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splash
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Establishing a new tank
« on: March 12, 2012, 04:23:14 AM »

My daughter wishes to have goldfish as a pet. For her birthday last year she got two comet goldfish in a very small tank as a present and they've since died. I knew nothing about goldfish, and have since been reading that they are quite a bit of work, and that they require a much bigger tank than what she has (a tiny 7 litre) and more frequent water changes than the once a fortnight that we were doing.

So over the weekend we purchased a 70 litre tank (approx 18.5 gallons) (I know it's still small but it's a lot better than the irresponsible sized tank we had initially).  We have spent the weekend setting it up. It has a built in filter and light system. We have new gravel and new ornaments. All washed of dirt etc. We purchased live plants this time, instead of the plastic rubbish we had. We have added the water and placed the required amount of conditioner, and we have also added stress-zyme as suggested by the pet shop.

The petshop asked us to come back in a week and they will test the water hardness and ph to see if the tank was ready to add fish. If ready they would then give us the fish to start ?cycling the tank. I kinda understand the nitrogen cycle now, but what confuses me now is that some sites on the net suggest cycling a tank with fish and some suggest fishless cycling.

We have only had the tank for the two days, and have only added the conditioner and stress zyme. I'm not sure what the water hardness is like, but the ph is almost neutral (I have a test kit for ph only, and it looks about a 6.9).

So I am just after some advice on what steps are recommended for me to take next, in regards to cycling.

We know once the tank is established that we will have to do more frequent water changes of no less than 50% weekly and we have a gravel vacuum and magnetic glass cleaner etc. We would like to have 4 goldfish, but having researched further into this field we realise we are probably pushing it having two now.

Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks in advance.
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scrivens345
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2012, 05:01:39 AM »

first, I should avoid common or comet (single-tailed) goldfish. Instead go for a "fancy" type. You could keep two of these in your tank for maybe one or possibly two years. As soon as you can afford it start looking for a larger tank, which should be at least three foot long.


You can cycle your tank with the baby fish in it. It will involve a lot of hard work. You will need to do frequent water changes. You will also need to test the water parameters regularly. Buy a 6-in1 test kit, the best you can afford as it will save you money in the long run.

Tap water contains chlorine compounds to kill off bacteria, and make the water potable for human consumption. However we need to create colonies of bacteria to "cycle" the tank, we therefore need to add a water conditioner to all tank water.

What do we mean by "cycle" ? Well, fish produce ammonia as a waste product, this ammonia can dissolve in the water and poison the fish, however given time a colony of bacteria will grow in the filter and substrate which will convert the ammonia to nitrites. These nitrites are still harmful to the fish, but will allow another colony of bacteria to grow, and this colony will change the nitrites to nitrates, These nitrates are less harmful to the fish, and to a certain extent will act as food for the plants. The nitrates must be kept at reasonable levels by means of a weekly water change.

I realise that the above might be a lot to take in, so lets take it in small steps

1) test the tank water on a regular basis, at least every other day for the first week

2) as soon as nitrites appear, do a large water change, say 60-75%

3) keep testing and look out for the production of nitrates, (keep changing the water very time you find nitrites) once nitrates start to appear you can reduce the frequency of water changes to about once per week.

4) your tank is now cycled and ready for fish

test the water parameters on a weekly basis, for the first few weeks, and if you notice any strange behaviour such as fin clamping

Do a weekly water change of at least 50%
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Skwishee
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2012, 08:01:28 AM »

Karma to that scrivens!

On the note of test kits, if you can, get a liquid one, I use API Freshwater Master Test Kit Smiley
The liquid ones work out cheaper than strip tests, because they last much longer, for example I've had my test kit for around 5 months or so now and I've still got plenty of tests left Smiley

Good luck with cycling, I think two fancy goldfish will be fine, as Scriven's has mentioned you will need to upgrade the tank for them as they grow Smiley I also agee with Scrivens about the single tailed fish, so please, please just avoid single tailed fish altogether, as these types of fish are better suited to ponds.
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splash
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2012, 08:23:32 PM »

Thank you both for your advice. I will definitely get the API master test kit, and I will stick to getting a fancy type fish. The petshop had already suggested getting a fancy when I picked up the new tank on the weekend. Upgrading the tank won't be a problem in the future as we can afford it. Once we upgrade the goldfish into a larger tank is it possible to keep the 70l tank as a tropical tank or is a 70l not big enough to fit a tropical mix of fish. I know I would need to add a heater etc, and learn how to keep the goldfishes alive first though. Thanks!
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cheri_alexander
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2012, 08:34:00 PM »

The small tank will be perfect for tropicals! You can keep something like 6 tiny schooling fish (tetras, danios, guppies etc) plus a few platys or mollys, lots of cool snails etc. Compared to goldies you can keep tons of fish in that little tank.
When choosing the fancies keep in mind that some are easier than others. Fantails and Moors (and telescope-eyes) are the best beginer goldfish. They all require the same care but these are considered the hardiest. Also some fancies like orandas can get up 10-12" and need a rather massive tank.
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splash
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2012, 04:21:11 AM »

Thanks Cheri. Your specific advice to get a fantail or moor has helped even further in our decision making. I'm happy to hear that our small tank is perfect for tropical fish in the future. I feel better equipped in terms of knowledge to properly care for fish now.
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Skwishee
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2012, 03:19:24 PM »

Hi splash,

With the tropical tank this website can help, if you put in the dimensions of tank and filtration, it can give you the choice of fish for your aquarium Smiley (Link is not visible to guests. Please register to view.)
Of course I would still advise to research any individual fish and their specific needs, but I feel it's useful for giving a rough idea Smiley

Good luck with the goldfish Cheesy
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fantailer
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2012, 03:58:29 PM »

A 18 gallon tank would be perfect for a fancy goldfish, a pleco, and a snail or two. Just make sure to do 50 % water changes every week!
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splash
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2012, 11:16:26 PM »

Thanks for the link skwishee! Found it very helpful.

Fantailer, now that I know to do 50% water changes weekly our fish will have a better chance for survival. I wish I'd educated myself earlier.

I got my API masterkit today. Still tweaking the water hardness at the moment. Not rushing things so I get it right this time.

Thanks again
« Last Edit: March 16, 2012, 11:21:27 PM by splash » Logged
Nossie
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2012, 11:36:48 AM »

Why are you trying to change the water hardness?
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splash
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2012, 01:41:14 AM »

Good question Nossie. I had never tested the water hardness for the original fish that died. When purchasing the new tank, the lfs asked us to set up the tank and to bring in a water sample after a week. A week later we went back to the lfs with the sample and they said our water hardness is really (?)soft at around 50 or so. They gave us some type of water conditioner for soft water. So we added some slowly to get the correct hardness.

My ph was 7.4 and they also wanted me to put in ph down but I refused. I'd already been reading that stable ph was more optimal than a changing ph.

Then the plan was to get the fish, to cycle the tank as per the lfs.... So my husband took one more sample of water back and there was 0.25ppm of ammonia present. I wasn't at the lfs that day, my husband was. They sold my husband some type of ammonia clear to put in the filter to get rid of the ammonia. When I got home my husband told me about the ammonia clear and the removal of the filter media!!! I tested the water myself and also found 0.25ppm but said to my husband, "what do they expect, when we put the fish in the tank, we are only going to get ammonia again anyway, and how are we meant to get healthy bacteria on the filter media if we don't have the filter media in there to begin with!!"

So to cut a long story short, I've told my husband not to take the filter media out ever again. Not to buy any extra products to add to the tank unless he has spoken to me (I've been the one doing all the research). And finally, I've decided to do a fishless cycle and read net info and use questions already asked on forums to help me with fishless cycling.

So three days ago I put a raw shrimp in (I had no clear ammonia and didn't really want it in the house. I already had some raw shrimp anyway). I've been monitoring the tank and it has gone to 4.0ppm of ammonia in three days. No nitrites as yet. I understand whole cycling process can take up to 6 weeks, so i'm pretty happy with the spike of ammonia to 4.0ppm in three days. I've removed the shrimp today, as i read it can be removed when ammonia spikes to 4.0ppm. I will continue to test daily until my tank is cycled. I won't change the water until I am 0 ammonia 0 nitrite, and when i need nitrate below 20-40ppm. Then I assume I am cycled.

I'm not sure why my lfs wanted 0 ammonia when they knew I was cycling with fish at their advice! My Husband pointed out the girl looked like a high school kid who we have never spoken to before.

Feel free to offer me any advice if I am not on the right track.

Another thing. We have planted live plants and it appears that a few baby snails may have come along for the ride when we bought them (plants). Could they have been responsible for the ammonia being present at 0.25ppm in an empty tank? I've been removing the snails because I honestly don't know if it's a good idea to have them stay. I've found three tiny ones so far.

Thanks in advance.

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scrivens345
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2012, 03:42:22 AM »

Sounds like you are on top of things Grin

Those little snails Angry.....[this is why we quarantine plants]..........just get rid of them as and when you see them ,  as they breed like crazy.
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Skwishee
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2012, 05:05:10 AM »

If you do not wish to have the snails, you can bait them with some vegetables.
A piece of lettuce or some blanched brocolli should do the trick, just chuck it in and check it every few hours, the snails will gather on it to eat and you can remove them that way.

If they are acute bladder snails, the only real issues these snails present in a tank, is that they MAY eat live plants, I've yet to see any of mine eat a plant, but some people have reported otherwise. If they over populate a tank some consider them an eye sore and there is also the possibility that with enough snails, they can block the impeller fan on a filter.

I'm not sure why the LFS said it was necessary to change the hardness of your water? What was the PH originally?
Oh also what sized tank did you get and what fish are you hoping to keep?  Cheesy
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splash
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2012, 07:07:22 AM »

I'm glad I seem to be on top of things, thanks scrivens.

Skwishee, I will definitely use the lettuce trick to see if there are more snails. In regards to the ph. It was around a 6.9 when I first filled the tank and used API tap water conditioner and stress zyme. The lfs tested the water a week later and said the general hardness was very soft 53.7 ppmGH and that Melbourne (Australia) water is too soft for fish. So they asked me to put in soft water conditioner to harden the water. The hardness is about 250 ppmGH now. So my question is, is this necessary? Internet info suggests that it may be necessary.

The ph is sitting around 7.4 at the moment. They wanted me to put ph down in it. I decided not to (to keep a stable ph) Right now I'm just focusing on cycling my tank. I do have filtered water and tap water, the ph is 6.6 for filtered water. I'm going to test the tap water tomorrow and the tank again.

We have the 70 litre tank (18.5galloons) and we will probably get tropical fish now. We would love goldfish but feel it's unfair to stick them in a small tank and then move them later. We are hoping we are successful in keeping fish so we can eventually get a much larger tank to accommodate goldfish. Even my grandmother said today that goldfish belong in backyards (ponds). We got a heater and have decided to start with a few guppies when we have a cycled tank. I'm am trying to upgrade my knowledge everyday. I am always reading and double checking things. There is so much to learn!

I wish I had a quarantine tank, but my 7 litre probably wouldn't fit the plants, and it's all packed away. I couldn't quarantine fish in there, not after the first two died.

I am keen not to overpopulate my tank with snails so thanks for the advice. Any advice regarding changing the water hardness (like is it necessary?) would be appreciated. Thank you all very much.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2012, 07:10:13 AM by splash » Logged
scrivens345
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2012, 07:44:35 AM »

The slightly high pH is probably caused by the ammonia......so just test the pH at the end of the cycle

hardening your water is probably a good idea as fish and snails would benefit from the calcium
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Skwishee
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2012, 06:12:00 AM »

I would agree with your grandmother, that a lot of goldfish do belong in ponds, particularly the single tailed varieties.
The fancy varieties of goldfish can be kept in tanks as long as they are big enough Smiley

As for the tropical side of things, I think it depends on what you want to keep, as all tropical fish have different requirements for the ph and temperature.
This website has a lot of information on tropical fish, they have an entire data base (Link is not visible to guests. Please register to view.)
So depending on what your ph is after the tank has cycled, then you can consider what fish you'd like to keep Smiley

People usually suggest to stock fish that will suit your water, rather than try meddling with the water too much to suit a fish Smiley
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Nossie
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2012, 11:58:41 AM »

A good rule of thumb: Don't touch the water parameters. Goldfish enjoy a wide range of pH (6.5-8.5) and they don't care in the slightest about water hardness, ideally they want it harder, but always: As long as it's stable, don't meddle with it.
Otherwise, it sounds like you're doing great... Smiley

Skwishee has a very good point about stocking with the kind of fish that would enjoy this water, however, it's likely to change a lot while cycling, so you can wait with deciding anything until all the ammonia and nitrites are gone and you're starting to get some nice readings of nitrate... Smiley
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splash
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2012, 10:11:47 PM »

Well I guess I'm just in a holding pattern until my tanks cycled then. Ph is 7.6, ammonia remains 4.0ppm and no nitrite/nitrate. No more snails at this stage.

Not to fussy with what fish we end up with, so I'll research types when I know the cycled ph etc.

How long is likely to take for nitrites to start registering? Should I be adding more stress zyme to help it along? Some sites recommend it, some not. Would just like a fair idea of what to expect.

Thanks again everyone for the ongoing advice.
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Nossie
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2012, 06:05:47 AM »

If you're cycling without fish, you can add beneficial bacteria with each waterchange, you don't need to add it anymore than that Smiley
Usually, it might take between three and six weeks before the nitrates to start showing.
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splash
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2012, 12:26:22 AM »

Hello everyone  Smiley

Just hoping to get some advice again to see if i'm still on the right track with my fishless cycle.

I've been testing the tank water every 1-3 days. For the first 2 weeks ammonia levels remained at a constant level of 4.0ppm with 0ppm nitrite/nitrate. Ph 7.6

At Day 14 Ammonia levels were 4.0ppm, but nitrite were present at 1ppm, 0 nitrate, ph 7.8.

Having been busy the past few days I hadn't managed to test again till Day 18 and I wasn't expecting to see most of the ammonia disappear 0.25ppm, Nitrite to go bright purple, so way >5.0ppm and Nitrate to be 5.0ppm. Ph 7.8. Is this to be expected or has something gone wrong?

Will the nitrite go down on it's own or do I need to do a partial water change?
Should my ammonia levels already be so close to 0ppm?

It seems like I've had drastic changes in such a short time, I was expecting it to be a little slower. However this is my first fishless cycle so I'm very much out of my comfort zone in this area.

I must say though, having come from a health science background I've found the process interesting and have learnt a lot. Given my science background I now can't believe I wasn't thinking about ecosystems/cycling with the first tank  Roll Eyes Having a science background has made it a lot easier to get my head around understanding the nitrogen cycle.

Thanks again in advance for all your help. Hopefully one day I will be able to give back to the forum.
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orandagal
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2012, 07:49:20 AM »

Hi Splash,
Sounds to me like everything is moving along good. It took my 29 gallon right at 6 weeks to cycle (fishless) The nitrite is suppose to climb and will turn purple, and what your going to really be excited about it that lovely blue color when it drops back down. That was the greatest thing for me, seeing the Nitrites go down to zero because then your almost there. My PH stays right at 8.0 and as long as it holds steady (and I thank all of those who held my hand thru this because I was freaking Smiley ) that's ok, it's the flucuations you need to worry about. My Ammonia took forever to get to 0 and sometimes it will still rise a little over that, and then we are back to water changes a little more frequently. My Nitrates are at 40 and I'm forever trying to get them down, but have tested my tap water and the tap water is at 20, so I just keep a really close eye on it. You want your Nitrates to stay right around 10-20 ppm but no higher than 40. Others may tell you to do a water change, but truthfully I think I only did a slight water change when there was food gathering and it was starting to look a little rough on the bottom-not a lot, but I thought it needed to be cleaned up a bit. I cycled by just putting in fish food every other day, adding Cycle (bacteria) as directed in the beginning and then I think I added some every couple of days (maybe not the right thing to do, because I know a few don't like Cycle, but I had just bought a big bottle and wasn't going to throw it out and little confession, I still use it  Wink Apologies to those who don't like it but I plan on trying the Seachem when this bottle is out)

Other please correct me if I've given the incorrect info, I don't mind being told I"m wrong  Cheesy
Best of luck and sound like maybe a couple more weeks. Your getting there! It's all about patience-which I have none of  Cheesy
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rjzmum
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2012, 10:13:43 AM »

Wish I had found this site yesterday- but in all truthfulness did not know we would be in the position of having a new tank and fish. I had gone into a pet store to get a replacement goldfish for our son, we had kept a fish for 3 years in a very  small tank with just an air pump and no filters with no issues and I was planning on replacing the same.
what happened was I got an education (lecture) on keeping goldfish (fantail) and ended up coming home with a 10 gallon tank starter set and a new fantail.  I wasn't given any information on how to cycle or get the tank ready - knowing that it takes a certain amount of time to get the water okay I called back to the store and was told since it was a cold water goldfish we could introduce right away. 

Rather than do that we filled the tank, treated it, and let it sit for 7 hours and then followed the instructions for introducing our fish.  When we woke up this morning found he is very listless and staying pretty much in the same place at the bottom of the tank.  After reading all these posts I am horrified because I may have completely jeopardized my son's fish (he thinks because someone else was looking after his fish when we were away that it is the same one and because in his young life he has already had to deal with enough loss I wanted to at least shelter him from this one). 

Is there anything I can do to try and salvage this situation and protect his fish? Again after finding this site I realize I was ill-prepared to deal with this but unfortunately you can't know what you don't know. I am quite furious with the owner of the pet store who was the one who lectured me and yet now has put me in this position by selling me the tank and  fish the same day.

When I called back yesterday they had also stressed that we make sure we add the Nutrifin cycle as directed on bottle. Is this still okay? Any other advice would be most greatly appreciated. Since beginning this post I have seen that he had moved a bit. His breathing also seems to be ok.

Thank you so much...
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splash
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2012, 05:56:10 PM »

Thanks orandagal, I'm glad the massive nitrite spike I'm having is normal. I look forward to seeing blue again! I won't change the water at the moment because I used a shrimp to commence the cycle (I tied it in a net and took it out when ammonia got to 4.0ppm) and visually the tank looks fine. I'll wait till nitrates are higher till I change water. It's exciting nearly being finished.

Rjzmum sorry to hear about your new fish. It is possible to cycle a new tank with a fish, which is what position you find yourself in now. But I can't imagine it would be easy without a water test kit. I purchased a API water test (liquid not test strips) kit. It is a worthwhile
investment. If you don't have the test kit and don't wish to purchase one I would take a sample of your water to the lfs. You will then know how much ammonia etc is in the water. It may be that you need a partial water change. I think water changes can get frequent when cycling with fish. Not being an expert it seems early for the water to have gotten too toxic in the 1 day for your fish. It may be stressed in the new environment and could come good in the next day or so. Definitely find out what the levels are though to assist in what steps to take next. Did you add water dechorinator to the water when setting up? I also add stress zyme to help it along cycling.

I too am upset by my lfs. They have been slightly helpful but I cringe when they insist I can keep 8 fancies in my 20 galloon tank! I find it best to consult this forum or read other forums for info. I was going to cycle with fish with the help of my lfs but have found it easier to fishless cycle with help from here. I was apprehensive about fishless cycling thinking it would be hard but so far do good. I wonder if you could take your fish back to the lfs and rehome there and cycle without a fish?

Good luck I hope it works out.
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orandagal
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2012, 06:53:02 PM »

Hi Splash,
I hope I helped a little bit  Smiley I think owning and raising goldfish is a little like owning and raising dogs (which I have 3 of) Everyone has their own opinions, and I love to read and gather up as much information as I possibly can, but in the end, we find somethings that will work well for us, but maybe not work as well for others. I want to do what is right and have healthy, happy fish and have tried to follow as much of the good advice as I possibly can and thank the others on this forum for all the great info. they have to offer  Smiley
I know as I'm still fairly new to the bigger aquarium, and still learning about all the mistakes I have made in the past, I will continue to seek information and continue to ask questions.
Best wishes,
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orandagal
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2012, 07:06:02 PM »

Hi Rjzmum and Welcome,
As a newbie as of January I cycled fishless so can't give much advice and hope others will help you out, but I will stress to read, read, and read some more, which I know you have been doing  Smiley I'm still learning as I go, but this site has a lot of helpful info and most are wiling to help with answers. Splash did make a good suggestion about taking the fish back until your tank is cycled, and if you get another one, try to make sure it is very small. Most suggest 10-20 gallons for the first goldfish, and 10 gall. per fish after that. I've been there and done that keeping my two in a 12 gallon, way to small for both of them, but what did I know then, and now that I know better have gotten a much bigger tank and you can see they are much happier. This is a very addicting hobby, and it's not cheap in the beginning, but I feel well worth it. I hope things will work out for you and your fish and others can help. Please keep us posted.
 
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rjzmum
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2012, 01:52:26 AM »

Thank you Orandagal & Splash both so much for your advice! Unfortunately within a few hours of my post my son's fish had not made it.  We have continued to try and get as much information as we can and will now try and follow the advice we've found and try and do our best to introduce another fish to our set up eventually.

We had added the dechlorinator and cycle products so hopefully those will be the beginning steps to get our tank to the proper balance, we talked to another lfs who has told us they will do free water samples and given us a lot of other good advice.  We will also make sure we purchase a water test kit. 

I'm not sure how to deal with the original lfs, I am of two minds about it, I am quite frustrated after starting to do research on something we weren't intending to get into that we now have a 10 gallon tank and were basically set up for failure plus potential heartbreak for my son.  we'll never patronize their store again but I feel for anyone else that they put in this position.

Thank you again, I will continue to follow and gain from everyones willingness to share their experience, much appreciated!
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Nossie
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #26 on: April 10, 2012, 07:33:30 AM »

So, are you going to get some tropicals for the 10 gallon now maybe? When it's done cycling? Smiley
There are plenty of cute, colorful fish that would fit better in a tank that size and be easier to care for than goldfish. Unless you are able to upgrade to a 30-40 gallon tank, I'd suggest avoiding goldfish altogether, rather than stunting them in a small tank. It may sound harsh, but that's just how they are, big fish need big space Sad
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rjzmum
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #27 on: April 14, 2012, 11:10:05 AM »

My son is set on a goldfish, we'll see how it goes and then try and move him to a bigger tank and use the 10 gallon for tropicals as you suggested  Smiley
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Nossie
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Re: Establishing a new tank
« Reply #28 on: April 16, 2012, 03:06:01 AM »

Sounds good! Smiley Please keep us updated Smiley
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