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New fish owner seeks advice on tank set up!

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New fish owner seeks advice on tank set up!
Old 04-16-2009, 10:41 AM   #31
 
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If you are using the API freshwater master kit.Then be sure and perform the tests exactly as the instructions describe. Not waiting long enough for test results to develop or waiting too long,can cause skewed readings.Hold the test tube against the card in sufficient light when reading the results. Shake bottles as per directions, See that drops of liquid are uniform by holding the bottles vertical when adding the drops of solution.Are you the only one feeding the fish? Any water added to the tank must be treated with the dechlorinator before it goes in the tank.Wait an hour or two after water changes to test the water.I do not recall.. what size filter do you have on this tank? Have you been cleaning it or perhaps replaced the cartridges or media? best to leave the filter alone until the tank has (cycled) And filter material should only be cleaned in old aquarium water or dechlorinated water.NOTE.. I just went back and saw that filter is Emperor280 good. Hang in there!!

Last edited by 1077; 04-16-2009 at 10:44 AM..
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Old 05-01-2009, 06:57 AM   #32
 
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We had a pH drop last night that put the fish in a noticeably unhappy-looking state. She just sort of slowed down and didn't seem interested in much: I tested the pH (which is 7.4 out of the tap), and it was reading only 6!! I immediately did a 60% water change, which brought it up to 7-7.2 at least, and I'll do another water change tonight. I know extreme changes are bad for the fishies, but 6 is in the "gonna die pretty quick" zone, if I recall correctly.

Any idea how this could happen? I perform regular water changes (like 5-6 a week, as the nitrite creeps up much too high in any given 24 hour period), and feed only 5 times a week...

So stressful!
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Old 05-01-2009, 07:38 AM   #33
 
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This situation is a mess. From what I've read, you have not taken all of the appropriate steps to fix the problems you are having. Further, your problems are about to get worse if you don't do something soon.

Your problem lies with the buffering ability of your water. Many hobbyists test pH and take away information that is just a snapshot of what is actually happening. To get a true indicator of the stability of your tank, you also need to test for Hardness. This will give you a measure of your buffering system, with is generally a measure of carbonate ions that allow the pH to remain stable. Unfortunately, as your system processes ammonia and nitrite, acids are introduced into the aquarium that neutralize these carbonates, slowly reducing the buffering capacity of your water. You need to replace these carbonates with water changes, using a buffer. For a goldfish aquarium, with the high amounts of waste being processed, this is even more critical.

I recommend treating your tap water with a buffer, such as Proper pH 7.0, prior to adding it to the aquarium. This is in addition to Amquel or Prime. You can then begin testing for both hardness and pH every other day and chart these readings. You will see hardness begin to drop and can use this as an indicator for how frequently you need to change water, using a buffer. This is a short term solution until your ammonia drops to zero on a permanent basis. When it does, I would slowly switch to Proper pH 7.5, which is the better buffer for your situation. Unfortunately, if you raise the pH this high with the NH4 reading you have, much of the NH4 will become NH3 and your entire system will probably crash. Starting with Proper pH 7.0 and later switching to 7.5 will be a safer alternative.

To be more honest, and for future reference, Goldfish do not belong in small aquariums. These are fast growing fish which polute the water tremendously. They are extremely DIFFICULT to keep and are not for beginners. You would be much better off with a tropical fish aquarium.
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Old 05-01-2009, 08:20 AM   #34
 
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I agreee with Pasfur. Some folks in similar situations have used new rubbermaid tubs and mixed their change water in this tub with heat and aeration, and the addition of sodium bicarbonate(baking soda) At a rate of one teaspoon per five gal of water. Some also employ the use of calcerous rock /decorations to help boost the alkalinity. With mixing it in a bucket ,it might be easier to expieriment with and baking soda might be cheaper in the long run. IMHO
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Old 05-01-2009, 09:12 AM   #35
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasfur View Post
This situation is a mess. From what I've read, you have not taken all of the appropriate steps to fix the problems you are having. Further, your problems are about to get worse if you don't do something soon.
What steps have I been instructed to do, that I have not yet done?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasfur View Post
Your problem lies with the buffering ability of your water. Many hobbyists test pH and take away information that is just a snapshot of what is actually happening. To get a true indicator of the stability of your tank, you also need to test for Hardness. This will give you a measure of your buffering system, with is generally a measure of carbonate ions that allow the pH to remain stable. Unfortunately, as your system processes ammonia and nitrite, acids are introduced into the aquarium that neutralize these carbonates, slowly reducing the buffering capacity of your water. You need to replace these carbonates with water changes, using a buffer. For a goldfish aquarium, with the high amounts of waste being processed, this is even more critical.

I recommend treating your tap water with a buffer, such as Proper pH 7.0, prior to adding it to the aquarium. This is in addition to Amquel or Prime. You can then begin testing for both hardness and pH every other day and chart these readings. You will see hardness begin to drop and can use this as an indicator for how frequently you need to change water, using a buffer. This is a short term solution until your ammonia drops to zero on a permanent basis. When it does, I would slowly switch to Proper pH 7.5, which is the better buffer for your situation. Unfortunately, if you raise the pH this high with the NH4 reading you have, much of the NH4 will become NH3 and your entire system will probably crash. Starting with Proper pH 7.0 and later switching to 7.5 will be a safer alternative.
Thanks for the great info. My ammonia has been reading at near-zero for around a week or so: should I still use pH 7.0, or should I start with 7.5?


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Originally Posted by Pasfur View Post
To be more honest, and for future reference, Goldfish do not belong in small aquariums. These are fast growing fish which polute the water tremendously. They are extremely DIFFICULT to keep and are not for beginners. You would be much better off with a tropical fish aquarium.
Oh, I know this now. It's unfortunate how much bad information there is out there: I've been told by different people that you need anywhere between 5 gallons per inch of fish, to at minimum 30 gallons for one goldfish. I've been told that cycling with your fish is a good idea, and that cycling with fish spells certain doom. I've heard of people with one goldfish in a 2-gallon bowl living for 5 years with no filtration, and I've had two goldfish die on me in a 15 gallon tank with a huge filter and a secondary aeration/filter. I've been told to use up to 4x the recommended dosage for amquel+ in emergencies, and I've been told that using it on a daily basis will suffocate your fish due to lack of oxygen.

I'm very attentive, very aggressive at treating problems as soon as I know about them, and have done (and will continue to do) as much as I can to keep this fish alive, and get the tank to the point that the fish will be happy. I feel like people have been not-so-subtly suggesting that I'm an idiot or a bad fish keeper. I have spent more time doing everything that people have told me to help this fish, than I have taking care of myself over the past month, and I don't need people telling me that I'm doing a sh*tty job when I'm literally doing everything I know how and taking as much advice as I can find.
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Old 05-01-2009, 12:14 PM   #36
 
Get used to conflicting information in this hobby...I even have a tropical fish book that talks about the "1 inch of fish per gallon" rule on one page, then gives a sample 10 gallon tank population that totals around 25" on the very next page, including one fish it says shouldn't be in any less than a 30 gallon tank on another page :/

I think the best thing to do in this situation is just to take a deep breath and simplify. Do a 20%-30% water change each day (like you are already doing), with tap water treated with your dechlor product, and keep testing. And that's it. An uncycled tank will have the initial ammonia then nitrite spike while the biological filter is growing. The fish may live through it and they may not, but your daily water changes give them the best chance. As you said, criticism about how you started is pretty unhelpful to someone who knows they screwed up and is requesting help.

You said you're feeding five days a week. Make sure on those days it's only once a day. I highly recommend not using filtered water from the store because it lacks minerals your fish need, and it's too expensive in the long-run anyway. pH buffers cause more problems than they solve in the long run. They'll keep the water fine for awhile and then crash for no apparent reason. Stable pH is way more important than a certain value.

By the way, I may have missed it, but what is your substrate? Things like crushed coral can change pH. So can natural rocks, driftwood, etc.
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Old 05-02-2009, 09:09 AM   #37
 
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Originally Posted by codlong View Post
I think the best thing to do in this situation is just to take a deep breath and simplify. Do a 20%-30% water change each day (like you are already doing), with tap water treated with your dechlor product, and keep testing. And that's it.

pH buffers cause more problems than they solve in the long run. They'll keep the water fine for awhile and then crash for no apparent reason. Stable pH is way more important than a certain value.
I appreciate the simplicity of this suggestion and I understand that many people get in trouble adjusting pH, but I disagree with the advice given here. Let me explain why.

First, it is not pH buffers that cause problems. It is the improper use of the buffer. If the goal were to lower pH, I would agree that adding buffers to lower pH causes long term problems. However, that is not what we are doing in this thread. In this case, I recommended adding buffers that allow the pH to remain stable. There is no risk in adding carbonates back to the buffer system, provided you are testing for hardness and adding buffers for a reason.

Also, doing water changes may or may not be the answer to the hardness issue, depending on the hardness of the tap water.
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Old 05-03-2009, 12:46 PM   #38
 
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I appreciate the simplicity of this suggestion and I understand that many people get in trouble adjusting pH, but I disagree with the advice given here. Let me explain why.

First, it is not pH buffers that cause problems. It is the improper use of the buffer. If the goal were to lower pH, I would agree that adding buffers to lower pH causes long term problems. However, that is not what we are doing in this thread. In this case, I recommended adding buffers that allow the pH to remain stable. There is no risk in adding carbonates back to the buffer system, provided you are testing for hardness and adding buffers for a reason.

Also, doing water changes may or may not be the answer to the hardness issue, depending on the hardness of the tap water.
I see your point, and he is trying to stabalize the tank, so they may be necessary in this case. I'm just wondering what's causing it to fluctuate so much.

In any event, if you do add buffers the "don't panic" mantra still applies...let these things do their job and let the tank settle down. Trying to change the water chemistry everytime it swings this way or that with new chemicals will just make things more chaotic.
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:25 PM   #39
 
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In any event, if you do add buffers the "don't panic" mantra still applies...let these things do their job and let the tank settle down. Trying to change the water chemistry everytime it swings this way or that with new chemicals will just make things more chaotic.
Very good point. The reason for adding a buffer is to create stability and allow for LESS TINKERING with the environment. Stability = success.
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:40 AM   #40
 
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Very good point. The reason for adding a buffer is to create stability and allow for LESS TINKERING with the environment. Stability = success.
Agreed, All "tinkering" should be done in a separate container that is heated and aerated.IMHO
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