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Old 09-29-2022, 12:30 AM   #1
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Water and pleco and scale loss, oh my

Ok I’m sorry for the long post. I feel like I was doing really well with just one goldfish and now things are thrown into chaos so I’ll just dive in.

My son’s goldfish was a fair game prize. I never wanted a fish but hey, the little guy was my responsibility once Grandpa dropped him off at our house so we are making the best of it. We got him a 10 gallon tank and I’m trying to get a new 20 gallon tank cycled so he can move into that. Shoutout to Aiken Drum for his instructions; ammonium chloride is ordered and en route to our tiny town! We will upsize tanks as we can but space is limited.

In the meantime, we got an albino bristlenose pleco about a month ago. Everything fell apart after that. We feed a little protein with shrimp & lobster food and an algae disc each day. The tank exploded with algae this week, and nitrate has spiked to 160 ppm. I did a 20% water change and changed filter cartridges. I will continue to do water changes daily to hopefully get this under control.

Here are my issues/questions:
1. Goldfish has a few scales missing now. He seems fairly normal in eating and behavior but I’m worried about him. I put some Jungle Start Right in, to hopefully help with his healing and slime coat, and some Stress Coat to help with all the sludge in the gravel now, but should I be ordering something else to treat him? Could the pleco have brought something with it in terms of illness that I should be treating? Not ich - I have seen that before and could ID it.

2. I have always done water changes with 1 gallon bottles of spring water, with API Quick Start and Tetra Aquasafe Plus Water Conditioner/Dechlorinator mixed in. Our home water is awful and we use a water softener so I haven’t figured out how to use tap water safely. The other obstacle with tap water is having a big enough receptacle to let the tap water sit in to get it to room temperature. It’s killing me to cart in gallon after gallon of spring water… there has to be a better way to do this. Can I order the big jugs from the Culligan man? If so, what additives do I need to use to prepare it for the tank? I know this seems simple but I would love someone to spell out exactly what kind of bottled water and product to use so I don’t screw it up.
3. What kind of adjustment do I need to make to the pleco’s feeding to avoid another algae infestation?

Appreciate all the help guys - I have little kids and limited time to research this. I’ve got this weird determination to start being a great fish keeper and maybe invest in one of those BiOrb aquariums someday if I can ever become accomplished at this!

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Old 09-29-2022, 06:00 AM   #2
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There is a lot going on here.

Its been over a year now since you got your fairground "goldfish" and your fish may already be suffering from illhealth and stunting from the unsuitable environment. A 1 year old goldfish should be 5 inches. How big is it?

Your report on your nitrate and description of the tank indicates a water quality issue. You have 2 very messy fish in too small a tank. While i dont think the pleco brought in any disease with it, i just think the added bioload pushed the limit of your tanks capacity and your maintenance routine too far. You need to do a lot more work to improve the quaility of water, daily water changes will help. Bigger ones if possible. You really want the nitrate no higher than 40ppm.

Getting your goldfish into a bigger tank will help a lot. Im going to suggest rehoming the pleco for a couple of reasons.

- While a 20g tank will be better for your goldfish, its still on the small side. Probably managable, but less so with the pleco in there also. As said goldfish and plecos are both very messy fish.
- Goldfish are temperate (room temperature) and BN plecos are tropical (heated). Long term, a tank set up for one wont suit the other.

You are dosing 4 different products, 3 of which are water conditioners and do the same thing. Jungle Right Start, API Stresscoat, and Tetra Aquasafe Plus are water conditioners. They all do the same thing. Pick one, use up the bottle, use up the others. Then pick the cheapest to use going forward. Quickstart "might" help cycle your tank, but your tank is a year old and will be cycled by now. That is doing nothing in an established tank. Use it in your new tank to try and speed up its cycling.

You are right in being wary about using your tapwater. Water softeners work on an ion exchange principal. The resin in the softener pulls out the calcium to soften the water and replaces it with something else. This is usually sodium, and sodium isnt good to have in a freshwater aquarium. Do you drink your softened water? Does it taste salty? Some people keep in softened water just fine, others have problems.

Im sorry. Maybe a cultural thing, but i have no idea what a "Culligan man" is.

And a word of caution about BiOrb aquariums. While they may look swish, they have a poor reputation in the hobby. Their filtration is terrible, and the nature of the bowl models provides very little "floor space" for bottom dwelling fish to establish territory. They are very difficult to maintain as the filtration system just traps a lot of waste thats difficult to remove. I was in a clients house recently that had one and had to bite my tongue.

In fact recently a popular Youtuber who specialises in filtration did a video about BiOrb and he had approached their management with a simple suggestion to improve their filtration, which would have turned them from having one of the worst filtration systems to having one of the best. They werent interested on the grounds that improving their product would remove their "after sales". They are quite happy selling a poor product as it means they also get to sell stuff to fix their in built issues. That sums up the aquarium trade very nicely.

Have i missed anything?
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Old 09-29-2022, 10:51 AM   #3
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Aiken Drum thanks for being so thorough and patient with me!

The Culligan man reference is basically the large blue bottles of water that usually get delivered to offices in our area. Probably a reverse osmosis water if I were to guess. I called our local water conditioning supplier and they weren’t sure if their water is OK for freshwater aquariums or not, but it would be great to have large bottles delivered to my home where they can adjust to room temperature before the regular water changes.

I think you hit on everything else. Do you recommend any other fish to keep my goldfish company if we rehome the pleco? We would love to upsize to larger than 20 gallons one day, as our goldfish is probably 4-5” long now, or maybe rehome him to a more adequate and enthusiastic keeper if we can’t get him more space.
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Old 09-29-2022, 11:24 AM   #4
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Goldfish get really big. They can reach 12" if given a suitable living environment. They will eat anything they can catch that will fit in their mouth.

So options are another big fish, like another goldfish, or something they cant catch. If your goldfish is a fancy type goldfish that isnt all that mobile, zebra danios should be able to keep out of harms way and would be fine at the cooler temperatures. I have heard of groups of goldfish ganging up on smaller, more mobile fish, to trap and eat them.

But i wouldnt add anything into a 20g tank with a goldfish. If you went upto to say 50g it could support some more fish though.

If its RO water being delivered, you would need to use remineralising salts when you use it for water changes.
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Old 10-02-2022, 06:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missxlys View Post

My son’s goldfish was a fair game prize. I never wanted a fish but hey, the little guy was my responsibility once Grandpa dropped him off at our house so we are making the best of it. We got him a 10 gallon tank and I’m trying to get a new 20 gallon tank cycled so he can move into that. Shoutout to Aiken Drum for his instructions; ammonium chloride is ordered and en route to our tiny town! We will upsize tanks as we can but space is limited.

In the meantime, we got an albino bristlenose pleco about a month ago. Everything fell apart after that. We feed a little protein with shrimp & lobster food and an algae disc each day. The tank exploded with algae this week, and nitrate has spiked to 160 ppm. I did a 20% water change and changed filter cartridges. I will continue to do water changes daily to hopefully get this under control.

Here are my issues/questions:
1. Goldfish has a few scales missing now. He seems fairly normal in eating and behavior but I’m worried about him. I put some Jungle Start Right in, to hopefully help with his healing and slime coat, and some Stress Coat to help with all the sludge in the gravel now, but should I be ordering something else to treat him? Could the pleco have brought something with it in terms of illness that I should be treating? Not ich - I have seen that before and could ID it.

2. I have always done water changes with 1 gallon bottles of spring water, with API Quick Start and Tetra Aquasafe Plus Water Conditioner/Dechlorinator mixed in. Our home water is awful and we use a water softener so I haven’t figured out how to use tap water safely. The other obstacle with tap water is having a big enough receptacle to let the tap water sit in to get it to room temperature. It’s killing me to cart in gallon after gallon of spring water… there has to be a better way to do this. Can I order the big jugs from the Culligan man? If so, what additives do I need to use to prepare it for the tank? I know this seems simple but I would love someone to spell out exactly what kind of bottled water and product to use so I don’t screw it up.

3. What kind of adjustment do I need to make to the pleco’s feeding to avoid another algae infestation?
If you have a cycled established aquarium and just want to move the fish into a bigger tank, you don't need to cycle the new tank. Just set up the new tank and move the old established filter and fish into the new tank. The beneficial filter bacteria lives mostly on the filter media so moving the filter and established media onto a new tank will give you a virtually instant cycled aquarium.


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If you post pictures of the aquarium and algae it will provide more information. But as a general rule, algae grows from excess light and nutrients, and not enough live plants to use the light and nutrients. If you don't have any live plants in the tank, you will get algae growing instead. Adding some live aquatic plants like narrow Vallis, Hygrophila polysperma, Ambulia and sword plants will help control or prevent algae.

You can also add some Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides/ cornuta), which is a floating plant and that will reduce algae.

Duckweed is another floating plant and is small. It does well in outdoor ponds or aquariums and most goldfish love it. Goldfish need a lot of plant matter in their diet and at least 50% of their diet should be plant based.

Bigger water changes will also help reduce algae by diluting nutrients.


-------------------

Bristlenose catfish need driftwood and algae in their diet. it helps their digestion. They will also eat other foods like the shrimp pellets.

You don't need to feed algae wafers and shrimp pellets at the same time or even on the same day. Feed one type each day and that is it. Too much food will increase nitrates and encourage poor water quality and algae.


-------------------

Small water changes are useless at diluting things in water. Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day until the ammonia and nitrite are 0ppm, and nitrate is less than 20ppm.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

If you do a 25% water change, you leave behind 75% of the bad stuff in the water.
If you do a 50% water change, you leave behind 50% of the bad stuff in the water.
If you do a 75% water change, you leave behind 25% of the bad stuff in the water.


-------------------

Don't change filter media/ materials unless they are falling apart. The filter media holds beneficial bacteria that help keep the water safe. They eat ammonia and convert it into nitrite and more bacteria eat the nitrite and convert it into nitrate. If you change the filter media, you get rid of the good bacteria and ammonia and nitrite levels will go up while more bacteria develops over the next month.

Nitrate test kits will read nitrite as nitrate. If there is nitrite in the water, you will get a false nitrate reading.

If you have a power filter that contains filter pads/ cartridges, buy a sponge for a different brand of filter (I used AquaClear sponges but there are other brands) and use a pair of scissors to cut the sponge so it fits in your filter. Add the sponge and leave it there with the old filter pads for 2 months or so and then throw the old filter pads away (keep the sponge). You can add more sponge after that.

Sponges get cleaned by squeezing them out in a bucket of aquarium water and re-using the sponge. the bucket of dirty water gets poured on the lawn/ garden outside.

Sponges will last for years and only get replaced when they start to fall apart.

Filter pads and cartridges that need replacing every month are a sales ploy designed to keep you giving your money to big companies. It also screws up the filter bacteria so is not acceptable in my book.


-------------------

Post pictures of the goldfish and pleco so we can check them for disease.

The best treatment for unknown health issues in fish is big daily water changes and gravel cleaning the substrate. This dilutes nutrients and disease organisms in the water and buys you time to find out what is going on.

Don't add medications/ chemicals unless you know what the problem is.


-------------------

What is the GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and pH of your water supply?
Get your tap water tested and the bottled water tested for GH, KH and pH.

Your water bottle company might be able to tell you what is in the water, either by telephoning them or looking on their website. if not take a sample of that water to the pet shop for testing.

This information can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website or by telephoning them. If they can't help you, take a glass full of tap water to the local pet shop and get them to test it for you. Write the results down (in numbers) when they do the tests. And ask them what the results are in (eg: ppm, dGH, or something else).

Goldfish do best in water with a GH above 150ppm and a pH above 7.0.

Bristlenose come from soft water with a GH below 150ppm and a pH below 7.0

If your tap water has a GH around 150-200ppm, you can probably use that with a dechlorinator and not use the bottled spring water.

*NB* You don't need to dechlorinate bottled water. It should be free of chlorine/ chloramine. If it has chlorine or chloramine in, then it is tap water that has been put into a bottle and you are being ripped off.
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