Goldfish tank and imposing mother-in-law
My wife and I have kept our goldfish for about 3 years now, starting with a bowl, and now in a 10 gal tank. We've learned a lot on how to keep it clean, feed them properly, check levels, etc. and never lost a fish. Now, I feel we've finally have a self-fulfilling nitrogen cycle and the tank stays crystal clear all the time with no algal build up, foggy water, or fish ailments. We keep 3 goldfish, 2 catfish, and 1 algae eater in a 10 gal tank. We run an external biofilter and heater.
Yesterday, my mother-in-law visited and started telling my wife all these things she needs to do and making her worry to death that she's hurting her fish. Can someone help me disburse any myths that are being delivered?
1) "You need an air stick. Your fish are always trying to get air at the surface.". I think this is personal taste if you enjoy watching fish swim through bubbles of Mt. Wannahockalugie, but I don't see it as a requirement. The biofilter drops water into the tank, creating visible bubbles.
2) "You need to clean your rocks to get the ammonia out". Having a maintainable nitrogen cycle is supposed to take care of this, right? We have my catfish and algae eater that clean this all up for us. The entire tank is spotless with no cleaning required on my part. I read the stickies here and our fish don't show any signs of ammonia poisoning or stunted growth. Besides, cleaning up the rocks clouds up the water for days. That can't be great for the fish.
3) She gave us looks of disappointment when we say we change the biofilter about every month. This is the time when the filter backs up from reduced flow. However, the tank is still as clean as always. I don't see the use in replacing the filter more often than is necessary. Besides, the tank gets all cloudy for a week or two when the filter is changed.
4) "You don't change your water every week?" No need! Yes, I know it's good to do. But, the heater evaporates about a gallon of water a week or so. I top it off with some stored water in jugs.
Can someone please lend some advice to ward of an imposing mother-in-law?
ok about all of these are matters of opinion so this is going to be tricky.
1: air sticks really help circulate water and get oxygen in there, but not a single one of my aquaria have one and all my fish are healthy as can be. when the goldfish go up and " get some air at the surface " there not really getting air, most likely there seeing if theres any food up there. my goldies do it too.
2: You should clean up the rocks, but not for ammonia. the rocks have solid fish wastes that you need to get out of the tank. if it clouds up the water for days that means theres too much in there. get your gravel vaccum out and start sucking.
3: What do you mean by biofilter? the filter pad or is it like a little black thing outside of the filter pad? if its the filterpad your supposed to change it. if its something other than that ive always washed off the poo from it to increase the flow and just put it back.
4: you really are supposed to change your water every week 20%.
how big is your goldfish? what kind is it? this would really help because most goldfish need some room because they get kinda big.
The title of this thread sounds like it would be a great comedic work of literature. Maybe even a good Hollywood laugher. Surely, at the minimum, a very good funny story. Mother-in-law stories always have a great laugh potential.
Allow me to comment on each of your points individually.
1.) Air "sticks" (actually call stones or bubble wands), in your case, would act as a means to break the surface tension of the water to promote CO2/O2 transfer. This happens at the surface of the water and not in the water column itself as believed by many beginners. It also provides an ornamental feature. Sometimes it is needed, but more often is not.
2.) Gravel sweeps are needed from time to time. Plecostomus' and algae eaters do not eat "poo". Cleaning up excess food and excrement is a good practice. It is amazing that you have not encountered problems earlier as you are keeping some real "waste machines", the goldfish and the plec.
Changing your filter media is necessary, as you say it "plugs" up. But in doing so, you lose a good deal of bacteria. A second form of filtration should also be used to help you filter the tank. Each system could then be cleaned, alternately, to help reduce the affect caused by cleaning one or the other.
The cloudy water is the tank balancing itself with fresh bacteria. Good but not good. By using two forms of filtration, You will reduce the cloudiness if not get rid of it all together.
3.) See #2.
4.) Weekly water changes are highly recommended. Fish have kidneys and we all know what kidneys are used to produce. The fish are, essentially, swimming in their own urine. Evaporation and replacing the water from evaporation, is not a substitute for water changes. A weekly water change of 2-3 gallons would suffice for a 10g tank. But with your "waste machines" you probably change water mor often, say, twice a week.
I do hope that you plan to get a bigger tank in the near future. You have been very fortunate so far in that catastrophe hasn't descended on your tank. The bio-load of your tank is extreme. Goldfish and plecs produce an exorbitant amount of waste. Only bad things can happen if steps are not taken to improve the situation.
Awesome information! And I'm sorry I couldn't provide more of the mother-in-law experience in my story. :) I take everything she says with a grain of salt because she's not exactly the epitome of academic excellence. She once asked if you had to cross an ocean to get to California from Pennsylvania or if we could drive to Germany. I guess it turns out, while with poor tact and delivery, she was partly right about the aquarium stuff.
I'm not sure why you're surprised we haven't had a catastrophe. For a period of time, we couldn't get the tank clear. We'd do water changes (full change or as much as 25-50%), change filter media (aka biofilter to me), and the like. We could never get the nitrates out of the tank. It seems that it wasn't until we bothered to put in a heater that everything leveled out and cycled. Since then, it's been great.
We have 1 double tail that's about 3" long and 2 fantail goldfish that are about 2.5" each. Btw, we don't have a pleco, but only what PetSmart calls an "algae eater". It looks to be a Chinese algae eater, according to this page. I plan on getting a larger tank one day, since it was mentioned.
So, I'll have to get right to vacuuming up the poo and then a water change.
Another thing worth pointing out is that gldfish are not tropical fish. ther lives will be shortened by being kept in heated water along with your other tropical fish and they could suffer from lack of oxygen in the water as there is less oxygen in warmer water.
Do you plan on upgrading the tank? I would suggest something in the region og 120g minimum for those fish, probably more. If not then unfortunately I would have to suggest that you have a look at some different types of fish that you could keep happily instead.[/quote]
But wait, 120gal for 3 goldfish and 3 bottom feeders? Are you simply taking into account their potential size requirements and skipping intermediate steps or are you nuts about big aquariums? :)
Why have intermediate steps? It's just putting off the inevitable and giving your fish the room they will eventually need so they CAN grow. However, since you're going to need two tanks anyways due to you having goldfish in warm water, I'd probably want to turn tail and run too.
As for the nitrates, you want some of those (however, I suspect your levels were a taaaaaad bit higher than the 10-15 that we shoot for). The ammonia and nitrites are what's really bad, you should have a big fat 0 for both of those and you should be using a liquid test kit, not strips. I'm very interested in seeing your test results too.
As for your mother-in-law...well, they can't be helped. I get along well with mine but still...sometimes. Welcome to the forum!
Why two tanks?
CAE/SAE = Tropical Fish (76-82 dgrees).
Goldfish cannot thrive in tropical water, nor can CAE/SAE's survive in coldwater.
I was taking into account the full size and the fact that they are hige waste producers. I'm with Flashygirl in that i don't see the point in intermediate steps. It deprives the fish of what they will eventually need, and unless you plan on having many aquariums, it costs you more money as you have to constantly buy new, larger tanks, rather than one payment.
What are the 2 catfish if they are not plecs?
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