is too low to affect pH> Any advice or help you could   give me would be greatly appreciated!  Thank you so much! -Jessica <Do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Ten Gallons + Two Goldfish = Bad Water (This is Not Fuzzy Math) - 10/31/2005 Hi, I have a 10 gallon tank with 2 goldfish: an 7" comet and a 3" fantail.  <Actually, these two fish are way more "mess" than ten gallons of water can support. Something on the order of 30 gallons would be a minimum for these guys, preferably a 40.> I set up the tank 4 months ago and have had problems balancing the nitrate load.  <I can imagine. Goldfish are super poopers - major producers of nitrate. They need larger tanks to compensate.> I have a Penguin mini-100 filter and discovered this week that the BioWheel was not turning.  <Likely the cartridge needs to be cleaned or replaced, or the bearings of the wheel need to be cleaned.> Initial readings 1.0 ammonia <Toxic. Should be zero.> 160 ppm nitrate <Very dangerous - should be less than 20ppm.> .025 nitrite <Should be zero - this is also toxic.> Ph 7.3 <Just fine for goldfish.> After a 15% water change one day, and a 50% water change the next, readings went to 0.25 ammonia <Still hazardous.> 40 ppm nitrite <Still high.> 0 nitrite Ph above 7.4, but I only had a mid-range tester. <Might want to check the pH of your source water. It is possible that dissolved organics (fish waste, etc.) in the water have lowered the pH in the tank; you'll need to be cautious as you raise it back to that of your tap.> I added sea salt to the system to about 1%.. <Actually, this may have aided in raising the pH.> Fish rebounded a bit, but after 2 days, were sitting on the bottom again.  <The conditions they're living in are toxic. They need a bigger tank; unless you do daily or twice-daily water changes, I don't think you can keep up with their waste output in this tiny space.> I added an airstone yesterday. Today, six days after the initial water change (I saw the fish had red fins on the day of the 50% change), <Also a sign of toxic conditions in the water.> nitrate went up again to 80, so I did another 15% water change.  Readings are 0 ammonia 25 ppm nitrate <Still high, but better.> 0 nitrite But pH reading is now 8.  <Check the pH of your tap water. That's probably where it's headed, closer with every water change.> I tried to add pH down, but after few hours it hit 8 again.  <I advise against using these sorts of products in your situation. Your source water is too heavily buffered, and these huge swings in pH are deadly. Letting the pH settle at 8.0 is better than allowing it to fluctuate.> I know I need to raise my alkalinity ( buffering capacity), but how do I do that?  <Mm, actually, the fact that the pH bounced right back up suggests that your water is already very heavily buffered. You can get test kits for carbonate hardness and total hardness, to see how buffered your water is.> I have Seachem Neutral regulator here and their Discus buffer product. I keep reading about adding club soda (seltzer water), but this is very confusing and unclear.  <Mm, right now, the important issue is to make this environment inhabitable. The only good solution here is a larger tank to support the lives of these fish. Otherwise, you'll be doing daily water changes to keep them healthy - and that's not good for you or them.> Our pets belong to our 5 year old and he has cried several times this week already. I am unsure what else to do and would appreciate your help. <Start by reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm .> Thanks, -Eileen K. <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Ryukin Concern  - 1/6/06 Last Wednesday, I bought a Ryukin and he is pretty small. For the first day he didn't really eat anything, only because I think he was just getting a feel for his new home instead of the pet store. <Typical.> He began eating a little of his sinking pellets (which I soaked in water for about 5 min.s. before feeding him) and I feed him twice a day: 7am and 8pm. Yesterday morning he did not eat any of his food, he just let it float right past him, however he ate his food that night. And today, he did not eat his food and I am getting ready to feed him again tonight. If he doesn't eat tonight that would mean he hasn't eaten anything today. Is there something wrong with him? <Mm, not enough info yet to go off....> Could he possibly be constipated? Because I don't believe he's gone to the bathroom at all since I got him last week. (Well I think I saw him trying to use the bathroom yesterday). <Possible, but again, not enough info yet....> And the pet store gave me this sheet saying it's ok to not feed your fish for a couple of days-I'm thinking that he may be on the same feeding schedule like he was on at the pet store-maybe he thinks he doesn't have to eat for an entire day or two? (because the pet store clearly does not feed their goldfish daily judging by their "fact" sheet)   <Mm, they can go several days, if they must - but most any goldfish will go for food any time they see it.> I am going to feed him some spinach tonight. <A good choice for food.  You've read here?   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshmalnut.htm .> And he does not have dropsy or bad bloating because he is not floating at the surface of the water or anything like that-he swims fine. <Ah, good.  Start with a good diet now and you'll hopefully not have such problems.> Do you have any suggestions? Thank you! P.S. The water condition is also fine, except the ammonia level is at .25, it was at 0 when I set up the tank last week. <This needs to be brought to zero.  Ammonia is toxic to fish.> But I was told that it's at that level because it is undergoing the biological filtration cycle. <Fish should not be present during the cycling of the tank.  Please try to locate some Bio-Spira to aid you in this, and do water changes to keep ammonia and nitrite at zero.> I used Stress Zyme to establish the cycle which apparently takes 4-6 weeks to make things normal. Should I change some of the water anyway? <Yes.> JaMeka <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Ryukin Concern (Sabrina's go)  1/10/06 I bought some AmQuel Plus (removes ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and chlorine) last week to get rid of the ammonia level and it is almost at zero now (it surged up to 1.0 last week, now it's slightly below .25, almost a zero by the end of the week). <Water changes are more important....  AmQuel is not a substitute for changing water.> Someone at the petstore told me not to change some of the water right now because the fish could go into shock <Someone at the petstore isn't exactly right, here....  Adding something does not take something away.  The Amquel is just changing the ammonia into a less toxic state.  It will also potentially postpone your cycle more than just water changes.> and it would ruin the biological cycle that is trying to be established. <Prolong it, perhaps - but that's much better than dead fish.> They also told me to use the Stress Zyme every day to speed up the cycle since my goldfish is in the tank. <Mm, I would just urge you to follow the instructions on the bottle, and rely on water changes to keep the fish safe.  Monitor those ammonia levels and do water changes to keep ammonia and nitrite as close to zero as possible while the tank cycles.> I didn't know that they weren't supposed to be in the tank while it is cycling-is my fish going to get sick? <Not if you can keep ammonia and nitrite very, very low.> The pet store also told me not to put my fish in another tank until the cycle is established because putting him in another environment would make him sick. <Mm, not accurate, really; moving a fish from a toxic environment to a healthy environment is usually a good thing.  There are certain things to be mindful of (pH, temperature) when moving a fish from tank to tank, but as long as water parameters are similar, all should be well.> By the way he has been eating now, I think he was stressed out because the ammonia level was high at the time I emailed you. <I imagine so!  He's probably feeling MUCH better now.> After every feeding, I clean out what he doesn't eat so it wouldn't cloud the tank and raise the ammonia level again. I've had the tank going for 2 weeks now, when can I do a partial water change? <As often as necessary to keep ammonia down.> Should I wait until after the 4-6 weeks of the cycle establishment? <Since fish are present, no, I would advise not to wait.> I also noticed that the nitrate level is still in the safe zone but it is almost a .5-.10 not zero anymore, is that bad? <As long as nitrate does not exceed 20ppm roughly, you'll be fine.  Nitrate is not toxic in small quantities.  It will increase slowly as your cycle completes.> Maybe the AmQuel will lower it. The nitrite is still at zero, thank goodness! <It will increase as ammonia stabilizes.  Just keep up with it with water changes.> Well thanks for the response! <You bet.> JaMeka <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Ryukin Concern (Bob's go)  1/10/06 I bought some AmQuel Plus (removes ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and chlorine) last week to get rid of the ammonia level and it is almost at zero now (it surged up to 1.0 last week, now it's slightly below .25, almost a zero by the end of the week). Someone at the petstore told me not to change some of the water right now because the fish could go into shock and it would ruin the biological cycle that is trying to be established. <Yes, advice I agree with> They also told me to use the Stress Zyme every day to speed up the cycle since my goldfish is in the tank. <Mmm, well... won't "speed up"... I would not add more unless the ammonia and/or nitrite exceed 1.0 ppm> I didn't know that they weren't suppose to be in the tank while it is cycling-is my fish going to get sick? <Are already stressed by the exposure, yes> The pet store also told me not to put my fish in another tank until the cycle is established because putting him in another environment would make him sick. <Yes, more stressful> By the way he has been eating now, I think he was stressed out because the ammonia level was high at the time I emailed you. <Likely so> After every feeding, I clean out what he doesn't eat so it wouldn't cloud the tank and raise the ammonia level again. I've had the tank going for 2 weeks now, when can I do a partial water change? <I would hold off till the system is cycled completely> Should I wait until after the 4-6 weeks of the cycle establishment? <Yes> I also noticed that the nitrate level is still in the safe zone but it is almost a .5-.10 not zero anymore, is that bad? <Nope... good> Maybe the AmQuel will lower it. The nitrite is still at zero, thank goodness! Well thanks for the response! JaMeka <Take your time here... feed carefully, don't change much... hold off on the chemical additions... all will be fine. Bob Fenner>

Cloudy Tank with Problems I have had a 72 gal tank now for three yrs. What I have in my tank is #3- 3in. Ranchu Goldfish. We had 4. Recently lost a 6 in Pearlscale the size of a peach. You guys gratefully helped me early on when it was discovered I was keeping the tank too clean! Since then alls been well. I do not overfeed, have kept the lights on only in the eve when we are home and still, change 1/4 -1/2 water every weekend, HAD a nice carpet of green algae on the back and sides. One Eheim 2 for biological and don't mess w/it. Also one Fluval that is changed (and not rinsed w/tap) every 2 weeks, also vac. All was well for a few years. Now, all winter the water is cloudy and green.  Lost a Pearlscale as I mentioned. Hung around at the top and went belly up. The rest for now are active (and funny) and eating well. I was advised my gravel had bad gasses under it and I wasn't cleaning enough (sigh). Had to change the gravel. I changed the gravel. Cleaned the hoses (again) and did not change the Fluval until the next 2 weeks. STILL I have green cloudy water. Oh, forgot to mention I also took off all the algae on glass as some brown specks were on there as well. The water parameters seem fine as I purchased even new kits just for sure. Using "7.0" conditioner/ph lock as the fellow advised me. I used to use Prime. I just can't seem to get a handle on it and as sad as I am to give up my Ranchu's I adore, I'm ready to give in and give up. We have no room to install an ultraviolet light to system. I have researched all the articles, just kinda lost. Thanks for any help. Kind regards...Robyn < Water parameters should be as follows: ammonia-zero, nitrites-zero, nitrates < 25ppm. Temp 70 degrees F. If all these are fine then maybe the new gravel was not well washed and silts and clays are leaching into the water. The pH should be around 7. If all else is good then maybe a change in diet is needed.-Chuck> 

Cloudy Tank II Thank You Chuck. I appreciate the advise. Ph=7.0 Nitrite=0 Nitrate=0 (?) Seems like that can't be Ammonia=0 Truly I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed again the gravel in small amounts. Took me all day project :) They eat good food... Sho gold & Pro gold, sometimes some blanched Swiss Chard, taken out after an hour (Stalk really), occasionally algae & Spirulina pellets. Except for Chard, they are fed a piece at a time, a few each, not "dumped" in. Looks like my new Nitrate kit isn't right. Thanks Again. Regards...Robyn <Sounds like you are doing everything right. If you have lots of algae then you might not have any nitrates but it is highly unlikely. Look for a nitrate kit that uses dry reagents. They don't break down as much over time.-Chuck> 

Cloudy Tank III Thank You Much Chuck. I also ordered a UV sterilizer that I'm told I can duct tape to my filter and hopefully that will solve a good part , if not all of the problem. Will look for that right kind of kit as you suggested. Again, Thanks an awful lot :-)Regards...Robyn < The UV sterilizer will eliminate any free swimming organism and algae. I would be surprised if this helps. Take a clear drinking glass and fill it up with aquarium water and let it sit for a couple of days in a quite cool spot and see what happens. If the cloudy material settles out then it could be a rock or substrate that is breaking down and dissolving in the water. Then it is just a matter of finding out which rock.-Chuck> 

High Nitrites with Goldfish okay sorry to bother you again. < No problem, that is why we are here.> I just did a 25% water change and did a water test. The ph was neutral and has borderline soft and hard water but however my nitrite is pretty high. My fish still on the floor and not eating and swimming as much. I added salt as recommended. How would I do to help bubba and lower my nitrites. < Clean the tank. Vacuum the gravel to remove the waste that has accumulated there and clean the filter. Feed only once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Remove uneaten food after two minutes. If Bubba is not eating he may have an internal bacterial infection and need treating with Metronidazole.-Chuck> Goldfish Acts Strange After Water Change Bubba my black Oranda needs your help. After I changed the water and added all the additives to the water. Bubba stays in the corner has not swam out in about 1 day. What has happened to him? Do you know what happened? <A good water conditioner would handle any chlorine and chloramines. "All the additives" has me concerned. Without knowing what you did or what you were trying to do it makes it hard to comment.-Chuck> 

Got Air? I saw your website re: goldfish and have a question.  Two weeks ago I had 5 goldfish - I had had them for 3-4 months (1 big one for a year).  He/? was the first to die.  two days later a younger one was floating on top of the water (dead of course); about two days later, another.  Obviously I only have two left. The only abnormal thing I am noticing about these two is that they appear to be gasping for air (at the surface of the water)...?  WE have several small plants in the pond along with the 'fountain' - Any thoughts? We have been trying to keep the water cool and at a consistent temp. thanks at least for listening.  Help if you can. Jayne white < A couple of things could be going on. Check the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero. Nitrates should be under 25 ppm. If any of these numbers are excessive then it could be burning the fishes gills and hamper their ability to get any oxygen. The remedy would be to clean the filters and change some water. Too much food or waste would have this effect. Warmer water temps mean the water has less capability to absorb oxygen so you may need to increase aeration.-Chuck>

About using dead coral in gold fish tank I am not new to having and raising goldfish. My niece gave me some dead coral from another tank (not sure if it was a saltwater tank). If it is rinsed in freshwater and set outside to dry will it be safe to use in the tank? I don't want to do anything to mess my tank up. Thank you for any help you can give me. < The coral will dissolve in your freshwater tank creating a higher pH and hardness. The roughness of the coral may create an abrasion hazard if your fish ever rubs up against.-Chuck> Tammy  

High pH Hi guys, I have a goldfish in a 25L tank, by herself and with a carbon filter + sponge set-up that actively aerates her tank. A few weeks ago, I noticed she had white streaks through her tail fins which were fraying, and there was a white rim at the water surface on the tank. I took a sample of her water to the pet store who tested it and found that while ammonia levels are 0, the pH was around 7.6. I bought a kit with "pH DOWN" (which I think is a salt of Hydrochloric acid), and have since been doing weekly 25% water changes with neutral H2O, since my untreated tap water was definitely alkaline. Simultaneously I treated the tank with "Bactonex" which contains Malachite Green, and her tail healed well. However, a few days ago, I noticed that the streaks & fraying had returned. She tends to hide a bit, which is odd behaviour - she's normally very friendly. I checked her tank water, and found that the pH was in fact much higher than that of the untreated tap water! (I'd estimate tank pH at around 8.0 - it was off the colour scale in my kit). I notice on your site you mention a water conditioner TetraAqua as a culprit, but unfortunately, I don't have the ingredients in the conditioner I use to compare them. In her tank the gravel is white in colour, and appears quartz-like. There was definitely a powdery residue when I washed it before setting up the tank, but I thought I had removed it all. I will check the gravel today by putting it in some distilled H2O & checking the pH. There is also one live plant, and 3 small plastic plants. The live plant is so-so; it's certainly not as lush as when it came from the pet store, but it isn't dead yet. I also tend to get a little algal growth too. My questions are as follows: 1. Do you have any suggestions for culprits? And is there a "checklist" of factors I can follow if this problem crops up again? < Check the rocks and sand/gravel for calcium leaching from the them. The glass of distilled water with some rocks and sand is a good idea. The pH should not change. If is does than switch them for something else.> 2. What would you recommend (some sort of additive or substrate perhaps) to lower the pH and keep it stable? < Any inert medium sized gravel that is smooth and not rough to the touch.> 2. What sort of gravel would you recommend? < Stay away fro coral sands and dolomite. For growing plants there is nothing better than Fluorite by Seachem.> 3. What sort of water conditioner would you recommend, and are there any active ingredients I should look for? <Amquel by Kordon is great for water supplies with chlorine and chloramine. Biocoat by Marineland is very good when adding new fish that are stressed during shipping.> 4. How soon should I start dosing my fish if I see her tail fraying? I'm worried about bacterial resistance. < Fish do not like rapid changes in pH. Get the pH stabilized outside the aquarium. Clean the filter every two weeks. On the weeks that you don't change the filter do a 30% water change by vacuuming the crud out of the gravel. Go to Marineland .com and look under the Dr. Tim's library for articles on water chemistry that will give you a better understanding on the best way to lower the pH. Treat with Nitrofuranace and follow the directions completely on the package. Don't over feed. Feed your fish a high quality food to keep the fishes resistance to disease up.-Chuck> Thanks very much for your help. Che

pH Swings Dear Don:  I am at my wits' end with my tank and you were such a huge help to me before I thought I'd try one last time to see what on earth I'm doing wrong.  To refresh, I have a 10-gallon freshwater tank with 1 Oranda, 1 calico goldie and 1 Pleco.  Major new tank syndrome which you advised me to do daily water changes until tank was established.  Things improved until Oranda got white body slime on her so I contacted WWM again - advised to continue water changes, wean from ammonia pillow and medicate in qt tank if necessary, which was not necessary as Oranda improved.  However, she seemed to "shrink" - she was somehow smaller and skinnier overnight.  My whole family noticed it.  But she was eating well and had lots of energy and very friendly.  Ammonia pillow was removed and levels did not change for the worse. Then my filter motor went kaput  Nov. 30.  Had not changed filter yet as I'm still trying to establish tank and was advised not to until levels were better.  Old filter was gunked out with slime and was disposed of; new filter was installed - have done almost daily water tests but started again with daily/every other day water changes as seemed necessary due to increased levels of nitrate and ph.  I have not changed more than 50% at a time and last 2 changes only 25%.  Nitrite level remains at 0.  Have added up to 1 heaping tablespoon of salt each water change depending on amount of new water. My Pleco up and died 12/5.  No signs of problems before, just dead in the tank that morning.  Water test that day: nitrite 0; nitrate 20; Alk 120; ph 7.8; ammo .25. Ammonia level has remained at .25 forever - my water is well water - even RO water is .25.  Aging water does not lower level.  Did 50% water change. 12/6 got new Pleco; rocks and plants (plastic) are slimy; water is clear; new Pleco is sucking on everything and his digestive system works QUITE well if you know what I mean.  He's just a tad smaller than my original.  Have not noticed any waste from either Oranda or goldie but goldie is growing like mad and noticeably healthy so I know it's happening even though I don't see it, so really not sure about Oranda either. 12/7 Oranda not eating and not moving right front flipper fin.  I'm thinking she rubbed up against a rock maybe? and hurt herself so she's not hungry?  Is it possible for a fish NOT to be hungry?  No visible signs of problems on fin.  Tested water: nitrate 20-40; nitrite 0; Alk 120; ph 7.2; ammo .25.  Did small vacuuming/25% water change. 12/8 Oranda eating flakes and peas; hangs out at top of water in corner of tank and barely swims so not sure of condition of fin; water test nitrate 20-40; nitrite 0; Alk 120; ph 7.2; ammo .25.  Did small vacuuming/25% w/c. 12/9 Oranda not eating; refusing peas which she loves; still hanging at top corner of tank, no swimming; water test nitrate 20; nitrite 0; Alk 120; ph 7.8; ammo .25.  ph has climbed again but nitrate has lowered. At this point I just don't know what to do.  I'm afraid I'm doing too many water changes but still have not established tank.  Don't know how to get the ammonia out of the water but have been advised not to use bottled water.  How do you establish if you keep changing the water?  How long should all this take?  How do you keep your tank established when you replace filters?  Should there be a bunch of green slime where the water empties out of the filter into the tank?  I don't have that but I've seen it elsewhere.  Any idea why my Oranda is getting smaller instead of bigger even when she eats?  or why she's at the top of the water only? or why she has no energy?  Even when I vacuum the tank there's still a bunch of gunk and debris in the gravel afterwards but unless I do a huge water change I can't get all of it.  How do you do that, or should you?  Am I supposed to be washing this stuff off?  Because if so how do you get established? I am unemployed and can't afford the more expensive aquarium or test equipment.   I feel like everything I'm doing is prohibiting development of fish and tank but when I don't, fish either get sick or die.  After 3 months, shouldn't I be farther along than this?  I'm trying not to get too discouraged, but... Any advice you can give is certainly appreciated.  Thanks very much for your time and your help.   Robin <Hi Robin, Don again. I see two problems. Your pH is jumping all over the place. Not good. One of the signs of pH shock is excess body slime and white patches on skin. Check the pH of your tap water and the tank. If they are off by more than 2 or 3 tenths do smaller water changes more often. If they are very close together increase to 50% to control water quality until your filter is established. For help with that please read here:   http://www.marineland.com/articles/1firstthirty.asp Doing water changes will slow, but not stop, the process. but you need to do them to save the fish in there now. The other problem is replacing the filter. I forget what type you have, but the idea here is to establish that bacteria. Replacing the filter starts the process all over again. If your filter has some sort of "Bio Media" that is what you should NOT clean. The charcoal and floss can be replaced. If this is a sponge filter, either leave it alone or rinse it out slightly with old tank water. Never tap. It usually takes about four to six weeks to cycle. And if you are getting a reading of .25 on every thing you test, the problem is the test. R/O water will read zero. Why your fish seemed to get smaller is a puzzle. Thinner I can understand, but not shorter. Did he loose some tail?>      

Cloudy Goldfish Tank I have a set up of coldwater goldfish but really struggle to keep the water clean. It seems to get cloudy very quickly and I am not to sure whether this is due to the fish being fed too much, the filter not working correctly or anything else. I have heard of algae eaters but I am not sure what this involves. Your speedy reply would be appreciated. Phil <Cloudy water is a sign of too many nutrients in the water. A bacterial bloom like this is normal in a new setup. No action is needed, except for the normal water changes. In an established system overfeeding is the primary cause. Failing to remove waste and uneaten food with a gravel vac will also cloud up the water. If you clean up the gravel while doing a large water change and stop feeding for 2 or 3 days it will starve out and the water will clear. Then limit food and increase water changes to maintain it. Don>

Messing with pH Help! I have a small tank (6 gallons) with two tiny calico goldfish. I checked the pH and it was low, so I put in some powdered stuff they recommended at the pet shop according to the directions. One of the fish died within two days, now the other one has been lying on his side for the last day and appears to be dying. To top it all off, the pH hasn't come up at all into normal range. I feel terrible for my sick goldfish, I need help right away. I want to change the water, but I don't know if this would be worse. By the way, I have another larger orange goldfish who hasn't seemed to be affected by any of this at all, he looks fine. <Do change the water. About 50%. Do this daily for a week or so. Do not worry about your pH reading. It's not an "incorrect" pH that is harmful in most cases. It's the change in pH that kills. Goldfish can adapt to a wide range. A steady pH is the best pH. Also, this is far too small a tank for goldfish. Your problem may not be pH related but poor water quality in general. Test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Keep the first two at zero, nitrates below 20ppm. Either way, water changes are the answer. Don>  

Hard Water and Goldfish I have a 40 gallon tank with goldfish. The water, when tested, is VERY hard. Is this a concern? If so, what can or should I do to correct it. Your comments are appreciated. Charlie <Not a problem. Goldfish can thrive in a wide range of conditions. You could mix in 50% distilled water, but I see no need to do so for your goldies. Don>  

Cloudy FW/Goldfish tank Hello, I have a question regarding tank cloudiness. I did read your info but I don't seem to have those problems. I have a 30 gallon freshwater tank with 2 Ryukins in it. I have a 0 reading for ammonia and nitrites and a 7.4 ph reading. <So far, so good> the fish are doing very well and the cloudiness is relatively new (they've been in this tank for about 2 months-cloudiness began about 2 weeks ago). <Right about time for this... due to cycling issues> I have been doing weekly 20% weekly water changes. I have a 10 gal. tank with same readings but it is crystal clear. I have tried the chemical cloudiness reducers but they make no difference. what am I doing wrong? <Mmm, not telling me/us enough for one... what sort of filtration do you have? What sort/s of foods do you offer? Do you have any live plant material? Think these over, and don't panic... if you don't have detectible ammonia nor nitrite, your system will clear of its own accord, and likely soon. Bob Fenner> thanks for the great site, Jill  

Algae Problem Hi, I've had my one goldfish for about two years now that I won from a school fair.  I don't really know too much about goldfish though and what other types of fish they get along with.  However, I have what I believe is algae (mostly green and some brown) growing on the sides of the 10 gallon tank and on the aquarium ornaments even after a few days from when I changed the water .  I was wondering if I should get an algae eater and if so what type would maybe cause the least stress to my goldfish.  Or if an algae eater is not the best solution what other options do I have in order to keep the algae growth to a minimum.  Thanks in advance. Liz. <Hi Liz.  Goldfish are best kept with other goldfish, I have seen people keep a Plecostomus with their goldfish, but would not recommend it.  If I were you I would just use an algae scrubber pad to scrub off the algae before water changes.  Best Regards, Gage> 

-Tetra Freshwater Additives- Hi everybody, I started out with a fish bowl with two goldfish in it, as a present from my girl friend. Next day I was at the book store looking for a book on goldfish. The day after the small bowl was changed with a 2 gallon bowl (it had to be a bowl to preserve the original present :). I slipped in a small filter and started doing 50% water changes every three days. Next, I added some Tetra Nitrate Minus, thinking it would help me keep the nitrate level low. <Hmmm...> MISTAKE. Too little water, too much bioload. As it says on the package, using Nitrate Minus with high levels of nitrate did increase the KH to 15dH pH to 8.5+. The little guys were doing fine, but I owed them a proper tank. So, I bought an 18 gallon tank, transferred the substrate (with the Nitrate Minus mixed in it), the filter and the little guys into their new home. It's been three weeks and I have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and less than 5ppm nitrate. <I wouldn't get so hung up in nitrate, it's the least toxic of the three. You need to be concerned with ammonia, nitrite, and pH. The nitrate level makes little difference.> This time the KH is stable at 5dH but the pH has gone up to around 8.3 from first fill measurement of 7.2. The package says that the product has a stabilizing effect on pH and KH. What do you think about this product, it looks like I don't need to make any water changes yet, but it somehow doesn't feel right. <I would suggest a 25% water change every two weeks for these critters with a gravel vacuum.> Should I do water changes to try to bring pH down slowly. <I would stop using the Nitrate Minus, and as the pH goes back down to around neutral, pick up some Seachem Neutral Regulator to keep the pH buffered at 7 if needed.> With KH being around 5dH, I'm afraid to have a sudden pH crash. The fishes seems to be doing fine. Should I change anything? <Like I said, once the pH drops back down (with goldfish this should happen on it's own) use some Neutral Reg.> Tetra also has  another product called Easy Balance, which is supposed to decrease the water changes to %50 every six months. Sounds too good to be true. Still you'd have to remove the solid waste from the tank bottom somehow I guess. <They can come out with any magic juice and make any claim they want but you'll be hard pressed to surpass the effectiveness of a good water change with a gravel vac. I would save your money!> So, do you have any ideas about these products? Are they any good, or needed? <In short, you don't need either. Frequent partial water changes with a gravel vacuum combined with conservative feedings are all you'll need to keep these guys happy. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks,  Husnu 

Shrinking fish In my 20 gal tank are two 2 inch Goldfish, two 2.5inch Goldfish and one 5-6 inch Shubunkin (measured including tails). I've had them for 2 months and I feed them 2x/d, knowing that "most goldfish problems are from overfeeding". I also don't want to cloud my water too much because I probably clean the AquaClear 300 every 3 wks and change 1/3 or 1/4 water every 2-3wks.  Problem: I think my fish are smaller or rather skinner! Is that possible? Or am I just used to seeing these fish now and don't think they are sooo big anymore compared to when I first got them.  >>Hello. I recommend you buy yourself some test kits. Ammonia, nitrite, AND nitrate. Test them all, and test regularly. You should always have zero ammonia and zero nitrites. But the nitrAte test kit will tell you how often to change your tank water. Try to keep the nitrAte level in a safe range, say around 40ppm. I believe you are not changing your water often enough. With the amount of fish you have in such a small tank, you really should be changing around 50% of your water per week! Your fish will become stressed if the nitrate level gets too high, and they will also become stunted and stop growing, which can lead to disease and possible death. Please buy some test kits! -Gwen<<  

Saltwater Goldfish?! - 02/10/2004 Hello <Hi.> I have one 9 year old 5" goldfish in a 10 gallon tank with a little gravel on the bottom. The temperature is normally kept at 73 degrees. It has a Penguin BioWheel mini power filter Flow: 100 GPH. There is also an aerator pump in his tank. I change 30% water once a week to which I add 5ml (1 capful) of "Cycle" and use "AquaPlus" to dechlorinate water.  He eats approx. 12 Wardley pellets a day. <So far, so good....> 3 weeks ago while I was gone he was overfed. I had just done a 1/3 water change and came home 3 days later to a smelly, dirty tank. Fish was sitting in the corner but swam around when disturbed. Still eating good. Thought he might be doing "flashing" motions across the tank once in awhile. <Likely the "flashing" is a reaction to irritation (ammonia, nitrite) in the water.> I tested his water: there was a bit of ammonia and nitrites in the water and the nitrate reading was high. <Bingo.> I did a 25% water change and siphoned a lot of waste from the bottom. Changed the charcoal filter and added a capful of "Cycle". Did not feed fish anymore this day. <Larger water changes may be more appropriate while the water levels are off....> The next day the water was clearer and all reading were a little lower. pH 7.5.  I did a 20% water change. Not so much waste at the bottom. Fed as usual. <Okay> I tested the water the 3rd day, pH was the same and all other reading were almost normal. But noticed red streaks on tail fin. <"Almost" normal - I assume that means some ammonia, some nitrite?  Elevated nitrate?  This must be rectified with water changes.> 4th day - ph same, ammonia close to 0, nitrites less than 0.3, nitrates medium 5th day - all readings the same, except nitrate level less? 6th day - all readings the same except nitrate levels rising 7th day - ammonia 1 (touch higher), nitrites 0.2 (touch higher), nitrates 7 (higher) Did 25% water change  (6 days since last water change) Noticed foam on top of water surface after I had changed the water? Maybe from aerator? Ammonia or bad bacteria in tank? <Something does seem "off" here....  What kind of test kit(s) are you using?  And again, if you are reading any ammonia and/or nitrite, water changes are crucial....  must keep these at zero.> Tested water 3 days later to find ammonia close to 0, nitrites 0.1 and nitrates 6 Tested water 2 days later to find ammonia perfect, nitrite 0.1, nitrites 7-8, pH 7.5 Did 25% water change  (6 days since last water change) <Sounds like the tank is cycling.... perhaps to account for the accumulated waste from overfeeding, and the resultant increased waste output of the fish.> Feb 1 5 days later fish water was cloudy, sticky and the fish lost two pieces of his tail fin. <Yeowch> Why did his water get so bad? His tail fin seems to have white mucky stuff around it? I don't think its ICK. <No, doesn't sound like ich at all.  Sounds like bacterial fin rot, brought on by the poor water quality....> His fins have been red for 2 weeks now and have gotten redder each day. All his fins now have red streaks on them. He's still eating well, but sitting at the bottom of his tank most of the time unless disturbed. <Water changes.... and perhaps an antibacterial medicine, if proper water quality does not improve his fin erosion.> Changed 80% of his water and put in a new charcoal filter <Ah, good.> Added 2 tsps. of salt to the water and another 2 tsps. 12 hours later. <Perfect, this should help.> Fish seemed better with salt. Swimming around more. Eating well. Think he's still "flashing" once in awhile. <Probably still a reaction from the water quality....  keep testing, correcting when necessary.> Feb 2 He seemed to do well with this addition of salt but I wasn't sure of the dosage so I called an aquarium place in the city. <.... One to two tablespoons per ten gallons, possibly slightly more for a goldfish, but not by a lot....> He told me to change 1/3rd of the water (which I had already done yesterday) and to add 7 Tablespoons of salt (less the 4 teaspoons I had already added) <Oh.  My.  Goodness!  That is a LOT of salt....  FAR more than I would be comfortable recommending....> and raise the temperature to 80 degrees. <If the goldfish is dealing with a bacterial infection, this is not a great idea....  For one, bacteria multiply at a greater rate in higher temperatures, and for two, goldfish do not do well in such high temps.> Then in 3 days, change another 1/3rd of the water and add another 7 Tablespoons of salt. <WOW.  Okay, so we've got 2/3 of the original 7 tablespoons in there after the water change....  that's 4.67 tablespoons.... PLUS the new 7 tablespoons - up to 11.67 tablespoons....> He said to continue this every 3 days for 2 weeks.  Thought this was too much salt, so I asked him to repeat this process and he affirmed it. <Holy wow.  So, just to appease my curiosity, figuring this: we have 11.67 in the water now.  Take away a third of it (water change), we have 7.78 tablespoons, plus the new seven, up to 14.78T....  Three days later, now 16.85T....  Finally ending at 18.23T in a 10 gallon tank - if I'm figuring correctly, that's nearly one fifth the salinity of marine water....Yikes!  Far, FAR too brackish for a goldfish....> So I did this! Of course dissolving it in a cup with some of the tank water first. Pouring it in very slowly and not directly on fish. By the way, I'm using a pure sea salt. <Which will *dramatically* affect pH, making it far too high for this animal, especially in the state he's in.  This would wipe out the bacteria, without a doubt, but cause many problems to the fish in and of itself....  more harm than it's worth.> Feb 4 Changed 1/3 water and added 7 Tablespoons of salt.  Fins a little less red. Feb 7 Tested water - pH 8, ammonia 0.1, Nitrites 0.2, Nitrates 6, General Hardness 120ppm, Carbonate Hardness 60ppm.   <The high salinity is probably starting to kill off your nitrifying bacteria, at this point, hence the ammonia and nitrite refusing to settle; water changes, with no salt, are in order....> Changed 1/3 water and added 6 Tablespoons of salt. Only has redness on tail fin now, but it still seems to have whitish stuff (not ick) around the edges of tail fin. <Likely the bacteria causing his fin rot have started to die, along with your biological filtration.> So I'm supposed to do 3 more water changes and add another 21 Tablespoons of salt over the next 8 days. I'm scared about using this much salt!! <I would be, too!  I'm glad you're concerned!> Should I do this? <Frankly, in my opinion?  No!> He said that if this doesn't work, I could then try "Melafix"? <I do not stake much on the effectiveness of Melafix.  It may help, and is worth a shot, but you *must* continue water changes, and be diligent about them, as long as you see any ammonia and/or nitrite on your tests.  You may want to consider an antibiotic, like Kanamycin or Nitrofurazone ("Kanacyn", "Furacyn", and "Spectrogram" are some proprietary names).> Do you think this is safe? <The salt?  No.  The Melafix?  Not harmful, may help, might not.> Should I stop the salt? <Yes.> Should I instead be using Melafix or a broad-spectrum antibiotic like furan, Kanamycin sulfate, spectrogram, Nitrofuran-G or Maracyn & Maracyn II? <See now, you've read my mind.  I do not like to recommend the Maracyns unless you know *specifically* what bacteria you are treating - Maracyn I (erythromycin) treats *only* gram-positive bacteria, and Maracyn II (Minocycline) treats *only* gram-negative bacteria.  I would go with Kanamycin, Nitrofurazone, or a combination of the two; these are my antibiotics of choice.> Or should I wait until salt treatment is over and then use one of these products? <I would slowly (over a few to several days) lower the salt, 'till you've got about 2 tablespoons per 10 gallons, then begin treatment with antibiotics (if necessary).  First and foremost are water changes.> I'm not sure if his fins turned red from the bad water quality, <This is, if not the entire problem, at least what started it.> from parasites, <Unlikely, from your descriptions> or he has a bacteria infection. <Quite possible.> Would he have Fin or Tail Rot? <Likely.> He has never lost his appetite!! <A *wonderful* sign!  What tough fish there are in the world!> I'm sorry this was such a long letter, but I am concerned about the salt. <Goodness, don't be sorry!  The more detailed the description, the better - and *certainly* don't be sorry about being concerned for your fish!  That's a good thing.> Hope you can at least lead me in the right direction. <I hope so, too.> Thank you for your time. <Any time - glad to be of service.> Teri Odenthal <Wishing you and your salty goldfish well,  -Sabrina>  

Saltwater Goldfish?! - II - 02/14/2004 Hello <Hello again, Teri!> Thank you so much for responding to my email. <You bet.> I have to admit that this goldfish actually belongs to my friend, and she wanted me to try and help her. She continued to follow the advice given to her my the aquarium guy in the city, but has now realized that this "salt treatment" he recommended is too much!! Anyways, this is a continuation from my last email, ending on February 7th, when I last tested and changed the water for my friend (I do this for her when she's working): Feb 10th My friend, still convinced that this aquarium fellow knew his stuff, changed 1/3 water, added 7 Tbls. salt, (I figure the fish has about 17 Tablespoons in his 10 gallon tank now?) added 1 capful "cycle". and left temperature at 80 degrees. Feb 13th Finally after my friend read your email, she started to worry about adding this much salt. She changed 1/3rd of the water, added 1 capful of "cycle", changed the carbon filter and did not add anymore salt. Or should we add a little to lower the quantity slowly? <I would not add any; just do water changes daily to lower the salinity.  If you need to do large water changes, as I suspect you will (nitrifying bacteria may have died off), then figure how much is in the tank now, and add some salt to the water change water, so as not to bring the salinity down too rapidly - don't want to shock the fish.> She is slowly lowering the temperature. It is now at 78 degrees and she will continue to lower it over the next few days until it reaches about 74 degrees. <Even lower is better with goldfish; this is a coldwater fish by nature.> She told me the fishes tail fin had some red on it again, but it was a lot darker colored than before, and that the fish was still swimming quite fast around the tank and settled down in the corner so quietly. <Redness is a sign of irritation from something in the water being inadequate - I suspect ammonia and/or nitrite.> He is still eating good. Was last fed this morning. She said the water looked very clean, but I told her to test the water. <Definitely.  Just looking "clean" really gives absolutely *no* insight into water quality.> These tests of course would be after the 1/3rd water change. Ammonia 0-0.1, Nitrites 0.1-0.2, Nitrates 10?. <Again, what sort of test kit(s) are you/she using?  If she's reading ammonia and nitrite even *after* a 1/3 water change - yeah, I'm sure the fish is having to endure lots of ammonia and nitrite issues.  The tank will re-cycle as you come down in salinity, and may require even daily water changes to keep the fish healthy.> She did not check the pH. I bet its too high though! <With all the sea salt?  Likely.> She then added another capful of "cycle" and will check the water again tonight. If it's still off? Should we do another water change so soon and how much? <As much as necessary to keep the ammonia and nitrite down.> Do we add more salt? <If you do large water changes, yes, I would add some salt, so as not to shock the fish by changing the water properties too quickly.> She thought of using Melafix or the antibiotics you mentioned also. Should we try Melafix first <I do not have a high opinion of MelaFix; it is worth a try, if you are interested.  It may help.  It shouldn't hurt, at least.> and can we use it with salt in the water? <Yes.> Or just go straight to the antibiotics? <If you see a white or milky edge to the eroded fin, I would probably go ahead with a mild antibiotic.  I would not do this until you've gotten the salt content to a manageable level, though.  This will also give you a handful of days to observe the fish and see if he begins to improve on his own with improved water quality.> I think its scary using antibiotics, no? <Not if used properly.  Again, my antibiotics of choice are Nitrofurazone and Kanamycin; the very low dosages of them in Aquatronics' medications (Furacyn, Kanacyn, Spectrogram) provides for a very mild treatment.  I have not had any fish react adversely to either.> Thank you for reading this again, <Any time!  Truly, glad to be of service.> Teri and my friend with her beloved salty goldfish <Wishing you, your friend, and the salted fish well,  -Sabrina>  

Saltwater Goldfish?! - III - 02/14/2004 Hello Sabrina <Hi, again!> Thank you again for your email and for answering my questions so thoroughly.  We are so relived to correspond with you about our "salty goldfish". <Any time, really.  So glad to be of service.> Thank goodness for email!! <Indeed!  What a valuable resource communication is!> Yes, we figure that salt has played havoc with the biological system because we were already changing 1/3 of the water every 3 days. We didn't have a problem with the water when we used to change it once a week, before the overfeeding episode of course!! <Heh, when it rains, it pours!> Guess he could have a 20 gallon tank.  I have not talked to my friend "Karen" yet after she tested the water last night, so I don't know what the readings were, or if she had to change some more water. I did print out your last email to us and left it at her house.  I peeked through the window to see the fishy and he seemed to be swimming around normally. <Swimming is always good.> By the way, we are using: A-7820 Hagen Test Kit - Ammonia for Freshwater - 0.0 - 7.3 mg/l- 70 tests A-7825 Hagen Test Kit - Nitrite Test-Fresh and Salt water Nitrite Test- 0.0 - 3.3 mg/l- 75 tests A-7845 Hagen Test Kit - Nitrate-For Fresh and Salt Water- 0.0 - 110.0 mg/l-80 tests A-7815 Hagen Test Kit - pH Wide Range 4.5 - 9.0- for Freshwater and Saltwater- 100 tests A-7830 Hagen Test Kit Carbonate and Total Hardness For Fresh and Salt Water <Sounds good.> From Feb 1 - Feb 10 (gone from 7 up to 17 Tablespoons of salt) Feb 14 - removed about 5 Tablespoons with 1/3 water change. Is losing 5 Tablespoons too shocking for fish? <Mm, possibly, the best way to gauge this is through using a hydrometer.... the SeaTest box-type is the only one that I know of that reads low enough for this purpose (the new Marineland one might, as well).  I would not add it back at this point, though, as he's already acclimated to the lower salt level - that's certainly better than going up and down quickly & repeatedly.> So I figure that there is about 12 Tablespoons of salt left in the tank, unless she has changed some more water since. I hope that if she has already done a large 80% or so water change, she will read your email soon and add some salt so the fish is not shocked by the change in salinity. If she has changed close to 80%, that removes 9 1/2 tablespoons of salt? leaving us with 2 1/5 Tablespoons in tank? She should add how much salt? Maybe 4 Tablespoons? <Again, if the fish has had time to acclimate, I would not add any back.> If the water readings are okay, we will continue to change a small amount everyday until about 2 Tablespoons are left. Maybe adding back half of what we take out? <Sounds good.... again, the best way to deal with this is using a hydrometer, so you can better understand how much salt is in there.  However, goldfish are such resilient fish, it is likely not necessary to be terribly accurate.> I'd better get off the computer in case she's trying to phone me. Thank you so much!! <Any time.> Teri <Wishing you and all well,  -Sabrina>  

Saltwater Goldfish?! - IV - 02/18/2004 Hello again <Hi, Teri!> Saturday Feb 14, as noted in "salty goldfish part III" we changed 1/3 water and did not add anymore salt. 12 Tablespoons left in tank. Added 2 capfuls of "Cycle" and changed the carbon filter. Tested water after this water change.  Ammonia 0-0.1, Nitrite 0.1-0.2, Nitrates 10. Lowering temperature from 80 degrees to eventually 74 degrees or less. <Wonderful.  Keep up with the water changes, please try to get ammonia and nitrite to zero.  What is the pH looking like?> Sunday Feb 15, the next day , she changed 15% of water and did not add salt. 10.2 Tablespoons still in tank. <Okay> Tuesday Feb 17. I tested the water - temperature at 76 degrees now, pH 8, ammonia 0.1, nitrites close to 0.1, nitrates 5. I suggested she change 30-40% of water, clean the carbon filter and add 1 tablespoon of salt. This would leave 7-8 tablespoons of salt in the tank. <Cool.  How big of a tank again?> Wednesday Feb 18 we will test the water again. I want the ammonia and nitrites to read 0, right? <Yes, exactly.  And try to keep nitrates less than 20ppm, which you are currently well under.> The fishes red fins looked better on Feb 4th after there were 12 tablespoons of salt in his tank and/or when water quality was finally better after changing 30% every 3 days. <Improvement in water quality is the likelier one, I wager.> They started to turn red again anywhere from or after Feb 7th after there was 14-17 tablespoons of salt in his tank and are still getting quite red again. Otherwise he's eating and acting quite normal. <Sounds good, except for the redness in the fins.  With lowering salinity and pH back to normal, and improving water quality, I expect this will subside.> So, I think I've concluded that the salt will help relieve stress from poor water quality only if the water quality is improved first. <Agreed.> It will not help if the water quality is poor, nor will it help keeping a bit of salt in the water to help prevent stress in a fish if the water accidentally gets bad. <Agreed, again.  Water quality is of paramount importance.> His fins turned red before we started removing any salt from his tank. I think I'm convinced that too much salt killed the good bacteria and caused bad water quality, but were these readings of ammonia and nitrite enough to redden his fins? <Yes.> Could the large amount of salt itself have caused stress and the return of the red fins? <Yes.  Or the heightened pH from the buffers in the marine salt.> He started to look better with the salt treatment before, would you advice leaving some salt in the tank for awhile to see if his red fins heal again after we correct the water quality? <I keep many/most of my freshwater tanks salted at a rate of one to two tablespoons per ten gallons of water.  You may wish to use a salt marketed for freshwater use, as this will not influence your pH.> Thank you so much again for reading this!! <Any time, really, glad to help in any way.> Teri, Karen and Salty Goldfish <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>  

Saltwater Goldfish?! - V - 02/23/2004 Hello Sabrina <Hi again, Teri!  Hope all is well.> My girlfriend phoned me Sunday Feb 22. The goldfishes fins are still red and getting worse. The dorsal fin has a red spot on it too. <Drat.  What are the water parameters at this time?> Seems we're starting all over again. He's still eating but darts around once in awhile. <Signs of irritation....  could just be the salt and water parameters, could be illness.> We've been changing about 20% of his water every other day. Salt in tank is approximately 6 Tablespoons now. <Forgive me, please refresh my memory - what size tank is it, again?> We are having someone pickup "Melafix" for us today. <Although I am quite skeptical at the effectiveness of this stuff, it is at least not harmful, and does seem to help speed up regeneration of damaged fins.> I'm also having him check on "Aquatronics" A 3 Kanacyn, A9 Nitrofura-G or A10 Furacyn. Do these antibiotics have both Nitrofurazone and Kanamycin in them? <No.  Kanacyn is Kanamycin sulfate, Furacyn is just Nitrofurazone, and Nitrofura-G is Furazolidone.  As far as I know, Spectrogram is the only Aquatronics med that combines both Nitrofurazone and Kanamycin.> What about other brands if we can't buy "Aquatronics" here? <There are certainly other brands/options.  The reason I recommend Aquatronics above others is simply due to their very wide selection of effective products.> You said "Aquatronics" antibiotics provides a mild treatment. <Indeed, they tend to have low (but still effective) dosages.> Nobody around here seems to carry Spectrogram; which I read has both Nitrofurazone & Kanamycin as active ingredients. I could order it through the mail if necessary though. <I do not believe it is utterly necessary to use that particular product....  My next preference would be either Kanacyn or Furacyn> They do all carry "Mardel" Maracyn 1 and Maracyn II, which I read can be used together without damage to the biological filter? <I would rather say little damage to biological bacteria; these are both pretty mild on our nitrifying pals.  HOWEVER,  I will not recommend using both Maracyn I and II at the same time.  It is not the nitrifying bacteria that I would fear for, but the fish.  I have tried twice to treat using both of these at the same time, once on a terribly ill fish, and once on a group of not-very-ill fish, and in both instances, the fish reacted horribly to having so much medication in the water, even only several minutes after adding the second med.  I will not repeat that procedure, and I will not recommend it to others.> You said you would not use them though. <Mm, yes, true, but don't take that to mean that these aren't good products.  The issue with them is that Maracyn I is erythromycin, which is only effective against gram-positive bacteria (that's bacteria that do have a cell wall), and Maracyn II is Minocycline, which is only effective against gram-negative bacteria (that's bacteria that do *not* have a cell wall).  I don't like to recommend these unless the person asking is very, very positive of what illness (and therefore, what bacteria) they are dealing with; if the bacteria is misdiagnosed, and the person uses the wrong one, it will be completely ineffective, and the fish is out of luck.  I will never recommend using both Maracyn I and Maracyn II at the same time, as above.> I don't think they contain Nitrofurazone & Kanamycin? <Correct, as above.> If we decide to use an antibiotic and I finally understand which one to use, is there any precautions? <Follow the directions, to the letter.  When treating, keep in mind that a ten gallon tank with two inches of sand in the bottom is not containing ten gallons of water; try to account for water displaced by decor and substrate.  Some medications are safe to overdose (or even double - or triple - dose) and some are safe to use in conjunction with certain others.> What do we do about the biological filter? Do we have to re-cycle the tank again after treatment? <Depends upon what med you use.  I would still recommend Spectrogram (Kanamycin & Nitrofurazone); failing that, I would recommend Kanacyn (Kanamycin).  There are several other antibiotics available that would be effective as well; these are simply what I have had wonderful results with, especially in treating goldfish.  They are also very, very mild on biological filtration.> What about the dissolved oxygen level in the water? Medications "antibiotics" lower the level, right? <If you do not have a test kit for oxygen, you can add an airstone to the tank if you feel it necessary.  The goldie would probably enjoy that, as well.  Otherwise, do keep an eye on the fish for labored breathing.> Should we have left the temperature closer to 80 degrees if he was not healing? Its at about 76 degrees now. <I would (slowly) drop the temp further; high temps will increase the rate at which bacteria multiply.  Plus, with lower temps, there are higher levels of dissolved O2.  And on top of that, goldfish prefer cooler water; it might make him feel a bit better.> I know his symptoms were getting better after the salt treatment, water changes, the temperature at 80 degrees and then started to reappear at the highest level of salt, even after same amount of water changes and before we started to lower the temperature. <If it were me, I might seriously consider medicating at this point.  I have always had goldfish respond very well to Kanamycin and (although I am skeptical as to its abilities) MelaFix.  These can safely be used together.  The Aquatronics' dose for Kanamycin in Kanacyn is low enough, you need not make adjustments as to exact volume of water (for example, one whole capsule for one ten gallon tank).> Anyways, I will observe goldfish today and see what his fins look like. You know they never really looked like "fin rot". Does losing pieces of his tail fins, like he did 2 weeks ago, mean he has "fin rot"? <It could be a strong indicator.  So far, it does sound possibly like a bacterial issue; I have not seen anything in your emails that would indicate parasitic problems to me.  Though the fish may simply be irritated by the water parameters and salt, I think I would medicate.  A photograph of the fish's affected fins would be great, if you can provide it.> I should keep my questions to a minimum, heh? <No, not at all!  Truly, I am glad to help....  the more I can help, the better.  I'm glad you are so eager to know more about your fish.  I can recommend some good titles on fish health, if you're interested?> Oh well, the whole picture is getting clearer thanks to you!!  Teri <Glad to hear it.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>  

Saltwater Goldfish?! - VI - 02/28/2004 Hello Sabrina <Hi, Teri!> Me again! <No, not you again!  Just kidding.  ;) > I want to try to make this as short as possible. <Not necessary....  do feel free to take your time, be as lengthy as necessary.> We have a 10 gallon tank and I have attached "Our Goldfish Daily Record" and pictures of our fish. <Yes, thank you, the pics are immensely helpful.  By the way, *excellent* record keeping.> As you can see we have not used "Melafix" or "Antibiotics" yet.   <I would do so....  It looks to me that you might be dealing with fin rot, from the pics.> Please excuse our figuring on the salt levels left in tank. We did not buy a tool to measure the salt accurately. Aquatronics products are no longer sold in Canada? <Mm, didn't realize you were in Canada.  Or more likely, I did, and I forgot.  And again, Aquatronics are certainly not the only product available to use; I usually recommend them as they are usually very available locally in the US, and have a very broad selection.  There are certainly other good products out there!> I could order them online. I did purchase an antibiotic though. I have attached a page on this "Seachem" product.   <The "Kanaplex", yes?  This would be absolutely fine.  I didn't realize Seachem sold antibiotics other than Metronidazole....  this is good to know!> As you will see, our water tests are finally great. Not sure about pH though?   <A pH of 8.0 can be quite irritating for goldfish.  What is the pH from your tapwater (or whatever source water you use for the tank)?  Do please start using a salt marketed for freshwater use as you do water changes to replace the saltwater mix.  It will lack the buffers of the saltwater mix that is causing your pH to stay high.> We were getting ready to start treatments with Melafix and/or Antibiotics, but now we're more concerned about the scratching, darting. <Quite likely attributable to the high pH.  Do keep your eyes open, though, be on the lookout for any other developments, like ich.  Again, I think this is a result of the irritation from the high pH.  My pond fish show these signs in the summer when our tap water jumps up in pH (from 8.3 in the winter to 9.2(!!) in the summer) if I have not tested the tap and become aware of the pH issue before a water change in the pond.> I will change about 20% water Thursday morning because I there's poop on the bottom and his filter is plugged up again with brownie wastes. Wish me luck! <Good luck!> Karen's not home till Friday and I hope fishy doesn't decide to jump out!! He probably won't. I'm being paranoid!! Its getting a bit frustrating isn't it?   <It is always frustrating dealing with sick fish.  Don't worry, you're not alone in this.> Thank you for reading and looking at all this. <Any time.> And again thanks for all your help. <One last comment/suggestion:  I assume the pics are of fishy's permanent home, yes?  It would probably make him feel better and safer if he had a couple spots to hide if he felt necessary.  A couple of fake plants and a (new, clean) terracotta flowerpot would make him quite at home.  Once you're done helping him get healthy again, I would very strongly recommend getting some greens in his diet; a few pieces of Anacharis/elodea (a water plant that goldfish like to eat) would make him quite happy, I'm sure.  Also, shelled peas, blanched veggies like zucchini, cucumber, or spinach would be a good supplement.  There are also some good frozen veggie foods, like Ocean Nutrition's "Formula Two", that you can find at the fish store.  Keep in mind, these fish are vegetarians by nature, and unfortunately, a diet of only pelleted or flake foods can lead to some health complications, like constipation and bloating.  Adding some plant matter into his diet will prevent this (and taste yummy, too).> Teri & Fishy <Do please keep in touch!  Wishing you, Fishy, et al well,  -Sabrina>  

Saltwater Goldfish?! - VII - 03/07/2004 Hello Sabrina <Hello, Teri!> Thank you again for your reply on February 28th. <You bet.> My computer was down for a few days, so I couldn't send you a update until now. <No problem.> The last record I sent to you ended on Wednesday Feb. 25 with fish darting around on the bottom of tank off and on. Can't remember if I told you that the red spot on her dorsal fin was gone and that the part of her upper tail fin that fell off a couple of weeks ago is starting to grow back. <Ah, wonderful news, for sure!> Thursday Feb 26 - fish seemed pretty normal this morning. Didn't jump the tank, thank god!!  Water readings perfect. pH still at 8. Temperature 76 degrees. Changed 25% water (4 days since last change). I am babysitting her today so I did not spend all day with her but when I checked her this afternoon and this evening, she wasn't doing any darting around. Did notice she was holding her body vertically up with head towards the water return once in a while. She really seemed to like swimming under the new water I was pouring in. <Fish that are having (or recovering from) some sort of irritation will certainly do this.  It probably feels good to have the water flowing on and around them, soothes their itchin'.> Friday Feb 27 - Karen was back home and said fish was darting around the tank this evening quite hard. <Uh, please forgive me, I'm having a huge brainfart.  I've probably asked this, but as it is an incredibly important issue, I will kick myself if I don't confirm - are you using a dechlorinator when you do water changes?  Something that removes both "chlorine" and "chloramine"?> Saturday Feb 28 - fish still darting around once in awhile. Water looking a little cloudy. Water readings still good though pH is hard to read on color chart, but I think its gone down to about 7.9?  Sunday Feb 29 - fish still darting around. Not hanging out by water flow now. Water readings - pH the same, ammonia 0.1, nitrites 0.2, nitrates 5. Water cloudier than yesterday. Mostly because of white slimy stuff from her fins. <How are those fins lookin'?  Any better?> Did a 30% water change and added weekly dose of "cycle".  We're surprised she hasn't hurt herself from her strong darts across the tank!  Monday Mar 1 - removed carbon from filter cartridge, added 1 teaspoon of "Melafix" Temperature now at 75 degrees.  Tuesday Mar 2 - Karen wasn't comfortable with all the brown mucky stuff on gravel and rocks (which the tank has always gotten for years now) so she decided to take the gravel out (not the fish) and clean it and also cleaned the glass inside. She usually does this once in a while. <Yikes - huge tank cleanings like this will completely wipe out the nitrifying bacteria that we need in our tanks!  Siphoning the gravel using a gravel vacuum will remove detritus from the gravel.  If the gravel is too large to vacuum, I would recommend (slowly) replacing with a smaller grade gravel.  It should never be necessary to completely clean the tank.> She then added 1 Tablespoon of "Freshwater Aquarium Salt" and 2 teaspoons of "Melafix". Figure we didn't have anymore than maybe 1 Tablespoon of "sea salt" left in tank by now. <Sounds great.> Wednesday Mar 3 - fish seems very happy. She's does a few fast swims back and forth sometimes, but no hard darting back and forth! We were very happy!! We are lowering her temperature to 74 over the next 12 hours. <I'm sure those cooler temperatures are feeling good by now!> Will continue to add 1 teaspoon of "Melafix" daily to her tank until Monday (7 days of treatment). Might have to do another water change again before Monday, but we'll just adjust the dosage of "Melafix" somehow. <Exactly.  Just compensate for the amount removed in the water change.> Parts of her tail fins are still bright red, so if the good water quality and/or "Melafix" doesn't clear it up, we'll use the Kanaplex antibiotics. <Sounds like a plan.  Uh, I'm still curious on the dechlorinator issue....> Thank you for all your advice on the fishies home and diet. We are looking into getting a 20 gallon tank for her, so we can add some more decorations to her home. <Oh, wonderful!!> Terracotta pot is a great idea! Karen used to have a lot more rocks and decorations in this tank,  but when the fish got bigger she removed them. She mainly feeds her green pellets but does give her shelled peas and some frozen bloodworms once in awhile. Fishy loves them. Thanks for the other food idea's! <You betcha.> Please let me know what you think or if you have any further suggestions for us and fishy. I'll keep in touch and let you know what's happening. <Please do.> Teri, Karen & Fishy <Wishing you all well,  -Sabrina>  

Saltwater Goldfish?! - VIII & IX - 03/15/2004 Hi Sabrina <Hi again, Terri!> Yes, we do use AquaPlus which claims to take care of any "chlorine" and "chloramine" in the water. <Ah, whew!  What great relief.> We've been adding 1 teaspoon of Melafix every day now for 7 days with one water change in-between of 25%. We did leave the filter cartridge in the pump but removed the carbon from the filter for this week, so that the foamy material would still catch any debris from the tank. The pH is still around 8 and ammonia and nitrite have been kept at 0. Nitrates are also low. Figure we have about 2 Tbls of aquarium salt in tank. The temperature is now at 74 degrees. <Yay, better and better.> Her fins are looking better and she's eating well, but yesterday on her 7th day of Melafix treatment, I noticed that about 15 minutes after I added Melafix, she shook or shivered a bit and then did a few darts on the bottom of tank. Didn't notice her doing anything weird after that, but then I am just babysitting again and was only with her again for a half hour this evening to feed her. <It could be that the MelaFix is slightly irritating.  I'm not a fan of the stuff, but I've never had any negative effects from it.  I don't doubt, though, that the fish might find it irritating.> On the Melafix bottle it says that "Treatment can be continued if necessary" So I will change 25% of water today, March 8th, and add more Melafix, to keep it at 7 teaspoons for maybe another 2 days or so? I'm not sure if they mean to add another teaspoon (increasing the dose each continuing day)  or to leave it at 7 teaspoons for the extra days? Any idea how long we should continue Melafix? <Mm, that's pretty much up to you....  I am still very, very skeptical of its claims, but as I said, I've not seen any ill effects from it, either.  If you have reason to believe it is irritating your fish, I would discontinue use.  If you see what seems to be improvement, and feel like you can attribute that to the MelaFix, well, keep goin'.> Thanks again for keeping in touch and reading all this! Your information has helped us along so much!! <You betcha.  And sorry for the delay in this reply.> Teri, Karen & Fishy ------------------- Hello again Sabrina <Hello again, indeed :) > March 8th - I tested the fishy's water, pH 7.9, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 3-4. <Yahoo!> Temperature 74 degrees. Fish was acting normal and ate. I changed 25% of his water (4 days since last change). <Excellent.> Even if the biological filter is working fine we're worried the water might get bad because there's no carbon in the filter. Anyways, again like yesterday in a cup, I mixed 1 1/2 teaspoons of Melafix with some of his tank water and poured it in slowly. Day 7 we had 7 teaspoons of Melafix in her tank and today, day 8 we will keep it at 7 teaspoons. <By number of teaspoons, I do assume you mean by following the directions of one teaspoon daily, yes?> Well she did the same thing today as yesterday. After about 5 minutes of adding the Melafix, she darted around and her dorsal fin was down. <Yeah, it does sound like the MelaFix might be irritating the fish.> She settled down after about 15 minutes and I left the house. Oh yeah, I did add 1 teaspoon of salt to keep the level at about 2 Tablespoons. But this same flashing occurred yesterday without the addition of salt. <I think, from how you describe, that you can attribute it to the MelaFix.> Karen's not home, so I will check on fishy in a few hours from now.  You know of any problems using Melafix? Maybe I shouldn't keep it in her water anymore? <As above, I have not seen ill effects from it, myself.  I do not doubt, though, that the fish might find it irritating.  If it were me, I would probably discontinue using it after seeing what you've described, unless I were seeing very noticeable improvement.> Thanks again <Any time.> Teri, Karen & Fishy <Please do keep us updated.  Wishing Fishy a speedy and complete recovery,  -Sabrina>  

Saltwater Goldfish?! - X - 03/16/2004 Hello Sabrina <Hi, Terri!> Thanks for your reply again!! <My pleasure.> Well after adding 1 teaspoon of Melafix daily for 7 a days, we decided not to up the dose but did leave this amount in her tank for another 5 days. Then changed 25% of water and put filter with carbon back in. Didn't add any more salt or Melafix. There still might be close to 2 Tablespoons of salt in tank. <Sounds fine.> Karen says fishy is doing well and seems happy. Haven't noticed any darting around. <Wonderful.> The only concern Karen has is the red part at the bottom end of fishy's fin. This is the only red part left. We think it might just fall off like the one above did a few weeks ago. Except this caused her water to get real stinky and cloudy because it happened during the night. I might have to take some more pictures of her to send to you. <If you could, that'd be great.> The  top part of back fin has already grown back about 1 inch! <Excellent, I'm so glad to hear that!> Her water is looking really clean and still tests perfect. We might now consider changing 30% of her water once a week like we used to? <This would definitely be a good idea.> We still have the Kanaplex antibiotics but are very hesitate to use them because of her age and the way she acted with the Melafix? <I have not had any fish react poorly to a low dosage of Kanamycin - including sensitive scaleless fish.  I doubt that it would harm your goldie.  However, from the sound of it, she's well on the rebound, in which case, medication should be unnecessary.> Oh my, what a 2 months with fishy. Poor thing, with her overfeeding, dirty water and extended salt bath. Lucky she's a hardy one! <Yup!  Amazing how durable our fish can be, at times.  I think you need to give yourselves a pat on the back for being able to do so much and so well for your scaly bud.> And we're happy that she's now happy. <Me, too.> Please keep in touch. <You bet.  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance, and do keep us updated!> Thank you,  Teri, Karen & Fishy <Any time - I'm delighted to have been of service.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>  

Tiny Overstocked "Tank"  3/4/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> A friend of mine has this 2 1/2 gallon tank. In it there is three goldfish and one algae eater. The water is so milky and after they do a full water change it turns milky within a couple of hours. Tested water all seems fine. What could be done to help it. <1st of all there are way too many fish in there.  The only fish that could possible live in a tank that size, would be a Betta, or a few small white clouds (like 3).  A small goldfish needs at least 10 gal/fish & they can grow over 12" each.  Every time you are completely cleaning out the tank, you are causing it to recycle all over again.  Do a search on WetWebMedia on cycling a tank.  Please get a much bigger tank for all those fish.  It's ok to be removing a lot of the water every week, because goldfish are messy fish, but you should not be removing everything out of the tank to clean it.  Just remove 80% of the water (leave the fish in) & clean the gravel with a gravel cleaner every week.  Make sure to add Dechlor & use the same temperature water that is in the tank.>   Thank you Georgia Luce <You're welcome.  ~PP>  

Goldfish and Water Quality Hi, <Hello.> I own a Oranda/Lionhead (can't tell which species exactly) and I've just noticed (since an hour ago) that he appears to have some redder than normal red spots on his bubbly head. These are probably indications of blood, perhaps an outbreak; he also seems to have a lot of red streaks in his fins. <Signs of irritation, usually due to inappropriate water quality - do please test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH, correct with water changes if necessary.> Usually, he is a very happy swimmer, always upbeat and eager to be fed. Even recently, I haven't seen any abnormal behavior changes, until today. During feeding time, he didn't seem too excited about the food, and kept dawdling around near the middle of the tank. I am terribly worried about what kind of disease/condition he has come up with, as he is a very fond member of our family. <This definitely sounds like he's just having trouble with the water quality....  please test, let us know how it comes out.> Normally, he lives in a 50-gallon tank (estimation) with 8 other goldfish (not Lionheads). To give you a rough estimate of how big the tank is, the dimensions are apprx. : 4 ' long, 1.5' tall (height), 1' width. <Sounds like a standard 55 gallon tank.  Nine goldfish is quite a lot of goldfish in this tank; goldfish are really, really messy eaters (er, they poop a lot).> I change the water usually every other week, as I know that ammonia levels can add up (lost a number of fish due to this). <I can imagine so.  I would recommend weekly water changes, if at all possible, and some very hefty filtration.> I haven't recently checked the pH, ammonia level/other chemical levels for awhile, as I assume that the water changing automatically makes the tank water suitable for the fish. <Not a safe assumption, unfortunately; testing for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH is the only way we are able to get a real feel for what's going on in the tank.  And, when in doubt, water changes *never* hurt.> Back to the Lionhead fish issue, I was hoping you could give me a vague diagnosis of several diseases he could possibly have and what types of treatments are available. <Mm, although there are other slight possibilities, I'm fairly confidant that the problem here is simply water quality.  Fortunately, that's an easy thing to fix!> Thank you so much! <Any time.> By the way, I have already started to put him in a "medication/hospital tank" to prevent the spread of disease and to help with treatment. <Likely unnecessary....  I would test your water first (might be a good idea to make that your first step, whenever anything seems amiss), then, if everything checks out perfect (ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate ideally less than 20ppm, likely higher with so many goldfish in the tank), then we should start exploring other avenues.> I've given him a tablespoon of salt for his 1-gallon make-shift tank. <That's a little bit much for a one gallon tank; I wouldn't use more than a teaspoon or two.  Not a big deal, really, though.> Again, I would be most grateful if you could provide any advice or information whatsoever. <So please check your water, and get back to us; I'll be glad to be of further assistance.> Alice <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>  

Goldfish and Water Quality - II - 03/07/2004 Hello Again, <Hello.> My Oranda seems to have recovered from his previous "streaky-finnage" (streaks on his fins) and blood hemorrhaging on his head. I took him out of his 1-gallon hospital tank today, and put him in his original tank (with the other nine fish). He seems to be fairly happy and well-off, with only a few remaining red streaks on the very tip of his dorsal tail.   <Good to hear that.> The pH of my aquarium turned out to be 7, the NH3/NH4 level turned out to be 0, and I didn't check the nitrite/nitrate levels.   <Please do make a habit of testing nitrite, at least - it should be considered as toxic as ammonia.  Nitrate, though not quite as much of an issue should still be monitored, and kept below 20ppm, ideally.> Thanks for your help!  Alice <Any time, glad to be of service!  -Sabrina>  

Goldfish and well water -II Gwen, I purchased some dip sticks to test my water the pH was very high at over 8.2. I put in some pH balance "fizz tablets", tested it again, and it was still high. We have well water, but have a water softener also. For as long as I have had fish, I always bypassed the water softener and used hard water to fill my tanks. Am I correct in doing this? Soft water contains salt and is harmful to the fish, correct? Well I went to the market and bought gallon jugs of distilled water and added water conditioner to it to fill my tank. Noah and another smaller goldfish seem to be a lot happier and healthier. They are both swimming around nicely, but I fear that it may be too late for another one of my smaller goldfish. She seems to be close to expiring. I don't understand why, I never had water problems before, and am having them now. Any ideas? Please let me know if I am on the right track or not. Thank you for all your help thus far.  <<Christina, I am not sure if you are doing the wrong thing or not. It depends on how your fish are doing. Goldfish can tolerate a high pH, but they don't like fluctuations in pH, or toxins like ammonia, nitrites, or high nitrates. Soft water is perfectly acceptable, some species prefer a low pH, like discus, and some prefer a high pH, like African cichlids. It just depends on the species. What I do recommend is that you test your pH on a regular basis, to determine if the pH of your well water is stable or not. Diluting it with distilled water is acceptable also, so long as you are making sure that the proportion of dilution is always the same, and therefore the pH is always exactly the same when you do water changes. In other words, if you have put aside 5 gallons of well water at 8.2, and you add 2.5 gallons of distilled water, you should bring the pH down to, well, let's just say you test it and now it reads 7.6. So, each time you do a water change, you know that you must dilute your well water 50% in order to have a stable pH of 7.6. BUT if your well water pH fluctuates, then you will have to change the dilution ratio accordingly.. Make sense? Hope this helps -Gwen>> 

Goldfish and Water Quality - 04/13/2004  Hi,  <Hello, Sabrina here, today.>  I have a very large goldfish (he is the only fish in his tank). He started to get Finrot over two weeks ago. When I tested the water, the ammonia levels were extremely high and the PH levels were very low.  <Yikes! I think it probably goes without saying, but I will say anyway, please test your water on a regular basis. Perhaps with every water change, 20/20 hindsight, I know, and I know you've learned that lesson, but just wanted to make sure you realized.>  I quarantined him for three days and treated him with medication and changed the water in his aquarium. All the tests were fine then. From the time he has been sick until yesterday, he has been lying on the bottom on his side and moves his body across the bottom of the tank. I have been treating the tank with Melafix for the last four days.  <I, personally, do not hold a high opinion of Melafix. Though it does not seem to cause any ill effects, I am not convinced that it does anything good, either. Anyhow, that's pretty much irrelevant at the moment, so.... moving on....>  As of yesterday morning, the fish constantly sits upright on the bottom of the tank and is very alert. His fins are a little better, but definitely no worse.  <Good news, for sure.>  However, he has a lot of brown spots on him. I read that this can be seen when a fish is starting to recover from ammonia burns.  <Agreed; often one will see brownish hue in the fins, where they were red/inflamed/bloody before, from the ammonia.>  The problem is he still isn't swimming and most importantly, he hasn't eaten for 10 days.  <YIKES.>  I don't know what else to do for him. Are there any suggestions?  <Certainly. What have you tried feeding him? I would definitely offer him some greens, like thawed frozen peas (squeeze the shell off, first), blanched cucumber/zucchini, or other goodies. I used to give my goldies asparagus as a kid, just to get the stuff off my plate.... win-win situation, that was. As for the lingering problems from the ammonia, I would like to recommend keeping the tank *VERY* well aerated, first and foremost. The damage you see on his outside is representative of the more dangerous damage to his gills; vigorous aeration may increase his activity level, if he's currently stressed from laboring too much just to breathe. If you are still very concerned about ammonia burns, and feel that it is necessary to medicate, I would try Nitrofurazone ("Furacyn", by Aquatronics, for one proprietary name). This is a very mild med, and supposed to help with issues from ammonia poisoning. I would not medicate, though, until after seeing if vigorous aeration and tasty veggies don't bring him about.>  Thanks.  <You betcha. Good luck with your goldie, and please feel free to write in for further assistance, or if you wish to update us on his progress. Wishing you well, -Sabrina> 

Goldfish help Hello. I have just finished reading several of your articles, but still have some questions. Help! I have had a 20gal tank for a couple of years now. I have gone through several tropical species and have learned a lot through trial and error. Well, finally I thought my tank was going to be set when I got 2 fantail goldfish. For a few months, everything seemed fine, though I noticed that they dirtied up the tank a lot more than my other fish ever did. Anyway, about two weeks ago my water started getting cloudy, so I did a water change and even added an ammonia removal media to my filter. I am really struggling with my water quality. The PH is really low and I can't get it up and stay there. And no matter what I put in it, the ammonia levels stay above 2ppm. As you can guess, one of my fish died. I did another water change, but the ammonia levels are still off the charts. Now, if it doesn't die that is, I have one lone fish. Once I get the water stable, should I add another goldfish? He already looks so lonely. Currently, he is 4 inches. I need some advice on both points. Could my struggle with the water quality be due to the gravel - I read somewhere that goldfish tanks should not have gravel? Should I clean it more often than every other week? Was 2 four-inch goldfish simply too many for a 20gal tank? Thanks Jamie < Don't add any more fish until you get your tank chemistry under control. First is the ammonia. It should read zero. Don't feed for awhile. Vacuum the gravel with a 30% water change and get all the junk out of there. Gravel is fine if it is cleaned. Check the ammonia again. If you still get a reading then service the filter. Get the ammonia levels down to zero with water changes or ammonia removal media. When you have a zero reading then you can feed your fish only enough food that it will eat it all in a couple of minutes. Overfeeding is a major cause of ammonia problems. The ammonia should then be converted to nitrites and then nitrates. The ammonia and nitrite levels should read zero. Nitrates should be no higher than 25 ppm. - Chuck>   

Oranda and Indianapolis water Hello! <Hi there>       Just needed to ask a quick question, first the info... I have recently set up a 10 gal tank in the office for 1 juvenile (1 1/2" w/o tail) Red Cap Telescope Oranda (cute!). <Very cute, was just given one just like it as a birthday gift for my office tank!  Delightful and beautiful fish.> After using a de-toxifier for our chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia in the water, I let the tank sit for a few weeks with the power filter and aerator running. <Good man!  I see many people simply get a tank and fish and put them together at the same time.  Letting the tank sit and run is one of the best things you can do for the long term health of the fish!> I added Bio-Spira along with the fish to the tank 6 days ago. Fish is happy, swimming and eating and looks great. <Congrats>       From the beginning I have had daily test results of .25-.5ppm ammonia (same as the water source), and no nitrites, and nitrates at 20-25ppm (again same as water source) PH is 7.6-7.7. <Not unusual in city water settings.  Takes a little bit of extra work to get things to stay balanced, but nothing too hard.> Water did get a bit hazy and bubbles would collect on the surface after I fed flake food instead of the sinking pellets, <flake food breaks down a bit quicker in the water than the sinking pellets it adds extra nutrients and such to the water which feeds the bacteria.  Just be sure to not over feed the tank, only feed what the fish can eat in few minutes.  If possible you can offer really small meals throughout the day rather than a large meal all at once.> did a 25% treated water change on day 5 by vacuuming the gravel and it helped a bit (not gotten worse since). <Keep up with this, since your city water is not the best to start with you will probably have to do water changes quite frequently.  Also since the fish is only in a ten gallon tank, the water quality can get bad quickly since goldfish produce such a great amount of waste and ammonia.>       I was wondering - after these days of feeding 2x daily would the chemical tests be indicating that the Bio-Spira worked and I have a cycled tank, or is it too early to tell? I have not seen an increase in ammonia nor nitrate levels over what is in our wonderful municipal water originally, and would expect to have seen that by now if it were going to happen. Am I correct in my thinking? <You are correct; at least that is what I'm thinking.  I doubt you should have any problems provided you don't over feed the tank and you keep up on the water changes.> I will be testing daily for several weeks anyway. Also, is the level of ammonia present (.5ppm) in our water supply stressful to the fish at all after I add a ammonia Detox? <It's kind of a debatable topic.  I say it is slightly stressful, but you are adding a detoxifier in the water so it shouldn't be that bad.  Also goldfish are pretty hardy fish.  I had fish in water very similar in my previous office and they became accustomed to it and thrived for many years.  I did notice that their growth was a bit slower than the ones at my home (luckily natural spring water bubbles up out of the ground at my house).  Just realize that you should test at least once or twice a week as the months go on.  Gradually you should get the hang of the system and only need to test sparingly.  But, I don't foresee any extremely bad situations happening.>       If the level of ammonia does indeed go up- at what level (ppm) should I do a sizable water change for the safety of the fish (considering my water already shows at .5ppm)? <If your levels do become quite high you shouldn't do a massive change at once.  Do small ones every day rather than a 50-70% water change.  I find this is less stressful on the fish and less likely for them to possibly get ill.   But, if the levels get around 1.5ppm I would be concerned and getting them down.  Over 2.5ppm then I would be very worried.> Thanks for all your help and the great information on your website. <Glad we can be of help!  That is what we are here for. -Magnus>  

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