Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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mapgirl7 04-20-2007 04:47 PM

Possible nitrate/nitrite/ammonia poisoning?
Hello, just found this site; hope you can help us. We have a ten gallon tank, have had one Ryukin and one Oranda in it for about two years. Both came from same tank at pet store, have been fine with only minimal water changes filter changes. I have a penguin 100 filter unit in tank. Unfortunately, I was neglegtful in cleaning the tank, last night the bigger one with the head growth (Ialways forget which is which!) was lying down on one side at bottom of tank, unable to get up other than circles on his side. I did some research online, appears to maybe be nitrate/nitrite/ammonia reaction? This a.m. I did a drastic-80%-water change and sent hubby to store where he purchased test strips for ph,hardness, alkalinity,Nitrite and Nitrate.

Test results after water change are as follows:

Nitrate high,unsafe 160ppm

Nitrite caution 0.5ppm

hardness very hard 300gh ppm

total alkalinity very low 0

ph neutral 6.8

After initial testing I added 1 gallon bottled spring water and 1 teaspoon Amquel+ (as per instructions to reduce nitrate/nitrite/ammonia). Second test results read almost the same, with Nitrite readings maybe a little lower. Since what I read earlier seems to indicate fish will starve before dying of this condition, I gave him 2 frozen peas earlier today which he LOVED-had never had before. He is still lying on his side but color seems better, less red in tail/fins. The other fish- fantail type-seems fine. Other than wait, is there anything else I can do? I live way out in the country, so getting to the fish store is not always easy- but my fish have never been much work before. I sure would hate to lose King Neptune, though, he is my daughter's favorite. Much thanks in advance for any help you can give,

Age of Aquariums 04-20-2007 05:13 PM

You need a liquid test kit, the strips don't always give a accurate reading.

Lupin 04-20-2007 05:16 PM

Welcome aboard, mapgirl7.:wave:

I'd like to point out some things that aren't meant to be or should not be done.:) I do understand we often makes mistakes but we also can learn from them.:) First of all, the ten gallons is small for both goldfish. Goldfish have inefficient digestive system which is one reason why they are the ones that often excrete a lot of wastes thus straining the filtration capacity oftentimes. You might like to upgrade your tank into a 30 gallons to accommodate the two. This is one reason why your nitrates are unusually high but before we jump into more recommendations, you will need to get the actual water parameter results with another test kit.:)

The test kit we often recommended are the liquid form which gives accurate results. API Freshwater Master liquid test kit is the one of the best test kits around. I understand they can be pretty expensive but it is better to bite the bullet around this situation so you will get the exact details of your water parameters. Test strips often give inaccurate results hence they are frowned upon by several hobbyists. Buying an accurate test kit will save you time as well as inaccurate results from test strips will often result to hassles where a hobbyist gets frantic and buys a lot of products known to help to the situation but the real situation may have turned out to be nothing at all, thanks to the inaccuracy of some test kits. You can save a lot from the initial outlay soon enough.:) Oh, and check for expiration dates as well. Expired test kits are just the same as test strips giving inaccurate results

Here are some information you will need.:) Nitrates should not exceed by more than 40 ppm. Nitrates at very high level can be dangerous and can even stunt the fish's growth. Nitrites and ammonia at detectable levels will nevertheless cause a lot of damage to the fish often resulting to gill burns and poisoning. Doing several water changes will rectify your problem. I'd suggest chaging your schedule to daily or every two days water change by about 20% until you can upgrade your tank to 30 gallons.:) Even larger is better.

I would like to ask a few more questions.
1. When was the tank set up?
2. When did you buy the goldfish?
It is recommended to cycle the tank before you add the fish. From the start, ammonia should spike. You might like to ask your local fish store for one of their established sponge filter media to cycle your tank quickly. Ammonia should be converted to nitrites in a few days, and finally into nitrates.

Good luck and let us know of your situation.:thumbsup:

mapgirl7 04-20-2007 07:45 PM

Hello again, and thanks to Age of Aquarius and especially Blue!
To answer your questions, Blue,

Tank was set us for the first time approx two years ago. However, I have on several occasions, pulled out fish with some existing water and completely flushed out/ started over since, as you said, they poop alot! In the past, this has been the way we cleaned the tank every six weeks or so, with no adverse effects.

Fish were also purchased approx. two years ago, and installed shortly after setup (next day). Fish were purchased at same time, from same tank, at Petco or PetSmart, I forget which. One is an Oranda(sp?), one is a Ryukin, but I forget which is which-one is all fins and tail -Cleopatra, and the other, sick, one has the head growth-He is King Neptune. They have been the only two fish ever in the tank, no additions or subtractions.

Tank does not get any direct sunlight. We live in a fairly dark house, tank is located on north side next to a french door so it gets daylight but nothing direct. We were told to keep tank out of direct light.

I will look for a liquid test kit tomorrrow- Thanks so much for the info. Is there anything else I can do? We have very pure water where we live, although I do have to declorinate it, but it is very hard. I also try to use fresh, filtered rain water when I can- we can get 80 inches a year here though we are low this year. Thanks again, Mapgirl7

Lupin 04-20-2007 07:59 PM

Oh I see.:) I would recommend changing your tank maintenance schedule on daily basis with 15-20% water change until you can upgrade your tank so they'll live a better lifestyle.:) Minimize feeding by feeding the goldfish every other day. This will help reduce the nitrates and put nitrites and ammonia to zero.

By the way, please avoid floating foods as much as possible. Goldfish have been prone to swim bladder defects and will lose their buoyancy once their swim bladder is filled with air from chomping on floating foods. The ones that sink will be your best bet.:)

Good luck!:)

mapgirl7 04-21-2007 06:00 PM

Hi Blue, thanks again for all your help.
This a.m. i bought an API liquid test kit- all readings are perfect conditions except the nitrates, still way too high. I will do another water change. Also added some Stresszyme (for good bacterial enhancement) and some EasyBalance ( for nitrate lowering). Also added some aquarium salt on advice of fish shop owner.
Fish usually get only pellet food, which sinks, or pre-soaked flakes, so they sink/float in water, not on top. Today I fed some pellets in a.m., and some peas in p.m., but will do as you say and skip feeding tomorrow.
King Neptune looks okay, good color, bright eyes, just still lying on left side.
Occasionally he will swim in a circle only to lie back on left side. Cleopatra seems fine.
Iguess all I can do at this piont is wait and keep checking/changing water. Also will start saving for a bigger tank/aquarium!
Thanks again, Mapgirl7

P.S. Funny thing just happened- I was getting ready to send this and an ad invaded my whole screen-had to start over!

sxcsamman 04-21-2007 11:27 PM


Originally Posted by mapgirl7
P.S. Funny thing just happened- I was getting ready to send this and an ad invaded my whole screen-had to start over!

haha dont u hate that :D

if it is ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, poising it may take a while to reverse or he might be to far gone and wont go back to normal but we hope he gets better. what sort of filter d you have? and how often do u clean the filter and how.


mapgirl7 04-23-2007 01:40 PM

Hi Samman, Blue and all,
Yesterday I did another major water change to get rid of high nitrates; haven't tested water yet today but will do so soon. Used lots of fresh rain water and bottled spring water which I tested before using. Also added some salt, along with stress zyme and bio builder/enhancers. So water should be perfect. No change for King Neptune; he is still lying on left side on bottom of tank. Yesterday, while I had him and Cleopatra in a bucket during changeout, I got him to lie on right side for a while- noticed a lot of red in tail/fin veining, along with some red blotches on body. Could this be an indication of something more serious?
Or is it because he's spent so much time lying on that side? All redness is on left side-the one that's been downward. Also both fish seem less energetic today-could this be due to no food yesterday?
Samman, the filter I am currently using is a Penguin 100, with bio-wheel and changeable blue spongy/carbon filled filters. I change the blue sponge/carbon part as soon as it slows flow to bio-wheel; sometimes weekly, other times 2 weeks, it seems to vary. Yes, I know, I have too small a tank, and therefore, too small a filter unit; I am working on getting larger of both but right now budget won't permit it(laid off from work). Right now, I just want to do all I can with what i have- both fish have been fine for the last two years-could anything biological have possibly been introduced?
One last thing; anything else I can add to fishes diet? They have been living off mostly sinking pellets for last two years, just found out how much they love frozen, peeled peas! I will continue to feed only every other day to keep waste matter lower.

Thanks again to any and all who could help-who knew there was so much to keeping two goldfish! Mapgirl7

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