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Urgent help needed!

Discussion in 'Coldwater Aquarium Advice' started by Johnc, Aug 2, 2015.


  1. Johnc

    Johnc PetForums Newbie

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    Today when passing through the park there was a funfair on. Now I thought that goldfish as prizes was banned years ago but apparently its still going on....

    We decided to hook a duck and try and re home one. I know some people would argue that this just encourages them to carry on giving them away as prizes, but I don't want to get bogged down in the ethics of it. We just wanted to give one a nice home.....

    So. We went out and bought a 30l tank, basic filter, some 'tapsafe' liquid, and some gravel.
    I am aware that you are supposed to let a tank cycle for 3 days but we don't have that luxury. I realize the odds of stacked against the thing living but I want to make the best of the situation.

    The little guy is currently in a big salad bowl so obvious not ideal. I emptied the water from the bag into the bowl and topped it up with water that wasn't too cold (unfortunately I cant find my thermometer).

    Please advise me what the best course of action is given the situation. ASAP!!

    Cheers :)
     
  2. Johnc

    Johnc PetForums Newbie

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    Right, didn't really have much choice so we went ahead and treated the tap water, filled up the tank and put the fish in. Apparently you can do a 'fish in' cycle so that's what we are hoping to do. I don't want to get too technical with this, but Im planning to empty out half the water every couple of days for the first few weeks to dilute the Amonia which builds up. There is a lot of conflicting advice on the internet about this. At least we are aware of what can happen etc.

    I had goldfish when I was a kid and I never bothered with any of this stuff and it lived for 10+ Years!

    So fingers crossed he might be ok. Still open to any helpful advice though. Would be much appreciated.
     
  3. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    My first gold fish was a fair goldfish some 35 years ago. The 30 litre tank and filter will be far to small in the long run as goldfish produce lots of waste.

    As a temporary measure the tank will do. The filter will need to develope a healthy population of bacteria before it can break down your fishes waste. This can take about a month. Until that happens your fish will be exposed to its own toxic waste and this is what kills many fish. Make sure you treat any tap water with conditioner that will remove both chlorine and chloramines. Add water that is about the same temp. You don't need to be exact but within a degree or two to avoid shocking the fish.

    Don't feed your fish for the next day or so and then feed very sparingly ( a couple of flakes twice a day). You are going to need to work hard to build a population of bacteria withoout harming your fish which is tricky because the bacteria need the nitrite and ammonia to live on and these are the toxins that harm your fish.

    Pet shops always say that you need to leave the water in the tank for three days to cycle the tank. I don't know why as it does absolutely nothing. Bacteria don't grow in this time and won't do so without the food they need (fish waste) and nothing else changes. I think it originates from the days when chlorine was the only thing added to the water. Leaving it for a few days allowed the chlorine to disappate and allowed the cold water to reach room temperatures. Nowadays chloramine is used by the water companies as a bacteriacide and it won't disappate if you leave water to stand. It needs to be broken into chlorine and ammonia using water conditioner and the chlorine removed by the chemicals and the ammonia removed by the bacteria in the filter.

    I recommend you by a liquid chemical test kit (it is more accurate than a paper based kit), read up about fishless cycling and the nitrogen cycle and also read up about cycling a tank with fish. You will need to do regular large (30 - 50%) water changes to ensure the toxins are kept low enough not to harm your fish to much but to ensure there is enough ammonia and nitrite to build up a population of bacteria. Building this population will be very slow much slower than with fishless cycling as there won't me as much food for the bacteria to grow. It could take a couple of months of slowly building up the bacteria before you filter has enough bacteria to deal with your fishes waste without the need for daily water changes. Please do not be tempted to buy a friend for your fish. The extra waste will ended up killing your fish and its pal. You will need to invest in a larger tank as soon as you can.

    An alternative is to introduce your fish into a healthy pond with other goldfish. Don't release it into the wild or ponds on parks. Goldfish can live a very long time ( I had one live to 25 years) as long as 40 years. Please read everything you can on this forum as there are lots of helpful people here and I also recommend the practical fishkeeping forum too. Good luck.
     
    Lulus mum and NaomiM like this.
  4. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    We crossed over with our posts. One thing that can really help is to get so.e filter gunge from another fish keeper. This way you almost instantaneously have a ready populated filter that can support your fish.

    If you know any other fish keepers ask to swap some of their filter media with some fresh media you give them. It doesn't need to be the same media you will eventually use. Alternatively give them some of you filter media for a week to add to their filter and the bacteria will move across.
     
  5. NaomiM

    NaomiM Love my furry, feathered and finned family

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    Good advice from kittih. Well done for wanting to do the best for this fish. You're doing the right thing by doing regular large water changes - I'd increase them to 50% every day, at least until you can get a liquid test kit as kittih recommended. (This is the one most fish keepers recommend: http://www.amazon.co.uk/API-Freshwa...qid=1438546408&sr=8-1&keywords=api+master+kit It has everything you need and will last you ages.) Once you have one, test daily for ammonia and nitrite, and do a large water change any time either of these measures above 0.25.

    As kittih said, 30l will not be big enough in the long run, as common goldfish can grow to over 12" long and produce a lot of waste. Really they do best in ponds, so if you know anyone with a filtered pond, this would be ideal. If not, and if you really want to do the best for this fish, you'll need to look into getting the largest tank you can, ideally over 200l (though I know this sounds crazy when the fish is only little!) You can often find some good bargains for secondhand tanks if the cost seems prohibitive.
     
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  6. Johnc

    Johnc PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks to both of your for your replies. We have been doing some reading and now have a better Idea of what is needed to keep the toxin levels under control etc. If you don't mind answering a few questions there are still a couple of things we are not 100% on.....

    We will do the 50% water changes daily. How long should we keep this up for? At some point will we need to stop this and see if the bacteria in the filter is managing to keep the ammonia and nitrite Levels below 0.25 on its own?

    At some point will we need to change the filter in the pump? Will doing this start the whole cycle again and risk killing the fish all over again? Which leads me onto my other question; at some point, does the gravel and inside of the tank etc not need cleaning? Given how much waste they produce would the tank not end up stinking otherwise? I read its not necessary as the gravel/ornaments etc build up a layer of good bacteria. Is this right?

    Finally, you say it say be a good idea to get some 'filter media' from another established tank. I'm not quite sure what you mean by filter medium. Is that just the spongey stuff from inside the filter/pump? It sounded as though another suggestion was to put some of mine into someone else's filter. Would it just be a case of tearing some off or are they usually made of several sections? I don't quite understand....

    Thanks again for your help!
     
  7. NaomiM

    NaomiM Love my furry, feathered and finned family

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    No worries.

    When you get a test kit, this will let you know how long you need to keep up the water changes for. When the levels of ammonia and nitrite are both at 0 for several consecutive days, then the tank is cycled. A reading of between 0 and 0.25 means a low level of toxins are present. A reading above 0.25 means you need to do a water change to keep your fish from harm. If the readings are very high (0.5-1.0 or above), you will need to do more than one 50% water change in the same day. Your aim during a fish-in cycle is to keep the toxin levels below 0.25 as much as you possibly can.

    It's best not to change or wash anything in your filter until the tank is cycled. Once the tank is fully cycled, you can wash out the top layer of filter floss (usually a thin white pad) once a week in old tank water, and replace it when it's becoming very worn/falling to pieces. The other sponges (and baskets of ceramic beads if present - some filters have these, some filters don't) do not ever need replacing. Just gently swish ONE of them in a bucket of old tank water once a month or so, rotating which one you clean each month. NEVER USE UNTREATED TAP WATER ON ANYTHING IN YOUR TANK OR FILTER as the chlorine will kill all the good bacteria.

    If you use a gravel syphon when doing water changes, this will remove waste from your gravel and help to keep the tank clean. Something like this works fine: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Aquarium-...Pump-Filter-/221841645726?hash=item33a6cae09e There's no need to remove gravel and rinse it, as this will kill off the good bacteria. If you find you have algae/slime building up on the glass, just scrub it off before you syphon the gravel, and then the gravel syphon will suck up the particles. You can buy algae cleaning pads, but a dishwashing sponge or one of those green scouring pads works just as well, though make sure it's a new one and hasn't had any detergent used on it - it's best to rinse it in old tank water before the first use too.

    Filter media is the sponges/ceramic beads inside the filter, which house the majority of the good bacteria in your tank. If you can get a little piece of a sponge etc from someone who has an established tank and put it in your filter, it will kick-start the cycling process - the good bacteria in it will breed and colonise the new media in your filter. You need to keep it damp (with tank water) and transfer it from their tank to yours in the shortest possible time, though, as the bacteria start dying fairly quickly without the constant flow of oxygen provided by the filter pump. If no-one is willing to give you a bit of sponge, even a squeeze of water from one of their sponges will help, but then the time frame for transferring it is even shorter. The suggestion of putting your media into their filter for a while and then transferring it back again is another option, but this takes longer as you'd need to leave it there for a reasonable length of time to let it build up a bacteria colony before you take it back.

    Hope that all makes sense. Best of luck, and feel free to ask any further questions!



    Edit - what filter are you currently using? If yours contains a cartridge rather than separate layers of sponges/media, this makes things a little more complicated. Ones with several layers of separate media are much better!
     
  8. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    If you do know someone with a tank who will let you have some filter media ( some sponge, ceramic rings for instance) and you don't have any room in your filter to put it you can place the media in the toe end of new unused unwashed stocking or tights. Rinse the tights well before using them. Then dangle the tights with media in the tank water. The bacteria will colonize the rest of the tank surfaces and filter from there.

    're knowing when to stop the water changes, test the water just before you do a water change for ammonia nitrite and nitrate. It helps to keep a record of the results and if you like that sort of stuff a graph or spreadsheet too . What you are looking for is that ammonia is detectatable for the first few days / week every time you test but zero nitrite. Nitrate should be the same as your tap water ( test your tap water after it has been sitting a few hours or overnight to give a baseline for nitrates). As the bacteria build up you should find that the levels of ammonia you are seeing decrease and the levels of nitrite increase ( there are different bacteria to break down ammonia and nitrites). Nitrate stays the same. After some more time ammonia should always be zero and nitrite will begin to fall and nitrate will begin to rise. Eventually when you test every 24 hours you will get 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and a value of nitrate.

    Ammonia is the most toxic and nitrate the least. Fish (most including goldfish) can cope with some nitrate ie the normal levels in tap water but water changes stop it building too high. By recording the results each day you should see the general pattern occur above. When you get 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, some nitrate reading for a few days in a row then slowly ( 5 %.at a time) reduce the amount of your water change and keep testing. If all remains good keep going till you are able to do a 10-20%water change every few days / a week or so. Start gradually increasing your fishes food intake till recomended amounts but keep an eye on the results. If ammonia or nitrate are seen cut back on feeding and up the water changes.

    Do you have real plants in the tank? If not I don't recommend adding them for now if ever. Two reasons. The first if that plants will absorb the ammonia and nitrites not leaving any to feed the bacteria. The second is that goldfish love plants ( and need greens in their diet) they will therefore shred most plants and dead and decaying plants will add to the waste that produces ammonia and nitrite.

    Hope this makes sense
     
    #8 kittih, Aug 3, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2015
  9. Johnc

    Johnc PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for all the advice. Fish is doing well :)
     
    kittih likes this.
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