10-01-2013, 02:26 AM
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Hi! Welcome to the forum!
May I ask what size the tank is? Goldfish, even those 'fancy' fan-tailed varieties that look small at the store, get quite large. Minimum size is six inches long! And they are also rather chubby. The tank sized usually recommended for them is around 55 gallons, minimum, because they really do get big and produce a LOT of waste (these fish poop near constantly, creating a lot of ammonia and nitrites (ie, fish waste)) so they need a lot of water to keep parameters stable. The non-fancy varieties (ie 'feeder' goldifsh) can get over 18 inches!!! These fish really require a pond, and are not suited to house hold tanks, for the most part.
All tanks go through what we call a 'cycle'. This is where ammonia (which is highly toxic to fish and will kill them) (be it fish waste or introduced ammonia, depending on how you cycle) is converted to nitrites (still toxic) and then converted into nitrates (non toxic at numbers below 20ppm) by what are called 'beneficial bacteria'.
Now, the cycle takes around 4 - 6 weeks to complete, before the tank becomes stable and not dangerous to the fish. If you are cycling 'fish-in', you'll need to do daily water changes of around 75% to keep the fish from dying. If you do a 'fish-less' (no fish in the tank, at all) cycle, water changes aren't necessary.
I'd really recommend returning the goldfish, depending on the size of your tank (if it's less than 55 gallons, I firmly believe it's your best option) and then doing a fish-less cycle. We can then discuss the methods of fish-less cycling, and the equipment necessary (nothing too expensive, and it all lasts for years!), and move on to discussing what fish will work well for your set-up. This all depends on whether your water is 'soft' or 'hard'. But I'm getting way ahead of myself!
I know it's a LOT of information to absorb at first, but trust me, it'll all be worth it when you have a gorgeous, balanced tank! You may even want to take the route of live plants!
Oh, before I forget, what equipment do you already have for the tank? Such as filter, heater, etc.
Let me know if you have any more questions or need anything clarified! I'm MORE than happy to be of assistance!!! :)