DIVING IN! Fishless cycling, tank upgrade+repair, and gravel-to sand, oh my!

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Aquarium Advice Regular
Jun 28, 2017
I'll talk about me, but first, let's talk about Mr. Sunshine.

Mr. Sunshine is a common goldfish.
He lives in a 10 gallon tank...
...but he is about 6 inches long.

He belonged to one of my students (I am a private math tutor), and it all began at the end of one of our sessions when she asked, "Do you want a goldfish…?"

Mr. Sunshine had been in his sad, 10 gallon tank by the dining table where we would have tutoring sessions. He had no plants... He lived with some algae-covered, weathered-away shells (we live by the ocean; probably from there), and some gravel (not enough to cover the bottom of his tank). Next to him was a large (read: old) canister of fish flakes, complete with a clump of once-wet food. There was no bubbler… just a filter.

My student had won Mr. Sunshine at a faire when she was 7… and I'm currently tutoring her in high school math. Her mom didn't want to take care of him anymore…

…so did I want a goldfish?
Well… sure? Why not.

My landlord has a couple fish (goldfish and koi) in tanks on his patio… I may live in a ~120 sq. foot shed on the side of his house, but I have a tiny little patio outside my door… Mr. Sunshine could live in his tank there!

And so, not knowing any better, I half-emptied his tank into a couple of old orange juice jugs, put his tank in my passenger seat, strapped Mr. Sunshine in, and drove him carefully to his new home, sloshing him about in his tank all the way home :)


That was May 16.

Then began the research….

1) Water changes. OMG water changes! I got his water tested at a local pet store… Nitrates! ALL THE NITRATES!!! I enjoyed doing frequent, small water changes for Mr. Sunshine :) Suddenly, Mr. Sunshine had clear(er) water! While Mr. Sunshine had always been so sedentary, he suddenly became quite an active fish! He moves precisely, and with intention and control :)

2) Algae clean up… I pulled out the old, half-gone shells, leaving him with his gravel, some glass beads, and one flat, speckley rock… I rinsed and scrubbed off algae with old tank water (with little regard for preserving good bacteria… Oops!) I rinsed his gunky filter in tank water too.

Now Mr. Sunshine was living large!!!

3) Old, nasty flakes… I soon learned that a huge canister of flakes was a BAD idea… Who KNOWS how old those flakes were?! Probably expired, losing nutrients, and bad for his tummy… After all the scary things I read about swim bladder issues, I decided to switch him to sinking pellets :) That's when I discovered my local fish store!!!

4) Plants!! I don't think Mr. Sunshine had ever SEEN a live plant before…. Goodness knows, when I added the strings of elodea and java moss, he was TERRIFIED to go near them! If one of them floated over and touched him he'd BOOK IT!!! Poor thing… but after a couple days, he seemed thrilled to go swimming between the long elodea stalks I'd grounded in his tank :) He went peck-peck-pecking away at the java moss <3 Mr. Sunshine seemed very happy!

And I had I very quickly grown to love my Mr. Sunshine, my fishy-fish!

But… At the end of the day… Mr. Sunshine is a BIG BOY :O And when I learned the truth about goldfish and tank size requirements… Well… I knew it was time for Mr. Sunshine to get an upgrade.

And that brings us to today!!!

The journey to get Mr. Sunshine into a new home began a week ago, and I thought I'd chronicle his journey! So here I am :)

5) The tank…

To be continued :)


OH! And me :) Hi! I'm 27. I work, go to school, and live in my shed-chateau in a little beach town. I'm an information HOUND, so I LOVE researching and learning about goldfish and aquarium care :) I've finally decided on this forum to share Mr. Sunshine's story! :D

I can't believe I've only had him for 6 weeks!!! It feels like it's been ages :O

I can't wait to show everyone what I have going so far!!!

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