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Palisade

Mission Impossible?

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Hi all,

I joined the forum recently, and have mostly read in the past week. Just want to introduce myself and ask a few questions. I had kept goldfish before as many as 6 at a time when I didn?t know better, under minimum planted tank (mostly floating hornworts) with gravel substrate. My last attempt with goldfish was in a 30g aquarium, but when I got busy with school and work, and did not change the water as often, the fish eventually died off. I still want to keep goldfish again after reading about their long life if raised properly. But I also want to do it the easy way without frequent water changing and mechanical filtration.

So is it possible to keep goldfish healthy in a very large aquarium with heavily planted tank without water change? For example, if I keep only 5 goldfish in a 120g aquarium with lot of planting and sufficient growth light, the water could be kept clean from high nitrite/nitrate/ammonium levels so that no water change is needed. The fish waste would provide nutrients and CO2 for the plants, and the plants provide O2 for the fish, in a complement way. Does anyone have a similar setup or know someone who has done it like that? Thanks for any suggestions and your thoughts on this subject.

Wayne

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Guest Kelsang

IMPOSSIBLE! :P

Goldfish are one of the MESSIEST fish alive and no matter how much work you put in, there is no such thing as a no water change tank :)

Possibly, if it's VERY planted, you could keep tetras in a tank with every 2 weeks water change MAX.

But really, impossible

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Personally, I don't think it's possible. Like Kelsang said, goldfish are very messy. Aside from that they also seem to be much more sensitive (in my experience) than many other types of fish. I keep a 30 gallon heavily planted tropical tank which doesn't really need water changes. I do them, but not large ones, and I rarely lose a fish (I keep mostly tetras and cories). I don't think the story would be the same for goldfish.

Also, it's very hard to keep goldfish in a heavily planted tank...they love to eat plants!

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I agree that it wouldn't work. Even if you could manage to keep all levels in safe zones, there would still be bad bacteria and other things that you can't test for that would be building up in the tank. Weekly water changes also help to eliminate these "badies". :) But, something you may want to consider is buying yourself a nice Python brand siphon. It makes water changes so fast and super easy. For a 25 foot it's about $40 at drsfosterandsmith.com, and WELL worth the money! It hooks right up to the sink and can drain and fill your aquarium in no time.

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The other issue with this is that your goldfish would probably end up stunted - they produce a growth hormone and if it's not removed from the water they won't grow - this causes stunting, illness and premature death.

I don't think you can keep any creature in a non-cleaned environment. You wouldn't live in a house that was never cleaned and stay healthy, neither would a dog, a hamster or a rat, so there's no way a fish will, particularly one as sensitive and messy as a goldfish.

Their tank is their bathroom, kitchen, bedroom and living room. Imagine never flushing the toilet and just sloshing some bleach around occasionally then eating off the toilet seat. No way is that a healthy environment no matter how much bleach you slosh around. That's how it is for your tank. The plants are your bleach, the water is your toilet. Your fish are you.

If you're serious about goldies by all means have a planted tank and understock it, they'll be bigger and healthier. But you will need to do 50% weekly water changes if you don't want problems. And even then you'll get them. I think if I'd known what I was getting myself in for I would never have got into goldfish, I wouldn't go back, but they have in many ways a similar care requirement as a hamster - weekly clean outs, daily feedings and attention. More when they're sick.

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def. impossible, especially with goldfish, if anything, i feel that with ANY tank with fish in it, would require proper water changes. its just a big responsibility which in return gives the fish a stress free life, and lowers health issue for the fish. SO really to make it long story short, if you want to go for goldfish, or any fish really, then weekly water changes and good maintenance would be required.

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Let's just say,that w/ massive filtration AND lots of water changes? I STILL have issues :exactly LOTS of time,care,and attention are just a necessary part of the hobby :goldfish: Think twice,it is a huge commitment-and 1 that should be taken seriously,or,you'll have NO success :testkit:

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There are things in the water that we don't usually test for, so nitrate levels are the typical indicator for water changes. My 50 gallon tank is planted and keeps my nitrates at 5ppm, but the pH slowly changes over time, the kH slowly decreases, and a lot of water evaporates, so I have to do a water change eventually.

Thus, despite the fact that my plants are controlling my nitrate levels, I still do large water changes every week or so.

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My 50 gallon tank is planted and keeps my nitrates at 5ppm, but the pH slowly changes over time, the kH slowly decreases, and a lot of water evaporates, so I have to do a water change eventually.

Penguin, how/why does your pH change over time? Are the causes from your substrate, bogwood, aeration, etc…? I don’t think goldfish cause a change in pH.

As for kH, I am aware that injecting CO2 will decrease it. The plants should be able to take up CO2 from goldie respiration for decent growth with extra CO2 injection. Do you inject CO2? I wonder what else that cause a drop in your kH.

The other issue with this is that your goldfish would probably end up stunted - they produce a growth hormone and if it's not removed from the water they won't grow - this causes stunting, illness and premature death.

………………………………………..

If you're serious about goldies by all means have a planted tank and understock it, they'll be bigger and healthier. But you will need to do 50% weekly water changes if you don't want problems. And even then you'll get them. I think if I'd known what I was getting myself in for I would never have got into goldfish, I wouldn't go back, but they have in many ways a similar care requirement as a hamster - weekly clean outs, daily feedings and attention. More when they're sick.

About the hormone, where did you read that? From what I understand, any hormones (which are protein) released from the fish would soon be degraded by the bacteria in the water in the matter of minutes, and the plants can absorb the degrading substances as nutrients. There should be no accumulation of any hormone.

Devilduck, I see your point about providing a healthy env for the fish, and you made it very clear with the bleach example :) but I also read that some people have been successful with a natural planted aquarium with healthy discus in it without water change! BTW, discus are very sensitive to water parameters. Although goldies produce more wastes than discus, but the concept of nitrogen balancing (or a balanced eco setup) would work for any type of fish, I was told.

I agree that it wouldn't work. Even if you could manage to keep all levels in safe zones, there would still be bad bacteria and other things that you can't test for that would be building up in the tank. Weekly water changes also help to eliminate these "badies". :) But, something you may want to consider is buying yourself a nice Python brand siphon. It makes water changes so fast and super easy. For a 25 foot it's about $40 at drsfosterandsmith.com, and WELL worth the money! It hooks right up to the sink and can drain and fill your aquarium in no time.

Thanks for mentioning the Python siphon, Sakura. Sounds like a very useful tool. I only had short length siphon. I will look for it. As for bacteria, did you mean itch or something else? I guess when that happens, a major water change must be done and the affected fish must be quarantined. Normally, when a tank is properly cycled, good bacteria would outnumber bad bacteria, so that may not be an issue.

Also, it's very hard to keep goldfish in a heavily planted tank...they love to eat plants!

I agree. In the past, I had hornwort and anacharis in goldie tank, and they were not touched by the fish. They grew very fast so they must absorb a lots of fish wastes in the water. But I did not think about their functioning as nitrogen sink at the time. They, of course, also take in other macro and micro nutrients from the water as well, beside nitrogen. So I plan to have more plants like these to balance out the fish wastes.

Thanks everyone for your inputs. I shared many of same thoughts with you about regular water change, which had become a chore. There has to be a better way to enjoy goldies without lots of weekly water change, likely to mimic a natural pond outdoor. I recently read about Diana Walstad model and am thinking about extending that concept to goldie aquarium as an experiment in the near future.

Edited by Palisade

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Thanks for mentioning the Python siphon, Sakura. Sounds like a very useful tool. I only had short length siphon. I will look for it. As for bacteria, did you mean itch or something else? I guess when that happens, a major water change must be done and the affected fish must be quarantined. Normally, when a tank is properly cycled, good bacteria would outnumber bad bacteria, so that may not be an issue.

Nope, Ich is a parasite that attacks fish, not a bacteria. By bad bacteria I simply mean bad bacteria. It is everywhere in the world, especially where there is an accumulation of poo. A fish tank is just one big fish toilet. Wherever there is poo or waste (IE in your fish tank!) there will be an accumulation of bad bacteria. This will continue to build up in your tank and pose SERIOUS problems for your goldfish, especially without proper water changes. With goldfish, many people even advise using the thinnest layer of gravel (or better yet, no gravel at all) simply because of the bad bacteria that builds up even there. Trust me, I just lost a lot of fish because of a nasty bacterial infection. It's not pretty, and it's not as rare with goldfish as you might think. There is no water circulation through the lower layers of gravel so it's ideal for bad bacteria to live unnoticed until they infect your fish. And then it's usually too late. :( I have learned from Trinket (a mod here) that good bacteria can only live in the uppermost layer of gravel because they need oxygen to survive. Bad bacteria doesn't. So, for example, if your gravel is very deep then bad bacteria could easily outnumber good bacteria. I don't think you are right that good bacteria will outnumber bad bacteria without regular maintenance on your part. Goldfish have been bred and inbred soooo many times to make it so they look just right for us crazy humans that their immune systems are basically... well just really bad. So they are much more sensitive than most other fish to bad bacteria.

Oh and I'd like to add that even with ponds, many people still do regular large water changes. To be honest, in a fish tank of even 75 gallons it's not really that much of a chore if you just have the right equipment. It should only take up an hour or so of your time each week. Not bad at all.

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You want to keep goldfish but not want to do any water changes? That is really not fair and very inconsiderate to the fish!

I think you should definitely not get an aquarium, it sounds like you may lose interest again (you haven't even started yet and you are already tired of changing water.) If you must, like Kelsang said, maybe try to go with a much cleaner fish that would require LESS water changes....but I'm sorry, it's just kind of selfish to want the beauty of a tank without wanting to do maintenance like water changes.

A tank definitely equals work!! If you are not prepared to take it on, then you definitely shouldn't get a tank!! :)

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Nope, Ich is a parasite that attacks fish, not a bacteria. By bad bacteria I simply mean bad bacteria. It is everywhere in the world, especially where there is an accumulation of poo. A fish tank is just one big fish toilet. Wherever there is poo or waste (IE in your fish tank!) there will be an accumulation of bad bacteria. This will continue to build up in your tank and pose SERIOUS problems for your goldfish, especially without proper water changes.

????????????????????????..

I have learned from Trinket (a mod here) that good bacteria can only live in the uppermost layer of gravel because they need oxygen to survive. Bad bacteria doesn't. So, for example, if your gravel is very deep then bad bacteria could easily outnumber good bacteria.

Yes, I see. itch is caused by Ich. And the sores from the parasite can open door for bacterial infection.

If bad bacteria stay deep in the substrate, changing water won?t affect their population in the aquarium. The point of avoiding waste accumulation is to have many plants to uptake wastes for plant growth as they are released by the fish. Bacteria (good or bad) feed on wastes, so if the wastes are quickly used up by the plants and their roots in the substrate, bacteria can not accumulate to a high level that will harm the fish. I would think that in a heavily planted tank with under fish stocking, there would be hardly any fish waste accumulation to cause proliferation of bad bacteria. In a sparingly planted tank, it would surely be a problem.

I think you should definitely not get an aquarium, it sounds like you may lose interest again (you haven't even started yet and you are already tired of changing water.)

I am afraid you did not read my post :)

I don?t think anyone wants the fish to suffer. So before I contemplate for a change, I try to find out all the variables and alternative reasonable solutions to a new setup.

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Oh and I'd like to add that even with ponds, many people still do regular large water changes.

I guess it depends on their pond setups. My neighbors with small koi pond (with plastic lining) do not really do water change, but they use filter, and they have few water lily pots in it, and they have to clean/suck fish wastes from the bottom regularly, and add some water to refill it, maybe that?s some water change. Large goldfish and koi ponds that I saw around Nara and Kyoto temples in Japan are left as they are, naturally.

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Palisade, I understand what you were asking, and have thought of it myself. I had kept tropical fish for about 30years before getting into fancy goldfish. I, at one time had to 29 gallon tropical tanks running, they were heavily planted with good filtration. For those 2 I only had to do small water changes about every 4 weeks. I have been doing alot more research on planted aquariums, and have read in several articles where people say there set up needs no water changes. I myself was never able to do it, but i guess it can be done with tropicals.

The goldfish, IMO, will always need weekly water changes, there is just no way around it. In the beginning it was kind of a pain, now that I have a routine it's not so bad. I don't have a python (which would make it easier I'm sure), but I use 3 5gallon buckets and I'm done in about 30 minutes. The Goldies are absolutly worth the extra effort. Good luck and hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

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But, something you may want to consider is buying yourself a nice Python brand siphon. It makes water changes so fast and super easy. For a 25 foot it's about $40 at drsfosterandsmith.com, and WELL worth the money! It hooks right up to the sink and can drain and fill your aquarium in no time.

OMG I bought a 50ft one today, hooked it up in my basement sink, makes it all the way up the stairs and to the tank, doesn't even have to be disconnected, just rolled it up and put it in a rubbermaid tote at the top of the basement stairs.......15 min/75% water change wooo hoooo!!!! How have I lived without it this long??

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