Re: Total newbie with specific circumstances needs advice on possible set-up
I am very much confined to home due to health circumstances, and alone throughout the daytime, so I have some small understanding of what the situation might be like for fishkeeping and potential challenges from your perspective.
I would definitely say that having a tank to enjoy watching the living creatures / inhabitants is very enjoyable - you can totally get absorbed in the tank's antics. The downsides, though, are the tank maintenance and if the tank inhabitants become ill.
In terms of tank inhabitants, you've quite correctly realised that goldfish are not easy to keep and require a much larger tank - 140L minimum for a fantail goldfish (larger if more than one and they fare better in groups). You could have temperate fish such as white cloud mountain minnows but even they would need a heater for the cold, winter months when the temperature drops overnight (unless you keep your heating on 24/7). Your best bet would be tropical fish with a heater - just set it to the required temp and it goes on/off as required with its thermostat. Most of these fish need a tank with a minimum footprint of 60x30cm, though.
Tank maintenance involves water testing with liquid-based test kits (daily during the fishless cycle, then at least weekly before water changes, and more often if anything looks/goes awry), water changes and filter maintenance. I am fortunate to have help eves/weekends, with my partner carrying buckets/containers of old and new water, and able to dismantle and piece together the filter if it clogs up or needs maintenance - these can be time-consuming (and messy with spillages!). Water testing often takes 15 mins before a test is complete, at which point a(n extra) water change may need to be done to get water quality back to 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and low nitrates - although regular weekly water changes ought to mean that an extra water change isn't required very often if at all.
If a tank inhabitant becomes ill, this may need another tank to hospitalise the fish in and medicate. A small plastic one is ideal - but does mean two tanks/filters/heaters (and twice the maintenance). Rather than dismantling the main tank's filter to remove a piece of mature media to put in the hospital tank filter, it's best to have a small spare filter kept in the main tank at all times which can easily be moved into the hospital tank for such circumstances.
All products can be purchased online but often are too large to fit through the letterbox and need someone to be able to answer the door to the courier/postie. Treatments for bacterial infection and whitespot to hand are a good plan, in the event of urgent need.
Silk plants rather than live plants are probably best - although the latter are lovely, more maintenance.
If you had a tank with a single male betta (very interactive), or a tank with shrimp (someone may be able to advise on less prolific breeders) and ornamental snails only (and possibly live plants), these would probably be the lowest maintenance and could have a smaller tank than the footprint mentioned earlier, and water changes of 20-50% would be smaller too - and this would circumvent the need for a hospital tank.
As you're doing very small water changes, and only fortnightly, I suspect your nitrate level is high - do you have a liquid-based test kit to test this (and the other crucial water quality tests of ammonia and nitrite)? Weekly water changes of 25% (or anything up to 50%) ought to help considerably.
[ Edited to add: 2 pieces of almost identical advice arriving in stereo from myself and Fishlady. Hope this is helpful. :) ]
Really sorry to read about this. I too find it difficult to lose a fish, especially when so much effort is put in to help (the fasting, de-skinned peas, feeding regime, water changes, filter, tank, decor, addressing the dropping PH, and intentions for the future, were all good moves), and goldfish have so much personality that it's especially difficult. Its final demise sounds difficult to witness too - I've had similar traumatic goldfish deaths. It's also very natural to keep questioning (and berating) oneself over and over afterwards, about whether/how the outcome might have been different with different approaches, and, despite all the best intentions/knowledge at the time, it's very easy on learning more to have lots of regrets such as "if only I'd realised that earlier and done X/Y/Z", "how could I have not realised about X/Y/Z being such a big factor in fishkeeping", "it all makes sense in hindsight", etc. I do empathise a lot.
I agree completely with Fishlady's assessment of the situation - likely an internal bacterial infection plus exposure to ammonia and nitrite.
Another few factors might have contributed too - possibly the lack of filter/oxygenation of the water in the early days (although unlikely this as the fish lived on after this and there was improvement), the cycling process of the filter, the aquarium soil (I've read of a few cases lately where some brands leach ammonia although they're not meant to), the driftwood (may have contributed to the PH drop - but not necessarily and unlikely), possibly very low KH (if your water is very soft, and which may account for the PH drop), and the possibility that your 8-year-old child might have stressed an already-dying fish by inadvertently squeezing it or putting something in the tank such as unrinsed/soapy hands or food-stained hands or sprayed something in the room (you might know whether or not these are possibilities) which might account for the readings post-mortem (the nitrite spike itself couldn't be accounted for by the fish's death per se - it's more likely that the filter was going through its cycle and its stage in that cycle would account for the high nitrite). Sometimes aquarium salt can help mitigate against the effects of sub-optimum water quality which might have masked the severity of the situation.
Fish are absolute masters of just looking as though they're finally on the mend before the situation seems to go catastrophically awry - so I am sorry that your hopes were raised, only to be tarnished by what ultimately happened.
I know you'll be playing over the situation in your head, hence why I thought I'd deal with each possibility one by one. I do hope this is helpful and in no way makes you feel worse. *You absolutely did everything you could have with the knowledge you had at the time - please do remember this above all else!*
Re: New keeper : Q : When do I use all these products in the tank?
That seems suitable but it does advise buying alongside Dr Tim's One and Only as well which is a good product (and one of the very few with the appropriate bacteria in it to help with the cycling process) and likely better than the Fluval Biological Enhancer.
That said, the effectiveness of these products is a bit 'hit and miss'. Kleen-Off ammonia on its own, minus any other product, is the most consistent/reliable/safest way of cycling, using the link that Fishlady provided.
Re: Best place to buy Hardscape and Dragon Stones in Yorkshire, Leeds -England?
Likewise, I don't know the LFSs in Yorkshire. However, it's possible that the contacts on here http://www.yorkshireaquaristsociety.co.uk/ may know of suitable options. Practical Fishkeeping often does shop tours, so you may find videos/reports of these online. Looking at their Readers' Poll 2019, Yorkshire-based winners include Ferrybridge Aquatics in Wakefield, Lincs Aquatics in Burstwick and Bawtry, and Octupus 8 in Brough in E.Yorks, but I don't know what their availability is of the items you're looking for.
I wish I could help but unfortunately, although some thoughts strike me, I don't have sufficient plant knowledge/experience to be able to help you comprehensively and so I hope a plant-keeper may be able to offer their views.
The first question, which might help with your situation, is to check if you've got an adequate sized home for the yoyo loach and can meet its other care requirements? https://www.fishkeeping.co.uk/modules/ ... sheet.php?caresheetID=200 If not, then it would make sense to return the fish to wherever it came from and resume the fishless cycle.
It would be very unusual for a cycle to be completed within 3 weeks. Let us know how the cycle went, when you fed ammonia pre- yoyo loach arrival (and what source of ammonia you used during the fishless cycle part) and the various results for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, PH, as you went along, and that should help us work out how the cycle has been progressing.
API Master test kit is indeed good and more accurate than test strips (although test strips can be useful to cross-check with - I find them helpful to cross-check nitrate and nitrite).
I meant to mention the 4 pellets. This doesn't sound like very much. What brand of pellets are they so that we know what size you're referring to? Many years ago, when a beautiful veiltail goldfish I had suffered from swimbladder problems, I reduced the amount of food I gave her in an effort to counteract the problems. Similarly, when my common/comet goldfish started having buoyancy problems years later, I reduced his food intake. It was only afterwards that I realised I had probably overdone this on each occasion and that weakness/starvation was ultimately involved to a certain extent in their fatal demises. I would see whether more frequent water changes addresses the issue and, if so, then slowly increase what the fish is eating and ensure that chopped pea and live/frozen food is included in the diet.