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FAQs About Goldfish Systems 8

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

Related FAQs:  Goldfish Systems 1, Goldfish Systems 2, Goldfish Systems 3, Goldfish Systems 4, Goldfish Systems 5, Goldfish Systems 6, Goldfish Systems 7, Goldfish Systems 9, & FAQs on Goldfish System: Tanks (Size, Shape...), Lighting/Tops, Decor, Gravel, Plantings, Heating/Temperature, Aeration/Circulation, Filtration, Water Quality (Algae, Smell, Cloudiness... Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Nitrogen Cycling), Maintenance, Trouble/Fixing, & Goldfish 1, Goldfish Behavior, Goldfish Compatibility, Goldfish Feeding, Goldfish DiseaseGoldfish Breeding/Reproduction

Hi, just a couple of questions about Goldfish, please... Sys., beh. mostly    8/26/07 Hi! You really have a great website! <<Hello, Kim. Tom here.>> I just have a couple of questions. I have 2 black moors and a goldfish. <<Not being 'picky' about this at all, Kim, but your Moors are Goldfish, too. I understand the distinction you're making, though.>> I just changed out the rocks in their tank (I read the rocks could be bad for them) to sand & the moors have been lying on the bottom some. <<Goldfish do have a habit of picking up rocks, which can sometimes get stuck in their throats. From this standpoint, yes, rocks can be problematic for Goldfish.>> They still come up to eat immediately & don't look sick at all, so wondering if they are just sleeping? <<Goldfish aren't noted for sleeping on the bottom of their tanks. This behavior is usually associated more with some type of stressful situation/condition going on.>> Or if it is constipation- (they do look fat). They do eat like they are ravenous though, since I changed from flakes to worms. I don't really have the opportunity to watch my tank during the day, but I can't think of a time I've seen them poop. <<A high-quality Goldfish-blend of flakes shouldn't be causing constipation, Kim. The worms -- depending on what type of worms we're talking about -- might contribute to this, though. Greens in their diets should alleviate the problem as will brine shrimp, for what it's worth.>> I have two snails to help clean & the sand is white so I would be able to see it if there was some there. <<Well, you may have given us a clue here with the white sand. First, a white, or very light, colored substrate is unnatural for Goldfish (and a lot of other fish, as well). The light reflecting off of the bottom is disorienting for them. By that I mean that your fish tend to 'orient' themselves in the water by seeing 'light' above them and 'dark' below. When they see light above AND below, they lose their sense of positioning and become stressed, the same way you or I would if we had no sense of up from down.>> It has only been a week since I changed to sand though - maybe not enough time for build up. I tell you what - those snails really scour that tank though! So, should I try the Epsom salt for constipation (1T/5 gal) or would it hurt if there were no problems? Is lying on the bottom at all normal or should they just be swimming constantly? <<The Epsom salt can be effective as a saline laxative, Kim, but I'd rather see you try a variation in diet first. Moors as well as some of the other fancy-variety Goldfish have a naturally 'plump' appearance, anyway. Without a fair amount of experience with these fish, the difference between a fish that needs a membership at the gym and one that's legitimately bloated from constipation might be a tough call to make. I'd also like to see you purchase some black sand and try to darken up the substrate. Ideally, I'd really like to see you change this out completely to a dark substrate but it might be worth the trouble to see if a mix of the two is enough to alter your Moors' behaviors. Hanging out at the bottom of the tank is not normal for these fish so there's something here that needs to be fixed.>> FYI- I have been feeding them dehydrated worms lately. I have had a lot of trouble with the water changing colors/clouding (even when the label said it wouldn't) with other foods & can't really afford the expensive stuff online. I have been trying peas - which they ate - & romaine - which they didn't think too much of. <<Zucchini and spinach are a couple of other items you might try, Kim. Vegetable matter, at any rate, is the best way to go.>> Second question. My goldfish has been nudging the belly of one of the black moors, I don't know if this is bullying or trying to get her to spawn? <<More likely trying to get her to spawn rather than bullying her. Might also account for some plumpness in her belly if she's carrying eggs.>> We did have a slight change in water temperature, but not for a long period of time to encourage spawning. Not really trying to have babies, but that would be cute.......little tiny goldfish (: Let me know if I should trade the goldfish or give it to a friend and get another fancy one. <<One thing I don't know, Kim, is how large a tank your fish are in. If the 'Goldfish' is a Comet or Common variety, you require a much larger tank than you would for the smaller fancy varieties. Even with the two Moors and a 'Fancy', you'd really need a 40-gallon tank, or larger, to accommodate them long-term. Given ample room to grow and thrive, the move to trade/donate your Goldfish for another variety isn't something I would recommend one way or another. Kind of like telling you how to decorate your home if you see what I mean.>> Any help would be appreciated! <<Summing this all up, Kim, I would, first, darken up the substrate substantially. Second, keep experimenting with vegetables until you find some (the peas are good) that they'll take to regularly and, finally, evaluate the size of your tank to ensure that your fish have the appropriate amount of space. In this last regard, if your tank is 'small', i.e. less than 40 gallons, I'd move this upgrade higher up on the 'priority ladder' to avoid bigger problems.>> Thanks! Kim <<You're welcome, Kim. Good luck to you. Tom>>

Re: Hi, just a couple of questions about Goldfish, please...  Ongoing... Kim, Tom  -- 08/27/07 Thank you so very much for your time & expertise! <<Not a problem, Kim. Only so happy to assist.>> Is there some reason you don't care for giving fish away? Maybe the stress of the travel once again? <<That certainly factors in, Kim. The 'sentimental' side of me also likes to believe that folks become attached to their fish as they might with any other type of pet. Sometimes giving the fish up is the only positive action to take but I don't figure that I get 'paid' (cough, cough) for telling hobbyists to get rid of their fish unless there's clearly no other alternative.>> Gosh, after spending the money on the sand - it was expensive for aquarium sand ($26/ 1 gal or so) & not exactly easy to do the transformation. <<Exactly why I suggested trying to 'darken' the sand rather than another transformation, Kim. I'm for economic 'fixes' whenever possible. I'm sure that there are so-called 'cheap' alternatives to this. Driftwood, dark-colored decorations, flat rock or stones that you might create 'caves' with. Wander around a good LFS and you just might find something that catches your eye and allows you to create something of interest for both you and your fish. Anything that you think might break up the 'glare' off the bottom.>> I just get so worried about stressing them out. I've become pretty attached to those little ones. Although, I admit I really don't have the process down yet & maybe it is more me that is stressed out (; <<Get in line, Kim. The only hobbyists that don't 'stress', if only a little, are the ones who don't have a clue as to what they're doing. No guarantees in our hobby but we can 'hedge our bets' with research and knowledge.>> The reasoning behind the white sand is so I can see them better (now wish the pet stores didn't sell white if this is what happens - I didn't know). <<Depends on the fish you keep. Goldfish don't live in white-sand habitats. Many saltwater fish do. LFS's cater to a lot of different hobbyists. Was this something that you should have been aware of? No, it isn't. It's admittedly an 'obscure' piece of information but an important one, nonetheless. Now, you know and you can tuck this little tidbit away for the future. ;) >> I have fashioned a large glazed flower pot into a fish tank- LARGE flower pot (w/submersible filter, lights, etc) and the insides are dark & it is hard to see the moors in this atmosphere, though they are my favorites next to the calico. <<Not big enough, unfortunately, Kim. Your 'Calico' is a Shubunkin Goldfish, which is related to the Comets and Commons. Can grow to a foot in length. Your Black Moors will also need a larger environment unless your flower pot is capable of holding 30 gallons, or more, of water. My advice, if you're serious about your pets, is not to get 'cutesy' where their home is concerned. (We see this with Bettas, as a 'for instance', all the time.) Commit yourself to a 'real' aquarium where your pets will thrive and reach their full potential. They might come close to outliving me if you do it right. :) >> I will buy them some brine shrimp & keep trying on the veggies. Seems the peas, even after shelling, are a little to large for them to deal with. They eat them, but it takes awhile and one of the bigger moors doesn't really search the bottom, for food that is. Sure is tough to get the food in front of a Moors face sometimes, but it is fun when they eat out of my fingers. (: <<Kim, I've an Angelfish that has taught every one of my other little crumb-snatchers to push their noses against the front of the tank when they 'think' it's meal time. It's practically embarrassing! When I change the water, it's a circus! I feel like I just took them all to a Water Park, for Heaven's sake. Everybody wants to be in the 'flow'. Amazing to have that kind of 'connection' with creatures from such a different environment than our own. Very special. Please, keep me posted, Kim. My best. Tom>>

Re: Hi, just a couple of questions about Goldfish, please... sys.    8/30/07 <<Greetings, Kim.>> Large maybe flat rocks for the bottom is a good idea! Do you think I could stay with a lighter shade? <<I see a pattern here, Kim. :) Actually, I would prefer that you didn't stay with too light of a shade. In fact, the darker, the better. Breaking up the white sand substrate is what we're after here. Truth is, any light colored substrate/decor is likely to be just as problematic for your fish. I think I know what you have in mind but if darkening up the bottom of your tank doesn't work this way, we're back to 'square one' with the sand, which will have to go.>> What is an LFS? Large fish store? <<'Local Fish Store'.>> I don't have a calico now, but I have had one before. They are so pretty! <<Beautiful fish, indeed!>> Yea, maybe I will go to a real fish tank. Thinking about making one into a coffee table, maybe with a glass or acrylic top that is easily removed for feeding. <<Not to stifle your 'creativity', Kim, but are you aware of the differences in power that sound generates in water as opposed to air? Setting a cup down on the top of your 'coffee table' would sound like a thunder clap to your fish, if not worse. If you think the guys are stressed now'¦ (How did you plan on running power to a coffee table? You've got filtration and lighting to consider. What about humidity beneath the cover? What about simply sitting and enjoying your fish? Pretty tough if you have to lean over from the couch to see them.) ;) >> I mostly picked out the pot for the decor thing & thought it looked cool. It sits on the floor - it is about 15 gal - they seem to be happy in it. There are really large pots out there too 30-100 gal, but they are so huge, I don't know if I have the space for one that big. Have you ever seen a round fish tank? <<Not for a home setting, Kim. I've seen several in commercial buildings, though. Impressive, to say the least, but far too large for most residential applications.>> However, regardless of how cool the tank looks, they are still laying on the bottom under rock 'bridges' during the day /: So, I will look at bumping up to a larger tank. Is it a possibility that my pump is too strong & creating too much of a 'current' up top? <<No. The amount of filtration that Goldfish need is well beyond the norm, Kim. You don't want to look at the 'gallon' size that the filter is rated for as much as the 'gph' rating, i.e. how many gallon exchanges, per hour, your filter is capable of. The manufacturer's claims can be downsized by about 10%-15%, as well. Goldfish fanciers tend to shoot for 7-12 exchanges per hour as opposed to the more typical 4-5 exchanges per hour. Translated? Your filter, or combined filtration, should be rated for about 120 gph, minimally, for your current tank. Move up to a 40-gallon tank and you should be looking at 300+ gph. Though the 'Fancies' aren't what I would refer to as 'streamlined', they won't get bounced around in the current the way that other fish will.>> Yea, I am kind of a newbie to really taking care of my fish. Had some as a kid, but of course wasn't really an active participant in caring for them. I guess I will get better at it. Still, I don't want to hurt the little fellas, so my heart is in the right place. <<I know it is, Kim, which is why I'm trying to guide you away from any pitfalls I might see. Confidence comes with success and I'd rather see you take a more 'traditional' route here until you're comfortable.>> They liked the zucchini - any suggestions on how to feed it to them? <<Check out the 'LFS' and see if they have the little 'chip clip' holders with suction cups on them. I use a couple of these for my Sailfin Pleco and they work very well. Once you get the rocks, you can use a rubber band, or anything non-metallic, to hold a slice in place. (I place a slice under a piece of driftwood, too, which holds it in place quite nicely. He's ill-mannered when it comes to sharing his zucchini with his tank mates, though. I'm working on that. :) )>> They really didn't chew on the large piece, so I had to break it up into tiny bite sized pieces. Should I just leave a large piece in there & let them figure it out & pick at it? <<Yep. They'll figure it out, Kim. They aren't 'raspers' (my Pleco just hunkers down and starts chewing) but they'll get it.>> Your help is appreciated. Unfortunately the people at my PetSmart aren't as informed as you are & don't really seem to have the patience for questions. <<Goes hand-in-hand, Kim. I've rarely met anyone who was informed on a subject that wasn't willing to share his/her knowledge. Ask them something they REALLY know about and they'll let you draw a crowd!>> As many things go, it just takes time & a lot of research. <<Indeed. Understand, too, that Goldfish aren't the 'beginner' fish that many are led to believe. Much (too much) misinformation abounds regarding these fish. If I can emphasize one thing only, Kim, Goldfish need ROOM and lots of it. Give them that, and plenty of filtration, and most everything else kind of takes care of itself.>> Thanks so much Tom! <<You're more than welcome, Kim. Feel free to get back with any other concerns/questions you might have. My best to you. Tom>>

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>

Goldfish Transfer... systems mostly    8/15/07 This is the first time I've ever written a query here but i have read many of your answers and so I figured I'd see what, if any, helpful advice you might have. Just to warn you, this is the longest Ich question you will ever get (LOL) <Lo dudo> I've been keeping Goldies (and tropicals in other tanks... had Neons for a long time and now I'm getting some sort of livebearers) for about 10 years (with a three year break to have a baby !) I had always kept them in a 60 gallon tank in my Florida room. In the summer the water temp would get up to about 85-86 F but the winters were about 50 F.... in a way, mimicking the natural hot/cold of seasonal change (in Japan, the ponds routinely get that hot in summer... as long as they had shade the were fine with this <Agreed... the temp. in such large volumes does NOT change soon/quickly day to day though...> (this was about 5-6 years ago). I had some comets get to 7-8 inches and Chinese fantails that reached 6 inches.. Then we had a baby and I ended up giving the fish to a hotel with a large lobby pond, since with a new baby I simply did not have time or energy to take proper care of them. <Good to understand ones options, priorities and act on them responsibly> Now it's five years later, my baby is going to school soon so i began my "urban pond" again.... 2 calico Ryukins (Speedy and Wally) , 1 redcap Oranda (Oranda... not real original), 1 black moor ( Joe 2.0. Joe the first had a bad accident inside the filter... the cap over the inlet tube fell off and he was too tiny. ) and 1 gold fantail (Murray). The started out at about a half inch long, they were little babies... now all 5 are about 2 1/2-3 inches long. Let me tell you, Global Warming has gotten way worse than most ppl think... my "urban pond" started to get into the lower 90's !!!!!! We're talking Instant Stress Disease... one nipping fish (since removed to a new home) caused 4 out of 5 fish to develop tail rot... i don't know if fungal or bacterial but i was not about to wait until it became completely obvious (i.e. advanced) I treated them with MarOxy to prevent fungus, Maracyn 2 against bacteria and CopperSafe for parasites... I add MelaFix mostly for prevention of bacteria (not to treat) and it does help tissue regenerate faster... in 3 days they re-grew all the finnage. I know it was the heat... ph was 7.2, ammonia 0, nitrites 0 and nitrates a low 10 ppm. The antibiotics ate up the remaining oxygen in the water, which was heavily aerated by a HUGE filter (AquaClear 110) and a Penguin power jet; gasping on surface still ensued. So off i went to the store and blew all my birthday cash on a new indoor setup.... 35 gal and a new filter ( AquaClear 50) to seed so I can use the big filter in its original tank. Both filters are running together and i have split some of the old bacteria-full sponge into the new one... any advice as to how long until the new filter media is seeded? <With this move it may have been instantaneous... just do keep an eye (testing) for nitrogenous metabolites, and light feeding...> Instead of putting already stressed fish through even more of an ordeal, i set up my new tank using my old seasoned outside filter and their own tank water and decoration... only new addition were Myriophyllum and some Water Sprite plants to go with existing Ludwigia and elodeas... <Nice!> the reasoning here was putting them in same temp and letting it gradually cool inside with no other changes. The transfer has been a huge success so far, absolutely no problems or shock or anything. They seem much happier... so far, over four days they've gone from 93 F (YES I KNOW) to a nice 78... i imagine in another day or two we'll get them to about 75-74 (summer in Florida... this is how cold i can get the inside of the house. It being summer, I know they can take a little heat. In the winter the house gets to about 58-65... i know they will like this too. I realize the common wisdom is to keep them at 65 year-round.... but that is as artificial as a plastic plant. No pond in Japan is kept at 65 year round; they do not breed if there is no seasonal variation. <Agreed> Now, the water is even cleaner than it was before ( Ammonia Nitrites at 0, nitrates 5 ppm, ph 7.2), only my husband (who absolutely should have known better) put carbon in there without realizing it would remove some if not all of the CopperSafe. The Black Moor (only fish with this) has 2 Ich grains. I re-dosed with CopperSafe (to safe levels; there was some left over so i only put in half) Other than hoping this all works out, do you have any advice for me? Is there anything I have not already done? <Mmm, no...> I attached a picture of my set-up, before i planted the Myriophyllum and water sprite, only 64 Kb. Thank you very much, Carol L. <Very nice indeed. Thank you for sharing... Bob Fenner, who also keeps clay flowerpots in with his goldfish>

Goldfish mouth problem, sys. mostly    8/15/07 hi There, I will keep this short, as it is a long story, anyways I have rescued a tank of sick goldfish, they have Ick , so I am treating them with the salt and high heat, <Is a technique I employ as well> when I first got them they were all sitting on the bottom of the tank, probley, <?> because they were being fed two months of food per feeding, <!> after three days of having them two started swimming around, by the way, they are one, 3 inch Moor, a full grown moor, and a large 5 inch orange/white goldfish, the large black moor was bought and added to the tank and everybody came down with ick, anyways, for the past two days, they have all be out and swimming and looking quite improved, I am pleased, I have been up with them day and night, just to make sure they temperature was right, now that they have improved so much, some one told me to help with the healing to add Mela-fix, <I wouldn't... may impair your biofiltration. Won't do any good...> they are in a 20gal. <Too small...> so last night I added two tsps. now today I noticed the smaller black moor, is not so energetic, but the orange one keeps opening and closing his mouth and then stretching his mouth out, I see fish do this once in awhile, but he has been doing it a lot, I would really like to know what this means, it would be like if you puckered your lips, that's the best way I can explain it, I am wondering if this has anything to do with the Mela-fix. The water is alright, I have checked for everything, it is a newly set up tank, but has some water from the existing tank, it had high Nitrites, <Bingo> so I changed a 1/4 water yesterday and now they have gone down, I sure don't want to loose <lose> them, I have put so much work into saving them, but I really need to know what this opening and closing the mouth and then stretching it out means, once in awhile, I assume it's okay, but he's been doing it constantly all day. Thank you for any help you can offer Blessings Judy <Need more room, water changes... perhaps chemical filtrants, bacteria to re-establish biofiltration. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

My goldfish, sys. mostly     8/12/07 <<Hello, Michelle. Tom here.>> This is the first time that I have visited your website but I like the feedback that you give. <<Glad to hear it and welcome to the site.>> My question may seem very common but I just want to know your opinion. I have two common goldfish that we won at the fair in January. Learning to be a good fish owner is harder than I thought. <<Does take some work/research, Michelle.>> I started out with a 5 gallon tank, which they quickly outgrew and moved to a 10 gallon tank. My fish are about 2&1/2 and 3 & 1/2 inches (one is growing faster). I know that I will need to get a bigger tank for them eventually, but I cannot afford anything above a 10 gallon for now. <<Unfortunate but not insurmountable in the short run, Michelle.>> One problem is the water will not clear up. I set up the tank about 4 weeks ago and have been changing the water (about 20-30% twice a week), but it is getting pretty cloudy (kind of yellowish-orange). I add some water conditioner each time I do a water change, but we have well water, so maybe that is the problem? <<Could be part of the problem. Normally, there's two different types of water 'coloration' problems that we see with aquariums. Cloudy, whitish water is usually indicative of bacterial blooms while green water indicates an algae bloom. 'Yellowish-orange' water, in my experience, is water with a high ferrous (iron) content. In many cases, though, this comes from the pump and/or pipes more so than the water source itself. Were it coming from the water in your well source, you'd see this in your drinking/cooking water, etc., and would probably make a filter/purifier necessary for 'appearances' if nothing else.>> I didn't give the tank set up time, which I know now that I should, but they seemed to have survived ok. <<Time will be a better judge here, Michelle, but the fact that you were changing up to a third of the tank water each week was, undoubtedly, a benefit to your fish.>> The tank is not in direct sunlight ever, but there are two 25 watt bulbs (not fluorescent) on during the day which I turn off at night. <<Incandescent bulbs throw off a good deal of heat, which your Goldfish really don't need. If these are positioned directly over the tank, I'd suggest leaving these off particularly during this time of the year. Now, something else that's pretty obscure about lighting is that incandescent bulbs emit light higher in the red spectrum while fluorescent bulbs/tubes emit light higher in the blue spectrum. In short, colors don't appear quite the same under these two different lighting sources and it's possible that suspended minerals in the water are showing up more predominantly -- yellow/orange - under the incandescent lights than they would under fluorescent lighting. One more thought, though you don't mention having it, is that driftwood in a tank can leach tannic acid into the water giving the water a 'tea-like' color. May not apply to you, Michelle, but I'm throwing out possibilities for what they're worth.>> I feed them a pinch or two of goldfish flakes in the morning and at night. The filter is a Top Fin 10 and I also have a decoration that has some air flow that creates more aeration. <<Sounds good and I'd stay on top of the filter maintenance as well as the water changes, Michelle. The number of complete water exchanges that tanks require will vary somewhat based on the occupants but, generally, we like to see a filter capable of four-six exchanges per hour. In the case of Goldfish, I like to see seven+ exchanges per hour. For example, in your ten-gallon setup, your filter should be rated at 80 gph, or better. Something you'll probably want to keep in mind for the future.>> I just wanted to know if there is anything else I should be doing. I really love these fish and would like to keep them around for a while. Also, are two 25 watt bulbs too much for a 10 gallon tank? <<As I mentioned above, Michelle, I'd consider discontinuing using these if only because of the heat factor. This seems to be the biggest complaint from others who have the same lighting arrangement as you do.>> How long do you think it will be before they are desperate for a bigger tank? <<Ideally, Michelle, we like to see folks place their fish in tanks that they'll grow up in permanently. Kind of tough to convince people to start themselves off with a 50-gallon+ aquarium for a couple of tiny fish, though. The real issue here isn't so much that your fish will become 'desperate' for more room as much as what will transpire in the meantime. The rate of growth you observed in your fish early on will start to taper off as they 'outgrow' their 10-gallon tank. In other words, their growth will begin to become stunted. This will display itself most obviously in their lack of size relative to their full potential but can/will also affect the growth/development of their internal organs. The problem here, of course, is that since the outward growth of the fish slows, we tend to 'lull' ourselves into thinking that there's no need to hurry, if any need even exists. The 'need', if you will, exists now and, the sooner you can move your guys to an appropriately large tank, the better chance they'll have of avoiding health issues and ensuring them both of a long life. Keep in mind that you'll want some 'lead time' to cycle the tank before transferring your Goldfish so this should be factored into your future plans, too.>> I know this was a long question, but thanks for your time. Sincerely, Michelle <<Happy to share, Michelle. Good luck with your pets! Best regards. Tom>>

Hypochondriac owner? Goldfish sys.  8/9/07 Dear WWM, Unfortunately, when I went to the pet store a month ago, I saw two 1.5" (sans fins) double tails who looked very sad and dejected and overheard one of the shop girls telling another to, "write them off this afternoon". This sounded ominous and I can't stand the idea of animals being treated as products so I insisted on taking them (though the girl seemed to think I was pretty stupid). I also bought a 14 litre (3 gallon?) starter tank (I'm really sorry it's not bigger, but it cost every penny I had and since I'm a full-time PhD student, there isn't much hope of an upgrade in the near future). Anyway, the tank came with food, tap water conditioner, filter booster, gravel, two fake plants, and an Elite Mini filter which turns over the water approximately twenty times an hour and aerates at the same time (I actually think it might be a bit too powerful). I changed about two litres per day for the first week and Batfink really picked up, but Molefink's general sadness turned into what I suspect was a bacterial infection (blood-shot fins, blood-streaks on one operculum, flashing, patchy slime coat build-up, swimming at a slant) all of which cleared up about a week after I dosed the tank with Interpet Fungus and Finrot (it treats for Aeromonas and Pseudomonas bacteria). During that time I stopped the water changes to let the medicine take effect. However, as he recovered, Batfink developed whitespot, so the next day I changed 5 litres and quickly got Interpet Whitespot treatment, but that meant I couldn't change the water for a further week whilst that killed the ich. At that point I added 3 teaspoons of salt to combat both the ich and hope to reduce any nitrite poisoning issues. Batfink accordingly got better too; the spots dropped off but no more came back, and when the ich treatment had run its course, I did another 5 litre change, added a further teaspoon of salt, and managed to put some carbon foam into the filter to try to get rid of all the impurities and left-over medicine. Both seemed to be on the mend. Molefink especially, having been so ill first (I really thought he was going to die) is particularly lively and very excitable when people enter the room and will try to chew off my fingers (he won't do it for anyone else; it's incredibly childish but it really cheers me up when I'm buried under mounds of research) whilst Batfink is a bit shyer. In the past day, though, Batfink has started bottom-sitting, or hovering in a quiet corner. Her breathing is quite slow but if disturbed she gets up and swims about in a her usual manner, then after an hour or so, she'll go back to her corner. I've searched and searched the internet for 'bottom sitting', 'recovery', 'sleep/rest' (I was hoping, maybe in vain, that she's just resting or getting over her illness) but I don't think it's flukes because she isn't gasping and, as I've said, she only does it for maybe five minutes before she goes off to graze or pull the (fake) plants to pieces for the next hour or so. She isn't clamped up, I can't see any lesions or marks, her fins look clean and perked up, there don't appear to be parasites like lice on either of them and when food is put in they both get very giddy. (I'm feeding each a daily portion of flakes equivalent to the size of their eye on weekdays, then half a pea between them on the weekend, to try to keep the ammonia from spiking too much whilst the cycling completes). The two of them do occasionally square up to each other but there doesn't appear to be one extremely dominant, bullying fish; either will take a nip at the other if given the opportunity, though Batfink is just slightly bigger in mass. In summary, having brought them through all the first few weeks I'm desperately paranoid about any little sign and spend ages just watching and inspecting them from every angle. Since this bottom-sitting is a sudden, new behaviour I was alarmed that it might be the first symptom of yet another problem and if there was any general thing I might do to quickly catch it. I can only apologise again because I don't have a water test kit. The pet shop do sell them but they're very expensive so it's going to take me a couple of weeks to save up for one. I would be very grateful for any advice, and though I'll be devastated if you think I must rehome them with someone who can afford more things for them, well, if that's the honest truth then I'll do it. Regards, Molefink, Batfink and Claire(fink?) (in faraway, stiflingly warm Yorkshire, UK) <Hello Claire. When I were a lad, my father did something not too dissimilar to your story. I came home with my mother after grocery shopping to find a small aquarium on top of the cistern of the loo with the ugliest, most degenerate black moor goldfish you have ever seen. My father had seen this thing at the local market at one of the stalls, and was determined it should have a better existence that it was going through. To cut a long story short, "Sharkey", as this goldfish was named, lasted maybe a week before going belly up. Of course, this became the thin end of the wedge, and he graduated to a big goldfish tank, then tropicals, and eventually a reef tank. So be careful what you might have let yourself in for!!! Anyway, what you're doing basically sounds right. I will tell you (and I suspect you already know this) but a 14 litre tank isn't really a viable choice for goldfish in the long term. It's better than a bowl, of course, and if you do regular water changes (50% a week, at least) and avoid overfeeding, you can probably keep them reasonably healthy for a year or two. Now, I'll add some extra advice: skip the carbon and replace its space in the filter with more biological filter medium. Whatever good carbon does (marginal, to say the least) in a tank like yours managing the nitrogen cycle is several orders of magnitude more important. Weekly water changes will remove unwanted organic impurities better than carbon anyway. As for adding salt, I'm in too minds here. Generally, salt does no real good in the freshwater tank. But in your case, moderating nitrite and nitrate poisoning may be useful. I'd perhaps gradually reduce the dosage over the next few weeks or months, and see if there are any negatives effects from this. Goldfish are highly salt tolerant by freshwater fish standards, so the risk of causing damage by adding salt to the water is low where this species is concerned. As for the price of test kits: go buy the dip strip ones. In my part of England they cost about 10-12 pounds, but you get 20-25 strips, and you can slice them with a scalpel or equivalent right down the middle to double the number of strips. As a result, one package will last a very long time. These dip strips have pH, hardness, ammonia, nitrate, etc so are very useful. Since you're in Yorkshire, I'm assuming you have "rock hard" tap water, which is ideal for goldfish and should provide excellent pH buffering. So water chemistry is thankfully not an issue. Really, the only thing you need to work at is saving up for a bigger tank. Long term, goldfish get big, and a 14 litre tank just won't be viable a couple of years from now. Of course, by then you'll have your PhD, I trust, and be better able to afford the essentials in life, such as fish tanks. Cheers, Neale, who did his PhD in London ten years ago and kept apple snails and catfish in his office.>

Re: Hypochondriac owner? 8/9/07 Thank you very much, especially about the dip strips; that's a momentous relief. The only kit our shop sells is £75 and seems to test for everything from plutonium to intellect. Batfink seems perkier after this morning's water change (my other half told me I was loving them to death and I was worried he might be right). I'll cut down the feeding to every other day, and thank you again for taking the time to respond. Quite by accident they've been a huge benefit. Previously I was staying up working till three, four or five in the morning, but because I understand that having lights or noise going on for too long upsets them, at midnight the office is theirs, so I'm actually getting proper sleep! Thank you again. It's very appreciated, and I will put a twenty gallon tank on my Christmas/Birthday list. Claire and The Finks. <Claire, I have no idea why your shop is selling test kits for £75. Do a search for "Tetra Test Strips". These cost about £7-8 apparently, for 25 strips. Or else "eSHa Aqua quick test". These do more things per strip and cost about £10. Also has 25 strips. Slice down the middle to get 50 strips. Anyway, glad you are enjoying your fish. And no, you can never do too many water changes! Cheers, Neale>

Damage is Done. Goldfish... sys., hlth.   8/6/07 Hello there (Neale?). <Hello Lisa,> I have a problem with a 44 gallon tank of goldfish. Subsequent to a gravel change, I added a chemical directly to the tank to clear cloudy water. <You added a flocculent to the water. Usually harmless.> I am a very active hobbyist and have never taken this type of approach. I have since lost two fantails within the space of a week - my largest fantail hyperventilated for 2 straight days. The poor guy actually showed large brown spots on his body which I assume was a death in tissue as a result of oxygen deprivation. When I knew their demise was certain, I placed them in some aquarium water in a Ziploc and placed them in the freezer (is this the right thing to do in terms of euthanasia?). <Argh... no, not a nice way to die. There's a Euthanasia FAQ somewhere here at WWM.> I located on Fenner's Goldfish FAQ that hyperventilating is a result of the existence of high nitrites or "poisoning." <Certainly one possible reason. Poor water quality generally causes fish to rise to the surface of the tank to pass oxygenated water across their gills. To some degree goldfish (like other carp) can gulp air and extract oxygen directly.> Since then I have taken your advice and done 10% water changes daily - a 25% change last Saturday. I also changed the activated carbon (per Fenner) and changed the foam media and cleaned out the canister by gently sponging and rinsing it out with aquarium water. <Remember, you can't use carbon AND medication at the same time. Carbon removes medications. So, I prefer to leave out carbon except in circumstances where it's required.> I have two little guys left - one Pearlscale is fairing well and the remaining fantail is seen often lying on its belly (not all too uncommon for goldfish but unusual for this guy). <Not promising.> Shall I continue with partial daily water changes with my regular dose of ½ teaspoon of API salt per gallon? It seems that by now I have moved out any remaining chemical? Anything else I can do to save these guys? <Yes, keep doing the water changes. The more & the bigger they are each day, the better. This is one situation where adding salt is beneficial, because it detoxifies nitrite. But once the nitrite drops to zero and water quality remains consistently good, you can stop using it.> I have read Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and especially note his words of actively and knowledgeably caring for our charges. I love these little guys and it is such a joy to care for them. I can't believe I made such a mistake. I guess we never cease learning. <Indeed. It's a shame everyone assumes goldfish are easy. They're not. They're among the most difficult freshwater fish to care for, at least in indoor aquaria. So you're having to learn to run before you can walk! Keep reading, keeping asking questions, keep caring about your charges.> Thank you very much for very informative website. It's great to know I have a trusted resource. <Thanks for the thanks.> Lisa. <Good luck to you & your fish, Neale>

Re: Damage is Done.  8/6/07 Thanks for your response. I feel sick. I don't understand what happened - if it wasn't the flocculent. <Hello Lisa. I can't rule out the flocculent 100%, but I've used in multiple times even with sensitive species like puffers, and never yet had problems. Of course, dosage is always important, so check you didn't overdose.> I am not adding any medicines to the tank. <Good.> I am faithful with my water changes and it would completely blow me away if this was due to nitrites or ammonia. This is an established tank, no changes. <It's hard to know by looking -- test the water. Nothing beats having a nitrite test kit in your aquarium toolbox. I happen to like those dip-strip types that come with a variety of different tests including pH, hardness, and nitrate as well as nitrate or ammonia. Slice them longitudinally to make two tests from each strip (I'm cheap, and like to double my money!). While perhaps not as accurate as "real" test kits, these strips are cheap and convenient, and the best test kits are the ones you use regularly, not the ones that sit in a cupboard.> I will take comprehensive chemistry readings when I get home and continue with water changes. <Cool.> Thank you Neale. Thanks so much. <You're welcome.> (I am progressing with my Mbuna tank, "weaning them off salt" like you prescribed with daily 10% water changes over a two week timeframe. Also bought some crushed coral which I will add to the filter media. I am planning to move the bumblebee cats to my community aquarium where the water remains soft with neutral pH - as I mentioned before all fish are bigger than the bumblebees' mouths so all should be safe!) <All sounds fine. Do some searching of a problem called "Malawi Bloat", a dropsy-like disease. Although not known 100%, one of the likely factors seems to be the use of aquarium salt in Lake Malawi aquaria. Check the hardness in the aquarium to see the crushed coral is doing its job. Anyway, good luck, Neale>

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.>

Is my aqua fizz creating too much bubbles for my small fish bowl? -- 07/23/07 Hi, I just got a small fish bowl with 3 fish in it. I also bought a small aqua fizz air stone that I attached to an Elite 800 air pump. I am worried that it is creating to much of a disturbance to my fish as they seem to fight to stay away from it. Is this a problem? If so what can I use instead to give my 3 fish air in such a small bowl. Thank You, Joanna <Hello Joanna. Keeping fish in bowls is a very VERY bad idea for all sorts of reasons, not least of all the water is not filtered and the fish have no space for swimming around in. Fish kept in bowls invariably stay sickly and die young. It's cruel, it's a waste of money, and it doesn't share any of the best parts of the hobby with you. So, rather than fussing about with airstones, which clearly isn't working here, I'd encourage you to get an aquarium for your fish. Goldfish, if that's what you have, are BIG animals and very messy, and need a 30 gallon aquarium, minimum. If you want a smaller aquarium, don't get goldfish, get something smaller, like guppies or neon tetras. Please have a read Hope this helps, Neale.>

Fantail Problems 7/16/07 We've had a golden fantail for about a week in a 10 gallon tank with an air filter and are planning to add a filter soon. <Too small for this fish, and a filter is needed ASAP.> I've changed a third of his water once in the past week. <Needs to be done daily without a filter.> The water is tap water treated with conditioners and the fish has been very happy and acting normal. <Not for long.> He has some black spots on his body (ammonia burns/scabs?) but they seemed to be clearing. Today I woke up to find him swimming lethargically on his side with eyes puffed up. And now he's just laying at the bottom of the tank. <Need to get his water quality under control. Daily water changes needed here. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm .> <Chris>

Strange rise in nitrites, FW, goldfish ongoing...   7/11/07 Hi Bob/whoever's got this! <Just me, Neale.> Just a couple of quick questions today, if you please - I've been treating my fantail (Horatio) on Neale's advice using Interpet Aquarium Treatment No. 8 (Anti Fungus and Finrot, active ingredient Phenoxyethanol). I started the treatment three days ago and I'm delighted to say that it's made all the difference; kindly thank Neale very much for his advice as my fish is no longer ill and is perky and happy as he used to be! <Very good.> I have been regularly testing his water parameters and they have consistently been pH 7.5 (approx), ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate <5mg/l. However, this evening I tested his water and the nitrites, while not actually showing dangerous amounts per se, have risen so as to be detectable (though still less than 0.1mg/l). Naturally I am concerned and loathe to take immediate action as I don't want to remove the medication from the tank (there are four days of the seven left to go before I can change the water). My questions are as follows; <Odd. Most modern medications have no effect on the filter bacteria. I'd tend not to worry too much, but test for the next couple of days to see if this is a blip or a developing problem.> 1) What could be the cause of this peculiar rise in nitrites? Since I've been testing Horatio's water (going on two months now) the results have been steady. I've never had any ammonia or nitrites present, and nitrates have rarely risen above 5mg/l. The only recent difference is that I've started using dechlorinator (Interpet Fresh Start), and there is a question saved on WWM that states that this product can increase levels of nitrite - could this be relevant? Horatio is (as you may remember, Bob, having spoken to my girlfriend Sarah previously about this fish) living in a far-too-small tank (11 UK gallons) at the moment, so I have been carrying out extensive water changes - almost daily - to prevent build-up of unpleasant water elements until the new tank is cycled and ready for him. However, because on Saturday night I added this medication, I haven't changed the water for three days. Could this be the cause of the nitrite rise? <Most dechlorinators break down chloramine (which we want them to do) into ammonia and chlorine. But not all dechlorinators will "mop up" that ammonia. If your filter is too small, then that ammonia could be being processed into nitrite relatively slowly, giving you the nitrite reading you're observing. Either way, it's important to establish if your water supplier uses chloramine or not. If they do, get a dechlorinator that removes ammonia.> 2) What do I do about it? Should I keep watch on the situation and see if the nitrites remain at a vaguely "acceptable" level/diminish (is this level even safe?)? Or should I change some of the water to dilute the nitrites, as I would automatically do if not for the meds - and if I do, is it safe to proportionally add some more medicine or should I leave it and take the risk of Horatio not being properly medicated, leaving the possibility of having to treat him again within a short space of time (obviously not desirable)? <For now, your priority is to stick to the instructions for the medication, avoiding water changes. But once you've finished the course of medication, do the water changes and check the filter is working properly. It may need a bit of a clean to rinse off detritus. Follow the instructions that came with your filter, paying particular attention to keeping the bacteria on the sponges happy (i.e., don't rinse the sponges under the tap, but bathe them in a bucket of aquarium water). Doing water changes midway through a course of medication is a bad idea if you're told by the instructions otherwise. The problem is the medication decays over time, to "topping up" with an extra dose is likely to screw up the concentrations.> Okay, maybe that wasn't as quick as I'd hoped. Thank you once again for your patience and for your immensely helpful site and staff; you have been terrific to us over the last few months and I'm sure Horatio appreciates it! <Good luck!> Oliver <Cheers, Neale>

Re: Strange rise in nitrites (FAO Neale)  7/11/07 Hi Neale, Don't worry, I haven't any more problems (well, at the moment!); just wanted to write back and thank you very much again for your prompt and informative response. I'll do exactly as you said. Not sure what I'd do without WWM! Hope you're having a good day and you've got better weather than me here in Glasgow :-) Thanks again, Oliver <Cool. And no, the weather here is pretty clarty as well. Good luck! Neale>

Goldfish... sys., reading/using WWM   7/8/07 Hello Crew. About a month ago I received three feeder goldfish from a fair. They were in very poor conditions at the fair (kept under the counter in small bags for hours on end) so I decided to rescue a few and take them home. I already had a small 1 gallon tank at home with a filter which I put them in. This tank was too small and the filter began to break. So, I invested in a 2.5 gallon aquarium with a much better filter. This was the largest aquarium I have room for. I do 40% weekly water changes and 10% water changes every 3 or 4 days. The fish seem pretty healthy, but I know a 2.5 gallon is considered way too small for three fish. They are all about 1 inch long right now. Is there anything I can do to improve the life of my fish if I only have room for a 2.5 gallon? Thanks for the help. -Carly <Mmm, no my friend. Need much more room, filtration... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: goldfish update-- 7/10/07 Hello Bob, or whoever may answer this. About a week ago I e-mailed you asking what I could do to improve the life of my three small common goldfish who were living in a 2.5 gallon tank. Bob said that there was not much I could do and that I should get a larger tank with more filtration and gave me a few links. Thank you sooo much for the links. I am now buying a much larger tank for my three friends and invested in a great filter. Thanks again for your help. -Carly <Yay! Anima bona fac! Be of good life. BobF>

Goldfish jumped, sys., hlth.    7/8/07 I have a 7" "feeder" goldfish that we've owned for a number of years, she lives in a 40gal tank. Today she somehow jumped through a tiny space in the aquarium hood and landed behind the aquarium. I'm not sure how long she lay there, she was dry but moving her gill covers and eyes when I found her. I immediately put her back in the water and held her loosely with her nose in a stream of tiny bubbles in the tank. After awhile she seemed to revive and tried to swim away, but wasn't able to hold herself upright to swim. She slithered on her side along the bottom. <Greetings. What you describe is not uncommon. Goldfish will jump for a variety of reasons. Does she live alone? They are schooling fish, and become nervous when kept alone. In a 40 gallon tank, you have space for one or two more companions. Since she's a regular goldfish, it's best to choose non-fancy varieties so that they can all swim and forage for food equally well. So choosing from plain goldfish, or Shubunkins, or comets would be ideal.> I put her in a netted fry tank, hung that in the aquarium in the bubble stream, and covered the tank with a towel. I wanted to keep her quiet and away from her tankmates, two other smaller goldfish. <Ah, she has friends already. Fine. Not sure she really needs to be isolated though, as she may be more stressed by that than by any possible interference from her tankmates. But they might peck at her or annoy her, so I understand your motives here. A case of play it by ear, really.> It's been about 10 hours since I found her and she's still with us, but still has no ability to keep herself upright. She is not interested in eating and has positioned herself along an edge of the netted box and is keeping herself upright this way. <Give her some more time... she's certainly sustained some serious damage. It will likely take her a while to get her equilibrium back.> What else could I try for this old lady? She lost a couple of scales but otherwise appears unharmed. Has she damaged her swim bladder or ? <While the swim bladder isn't likely to be damaged as such, it may have deflated, and it'll take a while for her to re-inflate it. But 10 hours isn't a long time. Watch for the next couple of days. Look for signs of organ damage (e.g., swelling or dropsy). Quite possibly a good idea to treat for fungus/Finrot just to make sure no secondary infections set in. Otherwise carry on what you're doing.> Kathy <Good luck! Neale>

Re: goldfish jumped  7/10/07 Thank you Neale so much for your input and direction. The fish is still alive this a.m. and I will take her out of the net box to see how she does, in case that is stressing her out--she certainly doesn't look happy in there. It is such a comfort to know I am on the right track. Kathy <Cool. Keep us posted. Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish health and systems First, my compliments: this is one of the most comprehensive and educational web sites I have visited, across the board. Thank you, and well done! <Thank you> I have 3 fantastic Panda Telescope Butterfly goldfish, Magic, Mystery, and Marvel. (Incidentally, the "panda" thing was very short lived. They very quickly turned completely white - almost in unison - and have since looked like fishy angels :-) !) Anyway, they've each grown about an inch in the last 6 months. They have temporarily been living in a 10-gallon aquarium and are going to be moved, <Thank goodness... need more room> one by one, into their permanent 36 gallon home after it completely cycled in approximately 2-4 more days. I would appreciate advice and information in several areas: 1) Cycling the aquarium: Background - My water has an ammonia reading of 1.0 out of the tap, <I would NOT ingest this water myself... Please see WWM, your water district/supplier re this> so I habitually add AmmoLock with each water change. <Mmm, and store it ahead of use... perhaps for a week> I also use EasyBalance to help with the nitrates. I have not added either product to the 36 gallon aquarium yet; it seemed logical to me that these two products would delay the cycling process. <Yes> I started the tank on 6/27. I was able to add water, gravel, and filter media from my existing tank to speed up the cycling process. I started getting algae growth yesterday - a tiny bit of green, and a thin coating of brown on most surfaces. <A good sign...> I have been testing the water regularly. The ammonia spiked on day 5 at 2.0, and the nitrites spiked at day 7 at 2.0. Today (day 10) the readings were as follows: ammonia 0.25, nitrites 0, and nitrates 20. Questions - a) When should I add AmmoLock and EasyBalance to the system? <Mmm, no more... Instead I would, and would have siphoned out some of the "gunk" in the present ten gallon system and added it to the new tank...> Prior to introducing the first goldfish? Note: I have actually never seen an ammonia reading below 0.25 in my tanks, and wonder if this is due to the high amount of ammonia in the tap water? <Actually... likely an artifactual reading from the kit itself... With the nitrate present, the algae growing... I strongly suspect you have NO ammonia> Therefore, is it reasonable to expect the ammonia to read the ideal 0 prior to fish transfer? <Mmm, no... Do try this test kit with pure water...> b) I have not been using an air pump in the cycling tank until today. I learned from this site that increased oxygen might help with the brown algae. (When the goldfish are living in the tank I will of course have plenty of aeration from a 24" bubble bar, bubble disk, and 2 air stones. I plan on learning about adding live plants in a few weeks, but am going with artificial for the time being.) Is there anything else I should do about the brown algae? <Mmm, no. Leave it be... part of the cycle... you can "wipe off" in a month or so...> Adding snails and other cleaner critters seems to be a somewhat controversial topic. <Yes... but there are other means of control... competition... nutrient limitation... Posted on WWM> c) I was planning on introducing each goldfish a week apart in order to give the system time to gradually acclimate to each increase in bio-load. Does this sound appropriate? <Should be fine> 2) Temperature: Background - During the summer where I live the outside temperature averages 85-95 F. I live in a 104 year old house without the best insulation. My husband and I keep the temperature in the house between 74-78 degrees to save money. My 10-gallon tank stays at 78-80 F. Even in the AM, when all factors combine to lower the temp - cooler outside the house, AC turned down to 72, aquarium lights off - the temperature inside the tank has not been lower than about 75/76. The 10 gallon is not near a window, and all of the blinds in that room stay drawn throughout the day. Available space necessitated locating the 36 gallon near a window with northern exposure that gets no direct sunlight. The water temp in that tank has stayed at 78-80 whether the lights are on or off. Questions - Should I leave the aquarium lights off to minimize that source of heat output? <Mmm, perhaps... fancy goldfish "varieties" (they're all the same species, cross), do fine in warm water... all else being okay... But altering the light cycle during the warmest months is a good idea (I do this with my goldfish systems as well> I am concerned that this would have negative long-term effects on the health of the fish and prevent me from being able to use live plants in the aquarium. <Mmm, just have the lights on during other hours of the day> I've thought about lowering the water level (to minimize the risk of suicide jumpers) and leaving the hood off - just guessing that the increased air circulation might help keep temperature down? Magic is the only fish that seems bothered by the heat, which leads me to my third and final topic. <Good techniques... but I doubt if the water temp. will be an issue here... And much better to have the larger volume of water... much more stable...> 3) Floaty-Bloatiness: Background - Magic seems to predictably get the floaties (i.e. bob up to the top of the water when not actively swimming, sleep at the top with his dorsal fin out of the water, etc.) when the water temp gets up near 80. He also gets the floaties in about 2-3 days time if not fed peas exclusively. He definitely lets me know if the nitrates are getting high (at or over 20) by getting the floaties. <All negative factors...> Neither of the other 2 fish has ever shown a hint of any similar issues. I feed them all the same thing at the same time, obviously, since they are tank mates. They get 3 small meals a day, 2 or 3 being Pro-Gold pellets. <I would cut back on this food> The third is either freeze-dried brine shrimp, krill, or Tubifex worms. On Sundays and Wednesdays that get 2 meals of Spirulina flakes and 1 meal of peas. <Good, need more of this> They don't get fed on Mondays. The also get spinach whenever I do. (Incidentally, they have not shown interest in the Anacharis or any other veggies I have offered them.) <Happens> Questions - Should I keep the high-maintenance fish in the 10 gallon by himself, and only move the other two to the 36 gallon, so that Magic can be on a strictly pea diet with salt-treated water without having to do this to the other 2 fish? <Mmmmm, I'd move all. The social dynamic of these seemingly "simple" animals is not well-appreciated, but they definitely do NOT like it being upset> I could see him doing better in the larger tank since the water quality should be improved and more stable, but I could also see it being harder on him since he would have to swim a much greater distance to get from the surface to the bottom of the tank for food, etc. <Yes... better to reduce all feeding, and greatly discount the high/er dried pellet formulated food/s> Thank you so much for applying your expertise to my concerns! I look forward to reading the results. It's very important to me that my fishy friends live long, healthy, happy lives. Sincerely, Angela <Thank you! For sharing your passion, care here. Excelsior! Bob Fenner>

ARGHHHH! Goldfish mistreatment, not human nature, but unlearned traits   6/23/07 Just when you thought a goldfish bowl couldn't get any worse... there's HALF a goldfish bowl you stick on the wall! <What?!> http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&sspagename=ADME%3AB% 3AAAQ%3AUK%3A1&viewitem=&item=140129953563&rd=1 Capacity, 2 US gallons. Filter, none. Heater, none. Advertised fishes, goldfish and platy. It does come with glass gems and a plastic plant though, so that should make up for any technical shortcomings. Are humans either ignorant or cruel? I can't make up my mind. Yours in depression, Neale <"Blame the act, not the child"... BobF>  

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, doesn't 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. I'm starting to get a picture here but it's 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, there's 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. Let's 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. It's expecting food or, it's stressed, as in, unable to breathe properly, for example. I believe we've 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, it's bacteria. In fairness, I don't know what information they had to go on so I don't 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 doesn't mean a lot. By that, I mean that 'ok' from one person's point of view doesn't 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 isn't. 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 I'm 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>

Goldfish stocking levels   5/27/07 Hi, I'm Ed. <<Hello, Ed. Tom with you.>> I have a tank measuring 120cm x 45 cm. I would like to know the quantity of gold fish (fancy ones) Orandas and Ranchu and black moor all together. Currently I have 5 Orandas ,1  black moor ,1 Ryukin, to a total length of  49 cm.s without the fins, just the bodies. How many more can I add to my tank? <<Ed, I've estimated your tank to be about 75 gallons (284 litres). A very nice sized tank but with seven Goldfish, I have to say that you're already at, and probably beyond, the "safe" limit here. My recommendation would be to stay with what you already have rather than considering more Goldfish. I'm afraid you'd be setting yourself up for problems if you push it beyond this. For what it's worth, if you choose to use 'rules of thumb', figure on 10 gallons (~38 litres) per Goldfish, absolute minimum. The 'centimeters of fish per litre' rationale doesn't apply to Goldfish. They have, and deserve, their own "rules" in order to stay healthy and thrive.>> Thanks a lot, Ed <<Sorry, Ed, but I think you and your fish will be far happier in the long run if you leave things as they are. Best regards. Tom>>

Goldfish Questions (Black moor), sys., fdg.    5/27/07 Hello Again! <<Hi, Megan. Tom here.>> After enjoying the company of my new black moors (had them for approximately four weeks), I have come up with several questions. <<Okay.>> 1. What is the reason for having the timed light source?  What happens if it is on 24/7?  (Other than wasting electricity!) <<Fish, like people, need 'down time', i.e. sleep/rest. Leaving the lights on 24/7, for example, doesn't replicate a 'normal' day/night evolution for them. They can become 'sleep deprived', in a way. Stressful, to say the least. Since most all homes/dwellings will receive at least some daylight, it would be better to leave the tank lights off all the time rather than the other way around. (Still not a good idea but I think you can see my point.) In addition, limiting the amount of light that the tank is exposed to helps to keep algae growth contained. Many folks who just can't seem to get this under control are successful once they learn to limit the period of time that the lights are on for the tank.>> 2.  Of the two fish, one tends to stare into a plant for approximately 1/2 hour intervals.  The other fish will sometimes brush against him, or nudge him (no more aggressive behavior since the introduction of silk plants!), and then he will act like a normal goldfish, but he seems to just "zone out" in the same spot with this plant.  Is this something to be concerned about?  The other fish seems extremely happy, and has not shown any behavior like this.  Could it be an eye problem?  (Eyes appear clear from a side view, with yellow/white irises.)  He can easily locate food - in comparison to the unaffected fish - and swims with no difficulty.  What could it be? <<He may be doing exactly what you suggest, 'zoning out'. Kind of a fish version of a cat nap. I wouldn't be concerned about this unless he starts hiding or locating himself at the top or bottom of the tank. He may just be tired and finds this 'restful'.>> 3.  Finally - food!  I have been feeding them a variety of spinach, peas, and the general flake goldfish food, and I have tried not to overfeed them, however, how much do you feed a goldfish with large eyes?  According to the rule, feed a goldfish the amount equivalent to his eye - but the volume, or surface area? <<Here's where we could end up with 'fat' Black Moors or Bubble Eye Goldfish! This 'rule of thumb' references the volume of the eyeball, not the entire anatomical structure around it. Keep in mind that Goldfish, in the wild, are constantly looking for greenery, such as algae, to feed on so this admonition isn't so much directed at how much they'll consume (provided it's appropriate food) as how much they'll 'miss'. Goldfish will certainly 'scavenge' for morsels that got away but are, generally, pretty messy eaters. What gets missed when they're fed too much will only contribute to the overall 'messiness' of these animals. Keeping their diets well-regulated will go a long way toward controlling eliminated waste, uneaten food and the amount of ammonia excreted through their gills, which is how they get rid of it rather than through their waste.>>   Again, thanks for the help!   Megan <<You're more than welcome. Tom>>

Hi there a wee problem. Goldfish sys., dis.     5/20/07 <<Hello, Lewis. Tom here.>> First let me say your site is wonderful and very interesting. <<Thanks for the kind words, Lewis.>> I have a very basic fish tank bought for my son by his aunt. We have two fan tails and a black moor. We used to have a bubble eye but it got stuck in a tank ornament and had worn away its side. I never thought anything of it but unfortunately the fish passed. <<You don't say how large the tank is, Lewis, but I'm going to guess that it's on the small side. Don't give me too much credit on that score because anything less than 60 gallons, bare minimum, is too small for four Goldfish no matter how old they are. Goldfish are one of the hardest fish to keep and the ones most unknowledgeable people will tell you are 'great' to start with. Nothing could be further from the truth.>> On checking the tank today I noticed the black moor has a similar sore on his side, his scales are gone and all that can be seen is a flaky white sore with two red spots. He is also very lifeless and I fear he is not long for this world. <<Other influences aside, I think you can see what I'm getting at about Goldfish. There should be no sharp objects (decorations) in the tank whatsoever. These are fairly active fish and it requires very little to damage their bodies/fins. Once an injury occurs, it can lead to bacterial infections quite readily, particularly if the water quality isn't where it should be. Messy as Goldfish are, only very large aquariums with substantial filtration are capable of maintaining stable conditions for these fish. There are some who would argue that the filtering system for a Goldfish tank should be capable of turning over 7-12 times the volume of the tank per hour. By comparison,  my 50-gallon tropical tank has a realistic turnover rate of between five and six times per hour and I consider that a lot for the average community-type aquarium.>> Any help would be great to save him or to identify something more sinister going on, maybe bacteria or virus. <<It's just about certain that your issues are going to deal with water quality/conditions, the decoration injury to your late Bubble Eye notwithstanding. Fish can/will heal quite nicely from injuries on their own provided they have tip-top conditions to live in. A small, unhealthy system leads to stress on the fish lowering their immune systems and leaving them very susceptible to secondary problems/infections. There are different bacteria in all aquariums. The trick is to keep the fish healthy so their immune systems can deal with these naturally.>>   Many thanks for your help   Lewis <<As a practical matter, I can only recommend that you keep the tank very clean and perform water changes religiously. Don't overfeed your fish as this will only contribute to poor water quality. If your tank is as small as I suspect it is, you should be changing no less than 50% of the water each week along with a good vacuuming of the gravel (DEEP vacuuming) with each change.  If your Moor doesn't make it, absolutely do not replace it with another fish. You already have your hands full. Best of luck to you. Tom>>

A little help... Goldfish, Bettas... Systems gone wild! Show us your fish!  5/17/07 Hello, my name is Jaime.  I was reading your website and I found a lot of information that I didn't knew about Bettas.  I'm still kind of new to this, so far I have 6 Bettas (3 males and 3 females) I tried to reproduce them unsuccessfully, <Is a great experience> and I wanted to know what would you recommend me to do to improve their lifestyle.  I wasn't into pets but know I've grown fond of the little buggers, I attached some pictures of their tanks.  I recently put my oldest Betta in a 5 gallon tank along with some goldfish <Mistake... incompatible behaviorally and environmentally> and some ghost shrimp. That tank has a filter and I noticed that as soon as he was putted   there, his color changed from a dark blue to red in his fins and part of his head. He is swimming around trying to know the tank, but I am not sure if they will get along. <And this is way too small a volume for even one goldfish... you show several>   I feed them with freeze dried bloodworms and pellets and I try to not feed them the same thing always thinking that maybe they will get a healthy diet.  I clean their water every 2 days <Too frequently> (I put the Bettas into the tanks they original came with and change all the water of the tank with tap water, and use water conditioner to remove both chlorine & ammonia) and then I put them back in.  I feed them bloodworms in the morning when I get to work, and put one or two pellets when I leave at night. Thank you for your time <Mmm, am wondering where to begin... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm The articles and FAQs files in the first try on Goldfish, and Betta... Systems... What you show in your photos and writing is inappropriate. Bob Fenner>

Confused with stringy white poop answers and questions, Goldfish sys./hlth., fdg.   5/12/07 Hi WWM crew, <Greetings.> I currently own 2 fantail goldfish, 1 being 4" long; YJ and the other 1 1/2" long; Brandy, both excluding the tail. I have had YJ for over a year now and she is doing wonderfully well (ie: extremely active and always begging for food =) She even puts up with me petting her whenever I feed her). She used to live in a small tank on her own and 2 months ago, when I decided to get her a bigger tank, I also decided to get her a friend (Brandy). <Goldfish are indeed sociable, and respond positively to having tankmates of their own kind as well as affection from their owners.> They both live in a 10 gallon tank (which I've now found out is not big enough, after reading your website). <Indeed. Realistically, you want something 30 gallons plus. Goldfish routinely reach around 25-30 cm in length, and at that size need more swimming space than 10 or 20 gallon tanks provide.> I use an under-gravel filter. <Which is fine, provided you maintain it properly, specifically give it a good stir with a rod of some sort each couple of weeks and then siphon out the gunk along with the water. Do a 50% water change weekly.> I currently don't do any checks on the nitrate/ ammonia etc levels as I wasn't told to when I first got the tank and still have no idea how to go about this. Will this seriously effect their quality of life? <Long term/short term? Short term you'll probably be fine. Lots of people manage to keep fish without test kits. But in the long term, being able to monitor things like pH and nitrite is very, VERY helpful when things go wrong. 90% of problems with fish come down to the wrong water chemistry or poor water quality. Even things caused by obvious pathogens (like whitespot/ick) are usually provoked by changes (declines) in water quality. If you're cheap like me, go buy the dip-stick test kits. Here in the UK they're around 10 pounds for 25 tests. But better yet, you can slice them down the middle with a scalpel or scissors and make twice as many tests! Each one has colour pads indicating multiple tests including water chemistry ones and water quality ones. While not as accurate as traditional test kits, their price/convenience factor is very high.> I do 1/4 tank water changes every 1 1/2 to 2 weeks. <Not enough. Do twice as much, weekly. While you might see this as more work, in the long term it massively reduces the hassle factor by helping keep the aquarium cleaner and the fish healthier than otherwise.> When I first got Brandy, I assumed it was a female as it was quite round and heavy in the belly although I am not very sure of this anymore. <Sexing goldfish is essentially impossible until they start spawning. Swelling in the belly by females and the appearances of "tubercles" on the head of the males are the clues.> This is because a couple of weeks ago, to my surprise and delight, YJ spawned! =) So now I'm assuming that Brandy is in fact a male, which YJ knew from the start although he was too young to do anything about it. <Not quite sure this is how it works. Are you sure the eggs aren't snail eggs? Very common mistake. Fish eggs are small things about 1 mm across and laid separately usually on leaves. Snail eggs are in lumps of jelly and form small masses around 5-10 mm long and often appear on the glass. Anyway, fish don't usually release eggs unless actively spawning with a male. With goldfish, which spawn first when between 2-4 year old, courtship is very vigorous and difficult to ignore. Much chasing and splashing!> My main question is, however, is if Brandy has internal parasites. Just today, I noticed that there was white stringy poop on the bottom of the tank (and I'm assuming it's from Brandy as the thickness of the poop is rather thin, compared to YJ's, whose poop is usually thicker). <Probably fine. Internal parasites are far less common than people think. The best sign of parasites is rapid emaciation, that is, however much the fish eats, it gets thinner. Differences in the texture of the faeces are more about dietary factors than parasites.> The thing is, I've searched your website for answers to this question and I'm starting to get a little confused as to what it could be as most of the responses say that it MAY be internal parasites, although not necessarily. I'm also starting to think that maybe Brandy isn't round and heavy in the belly but bloated due to the internal parasites? <Fancy goldfish are notoriously difficult to diagnose in this regard because they have such mutated shapes. The deformities bred into them make it difficult to tell "normal" from "abnormal" body shape. If a fish is loaded with internal (gut) parasites such as worms, the body cavity will be swollen but typically the fish will also lose swimming ability too. This may be deliberate on the part of the parasite, since it "wants" the fish to be eaten by a predator so the parasite can make its way into the next host in its life cycle. If your fish is swimming and feeding normally, then chances are it is fine.> Both of them seem fine and are eating well. I feed them JBL Goldperls and some thawed peas every time I do a water change. <Try varying the diet a little more. Goldfish are omnivores and respond positively to as mixed diet as possible. Lean towards plant material, and use meaty foods sparingly. I'd suggest a ratio of 4 parts plant food to one part animal (or flake) food. Floating plants are a convenient way to start here, using things like Elodea. Skip feeding them once or twice a week and the goldfish will nibble contentedly on this stuff. Because these foods are low protein but high fibre, they "fill up" the goldfish nicely, keeping its guts nice and clean. Goldfish are essentially similar to humans in dietary needs, more veggies, less meat being the key to good health. You can raid your salad bowl for goldfish food, too. Most anything green leafy is good for them. Have a read of this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshmalnut.htm > I'm very concerned about them, although this may seem like a small matter to others as I've grown very attached to both of them and I don't want them to be sick, not even slightly. <An excellent attitude!> Your help and advice is very much appreciated. Sincerely, Phylicia <Cheers, Neale>

Re: Black Moor Questions, sys.    5/10/07 Hello again Tom! <<Hello again, Megan!>> After having some difficulty with the comet goldfish (died of flukes?), I thoroughly cleaned out the twenty gallon tank, and moved on to two new fish.  I set up the tank accordingly, let it sit, and then went to pick out some new goldfish.   <<If you mean by 'let it sit' that you re-cycled the tank, very good. If you didn't re-cycle the tank'¦we need to talk!>> I found a healthy tank of black moors, and chose two small ones - approximately 1.25 inches long each.  Because this is my first time ever with a fancier goldfish (I've only tackled small fantails in goldfish bowls....never again), I am curious if there is anything to look out for with this kind.  Any particular diseases? <<None that are specific to your Moors, though there are 'considerations'.>> I've also been told that these fish do not do well with plastic plants, due to their protruding eyes.  Should I stay with silk or real plants, or may I use the old plastic ones? <<That's one of the 'considerations', Megan. I'd advise against real plants unless you want even more work than you're in for. Goldfish will go after real 'greenery', edible or not. Plastic plants are problematic, as you suggest. (Fins don't always fare well here, either. They tend to get cut by the sharp edges that sometimes go with plastic plants.) I'd stick with the silk plants as the best alternative.>> Also, in terms of behavior - they seem to love going in laps together around the tank...is this normal? Or are they just bored?  :) <<Hopefully, it's juvenile behavior'¦if fish actually behaved that way. Possibly part of the acclimation process and, possibly, a result of water conditions that aren't, yet, up to par. Straight up? If you haven't re-cycled your tank after cleaning it, be prepared for a good deal of work. 'Letting it sit' isn't re-cycling. Watch closely for lethargic behavior like sitting on the bottom of the tank. Watch, also, for gasping/gulping for air at the surface. If you see either of these behaviors from your fish, you've got a serious problem with water conditions. You need to monitor these very closely anyway. Your tank is actually smaller by half than what I would like to see for these two fish. Goldfish are not easy fish to keep, by any means and, it entails a lot of care and diligence on your part to make sure that the water conditions stay optimal.>> Finally, will they learn to eat food faster?  I am currently switching between peas, lettuce, and the generic goldfish food.  Is there a better option? <<Fish have the intelligence of candle wax, Megan. How fast or, how slow, they eat isn't a consideration for them. They 'think' they're in the wild and behave accordingly. You are the one who's responsible for virtually everything that happens to them. The diet they're on sounds pretty good to me. The 'clean-up' is strictly up to you. They have no control nor could they care less. (They're not very cooperative.) :) >> Thanks again! Megan <<These fish are small right now but I'd like you to consider, down the road, a much larger tank. (No, I don't have a deadbeat brother-in-law selling aquariums. :) ) The world you create for your fish is what they'll live, and die, in. Personally, I hope your fish are doing great when I start collecting Social Security'¦which isn't for a while yet. ;) My best to you. Tom>>

pH and Alkalinity too high - Goldfish... please help!  4/26/07 Hi guys, <Greetings> I am in need of professional help! Your site is great, have been reading a lot and doing some of the suggested things, but doesn't seem to be working. Here are the specs: -I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank with a BioWheel filter for a 30 gallon tank -The tank has 1 African Dwarf Frog, 2 Orandas and 1 black Oranda (?) and one regular goldfish (aka feeder) -- the last was a birthday gift for my son which is how this whole tank thing started! <The frog is a tropical animal, the goldfish coldwater, so really these two shouldn't be together.> When we first got the tank in late February, there was the frog, 1 small tetra, 1 black Oranda (not the same one now) and the feeder fish from above. The black Oranda died as well as the tetra (it was eaten by the new black Oranda). Anyway, I am such a mess! I don't know what to do. <Is there a heater in this tank? If not, more likely the tetra died from the cold, and the Oranda ate the corpse. Goldfish aren't particularly good at catching small fish. They don't have any teeth in their mouth, for a start.> Beginning of this month, the remaining birthday fish were 1 ADF, 1 tetra and 1 feeder goldfish. They were doing well for well over a month, tested the water for Nitrate, Nitrite, Hardness, Chlorine, Alkalinity and pH. Everything was normal except for pH and Alkalinity -- they were high. <When you say "normal" what are the actual numbers? Should be ammonia, nitrite, and chlorine at 0; nitrate under 50 mg/l; hardness around 10-20 dH; and pH around 7.0 or so.> I tested my tap water and both the pH and Alkalinity were also high - which I use for water changes after leaving a 2 gallon pitcher of water and a tsp of AquaSafe on the counter overnight. <You don't need to leave the water sitting overnight. The dechlorinator works virtually instantly.> I figured it was OK since this is the same water I have been using and my fish were fine. We went to Petco and bought 4 Orandas. I know now that this was way too many fish for the 10 gallon tank. <Took the words outta my mouth...> But they didn't tell me this at Petco. Anyway, came home, floated the bag on top for 20 minutes and then released the fish into the tank along with the water from the bag (I know that this was wrong NOW also!). <Good!> I also bought an ammonia monitor for the tank. I added the fish and it read 'safe'. The second evening I went to a wedding and came home at 1 AM and it read 'TOXIC'. <Too many fish for the tank, too many fish added at once.> Did some research b/c I did NOT know what to do'¦I found your site via Google search and did an Emergency 50% water change. Still toxic ammonia levels in the AM. I did 25% water changes daily for 3 days and the ammonia came down by itself -- I didn't use anything aside from AquaSafe for the replacement water. <Goldfish are, if not THE messiest fish kept by aquarists, they're certainly in the top three. You need a filter that turns the water over something like 6 times per hour (a regular tank will get by with 4 times per hour). In other words, goldfish need far *more* filtration than the average tropicals, and hence are *more* expensive and difficult to keep than, say, Danios.> Anyway, I thought everything was OK. I took some water from the tank and went to Petco b/c one of the Orandas was hanging out at the bottom of the tank and I know this isn't a good sign. <Indeed not.> He tested my water and the ammonia was 0. Same for everything else but he said my pH was way too high. I purchased a product called 'Proper pH 7.5', followed the instructions which were to just put one packet in the tank. <Where was the pH before? If over 7.5, then yes, you're way off base here. Also bear in mind the higher the pH, then the more toxic ammonia becomes. It sounds like you should be doing 50% water changes each day, to be honest. What is the pH of your local water supply?> Tested a day later, ph still off the charts! Used another packet of perfect pH, tested a day later which was yesterday morning, ph still too high!!!!!! Yesterday I went out briefly and when I came home, one of the Orandas had died. I took him out and was super frustrated. After all, this was all a birthday gift for my son and I had NO IDEA that keeping a freaking fish tank would be THIS HARD & EXPENSIVE! <It isn't hard or expensive done properly. But sadly, you are one of the millions who think (are told by retailers) that goldfish are good to start with. They're not. They are only marginally less demanding than coral reef aquaria, and I can think of a few marine fish that are easier! Goldfish are easy peasy in ponds, but difficult in aquaria, especially small aquaria. Repeat after me: goldfish are pond fish, not aquarium fish.> Which brings us to today, tested pH first thing this morning, still too high (8.4) and total alkalinity is 300, also tested ammonia and it is somewhere between ideal and safe'¦less than .25. <No. The only "safe" level of ammonia is the "ideal" level, ZERO. Anything else, even 0.25 mg/l, is enough to kill fish. Period, end of story. Anything else is like discussing safe gunshot wounds... ain't any such thing.> Now another Oranda is hanging around the bottom, I think he's next. <Yep.> I just did another 25% water change and have not fed them since yesterday AM. They seem more active. One looks like it has a hole on head. I have attached a pic, please take a look. <The wound on the front? Looks like mouth fungus or something to me. Difficult to say. Either way, it's a product of poor water quality, and while easy enough to cure using anti-Finrot/fungus remedy, it'll keep coming back while your aquarium is as noxious as this.> My questions: 1. Should I be concerned with high pH and Alkalinity? <Yes.> 2. If yes, how do I bring it down? Proper pH 7.5 did nothing! <Keep doing water changes if the pH is well above the water supply pH. You can't bring the pH to a lower value than your water supply, so if you have pH 7.5 out the tap/faucet, that's as low as it'll go.> 3. Is that a hole on the white and red Oranda's head? Or is that just how they are? I read about Hole in the Head -- a disease? Should I quarantine the fish? Is it contagious? <It isn't "Hole in the Head", it's merely a head wound. Treat as mentioned above. Not contagious, but the poor water conditions could/will cause similar things in other fish.> 4. How often should I feed these guys? First I was told (all by Petco employees), twice a day, then every other day, then once a day and was most recently told twice a day AGAIN, but I read not to overfeed fish, especially goldfish -- please advise <Fish don't die from overfeeding. Luckily for them, they poop out anything they don't need, so they don't normally get fat. BUT... decaying food/faeces create ammonia, and ammonia can kill the fish. Ergo, your job is to give enough food for the fish be healthy, but not so much it decays in the aquarium. At this stage, I'd be feeding once every TWO days until the water quality is fixed. After then, once a day, as much as the fish eat in 2 minutes, siphoning out any uneaten food.> 5. I have a very thin layer of pebbles on the aquarium floor, two artificial plants and two decorative columns'¦I read that the décor can sometimes cause high Alkaline -- is this true? Should I take them out? <pH will go up if the decor is made of limestone or similar, i.e., something calcareous that dissolves. Otherwise, provided it is sold as an aquarium ornament, it should be safe.> 6. Do I continue water changes? If so, how much, how often? <Yes, 50% daily. More if possible. Certainly no less. Then take back all the goldfish, and swap for something suitable for a 10 gallon tank. I'd suggest guppies or Danios. Add two the first week, then two more 2-3 weeks later, and so on. These fish need a heater as well as a filter, but being smaller, they are less polluting and all-round easier to keep than goldies.> You know what's amazing? The feeder fish that cost 10 cents is thriving! And the frog also seems fine. <This is evolution. Mother Nature breeds her fish for survival, and feeder fish have all the genes nature gave them. Poor conditions on the fish farms mean only the fittest survive, and hence feeder fish are robust, those that survive anyway. Fancy goldfish are bred for looks. Humans are usually hopeless at spotting the good genes, so we end up with pretty but flimsy fishes like fancy goldfish, fancy guppies, Siamese fighting fish, etc. HOWEVER, feeder goldfish can carry lots of nasty diseases, so while not the immediate problem here, you should be aware of this. In life, you get what you pay for, a 10-cent goldfish is hardly going to have lived a hygienic, pampered life, is it? It's the aquarium equivalent of factory-farmed chicken.> Please tell me what to do. <The usual: buy/borrow an aquarium book. Sit down, read. Then swap out the goldfish for fishes better suited to aquarium life. Alternatively, get a suitable tank for these fish (30 gallons plus) and a BIG external filter.> Otherwise, I feel like I am just waiting for them to die and if they do, I give up, I will not attempt to do this again. <Not everyone has the patience, compassion, self-discipline to look after animals responsibly. If these traits aren't part of you, then I agree, take the fish back and get some pet rocks or something. BUT, if you're willing to step back, examine the problem, correct the mistakes, and then put what you learn into practice, I can guarantee you some of the most educational and rewarding experiences out there. Your move.> Thanks, Sabina <Cheers, Neale>

Re: pH and Alkalinity too high - please help!  -- 04/29/07 Hi Neale, <Hello Sabina!> Thanks for all the info!  I did indeed take the goldfish back to PetCo and they took them back no problem, got a full refund, even for the Oranda that passed away. <Very good.> Anyhow, this one guy at Petco is very good, his name is Matt. He said that my fish had parasites and fungus.  I am not sure what caused this... <External fungus is quite common on goldfish when kept in improper conditions. Internal parasites are *far* less common than many fishkeepers believe. Yes, they occur, but most of the strange swellings or cases of emaciation that aquarists put down to "parasites" are actually caused by problems with water quality and diet.> I live in an area with very hard water so we have a water softener installed. <Hard water doesn't bother goldfish. Many aquarium fish positively thrive in hard water: livebearers, rainbowfish, glassfish, many cichlids, some killifish, even a few tetras like x-ray tetras! There are also lots of plants that love hard water, such as Java fern, Vallisneria, some Amazon swords, even some Cryptocorynes like C. ciliata. So hard water isn't a bad thing. Just choose your livestock carefully.> I wonder if the problem was that in addition to the water softener, I was adding AquaSafe to soften the water even more?  Would this make alkalinity and pH rise? <The combination of softened water (which often contains a lot of sodium) plus ammonia could cause pH problems. Personally, I always recommend against changing water chemistry. Often, it creates more problems than it fixes unless you know exactly what you are doing. The other huge plus to hard water is that it is inherently pH-stable. Most fish will adapt to a given set of water conditions so long as changes are gradual. Altering water chemistry in an ad hoc way, even to the "better", can stress fish quite easily. So my honest advice is this: just use the unsoftened water, adding *only* dechlorinator. Choose species that do well in hard water, and work from there.> I started from scratch.  I emptied the entire 10 gallon tank.  Washed the pebbles with hot water, filter cartridges, BioWheel, artificial plants, the whole nine yards.  Put them back into the tank.  My question here is - Do I need to use "cycle" by Nutrafin if I am using old filter media that was rinsed?  Please advise. <Depends on how well you cleaned the media. If you cleaned it under hot water or even cold tap/faucet water, then yes, you need to cycle the tank again. If you cleaned the filter media in a bucket of aquarium water only, then probably not. Either way, don't "assume" anything -- add one or two fish/frogs, do nitrite tests, feed cautiously, do water changes, wait a week or two before adding anything else, and keep repeating this process.> I also had to put my African Dwarf Frog in the freshly changed tank.  I had no where else to put him and he jumps out of bowls!  Wish I had thought of the poor guy earlier and purchased him a separate little mini aquarium for the time being...but forgot all about him :-( <Oops.> Question - can the frog cycle the tank? <In theory, yes, but dwarf African frogs are small, so I'd be adding also one or two guppies or Danios as well.> I tested the water before I put the frog inside, here are the results: Nitrate 0 Nitrite 0 Hardness 75 Chlorine 0 Alkalinity 180 pH can't really tell - between 7.2 and 7.8 <OK, the hardness level is I assume mg/l of CaCO3. That's quite soft. The pH is slightly alkaline to moderately alkaline. Soft, alkaline water is an odd combination and not really ideal for anything. The problem with domestic water softeners is they add other minerals you don't test for (such as sodium salts) which is why you don't drink the softened water. I say again: just use the plain unsoftened water. Hard, alkaline water is fine for things like guppies, dwarf Mosquitofish, and platies that would do well in a 10 gallon tank.> These are the results without me adding anything to the tap water (which is already softened). I need to know ASAP if I should add "cycle" even though I used the old filter cartridges? <I'm dubious about the product "Cycle" having heard many times from people who found it didn't work. Use it, don't use, but either way assume nothing and test water quality regularly and add stock slowly, just as if you were cycling the tank the old fashioned way.> And should I be worried about my little frog?  He seems to be EXTREMELY happy.  He has the whole 10 gallons to himself and he is jumping all over the place.  He seems fine. <Okey Dokey.> And last but not least, I still do not really understand this cycling process thing. <Cycling is FUNDAMENTAL to keeping fish. Understand cycling, and everything else is EASY. Have a read of this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and buy/borrow any decent aquarium book for more.> I think in the end, my nitrates need to be 25+ -- that is considered cycled and safe to add fish? <Nitrate level irrelevant to cycling being completed. You can have nitrates BUT ALSO ammonia and nitrites, in which case tank is uncycled. Measure ammonia and nitrite, and when they are zero, then you're cycled. Nitrate levels of 50 mg/l or more are perfectly safe for most freshwater fish. For the most part, you don't even need to test them: just perform weekly 50% water changes and the nitrates will keep at safe levels automatically.> Will cycling happen quicker in my tank since I used the older cartridges? <In theory, transferring live filter media from one tank to another tank kick-starts the biological filtration in the new tank dramatically, often cycling the tank instantly if enough media is used. HOWEVER, that depends on the live filter media being still alive when installed. Washing filter media in anything other than aquarium water kills most/all bacteria.> I am so sorry for all these questions but I do NOT want to be knows as the fish killer! <A very good intention. So, read some more, select some hardy, hard-water tolerant fishes, and press on.> Thank you in advance for all your time & help! Sabina <No probs. Cheers, Neale>

Goldfish don't belong in bowls - 04/17/07 Hi just had a call from my son.  He keeps two small goldfish in a bowl with filter - had them about two years in a glass bowl but he knocked it over a few weeks ago and bought a plastic one. <Although I'm glad to hear there's a filter on this bowl, he would have been better off purchasing at least a 10 gal. tank. "Bowl" brings to mind a gallon of water or so - definitely not sufficient to support one goldfish, let alone two. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm > Did a water change at the weekend and tonight has notice both fish gasping at the top of the water. <How often does the water get changed in this system, and in what amount? Is tap water used, or filtered water? Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels would be the first thing to check; the former two should be at zero, and the latter no more than 20 ppm...> One fish has a white grey blister on his head.  Any ideas what he can do? <Sounds like a result of poor environmental conditions. Best suggestion is to upgrade to a larger tank (as said above, at least 10 gal. for two goldfish) and keep a close eye on water parameters. Keep the water as clean as possible, while still allowing the nitrogen cycle to establish itself. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm > Many thanks Jackie <You're welcome, Jackie. Please encourage your son to read up on proper aquarium care, maintenance, etc. Best, Jorie>

Filter suction danger? - 3/7/07 I just got a juvenile goldfish (I'm assuming it's a juvenile, because it's tiny), which I'm keeping in a ten-gallon tank with  a Top Fin filter. I got the tank yesterday, and while I was letting the water run through the filter as per the box's instructions, I wondered if the suction from the intake pipe might be too strong for my little guy. I put him in the tank this morning, and sure enough, it looked like he was struggling whenever he swam close to the filter-- sliding backwards or sideways, swimming extra hard. So, for the moment, he's in there with the filter off. Should I just leave the filter on and let him get used to it, or is there too much of a risk that it might harm him? <He will quickly adjust to the currents.  He will learn where they are and avoid them or purposely play in them if he likes. A little hard swimming is alright if he is healthy.> What can I do to protect him from it? <Make sure the intake screen is firmly attached. Turn it on and watch him for a while to make sure he isn't overwhelmed. Give him decorations to explore.  Read more here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm> Thanks, Sara <You're welcome! Alex>

Filter suction danger? - 3/8/07 Thanks for the reply. <You're Welcome.> I turned on the filter for a few minutes as you suggested and watched him. He seemed pretty happy for the first couple minutes (I think). He was swimming rapidly around the intake pipe, sometimes even coming almost right up against it and hovering there/circling around it, before racing away and coming back again a few seconds later. Then he'd go towards the opposite side of the tank across from the filter and swim up and down against the intake current. Was he playing, freaking out, or just testing this new intrusion into his habitat? <This does sound like playing/exploring to me.  Goldfish are very curious.> Then, after a few minutes, I noticed that he was swimming much harder than usual (that little tail was going a mile a minute!) and he kept starting to drift towards the intake pipe, but I couldn't tell if he was losing his strength or just playing more intensely. <The filter should not be causing him a problem.  He can avoid the strong currents if he doesn't like them. He does need other things to explore than the filter intake though.> Now the filter's off again, and he's still playing around it, but not as much as he was when it was on. He seems pretty

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