Filter + Bacteria Bloom Problems

  1. SamNZ Initiate Member

    Hey guys this is my first post! Recently got back into fish keeping and bought an Aquaone tank kit. It is 75L (around 20 gallons) for cold freshwater fish.

    I set it up and cycled for 2 weeks before buying stock. I currently have three fancy tail goldfish in there, about 1 inch in length each. I now know this is slightly overstocked for this tank but the guy at the pet store said I should buy 4-6 (!!) of the same size so I'm glad I didn't go with his advice.

    I got my water tested before adding the fish and it was all fine. I've been doing 20% water changes every 2-3 days since adding the fish a week ago to help with ammonia problems.

    Basically I have two distinct problems: the first is that the filter on this thing sucks. It is an overhead filter that had two charcoal cartridges. Very quickly I realised that these cartridges were too dense and water was overflowing the chamber and going straight into the outlet causing a very strong current and also meaning that the majority of water was not being filtered.

    I have remedied this by ditching the cartridges in favour of buying my own noodles and charcoal. I ripped the charcoal and the wool from the cartridges and used this to separate the noodles on the bottom, with charcoal on the top, and covered these with the sponges that came with the tank. I plan to replace the charcoal every 2 weeks or so and rinse everything once a week in tank water. This proves to be much more economical as the cartridges cost like $20 each for a replacement (and hardly even work anyways) and a bag of charcoal is like $10 and will last about 5 changes.

    I just wanted to check that this is an appropriate set-up for my type of tank?

    My other question is about an apparent bacterial bloom. My tank water is very cloudy and milky at the moment. This started about 2-3 days after adding fish so I assume it is not just dust from the substrate, but rather a bacteria spike due to ammonia levels. Should I continue to do water changes every 2 days or simply wait? Is there a product I should add to the water to deal with ammonia?
    I have been adding stress-coat conditioner to all new water added, and been using stress-zyme about twice per week during the set-up and introduction stage.

    One of my gold fish appears to have some very slight ammonia burns which is why I have been changing out the water as much as possible. He also floats at the top a lot and am wondering if this is due to the ammonia, over-crowding, or oxygen? The filter seems to be pumping heaps of bubbles into the water and the outlet is near to the water line creating lots of disruption so I don't think it's water.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. DylanM Member Member

    May I ask what exact filter you have on your tank? Kind of hard to judge your set up with only what kind of media you have. The first thing I would do, if you are really unwilling to upgrade this tank to a 30 or 40 gallon, is get a very high gph canister or aquaclear filter. Goldfish produce more waste than pretty much any other fresh water creature for their size, this is why they are getting ammonia burns.

    You will need a filter rated for at least 300 gph, with plenty of room for biological and mechanical media to be able to handle the bio load of goldfish in a small aquarium. Remember to move your old media over to the new filter to at least seed the new filter with the good bacteria. So no, the filter you have is more than likely not an appropriate set up for a 20 gallon tank containing any amount of gold fish. I would recommend an Aquaclear 70 as the least expensive option for your current situation, make sure to use up all of the room in the filter with sponge and bio media, no charcoal unless you have a crazy amount of tannins or you need to get rid of medication. I use an aqua clear 50 on my 20 gallon community tank, and it does incredibly well.

    Finally, until you can get the ammonia under control, which I can't guarantee when you are dealing with goldfish in a small aquarium, dose daily with Seachem Prime (don't use any other water conditioners, only seachem prime will work).

    Dose daily with Seachem Prime when ever ammonia ppm + nitrite ppm < 1.0.

    Do a 50% water change AND dose Prime when ever ammonia ppm + nitrite ppm > 1.0 as you would do during a fish-in cycle.

    Also, use Seachem Stressgaurd to help with the possible ammonia burns on the goldfish's gills. I find API water conditioning products to be helpful, but not as useful as their seachem counterparts in most cases, you may disagree with me.
     

  3. vin Well Known Member Member

    Hi there! Welcome! Let's see if we can't help you out.

    1. Do you have a test kit to test your water parameters? If you do, please test your water and post your results here. If not I recommend the API Master Test Kit - which tests for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrates and pH. It's important to be on top of your water chemistry. Especially during the cycling process.
    2. Are you familiar with the Aquarium Cycle? If not there are some great articles that explain it in detail on the beginners page. A tank can take anywhere from 4-7 weeks (sometimes longer) to cycle depending upon whether or not you're doing a fish-in or a fishless cycle.
    3. What are you using to treat your water when you do your water changes? Most fish keepers here recommend Prime by Seachem. It will detoxify any ammonia and nitrites in the tank.

    What you are experiencing is a bacterial bloom (aKa New Tank Syndrome) due to a tank that has not been fully cycled and the shock of adding fish to the water. As the tank begins to go further into the cycle they will eventually dissipate. I would turn off the lights. Feed your fish sparingly as the bacteria will feed on any excess food. Water changes should be minimal - but you are in a catch 22 as you have fish in the tank and the ammonia issue. Dose the tank and any new water with Prime to detoxify the Ammonia and Nitrite. I would also recommend using Stability by Seachem. It's a source of beneficial bacteria that can help to establish and maintain the good bacteria you want to build up in your filtration system, substrate and decor in your tank. I prefer these products to the two you listed as I find them to be more effective. If you can't find them, then stay with whatever you can locate that will detoxify the Ammonia and Nitrite. The cloudiness should clear up in a week or two. If it doesn't don't be alarmed. As the tank gets deeper into the cycling process it will clear up.

    The reason your fish is coming to the top is because he's trying to breathe. The bacteria use up all of the oxygen in the water causing your fish to go into stress. Couple that with the presence of ammonia and they're over stressed.

    As for your carbon/charcoal - no need to change every 2 weeks. Every 4 would be fine. Some keepers only use it to remove medications from their tanks. I like to use it all the time. And I would not change or clean anything during the cycling process.

    So - Test Kit, Prime, Stability (or something similar to these two) No lights, cut back on food, small water changes (10-15%) every 2 days. Don't forget to post your test results! Hope this helps!
     
  4. SamNZ Initiate Member

    Thank you for your fast replies! I can add a little bit of information:

    I do not have a test kit but will see if I can get to the local pet store and get them to test it for me.

    I am unsure if the products mentioned above are stocked in my country, so I will ask the pet store for any equivalent products.

    However, like I said before, I am kind of dubious about any advice given to me by the pet store as they themselves recommended having 5-6 gold fish in my tank.

    Finally, I do not have information on the filter as it was pre-installed into the tank. Unfortunately I do not have the budget to invest in a new canister filter at this stage which I was I opted to buy my own filter media to try and improve the situation.

    So - I need keep the lights off, feed sparingly, and keep up with 10-15% water changes every few days? I will also get the water tested and purchase Seachem stability and prime or a similar product to help treat the ammonia problem.
     

  5. vin Well Known Member Member

    You're welcome. If your pet store can test all 4 chemical readings that would be ideal. The master test kit is really the way to go if you can get one because you really want to monitor your water closely during the cycle testing at least every other day. The kits typically cost about $24 US.

    If you can't find Prime or Stability make sure whatever you get locks up ammonia or nitrite. Good luck and let us know how you're doing!