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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 2 comet goldfish. One is older. I just got another recently. The older fish always was gasping for air and I discovered my ornaments were rising the PH really high overight, so I removed all the ornaments and the ph is stable now around 7. THe old fish is happy. But the new fish is lethargic. I tested the water this new fish came in and the ph is rather high. So, When I raise the ph of the tank for the new fish, the old fish gasp for air and opens his moth really wide all the time. I tried putting the old fish in a lower ph (temporary smaller) tank with PH 7 and then this old fish is ok. I do not know what to do. I have a 10 galon fish tank and a smaller 5 gallon temporary fish tank. I would like to have both comets together but the ph is a factor of stress. The paramenters are fine. I keep my Ammonia levels in zero or 0.25. Doing water changes everyday. I do have a whisper filter with carbon included. I had been battling with PH increase still but not overnight. It always will go up, no matter what, even know there is no ornaments. only the filter runing. I use well water treated by a softener only, so it is soft well water. I use a water conditioner that removed toxic heavy metals (as my well water does have heavy metals) the softener does not remove. I am using, just today a PH stabilizer product but it sems does not work with my water, initially PH 10. Marineland, PH regulator. I tried it today. The old fish is not lethargic. He looks happy, but my old fish is struggling already. I will move him to a smaller tank with pH 7 again by himself if he continues to struggle. It is the only way to keep him happy. Why having fish is so hard?. Someone help me please!!
 

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Your problem is probably tank size. ten gallons is so small, and goldfish produce so much waste, that they're probably being poisoned by themselves, to put it simply. Comet goldfish need VERY large tanks, and for a pair, i think you're looking at something more like 75, even 90 gallons. thekoimaiden has a lot of knowledge about goldfish, i will try and direct her to this thread
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I agree that two goldfish will very quickly need more space. But there is something else going on, even more urgent, with this gasping. And that is likely all the chemicals being dumped into the water.

Products that supposedly adjust water chemistry rarely work, and this is because of other water parameters that are all connected. And not only this, but these products cause fluctuating values which is even worse for the fish. So let's take a step back.

What is the pH of your tap water that you use for the fish? When testing tap water for pH, put some water in a clean jar with a tight fitting lid and shake it very vigorously for a couple minutes, then test the water. This outgasses the CO2 which can affect the pH.

Also, when you test the tap water, also test the aquarium water; no need to shake this, but don't test after a water change, wait 24 hours.

Once we have the two results, we can proceed. One other question too, are you using a water conditioner when you change water, and if so, which one? And are any other additives going into the aquarium?

Byron.
 
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You mention using softened well water... if you can get water from ahead of the softener and test it, you would be better to use unsoftened water or, if the water is too hard, cutting it with reverse osmosis or distilled water to bring the hardness down. I'm not sure what parameters are best for your particular fish.

The issue with softened water is that it has other minerals that replace the typical hardness, usually salt.

Between the softening and the other chemicals that you are adding this may just add up to too much in the water for the fish.

The tank is too small as well... but daily water changes can help at least with the water quality, which you are already doing.

Jeff.
 

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Everything that I have read is that the optimum pH for goldfish is 7.5. I agree with everyone else 10 gallon is way to small. I have kept a goldfish tank for about a year now and I've got 7 goldfish in a 55 gallon and I do weekly sometimes biweekly water changes on them to keep the water numbers where I need them to be. Remember comets can grow up to 12 inches if you keep them right so they will need that extra space.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Byron, Regarding my comets goldfish. Here is how the water comes. I use well water. We do not have citiy water, so clorine is not an issue.
-I use a softener for the tap water at home. The well water (before the softener) contains heavy metals and the water is very hard and the PH is high also. it measures (PH strip) about 10.
-The tap water after my softener is very soft, but alcalinity is 300 high and PH 9, the heavy metals are still present.
I make sure my water conditioner removes heavy metals. I lower the pH with PH down TOP FIN brand (which is sulfuric acid). I use a dropper. I dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of fresh water salt per gallon of water (sometimes less) as I learned the softener replaces the calcium and magnesium with salt. Should I stop the salt adding at all?
-I prepare a few gallons in a bucket adding water conditioner per instructions. I stirr well and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Stirr again and check pH. If pH is about 7.5 I do the water change. I add the nitrifying caterias in the tank after the water change.
-My fish still gasp for air. I do water change everyday to my 10 gallon tank with 2 small comets I purchased at the store 2 months ago.
-They just came back recovering from tail rot. They have lost their tail, but it healed with medication. They used to eat with apetite but I was concerned about the air gasping. Ammonia should not be an issue if I changed 3 gallons everyday. The filter is on track with weekly cleaning and montly replacings.
-I do have a PH issue. My PH tends to go back high by itself after 12 hours. I tried lowering it back again but it comes back to high after 12 hours. If I do water change to control this, I am using lots of water and lots of PH down product and I practically live next to the fish tank, plus I am wasting the bacteria that I add to remove again after 12 hours.
-I feel something is not right. I purchased a buffer product (proper PH 7 TOP FIN brand). It is a powder and it says it removes heavy metals and it is a water conditioner by itself. I used it, but the PH came back high again after 12 hours. This product claims to use salts to regulate the PH and alcalinity so I stopped adding salt to the water.
- I purchased another PH Regulator (Marineland) it claims to keep the PH 7.2 - 7.8. but the PH keeps coming back high the next day. This is suppose to be used weekly only, but with my water changes 3 gallons a day, I need to replace it. I am not sure I can use it again in the same week.
-Byron I am confused.
For my comet fish that swim without tail but seem happy - because when they are in distress with all these products I just put them in a separate 2.5 gallon tank that I have prepared with just PH down product, water conditioner and a pinch of salt, they seem very happy. And the main tank (10 gallon) I just can not control.
Sometimes I have had my fish in the 2.5 gallon tank for a couple of days recovering and doing twice a day 50% water change. and they eat and recover because they were not doing well in the bigger tank. I would like the can live in the 10 gallon tank, me do a 20% water change daily and see all the PH and alcalinity parameters on track plus see how the bacteria biofilter is working. All these water changes, do not let the bacteria work. I add bacteria and then I flush it and put new water and flush again. The water is on ZEROI ammonia because of my water changes, not because of the expensive bactreria I am adding and flushing.

Please help me. - Virginia Holmes
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Byron, I forgot to mention. For a while, before using my tap "soft" water, I used half Reverse osmosis water and half my tap "soft" water, with water conditioner and some salt. The fish was happy and It only needed one water change a day. The problem was that it was costly for me to buy water all the time for the water changes. We only buy this water for us to drink at home. So instead of making a montly trip to the water machine, I was going weekly and it was turning expensive. REcently I did buy RO water only for the fish while they were on medication for fin rot. Now that they are fine, I am going back to my own tap "soft" water and trying to fix it with products.

Should I continue doing the Reverse osmosis water mixed with my tap water as best option?. If so, do I need to add salt?, buffer?. I still feel that I am flushing the bacteria by doing 3 gallon water change a day, but it scares me when I used to do 10% (1 gallon) water change a day, the ammonia raised and it seemed the bacteria were not working and my fished got ammonia burns. I started the 3 gallon water change and they never got those ammonia burns anymore. they faded. My ammonia measure is always Zero. is the bacteria needed at all with so many water changes and so much volume flushed everytime?

Thanks - I hope someone help me.
 

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Hi Virginia
Can I just change the direction of this conv for a moment. The MAIN reason a fish will gasp on the surface is lack of agitation of the surface tension... Meaning when your filter is running on your tank, the "output" water must be above the surface of the tank's water and thus break the water tension when it is running properly. If an "output" is under the surface you will see an oily film look to the surface and all fish will start to gasp at the top. Water with a "still" water tension goes stagnant. As soon as this is corrected the fish recover.
Can you confirm that your filter is working correctly and that the water returning to the tank is above the surface? If not, or you cannot move it up, add an air stone and air pump to break the surface tension.
Can you post a picture of your tank ?
 
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Byron, Regarding my comets goldfish. Here is how the water comes. I use well water. We do not have citiy water, so clorine is not an issue.
-I use a softener for the tap water at home. The well water (before the softener) contains heavy metals and the water is very hard and the PH is high also. it measures (PH strip) about 10.
-The tap water after my softener is very soft, but alcalinity is 300 high and PH 9, the heavy metals are still present.
I make sure my water conditioner removes heavy metals. I lower the pH with PH down TOP FIN brand (which is sulfuric acid). I use a dropper. I dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of fresh water salt per gallon of water (sometimes less) as I learned the softener replaces the calcium and magnesium with salt. Should I stop the salt adding at all?
-I prepare a few gallons in a bucket adding water conditioner per instructions. I stirr well and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Stirr again and check pH. If pH is about 7.5 I do the water change. I add the nitrifying caterias in the tank after the water change.
-My fish still gasp for air. I do water change everyday to my 10 gallon tank with 2 small comets I purchased at the store 2 months ago.
-They just came back recovering from tail rot. They have lost their tail, but it healed with medication. They used to eat with apetite but I was concerned about the air gasping. Ammonia should not be an issue if I changed 3 gallons everyday. The filter is on track with weekly cleaning and montly replacings.
-I do have a PH issue. My PH tends to go back high by itself after 12 hours. I tried lowering it back again but it comes back to high after 12 hours. If I do water change to control this, I am using lots of water and lots of PH down product and I practically live next to the fish tank, plus I am wasting the bacteria that I add to remove again after 12 hours.
-I feel something is not right. I purchased a buffer product (proper PH 7 TOP FIN brand). It is a powder and it says it removes heavy metals and it is a water conditioner by itself. I used it, but the PH came back high again after 12 hours. This product claims to use salts to regulate the PH and alcalinity so I stopped adding salt to the water.
- I purchased another PH Regulator (Marineland) it claims to keep the PH 7.2 - 7.8. but the PH keeps coming back high the next day. This is suppose to be used weekly only, but with my water changes 3 gallons a day, I need to replace it. I am not sure I can use it again in the same week.
-Byron I am confused.
For my comet fish that swim without tail but seem happy - because when they are in distress with all these products I just put them in a separate 2.5 gallon tank that I have prepared with just PH down product, water conditioner and a pinch of salt, they seem very happy. And the main tank (10 gallon) I just can not control.
Sometimes I have had my fish in the 2.5 gallon tank for a couple of days recovering and doing twice a day 50% water change. and they eat and recover because they were not doing well in the bigger tank. I would like the can live in the 10 gallon tank, me do a 20% water change daily and see all the PH and alcalinity parameters on track plus see how the bacteria biofilter is working. All these water changes, do not let the bacteria work. I add bacteria and then I flush it and put new water and flush again. The water is on ZEROI ammonia because of my water changes, not because of the expensive bactreria I am adding and flushing.

Please help me. - Virginia Holmes
There seems to be a lot going on here, you need some simplification so you can get to the root of the issue.

Something not mentioned is water temperature, what do you keep it at?

Seeing as the pH is already high AFTER the softener the first thing I would suggest is to ignore the pH as a factor initially. Also, seeing as the adjuster is not working, just stop using it, the swings are harder on the fish than a steady high pH is.

What is the GH and KH before the softener? I deal with hard water, as high as 23dGH (that's over 400 ppm) with a 18-19 dKH (over 320 ppm) and my pH rides just under 8. You can expect it to be a little high. If the water is too hard for the fish you would be better cutting it with distilled or RO water than running it through the softener. I just use it straight but I selected my fish accordingly.

Stop using the salt, although you already mentioned that you will, I thought I'd reiterate this point.

If your tank is somewhat established (anything more than 3 months perhaps) then you won't need to be adding bacterial supplements... particularly if you have plants... I don't recall, any plants in there?

If you are treating the water with Prime or something that deals with the heavy metals, that might be the only thing to keep up, although it really depends on what these levels are and I would suggest that you only treat the water that you are adding rather than the entire tank volume.... to be honest, I would sooner see you not treating the water at all, unless those levels are unusually high they are not of as much concern as all the chemicals and additives that you are already putting in.

If you are changing water every day, the surface will not stagnate and there should be no reason to worry about that even if your filter doesn't break the surface. Mine doesn't and I have next to no surface movement at all and no surface film layer develops to impede the gas transfer... so this depends on more than filter setup.

Basically, pull back to the simplest setup.Water changes with unsoftened well water. Let the water sit for a day before using it so the pH at least stabilizes and the CO2 off gases. Just do 10% to 20% changes for a week with this so the total water parameters going from the softened overly treated water to the well water are not too drastic for the fish. If your well water tests REALLY hard you can cut this with your bottled water if you need to, this will depend on the fish requirements though, but you need to know what it is first.

Stable is better than perfect.

Jeff.
 

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Virginia, given what you tell us in posts #6 and #8, my surmise in post #3 was spot on. The problem is definitely all the chemicals and stuff being added.

[BTW, I didn't get any PM or whatever you refer to in your post #7.]

The pH adjuster is not going to work because the KH (carbonate hardness or Alkalinity) is high (300 is the number you give). KH acts as a buffer to resist pH changes, so the more "acid" you add to lower the pH, the harder the KH acts to bring it back. This continues until the point when the buffering capability of the KH is exhausted [I don't know how much acid has to be added, it depends, but if you just kept adding it this point would be reached at some time], and when that happens the pH will very suddenly "crash" and this would without question kill the fish as it would be very great. So stop using any pH adjusters.

Second, the salt (sodium chloride, or common salt). This is making things worse too, because salt affects fish metabolism and physiology; the more salt added, the worse it becomes. The fish have trouble respirating because the salt burns the gills, hence the gasping. Add to this the gill damage being done by the increasing pH acid, and you can imagine what the fish is feeling. Don't use salt. If it is marine salt, it is adding hard mineral salts as well as sodium salts, so this is just countering the effect of the softener and any attempts to lower the GH. I trust you can see what a merry-go-round this becomes. And again to repeat, because it is so critical in any fish tank, never add substances to mess with water chemistry until you have determined all the chemistry issues, because they all interact.

Water softener. This is probably adding sodium salt to replace the calcium and magnesium salts. If you can use water before it goes through this, I would.

So, to the well water on its own (no softener, no substances being added). This will probably work fine for goldfish. In our goldfish profile, which was written by Lupin who has considerable experience with goldfish, he recommends a pH of 7.4 and above (no upper limit) and moderate hardness and harder (he says not soft water because of its effect on the goldfish scales). So I would just get to your well water and leave it.

Mixing with RO a bit would not hurt, and for some fish this would be necessary, but here I would not bother.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you Byron.

Sorry about recalling post #7. I wasn't complaining of you not responding, but I was testing why the post was placed at the end rather than under your post.

I use sea salt water for fresh water fish tanks. I use it because it says that improves the gills function. I can discontinue. I thought I was doing a good to the fish by adding it to directions.

I do not understand much the KH, and GH and I do not know how to measure it. The pet store only sells PH-Alcalinity- Nitrate-Nitrite-Chlorine strips and Ammonia strips.

If you know the ideal numbers for a comet goldfish tank. Could you provide them for me, please?. PH range, KH or GH.

Finally, the buffers they sell: I purchased a PH controller that claims to keep a PH 7.2 - 7.8 and that works no matter the initial water PH (be low or high). I tried it. It holds the PH for longer ( almost 2 days) but then the PH is back high. It claims to add escential electrolites and salts the fish needs. So, I stopped the sea salt as this buffer claims to add salts also. What do you think of this buffer product?. I agree, I do not want to keep adding acid to lower PH.

Thank you so much.
Virginia Holmes
 

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I use sea salt water for fresh water fish tanks. I use it because it says that improves the gills function. I can discontinue. I thought I was doing a good to the fish by adding it to directions.
I accept that there is a difference of opinion among freshwater fish aquarists on the use of salt. I am in the camp that says never use it, except to specifically treat a problem and then only with certain fish that can tolerate it. The majority of aquarists hold this view, but more importantly is the fact that the scientific community follows it. You can read more on salt in my article:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-general-articles/salt-freshwater-aquarium-188649/

I do not understand much the KH, and GH and I do not know how to measure it. The pet store only sells PH-Alcalinity- Nitrate-Nitrite-Chlorine strips and Ammonia strips.
Unless one is adjusting the GH or KH, there is no need to be testing it, once you know the GH and KH of your source water (tap, well) because these values will not change much in an aquarium unless they are being targeted specifically (meaning, you are doing something to increase or lower them deliberately).

If you know the ideal numbers for a comet goldfish tank. Could you provide them for me, please?. PH range, KH or GH.
I answered this in my previous post, at least partly. As it notes in our profile, the pH is fine above 7.4 and the GH is fine as long as it is moderately hard or harder. And yours is. KH has no impact on fish at all, but it does "buffer" pH. With your KH, the pH is not going to shift.

Finally, the buffers they sell: I purchased a PH controller that claims to keep a PH 7.2 - 7.8 and that works no matter the initial water PH (be low or high). I tried it. It holds the PH for longer ( almost 2 days) but then the PH is back high. It claims to add essential electrolytes and salts the fish needs. So, I stopped the sea salt as this buffer claims to add salts also. What do you think of this buffer product?. I agree, I do not want to keep adding acid to lower PH.
I do not recommend any of these products. The reason they are not working in your situation is the high KH/Alkalinity which is preventing the pH from lowering, as I explained previously. Leave it alone. I am not a chemist so I won't try to explain electrolytes and such, but believe me when I say that those that occur in your water are sufficient.

There is only one safe and effective way to adjust the pH, and that is by dealing with the GH and KH first. The pH is related to these. My article on this may help:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/...water-hardness-ph-freshwater-aquarium-188705/

But as your goldfish will be fine in the water you have pre-softener, leave it alone. Messing with water chemistry is fraught with difficulties, and this fluctuating GH and pH will harm fish.

Byron.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you.

I'm trying this water pre softener with the water conditioner only (the one that eliminate heavy metals) and the nitrifying bacteria per directions. I have placed my fish in it.

Do you recommend to do not use water conditioner either?. This is well water straight from the well. It has no chlorine but it is PH 9 and Alcalinity 300 as the strip reading. (These are the highest readings the strip can read). I can not tell if the reading is higher.
 

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Thank you.

I'm trying this water pre softener with the water conditioner only (the one that eliminate heavy metals) and the nitrifying bacteria per directions. I have placed my fish in it.

Do you recommend to do not use water conditioner either?. This is well water straight from the well. It has no chlorine but it is PH 9 and Alcalinity 300 as the strip reading. (These are the highest readings the strip can read). I can not tell if the reading is higher.
The water conditioner (which I believe is Prime, from earlier) will have no effect on the "hard minerals" that make the water hard, and a high KH and pH. Prime will detoxify heavy metals (irton, copper, etc) if any are present, along with ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Assuming you drink the well water, it is probably not contaminated with these. So, in this case, I would not waste Prime.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just for the record, the water conditioner I have and use for the fish: NovAqua Plus (Water Conditioner) - for fresh and salt water (KORDON brand). It says:
NovAqua Plus adds:
Protective skin slime coating, echinacea and natural electrolites and vitamins.
Also DEtoxifies water by:
Removing chlorine, Braking down chloriamines, Removing copper and other toxic heavy metals.

Thanks for all the help and advice.

Virginia Holmes
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks Jeff !!

I had been discussing the topic of the well water and the soft water with Byron. You both are right. I am working right now with the well water before the softener and evaluating how the fish do. On a sad note. One of my 2 fish died today.

2 days ago I used a new PH buffer stabilizers powder (7.2- 7.8) range. It said it would keep the PH stable and it was a water conditioner also all in one product. I treated the whole tank and the one fish I had in it was letargic the next day. I moved it to a smaller tank without this product but he did not improve. Did not eat. Today, he died.

Ny other fish is ok since I am treating him for tail rot. He is in another smaller tank. So, this is my last fish. I have placed him in the Well water tank and I am not using the PH buffer stabilizer ever again. I am evaluating him to see how he does.

I wish I had never thought on trying to fix the PH. I remember I was using soft water mixed with RO water for a while and both fish were ok. It just happens that I have to take a trip to get this water and I thought I could just treat my water at home with products, that althought expensive, would last a long time.

Thank for all advice Jeff, and Byron.
 

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You have learned the hard way that these quick fix chemicals rarely work, and even worse, they hurt the fish even so far as to kill them. There are so many products available for this hobby that are completely unnecessary; several are making a fortune at our expense.

Again, just in case it was not clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your water if you intend keeping goldfish, or any tropical hard water fish either. It is only if you decide to have soft water fish that something will be necessary.

On the tail rot, this is not likely fin/tail rot but more likely due to the chemical issues. Fraying fins results from a number of things. I would not use any medications (more chemicals) but just clean water. Regular water changes are the best cure for so much.

NovAqwua+ is a good conditioner, I used to use it and did so for years. But as I said before, with straight well water (assuming it is drinkable) this isn't needed. The less chemicals entering a tank, the better.

Byron.
 
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NovAqwua+ is a good conditioner, I used to use it and did so for years. But as I said before, with straight well water (assuming it is drinkable) this isn't needed. The less chemicals entering a tank, the better.

Byron.
Virgina is concerned about the heavy metals enough that they don't drink the water. I doubt that the levels are high enough to affect the fish but I don't know what their tolerances are and don't know what the levels actually are either.

Even so, I might suggest trying with no conditioners at all.

Jeff.
 

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Virgina is concerned about the heavy metals enough that they don't drink the water. I doubt that the levels are high enough to affect the fish but I don't know what their tolerances are and don't know what the levels actually are either.

Even so, I might suggest trying with no conditioners at all.

Jeff.
Yes, this is the crucial issue, what exactly are the levels of any heavy metals. Fish have a lower level of toleranc e than humans when it comes to copper and such. But conditioners like Prime only work for 36-48 hours, then the toxicity returns, according to Seachem. Plants help as they can take up these metals.
 
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