Ammonia/Septicemia?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Water' started by Fishnessness, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. F

    Fishnessness New Member Member

    Greetings! This is my first post here (just joined about an hour ago), so I'd like to first say thank you in advance for all your input.
    Almost immediately after joining, I realized a lot of the stuff I've been doing is wrong. How I have not yet killed my poor sweet Fishnesness is a miracle. So here's the deal:

    My 27-cent comet has, in the past 2 years, blossomed into a robust 6 - 7 inch beauty. I noticed, at least 6 months ago, that I could see red veins in her tail & fins, but just assumed the veins were becoming more visible because she was getting bigger. Also, I never tested the water for anything because I figured if she seemed healthy, she is ( I know, slap me now).

    A few days ago, I noticed the base of her tail look rather purplish, which was new. After researching online, it sounded like she either has something called "septicemia", or it's from her tank having a lot of ammonia. Off to Petsmart I went and got all the testing strips needed. The numbers:
    Ammonia: between .25 and .5 (yikes!)
    Nitrates/Nitrites: 0
    Hardness: 300
    Total Chlorine: 0
    Total Alkalinity: 80
    pH: 7.2

    She was in a 10-gallon tank until last month, when we were given a used 29-gallon tank with some plastic plants. I washed it all out with bleach water, then rinsed it very well with Primed water. I added more gravel in addition to the gravel from the old tank, trying to keep the old stuff on top, and continued using the AquaClear 30 gallon filter I already had. The guy at Petsmart said since it's a big tank, the ammonia would be diluted more, and the 30 gallon filter would be fine.

    I must add, until joining this site, I'd never even heard of 'cycling the aquarium'. Also (there's more!), I've been unknowingly doing bad things to my filter:

    Every time I did the 25% water change/gravel vacuum, I've been rinsing out all the filter media in running tap water, then soaking it in Primed water. Yikes. I just learned today that I've been killing all the beneficial bacteria, and I'm assuming that's at least part of the reason why the ammonia level is high?

    More info: In addition to using Prime for the new water, I've also been using Tetra Easy Balance Plus. Someone online told me the latter product is useless, and to discontinue using it. I do a 25% water change weekly, and change the ammonia and carbon filters monthly, at different weeks. I also change the sponge every 3 months. I feed her 1 big pinch of food 2 X a day, along with some lettuce a couple times a week, and about once a week, some orange bits.

    I hope I haven't overloaded you with info (it sounded like the more info the better), and again, thank you from me and Fishessness for any info you might have.
     
  2. Orion5

    Orion5 Well Known Member Member

    Welcome! :)

    Congrats on reading up the website! You've effectively answered most of your own questions concerning cycling and the bacterial populations in the filter. For the record, what you could have done was put the fish in the new tank with the rocks, as you did; and transfer the filter over to the new aquarium without touching any of the media inside of it. Personally I would also have transferred the water from the 10 gallon, but that wouldn't have been totally necessary.

    The fact that you rinsed the media out will cause ammonia spikes until the bacteria are once again established. Decent water changes over the next few weeks will help contain the ammonia as your filter cycles again (about 3-4 weeks is generally ok in this scenario- 6 weeks is better). At the most you should shake out your filter media in used aquarium water, say after a water change, if it needs to be rinsed. I wouldn't bother over the next few weeks until your filter is well established again.

    Goldfish are "grazers". They constantly swim around looking for food. You want to be careful with overfeeding a goldfish because they LOOK like they're eating a lot and always hungry, but it's not the case. I don't know how large your pinches of food are, but just make sure you aren't over-feeding especially in the weeks to come, as your ammonia can spike drastically if there is any uneaten food left in the tank.

    Red "streaks" on a goldfish's tail can be a tell-tale sign of ammonia. If these remain after 2 months or get much worse over the next few weeks it might be something else. Your water changes from now until the next 6 weeks or so are essential to keep ammonia under control.

    Hope this helps, and good luck!
     
  3. Jaysee

    Jaysee Fishlore Legend Member

    With septicemia, in addition to the tell tale streaks in the fins, you will see hemorrhaging under the scales.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    F

    Fishnessness New Member Member

    Thanks so much for the welcome, and for the info, Orion5 and Jaysee. :)
    I did reuse most of the water from the 10 gallon into the 30. And yes, Jaysee, I think that is hemorrhaging I see under the scales. I think it's also starting on the joint of one of her pectoral (?) fins.
    Would you recommend the triple antibiotic meds I've read about in cases of septicemia? I've read conflicting opinions about it. Some people swear by it, others say it may kill the fish.
    I will definitely follow Orion5's advice diligently, and will keep you posted on her health.
    Happy Holidays!
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
  5. jdhef

    jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!

    I would highly recommend that you ditch the test strips and invest in the API Master Test kit for Freshwater (a liquid based test kit where you add drops of chemicals to a vile of tank water). Test strips are notorious for being inaccurate.

    Believe it or not, 29 gallons is really too small for a comet. But don't take that as a critisism, since I have a comet and a fantail in a 25 gallon tank. I've had them almost 5 years now and they are doing great. But I believe part of the reason for that is that I change out 15 gallons every week and have the filter that came with the tank (an Aqueon rated for 25 gallons) and a AquaClear50.

    So I guess what I'm recommending is to be overfiltered and to do larger weekly water changes for the best chace of keeping your fish happy and healthy.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    F

    Fishnessness New Member Member

    I had a feeling the tank was already too small for her. I may have to put her in the bathtub. JUST kidding. ;)
    Thanks jdhef for the tip about the API test kit. I will also increase the amount of water I change out, and I may still have the filter that came with the other aquarium; I can throw that on there, as well.

    OK - so - the gal at PetSmart really really urged me to use Tetra Lifeguard all-in-one treatment, which I bought, but I'm worried it may kill my fish, so I haven't used it yet. I would like your guys' opinion about this product before I try it.
    Thanks again! :)
     




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