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Pearlscale Unresponsive

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Guest vixen_vc


Please help my pearlscale is just sitting at the top of its bowl and not doing alot, the other goldfish a telescopic keeps pushing his head up the pearlscales rear end. It is so unresponsive it doesnt flee when I go near it I can even touch it, there are no visible signs of disease other than its behaviour. I bought the fish a week ago today. The bowl is about 4 and a half quarts which I was assured was fine for both of them but I was considering getting a bigger one. I have been treating the water as advised and changed it on monday. I was going to change it again tomorrow. My room is quite cold could this be why?

Please help asap I dont want it to die!


Edited by vixen_vc

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hello and welcome to kokos vixenvc, :hi

unfortunately you have fallen prey to bad advice. dont worry, its not your fault. many people (including me) start out with a goldfish in a "bowl". goldies poop a whole lot and quickly pollute the water they are in if there is no filtration.

first off, do you have any water conditioners? this is some kind of dechlorinator to remove chlorine from water. if you do, you should (very soon, if not now) draw some water from the faucet (as close to the temperature of your fish bowl as you can get). then treat your water with the dechlor. promptly draw 75-80% of the water from the bowl and refill it with the treated, temperature matched water. this will help your goldies very much (for now). then you should add aquarium salt to the tune of 1 teaspoon per (us) gallons. this will help your goldies cope with the high levels of toxins (ammonia and nitrites). then, i would suggest reading this:


then read this:


and when your done with that, post back for more info to help keep your goldies alive until you can provide them with an acceptable home. do not be discouraged. as i said before, MANY of us fell prey to the "fishbowl" farce when we first started out. with the knowledgable advice you will receive here, i fully believe you will be able to provide your goldies with a happy healthy home!

now, first and foremost, do you have any dechlorinator and aquarium salt? :unsure:

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Guest vixen_vc

Thanks so much

I just posted some more info above. I am using ammo-lock and stress coat. I have been putting in 5 drops for every quart as per the bottles instructions. Do I need a filter? How much electricity do they use - i live in a shared house and the other will not be very happy if I use one.

As I said just to add to my previous message I thought my pearlscale maybe stressed. So I have put her in a seperate bowl so that she gets a break from the telecopic nudging her rear end all the time. I thought maybe she is about to lay? Any ideas? Im pretty sure its not swim bladder as when she can muster up enough energy she swims fine, not wonkily or anything. But she is really lethargic and will only move if absolutly necessary she also has preferred the top of the tank to the bottom for the last few days sucking at the surface. The telescopic seems to be in excellent health. I have been putting in two pellets twice a day for food as advised by the fish shop I got them from. Could she be constipated? It seems to me that the telescopic does the eating though and the pearlscale it'll only eat if the food is right in its face.

thanks again!

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Guest vixen_vc

sorry to bother you again - but what would the dimensions of a 20 gallon tank be?


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the ammo lock is a good start. youll use this stuff a lot while your goldies are waiting for their tank.

your pearlscale may very well spawn soon. if she does, you can just remove the eggs as you will have your hands full with the two you have. until they are settled, that is.what do you have her in?

the addition of aquarium salt will help your goldies cope with any nitrites that may build up during their stay in the bowl/s. highly recommended.

aquarium test kits are also a must: ammonia/nitrIte/nitrAte/ph are what you should always keep on hand. especially while they are in their bowls. youll also need them to cycle your tank/filter.

filters are relatively cheap and run on very little electricity. air bubblers as well.

20 gallon tanks come in several dimensions. here are the two most found:


24" x 12" x 16"


30" x 12" x 12"

hopefully some other boardmembers will give you some help as well. im sure theres plenty i missed!

i hope this helps you with your new goldies! post back soon! :hi

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Guest vixen_vc

Hi thanks again,

Unfortunately the pearlscale died im very sad :( I phoned the fish shop and they said that it was probably stress I asked about the bowl and they said I could come and look at tanks but a bowl was fine as long as I changed the water which I have been doing, he said the fish will only grow to the size its in, so I dont need a bigger one - I am going into tomorrow to buy aquarium salt - the cheapest setup they had for a tank with filter etc was ?59.99 is that a good deal? I got goldfish because I thought they would be inexpensive considering I am a stuggling student.

Will my telescopic be ok on its own? Sorry I have so many questions

Thanks so much for all your help

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im sorry that you lost your pearlscale. :cry1

as for the so-called fish store, whoever told you that goldies are fine in a bowl very obviously doesnt have a clue. i wonder how they would feel swimming around in a bowl full of their own poop? are their goldfish (in the shop) kept in tanks? if they are, that should raise a red flag immediately. if they keep their goldies in a bowl, they are not happy, healthy goldfish. as i said before, its not your fault.

make sure to keep up on your daily water changes. with some attentive care, your telescope can stay healthy until you are able to get him his tank. he will be just fine alone.

goldies will quickly outgrow a bowl environment. the bigger they grow, the more they eat, the more they poop. as you have learned here, poop=ammonia. and ammonia is very toxic to fish. are you starting to see the connection?

maybe you could print out several caresheets that are available here and bring them down to the so-called fish store. and ask the store clerk/manager why they seem to be one of the VERY FEW people who think goldies are "fine" in a bowl. that is, if youd like to set them straight!

as far as the tank you are looking at, what are the dimensions and what is the make/model of filter. if it is a 20 gallon, the filter would need to be able to push AT LEAST 150 gallons per hour. this will be excellent filtration and will keep your tank nice and clean. if the tank/ filter you want closely matches this, it is a good deal.

dont be discouraged, once you have your tank up and running, keeping goldies happy and healthy is relatively cheap. food, water additives and testkits are all you will need to buy once everything is up and running.

by the way, when you get the aquarium salt, you should also get some test kits. that way you know exactly what is in your goldies water and can act accordingly.

i wish you much luck with your goldie! post back soon with any helpful info that you may come up with! :hi

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Guest PeachesCat

So sorry about your loss. However, a bowl is NEVER good for a goldfish. It isn't the best thing for a betta! You can get a 10 gallon take very inexpensive.

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Vixen, really sorry to hear about your little pearlscale!! I would get a refund or a replacement from the pet store...

As for some basic things that a goldfish needs, Emma wrote a really good piece on basic fish care. Let me see if I can find it really fast.... :)

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Found it!! Its a bit long, but well worth reading through it....

Emma, I hope you don't mind me using your piece :) ....

recently wrote the below guide on keeping goldfish which covers all the basic info that you need to know. Please feel free to print this out, copy or save it or whatever.

Hope this helps.



Although goldfish are fairly easy fish to keep, they do have some basic requirements and will need good care and attention if they are to thrive.

The information below is designed to give you sufficient information to start you off. It does not go into details but it is enough to keep your pet alive, healthy and content.


First, you need a tank. It doesn?t matter if it is plastic or glass; plastic is lighter but scratches more easily than glass. NB: Always buy a proper tank for goldfish as bowls really are completely unsuitable.

SIZE OF TANK: Fancy goldfish (rounded bodies, twin tails) need tanks which allow at least 10 gallons per fish. Common, comet or shubunkin goldfish however (long bodies, single tails) need at least 20 gallons each as they are larger fish and much faster swimmers. This size rule applies regardless of how old or big the fish actually are when you get them, e.g. if you wanted to keep 3 goldfish then you would still need a 30-gallon tank even if your fish were only an inch long.

The main reason for this large space requirement is that goldfish are particularly messy fish, far more so than most tropicals. Their wastes quickly poison a small volume of water, whereas large amounts of water dilute the wastes and make it much easier to keep the tank clean and safe.

The second reason is that goldfish need lots of space to achieve their full growth and lifespan. Although they may be tiny at first, goldfish can grow well over a foot long and live for more than 20 years if cared for well. However, if kept in cramped conditions when they are young their growth is stunted and they become prone to diseases and weakness. These fish die very young.

SHAPE OF TANK: Tanks need a big surface area for good oxygenation, so basic rectangular or 3-sided corner tanks are best. Avoid tall, column-shaped ones or oddly shaped tanks, such as those like two towers with connecting tunnels. Always fill a new tank and examine it very carefully first for any leaks or cracks before you trust it with your precious fish. (NB: the currently popular globe-shaped tanks called Bi-Orbs are only just about big enough to hold ONE fancy goldfish).

POSITIONING THE TANK: The tank should be placed out of direct sunlight and on a surface definitely strong enough to take its weight. The safest place is on a specially designed stand, which most stores sell with the tank. Don?t place it where the fish will be constantly startled by noise and movement or jolted by passing people. You should also site it close to a power supply (you will need 2 - 4 sockets) and close to a water supply, as you don?t want to be lugging heavy buckets up three flights of stairs every week!

PREPARING THE TANK: When you first set up your tank, don?t put any fish in it for at least a week. Put in the substrate, plants and ornaments, fill it up, turn on the filter,air supply and light and just let it run like that. After a week, when the water is completely clear, the temperature has levelled out and you are satisfied that all the equipment is functioning properly, you can then add the fish.


Your tank MUST have the following to keep your goldfish safe and healthy:

1. LID / HOOD. Goldfish have been known to make fatal jumps out of open-topped tanks, plus air-borne pollutants such as cleaning sprays, smoke or cooking fumes may poison them, so keep the tank covered at all times.

2. FILTER. Filters remove wastes and chemicals from the water, keeping it clean. Without one, the water will become foul very quickly so this is definitely a ?must-have? piece of equipment. There are several types available:

under-gravel filter (or UGF for short)

sponge filter

internal power filter

external canister filter

hang-on-back (HOB) filter.

An UGF is the cheapest filter, if cost is an issue. NB: HOB fiilters are not generally available in the UK. Ensure the filter you choose is the right size for the tank, i.e. if you have a 40 gallon tank, choose a filter big enough to handle this size or ideally even more; extra filtration is always a good thing where goldfish are concerned.

3. AIR SUPPLY, so the fish can breathe. Water is only oxygenated at its surface, so lots of current, bubbling and splashing here is essential. Some filters have a built-in air supply system and others have an attachment which splashes water back into the tank. If you do not have these however, then you need an airpump, a length of airline tubing and an airstone or a bubble wand. These are made of a substance like pumice stone and should sit on the bottom of the tank. NB: an undergravel filter relies on an airstone placed down the uplift tube or a powerhead fixed to the top of the uplift tube to work.

If you ever notice your fish gasping at the surface it is because they are not getting enough oxygen so increase the air supply immediately. The same goes if the tank temperature rises above 70F, as warm water holds much less oxygen than cold.

4. CLEAN, FRESH , DECHLORINATED WATER. The chlorine and other additives in drinking water are highly toxic to fish so NEVER PUT UNTREATED TAP WATER INTO THE TANK! You first need to treat the water using a dechlorinator (also sometimes called a water conditioner). Make sure the brand you pick removes chlorine AND chloramine, and always use it whenever you do water changes or add water to the tank. Also be careful to match the temperature of new water with the old water in the tank, as big temperature changes stress the fish. Test the temperature simply by sticking your hands in the tank and the new water at the same time ? does it feel exactly the same? If yes, then it?s close enough. If this is not possible then use a tank thermometer to check it. NB: if using well-water then have it tested first for heavy metals.

5. SOMEWHERE TO HIDE. Goldfish are fairly confident and will soon become tame enough to eat from your hand, but they do appreciate having something to hide behind if they are frightened. If your tank is completely bare your fish may hover head down in the corners because it feels vulnerable. This hiding place can be anything: a real or plastic plant, a rock, a piece of driftwood or an ornament.


1. FOOD. Goldfish are omnivores and therefore need both meaty and veggie foods. A varied diet, which ensures they get all the proteins, fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals they need, is the best. There are a number of foods available: Hikari, Pro-Gold and Tetra are all very good brands. Feeding is explained in more detail later.

2. BUCKETS or a Python system for water changes. Water changes are messy affairs; don?t imagine you can just scoop a little water out and put some back! You?ll be siphoning gallons of it out into a bucket or sink. Because household detergents can be lethal to fish, it is best to get the fish a new bucket of their own and clearly label it for tank use only. NB: NEVER use soap or detergents to clean the tank or equipment and don?t wash your hands with soap before touching / feeding the fish.

3. GRAVEL SIPHON to clean the bottom of the tank (unless you buy a Python system which includes this). Gravel cleaning is explained later.

4. WATER TESTING KITS. There are four main substances which you absolutely MUST check regularly: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH. These substances are always present and are fundamental to the way a fish tank works (this is explained in ?Cycling?, below). However, they are lethal to your fish if they rise above certain levels so you need to measure them regularly. You will need these immediately, i.e. on the very first day the fish go into the tank. Aquarium Pharmaceuticals does a good range.

5. DECHLORINATOR / water conditioner to remove chlorine from your tap water (as mentioned above).

6. NET for catching the fish or scooping things out of the tank. Make sure the net you buy is at least twice the size of your largest fish, otherwise they can get hurt when you capture them in it. As an alternative to a net, you could use a large clean plastic pot (like a yoghurt pot) for catching your fish.


7. LIGHTING. Providing lighting in the tank is not essential ? though it helps you enjoy your pets in the evening and lets you grow plants ? but if you do have lighting in the tank then be sure to switch it off at night. Goldfish need a natural day-night rhythm same as you do. NB: Only ever use lighting designed specifically for aquarium use; NEVER use ordinary electric lights in or on top of the tank because of the risk of electrocution. Many tank hoods now come equipped with built-in lighting.

8. SUBSTRATE. This is the term for whatever materials you use to cover the bottom of the tank, usually gravel or pebbles. It isn?t necessary to have substrate (and many goldfish keepers prefer not to) but it is nice for decoration and your fish will enjoy rooting through it. The best substrates for goldfish are fine-grade gravel, large pebbles or rounded glass nuggets. DON?T use the following as substrates however: sand, glass grit, medium-grade gravel, crushed coral or seashells, as these can all cause serious problems. You will need to clean the substrate weekly because dropped food and fish wastes accumulate in it (the process for cleaning is explained below).

9. ORNAMENTS/PLANTS. It doesn?t matter how you decorate the tank; natural gravel with pieces of driftwood and real plants, or multicoloured gravel with a fluorescent plastic castle are equally good from a fish?s point of view! However, avoid any hollow ornaments as these cause health problems. If you must have one, clean it out very thoroughly once a week. Move large or heavy ornaments and clean under them regularly, as toxic bacteria can build up beneath them. NB: goldfish do eat plants, so if you buy real ones be prepared to have them nibbled! Java Fern or Java Moss are the only plants that they won?t eat, and they also grows well in most conditions so are ideal for beginners. Finally, NEVER put untreated wood, leaves or anything else which might decay into the tank as they will cause major problems. Similarly, don?t put in stones picked up outdoors as they may affect your water chemistry, or put in any ornaments which are not actually designed for aquarium use.

10. THERMOMETER. A tank thermometer is very useful, especially if you live somewhere that has very hot summers or very cold winters. Goldfish prefer a temperature of between 60F and 75F. Below 50F they will go into a form of hibernation and above 80F they will begin to suffer. Most thermometers stick to the inside of the glass with a little suction cup (ones which stick on the outside aren?t so good).

11. MAGNETIC ALGAE-SCRAPER. This is definitely the easiest and quickest way of removing unsightly algae from the tank walls. They are very cheap to buy.

12. HEATER. Goldfish are coldwater fish, so average room temperature is fine for them ordinarily and therefore a heater is not needed. But you might consider getting one if your tank gets very cold in winter or the temperature fluctuates greatly between day and night, or to treat some diseases. If you do get one, then also get a heater guard to avoid burns.


Choosing new goldfish is enormously fun, but there are a few golden rules:

1. Only choose fish whch are healthy, alert and swimming well. If there is any sign of disease or injury in the tank, don?t buy them! When you are more experienced at fishkeeping then you can take home ?rescues?.

2. Only get 1 or 2 fish at a time, e.g. if you have a 50 gallon tank don?t put in 5 fish at once, get 1 or 2 to start with and then gradually add the rest over the next few weeks. This prevents the tank becoming overloaded with dangerous wastes all at once.

3. If you have an established tank with fish already in it, quarantine any new arrivals in a separate tank for at least 2-4 weeks before adding them to the main tank. They may well be carrying diseases with them.

4. Gradually acclimatise the fish to the new water. The water the fish came from will be vastly different in temperature and chemical make-up to your tank water, so just putting it straight in the tank will stress the fish very badly. Therefore, gently pour the new fish and its travelling water into a separate container which holds at least 1.5 gallons, making sure there is enough water to cover the fish completely. Now begin adding water from the tank to this container, half a cupful every 5 minutes. By the time you have poured in a gallon of water the fish will be completely acclimatised. Net it out of the container and place it gently into the new tank. Throw away the water in the container ? DON?T pour it into your tank as pet store water often harbours diseases and parasites.

4. Give your fish time to get used to its new surroundings. Leave the tank lights off for the first day, keep movement and noise round the tank to a minimum and let the fish hide if it wants to (make sure that it HAS somewhere to hide!). It will come out and begin exploring when it feels more confident. It is also best not to feed it on the first day either.



Fish expel solid wastes and liquid ammonia ? lots of it! The solid wastes decompose and also release ammonia. Ammonia is highly poisonous to fish and if left in the water it will very quickly build up and kill them. However, there are good bacteria which ?eat? ammonia and turns it into another substance ? nitrite. Unfortunately, nitrite is also lethal to fish, but there is another bacteria which ?eats? nitrite and converts it to a final substance ? nitrate. No bacteria will eat nitrate but this is only harmful in very high concentrations and is easily removed by regular water changes. Fish = ammonia = nitrite = nitrate = removal. This is the ?cycle? of the tank.

This all sounds great, but when you first set up a new tank there are no bacteria in it to eat the ammonia and nitrite so they quickly build up and become lethal. You can?t see or smell the ammonia and nitrites, but believe me - they are there.

?Cycling the tank? therefore just means the process of growing enough of these bacteria to eat all the ammonia and nitrite in the tank and keep the water safe for your fish. Because of the extreme toxicity of ammonia and nitrite, cycling the tank properly is absolutely vital!

It takes about a month for a new tank to cycle: for the first 2 weeks ammonia will rise and fall and during the second two weeks, nitrite will rise and fall. After the third or fourth week, both ammonia and nitrites will have disappeared and only nitrates are present. This means the bacteria have grown and the tank cycle is working. Nitrates are only dangerous at very high levels (over 80ppm), but it is best to keep them below 20 ppm.

During the cycling period however, there are not enough bacteria to remove the ammonia and nitrite. Therefore you need to physically remove them yourself by performing regular water changes, leaving only a tiny bit for the bacteria to feed on so they can grow. These water changes are absolutely essential; without them your fish are in real danger.

NB: you don?t need to actually add any bacteria to the water ? though there are products available such as Cycle or Biospira to help with this ? as they naturally grow on their own.


Day 1:Test the water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate using your test kits, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. If you find ammonia or nitrite present, change just enough water to get the levels down to between 0.5 and 1.0. If they are already at this level then don?t change any water.

Day 2: Repeat.

Day 3 onward: Continue with this process every single day until absolutely no ammonia or nitrites are present and only nitrates are seen.

And that?s it ? you?ve cycled the tank. 1, 2, 3? easy isn?t it?! All the substances and processes sound complicated, but actually dealing with them is very easy as long as you are attentive and vigilant and willing to lug around buckets of water frequently.


1. The cycling process may take three weeks or it may take six: each tank varies a little. About a month is usual though. If your tank is still not cycled after 6 weeks then something is wrong: these are common problems to check for:

 too many fish in too small a tank

 overfeeding

 something rotting in the tank (e.g. a plant or some food buried in the gravel)

 the filter is inadquate / not working properly

 inadequate aeration (the bacteria need oxygen too)

 pH is too high or too low

 temperature is too high or too low.

2. The amount of water you change during cycling will vary: some days it might be 50% or even 80% of the total volume, other days only 10% or even none at all. NEVER assume the water is safe after a water change however ? always test it again to make sure the levels really have gone down far enough. If they haven?t, then change more water and test again.

3. Don?t be tempted to change enormous quantities of water to try and keep the ammonia and nitrites at zero all the time; you must leave some in the tank otherwise the bacteria will not build up and the tank will never cycle. Remember: between 0.5 and 1.0 is best.

4. Feed your fish extremely sparingly during cycling as the more food you put in, the more ammonia builds up. Only feed once a day or even only every other day, and only as much as they will eat within two minutes. Check that no food gets left uneaten as it will rot and cause the ammonia to rise.

5. If you ever add more fish to the tank, change all the water in one go, remove or change all the substrate or change the filter media (which you should never need to do if you wash it out in old tank water once a month or so) then be aware your tank may undergo another cycle ? test and check.



As mentioned, goldfish are very messy fish so their tank needs thorough cleaning, ideally once a week (or if you really cannot manage this then once every other week). The fish stay in the tank while you clean it, but be careful not to trap them with the siphon or pour new water heavily onto them. This is how to clean a tank:

1. Wipe any algae off the tank walls and ornaments using an algae scraper or a sponge. You can however leave some on the back wall to provide a ?snack? for your goldfish if you wish. Remove any ornaments and wipe clean (hollow ornaments should be scrubbed out well with hot water). Leave these out to air- dry while you finish cleaning the tank. Wipe any algae off live plants gently with a sponge or your fingers. Wipe the hood and/or light if these are coated with algae or gunk. If there was a lot of algae the water will look a bit murky by now.

2. Suck out the poop and food on the tank bottom with your gravel siphon, which looks like a round clear plastic tube with a length of flexible plastic hose attached. You stick the round tube in the tank, suck on the other end to start the siphon movement and quickly put that end in a bucket or sink to allow the dirty water to drain out. Move the tube up and down and around in the gravel, making sure you get right down to the tank bottom. Both the gravel and wastes will be sucked up into the tube, but the gravel falls back down and the wastes flow out into your bucket. It?s a clever thing! Gradually work from one end of the tank to the other, making sure every area is thoroughly ?vacuumed?. Even if you don?t have any gravel you still need to clean the bottom of the tank and the gravel siphon isl still the easiest way of doing this. The siphon removes water as well as wastes so the gravel clean actually forms part of your water change, which is the next step.

3. Change the water. Goldfish tanks need 30 - 40% of the water changed weekly to keep the nitrate level down. You may find in fact that the gravel clean removes enough water, but if more is needed then drain any further water out by just holding the gravel siphon in the tank. Then fill the tank back up with clean fresh water, taking care not to pour it in so fast that you blow the fish or gravel around! Remember the following key rules when you replace any water:

 it must be the same temperature as in the tank

 it must be dechlorinated

 it must be the same pH as in the tank (discussed in more detail later).

4. Re-arrange the tank d?cor. Smooth the substrate with your hand, re-arrange the ornaments and plants, check the filter is working properly. Make sure the fish have settled down.

NB: if you have a sponge filter or an internal power filter, it is a good idea to gently rinse out the sponges in some old tank water as part of your weekly routine. Don?t scrub them or you?ll lose the bacteria and affect the cycle. Just very gently squeeze most of the dirt out, and don?t allow the sponges to dry out as this will kill the bacteria. Put them back in the tank or filter immediately after cleaning.


Yes, we?ve already talked a bit about water quality so you now know that ammonia and nitrite must not be present and nitrates ought to be below 20 ppm. However, there are a couple of other water quality factors which you must keep an eye on:

PH (ACIDITY / ALKALINITY). All fish have a preferred pH level: some like acid conditions (below 7 on the pH scale) and others like alkaline conditions (above 7 on the pH scale). Goldfish prefer a pH of between 7.0 and 7.6, which is neutral to slightly alkaline. They will happily adapt to a pH outside this range but NOT lower than 6.5 or higher than 8.5, as these levels are dangerous. More importantly, the pH must be completely steady, i.e. never rise and fall. A pH which rises and drops sharply is far worse than one which is outside the fish?s preferred range but holds steady; the fish will become very distressed in changing pH levels. pH steadiness is directly related to water hardness.

HARDNESS: All water contains various dissolved minerals and salts; hard water has a high level of these and soft water a low level. In general, hard water holds the pH level steady and is more alkaline. Soft water does not hold the pH steady and is more acidic. When you first set up your tank, take a sample of your water to your local fish store and ask them to test the hardness (the GH and KH) for you. If your water is reasonably hard (the KH is over 125 ppm) and the pH is neutral or slightly alkaline, then you need do nothing at all ? this is ideal. If the water is soft and the KH is low (below 125 ppm) however, then you will need to artificially ?harden? it to hold the pH steady. If it is very hard and/or very alkaline then you will need to artificially soften it to reduce the pH.

You can artifically harden water very easily with ordinary baking soda. This process is called ?buffering? the water. Add the soda to the tank, a teaspoonful at a time and keep measuring with your pH kit until it shows a pH of about 7.2 - 7.4. Then stop. The soda will now hold the pH steady until your next weekly or fortnightly water change, at which time you?ll need add more soda to compensate for however much is lost in the change.

Softening very hard or alkaline water is not so easy. Putting peat moss into the will remove some minerals and add acid. You will need to monitor the pH very carefully and replace the moss as it loses its efficiency. Other alternatives are to buy a reverse osmosis kit - ask your pet store for advice on this as they are very expensive ? or to collect rainwater.

You should test the pH every week as part of your cleaning and maintenance routine to make sure that all is well. If you notice any change in the pH, then immediately examine the tank to find out why. These are some common causes of pH changes:

 rock ornament. Some rocks, such as chalk, limestone, tufa or marble release chemicals into the water which causes the pH to rise. Remove them immediately if this happens.

 driftwood ornament. Driftwood (also sometimes called bog wood or jati wood) can lower pH. It is not recommended for tanks with an already low pH.

 high nitrates or rotting food, plants or fish: organic decay processes produce acid, which can lower pH.

 water change: if the pH from your water supply is different to that in your tank (because it has a low buffering capacity) the pH can swing drastically. Make sure this doesn?t happen by buffering the water before it goes in the tank, as described above.


You can really have some fun with your goldfish at feeding time! However, it is very easy to overfeed and this can lead to serious health problems. At most, goldfish should only be fed twice a day and only what they can consume within TWO minutes, or three times a day but only what they can consume within ONE minute. Make sure that no food is left sitting on the bottom or floating after feeding time is up ? remove any excess. It doesn?t seem like much food, but they only have tiny tummies! Plus, they sift algae and other invisible organisms from the tank water all day, which supplements their diet.

Some breeds of goldish, such as moors, telescopes, bubble-eyes or celestials, do not have very good eyesight so make sure they get a fair share of the food. If you see that some of your fish are missing out at mealtimes, then you can hand-feed them. To do this, simply hold a little food between your finger and thumb and offer it to them just below the surface. Occasional hand-feeding is in fact good for all your fish because it helps build trust between you and them and is a very enjoyable form of interaction.

Goldfish like a varied diet and happily there are many foods available for them. Here are some suggestions, most of which should be available from your local fish store:

 flakes, either complete food or spirulina (algae) flakes

 pellets (either sinking or floating, although sinking are much better)

 freeze-dried foods, such as bloodworms, daphnia or shrimp

 frozen foods, such as bloodworms, tubifex worms, shrimp, mosquito larvae or daphnia

 gelled foods

Keep a selection of three or four different types to ensure your goldfish is getting a healthy balanced diet. It also gives them a bit of interest to have a different food each day ? they look forward to it. However, most foods have a shelf-life e.g. flakes and pellets should not be kept longer than 3 months, maximum. It is best to buy the smallest sized containers of food and use these up quickly, replacing them regularly with fresh food.

With dry food such as flake and pellets, always soak it first in a little tank water before you feed. These foods swell when they touch water; it is much better for the fish to eat them soft and already swelled than for them to swallow dry, hard food which later swells in their stomachs and causes problems.

In addition to bought foods, you can also feed your goldfish with a variety of vegetables and fruits; most enjoy peas, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, eggplant, orange or lime slices, strawberries, raspberries, banana, peaches and even cherries. With the vegetables, blanch them briefly first in boiling water before feeding as otherwise they will be too tough for the fish to chew. Only feed fruit occasionally as a treat.

Never feed your goldfish bread, biscuit or cracker crumbs, rice or potato. Their digestive systems do not deal well with carbohydrates so these foods cause health problems.


TOUCHING THE FISH: You should avoid touching or stroking your goldfish, even if it enjoys being petted (some fish do). Fish have a slime-coat over their bodies which helps keep out diseases. If you stroke them it removes this protective coating and leaves the fish much more vulnerable to problems. NB: if you do ever touch your fish wash your hands thoroughly afterwards as some fish diseases can affect humans.

DISEASE AND INJURIES: As long as the fish are in the right-size tank, the water quality is excellent and they are not overfeed or stressed, your fish should remain generally very healthy. However, diseases or injuries occur from time to time in even the best-run tanks, so check your fish every day and make sure all is well. If one of your fish appears ill or injured, it is best to isolate it quickly in a separate tank or other suitable container with its own filter and air supply. This prevents disease spreading to the other fish and also gives the afflicted one peace and quiet in which to recover.

If your fish does become ill, there are numerous medications available in most fish stores and the temptation is to turn to these straightaway. However, there are some golden rules about medicating fish:

1. Always be absolutely certain what disease the fish has before you attempt to treat it; some fish diseases can be hard to diagnose accurately and treating with the wrong medication can make problems much worse. Get help with a diagnosis first.

2. Don?t medicate unless it is absolutely essential. Several diseases, such as finrot, can be cured in the early stages simply by having very clean water, increasing the temperature and adding a small amount of salt to the tank. Medications often stress the fish and can crash the cycle, so don?t make a problem worse by panicking and pouring chemicals in.

3. Never mix medications; this can cause bad side effects. If one medication is present in the tank and you want to use another, then put activated carbon in the filter first for at least 24 hours to clean the previous medication out.

4. Take out any carbon in the filter before adding medications otherwise it will simply remove them from the water.

5. If possible, add medications to a separate ?hospital? tank rather than the main tank (except in cases of parasites or very contagious diseases when the whole tank should be treated). There is no need to stress all the fish if not all of them are ill.

6. Test the water quality every day: many medications attack the bacteria in the filter as well as the disease, causing the cycle to crash. If this happens, finish the course of medication but treat the tank as a cycling tank (i.e. daily tests and water changes).


It is very hard at first to know what to do and when! There seems to be so much to think about: water, food, cleaning, filter, pH etc. Actually, once you get into a set routine it is very easy to care for your goldfish.

Below is a suggested routine (for a cycled tank) which should be more than enough to avoid most problems and enjoy your fish.


Morning: Switch tank lights on. Check all fish to make sure they are healthy, swimming well, etc. Feed flake or pellet food.

Evening: Check fish all OK. Feed frozen, dried or gelled food, or vegetable food. Switch tank lights off last thing.


Test ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH. If the test results are all OK go through your normal cleaning routine (described in ?Cleaning? above). Spend some time watching your fish to make sure all are healthy, active and behaving normally.

If the test resuts are NOT right however, e.g. the ammonia level has risen, then immediately perform a water change large enough to bring ammonia / nitrite down under 0.5, or add baking soda to buffer the pH, or whatever is required. Then search out the actual reason for the poor water quality and put it right.


Perform a 50% water change. Remove sponge filter media if using this and wash it out gently in old tank water (never tap water!) and replace. Replace any carbon filter media being used and clean the impeller of the filter if it has one. Check all equipment is functioning properly. If an undergravel filter is being used, clean out the gunk from under the plate by putting the siphon down the uplift tube.


Replace the lighting (neon tubes lose their effectiveness after a while, even if they still look as bright). Replace the rubber diaphragm in the airpump if you have one.

And that?s it! You are now a professional fish-keeper - well done!



IS THE WATER CLOUDY? Cloudy water often occurs during cycling while the tank settles down or if you disturb the substrate during cleaning. It should clear within a few days, but adding carbon to your filter can hasten this process. If the tank is cycled, however, then cloudiness can indicate a bacterial bloom brought on by too many nutrients in the water. Cut down on feeding, clean the gravel and filter sponges, and do more regular water changes. Adding live plants can also help.

IS THE WATER GREEN? Algae (tiny single-celled creatures) will grow anywhere containing water, light and nutrients. All tanks have some algae ? it is normal - but green water means there is far too much of it. Move the tank out of sunlight and add some live plants to help remove the nutrients. Perform more water changes and ensure you are not overfeeding and that the filter is working properly.

IS THERE BROWN OR GREEN STUFF IN THE TANK? Algae again, I?m afraid. All tanks have it and in fact some of it will be eaten with relish by your fish, but the only way to get rid of it is to keep wiping it off regularly. Lots of live plants will help keep it down too.

IS MY FISH RACING ROUND THE TANK? Racing round the tank is not normal; goldfish usually swim with a steady grace, except when they are spawning (the fish will be chasing each other, if this is the case). It usually indicates problems with the water quality - did you remember to dechlorinate? Test your water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH and perform a water change immediately or buffer the pH, whichever is appropriate. If the fish still races then it has a health problem ? ask on here for advice.

IS MY FISH SITTING ON THE BOTTOM? It may well be asleep or resting. Fish sleep on and off during the day and night, but they cannot close their eyes so you may not be aware at first that a fish is asleep. Try going up to the glass and making some movements ? a healthy fish will come up shortly to investigate, an unwell fish will stay on the bottom. Fish that are ill will stay on the bottom for long periods.

DOES MY FISH ALWAYS BEG ME FOR FOOD? In the wild, goldfish are constantly searching for food because they never know where their next meal might be coming from. It is therefore instinctive for them to keep asking for it even when they are not really hungry. They will beg you for food all day if you?re near them, but you certainly should not feed them more than 2-3 times a day. If they look particularly pleading you can occasionally give them a small piece of fruit or vegetable as a treat, but no more than that.

IS MY FISH ALWAYS HIDING? It may be feeling nervous. Is there somewhere in the tank for it to hide? Is there a lot of noise or movement going on by the tank? Alternatively it may be feeling unwell ? check the water parameters and examine the fish closely for signs of disease.

IS MY FISH RUBBING ITSELF ON THE ORNAMENTS OR SUBSTRATE? A fish rubbing or flicking itself on things in the tank has irritated or painful skin. First test your water ? have the ammonia or nitrite risen or the pH changed? If the tests are OK then it may have a parasite problem.

IS MY FISH CHANGING COLOUR? Many goldfish change colour gradually to some extent as they grow older ? this is natural - but sudden or profound changes of colour indicate something is wrong: red or black patches indicate ammonia burns, a white film indicates the pH has gone severely askew, paleness all over (including gills, eyes and inside the mouth) may indicate anaemia, dots or splotches of odd colour can indicate fungus or parasites.

IS MY FISH CHASING OTHER FISH? You may have a bit of a bully who wants to protect his food or territory, or the fish may be spawning. Sometimes common, comet or shubunkin goldfish (slim shape, single tails) will chase and/or nip at fancy goldfish (rounder, twin-tailed) because the fancies cannot swim as quickly. There is little you can do to stop a bullying fish, except isolate it from the others with a tank divider or separate tank.

DOES MY FISH HIDE WHEN I TURN ON THE LIGHT? Quite simply, it is painfully dazzled. Goldfish cannot close their eyes remember, so it has no alternative but to rush down and try to hide its eyes until they adust to the light. It helps to turn a nearby room light on a few minutes before turning on the main tank lights as this helps the fish?s eyes to adjust more comfortably.

IS MY FISH FLOATING / UPSIDE DOWN / SWIMMING AWKWARDLY? Fish have an air-filled organ in their bodies called the swim bladder. By regulating the pressure within this, the fish is able to remain upright and move up and down in the tank. If this because obstructed or diseased however, the fish loses its equilibrium and either floats at the surface (either upright or upside-down), sinks like a stone and/or struggles to swim. This is often caused by constipation, so fast your goldfish for three days and then feed it a pea, de-skinned and mushed, as this acts as a laxative. If this does not work then there may be an internal infection.

DOES MY FISH HAVE WHITE SPOTS ON ITS SKIN? There is a common parasite called ich, or whitespot, which commonly attacks fish. If your goldfish develops what looks like grains of salt scattered over its skin, then this is the likely cause. If the dots look more like little tufts of cotton wool, however, then the fish has fungus. Seek help with a diagnosis.

ARE MY FISH?S FINS RAGGED AND RED-STREAKED? Either the fish has been attacked by another fish, the nitrites are very high or it has a disease called finrot. Keep the water quality perfect and seek a diagnosis.

IS MY FISH GASPING AT THE SURFACE? There is insufficient oxygen in the water: increase the oxygenation immediately by turning up the filter flow or adding another airstone, and find the root cause of the problem. Sometimes fish do this when you clean the tank; this is due to the gunk released into the water, so a water-change should cure them quickly.

IS MY FISH LYING ON ITS SIDE? A fish that is lying on its side is feeling extremely ill. Check your water parameters first: are they all OK? Any number of diseases can result in this behaviour ? seek a diagnosis.

And that?s it! You now know the basics of goldfish keeping and can keep your pet alive, happy and growing. As you acquire more experience you will pick up additional information on the way and may end up being an expert on it.

Please bear in mind though that sometimes, despite the best or most professional care and attention, some goldfish die. We don?t always know why they do. If your fish is obviously feeling ill, then seek help immediately of course, but do NOT blame yourself if it dies because it probably isn?t anything you?ve done wrong. If it IS because you did something wrong, however ? if you forgot to dechlorinate the water or over-fed them or didn?t test or change the water frequently enough ? then still do not blame yourself, but do learn from the experience.

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Guest vixen_vc

Thanks so much everyone,

I am going to ask for a replacement fish or some money off the tank. I'll have to dig out my reciept!!! How much water should I change per day? These are the deals I am looking at. How do you think they rate?

Rena Aquarium Starter Kit - The Aquarama 60

Kit includes: All glass aquarium, a moulded aquarium hood, light unit and light tube, Rena IV2 internal powerfilter, Rena basic heater thermostat, a sachet of Stress Coat and Stress Zyme and a aquarium step by step set up booklet.

Rena Aquarama 60 Special offer price only ?59.99

ABS lighting system, watertight when temporarily immersed (IP67)

Reflecting cover

Removable starter

2 removable lids for easy access

Polished and bevelled edges

Jointed with black silicone

In accordance with T?V standards

Designed for the use of any automatic fish feeder

Dimensions d30 x w60 x h32 + lid height of 7 cm

Included in kit: Rena guide for fishkeeping, 1 lighting system, 1 Rena Cal automatic heater, 1 Rena Filstar internal filter

RENA PRISMA 60 - Special Offer ?69.99

ABS lighting system, watertight when temporarily immersed (IP67)

Reflecting cover

Removable starter

Prismatic front

Polished and bevelled edges

Jointed with black silicone

In accordance with T?V standards

Dimensions d30 x w60 x h31 + lid height of 6 cm

Included in kit: Rena guide for fishkeeping, 1 lighting system, 1 Rena Cal automatic heater 100w, 1 Rena Filstar internal filter




Its all rather confusing. I am going to the shop tomorrow and will show them the website.

Thanks for all your help ;)

P.S other fish was happy and healthy this morning touch wood will be ok when I get home

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i researched the two tanks that you were inquiring about and they seem to be pretty good. i dont know much about the rate of exchange (and pricing) between the us and the uk so, i cant tell you whether or not it is a "good deal". my only remaining question is about the internal filter that comes with the setups. what is the rena filstar internal pumps rating for liters per hour. they have several sizes available so, you might want to try and find out. as you may have read, goldies (in a ten gallon) need for their water to be pushed through the filter at least 300-378 liters per hour. see if you can find out. i will try as well.


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Guest vixen_vc

Hi thanks,

I purchased a tank, its a fluval uno 500 and the filter is a fluval 1 plus they're made by hagen. it was ?47.50 and with the present exchange rate that's $88.50. Normally as I understand it you can't put in fish for two weeks, but considering that my telescopic now seems to be gasping, should I fast him? (nitrate level at 2.0 8 hours after changing water) can I put him in after 24 hours, which the fish shop recommended I do. When hes in there what can I do to keep him alive? :blink:

Sorry to keep asking! I have added in all the recommended chemicals.

Thanks so much! :)

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how much water are you changing at a time? you should try to keep your nitrites down to at least 1 ppm. so do as many water changes as necessary to do this. remember: add salt back to your water each time you do a water change. 1 tspn per (us)gallon of new water should be fine. the addition of a bubble stone helps too.

as for putting him into the tank, you can do this the day after adding dechlorinated water. providing that you match the temperature of the water in his bowl. the extra water that the tank will provide will help you keep the levels under control.

keep a close eye on those levels!

post back with any more questions that you may have. :hi

p.s. you dont need to fast him completely, just feed very sparingly.

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Guest vixen_vc

Just want to say thanks so much - after a waterchange the nitrate level is 0.5. However I now seem to have another problem :thud the telescopic who seemed in robust health is now just sitting on his side and fairly unresponsive. He can swim when necessary and quite fast has he got swim bladder? I am fasting him he hasnt eaten since yesterday morning. Its been 16 hours since the tank has been up and running will it just be better to put him in there now before he gets weaker? I have changed 60% of the water I do as much as I can without disturbing him too much cos he gets quite stressed as he cant swim that well away from the currents that are caused.

Im now unsure as to whether he will survive cycling :ill the shop has given me a credit note for the pearlscale, and will give me the replacement in a couple of weeks after I take a sample of the water in to be tested.

Thank you so so so much! :D

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Guest vixen_vc

P.S I just tried to feed him a mushed up pea and he didnt eat it!

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just make sure that your nitrites AND your ammonia stay under 1ppm. since you are using ammolock, the ammonia shouldnt be affecting him any. did you add the salt as recommended? if not, go ahead and do it. remember to dissolve it in a cup of tank water beforehand.

there really isnt much more that you can do for him at this point. hopefully he will be able to cope with the nitrites fluctuating a little.

i dont think that he has swim bladder disorder. if he did, you would see him bobbling as he swims. his body would try to flip over. since he is sitting on the bottom on his side, he may be having a tough time with the nitrites. good clean water with a little salt will help him cope better.

i hope your ltttle one pulls through! :unsure:

post back soon,


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also, as you are posting back (each time), let us know what the test kits say about :





ph is a vital one as well! even small fluctuations can make it that much harder to cope.

run a test on your tap water and let us know what they say!


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Guest vixen_vc

Hi! Thanx for all the advise.

My telescopic died anyway I put in the new tank it had a burst of life and then passed away after an hour. Well one week on I went back to the fish shop they tested my water and gave me a very nice black moor in exchange for one of the fish. I have only one to make the cycling less harsh.

Thank you for all your help!

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im so sorry to hear that! :(

anyway, that was very nice of them to give you another! when you need anymore help, you know where to find us! :hi

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Guest vixen_vc

Hello again!

My new fish of one week (the black moor) has Ich! I have been putting aquarium salt every water change, to replace the salt loss. The whole tank has about 2bsp per gallon. I am a week into to tank cycling and nitrate level is at 0.25 having changed the water 24 hours ago! What shall I do?


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