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  1. #1

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    I'm new to the forum, but I'm already impressed with the vast amount of information that is available here! I'm trying to learn how to better care for my fish, and I thought it would be a good idea to post here and see what seasoned aquarium keepers could offer in the way of advice. (I'll ask now that you forgive me if I give information that is irrelevant in the description of my tank setup... I'm not certain what is/isn't fully necessary to know.)

    At the moment, I have a 14 gallon tank stocked with one Sarasa Comet, and two Shubunkins. Filtered, no heater. Two air pumps power a bubble bar and a movable tank decoration. Got a couple other tank decos inside to provide some hiding space, as well.

    We've had the Comet and one of the Shubunkins for a little over a year now, and they measure approximately 6" and 4" in body length, respectively. The other Shubunkin we have had for about nine months now, and measures approximately 7" in body length. They are fed Tetra-Fin floating variety pellets twice daily. (Initially fed them flakes, but switched because they dirtied up the tank too much.)

    We change out the water/clean the tank/replace the filter cartridge on a bi-monthly basis. We tried partial water changes, but the tank never seemed to get very clean when we did that... the water always looked twice as dirty after using the gravel vacuum, even though we did our best to follow the directions as carefully as we could. So we gave up on that... started netting the fish out and into another (smaller) tank temporarily, then changed out all the water and cleaned all the gravel, tank decos, filter, etc. completely with warm water. (No soaps, of course.) The last couple/three times we did this, we cleaned the interior of the tank itself with Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Safe & Easy Aquarium Spray Cleaner. Refill the tank with tap water, treat with an appropriate amount of AquaSafeŽ with BioExtract, put everything back the way it was, run the filter/air pumps for 10-15 minutes, and return the fish to the tank.

    I know... that's not the way it's supposed to be done. Please be gentle when you chastise me for it.

    The 14 seems far too small for them, so we're going to upgrade to a 55 gallon tank next month. Hopefully that will be large enough for them to live comfortably.

    Now that I've explained to the best of my ability the current tank setup, I have a few questions:

    1. What do I need to do to test the water quality? (I have never done this, and I'm not sure what I need to buy in order to do so.) How often does it need to be done?

    2. Are the pellets sufficient for feeding, or do they need a more varied diet? What type of food and how often?

    3. Are live plants needed in their environment?

    4. How can I successfully clean the tank without essentially starting the tank up from the beginning each time?

    5. Any recommendations for good books on keeping coldwater aquariums?

    Sorry for the lengthy post, but (hopefully) I was thorough enough with information.

    Thank you,
    Betty

  2. #2

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    0 Not allowed!
    Betty,
    First, welcome to the forum. There are several methods of testing water, so look here for the pluses and minuses of the methods. Getting good aquarium books is a very, very good idea. My book list is here. There aren't any specifically on temperate fishes (gold fish are temperate, not cold, water fishes), but a good library of aquarium books prevents many ills.

    A 55 gallon tank will be a plus for a while, but as comets reach more than a foot long, they will need larger quarters down the road. Something in the hundred gallon range would be more appropriate. Also, no plants with goldfish, since they will tear them apart, since goldfish do need vegetative part of their diet. A pelleted food designed for herbivores, plus the pellets you are feeding now, would be a more rounded diet for them.

    Dave

  3. #3

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    Hi, Betty --

    Welcome to the AC! I love goldfish, too

    1. What do I need to do to test the water quality? (I have never done this, and I'm not sure what I need to buy in order to do so.) How often does it need to be done?
    We test our water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate as well as the pH though less often. I'm doing ours about every 2wks now but since the results are not ever a surprise, it can probably be less often. Once you get a feel for what it should be, and see that it stays on course, you don't need to test very often. You want the liquid test kids, not the test strips.

    2. Are the pellets sufficient for feeding, or do they need a more varied diet? What type of food and how often?
    Most people prefer pellets for feeding fish, however, I read (not sure that it's reliable) that pellets can cause digestive issues for fancy goldfish and since that's what we have, I've been feeding ours "disks" instead. I think since your type of goldfish are more naturally shaped, the goldfish pellets (vs. variety pellets) are probably an ideal staple food. Ours also enjoy fancy lettuce, blanched spinache, and orange slices as treats.

    3. Are live plants needed in their environment?
    No, but you could provide that as a salad bar (the goldies would devour the plants).

    4. How can I successfully clean the tank without essentially starting the tank up from the beginning each time?
    We use a Python brand gravel vac to clean the gravel 1x a week and use an algae removing sponge on a stick thing when the tanks need it. We do large partial water changes for the goldfish (75%) 2x a week. Our water stays looking clear. I wouldn't change the filter on days of doing a gravel vacuum. Also, if possible, you might see if there are bio media permanent filter cartridges that would work in your tank. We are using ReFresH2o (formerly called Cell Pore) cartridges and Super Cartridges in all our tanks. They do not get replaced so we do not through out the beneficial bacteria. We also have filters with bio-wheels which I do think maintains and amount of good bacteria permanently though many think they are just hype.

    5. Any recommendations for good books on keeping coldwater aquariums?
    I would read the stickies here about Goldfish. We have several books on goldfish but the information in them is more basic and not as current (imo) as the advice to be found here on the AC.



    What I would really highly recommend if there's any way you could do it would be to get a larger aquarium for the goldfish. I think the type you are keeping are actually more "pond size" unless they become stunted (which can cause health issues down the road). As Dave suggests, a 55g would be a huge improvement if it's do-able.


    Happy to have another goldfish fan here!
    Jill

  4. #4

    Join Date
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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave66
    Betty,
    First, welcome to the forum. There are several methods of testing water, so look here for the pluses and minuses of the methods. Getting good aquarium books is a very, very good idea. My book list is here. There aren't any specifically on temperate fishes (gold fish are temperate, not cold, water fishes), but a good library of aquarium books prevents many ills.

    A 55 gallon tank will be a plus for a while, but as comets reach more than a foot long, they will need larger quarters down the road. Something in the hundred gallon range would be more appropriate. Also, no plants with goldfish, since they will tear them apart, since goldfish do need vegetative part of their diet. A pelleted food designed for herbivores, plus the pellets you are feeding now, would be a more rounded diet for them.

    Dave
    Dave,

    Thank you so much for the links. I've jotted down the titles of some of the books mentioned in your book list, and will see about finding/ordering them as soon as I can. Looks like the liquid test kits are the way to go on water testing, so I'll pick one of those up next time I'm out running errands. (Good to know the strips aren't reliable... I won't waste my time with those.)

    I appreciate you mentioning that goldfish are not coldwater fish. Everything I'd ever read said otherwise, and I'd never heard the term 'temperate water fish' before. I just finished reading the goldfish myths thread, and learned a great deal of what I thought to be true was wrong. Information is a wonderful thing!

    I was a bit taken aback to learn that an even larger tank would be needed later on. Wow. I'll definitely take that into consideration as we shop around for a new tank.

    Again, thank you for all the advice and for the welcome! :)

    Betty

  5. #5

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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Jill
    Hi, Betty --

    Welcome to the AC! I love goldfish, too

    1. What do I need to do to test the water quality? (I have never done this, and I'm not sure what I need to buy in order to do so.) How often does it need to be done?
    We test our water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate as well as the pH though less often. I'm doing ours about every 2wks now but since the results are not ever a surprise, it can probably be less often. Once you get a feel for what it should be, and see that it stays on course, you don't need to test very often. You want the liquid test kids, not the test strips.

    2. Are the pellets sufficient for feeding, or do they need a more varied diet? What type of food and how often?
    Most people prefer pellets for feeding fish, however, I read (not sure that it's reliable) that pellets can cause digestive issues for fancy goldfish and since that's what we have, I've been feeding ours "disks" instead. I think since your type of goldfish are more naturally shaped, the goldfish pellets (vs. variety pellets) are probably an ideal staple food. Ours also enjoy fancy lettuce, blanched spinache, and orange slices as treats.

    3. Are live plants needed in their environment?
    No, but you could provide that as a salad bar (the goldies would devour the plants).

    4. How can I successfully clean the tank without essentially starting the tank up from the beginning each time?
    We use a Python brand gravel vac to clean the gravel 1x a week and use an algae removing sponge on a stick thing when the tanks need it. We do large partial water changes for the goldfish (75%) 2x a week. Our water stays looking clear. I wouldn't change the filter on days of doing a gravel vacuum. Also, if possible, you might see if there are bio media permanent filter cartridges that would work in your tank. We are using ReFresH2o (formerly called Cell Pore) cartridges and Super Cartridges in all our tanks. They do not get replaced so we do not through out the beneficial bacteria. We also have filters with bio-wheels which I do think maintains and amount of good bacteria permanently though many think they are just hype.

    5. Any recommendations for good books on keeping coldwater aquariums?
    I would read the stickies here about Goldfish. We have several books on goldfish but the information in them is more basic and not as current (imo) as the advice to be found here on the AC.



    What I would really highly recommend if there's any way you could do it would be to get a larger aquarium for the goldfish. I think the type you are keeping are actually more "pond size" unless they become stunted (which can cause health issues down the road). As Dave suggests, a 55g would be a huge improvement if it's do-able.


    Happy to have another goldfish fan here!
    Jill
    Hi Jill, and thank you for the welcome! I feel very fortunate to have found this forum... most articles I've read online just aren't informative enough and I'm always left with even more questions and uncertainties after reading many of them. It's nice to have found a place where people discuss everything, and it makes sense when I read it. :)

    I've started reading through the stickies on goldfish, and plan to look through that forum thoroughly over the next several days. That really should have been my first stop, and probably should have posted this in that section, I suppose.

    I really appreciate the tank cleaning tips. We were just discussing last night that we need to be more diligent in that area, and need to figure out a better method. (The way we do it now just isn't going to work when we get a larger tank, not to mention it's not ideal for the fish.)

    You mentioned stunting... I have wondered that about our first Shubunkin. We've had him longer than the other one, but he's much smaller, even though they were about the same size when each was purchased. It was hardly any time at all before #2 caught up to #1's size, then surpassed it. #1's growth seems to have hit a plateau, and I've always wondered why.

    Again, thank you for the advice! Oh and for the feeding suggestions as well! I never knew goldfish could eat certain types of 'people food'. I certainly have a great deal to learn, but I'm definitely looking forward to all the discoveries to be made here!

  6. #6

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    Welcome to the Fabulous AC!
    It sounds like you are on the right path. Good luck with your tank.
    There are some great deals on used tanks around.Try Craig's List.You can save a small fortune buying used.
    Ray Your Freindly Neighborhood,Fully Mod-ified, Self-appointed Pic Hound!! Need pics!!!
    Have you filled out your profile yet ?????????????
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  7. #7

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    0 Not allowed!
    My guess your fish are stunted from being in a small tank. At least the first two are, your latest fish may not be. For testing your tank I would suggest using either API Master liquid test kit or Tetra Master liquid test kit. The strip test kits are very inaccurd. You are going to need to test often in the begging to make sure that the ammonia and nitrite are not too high and too see where you cycle is. If you move your current filter media over with the new tank this will limit or even eliminate the cycle all together. Totaly cleaning the tank is unnessisery and not good for the fish. Every time you throw away the media you are recycling your tank and that is harmful to your fish. With you small tank you should be taking about 30-40% of your water out maybe twice a week(this will also depend on the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate readings) Get a filter(or two) rated bigger than your tank. Example, I have an AquaClear 110(rated for upto 100 gallons) and two small canister filters each rated for upto 30 gallons on my 55 heavily planted tank. On my 30 gallon I have an AquaClear 30(rated 10-30 gallons) and a fluval 203, rated upto 40 gallons. In your new tank I would use either AquaClear 110 and/or a good canister. When you need to clean out your filter just sqeeze it out in a bucket of old tank water. You only need to change the media when it is falling apart, which is not very often. Cabon is not needed, use filter floss, sponge or the bio type media(ceramic rings) I use a mix of these. You don't need plants. Infact goldfish are prone to tare them up. But duckweed(floating) and Anachris also called Elodea, are a favorite plant for goldfish to eat. For feeding I would feed a variety of pellets, frozen and fresh foods. Goldfish love vegitation. Peas, squash, dark leafy greens(no iceburg lettuce), fruits, zuccinhie, cukes ect. are all good. You can also find frozen algea and veggie mixes at most petstores. As a treat blackworms, brineshrimp and other insects/crustastions are good. You can also go into the seafood depo at your grocery store and get things like clams, shrimp, and anything else like that to feed once or twice a week.

    I am glad to hear you are trying to do right by your fish and wish you all the best. If you need me to clarify on anything I wrote, anything is not clear just ask. Good luck and welcome to AC!!
    55 planted Community
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  8. #8

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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave66
    Betty,
    First, welcome to the forum. There are several methods of testing water, so look here for the pluses and minuses of the methods. Getting good aquarium books is a very, very good idea. My book list is here. There aren't any specifically on temperate fishes (gold fish are temperate, not cold, water fishes), but a good library of aquarium books prevents many ills.

    A 55 gallon tank will be a plus for a while, but as comets reach more than a foot long, they will need larger quarters down the road. Something in the hundred gallon range would be more appropriate. Also, no plants with goldfish, since they will tear them apart, since goldfish do need vegetative part of their diet. A pelleted food designed for herbivores, plus the pellets you are feeding now, would be a more rounded diet for them.

    Dave
    Good post as always Dave!

    I would like to add that if you can, a 75g has the same length as a 55g but is a good bit deeper so if you can do a 75g that would be a better bet. If they're not too stunted you will need the tank in the hundreds of gallons like Dave said. Either way, 55g or 75g, it's better than the tank they're in now.
    Quote Originally Posted by i_am_511
    Lighten up its just the internet its not like someone came in your house and punched a baby in the face.

  9. #9

    Join Date
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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Northernguy
    Welcome to the Fabulous AC!
    It sounds like you are on the right path. Good luck with your tank.
    There are some great deals on used tanks around.Try Craig's List.You can save a small fortune buying used.
    Thanks for the suggestion! I've been browsing around the forums and see that Craigs List is often recommended. I've never used it before, but I will certainly look and see what's available in my area. Maybe I'll luck out and find a great deal!

  10. #10

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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by annageckos
    My guess your fish are stunted from being in a small tank. At least the first two are, your latest fish may not be. For testing your tank I would suggest using either API Master liquid test kit or Tetra Master liquid test kit. The strip test kits are very inaccurd. You are going to need to test often in the begging to make sure that the ammonia and nitrite are not too high and too see where you cycle is. If you move your current filter media over with the new tank this will limit or even eliminate the cycle all together. Totaly cleaning the tank is unnessisery and not good for the fish. Every time you throw away the media you are recycling your tank and that is harmful to your fish. With you small tank you should be taking about 30-40% of your water out maybe twice a week(this will also depend on the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate readings) Get a filter(or two) rated bigger than your tank. Example, I have an AquaClear 110(rated for upto 100 gallons) and two small canister filters each rated for upto 30 gallons on my 55 heavily planted tank. On my 30 gallon I have an AquaClear 30(rated 10-30 gallons) and a fluval 203, rated upto 40 gallons. In your new tank I would use either AquaClear 110 and/or a good canister. When you need to clean out your filter just sqeeze it out in a bucket of old tank water. You only need to change the media when it is falling apart, which is not very often. Cabon is not needed, use filter floss, sponge or the bio type media(ceramic rings) I use a mix of these. You don't need plants. Infact goldfish are prone to tare them up. But duckweed(floating) and Anachris also called Elodea, are a favorite plant for goldfish to eat. For feeding I would feed a variety of pellets, frozen and fresh foods. Goldfish love vegitation. Peas, squash, dark leafy greens(no iceburg lettuce), fruits, zuccinhie, cukes ect. are all good. You can also find frozen algea and veggie mixes at most petstores. As a treat blackworms, brineshrimp and other insects/crustastions are good. You can also go into the seafood depo at your grocery store and get things like clams, shrimp, and anything else like that to feed once or twice a week.

    I am glad to hear you are trying to do right by your fish and wish you all the best. If you need me to clarify on anything I wrote, anything is not clear just ask. Good luck and welcome to AC!!

    Oh no, my Comet may be stunted, too? I assumed his growth was right on track. Poor guys... I hope it won't cause irreparable harm to them.

    Can you help me understand what you mean by "filter media"? Do you mean the filter itself, or it's contents (for lack of a better word). When we clean the tank, we replace the filter cartridge, but not the BIO-Fiber that came with it. Ohhh... I was just reading the instructions that came with it again, and saw an instruction to "never clean or replace BIO-Fiber"... and we've always rinsed it with warm water when we clean. Oh no. Another mistake!

    Even though they are only going to be in it for a short time longer, would it be a good idea to get a larger filter put in it? There's no room for a submersible filter to fit, so I guess it would have to be a like model in a larger size if we did it. We talked about keeping it set up for a 'hospital tank' but now I'm not sure it would be wise to have even one of them in there. Maybe we could use it for a betta... LOL

    Another question regarding filters: Assuming we buy new, the tank will come with a filter... don't you have to use the carbon cartridges with these? We don't have a fish/pet store locally, so I have never seen the other filter types you mentioned. We went out of town to buy some supplies at a Petsmart, but I never looked at filter supplies while we were there. Now I'm wishing I had looked more carefully at *everything* in the fish area.

    About foods: Would apples be an ok fruit for them? We have an apple tree in our yard and once they ripened, we'd have a regular supply of those on hand.

    We are going to try a *proper* tank cleaning mid-week. I'm a little nervous about it, because we are currently treating our fish for Ich. That's what initially led me here... I was trying to figure out what was wrong with our fish, and it wasn't until I landed here that I found concise enough information to be able to figure out what in the world was going on. (Finding a thread with pictures helped a great deal... reading descriptions is one thing, seeing a photo of another fish that matched up exactly to the condition of my fish nailed the diagnosis.) So at present, the carbon is removed and the water has been treated with Wardly Essentials Ick Away. I'm thrilled to say they seem to be doing much better... the Comet had it the worst, and even he seems much improved already. All have started to regain their appetite, and are acting more like their usual selves again. Thank goodness!

    Sorry, got a bit off track there. I just meant to say I'm nervous about it because I'm not sure that we should attempt using the gravel vacuum, with the carbon not being in the filter. Would it be enough to just replace part of the water, and only stir up the gravel as little as possible?

    Thank you for all your help, annageckos!

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