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Laurenbee 08-21-2009 04:17 AM

Moving fish from tank to tank please advise!
I am a novice fish keeper at best. I know this. I am sure I have made my share of mistakes when it comes to fish care, but I am trying to do my best. I am in desperate need of advice!

I am sorry if this seems long winded, but I am going to do my best to give you all he details. So that you may advise me to the best of your ability.

I never sought out any fish at first. I was with the boys I nanny for in February at the Florida state fair, and we won seven goldfish! We left the fair at about nine pm. I drove the boys home, and ran to walmart I bought a twenty nine gallon tan for the boys and a ten gallon tank for me. I ran to there house set up their tank, and then ran home and set up mine. I rinsed everything off plugged it in, and then floated the fish four about ten minutes before putting then into their new tanks. I now know how lucky I am that all seven fish lived, and that this is not the right way to do things, and so started my fish keeping.

I have had my ten gallon fish tank with two goldfish ever since. All was well at first. The next day I went to reading about fish keeping on the web. I quickly ran out and bought a second filter for my little tank. I also got them live plants to help keep the tank clean. I started doing 25% water changes every Sunday, and testing water quality twice a week using the super convenient test strips. My two goldfish and I were doing well. I would have been happy to never have another fish.

My boyfriend at the time decided he wanted a fish also, so he ran out and bought a half gallon bowl, and a Betta. I came home, and remarked that this seemed cruel at best. I went right to the web, and did some more research of my own. I found that people can't seem to agree on the best way to keep these beautiful fish. Some say small tanks are best some say they need large tans. I decided I has enough information to make my own decision.

I ran out and bought his nice three gallon home. I got him a whisper 2-10 filter (later changed) and a heater (pad style) some silk plants, and some real plants. I bought a snail for his tank to help with clean up (I tend to over feed) He ate the snail that same day. I kept his tank at 78 degrees ph at 7. I did my partial changes every Sunday just like the goldfish.

He wasn't doing well. He got sucked into the filter, and got torn up badly. I took it out, and I bought him a bubble filter that same day. He perked right up, and has been busy building bubble nests, and being a happy healthy fish since that day. I feed him drained rinsed brine shrimp, and beta pellets. I have had him about six months now.

I lost the boyfriend, but I kept his fish.

About a month later I got a call from a friend at two am. He was being evicted, and needed me to take his fish and his frogs. I being an animal lover agreed. He told me he didn't want any of them back, and that they would be mine. I went right over.

I knowing a little more about fish now, but still not much emptied most of the water from that tank into 5 gallon buckets, and brought it back to my house. I left the sand wet at the bottom of the tank careful not to disturb it to much. I moved it all in set it up, and put back the fish. Two bichirs. I didn't know what kind of fish they were at the time, but I knew I loved them, and the new 20 gallon tank that I had.

I didn't hear from my friend for weeks, so I ran to pet store after pet store with a photo of these weird and lovely fish until someone could tell me what they were what to feed them, and how to care for them.

Later I bought a 30 gallon for the living room. My niece who lives with me grew to love fish as much as I do. I bought this tank on the internet for a steal. It came with the fish that it has in it now. Amazingly I was able to move this tank and all 14 of the fish in it to my home without losing any. Again saving as much water as I had jugs to carry.

I soon added to pearl Gouramis to the Bichir tank.

When the three inch Gourami in the living room tank began to pick on his smaller tank mates I decided action must be taken. I moved him into the Bichir tank. Now I had three gourmi about the same size, and two six inch bichirs in the twenty gallon tank.

At this point all was well.

Issues started just about a week ago. It was my nieces birthday. I decided it would be ok to take her to the pet store with a little money to spend. We needed a little tank for her molly that was about to mave babies anyway. I didn't go to my local pet shop that I trust, and love, because it was Sunday, and they are not open. It was her birthday, and she wanted to go. We went to a chain store. Big mistake number one.

We got two zebra danio that we put in the goldfish tank. I figured it would be fine. I run two filters, and have never had a issue with this tank except when it first cycled. The ammonia is almost always 0 ppm in this tank maybe .25 at worst. BIG MISTAKE number 2.

Also, she fell in love with this figure eight puffer fish. I told her we had no tank for him. They lady at the pet store asked what tanks we had, and I told her about my tanks. She said he would do fine in the Bichir and, and that he could eat the same ghost shrimp I already feed the bichirs. I decided to trust her. BIG MISTAKE number three.

I brought home the puffer, and the danios. BIG MISTAKE number four.

The next day the goldfish were sick. The goldfish and zebra danios all had Septicemia. I ran to the pet shop and got Maracyn two. I stared treatment right away. I lost my first fish ever the nest day. The inly fish I have lost os far.

It took me two days to notice that the puffer was quickly eating is tank mates! I guess I was to worried about my goldfish to notice. I had no idea what to do. It was late at night, and no pet shop was open. I considered flushing the puffer down the toilet it my rage. I knew this was not a reasonable option.

Instead I moved my beta into a one gallon bowl, and added salt to the beta tank, and then put the puffer in the now empty, and salted beta tank.

That night racked with worry, and guilt.... I came up with a plan. I would buy another tank! It seemed like the prefect idea to me.

I would move all the fish from the bichir tank into a larger tank. They were starting to outgrow there tank anyway. I would move the goldfish into the old bichir tank. Goldilocks my goldfish is getting to be to big to be comfy. The puffer could take the ten gallon for a while. My beta could have his tank back.

So, it was done. I went out and got this neat 75 gallon the very next day. I bought it used, and it was dry already when I got it. Sadly, no good bacteria left here. I filled it with water, treated it added salt, and added some water from the bichir tank, and about a dozen shrimp. I waited 48 hours. The shrimp were all alive. The temp was right ph right water clear. I know the tank is cycling, and that I need to be careful.

I added my groumis to the tank after 48 hours. 24 hours later I went and bought tons of little shrimp because my injured bichirs need to have good odds for food catching. Then I added the shrimp, and bichirs to the 75 gallon.

I also added some more shrimp to the now empty tank. I put the puffer into this tank again. Now with no tank mates to eat.

The pearl gourmis now look better than they ever had. They didn't get chewed at all. The male is so bright orange. I have never seen him this way. He keeps flaring his fins, and seems to be making a nest like the beta makes??? The female is looking very rotund. The bichirs are fat and happy catching the shrimp.

I washed out the beta tank completely.I put him, and the water from the bowl in his tank with fresh water slightly warmer than the water he had been in. I slowly got his temp right. He seems happy again, and glad to be in his own tank.

I am watching the water in the new tank like a hawk. I have my master test kit on my night stand n fact because I have been watching for an ammonia spike. If it happens I am ready to treat it. I have plenty of aged water handy for emergency water changes if need be. Ammonia readings still at 0ppm in the tank. All seems to be well despite the newness of the tank.

Now comes the tricky part. The goldfish tank is now done being treated with the meds, and I want to move them to there new home, and I want to move the puffer into the old goldfish tank.

I don't know what the best way to do this is. Should I scrub out the goldfish tank because of recent illness? Should I wait a while to make the swap. I know Goldilocks needs a bigger tank. I know I shouldn't have added the danios.

Should I wait a while longer? Right now the puffer doesn't have a lid. I broke it in the excitement. I can't find a replacement as of yet. Its an odd size tank I guess. I am afraid he will jump out if I leave him there to much longer.

I did take some of the water out to its a further jump to get out. I saw him jump out of the little beta tank while I had its lid off.

I am going to be getting a ten gallon or so that I can use as a hospital tank right away. I never want to be in this spot again.

I am not going to be getting any more fish for some time, and if I do it will never be from a chain store again, and I will always read up on any fish I buy before I bring him home. I now know my puffer needs more salt than I keep in the rest of my tanks, and I am feeding him a diet of snails, ghost shrimp, and brine shrimp. I have not figured out enough about him even now. The lady at the pet store absolutely misinformed me about him, and his needs. I should have known better.

Please advise!!

Byron 08-21-2009 09:46 AM

You must have a good luck charm somewhere to have not lost more fish through all these adventures. Anyway, most of us have done things we now know we shouldn't, so we all learn.

Re the goldfish move, follow the instructions on the medication you're using to finish the treatment. When that's done, and if the fish seem OK, you can move them to their new tank. Buy a small bottle of "Stability" made by Seachem. It is live bacteria that will immediately seed your new tank with the good bacteria and prevent additional stress on the goldfish. Follow the instructions on the Stability label and you will not have problems from new tank syndrome. Add the first dose of Stability just before the goldfish go in.

As for the existing goldfish tank, drain it and clean it with hot water. Some people use bleach; just make sure you rinse it thoroughly. I would not use bleach on the gravel, just hot water in a bucket. Clean anything that is in the tank, like decor, rocks... and rinse thoroughly.

I do not recommend using salt in freshwater tanks. It is not necessary, and some fish are sensitive to it. Salt belongs in brackish water aquaria, not freshwater. Having said that, some puffer fish can tolerate brackish water; here's a link to info on the various species Freshwater Pufferfish
Depending upon which you have, it may or may not need brackish water. Be aware that they are predatory fish and most recomend keeping them in a single species tank, not with other fish species.

Your gouramis appear to be in spawning condition. When it happens, don't fuss over hatching and raising the fry, let nature take its course. Unless of course you really want to get into some work, more tanks, raising live food for the fry... that's up to you. Fish in my aquaria are spawning all the time, and they eat the eggs as soon as they appear; good nourishment. All part of nature.

Good luck.


Fishin Pole 08-21-2009 10:14 AM

Another good concise post by Byron........I cant think of anything to add..........Laurenbee, i must comend you on the dedication to your fish.......Some people come hear for ALL their answers and do NO research on their own.....More new fishkeepers should follow your example of research and then folowing thru on what they learned.....This is a continuing learning process for everyone in the hobby and you have taken the correct steps to make your fish healthy and happy......As Byron stated, we all have made mistakes and have learned from them and try to share our experience with everyone.........Good Luck and keep up the good work, your fish will thank you for it!

Laurenbee 08-21-2009 01:48 PM

Thanks for all of your help.

I am trying my best to keep my fish healthy and happy, but I often worry that I am not doing a very good job.

What is you opinion of this melafix I think that is how you spell it. I have gotten mixed feed back. As I said my bichirs have been chewed up by that little jerk of a puffer fish.

The puffer will be alone in the former goldfish tank as soon as the swaps can be safely made. Tonight I think. It has been just over 24 hours since I finished up the last of the meds for the septicemia.

I am going to add some more pants to that tank for him also. I have had a hard time keeping any with the goldfish. They eat and or uproot anything I plant for them. He needs salt in his water. I never did put any in the goldfish tank until they got sick.

The master test kit I use states that it is for use in fresh water tanks that have salt added. All of the advice that I have received is that I should put one tablespoon of aquarium salt per every five gallons of water in my tropical tanks. You don't agree I see. I am not sure about this one I guess.

The bichirs are VERY active since I put them in the new tank. I am wondering if this is a good sign or a bad one. They are eating an amazing amount of shrimp. lol. They are darting all around. They are swimming hard up to the top of the tank. The larger one is swimming to the tnak often the smaller one mnot so much. They breath air from the top sometimes. He is doing this a lot and with lots of force. I hope this is him just having run in his new tank.

Am I doing right by my fish, or am I a horrible fish mother?

Byron 08-21-2009 02:44 PM

I'm assuming the melafix is the med for the septicemia. I've never had reason to use it but it is made by API and they have a good reputation for these things. Just follow their instructions.

Bichirs I have never kept, so I can't offer any ideas on behaviours.

No, I am adamantly against putting salt (or chemicals with the sole exception of absolutely necessary medication) in a freshwater fish aquarium that has live fish in it. And you will, if you go back through other threads on here, find I have a lot of members in agreement with me on that. I've posted at length on why, I'll try to summarize for you now so you understand the reasoning.

Fish absorb water through their cells (that's how they drink). The fish must regulate the pH of its blood to equal that of the water it lives in. When the parameters of the water stray outside the preferred range for the particular fish in respect of pH and salinity, it needs to work extra hard to maintain the pH of its blood, feed its tissues, and keep its immune system functioning. Adding salt increases this effort considerably, and that causes stress which can lead to poor health, immune system problems, disease, parasitic attacks that the fish would normally fight off, and even death. The damage can be done over time and not show up until its too late. Laura Muha wrote well on this in an article in the Dec 2006 TFH, and she compared it to driving a car up a steep hill--it takes more gas and the car has to work harder internally. So does the fish. Salt does not belong in a freshwater aquarium.

There are differing opinions on every aspect of this hobby. Sometimes it is hard to know which to follow when they can be so diametrically opposed. In my 15+ years as an aquarist i have read as much as i could, and research issues fairly thoroughly. When I see a concensus of opinion from several authorities (it is easy to know who they are) I am usually prepared to follow that advice as being reliable. Sometimes it makes little difference, but when the health of the fish is involved it is important to know the scientific reasoning rather than following what a manufacturer (who is trying to sell you stuff after all) may say, or (unfortunately) unknowledgeable staff in a store. As FP pointed out, you're on the right track researching first.


aunt kymmie 08-21-2009 03:03 PM

I just read through this thread and want to say to Laurenbee, "You're a good fish mom!". After reading about all your "adventures" I realized if it was me going through all that I might have given up. :shock:
Welcome to the forum and I'm glad to read that things are starting to settle down with your fish.

PS. I'm with Byron on the use of salt in freshwater fishkeeping.

Laurenbee 08-30-2009 02:14 AM


So, I figure I will let everyone know what is going on with the tanks now.

I went to three local pet shops, and couldn't find the Stability. I decided to go with api stress zyme. I didn't find it to work. I also kept doing 25%-30% water changes split into to parts throughout the day. I also used AmQuel plus, and ammo lock by api, and after many days I still couldn't get the ammonia levels down.

I found a web site that I could use to find a store that carried the Seachem products, and I made the forty-five minute drive, and bought Prime, and Stability. I did a 30% water change, and added the products.

It seems to have worked. While the ammonia is not 0ppm it is below 1ppm now. The fish seem to be doing much better.

I took the pleco out of that tank, and put him in with the goldfish, because I was very worried about him. Now it seems to me that the goldfish tank has ich. I raised the temp, and am treating with ick away.

The bichirs have already amazingly grown almost all of their fins back! I am so suprized given the poor quality of the water that they have been in.

It seems that everyone is going to be ok.

Fishin Pole 08-30-2009 08:34 AM

one quick thing i want to mention.......If you used the Ammo Lock, you will still get readings for ammonia.........From what i read about that product, it converts ammonia to ammonium, which will still register on your test kit as ammonia but is alot less toxic to your fish.....This should be stated on the product, IMO..........This could lead to some people stressing over the ammonia reading and continue to do extremes to get their tank correct......I just wanted to point this out......It seems to me you have taken all the correct measures.....Good luck and keep us posted!

Byron 08-30-2009 12:08 PM


Originally Posted by Fishin Pole (Post 235406)
one quick thing i want to mention.......If you used the Ammo Lock, you will still get readings for ammonia.........From what i read about that product, it converts ammonia to ammonium, which will still register on your test kit as ammonia but is alot less toxic to your fish.....This should be stated on the product, IMO..........This could lead to some people stressing over the ammonia reading and continue to do extremes to get their tank correct......I just wanted to point this out......It seems to me you have taken all the correct measures.....Good luck and keep us posted!

FP is correct in that products [all of them to my knowledge, but I stand to be corrected] that act on ammonia (remove, detoxify, reduce, eliminate...whatever word they may use) do not actually remove it but only detoxify it somehow. Test kits will still read the "ammonia" although the product may have detoxified it so that it is not harmful to the fish. And the nirtosomonas bacteria will still use it in the nitrification cycle; and plants (if a planted tank) will still use it to photosynthesize. I don't know if all of these products do this be converting ammonia to ammonium, but that is one way to detoxify ammonia; ammonium is (basically) harmless to fish, and plants absolutely must have it. Ammonia test kits (at least the ones we normally use) read ammonium/ammonia as ammonia, like FP said.

A point concerning the AmQuel: on another forum yesterday I read a post from an aquarist who mentioned that Amquel is no longer supplied by its originator to Kordon, but is now provided to Hakari. Apparently many have reported problems when using the newer Amquel Plus. I only pass this along for what it may be worth. I'd be skeptical of using it now.

On the API Stress Zyme, I've never used it myself but it is alleged by API to be a biological supplement. As your experience with it was negative, I shall be less likely to mention it in the future as an alternative to what I have used with success, namely Stability (my preference) and Cycle. However, I would note that as there has been improvement, and in view of what FP and I have mentioned about detoxified ammonia/ammonium reading as ammonia--it is possible the Stress Zyme did work.

I don't see mention of your tank pH in this thread; if it is acidic (below 7.0) the ammonia will basically be ammonium automatically. If it is neutral or slightly basic/alkaline, say low 7's, in small amounts ammonia is not quite as rough on the fish; the higher the pH the more severe is the effect of small amounts of ammonia. As you've reported improvements in the fish's behaviour, I will assume the ammonia reading is very low and your pH is not too high. But we still work to get it to zero (the ammonia that is, as with nitrite), and I think you're on the right road for that.

On a side-note, you mentioned a 45-minute drive to a good fish store; I have a 45-minute drive to any fish store, but it's fun to browse the fish stock, and I know you'd agree that the health of our fish are worth it. Keep us posted on developments.


Laurenbee 08-30-2009 11:19 PM


OK. So I do not want to step on toes here. You are the fish experts not me, but there are a few things I know a little about. Science is one of these things. AmQuel, Ammo Lock, and other like products convert ammonia (NH3) a toxic substance into ammonium (NH4+) If you are using a test kit with Nessler reagents you will get a result indicating the total of both. This is when you get a "false positive" If you are using a test that uses Salicylate reagents you should get a reading based only on the toxic ammonia (NH3) and therefore not get any false positive.

The trick here to to get a test kit that can test only for NH3 and not NH4.

The PH in my tank is high about 7.8 I had considered as a drastic measure to lower the ph so that I would have NH4(ammonium), but I decided this would be very stressful on the fish as well, and add another chemical to the tank. I think it is better to leave the PH alone.

If you want to know more about ammonia ionization I would be happy to talk more about it.

I am not an expert on that either, but I do know a little.

The septicemia seems to be back, and I am not sure if I can mix the medication for ick with the antibiotic. Do you know? Is one product better than another? It seemed that the Maracyn Two had been succesful, but I guess it was not. The fish were better for about a week, and now it is back, and with the Ick also. I don't know what to do.

Also, I made a poor choice in my substrate, and I need to change it for the Bichirs to be happy. How long should I wait to start this process after the tank has cycled? The large river rock/gravel mix I have in the tank now isn't working for them. I think I may need to go back to sand.

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