12-13-2013, 08:02 AM
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Ahh, the golden algae eaters. Yup. In your photo they looked like chubby gold ottos, but ottos actually come in that color only very rarely. If you can, get rid of them immediately. ^^; Likely they're the culprit of fin damage and poor health, aside from the fact those fish are in a tank too small and weren't cared for. You could probably sell them for a pretty good price on craigslist or something. They will likely feed on your fishes slime coats, which destroys their ability to fight off parasites and other nasties that can attach to the skin, also hurts their health all around. They're neat fish indeed, but unless raised and kept properly, and even then, they can be nasty to have with fish because of their ability to get addicted to fish slime.
Also, I suggest, if you can, that you continue to cycle this tank and the filter, which you are doing well(though I gotta say, that PH swinging you're getting, OUCH! That will make your fish very itchy, don't be surprised if they start flashing...slamming their sides into things). Find new homes for the fish, put up photos of the tank holding water, and sell it or trade it. Then move all the water to another large, clean container with the filter and heater, keep it cycled and clean like you would the fish tank, this way you wont have to cycle your tank all over again. Just don't let that filter hit the air too long or be off for more than a few minutes or you'll just kill the beneficial bacteria and have to start over anyways.