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Old 11-06-2011, 01:01 AM   #1
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endless bacterial bloom

Hi. I'll start by giving you all the info I can think of about my tank, just so you know what I'm dealing with: I have a 10 gallon aquarium with two small young comet goldfish. I know 10 gallons is too small for goldfish, but I did not realize this until after I got them, and I do plan to upgrade them to a bigger home before long. Right now they are very small, so I am hoping it is o.k. for the short term. I have gravel (which I rinsed before putting in) and some aquarium decorations, but no live plants. I have Marina Slim S-10 filter, and a Top Fin Air 1000 air pump for up to 10 gallons. I vacuum the gravel daily, and do about a 40% water change one-twice every day (because I know the tank is too small, and I want to keep water quality high). I use Top Fin Water Conditioner on all newly added water, and I let the water sit for several hours to reach room temperature before using it. The water temperature is constant around 19-20 degrees celsius. I feed a small amount of Aqueon Goldfish Granules twice a day (pre-soaked), and once a week I supplement with cooked green peas. I use test strips daily to monitor water conditions, and the readings always say conditions are perfect. The tank has been set up since the end of Sept. 2011.

O.k., so here is my problem: I have a constant bacterial bloom that makes the water white and cloudy. It just does not go away. I did add Top Fin Bacterial supplement when setting up the tank, but I have since read that the beneficial bacteria that consumes ammonia lives in the filter media, the substrata, and on the tank walls, not in the water itself. I have read that the bacterial cloud in the water is a different, and unnecessary, type of bacteria, that it has nothing to do with the bacterial colony trying to establish itself in the filter (contrary to popular thought).

Nonetheless, when I ask advice at the pet store, they tell me that the white cloud IS the beneficial bacterial trying to establish itself, and that my frequent water changes mean I routinely take a lot of bacteria out, and it then has to try to reproduce itself again, hence the cloud. They advise that I just leave the water, allow the ammonia to spike and the bacteria to to its thing and start cycling. However, I DO NOT want to endanger my fish in this way, and I have read online many times that frequent water changes do not actually negatively affect a tank's cycling anyway -they just help the fish survive it.

So, I'm left unsure: is the white cloud beneficial bacteria or not? Will my frequent water changes affect the cycling process? Is the cycling process even happening, or finished (all my test reading fall within perfect range -0 ammonia, 0 nitrates, 0 nitrites, and they always have been -I've never had an ammonia spike at all!). Once a tank does cycle, is that it? Does it happen repeatedly, or is it a one time thing? And finally, how can I get rid of the white cloud once and for all?

Sorry this message is so long -I just wanted to provide all the information I could think of!

Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:13 AM   #2
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Yes the bacteria in the bloom is different from the bacteria you are trying to establish in your filter. Do not stop doing water changes. Someone else might want to chime in but I think you might be doing too many water changes... GASP! no! They all say lol. When doing a fish in cycle you do need to let a LITTLE bit of ammonia build up so the BB have something to eat. Don't let it get over .25ppm but you don't want it at zero either.
I suggest you buy a LIQUID test kit (API sells a good one) because the strips are inaccurate. And, I have to say it, rehome those goldfish!
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:17 AM   #3
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Once your tank cycles that's it. Only weekly (or whenever needed) PWC. The only times it starts to cycle or have a mini cycle is when you replace filter media (don't do it!) or add too many fish at once or have an over stocked tank or add something, like meds, that kills off your BB.
Your tank may never cycle properly if it's over stocked.
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Old 11-06-2011, 09:46 AM   #4
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Im glad your doing your research!! Your first issue (which your already aware of) is that your overstocked with a species of goldfish that can grow to be 18inches in length. Your going to have to consider your options for these guys because their ideal environment is a pond (unless you have the means for a VERY large tank). The 'general' rule for goldfish is 20gal for the first, 10gal for each additional but this usuaslly only applys to fancies. Your bacterial bloom & cloudy water problems are most likely going to continue to plague you while you are trying to maintain your present setup. The bioload of these 2 fish is immense & i dont believe your bacteria are ever going to be capable of handling it. You are correct that the bacteria live on the surfaces of everything in your tank-pwcs will not harm your bacteria or your attempts to cycle the tank and realistically should be done daily (or more often) to keep your ammonia & nitrite levels under control (less than .25ppm) and to keep your fish healthy & alive. You will have to have a detectable amount of nitrates to consider your tank cycled in addition to 0 ammonia & 0 nitrites-i dont believe you are there yet. Strips are notoriuosly inaccurrate at best-you really should consider purchasing an API fw master test kit so you are able to monitor what is going on in your tank right now & in the future. Please consider the options for your fish (rehoming or a larger tank) because your going to be encountering alot of issues with your present setup. Please keep asking questions-we are here to help!!
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:01 AM   #5
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How long has the tank been set up? If it's been a while (at least 4-6 weeks), it should have been cycled by now (it doesn't seem like it if you have zero nitrate). If it's still fairly new you have a while to go. A timeline would help figure out where you are (or should be) in the cycle.

Moreover, you're not only overstocked (which you know) but you are also underfiltered. The general rule is to at least double the filtration required for your tank size; and in your case, with the small tank and two goldfish, you'd need a very large filter. I'm wondering if the bioload (the amount of ammonia the fish are producing) is too overwhelming for the small amount of filter media you have. What kind of media is in the filter (carbon pad, sponge, etc)?

I'm also questioning the test strip results; in a tank that small with two goldfish you should be seeing some ammonia, even with your water changes (water changes during cycling, particularly with your situation are GOOD and will keep your fish alive). If you can invest in a liquid test kit (like the API Master kit) it will help to really see what's going on in there.

Also most LFS have the "sacrifice fish for the sake of cycling tanks" mentality. They advise insufficient changes during cycling, then when your fish die you can go and buy more from them.

Again if you can tell me how long this tank has been set up it'll give a clearer picture of what may be happening.
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:40 PM   #6
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Thanks!

Hi and thanks to all who replied. The tank has been set up for about 6 weeks now. And yes, I will definitely be getting a LARGE aquarium to house these two fish in the near future (a pond is not an option -I live in northern Canada, where a pond needs to be at least 8 feet deep to avoid it freezing solid over the winter).

When I bought the 10 gallon tank, the person in the pet store told me the rule was 4.4 gallons of water per 1 inch of goldfish. So, I thought, two 1 inch goldfish need 8.8 gallons, and with a 10 gallon tank they'll have room to spare. I only found out that each goldfish should have about 20 gallons after the fact.

I will be rehousing them, as I do care about them and don't view them as disposable. I have become very attached to them, in fact! I want to give them everything they need to live their full natural lifespan. I will definitely get the API liquid test kit, and I will get a more powerful filter (I'm presently using the insertable cartridges sold for the Marina S-10, by the way -somebody asked about this). Taking them back to the store is not an option, as they came from the 'feeder tank', and basically, I would be sentencing them to certain death.

Incidentally, with the daily water changes, they do seem to be thriving. They have already grown a bit since I got them, are very active and interested in their surroundings, and have a good appetite.

I wish I had known about cycling PRIOR to getting these fish. The person in the pet store told me that all I needed to do was set the tank up for 24 hours before adding fish. As with the problem with tank size, I only learned about the need to cycle after I had the fish at home. I have learned the hard way not to listen too much to advice given in stores!

I'm very grateful to those who took the time to answer me. You have been very helpful!
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Old 11-06-2011, 04:48 PM   #7
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YOu should be close to done cycling I would think. How long have you had nitrites? Typically the nitrite phase lasts about 3 weeks on average. I'd say just keep doing water changes to keep them as low as you can and hopefully they'll zero out on their own soon. I wouldn't change out any filter media or anything like that though, you definitely want all the bacteria you can get right now!
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:09 PM   #8
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Im glad you want the best for these guys!!! Just keep up on your water testing & water changes until you are able to get a better tank setup-it will be necessary to keep them healthy & thriving. Im sorry the lfs gave you poor advice! Alot of us have been there before and we are now all here to learn & help others as well!! Keep up the good work & please ask if you have any questions or concerns!
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