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Tank not cycling after a month?


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Hello,

I've had two small (1 - 1 1/2'') fancy (bubble-eye) goldfish in a 30 gallon tank for over a month now. My water tests are done with a liquid API test kit.

pH stays around 7.0, temperature is 72 (maintained by heater)

Penguin biowheel power filter rated for more than enough filtration and two airstones

ammonia fluctuates from 0 - 0.25 (hard to read, even in sunlight at times)

no nitrite or nitrate whatsoever

I change about 25-30% of the water at least twice a week. Sometimes my fish act fine, but the past few days one bottom sits or likes to swim near the top of the tank. There should be no problem with oxygen saturation in the tank, and ammonia never gets above 0.25 - 0.50. I feed them a varied diet once a day, just enough for them to eat in 2 minutes. They never refuse food, but at times the fins on this same one are clamped. What is going on? Weird. I kept the salt level around 0.2% for a couple of weeks (slowly bringing them up) to help relieve some stress when I first got them and to ward off the dreaded ich, and I've been bringing the salinity back down slowly. I read on several forums that the minute salt level should not effect the biological filter. The weird acting fish seems to be happier with the salt added so I added a bit back to bring it up to 0.1% again. I did add some Tetra Safestart a couple of days ago to hopefully boost the bacteria, but I tested the water today and I keep getting no ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. I'm baffled!

I've kept all kinds of fish from freshwater to marine over the past 25 years, so I feel like a somewhat experienced aquarist, but I've just come back to the hobby after a 5 year hiatus. So confused!!!! Any input is much appreciated. I've never had this much trouble with goldfish before, and I even kept bubble eyes and celestials for many years in the past. Maybe they are fine and I'm just fretting over them too much. Or maybe they have flukes? I do not see any visible parasites, but the funny acting one does flare his gill covers sometimes and yawns. Something is irritating him, and I don't think it's the water parameters. But the tank isn't cycling for some reason.

Thank you,

Heather

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If you're not already using Prime, I'd get some at least until you finish cycling. Prime will detoxify a total of 1 ppm of ammonia + nitrite for 24 hours. So you can let the ammonia build up a little bit more before doing a WC. Test your parameters daily. As long as ammonia + nitrite < 1, add Prime. If ammonia + nitrite > 1, do a WC. I would recommend not going longer than a week though between WCs.

Do you know what your tank KH is? Do you have any ceramic media such as Biomax in your filter or just the biowheel? :idont

Beneficial bacteria prefer a higher pH (8.3) and warmer temps. I wouldn't mess with the pH but if you have a heater it might be worth adding while you cycle.

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What are you using for a water conditioner? We typically recommend Prime because it inactivates the levels of ammonia you are experiencing.

We recommend a quarantine procedure that includes salt (much like you are doing) and also prazi to handle flukes, which are very common.

Is that 1" - 1 1/2" the total length (with tail) or standard length (without tail)? With small fish, a spacious aquarium, light feeding, and regular water changes, you may be keeping the water clean enough that you aren't able to read the parameters. This is good, even if it makes you nervous.

When I built my first little 100 gallon pond, I put in 7 "inchlings", added some pots of plants and a sorry little box filter. I fed the fish every other day, and tested daily for six weeks and then stopped without ever seeing ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate.

However the symptoms suggest it isn't that simple in your case. It may be that this fish is very sensitive to ammonia, it may well have flukes, or an infection of some kind.

I suggest the following:

a large (90% or more) water change using Prime as a water conditioner

begin treatment with Prazipro

start a Disease Diagnosis thread, filling out this long, annoying, but very useful form

Please copy & paste fill the following form and fill it out to the best of your ability when requesting help for Goldfish Problems:

  • Test Results for the Following:
    • * Ammonia Level(Tank)
    • * Nitrite Level(Tank)
    • * Nitrate level(Tank)
    • * Ammonia Level(Tap)
    • * Nitrite Level(Tap)
    • * Nitrate level(Tap)
    • * Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)
    • * Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)
    • Other Required Info:
      • * Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops?
      • * Water temperature?
      • * Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running?
      • * What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)?
      • * How often do you change the water and how much?
  • * How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change?
  • * How many fish in the tank and their size?
  • * What kind of water additives or conditioners?
  • * What do you feed your fish and how often?
  • * Any new fish added to the tank?
  • * Any medications added to the tank?
  • * List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank. Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment.
  • * Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus?
  • * Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.?
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Sorry to hear that cycling your tank has become a mysterious challenge. You are in good hands with fantail1 and shakaho. They have a lot of experiencing in dealing with this challenge. Follow their guidance and ask lots of questions when necessary.

Also, we would love pics of your bubble eyes! I raised them long ago. I love those kind of goldfish!

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Thank you all so much for the help! I do have a heater, and I bumped it up a bit. I was scared to set it too high because I read that ammonia would be more of a problem at higher temperatures. Does 76 degrees as a final temp sound alright? I can bring it up slowly. I have no idea what my kh reading is, and I don't have a test for that. I have heard great things about Prime so I will definitely get some, and I ordered some Prazipro.

They eat high quality sinking pellets (soaked first), skinned peas, and sinking spirulina pellets. Sometimes I soak the peas in garlic to boost their immune system. Right now I only feed tiny amounts once a day.

I did a 25% water change again today and didn't add any salt back in. I using API water conditioner, and I did add a little melafix. Do you recommend water changing it all out or trying to keep a very low level (1 tsp/gal)?

Unfortunately the little guy that isn't doing well has some red streaks at the base of his tail and is very sluggish (that's why I added the melafix). Should I give him a strong salt bath? The other fish is fine and I refuse to use antibiotics in the tank, especially since I'm having such weird parameter readings and I don't want to mess with my bacteria. I ordered these guys from a LFS, so maybe they just were unhealthy to begin with. I'm doing all I can for them, but I honestly feel like giving up at this point! They only cost $6 each, and I'm busting my behind to save them. My saltwater tank was easier than this. Lol. Help!!

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And I do have ceramic media, and mechanical media sponges in the bio wheel filter. It is very slimy so I think the cultures are coming along ok, but I just don't know why I have no nitrate or nitrate readings.

I hope I addressed everyone's questions!

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I suggest to the moderators to move this thread to D&D because the guidance needed appears to be moving in that direction. Or is it best for Heather to just start a new thread in D&D? Or is it fine right here? Thank you!

Edited by LisaCGold
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Hi Heather,

Why do you think the tank is not cycled? At least so far, none of the numbers shown has convinced that it's cycled, or uncycled. :)

May we see a video of your fish?

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I have taken several videos of her on my iPad so I will try to upload them to youtube soon. I have no idea if the tank has cycled because I have 0 readings on all nitrogen compounds as of this morning. Prazipro and Prime have been ordered along with some medigold food for the redness at the base of the tail. I suspect flukes or some other parasite since these two came from a LFS (never again! Lol)! One fish is fine, but the other one was so sluggish yesterday that I decided to give her a strong salt dip for a few minutes. She is much better this morning and not bottom sitting. Both fish are roaming around the tank and picking at rocks! The only visible problem is the redness at the base of the caudal fin on one if them. I am slowly increasing salinity back up to 0.3% and I will treat with Prazipro when it arrives. I'm still staying on top of water parameters, and I'll feed the medigold for a couple of weeks to combat any nasty bacterial problems. It could be that they have flukes and this is opening the scales to allow the bacteria to enter. My fingers are crossed for these little guys!

I am open to any other suggestions, too. And please move the thread to the right area if necessary. I still have no clue if my tank is cycled yet, but if the parameters are fine I guess I shouldn't worry. These will be the only two fish in this tank, and maybe my only goldfish period!

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What a beautiful bubble eye! :)

How often are you changing the water? My recommendation right now is to do nothing except for water changes, and definitely no salt. :)

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Thank you! I really do love her. Well, I don't know if it's a female or not but I named her Ursula. I'll try to get a video of my other one too. He is Archibald.

Ursula is doing better today. She is swimming more, and never refuses mealtime. There is still some redness at the base of her tail but the blood is a little more rust colored so maybe it is healing? Should I start phasing the salt out? I thought it would help with her ragged tail fin, but I want to do what is best for her. Melafix is in the water, too. I've been changing about 25 - 30% of the water daily just to keep the parameters in check. She seems to perk up with the water changes.

I will treat with Prazipro when it arrives this week. I remember seeing a good schedule for treatment on here, but I would appreciate the link again if someone has it. Does it sound like flukes? They both yawn often, and Ursula shakes her head sometimes and flares her gills. Since I don't see any parasites on them and the water quality is great, that is what I suspect. The strong salt dip really helped her, but she does still bottom sit and then there are those red marks on her tail. :(

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Cute bubble eye!

Here is the link on treating with prazi: http://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/forum/index.php?/topic/105076-schedules-for-the-treatment-of-flukes-etc-using-praziquantel/

I was not able to see flukes on my fish, but I was pretty sure they had them before I started treating them. I don't thinks flukes are easily seen by the naked eye.

You'll want to get the go ahead from a moderator before starting the prazi treatment. When the meds arrive, I suggest you start a thread in the Disease and Diagnoses forum (sometimes referred to D&D) as to your plan. What I mean by this is to copy in the post the portion of the prazi schedule above that you think you want to follow along with any questions (like "Okay, I'm ready to go, okay?" and "How much salt should I be using?" and "Will the salt hurt my plants?" and "Should I do this in the main tank or QT tank?" etc.). That way you get guidance all along the way.

Big water changes are good. My fish love that also. I change about 80% of my water ever 5-6 days.

As for Melafix, I treated my fish with that for only 4 days (they had some bumps on their fin). I made sure there was extra aeration because Melafix appears to reduce the oxygen in the water. So you'll want to make sure there is plenty of aeration if you are using Melafix. When you do start the prazi treatment, I suggest you do not have any Melafix in the water.

Edited by LisaCGold
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O.k. thank you. If I have any other questions, I will start a new thread over in the D & D section. I'll start phasing out the salt down to 1%, and no more Melafix before I add the Prazi!

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O.k. thank you. If I have any other questions, I will start a new thread over in the D & D section. I'll start phasing out the salt down to 1%, and no more Melafix before I add the Prazi!

Also, when you do start a thread in D&D, you'll want to post the URL to this thread in one of the D&D posts so that mods and others can refer to it. In that post just give a brief summary of what happened here.

Happiness vibes to Ursula and Archibald! What great names!

Edited by LisaCGold
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I just reread your post. Since your tank is not cycled yet, you may want to wait to do the prazi treatment until then. Life is soooo much easier when a tank is cycled when you do prazi treatments (I had an uncycled tank and I had to do prazi treatments--it was work!). I can't tell if the mods recommend doing prazi soon or until after tank is cycled. But you indicated what may be some fluke symptoms:

They both yawn often, and Ursula shakes her head sometimes and flares her gills. Since I don't see any parasites on them and the water quality is great, that is what I suspect. The strong salt dip really helped her, but she does still bottom sit and then there are those red marks on her tail.

You also indicate the red marks are turning rust colored, which may be signs of healing. I can't say for sure if it is signs of healing, but the mods would know.

I'll report this post to the mods to see what they have to say about prazi treatments and tank cycling. Stay tune!

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O.k. I'll wait until I do anything. The salt is about 0.2% and Melafix is currently in the tank. Should I do a water change to get the salt back down to 0.1% or should I keep it at 0.2% since I haven't seen any nitrites yet? I may need to leave it in . . . thanks!



Do you think another salt dip would help Ursula? She seemed to feel a lot better the other day, but someone advised to stay away from the salt for the moment.

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How often are you changing the water? My recommendation right now is to do nothing except for water changes, and definitely no salt. :)

I suggest you follow Alex's advice. He one of our treatment experts.

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Alex recommended no salt, so do water changes to take the salt out. Because Alex recommended no salt, salt dips should also not be done.

I can't recall if you ordered Prime, but you should. During the cycling process it will help to break down the ammonia and nitrites to make it less toxic and easier for the biological filter to process it.

I'm not too sure the benefit of having salt while not having any nitrites. Here's is what's been written on koko's about salt when nitrites are present:

When high levels of nitrites enter the gills, the toxicity affects the blood's ability to carry oxygen though the body, thus suffocating the fish. Somehow aquarium salt reduces the toxic effect of the nitrites by allowing the uptake of oxygen. The salt contains electrolytes that are essential for the uptake of oxygen, the release of carbon dioxide and ammonium across the gill membranes. So, it appears that nitrites are toxic for the fish's gills and the salt is a temporary relief until the nitrites can be reduced to a non-toxic level. http://www.kokosgoldfish.com/NitritesAndSaltQuestion.html

But since you don't have nitrites, no salt is needed right now. And besides, Alex recommends no salt for now.

Edited by LisaCGold
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O.k. sounds good. I did order some Prime so it should be here this week.

Today's parameters:

pH dropped from about 7.0 to 6.8? Not sure why, but is this alright?

ammonia - 0 to 0.25 (same as tap)

nitrite - 0

nitrate - 0, I think. It might have had a very very slight orange tint. If it is there, I am super excited!

So salt will get phased out in a couple of days. One more question, should I add any Melafix back in? I feel like the answer is no, but I wanted to be sure. Would that affect the pH?

Thanks so much! I'm off to do a 50% water change, and the same tomorrow. Then the salt will be gone. I've got the tank at 75 degrees. Is this temperature o.k.? You guys are so helpful. I really want Ursula to pull through.

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75 degrees is good.

I suggest holding off on adding any Melafix unless a moderator suggests it. I don't know for sure if Melafix will affect ph, but I don't think it does.

6.8 ph is too low for goldfish. They prefer more alkaline water. I'll post the link to using baking soda to increase and buffer your ph. Just make sure to use a fresh box of baking soda (like Arm & Hammer) and preserve that box for only your fish tank.

Edited by LisaCGold
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