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Old 10-02-2009, 01:48 PM   #1
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Frustrated new fish owner

I am new to the hobby and I need some advice. When I first purchased my fish tank I new relatively nothing about the hobby and I am learning as I go, which I know now was a mistake but being as I have already purchased everything it's to late for that now. So I am hoping some experienced fish owners can help me understand if I am doing something wrong or how I can improve my abilities as a caretaker for my fish.

I currently have a 15 gallon rectangular fish tank with a plecostomus and two gold fish, a black moor and a Calico Ryukin, housed in it. I use an Aqueon QuietFlow 30 aquarium power filter that is mounted on the outside of the tank, and I also have a bubble stone decoration to help improve air quality in the tank. Now I know many of you are thinking that a 15 gallon is to small for the fish I have, and I know this now but I don't have room for anything larger in my current apartment. In about 6 months I will be moving and I will be upgrading to about a 45 gallon tank, but for now this is all I can fit in my current living situation. I have had my tank for a little over a month now. I was using a smaller water filter until about a week ago when I decided after reading some forums that I should upgrade to a larger filter. So onto my fish and my issues. My fish seem to be fine, or as I see it relatively healthy. They are very active, there fins are all erect (not clamped) and they dont' seem to be gasping for air at the surface. I feed them about once a day, with a variety of foods from gold fish flakes, vegetable enhanced crisps, sinking mini sticks, tropical medley and I occassionally throw in an algae wafer for the pleco, that the Godlfish will nibble on if he isn't touching it or they try to fight him for it, but he usually wins. The water appears a little cloudy, but nothing extreme. The temperature is usually about 74 maybe a little less depending on the time of day. I have gravel substrate, two different live plants and some decorations that offer hiding places (logs with openings) and a relatively small piece of driftwood that is attached to the back of the tank with a suction cup that I purchased from a LFS. I tes that water daily for ammonia using a tube with a liquid test and I test every couple of days with a paper strip that tests PH, Alkalinity, Nitrates, Nitrites and hardness of the water. The strip tests is always fine, I even took some water to a LFS to have them test it to make sure I was right and they said my water was fine. However, for the ammonia test there is always traces of ammonia in the water. The amount varies anywhere from .5 to 2 on one occasion the ammonia was about a 4, so I did an emergency water change which brought the ammonia down. I realized during that change that the bubble stone I have was most likely the problem. As I was vacumming the stones then I moved the Volcano decoration that has the bubble stone in it and I huge cloud came out form underneath it. An accumulation of food and fish waste. I didn't realize that anything was accumulating underneath the volcano and I now always vacumm underneath that as well.

So I guess my question is, is the problem with ammonia part of the Nitrogen cycel or is it because of my tank size and my fish? The goldfish area bout 2" each and the plecostomus has grown significantly since I purchased him, and he is around 3.5" now. Will this ammonia problem go away eventually? And will these fish be ok in this size tank now until I am able to upgrade? Sorry for this being so long, I just want to make sure that anyone who attempts to answer my question has all of the information they need.



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Old 10-02-2009, 02:15 PM   #2
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You have high bioload fish and sounds like you may be overfeeding also. I would cut back on the feeding and keep up with the gravel vacuuming and water changes until you can get the bigger tank. Even a 45 gallon tank for the fish you have will eventually be too small also. Those fish will get very large.
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Old 10-02-2009, 02:54 PM   #3
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So then my question is what fish would be good for a 15 gallon tank? There is a local fish store that would take these fish for me, since it is past the return date for where I purchased them from. I dont' want these two fish to die because of my inability to provide them with the right home. What kind of fish would work better for me?
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Old 10-02-2009, 06:46 PM   #4
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I just got 3 kuhli loaches and 4 dwarf gouramis for my 20G. They don't get huge and need to be in a group. They are SO cool!
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Old 10-02-2009, 08:10 PM   #5
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I agree, goldfish can be pretty, but they are pretty nasty and get pretty big. There are tons of fish you can house in that 15g. My favorite combination would be a couple red wag platties and some cory cats... You can do guppies, platies, mollies, danios, corys, dwarf gouramis, maybe even a pair of bolivian rams. If you do want to keep the goldfish, i agree with spoonman, cut down on the feedings. Another thing, plecos get huge, they are also nasty, and dont really do much for you. Waterchanges will have to be done at least once a week, maybe even 2-3 times depending on how much waste theyre producing. Your best bet is to return the goldies and get some other fish imo

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Old 10-02-2009, 08:22 PM   #6
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2 fancy goldfish can live in a 15 gal when they are small, AND if you are diligent with water changes. However, they will eventually need bigger digs. <A 40 breeder would be ideal.>

The pleco, if a common, will not do well with the gold. Even the dwarf plecos will be too much in a 15 gal with 2 golds (or even by itself). So I think that should go back.

The ammonia is possibly from the bioload exceeding the tank capacity. It may also be an error, as the stripe tests are notorious for being inaccurate. Even in an overloaded tank, there should be no ammonia after cycling. How big are the fish? I doubt you would be getting ammonia from overload unless those fish are rather big.

Do you have a heater for the tank? If you are willing to have a heater, you have much wider choices for fish.

If you are to stick with a cold water tank, you can:
1. Keep your 2 fancy golds, if they are small (say 1" or so), but be prepared to find them bigger digs when your tank's capacity is reached. <I would guess at around 3-4".> You will need to be diligent in doing lots of water changes, as they are demanding in a small setup.
2. Keep a school of white cloud minnows. However, I think they would be a bit boring unless kept in a big school (in a big tank.) They would look good in a planted setup tho.

With a heater, you have a much wider choice. Some examples would be:
A community tank with schools of small fish (eg. guppies, barbs, tetras, etc.)
A center piece fish (eg dwarf gourami, small angles, kribs) with maybe some bottom dweller (eg corys)
80 gal FW with 30 gal DIY wet/dry/sump.
9 fancy golds, 1 hillstream loaches, 1 rubber-lip pleco (C. thomasi), 3 SAEs, small school of white cloud minnows, planted.
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Old 10-04-2009, 04:42 PM   #7
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Well, as you know you are overstocked. Goldies need at least 10 gal per fish, so just for your four goldfish you would need at least 40 gal, preferably larger. Plecos I don't know that much about other than they get huge! I saw one in a 500 gal tank a week or so ago and he was over a foot and a half long. And I think plecos are tropical fish, aren't they? Which means they will need a heater. Goldies are coldwater fish.

If you have a store that will take your fish, that is what I would do. Then when your 15 gal is clean and cycled then buy some more smaller fish. Community fish. I have a 13 gal with 3 otos, 3 guppies and 8 neon tetras. And even that is close to being overstocked. Best of luck to you.
55 gal with 3 fancy goldfish. 2 goldies in QT, 23 flatback hex tank with betta, 3 ADF's, 2 BN's and nerite snails, 60 gal community tank: 4 angels, rainbow shark, raphael cat, apple snails,etc.
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Old 10-04-2009, 08:02 PM   #8
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I am partial to platies, myself.....

Angels would not be good for a novice, and am shocked that mine have been growing and thriving .

The platies are pretty hardy and come in a lot of nice bright color schemes. They will eat like pigs and poo like they live in a hen house! So you have to watch feeding them. I know mine beg like the dickens for more food.

The smaller the tank the harder it is to keep the water quality up. You might want to get some java moss or christmas moss, plants will help filter the water as well. The mosses will be easiest to keep and can take low light levels.
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