need clear advice

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Aquarium Advice Newbie
Jul 7, 2011
Good Morning,

I am not sure what the scenario is with my tank but needless to say I am worried about my fish and I know the kids would be devastated if they were to get up one morning and they are belly up. So here is the advice I have gotten and followed and if someone could please steer me in the right direction to save my fishies that would be great, because I am convinced now that petland has NO idea what they are talking about!

The tank with fish was a month old as of June 28th 2011
2 Goldfish (1-Ryukin 1- Ranchu)

- on advice of petland I purchased the Marina Slim filter S20 which has 2 charcoal filters, and 2 zeolite with ceramitek best for goldfish filters

- At that time; I asked them about tank maintenance...Their answer; Feed fish twice daily, Vacuum and do partial water change weekly. (I know now that this was a horrible idea) change filters monthly

- Fish got Ich a week after being in the tank, actually noticed it after doing the "weekly vacuum", went to petland they suggested salt, this did nothing fish got worse went to petsmart, they recommended a medication and to take out the charcoal filters...Ich problem gone in 3days as the lady at petsmart had said.

- I continued with the weekly vacuum and water change as told by petland because no one at that time had told me about the bactiera and how if you vacuum the gravel in your tank it interupts the cycle :s

- Week 3 we have alge, ask at petland if there is anything I should do about this they say it is normal (found out later that this is a sign of high nitrates) also read on the internet that over feeding can cause alge so cut the feedings to once a day.

- Week 4 we decide that we would look into getting our last fish, as we only want 3 and petland advised that we only take 2 home to start, we take water in to be tested, Ammonia test in low safe range, however nitrIte and nitrAte are extremely high. Guy at petland says that this is a normal part of the cycle, and to change the filters and do a pwc. I told him I had just done one, he said do another, come back at the end of the week should be okay.

- Last visit to petland Tuesday; Water tested, different guy, he tells me that Ammonia test in low safe range, however nitrIte and nitrAte are extremely high. Tells me that I need to do a pwc and change the filters, I told him that this is the same advice I received last week and that obviously there is a deeper problem going on here. Guy says to my husband and I that he has a tank with $600 worth of fish and he knows what he is talking about. I said okay then, as we were leaving he said do a 50-90% water change, I said that I have heard that is dangerous to the fish. He said I know what I am talking about.

- Went to petsmart immediately after leaving petland, they tested our water said; Ammonia test in low safe range, however nitrIte and nitrAte are extremely high, I told them what the guy at petland had said she said that it was dangerous to do that drastic of a water change, this is when she also told me that I should not have been vacuuming the gravel and this is a large part of my problem, asked me if I have a bio-filter, had no idea what that was. She asked me what filter I have, I showed her, she was shocked and said that I probably have a very little or non-existent bacteria culture especially on the advice to change the filters and that it is this bacteria that turns NitrIte into the less harmful NitrAte.
- So on her advice (petsmart) we purchased an AquaClear Cycleguard Biomax Power filter for a 50 Gallon tank, as she had said that oxygen is a problem with high nitrIte, we also purchased Nutrafin Cycle and have added that to the tank, everyday since so for 3days

- Tested the Tank yesterday Wednesday like the lady at petsmart suggested NitrIte and NitrAte levels still high
- So i read like a thousand websites yesterday and settled on doing another water change just by bailing water, did a 30%

- Tested the water this morning still high so I did a 50% as recommended on numerous websites, this brought the nitrItes down a little and the NitrAtes down quite a bit, but they are still high. However fish are no longer gasping for air at top of tank. I have also not feed them today as petsmart lady recommended a fast day for the fish, she said that it would aid in keeping ammonia and nitrItes under control.

So with all this done, my questions are am I on the right track now?
Should I continue doing twice daily or daily pwc to get the levels under control?
Any productive advice is extremely welcome!

Thank you in advance
Welcome to the site :)

Honestly, I'm not sure where to start.

Rule #1 with fish keeping- never listen to the guy at the pet store in 99.9% of cases.

Your tank is cycling which can be extremely dangerous for your fish if you don't keep the water levels in safe ranges during the process.

First things you need to get are a quality test kit (we recommend the API Master Kit...strips are junk), and a bottle of good dechlorinator like Seachem Prime to use during water changes.

It is vital to know your levels at all times. Any ammonia or nitrIte level of .25 can be extremely detrimental to your fish. You have to control them with daily water changes if needed. Don't be afraid to do 75% pwc's or do them back to back to back...just match the temps and use the water conditioner during them.

Also DONT SWITCH FILTERS!!! The vast majority of the beneficial bacteria you are trying to colonize to keep your fish safe live in the filter. They should only be replaced when they are literally falling takes a long time. Just swish them around in water from your tank during pwc's, never in tap water.

I'd stop using the bottled bacteria. Virtually all of them are useless, and they can lead to very unstable bio-filters in the long run. All you need to cycle a tank is a bucket and bottle of dechlorinator.

How big is your tank? Goldfish need 20 gallons for the first and 10 per additional goldfish. Anything smaller is asking for trouble.

I'd go do a water change ASAP, and try to get the test kit and bottle of Prime as soon as you can.

Here's a guide to follow in the mean time-
I just learned about cycling but I already have fish. What now?!

Good luck!
Thank you very much.

I do use a dechlorinator with the water that I put in the tank, the tank is a 30 gallon. I will head into town right now and get the tester that you suggested as I am using strips.
I will continue with the water changes. I will also let the kids know that we will need a bigger tank to get another fish.

Thank you again
Listen to Eco, follow the guide and you should have a cycled and stable tank in no time. Welcome to AA!
Happy to help :)

We're glad you came here for advice and we won't steer you wrong.

Even if you have a dechlorinator, I'd still recommend picking up Seachem Prime while you're out. The benefit of it is that it temporarily detoxifies the ammonia and nitrItes for 24-36 hours which buys your fish some time between water changes. Even though it neutralizes the ammo and no2, it still leaves it available to the bacteria to keep your tank cycling.

The API kits run around $25-30...but they're a vital and necessary thing to have in this hobby...especially during a fish-in cycle.

Keep us posted! :)
So I have done 2 water changes today my NitrIte level is about a 0.5 is this a safe amount? Should I continue to do water changes until it is at a 0? The fish are doing great I think?!?! Not yawning for oxygen, they are swimming around a lot, I wouldn't say panicked, but swimming around a lot. Ia this normal behavior or did I stress them out a lot?

Thanks again for the advice
One more maybe 60% would be good. You want to get the number close to or below .25 ppm. I am glad the fish are looking better.
:welcome: to AA

Fish swimming about in the water and not hanging out near the surface or breathing rapidly is a positive sign.

You just got some of the best advice possible from eco23 and rich311k ... follow their instructions and keep onto of the PWC's. The API test master and Seachem Prime are literally the only chemicals you should need to maintain a healthy aquarium. Let the water test dictate the PWC's ... as long as the ammo and nitrites are .25 or above, you need to do PWC's
:thanks:Thank you everyone for your advice. I did yet another water change and the levels are really low now :) Super happy about that. I have a few last question for you all tonight and they are;

- how often should I test my water now? Daily? Weekly?
- Should I continue with the weekly pwc? Or only do it when levels are wonky?

I don't want the levels to get high again now that I have learned all that I have in the last 3 days. I know that I will have the constant urge to test the water a hundred times a day. (well maybe not quite a hundred lol).

Thanks again for the amazing advice, I am sure that Calypso and Adonis are super happy for it as well.
Okay answered some of my questions by re-reading artical posted earlier, Guess I test daily, change water when readings are wonky. Have to continue to do this for a month :)
goldfishies said:
Okay answered some of my questions by re-reading artical posted earlier, Guess I test daily, change water when readings are wonky. Have to continue to do this for a month :)

Yep :). There is no simple answer for how often to change water. It will be based off of what your test kit tells you. Test every day for the forseeable future, and do however many and however large of water changes that are called for to keep your levels of ammo and no2 below .25.

Once your ammonia and nitrIte constantly stay at 0 on their own...tank cycled :)

You'll still do weekly water changes for the remainder of the time you are a fish keeper. They serve multiple purposes, chief amongst them keeping the nitrAte level down. Shoot for your no3 to always be at or below 20.

You've done a great job so far. Keep going and keep us posted :)

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