View Full Version : Inherited problems...

02-24-2009, 08:17 PM
I just purchased a house that had been a rental. The previous renter left a 35 gallon hexagon tank. I was not exactly happy about "inheriting" the tank, and gave the goldfish a couple of weeks to die off while we painted, cleaned & moved in. Unfortunately, they are as sturdy as post-apocalyptic cockroaches, and now the two younger kids have fallen in love with them. That has left me with taking over the aquarium & its upkeep.

Original Inventory:
The tank's contents includes the usual under-gravel filter plates, two uplift tubes with air lines & wet stones (no charcoal filters installed & no other filtration present), a Whisper 400 air pump, about 2 1/2" of your typical neutral colored gravel (small'ish grain), a ludicrous number of medium-sized lava rocks (covered 3/4 of the bottom), there is a heater but it was turned off (thankfully?), and two ~3" goldfish (standard or comets...not exactly sure).

Original Conditions
The tank was only 2/3 full of water, and there are water deposit lines in the tank to indicate that it was rarely refilled. It was in the process of being overrun with brown algae. The heat registers in the basement had been closed off so the basement (and hence the water) was in the mid to lower 60 degree Fahrenheit range.

Within the past two weeks, I have refilled the tank with water treated with Tetra's AquaSafe & EasyBalance, started initial algae control with API's AlgeaFix, plugged the water heater back in, added a [new] Fluval 205 water filter, and added some aquarium salt. In response to this "love", the goldfish have went from extreme lethargy to something that closely resembles a pair of 5 year olds hopped up on Jolt Cola & Pixie Stix.

I still need to get a gravel vacuum to groom the bottom of the tank and a brush/pad to scrub down the sides of the tank to get rid of a couple acres worth of algea.

My concern is, as expected, the water chemistry. The water is extremely hard (300+) and leaning towards the alkaline side (7.6 - 7.8 pH). While the ammonia & nitrate levels barely register, the nitrate levels are through the roof. Do I just need to work on my patience & let things mature a bit more, or do I need to get busy with water changes, more cleaning, etc.?

mrs fishpatrick
02-24-2009, 08:24 PM
sorry to say but if youre nitrAtes are through the roof you might want to show your fishies some more 'love' and do a waterchange to get the nitrates under the 20 mark.

:l19: :1luvu: Give them some LOVE:l19: :1luvu:

02-24-2009, 08:32 PM
yea i would fill the tank first all the way up. that alone will probably lower the nitrates. Then like you said vacuum the gravel. Believe it or not, but goldfish prefer coldwer water and are not really tropical fish so low 70's and 60's are ok. If there is no heat in that room then i would think the heater is necessary just keep it on a lower temperature. I commend you for taking this tank in to your ownership and helping this fish out.

02-24-2009, 08:33 PM
Do it slowly though, so as not to shock the fish. They've become accustomed to less than favourable conditions, and if you were to change too much water, they will be stressed. I'd do 20% water changes daily for a week ...vac the gravel with each change. If it were me, I'd remove the undergravel filter, as it's not worth the aggravation. You're going to find a gross mess under there, so be prepared! Good for you for giving the fish a better home!!!

02-24-2009, 08:41 PM
Well, water changes were my gut instinct. I am thinking that I could do water changes for a month before getting nitrates to drop significantly though. The nitrate test comes back above 200...I'm assuming that is parts per million.

Good thing goldfish can live in just about anything that resembles water. :shappy:

There's a part of me that wants to throw some other fish in there though.

02-24-2009, 08:48 PM
First off, welcome!

Second off, admit the fact that you're into this, you bought a fluval canister for them for cripe sake! :) Good filter BTW, i have one myself and like it once it broke in(was bit noisy at first)

Keep your heater turned down to 68 or 70, goldys like it cool. Keep your under-gravel filter running for a few weeks while the fluval gets a bacteria colony built up(maybe a month) then rip out the UGF, you'll thank yourself for it later(talk about high maint). First i'd get the tank filled up, then take a trate reading. If it's still high, wait a day then do a water change around 20 or 30%(remember to use a water conditioner; prime, stress coat, kent, etc!) Do that each day until you get your trate down then go to 1 per week. Feed them sparingly for a while, as like any starved animal, their digestive systems have probably shut down. In time, you *might* be able to get 1 more goldy, but it will be "cozy" in the tank. A gravel clean will help, but only do like 1/2 of it or just enough of it to improve the flow of your UGF. With a UGF the gravel IS the filter media, so you want to keep it free flowing if at all possible.

Kudos to you for taking this on after just buying a new house and no doubt doing alot of work(and spending alot of $$$) on it. The last thing i'm sure you wanted was to resurrect a tank. Goldys are cool fish, i'm sure they'll thank you in time :)


ps: you might want to consider a "python" or similar water driven gravel vac/water changer. It makes water changes disturbingly easy. They come in many forms, mine is called a "marina easy clean". They aren't cheap(50 bucks), but man do they make it easy!

02-24-2009, 08:49 PM
Oh dear...The poor things have probably never had a water change! I'm concerned about Old Tank Syndrome...which is why I'm recommending smaller daily water changes, rather than large changes. If you do 25% daily, it won't take long to get the nitrates down...

02-24-2009, 08:52 PM
goldifsh are cold water fish so if you did want other fish you could get a couple white cloud mountain minnows. But I personally think it would look funny with goldfish and other types of fish together.

Wild Turkey
02-24-2009, 09:02 PM
You can figure out how much you will reduce the nitrates with waterchanges with simple math.

If your nitrate is 100ppm, a 50% waterchange brings it to 50ppm, another one to 25ppm which just went from deadly to acceptable with two 50% waterchanges. :D

For this tank, since it has no filter media, i would

Fill it all the way up
Get a master test kit
Start testing, go from there.
If the tank appears to still be cycled, leave the undergravel filtration for a few weeks while u run a replacement filter, than remove it. Otherwise, stuff will be much more complex, and it will be more like Daily ammonia and nitrite testing and water changing for a month or so.

The e-book is a great read, i highly recommend it as a first read, its short, packed with info and easy to understand, best of all its free!

Dont worry about your hardness, the goldfish are already used to it, so trying to change it will bring more harm than good. The ph is probably going to fluctuate quite a bit until u get those lava rocks out, i would remove just a few of them a day until there are no more left, doing small water changes after removal. Say maybe 10-20%.

The "standard" goldfish are comets, those feeders they sell are comets as well. They can get up anywhere from 9" to 1' in good conditions, cramped conditions they will only get to say 5 or 6". If your next question is "is the 35 hex cramped" my answer would be, its borderline. A standard shaped 40 would be fine for 3 comets, but hexes slice off a lot of the swimming room. Depending on how old they are, as you improve the conditions in the aquarium, they may grow. Example: Oscars can do okay in a 55, but in a 50 hex, they just sit there and kinda turn around since there is no swimming room for a large fish like that.

05-03-2009, 03:13 AM
So, random update to an old thread.

It has been a couple of months, and the tank is pretty much completely different than my inherited starting point.

I have ditched the lava rocks and started on a regular maintenance. That, in itself, has transformed things significantly...not like that was not expected. I have also switched over to one of the New Life Spectrum foods.

The comets have added at least an inch in length, and they are now about twice the thickness. They have also become extremely energetic, and I am actually starting to feel a bit sorry that they are in a 45 hex.

With that tank being mostly sorted out, I have (on a fluke) opted to build a 29gal tank for the kids. I swore that I wouldn't do this, as it is often hard to find the time for regular tank maintenance, but...well...y'all know!!

05-03-2009, 03:38 AM
That is really cool! I am so glad you took care of them instead of just letting them die or anything! WTG You rock!
LOL Kids just have this way of making you do things that you swore you would not do huh?