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Old 01-15-2012, 08:12 AM   #1
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Exclamation New member help! What testing kits do I need?

Hi everyone, just decided to join up today, all my goldfish are dead or dying and I really need some help. Have learnt a lot from reading various posts, and am now convionced the guy at my local aquarium shop has been giving me the wrong advice.

I have a 60litre Juwel tank, the type with a built-in filter system. I "got the nitrogen cycle going" in September for a month with a couple of goldfish, the local shop then tested the water and said it was fine. Within a few weeks the original goldfish had died, which we put down to their being in bad water while the nitrogen cycle got going. We then bought two new goldfish, and a few weeks later two fan-tails and four tiny minnows, and then four weeks ago a bubble-eye. We had a goldfish fold over double, which a post on another site suggested was due to nitrite poisoning - but my local shop tested for nitrite and said it was fine. Then one of the fantails and the other goldfish became too weak to swim and both died, the other fantail has started having problems staying the right way up (I gather from the shop that this is swim bladder trouble? I've since learnt that fantails are selectively bred, meaning this sort of problem is common so I don't think I'll get any selectively bred fish again), so only the minnows and bubble-eye remain. Our local shop has now tested for pH - which is very high - about 9.0 - so the shop sold me some chemical ph buffer' although by their own admission they weren't sure how to use it - and other posts seem to suggest this isn't the way to go anyway.

I'm planning to test the gravel to see if that's causing the high pH, but the main help I need at the moment I think is what aspects of the water quality should I be testing, how often, and with what product(s)? The local shop insists I don't need my own testing equipment, but I bet this forum will disagree. I think they want me to keep coming to them for tests so they can sell me new chemicals. It was only the other day, for instance, that I discovered you could (should?) test water for ph. I'm now wondering what else needs testing?

Any advice hugely appreciated, I really want to do this properly. Especially confused as I have heard many stories of people neglecting their goldfish (no filter, 100% tap water changes once a week) and they go on for years. Very confused, please help!
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Old 01-15-2012, 08:22 AM   #2
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Get the API freshwater master kit. It has tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and high range pH. That will run you about $20-35 from most places, and that is way cheaper than getting the tests individually. I made that mistake and probably spent twice that much, but I couldn't find the master kit when I got started. As for why the fish are dying, you have too many goldfish in too small a tank. 60 liters is 15 gallons. One fancy goldfish needs 20 gallons by itself, and 10 gallons more for each goldfish after that. They have very very large bio loads which explains your problems with toxins. You could probably stick to one small fancy goldfish in your tank, with very frequent water changes.
Also, all fancy goldfish and most "fancy" tropical fish are selectively bred. Just look for healthy specimens and avoid problem breeds like your bubble eye. I'm surprised you've had luck with yours, I've heard they are particularly intolerant of poor water, and they are also prone to injuring their eye sacks. Remember the fancy goldfish are not just selectively bred for color, they are bred for mutations. Good luck with your tank!
Also, any fish store who discourages you from testing your own water is probably not a good store, especially if they sell you chemicals they are not particularly knowledgeable about. Just wondering, did they tell you your readings or did they just tell you your water was "fine"?
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:29 AM   #3
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to AA!

Alyxx is dead right in his entire post. Unfortunately a LOT of people that work at these lfs's have no idea what they are talking about. They are there to sell things. When they test the water most will usually use the test strips which are notoriously inaccurate. If you have those, throw them away and get the master kit. It's well worth the money.

I dont know what gravel you have but gravel that is for aquarium use doesnt usually cause pH issues. Having crushed coral or shells in the tank can and does affect pH. If you are using something like that or if you are using something you found locally, that could be the issue. For local rocks, test them first with some vinegar. If the vinegar bubbles dont put it in the tank.

Contrary to public opinion, goldfish are hard to keep in an aquarium. The reason is that they have no stomachs and have to eat frequently to maintain their metabolism. What that means is that they become swimming poop factories and they put high levels of ammonia and other detritus in the tank. When the levels become toxic, the fish die. If the owner doesnt care for them properly then it's just a matter of time.

Most people dont care because they can get new goldfish cheap. If a store sells them for 35 cents and they die after a couple of weeks, it's just 35 cents so they buy another. They pour out the old water, fill it from the tap (another HUGE mistake) and continue on without changing their methods. They dont think about why the fish died, they just buy another and keep making the same mistakes until they just quit trying.

It's good to see someone asking questions. There is a LOT of good info and good people on this forum that will be more than happy to help. Get yourself a Master kit, separate the goldfish, and keep asking questions.

Good luck!
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:49 AM   #4
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Her post, lol. But thank you!
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:02 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Her post, lol. But thank you!
Oops.. sorry...
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Old 01-15-2012, 02:23 PM   #6
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Question Thanks - what should I now do about the pH?

Many thanks Alyxx and Jim for your replies. Sounds like good advice - I have just ordered the API Master Kit you recommend. Yes the guy in the shop did do the test in front of us and show us the results, so now that I know the pH is 9, what should I do about it? Should I continue adding "Waterlife 7.2 Buffer" chemicals or will that just stress out the remaining fish? I have been doing 10% water changes once a month but am also wondering if that is enough? Also, just so I know, what would you consider "fancy" goldfish? I figured that, as most people seem to stick their goldfish in tap water in a tiny bowl, with just a complete water change once a week, that I could put 6 or 8 in a 60l tank with a proper filter and they'd thrive. Many thanks for everyone's help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alyxx View Post
Get the API freshwater master kit. It has tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and high range pH. That will run you about $20-35 from most places, and that is way cheaper than getting the tests individually. I made that mistake and probably spent twice that much, but I couldn't find the master kit when I got started. As for why the fish are dying, you have too many goldfish in too small a tank. 60 liters is 15 gallons. One fancy goldfish needs 20 gallons by itself, and 10 gallons more for each goldfish after that. They have very very large bio loads which explains your problems with toxins. You could probably stick to one small fancy goldfish in your tank, with very frequent water changes.
Also, all fancy goldfish and most "fancy" tropical fish are selectively bred. Just look for healthy specimens and avoid problem breeds like your bubble eye. I'm surprised you've had luck with yours, I've heard they are particularly intolerant of poor water, and they are also prone to injuring their eye sacks. Remember the fancy goldfish are not just selectively bred for color, they are bred for mutations. Good luck with your tank!
Also, any fish store who discourages you from testing your own water is probably not a good store, especially if they sell you chemicals they are not particularly knowledgeable about. Just wondering, did they tell you your readings or did they just tell you your water was "fine"?
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Old 01-15-2012, 02:57 PM   #7
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With any properly filtered and normal bioload aquarium a 10-25% water change should be done weekly. With goldfish, it needs to be more because they produce so much waste. Thats why the recommended tank is 20 gallons for 1 plus 10 for each additional fish. Any more than that and you end up having to do more frequent and larger water changes and filter cleanings to keep the fish healthy. Then the hobby becomes a chore and many people lose interest.

The same goes for many other species as well. That is why we push researching so much on this forum. I know old public concepts are hard to break but we can, one person at a time.

As for "fancy" goldfish, to me that is anything more than the plain ordinary ones that most stores call 'feeder' gold fish. They are special breeds designed to have some type of special feature such as bubble eyes, special fins, special coloring or body shapes or anything like that.

And for the buffers, before doing anything drastic I would take a sample of pure water that you would put into the tank and test it first. If the water is at a more normal level, then something in the tank is elevating the pH. If it tests high, then keep using the buffer until we can find another solution.

Personally, I try very hard to limit chemicals in the tanks and when I do it is as a last resort. The quick changes in water conditions can stress the fish, thus the reasoning behind acclimating fish before putting them in the tank or to limit massive water changes. Wide swings in temperature, pH, or other parameters drive their systems crazy and can also promote some diseases like ich. It's like taking a person from a cool air-conditioned house and suddenly thrusting them out into a hot, dry desert. It takes a while for the person to adjust. Then, when they go back into an air-conditioned building they start shivering because they havent acclimated to the change. Fish are much the same when it comes to their environment.

First thing though, it is important to get the results from the fresh water tests first. Then, we can go from there.

Congrats on getting the Master Kit. You wont be disappointed.
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Old 01-15-2012, 07:00 PM   #8
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As for testing the tap water, get a glass of it and let it sit for 24 hours to "gas out" before testing it. The various water treatments our tap water goes through buffer it a certain extent, but many of those things will evaporate from the water, changing the pH. Therefore, the pH of the water out of the tap is not going to be the pH of the water after it has been in your aquarium a while. As Jim said, if it is high from the tap you may need to look into buffers, if not, you can just figure out what you have in the tank that is raising it. Because you are having issues with pH, I would look into picking up tests for GH and KH to supplement the master kit. These test the hardness of your water (dissolved minerals in the water) and that can affect the pH as many of these minerals act as buffers to make pH higher. If you have particularly hard water, your pH can be driven higher. I know API makes a water softening pillow you can put in your filter to make your water softer. I have never used one, as I keep brackish water fish that like hard water, but I do trust the API brand so it should be a good product. I do use seachem's Neutral Regulator buffer for my betta tank. It doesn't bring my water all the way down to 7 but it does soften the water somewhat and pull my pH down from roughly 7.8 to closer to 7.2. As for goldfish in particular, I seem to remember them preferring water with a fairly high pH, around 7.8 - 8.2, but do a little research before you take me at my word on that because I haven't kept goldfish in probably close to 8 or 9 years! I miss them, they're fun fish. I will admit I did the same as you did, and kept 3 or 4 in a tank that was way too small, which explains why they never lived more than a year or so. I, too, fell for the "it's better than a bowl" mindset. Live and learn!
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Old 01-16-2012, 06:13 AM   #9
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Thanks - will do!

Thanks for the advice. We did also take some of our tap water into the shop to have it tested, I didn't get a proper look but the pH was definitely high, though not as high as the aquarium water. Also we had not let it stand for any time. I'm gonna test the tap water properly myself when the Masterkit arrives, also I'm going to get a dedicated PWC bucket today and start doing them as you suggest instead of 10% once a month straight from the tap. Feeling much happier about all this now, thanks again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Retired_AF View Post
With any properly filtered and normal bioload aquarium a 10-25% water change should be done weekly. With goldfish, it needs to be more because they produce so much waste. Thats why the recommended tank is 20 gallons for 1 plus 10 for each additional fish. Any more than that and you end up having to do more frequent and larger water changes and filter cleanings to keep the fish healthy. Then the hobby becomes a chore and many people lose interest.

The same goes for many other species as well. That is why we push researching so much on this forum. I know old public concepts are hard to break but we can, one person at a time.

As for "fancy" goldfish, to me that is anything more than the plain ordinary ones that most stores call 'feeder' gold fish. They are special breeds designed to have some type of special feature such as bubble eyes, special fins, special coloring or body shapes or anything like that.

And for the buffers, before doing anything drastic I would take a sample of pure water that you would put into the tank and test it first. If the water is at a more normal level, then something in the tank is elevating the pH. If it tests high, then keep using the buffer until we can find another solution.

Personally, I try very hard to limit chemicals in the tanks and when I do it is as a last resort. The quick changes in water conditions can stress the fish, thus the reasoning behind acclimating fish before putting them in the tank or to limit massive water changes. Wide swings in temperature, pH, or other parameters drive their systems crazy and can also promote some diseases like ich. It's like taking a person from a cool air-conditioned house and suddenly thrusting them out into a hot, dry desert. It takes a while for the person to adjust. Then, when they go back into an air-conditioned building they start shivering because they havent acclimated to the change. Fish are much the same when it comes to their environment.

First thing though, it is important to get the results from the fresh water tests first. Then, we can go from there.

Congrats on getting the Master Kit. You wont be disappointed.
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:53 PM   #10
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