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Thinking of starting a new tank after failing badly.


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I just lost my first fish. I'm quite upset. I had some bad info from multiple sources, none of it matched up, and they died from my lack of knowledge. Took about 6 weeks, they died very suddenly in 5 hours. A vet student friend of mine said it looked like a preexisting bacterial/viral infection.

Anyway, long sad story. Thinking of starting over. Just had some questions, I am asking multiple forums for input.

I know about and understand the fishless-cycle, I've read about it 50 times, just too late.

Where do I get ammonia?

I’ve checked Walmart, Target, Kroger, Pet Stores, and Home Depot. I’ve found plenty of ammonia-based cleaning products, lemon-scented or ammonia with surfactants. I can’t find 100% pure ammonia.

Filtration / Aeration

For a 37 gallon tank, with 2-3 fancy goldfish, preferably with living plants, what is the recommended filter system? How do you get air into the tank? It's a tall tank (12x33x22), so it's hard to get good water down to the bottom.

I like the concept of overflow + wet/dry sump and possible refugium, it seems like an elegant way to aerate and biologically filter without cluttering the tank. The other forum recommended simply using a single pond pump with a pre-filter for circulation and aeration. It seemed insufficient. It was also extremely ugly. The pump would still work in a sump system though.

How useful are UV filters? Canisters? Refugiums? I have a timed power strip and can set up a refugium on an opposite solar rotation.

How are these (wet/dry filter): http://www.petsolutions.com/C/Wet-Dry-Aquarium-Filters/I/Eshopps-Wet-Dry-Sump-Filters.aspx

What about these (Gravel vacuum): http://www.amazon.com/Automatic-Gravel-Cleaner-Sludge-Extractor/dp/B003C5U2SU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1336073287&sr=8-3EHEIM Quick Vac Pro Automatic Gravel Cleaner and Sludge Extractor

Any other advice before I get restarted?

I'm not even going to make up my mind for a few weeks, after I'm done mourning. When I start, I want to be ready.

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I'm sorry to hear that you've lost your first fish. My deepest sympathies :(

You are not going to be able to find 100% pure ammonia. You may be able to find something like 10%, unscented, and non-sudsing. Pure ammonia is used to make all sorts of illicit substances, so you won't be able to find it. A lot of people have had success finding ammonia at Ace Hardware.

I would go with a canister and an HOB for your setup. Perhaps a Eheim Ecco Pro and an AquaClear?

UVs are nice, but not necessary.

Sumps are nice, but I think is more helpful with bigger setups.

The Eheim Gravel Vac is terrible. Buy yourself a manual one, and a water changing system.

I'm sure other members will chime in more and get a great discussion going. :)

Btw, why are you EvilVegan? Are you truly evil? Vegan? What makes a vegan evil? We must know, since there are several other vegans on the forum.

Edited by dnalex
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Welcome to Koko's!! You'll get exellent advice here. Not from me, but I wanted to say hello and welcome. Love your username. Good luck, hope things go better for you this time. :)

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Btw, why are you EvilVegan? Are you truly evil? Vegan? What makes a vegan evil? We must know, since there are several other vegans on the forum.

CFG was just talking about converting the world to veganism, starting with her fiance's co-worker. No doubt she'll enlist EvilVegan in her diabolical plans. LOl :tomuch:
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For the ammonia - I don't know about you, but here they don't really sell it anywhere...I have found it in a very small asian dollar store...So maybe you want to check where you wouldn't have thought of. :)

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Welcome to the forum! I'm sorry you got bad advice to start, unfortunately most everyone does (unless they happen to find kokos before starting their tank ;) ).

The only place I could find pure ammonia (no soaps/perfumes) was ace hardware store as dnalex mentioned :)

The filter combo dnalex mentioned is what I run on my 40 gallon (and aqua clear 70 and an eheim ecco pro 2236). I personally love this combo because you get the great gph of the AC and the huge amount of space for filter media with the eheim :) Either way, the aqua clears are definitely awesome filters!

Whatever filters to choose you'll want 10x the tank volume in gallons per hour (so 370 gph for your 37 gallon). With canisters you can arguably go a bit lower on the turn over. If you don't want anything hanging off the back (like an HOB) I would go with a (or 2) Eheim or Fluval canister filters :) I'm sure a wet dry filter would be a great option as well, but knowledge about them is limited so I can't speak much to that ;)

For aeration, I personally like the look of a bubble wall, plus they are a great way to increase surface agitation across the length of the tank.

And definitely get yourself a water changer that hooks to the sink, it is so much easier than lugging buckets and will work better to vacuum your gravel than those auto gravel cleaner things.

Edited by tithra
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I second what Dnalex and Tithra said. The only place I was able to find amonia without scents/soaps ws ACE hardware. It looks like this:

IMG_4812.jpg

I use a python for water changes--best thing I ever bought (what a relief after using buckets for the first year and a half on my --initial--29G). The suction is not super strong if you are some distance from your sink, but in that case you can get a cheap siphon that will have more oomph (I like the simple cheap ones with the plastic bulbs you squeeze the best), but you may not need it.

On my 29G, I had an Eheim 2217 only, plus an airstone on the bottom of the tank, and it certainly sufficient. It creates a lot of surface agitation, which is where the O2 exchange happens (at the surface). If you get an Aquaclear or similar HOB, too, the advantage is that you can keep media in there to get easily if you need to set up a QT tank. (Of course, you can take it from the canister, too, but it is a pain). If you get a canister and HOB, you can get a smaller canister than a 2217--what you are aiming for is 10X tank volume turnover per hour. AIf you have that, QT new fish, vacuum and change 50% weekly, good quality food, stable PH, and avoid hollow ornaments that can be a breeding ground for anaerobic bacteria, you are in a position to have a healthy tank. Mind you, the fancier goldies can also quite fragile. My initial goldies from the petstore never had any troubles, whereas I lost a few of my expensive big extra fancy goldies (swim bladder, shipping stress, unknown sudden ilnesses).

I have, myself, become a fan of plants. I currently have a 100G planted tank and this far, it is the happiest, healthiest tank I have had to date. I started with a fishless cycle using the ammonia, added plants toward the end, and then the fish. I just dirted it recently (aquarium soil on the bottom layer, ecocomplete on the top later) and some of the plants are already taking off, though I need a bristlenose pleco (most plecos are not safe to keep with goldies, but these apparently are) as I have diatom issues that I cannot conquer. I mention that as if you plan to add one, you may want to keep to 2 goldies and/or upgrade to a bigger tank. If you think you may upgrade, then I'd get the eheim 2217 or similar now (with the future in mind). In my case, I had the 29--then a 50--now 100 LOL. I found the 29 way too small way to fast! But a 37 is a nice size tank for 2 goldies and bristlenose.

I have a UV but never used it, actually. I have not found it necessary, though not against it in any way. On that point, really, I have to defer to others who have used it and can report whether it may made a difference.

Edit: wow, that photo is huge! Sorry about that. BTW, many ACE stores are not called "ACE"--they'll be called "Joes Hardware", or whatever. You can search to see if there is one near you on the ACE Hardware website.

Edited by spillie
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Hello, sorry about your fish! Personally, for a 37 gallon tank I wouldn't do more than 2 fancies or if I did 3 it would be with the intent of getting a larger aquarium later on. But that's just my opinion. Tithra has some great links to her youtube channel on media that you might be interested in, it has saved me a lot of money :)

Welcome to the forum! There are lots of great, friendly, knowledgeable folks here. Oh, and Good Luck!

Edit: For the initial set up once you get your fish I would invest in some Prazi Pro to treat flukes and parasites, some aquarium salt (these are for the initial QT phase, you can QT them all at once) and optional Medigold and Metromeds from Goldfishconnection.com. There you can also buy some great fish foods, I and lots of folks here use the ProGold.

Edited by MexiMike83
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I LOVE my Eheim Vac. It clouds the water a little for a few minutes until the filters do their jobs, but the filters take care of it in just a little bit.I don't know what I did without out it. I have come up with a simple yet very effective way to clean and do water changes.

1. I vacuum with the Eheim.

2. I use a 200 gph submersible pump with a 25ft hose to remover water.

3. Use the same hose to pump water from the kitchen back into the tank..

Being so easy, I clean more probably than necessary, but everything stays crystal clear.

I have canister and HOB filters and love the canisters. I have AquaTop brand and they have been fantastic especially for the money.

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Um. Wow. Most responses I've gotten from any forum. Thank you all so much!

Ok, let's see, in order (bolding my followup questions for easier dissection from my insane ramblings, not emphasis):

Would a Eheim Cannister and HOB aquaclear be enough oxygenation in the tank if it didn't have a very open top? I have cats, its going to be at jumping level. The tank is tall, so I'm worried about CO2 sitting at the bottom of the tank, should the HOB have it's tube all the way to the substrate (the HOB it came with doesn't reach)? I'm making a canopy that should have room for airflow with fans, it isn't airtight. I'm going to try to build a stand made to look like a mini TARDIS. That's probably the only way to get my wife interested in fish again. We're both pretty devastated right now...

As far as evilness goes, I am pretty evil :D. It's mostly just a play on the fact that a lot of people here in the bible belt of East Tennessee view vegans with distrust or suspicion and take offense at their existence. I'm also terrible at being vegan. For example, I have pet cats. They eat lots of meat. And I don't avoid places that serve meat, so I still promote the culture of meat, but it's hard not to. That and I'm not necessarily against the concepts of animal husbandry and predation (they got us where we are today), I just feel we have outgrown them as a society. I like hunters more than store-buying meat-eaters; they're often more honest about it (even if I still think it's primitive). Nothing wrong with being occasionally primitive though. Primitive things are fun and easy.

I'll check ACE if I can locate one for the ammonia. They were on my list of places left to check. Surfactants are sudsing right? I found unscented ammonia with 2 ingredients: (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Great-Value-Ammonia-64-oz/13023511), but when I shook the bottle it looked sudsy.

I am planning on getting a second tank much later (if I get 3-4 goldies and they get near/over 5 inches or so, a 37 gallon tank won't do). I currently have a 37 gallon, a 10-20 gallon (haven't measured it). Gonna use the smaller for a quarantine tank. Do I need to cycle it? Or rather what I'm asking, is if I get another sick fish, should I just always have a 20 gallon tank ready for fish, or is it possible to set up a hospital tank in an emergency?

New section:

Planting

I have a moderately greenish thumb for growing food-plants, but not sure about water plants. I get why I add those near the end of the fishless cycle once nitrates get going. I need some sort of aquarium soil? How does that work with the gravel vacuum? Do I still use gravel? Is it 3 layers of soil/mud/gravel? Can I eat them?

One of those questions was a joke.

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CFG was just talking about converting the world to veganism, starting with her fiance's co-worker. No doubt she'll enlist EvilVegan in her diabolical plans. LOl :tomuch:

ROFL guilty!

Welcome fellow vegan! I hope you have better luck in fish keeping this time around :)

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So sorry about the loss of your fish, but you'll get some great advice here. You did lose me with the CO2, I was going to say that a good filter will circulate the water in the entire tank, but I don't know a single thing about CO2. As for ammonia, my local BIG Y grocery store carries it, but that's a New England chain.

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I know i'm getting a little off topic:

You know, if i was a Vegan, i'd be looking into AquaPonics, the products you dump out with weekly water changes are some of the best nutrients you can give vegetables to grow in, heck i'm considering it(mostly for spices/basil/oregano maybe tomatos) and i'm almost a pure carnivore...

Edited by Ridewithme38
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I know i'm getting a little off topic:

You know, if i was a Vegan, i'd be looking into AquaPonics, the products you dump out with weekly water changes are some of the best nutrients you can give vegetables to grow in, heck i'm considering it(mostly for spices/basil/oregano maybe tomatos) and i'm almost a pure carnivore...

I used the 6 weeks of what I had on my garden. It was great. My dwarf apple tree has about 5 times the apples it had last year (probably not just from the water, but it helps).

I'm not sure about zoonotic diseases though, so I wouldn't use it with anything you put the water directly on (tubers, low-lying squashes) without being careful.

Edited by EvilVegan
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I'll have to look into zoonotic diseases, never heard of that.

As far as planting goes I wouldn't recomend a dirt substrate with goldfish. I think it would get very messy. Goldfish like to yank plants up. Also There are a few plants that do better with goldfish. I've had really good luck with anubias, crypts, java moss, java fern, and some moderate luck with vals. You'd be better off going with gravel substrate, or bare bottom and planting things in smaller vessels. There are good examples of both in the planted tank section. If you wanted to do dirt, I would go with a tropical tank. You don't need to vacuum the substrate in a planted tank, as the waste is converted into fertilizer for the plants.

The idea of vegans being distrusted by good christian folk made me LOL. :rofl

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What I used to start my tank with beneficial bacteria was "bio zyme" found at pet stores. You basically put a bit of it in the tank every day for a week and it will start the cycle. Worked out great for me.

Or you could pee in it. It does work..

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I am in Tennessee too!

I saw that! :) I'm in Alcoa.

I thought about peeing in it, but then remembered... that's gross.

I found ammonia at Ace hardware today, bought some, went to an aquarium store. (called The Aquarium). They didn't talk to me, which was odd, but they seemed legit.

So, I'm prepped to get prepped to get prepped. Now I wait. For birthday gifts of aquarium stuff.

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Just want to add that If you dirt your tank with goldies, the key is to cap it with an inch of gravel, ecomplete, or some similar material. If you don't, the goldies will indeed make a mess, as Mr. B said. :)

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glad you found the ammonia! :clapping:

Let us know if you need any help/advice along the way with your cycle :) It can be hard to wait, but it is so worth it to do a fishless cycle!

EDIT: to answer some of your other questions that I am not sure got answered:

- ideally your filter intake tube should reach down as far as you can get it to reach (without it actually being in the substrate). You can buy extension tubes for most filters, so this may be something you want to look into

- The HOB and canister could potentially provide enough oxygen if you keep a slightly lower water level so that the output splashes on the surface. However, if it were me, I would personally go ahead and add an airstone of some sort to the tank, just to increase circulation at the bottom and ensure adequate surface agitation.

- You do not need to keep your QT tank set up all the time. What you will do when you need it is just steal some of your already cycled filter media out of your filter on your main tank to seed your QT filter :) You will want to have a spare filter available for the QT though to do this and ideally a spare airstone/air pump. The tetra whisper air pumps are my favorite, they are very quiet.

- I personally would not bother with dirt. Most of the plants you can keep successfully with goldies (that they generally won't eat), don't require a ton. Dirt has the potential to get pretty messy, although some here have successfully done it with goldfish.

If you wanted you could go with a nutrient rich substrate if you are planning on any heavy root feeding plants. I personally like either the carib sea eco complete (I use this in my heavily planted betta tank) or Seachem flourish (I use this to keep my swords in pots in my goldie tank). Alternatively you could also use an inert gravel and put root tabs in it if you had plants that needed the extra nutrients. Overall though, goldies typically produce enough nutrients to sustain most plant life without any added stuff ;)

- In terms of vacuuming you just vacuum where you do not have plants. In a very heavily planted tank you do not need to do a thorough vacuum (just get the big debris) because the plants use the waste. But if there are big chunks of space without plants you'll want to vacuum those :)

Edited by tithra
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Thanks everyone, I think I'm mentally ready. Got about 6 weeks before I'm going to start. Getting lumber for the stand in 2 weeks. Building stand over the following 2 weekends (giving time for paint and shellac to dry). Finishing another project for 2 weeks. Then setting up the tank to get cycling around my birthday. Should be ready for fish about 3-4 months from now...

I'm going to get at least one pearl scale, one oranda or ryukin or veil, and maybe a black moor.

My wife doesn't like the telescopic eyes, but are there any black goldfish without telescoping eyes?

With 3 fancy, I should have around 40 gallons, but I only have 37, is it possible to make up the 3 extra gallons with extra filtration and/or a sump? I can go with just 2 if it's a major issue.

I'm going to plant, so 1 inch of gravel. Going with wisteria, anubias, and maybe some java moss. Depending on the filter set up I may try to hide some PVC tubing with some compact/amazon swords.

My biggest concern, once the Nitrogen cycle is dealt with, is oxygen levels; especially overnight, while the plants aren't photosynthesizing. With a heavy planted tank, is it a problem when they switch to using oxygen at night? How many plants should I use in a 37 gallon tank with lots of filtration and two or three goldies?

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I think you should be fine with the 37 for the 3 fish, lots of plants, and a bubble wand (or two). :)

A sump of course would be fantastic.

Other black twin-tailed goldfish include orandas and ranchus.

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Well... I don't want to call anyone out, but the other site I was using for help before told me that my fish would be safe if I just took my filter and bubbles out and replaced them with a pond pump and started a cycle with my fish in the tank. They told me to do 20% water changes daily and treat with amquel until the cycle finished.

I'm pretty sure that these instructions led to the death of my fish, but just wanted a second opinion. I took their word for it because they have a gold fish specific site and they have several fish over 10 years old, but the more I think about it the more I think their advice was bad.

Assuming I had done a cycle to begin with (I hadn't, I didn't even know what they were), Is one 400 GPH pond pump in the bottom of the tank with a prefilter enough to keep a 37 gallon tank safe for goldfish?

Their line of reasoning is the pond pump brings water from the bottom of the tank to the top of the tank and creates surface action for oxygen exchange (sounds good to me). It looked horrible (a nasty pump at the bottom of my tank) and I've never seen a tank set up this way anywhere I've been since. For most of the time, my fish looked fine, but then they just died after looking healthy and happy 4-8 hours prior. The water levels never got too bad, and they were detoxified with Amquel Plus. They died separately over 48 hours after 5 weeks with just the pond pump, so I'm pretty sure it was an infection (my vet friend agrees). The local store has a bad rep too.

They also said bubble wands are bad for fish, causing swim-bladder problems and other issues when they eat the bubbles (they had pictures). They also told me to dump garlic water in my tank.

This whole situation has led me to be very confused, but this forum seems much more active and the advice seems better.

Is there a book I can buy?

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Rofl is it the site which suggests feeding the fish chlorophyll and doing tiny water changes which takes 5hrs? Rubbish.

I don't use airstones. But I don't think it gives fish SBD. If you doubt it you can just use spray bars on your filter and just make sure there is lots of surface agitation. That is how I have it set up in my tanks, and I never have to use airstones because there is already so much oxygen.

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