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Newfound Fish Wisdom

(2 Posts)
Danigirl24 Sat 04-Jul-15 13:19:35

Hello fellow fish keepers, I hope you're all enjoying this fabulous weather grin.

I am now on week three (exactly three weeks today) of being a goldfish owner and have just had an extremely stressful week and half trying to keep Nemo from crossing over to that great big aquarium in the sky. After that I wanted to pass on all the things I have learned in the last three weeks to possibly help any other goldfish owners out there.

I was four days in to fish keeping when disaster struck and Nemo became quite ill. He (well, we call him a he) broke out in white spot and started bouncing on the bottom of the tank, very listless and not at all happy.
After all the debates with my DS on him being allowed to keep a pet I was not in any mood for our fishie to up and die so soon after starting so I took a water sample down to my local aquatic centre and the guy who was there was beyond amazing.

I took a water sample down for them to check, Ammonia levels off the chart, not converting into Nitrite and Nitrate, you guys know what's coming... I had not been advised to do a tank cycle before adding Nemo to his new home and as a result he was being poisoned.

As you can imagine, I was not happy.

Anyway, the guy, who owns an 8ft Marine tank with home grown coral and all the trimmings shock, was more than happy to help me out, he even said when he meets people who really do care he will do anything he can to help, so after a good two hours I left the aquatic centre with all the info and all the accessories I needed. Because he was so great, I want to share his wisdom with you guys as well and help you to avoid the stress I went through at the start smile

Ideally if you can, cycle the tank first, this will help get everything ready and you can avoid doing the rest of the steps, however if, like me, you had not been informed about fishless cycling then follow these steps.

1: Always make sure you have Aqua Safe, this will dechlorinate any tap water (I have Tetra Goldfish Aqua Safe, but it depends what fish you have). Follow the instructions on the bottle and always add to any water change you do.

2: Buy Ammonia Safe (again, I have Tetra), this will detoxify the Ammonia. It won't get rid of it, but it will remove harmful toxins from the Ammonia making things much more comfortable for your fish. Follow instructions and continue use until the Ammonia has completely left your tank.

3: Buy some filter start (I have Interpret, but you can use another brand). This will start to add the good bacteria to your tank which will then get the cycle moving and get the Ammonia to start converting to Nitrite and Nitrate. Follow the instructions carefully. And keep using for as long as the instructions recommend.

4: Buy water testing kits. Yes, your aquatic centre might do them for you, but it saves a lot of time and gives more peace of mind if you have them ready to use to check for yourself. Plus it just teaches you more about what you need to do to take proper care of your fish.

5: Buy an Air stone and pump. This is very important. It will provide the fish with oxygen and it means you can move the filter further down to the bottom of your tank, taking care not to disturb your gravel or sand, where it will have an easier time breaking down any waste produced by your goldfish (they are messy buggers).

6: Buy a gravel cleaner, if you can, get one with a siphon to make water changes easier. Again, this is essential for goldfish keepers since they produce so much waste.

7: Be careful with your water changes. While your tank is cycling you want to remove enough water to try to get things moving and clear the Ammonia, but you don't want to remove too much because you don't want to remove all that good bacteria you're starting to build up. This is why a water testing kit is a good idea. As long as you keep adding the Ammonia Safe you should be able to keep your water changes to a weekly amount, around 30% each time, rather than the standard 10%, and only as long as your Ammonia levels don't go getting any worse. As soon as your Ammonia starts converting, or if your Ammonia levels start to get worse instead of staying level or getting better, you will need to do water changes more regularly. Keep an eye on your Nitrite and Nitrate. When they get to a certain level, which should be outlined in your colour charts, do a water change immediately.

8: This is a controversial point, but one that I followed anyway. If your fish does get ill, develop white spot, buy some treatment, but do not use immediately. See if your fish can fight the infection by itself. This is important for their immune system. You know when you take your child to the doctor and the doctor is not willing to give antibiotics unless absolutely necessary? Same rules apply to your fish. White spot isn't what kills them. It's secondary infections they pick up, caused by the white spot that can kill them, so keep a very close eye on your fish, have the treatment to hand just in case, but try to let them fight it off on their own.

9: Be careful with overfeeding. A fish, even a small one, regardless of what the food might say, can survive quite happily on one meal a day, as much as they can take in in 1 minute, no more than that. Any food that hasn't been eaten, remove with a net. At the start it is even permissible to feed them only once every other day, this is to avoid your Ammonia getting out of control while you try to cycle your tank, this might just be for goldfish and only because they produce so much waste. Remember the golden rule, a hungry fish, is a happy fish.

10: Take a deep breath and congratulate yourself on doing the very best you can. Once you have done all this, your fish should, with any luck, pull through. Go easy on yourself because after this, all you can do is hope for the best until your tank is fully cycled.

I think that's everything. The guy did give me a lot of info so I can't be sure I got everything down, but I think I did. I followed every bit of advice I've written down and he gave me and I'm happy to say that after a stressful week and half and losing sleep (yes, I lost sleep over this fish so I hope he's grateful), Nemo has made a full recovery. His white spot is gone, he didn't need the treatment and he is now swimming quite happily through the bubbles from his air stone.

I apologise in advance for the extremely lengthy read, I just wanted to pass on everything I have learned so hopefully some of you can avoid the stress I had smile, after all, fish keeping should be fun and rewarding, not stressful.

If anyone can think of anything I missed, please feel free to add. There are people on here much more knowledgeable than me and I won't even begin to pretend otherwise.

Hope you all enjoy the sunny weekend grin

TreeSparrow Sun 05-Jul-15 10:17:43

Just a couple of suggestions/corrections. Well done on what you've found so far.

Cycling a tank with fish in means daily water changes (sometimes several) and regular water testing. Weekly changes with additional chemical use isn't enough in my opinion. You need to keep ammonia and nitrite below 1ppm to keep the fish safe. The cycle will take a long time but it's the best way. Better than using shop bought chemicals to "detoxify" the huge amounts of ammonia your fish will deal with. It will cause the fish extra stress and pain as the gills are burnt by ammonia.

Changing water DOES NOT remove the beneficial bacteria. Beneficial bacteria it's not free floating in the water column. It grows in the filter and on hard surfaces in the tank. Water changes during a "fish in" cycle are important to balance the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels but do not clean the hard surfaces of the tank as this will remove your bacterial colony.

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