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Water Quality Issue,...


Guest Auld_Fishie

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Guest Auld_Fishie

Hi there.

Any advice would be appreciated on my tank dilemma as I am new to the fish keeping thing!

My tank (60 litres) has been set up for 2 months now and have four fish (orandas/fantails, unsure as quite young) and they all seemed happy until recently. Since having the tank set up we did water changes (10-20%) every other day for the first 2 weeks and then went down to once a week. pH was sitting around the 7 mark (however, now i know its important to test more often than we had).

A couple of weeks ago we noticed one of the fish (smallest of the 4) was clamping his fins and looking generally miserable, no other obvious signs of disease. We took a sample of our water up to the pet shop and he said things looked ok (we had just done a water change though) and gave us some King British Revitaliser Tonic to add. We added this and the fish perked up in a few days. However, since we noticed the clamping of the fins I've been doing pH tests and its sitting around the 6-6.5 mark!! a few times its even dropped to about 5.5, which i know is too low........Past few weeks we have done more frequent water changes and since yesterday we are going to do one every day for a week to see if this maked a difference. However, nothing has budged the pH so far!

All the other fish are bright and happy! Today the smallest fish has just been at the surface watching bubbles, looking rather lethargic again :(

Additionally, over this period brown algae has grown in the tank and we realise this may be from overfeeding so we have cut back recently. Also bubbled produced by the filter/air stone collect for a wee bit on the surface before popping...is this a sign of bad water??

I know this seems like a lot of info and rather garbled, but any advice would be helpful. I unfortunately dont have any nitrite/nitrate readings as i dont have a test (gonna buy one soon, but they are sooooo expensive for what they are!) I do know, however, that ammonia is 0 and the pH of my tap water is 6.5 when I last tested (prob doesnt help!)

Anyway..... any help appreciated, i really dont want to lose this litte guy! :)

Auld_Fishie x

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  • Regular Member

You don't say where you're located, but in the US ammonia/nitrite/nitrate/etc tests are usually $3-$6 each (a packet will have enough drops to do something like 25 to 75 tests). And there are some strips that may do several in one, but they're typically not quite as reliable, although it might be a reasonable first step. Its definitely critical for you to get measurements of pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

In fact, try to answer as many questions as possible from the top of this page:

http://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/...hp?showforum=10

Since you're doing large water changes already, I'd be important to know the parameters of your tap water as well. Are they the same? Or is something happening in the tank? That's key to know.

One final thought: pH that low is pretty unusual. Especially if the water is the same out of the tap. I'd have to wonder if your pH test might be old and not functioning properly. In that case, you may want to find another pH test somewhere and see if it reports the same.

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Guest Auld_Fishie

Hi

I'm located in the UK and from what I've seen our test kits cost about ?7 which is nearly double what you guys pay! I wouldnt have thought our pH test is old or out of date as we got it when we got the tank (2 months ago) ? I am definately getting a nitrate/nitrite test kit or the strips either tomorrow or at the weekend, to see whats going on.

Should i be buffering my tap water up to 7-7.5 before adding to the tank? Obviously, I know that doing water changes with water that is 6.5 isnt going to help adjust the pH much.

I just find it confusing that all the other fish are fine!

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Hello Auld Fishie,

It sounds like your fish is suffering from nitrite poisoning. It affects some fish faster and more severely than others, but it is bad for all.

What happens is the first stage of cycling produces ammonia. The first week you did the frequent water changes thus keeping this at bay somewhat. Unfortunately ammonia is not the only nastie. It is just first.

Once the ammonia is used up by the first set of beneficial bacteria the nitrosomonas, along come the second worry- nitrites and they are equally lethal to fish. Those daily water changes cannot be stopped until you also see zero for nitrites. The second family of bbs (beneficial bacteria) move in as soon as the nitrosomonas have completed their colony. These de-nitrifying bacs (the nitrobacters) get to work on the nitrite turning it into nitrAtes =cycle end.

From ammonia>nitrites to nitrates takes anywhere from 5 or 6 weeks to as long as 3 months during which time water changes have to be done daily or every second day depending on test results.

The pH will only stabilise when the cycle is complete. Only when you see nitrAtes is your tank really safe for the fish.

Nitrites damage fish in 2 ways. They bind with the red blood cells and render those cells unable to carry oxygen -hence the fish will be seen skimming the surface trying to get 'air'. You will need to do very large water changes to decrease nitrite levels as -and the second way it damages- they have a longterm bad effect on the fishes' immune system.

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Guest Auld_Fishie

Hi Trinket

Thanks for your reply. I plan to buy a test kit for nitrite/nitrate tomorrow and see whats heppening, and hopefully take it from there!

Just couple of questions to make sure I'm on the right track......

a) I guess i'm looking to get nitrites down to 0

b) what kind of value should I be looking for nitrates (when and if they start appearing)

c) and what should I be looking to settle my pH at?

Lastly..... When i get nitrites down to 0, what water changes should i be doing... once weekly? or twice weekly?

I know these sound like obvious and silly questions, but as you can tell I'm totally new to this game... and I thought I was doing so well until now!!!!!!! :krazy:

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  • Regular Member

You are doing well :) It is no mean feat getting the fish through the ammonia stage. Most fish don't make that- really! And that you came here to seek support is more than most do when setting up.

To answer your Qs: nitrites must be zero always.

nitrates can be 5, 10, 20. More indicates you need to do a large water change.

Try and get your pH at 7. No lower. Any higher may be mission impossible with a tap pH at constant 6.5 and the jump/difference will be stressfull. You may find when the tank cycles the pH steadies out around 7 depending on various other tank set up factors, temperature etc- stability in water chemistry (amm at 0, nitrites at 0) makes a stable pH easier to achieve.

When the tank is cycled (and you are halfway) you can look at once weekly changes half the tank changes probably, although I think you are overstocked so that may need to be twice weekly depending on feeding regime and size of your fish :)

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Guest Auld_Fishie

Thanks Trinket! :)

You mention overstocked....really? When talking about overstocking, is it in relation to the possible size the fish may grow too. We understand that the fish we have may grow to about 8 inches,.... but at the mo, they are only about 1.5 - 2 inches each.

Goldfish keeping is more intense than I thought!!! lol! I'm defo getting a test reading for nitrites/trates tomo so will feedback with what i find out! :)

Thanks again!! :D

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Guest Auld_Fishie

Hi there,

I finally bought testing strips and heres what the results showed...

GH - 60

pH 6.5

Nitrites - 0

Nitrates - around 40 mark

My tap water is:

GH 0

pH - 6.5

Nitrites and nitrates - 0

Came home and my litte guy was sitting on the bottom :( hes not very happy at all,...the others however are thriving!!!

Any advice!? HELP!

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  • Regular Member

Other than the low pH, those numbers are ok. But a low GH may imply an even lower KH. KH means the ability of your water to resist pH swings, and so a low KH means potential for pH swings, which would certainly leave a fish unhappy.

Other than KH, the other big reading you're missing is ammonia. While there's reason to believe you should haven't any due to your nitrite/nitrate readings, you should really know for sure.

So, to summarize, my recommendations would be:

- get tests for KH and ammonia

- in the meantime, find out what you could do about low KH

- I'd also be interested to hear what others on here have to say about a pH so low

In addition, I will put out a hypothesis #1 about what *may* be causing the problems. 40 is on the high side of ok for nitrates (or the low side of not-so-ok). Make sure the new water is reasonably close in temperature. You also said you were doing a lot of water changs this week. If the nitrates are now 40, you may not even want to know what they were before. This is because your tank is overstocked. And high nitrates *may* have the biggest effect on the smallest fish.

60 liters is 15 US gallons, and you have 4 fish. Typically we'd recommend 10 gallons per fancy goldfish, so that's a 150 liter tank for 4. Pet shops, while typically well meaning, are not all that educated, and often are happy to sell you far less than you really need to get the sale, where you might object if they tried to sell you twice as much.

Goldfish are not that difficult as pets (but they're not as easy as many people believe either), but since they were not means to live in such confined spaces, and since they're constantly peeing and pooping in their own water, you need enough water to be able to absorb their waste, which eventually turns into nitrates (first ammonia, then nitrite, then nitrate, but in a 'cycled' tank, the earlier ones will be consumed basically immediately and will never register in any measurable amount in the water).

Being overstocked with fish, and/or overfeeding them, is the biggest cause of high nitrates, and can weaken the fish and cause any number of problems.

We can't yet rule out other causes (the low pH, low KH, ammonia, etc), but its one theory that seems to hold thus far.

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AF, I've moved this into D&D so you canget more help on your bottom sitting fish. I think its pH aggravated whatever else and you should be adding (shorterm) a small amount of baking soda with every water change. It's difficult to be exact with baking soda so you need to test pH daily for a while to see how it raises the pH. Try and get it at a constant figure between 7 and 8.

The trouble with a low pH is that the biofilter (bbs) really do not thrive. You may have a situation where the bbs are dieing back and you will need to invest in some more biomedia and pack your filterboxes full of things like ceramic noodles to assist bbs colonising.

Heres a pic of the noodles I use:

andcurlybits-1.jpg

Of course that is halfway filled as I was cycling the tank. It should be packed tight so there is no filter space left and the filterflow should flow over it to oxygenate the bbs and keep them healthy.

Bottom sitting is an alarm bell but it without other symptoms it can so often be water/tank set up related.

Are there any other symptoms on the fish? Red spots? Strange poop? Not eating? Any other fish behaving oddly?

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Guest Auld_Fishie

Hi there

I forgot to mention that Ammonia results were 0, and the KH of tap water was low (0 i think) and of the tank i cant remember......

Since my nitrates are at 40 would you recommend a water change now? how much?

additionally, I thought the we guy (mr fish) was not going to make it last night, he was just sitting at the bottom corner of the tank when the light went off. But the strange thing is if you go over and see him he gets up and swims around. He still has clamped fins. Hes eating but spitting it out :(

All the other fish are fine, swimming around and greedy as always ;) They dont seem to be bothering mr fish either.....

Just to add, Once weekly I add Nutrafin Cycle and waste control and treat my water with nutrafin stuff before adding to the tank at water changes.

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Reading through I'm beginning to get a better picture and have 2 ideas. One is still pH and the other is flukes.

Lets talk about flukes first. When you got your fish in the beginning, did you notice the condition of the other fish in the tank or nearby tanks they came from? Can you remember? The truth is that if your fish were bought 2 months ago, they could still be carrying a growing community of fluke parasites and you might have missed the very initial flashing/scratching stage. As the flukes (very tiny hook like bugs) get hold the fish resigns to them and clamped fins/bottom sitting/puffing at the surface followed by split fins usually follows. The big teller (without a microscope) is often the progression of lethargy, i.e getting worse.

With all new fish going in a tank together its a good idea to do a very quick parasite medication dip before setting up shop (tank).

pH problems affect some fish more than others. As the pH plunges and the water gets acidic, the fishes slime coat is literally burned off by the acidic water and the gills are irritated and burned disrupting osmoregulation/breathing. They can hover at the surface or bottom sit. Can you see any whitening of the fish at all? A hazy white film over the body? The bottom sitting/surface hanging should coincide with the pH drop so thats the first thing to check next time you see either. Nitrites of any number can also by the way have the same effect (bottom sitting/surface hanging combo).

If your kH is zero you have a problem. It is very difficult but not impossible to keep goldfish with a crazy low kH. If your tap water pH is 7. You are continually stressing the fish with water changes- the very act that is supposed to de-stress fish! pH swings, up and down (especially downs) are very harsh on fish.

You definitely need to look into manning your filterbox with some more media. Crushed oyster shells/sea shells/crushed coral packed into your filter will all raise and stabilise your pH for a very long time. Much longer than commercial buffers whose buffering capacity can so suddenly expire and the plunge is repeated.

How is the water now? Are the filter bubbles popping at the surface as they should or still turbid?

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Guest Auld_Fishie

Hi Trinket

Our tap water is 6.5 too, so since the tank is 6.5, i assume the fish arent getting too stressed by wild pH swings. We did a good 50% water change today and have got the nitrates down to about 20 now, which is better than before. I do want to get the pH up again to about 7-8 but I think i want to concentrate on this once this wee guy is either better or has passed on to fishy heaven..... he's been top hanging all day with some swimming about, and I rekon as soon as he gets tired of holding himself up there he'll be back down to the bottom, knackered, like last night.

You mentioned using sea shells/coral in the filter. As you can tell i'm new to this game,.. is this just packed into the filter case where there are empty spaces (between carbon and sponge stuff?) I have a Elite stingray 15 filter (which i looked up and apparently has a 300 ltm rate) Now before people start shouting, am i right in saying that this filtration rate is not near enough for my tank????? I feel like such a novice........

Additionally, I dont have a quarentine/hospital tank set up. Part of me wants to remove the wee guy from the tank into a bucket of water (removed from the tank) and treat him (I brought a broad spectrum medication today, Interpet Gold Disease Safe, I dont know if this is any good but its all the pet shop had really). Its a long shot really, i know, but I guess its the best solution I can offer. I havent decided yet, so any suggestions welcome :)

One last question....this bubbles popping at the surface....are the bubbles to be popping imediately once formed, or within 5 seconds? 10 seconds? We're a bit confused about this. At the moment the bubble gather is not too bad, just a wee stream of them half way along front of tank (water level) were the current hits otherside from filter.

Just did a test and For note parameters of tank:

GH - 60

KH - 40

pH - 6.5

nitrites - 0

nitrates inbetween 20 and 40

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I just wanted to jump in to say hold off on the medication. Around here the thought is that you shouldn't treat with any medication/chemicals until you've actually diagnosed the problem. Otherwise you're just taking a shot in the dark that may be unneccessary, may grow resistant bacteria, or worse.

*The* most important thing to fish is water quality. Its often said that 'fish keeping is water keeping'. You are making great strides in that. That majority of us - me included - came here when overcrowding or other poor water quality issues started causing health problems. So you are in good company, and are taking the steps that many of us did.

I'll also chime in that the general filter rule of thumb is 10x - meaning with a 60 L tank, you'd want 600 liters per house. I'm not sure what 'LTM' is - I assume its not LiTers per Minute, becuase that'd be 3600 LPM, which is crazy high :) . If you're less than this, it's worth investing in a second filter. If there's no place to hang another on the back, you can get the in-tank/canister kind which fit in the tank and either have a clip to hang over the back or use suction cups. I would *not* recommend entirely replacing the current filter and just removing it, because most of the good bacteria probably live in there, and that could 'crash' your cycle.

Other than that, I'll let the mods take it.

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You can also get external cannister filters which save even more space. It may be that extra filtration not medication is where the money should be spent here. I am in total aggreeance with Fred above- you should not ever use medication in your tank (worst of all) or in a QT separate tank until an accurate diagnosis is made. So often water problems are what produce disease like symptoms. Symptoms just like these.

How was this fish after the large water change? Did he recover for a short time? If so that's a clue- you may just need to do 50% water changes daily for a week at least to get your bacterial load down (can't see the bad bacteria and there's no readily available kit to test levels of that either) and look into getting another filter ASAP. For a second filter you cannot beat a HOB (hang on back or side) in my opinion because they create such a great source of dissolved oxygen via that waterfall. Attractive too.

If your fish has flukes he will start to develop farther symptoms like red spots or split fins.That will be time enough to medicate not before. That is the time to post back here for medication advise as many meds say they work for everything but specific diagnosis will be least harsh on the fish and give the best results. For now, I recommend you try the daily water changes -you may just have a small fish sensitive to thick (bacteria heavy) water. You cannot see the accumulation of bacteria that can get dangerous if levels are high and can only be depleted via those water changes.

About the bubbles, the popping timing depends on pressure. I was anxious that they were never popping (and collecting like soapy suds on the surface) as long as those bubbles are popping then you are fine. Please remember that( because you 'overstocked' tecnically in the way kokos members work out water safety per fish which is 10 gallons recommended for each fish)you will need extra dissolved oxygen. This is very, very important. Can't stress that enough. In my overstocked largest tank I have 4 separate bubble machines running to pop bubbles at the surface which assists in the process of dissolving oxygen. Basically oxygen enters water at the surface through those bubbles and that ruffling of the waters surface is #1 best way to dissolve the oxygen making it accessible for the fish to use. In a stagnant tank with a flat water surface you will see all the fish gasping at the top like this. And that constant stream of bubbles is also crucial to the life of the helpful bacteria living in a healthy biofilter.

It looks like you should focus on upping DO, upping filtration and water changes some more. Leave the medication for down the road when it is truly essential. Keep us updated okay :)

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  • Regular Member

With a KH of 40, it's going to be very difficult to keep good water. Don't BB's need a minimum of 50? Adding a buffer will not hurt your fish. You can do it slowly.... changes of .2 in PH will not harm your fish at all. I've done larger swings than that with no ill affects whatsoever.

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Guest Auld_Fishie

Hi guys

Thanks for the advice

Fredct - I did mean Litres per hour, that was a v bad typo! lol!

We do have a bubble disc in our tank (the fish like it to play in!) and this is on vast majority of the time. Just one question, how long do you guys have your aquarium light on for? all day? part the day? Ours in on timer at the mo so its on for wee bit in the morning and then in the evening, giving total of 10hours...

I'm thinking its pH I may have to concentrate on, when we first got him the pH of our tank was 7 and when I first noticed his clamping of fins etc I tested and it was down to 6.5 and this is where it has stayed (I cant tell you how it was at 7 at the first place since we;ve been using the same water source since the beginning!)

Today i'm gona go get another filter, maybe another bubble disc and do another 50% water change

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Guest Auld_Fishie

Hi again,

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for all their help and advice! :) Bought a new filter today and asked about raising my pH at my local pet store and he was very helpful and gave me a bag of crushed coral to add to the tank. Obviously I know that this takes time to work so I did a water change with water I had adjusted from our tap (tap pH 6.5, adjusted it to 7.0 with bicarb soda). I wasnt to keen to just throw bicarb into the tank and move the pH too much,.....

Well.... mr fish seems happy now! Fins still a wee bit clamped, but hes swimming around more and interested in stuff and playing in the currents! Hes not hanging around at the top so much and hasnt sat on the bottom (yet!)

I just did a pH of the tank water just now and it seems to be almost 7. I know this seems to be a bigger jump than it should have been from 6.5 but they all seem happy and no adverse effects.

Does anyone in the UK, or Scotland for that matter know where I can obtain crushed shells etc? Or even cuttlebone...I read that you can add cuttlebone to the tank to help pH as well.

Cheers eveyone! :D

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So glad its sorted :exactly The filter and pH change will be just what he needed then! And a pH jump up that much is far less troublesome for the fish than that pH drop . You should find the crushed coral will slowly raise the pH a little more even and then keep it there which is so re-assuring. And you wont have to replace it for a year or more probably. Well done. Remember to keep up those second daily water changes in an overstocked tank :)

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