Looking for some advice. We were recently given 2 goldfish as pets for the kids along with a small aquarium (about 15litres). The GOldfish have been in the tank now for just over a week.
I am very aware that the tank is no where near big enough for them and I have a new aquarium due to be delivered tomorrow (54l - I know it is still not as recommended but it is the best I can do just now and it will be upscaled again in the future). The current tank was a hand down which hasn't been used in a very long time but was scrubbed out with bleach and water and very very well rinsed. It came with a Fluval 1 filter which was equally as old, this filter was used for 2 days until we replaced it with a Fluval u1, I left the 1 in along with the u1 for two days, We atarted adding Fluval Cycle to the water when the new filter was installed.
So far the fish seem happy, though they like to hang about under the filter, but when they are active they seem fine.
Over the last week I have been doing 50% water changes every second day, water has been treated with dechlorinator and Fluval Cycle.
Yesterday I purchased an API Freshwater Master kit to test the water. Below are the results:
pH = 7.5 / 7.6 Ammonia = 2ppm Nitrie = 2-5ppm (very difficult to distinguish these two colours) Nitrate = 5ppm
Once I saw these results I performed my usual 50% water change. I plan to test again tonight and change the water again.
Can anyone advise if what I am doing with regards to the water chemistry is on the right track?
I have read a few articles and they seem to indicate that my Nitrate level is on track but with a low Nitrate level that Ammonia and Nitrite levels should be low but obviously they aren't.
It's commendable that you are performing 50% water changes but you are really going to struggle keeping your water parameters in check with such a small tank, I won't mention anything more about tank size though as it seems as though you are aware they need a much bigger tank - I will say though that you need around 200l for 2 goldfish.
Ammonia at any level is extremely toxic to fish and they will be suffering from the presence of it in the water, same can be said of nitrite.
The tank is now cycling, a process which can take several weeks meaning at the initial stages the ammonia being produced by the fish isn't being processed into nitrite and then nitrate, the ammonia is staying in the water and is slowly poisoning the fish as there currently isn't a bacterial colony large enough in your filter to cope with the waste being produced by the fish, although this is slowly growing now.
Ideally the tank should be cycled (this can take typically 6-8 weeks) before any fish are put into the tank meaning that a sufficient colony of beneficial bacteria will have grown within the filter and the tank itself to covert any toxic waste produced by the fish into nitrate which is much less toxic than ammonia / nitrite - the nitrate levels can then be managed through regular water changes.
Unfortunately the tank is now cycling with fish in it which isn't ideal, the best you can do is do much larger water changes, 90%-ish and do them daily, this is the only way you'll be able to manage the ammonia levels and keep them down but this will be an on-going battle. As I mentioned earlier any presence of ammonia is seriously bad news, it will burn the gills of the fish and make them very unwell, not to mention shortening their overall lifespan and contributing to general ill-health over the course of their lives.
Keep testing your water, the kit you have is excellent - best of luck.
Thanks for getting back to me. I am aware that they will need a larger tank and I will upgrade this in future.
I will start with the 90% changes tonight too.
I am wondering if I Should keep the fish where they are and do a fishless cycle of the new tank when it arrives tomorrow, or should I move them asap so that the ammonia is diluted further with the new tanks increased capacity?
Is there anything else I can do to help this process, any other ways of removing the ammonia? I have seen Ammo-Lock mentioned, would this be worthwile?
Also wondering what the best way is to transition the fish to the new tank?
I have spent a lot of time reading but there seems to be a lot of conflicting info, which is why I am asking for direct advice.
I welcome any one else on here to disagree with me but I would move the fish + filter (very important you move the filter as well) into the new tank, this will at least dilute the toxins slightly but you should keep up with the water changes as 54l is still way too small a tank.
If cost is an issue, take a look on ebay for tanks, I bought my 200l tank for ?40 and that came with a stand / filter and hood & light! I also picked up my 600l tank with wooden cabinet for ?200!
One thing that will help (and I should have mentioned earlier) is a water conditioner called Seachem Prime, it is water conditioner like any other but it contains chemicals that "bind" ammonia into a non-toxic form that should at least reduce the toxicity on your fish, the beneficial bacteria will still continue to grow over the coming weeks but it should help reduce the toxic nature of your water.
If you search for it on the internet there are plenty of places that sell it, it may seem a bit pricey but it is very concentrated so you don't need a lot, use this at each water change but be careful you don't overdose - I used to use this on my old 200l tank, great stuff and lasts for ages.
Also, when you do your water changes make sure untreated tap water doesn't come into contact with your filter, the chlorine within tapwater kills off beneficial bacteria and you'll keep putting yourself back to square one with each water change so switch off your filter when you do water changes and only turn it back on once treated water is in the tank - does this make sense?