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  #1  
Old 10-24-2007, 10:05 AM
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Newbie Aquarist Advice Needed

We got our first aquarium for my 7 year old 4 months ago. We bought a cheap starter kit with a 10 gallon tank, set it up, and put three different goldfish species in it (promptly named Lightning, Goldy and Jiggly).

All was fine until about two weeks ago when the water got very cloudy. The only maintenance I had done was to drain about 4 gallons and replace it with fresh water (treated with dechlorinater) once a month. When it got real cloudy, we transferred the fish to temporary quarters, drained the entire tank and cleaned and rinsed everything including the gravel. The starter kit has a simple filter that doesn't appear to do much except strain larger particles. We cleaned it as well.

Now a week later it is getting cloudy agan.

The tank is a few feet from a window but never gets direct sunlight because it is on a shelf in an armoire. So I was thinking algae should not be a problem.

I know nothing about aquarium maintenance other than what I read in the kit. The instructions don't elaborate on PH levels, nitrates, nitrites, etc. I was hoping this little tank with simple fish would magically become a no maintenance (other than replenishing water) self-sustaining ecosystem.

Can any of you help or perhaps point me to a source of more information? (I could have googled, but this forum is more fun.) TIA.

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Old 10-24-2007, 10:20 AM
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Are you sure your 7 year old isn't over-feeding? Did you cycle your tank?

http://www.firsttankguide.net/cycle.php
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Old 10-24-2007, 10:42 AM
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Over feeding may indeed be a contributor. I have coached him recently on how much to feed.

The link you provided is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks.
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Old 10-24-2007, 10:51 AM
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Recommended reading for your boy: A Fish Out of Water
Mr. Carp has very good advice.
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Old 10-24-2007, 10:55 AM
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Hang around. TheDon is an expert and will check in and see this.
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Old 10-24-2007, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raymr View Post
Recommended reading for your boy: A Fish Out of Water
Mr. Carp has very good advice.
Keep the Plymouth Barracuda out of this discussion!!!
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Old 10-24-2007, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
Keep the Plymouth Barracuda out of this discussion!!!
As well as the...
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Old 10-24-2007, 11:28 AM
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Hey sune,

I worked in the aquarium section of a pet store as a teen and I have kept many different tanks over the years.

A 10-gallon tank is actually harder to maintain than a larger tank. The larger the volume of water, the more resistant it is to changes of any sort - including temperature, algae growth, and fouling due to excess ammonia, etc.

If your water is cloudy it could be overfeeding, which causes the uneaten food to decompose at a rate that exceeds the tank's ability to recycle the nutrients. It could also be algae bloom from too much sunlight. If the water is greenish and smells 'swampy' it is algae. If the water is more of a milky-white cloudy color, that is usually fouled water from over-feeding. It will smell 'rotten'.

Usually the culprit in a small goldfish tank is overfeeding (kids being too generous) and also improper or poor filtration.

The key in regards to filtration is keeping the surface of the water in constant motion. This is critical to oxygenation and to prevent stagnation. A good power filter is the best bet.

In a well-balanced tank, the system acts in equilibrium and you shouldn't have to even use too much filter media. In my best freshwater tanks, I only used a power filter to circulate the water and maintain current. I didn't need carbon or foam filter media. The system broke down everything and cycled it automatically. The 'system' includes a proper balance of the right types of fish, plants and feeding schedules and food types. Every two months or so, I would use a siphon to remove some solid waste from the gravel, but that was it. In equilibrium, the tank should stay crystal clear and the water should always have a healthy, earthy smell to it.

Ammonia from fish waste is broken down by nitrifying bacteria that usually exist mainly in the gravel substrate and also the filter media. Once established they can cycle a certain threshold amount of ammonia. If you exceed that by either adding too many fish too quickly, or by overfeeding, you can foul the water.

Do you have some bottom-dwelling fish? Like catfish (Corydoras sp., etc.). They're good little vacuum cleaners for anything the goldfish missed. Although goldfish are usually pretty good at cleaning up (and taking mouthfuls of gravel and spitting it out).

So, to sum everything up, I would cut down on feedings and ensure the tank is getting proper filtration, with a healthy current. You've already covered the sunlight bit. The better you balance everything, the less work you'll need to do. If your children love the hobby, a bigger tank is also a safer bet.

Good luck!
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Old 10-24-2007, 06:14 PM
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Thanks everyone. Lots of great advice. Overfeeding is very likely the cause of our problem. Also, I'm going to start cycling the tank based on the instructions in Chad's link. And thanks especially, Zeus, for all the info you provided.
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:10 PM
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me.. expert.. nah..

A small tank, like Zeus mentioned is harder to take care of. plus you already have it over stocked and the filter cannot keep up with the waste.

It may also be fact that you have started the nitrogen cycle. critical to fish and how they live..

fishlore.com is a good forum for fish stuff..



What I did with my 45 gallon tank was used 12 cichlids that my friend gave me and dumped them in as starters to get the tank cycled... It didn't matter if they died or not since they were starting the nitrogen cycle... well it has been 2 months and the tank is perfect.. no nitrogen or nitrite(nitrate maybe) spikes..

I need to get rid of the convict cichlids.. 12 of them made it ... and they breed like crazy
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  #11  
Old 10-24-2007, 08:35 PM
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The stocking rule is about 1 inch of fish per gallon of water after the substrate and ornaments are factored in. Another factor is the orientation of the tank (vertical or horizontal design) due to the surface area of the water. A 10 gallon tank is really only good for a quarantine tank or a single specimen tank.

I only ever add 3 fish max at a time (46 gallon bow front) and use a quarantine tank filled with water from the main tank to observe before adding them to the main tank. It's easier to dump a quarantine tank than to start cycling the main tank all over.

Hey Don, your convicts been breeding already! That's cool
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:56 PM
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Convicts are great fish! I had one for a long time, along with his sidekick, a jack dempsey.

My favorite fish was an oscar though, I had him for about 16 years. He was the last of eight little one-inchers I bought on sale. He grew to about a foot long. He would recognize me when I entered the room and would splash the surface of the water excitedly. I could also feed him by hand. He had one deformed pectoral fin, la Nemo, from a nasty infection. I treated the infection but it didn't heal, so I did some home surgery on him on a wet towel and cut away the affected tissue. It healed well after that. I miss that guy...funny how you can get attached to a fish.
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  #13  
Old 10-25-2007, 03:16 AM
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A good way to gauge food is to add as much food as the fish will eat in 30 seconds. That will keep the nitrate levels down. Keep the tank out of direct light ...obviously to keep the cleaning to a minimum says my personal fish doctor.
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  #14  
Old 10-25-2007, 04:16 PM
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1" per full grown fish.. add in extra because goldfish are waste machines... they just eat and crap... that is it..

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