Originally Posted by goldfish98
I won a goldfish at the carnival, and I want to keep him alive. I bought food, a 10 gallon tank with a filter, light, and heater. I was told to leave tap water out for 24 hours to let it reach room temperature, and right now the fish is in a small box. How would I prepare the tank? Can I just put the fish in? And in the small box, I noticed white clumps, and some kind of stringy thing that looks like a rubber band. What is this?
Welcome to the forum
Goldfish are awesome fish, but they do require more than your average fish. The 10 gallon will do for now, but you ought to start saving for a larger tank. To really keep your goldfish well, you will need a much larger tank as well as some goldfish buddies. They are a group oriented fish, so it's not a function of how much space one goldfish needs, but how much the group needs. The smallest tank that I would suggest is a 55 gallon, and that will house 3. Ideally, you would want a 75 or 90 (only difference is height) for a long term home, in which you could keep a couple more. While both the 55 and 75/90 are the same length, the 75/90 is wider and has a 50% larger foot print - which is good for the wide bodied goldfish.
If your goldfish is a comet rather than a fancy, then even the 75/90 won't be enough space. Eventually. With good care, the fish will outgrow even a large tank like that, but it'll take some time to get to that point. If you do have a comet, then I do not recommend mixing them with fancy goldfish. What I said before was with fancy goldfish in mind.
As far as what you should do now... fill the tank with water, add declorinator and start up the filter. You won't need the heater. Put the fish in the tank. This next part is where it gets tough..... the fish will die. It will die if you do not take steps to keep it alive. First thing - do not feed the fish. The fish will produce waste which will poison the water, which will kill the fish. The more you feed the faster this will happen. It is up to you to get the ammonia (and later nitrite) out of the tank. In time, there will be natural bacteria colonies that will grow and live in the filter and tank that will consume these poisons, protecting your fish. With the bacteria colonies in place, the fish will live without you having to keep it alive. It takes 4-6 weeks for the bacteria to become established. You can drastically reduce that time by using a bacterial supplement, such as tetras safestart and Dr. Tims One and Only. That will get you up and running in less than 2 weeks. There are some things you need to know about bacterias in the bottle before you go out and buy one, so be sure to ask questions if/when you get to that point.
If you can get your hands on some dirty filter media from someone elses tank, you can put that in your filter and that will get you up and running within a week. That is the best way to start a tank. However, that's not always an option for people.
You can add a whole bunch of plants to the tank, which will consume the ammonia and nitrite. However, goldfish eat plants, so that is not a method I would choose.
The last way to get your tank up and running (cycled) is to perform water changes every other day to physically remove the ammonia from the tank. This requires a lot of work on your part, and can be tough on the fish. This rigorous water change schedule must be maintained until the cycle has completed - 4 to 6 weeks - or the fish will die. You will need water testing equipment - API's master test kit is what you should get. The specific water change regimen you will need to follow will be determined by the results of your water tests. Most important thing is to keep the ammonia level as low as possible. You really can't change the water too often during this time, but not changing it enough can lead to sickness and disease and possibly death. It is hard enough to keep the fish alive during this time - having to treat for disease on top of that is really really difficult and generally does not end well. While testing you will see the ammonia levels rise and then fall to 0. As they fall to 0, you will see the nitrite levels rise from 0 to whatever. Then they will fall to 0, while the nitrate levels rise. That is how you will know the cycle is complete - you will have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and like 20 nitrates. At that point you can stop with the constant water changes and settle into a more sustainable routine.
I know that's all a LOT of information, but it's essentially a crash coarse in how to set up an aquarium. I'm sure you will have some questions, so fire away.