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Cycling Tank Again

Guest rhelms

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My daughters won a goldfish at a local fair this summer. We had it in a rectangular container and it was doing very well. We purchased a 29 gallon tank and added the water and decorations. We let the filter run in the fishless tank for a week before added the fish. I checked nitrites, nitrates, ph and alkalinity and all looked good. We added the goldfish and he loved the extra room. After several days everything was still looking good, so we added 4 more goldfish. They seemed to do well for the first week. Then the tank became very cloudy. I did a 30% water change and things seemed to clear up. Things seemed to be going well for another week.

Then the fish started acting funny (staying either on the top or the bottom, not eating much, etc.) When I tested the ammonia, it had went up to 4ppm. I did a 50% water change. The ammonia level still tested at 4ppm.

I tested my tap water and it was also testing between 2 and 4ppm.

I transfered the goldfish to the smaller tank with ammonia free water, but it was too late. I have found out that our local water company uses chloramine. We have a drinking water filter that removes the chloramine. We want more goldfish.

I have removed the water from the tank. I rinsed the gravel (I did not want to clean it completely, because I thought it might help with the cycling of the tank) and rinsed the filters. I added filtered water and tested the tank. The ammonia is at 1ppm, nitrites at 3ppm, nitrates at 20ppm, ph is 6.8 and alkalinity is 40.

I added Prime to the tank to help remove the ammonia, but it is still testing at 1ppm.

Will this help cycle my tank properly? Does Prime still give a positive reading for ammonia? Should I take everything down again and clean the gravel completely?

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  • Regular Member

So you have no fish left now? (sorry, just a bit confused). Also, do you want common or fancy goldies?

Commons generally need 20 gallons...each. Fancies are ok with 10 gallons, so you could put 3 fancies in there.

As for you water questions, I'm not the most well versed in Prime so I'll leave that for a more experienced member. As for the gravel, is it really, really dirty? What you could do is really vaccum it well, you will still have good bacteria intact if you do that, but you'll remove waste that is contributing to the ammonia and nitrates.

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Yes, all of our fish died.

I will try vacuuming the gravel.

Do you know if the tank will continue to cycle without the fish? Do I need to add anything to get it to cycle?

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A tank will not cycle without some sort of ammonia added to it. Usually if you want to do a fishless cycle you need to add pure ammonia to the tank (just enough to bring it up to the levels fish would naturally add in). You have to make sure it is pure ammonia only without any added detergents (if it foams when you shake it you don't want to use that kind). It can take at least six weeks to cycle a tank properly.

I'm not sure what is the best thing to say regarding your water quality...hopefully someone with a more scientific mind can help out.

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Prime breaks the chlorine-ammonia (chloramine) bond, removes the chlorine, and then neutralizes the ammonia... There is discussion about the relationship between ammonia tests and Prime here: http://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/...showtopic=63831

It seems that most ammonia tests still detect the ammonia that has been bound up by Prime. I consider this useful, because it is good to know that the ammonia is there in the first place. However, this prevents you from knowing how much "free ammonia" (unbound and potentially harmful) is in the water. I think, though it's unclear from the discussion, that the ammonia that has been neutralized is still available to your cycle.

I would leave the gravel alone and let the cycle bacteria build up. The ammonia in your tap water may be enough to cycle the tank without fish, though you would have to do water changes to keep the ammonia level up once the cycle is established. Adding clear ammonia is the most effective way to keep a constant level of ammonia, though it is possible to use fish food to feed the cycle. Your cycle may still be okay despite all the cleaning. I'm not sure whether you were doing this or not, but when cleaning your tank never use straight tap water: use old tank water (during a water change) or treated tap water to rinse your gravel and filter/media, otherwise you risk damaging your cycle.

The test results (ammonia 1ppm, nitrite 3ppm, nitrate 20ppm) are a bit strange. Is this immediately after removing all of the water from the tank and cleaning? Also, what type/brand of test are you using?

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Since you're starting at the beginning, here are some basics.

Because of the way goldfishes' internal organs are structured, they produce more waste than any other fish. Thus, they need more water to help manage that waste. Also because of goldfishes' internal organ structure, they need more water space so that these organs don't become twisted and deformed from being kept in too small of a tank. While goldfish do have a growth inhibitor hormone, that only controls their external body growth. So, while it may look like a goldfish will only grow to the size of a tank, it's internal organs continue to grow.

So, slim-bodied goldfish, i.e., commons, comets, shubukins, etc., each need at least 20 gallons of water per fish. Slim-bodied goldfish are more hearty than fancy goldfish, so are easier to take care of in that respect, but if taken care of properly, they can grow to 2 feet long, so you need to be prepared to provide adequate housing. Goldfish also grow very, very quickly. While two small, slim-bodied goldfish would look like they are perfectly fine in a 29 gallon tank, and they would be for a period of time, it wouldn't be very long before they would outgrow that tank and you would be required to get a larger tank; at least 40 gallons. So, to safely keep slim-bodied goldfish in your 29 gallon tank, you really can only have one.

Fancy goldfish, i.e., fantails, orandas, ryukins, telescopes, moors, lionheads, ranchus, pearlscales, celestials, bubbleeyes, each need at least 10 gallons of water per fish. Fancy goldfish are more sensitive than slim-bodied goldfish, so they are a little more difficult to take care of, but they won't grow quite as large as slim-bodied goldfish. They can still reach sizes of 8 inches though and at that size, can require 20+ gallons of water per fish. So, in a 29 gallon tank, you could have 3 fancy goldfish.

You will have to decide whether you want more goldfish that are more difficult to take care of or whether you want a goldfish that is easier to take care of but that you can only have one of.

Because of their high waste ouput, goldfish require more filtration than any other kind of fish. The recommendations on the filter boxes are for tropical fish, so you cannot go by those. Goldfish need a filter that will move 10 times the water per hour as the size of the tank. So, if you have a 29 gallon tank, you would need a 300 gph filter. You can also buy extra filter media, such as the fibers or sponges to stuff inside your filter to encourage extra beneficial bacteria to grow.

You can cycle a tank with goldfish, but, as you are taking the risk of killing the fish, a fishless cycle is always a much safer and easier bet. I am attaching the link to Kokos fishless cycling page to help you understand how to cycle a tank as there is a lot to explain. Fishless Cycle.

One of the things that goldfish keepers must learn to have is a lot of patience. You can't rush a tank cycle or healthy water or fish. Depending on many factors, it can take 6-12 weeks to cycle a tank. You mustn't get impatient during that time and run out and get fish because you can't wait any longer.

And when you do finally go to get your fish, it is suggested that you never buy fish from the large chain stores and, instead, buy them from a local fish store (lfs). While you are cycling your tank, you should do some research and reading on all the diseases and how to identify them so that when you do go to the lfs, you will know how to look for a healthy fish. Goldfish Diseases. You should also do some reading on the different types of goldfish so you know which are compatible because it is best not to combine goldfish with different needs. Types of Goldfish.

You will also need to do a "quarantine" on all of your new fish. You must quarantine all new fish to treat them for any diseases and/or parasites that they may have brought with them from the local fish store. And, you must assume that they ALWAYS have brought something with them. The standard quarantine is to put them in a salt solution of 0.1% to 0.3% to kill any bad bacterias they may have as well as many parasites and also a treatment of praziquantel (Prazi) to kill flukes and some other parasites that are very, very common in fish you bring home from the lfs. We can explain the salting process in more detail when it gets to that point. The best prazi is Hikari Prazi Pro from Goldfish Connection. Some lfs carry this product, but most people end up buying it online. Because you need to quarantine all new fish, it is suggested that you keep a 10 gallon tank with a 100 gph filter on hand just for this purpose.

Another thing you need to be aware of when you finally get your goldfish, is that they should never be fed food that floats. All goldfish food should sink. If their food floats, then they end up gulping air along with their food. Because of their internal organ structure, any sort of trapped air can cause floating, upside down, etc., swim bladder disorder or other internal problems.

Water changes and tank cleaning and maintenance are also very important things to know. For instance, you should always add a dechlorinator to the water with each water change. I prefer NovAqua +. Also, water changes should never be less than 50% and you need to do water changes once a week and a 100% change once a month. If you intend on having gravel, you need to know that you should have larger gravel so it doesn't get caught in the fishes' mouths and that you will need to have a vacuum to clean all the uneaten food and poop out of the gravel. You shouldn't choose to buy your water quality by adding chemicals. There is nothing that replaces a good water change and/or some elbow grease to keep a tank healthy. So do some research and reading on all of this as well.

Bottom line, start your tank cycling according the instructions in the link above and while it's cycling, do your reading and research on types of goldfish, tank cleaning and maintenance, water testing, diseases and treatments, etc.

And know that we are here to happily answer all of your questions (oh! and sorry this was so long, but, there's a lot to know about our darling little goldies!). :welcome

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