Help please for goldfish and bare bottom tanks

Loulou1

Hi everyone, I inherited a gorgeous goldfish in may, I got him in a bare 24 litre tank he is now in a 58 litre and I’m in the process of getting him a bigger tank as he is growing so quick. All was well in his 58 litre tank the water was always clear and the tests always good on the water. I had stones on the bottom that looked so nice and only had to do a water change once every 2 weeks. My fish always picked up the pebbles but always spat them out until a couple of weeks ago when one got stuck, I was distraught as I could see he was struggling so myself and my husband had to use tweezers to get this out of his mouth, 3 attempts this took before finally removing the stone I then took every stone out of his tank and away they went. I am so scared now to put anything on the bottom so I have a few large pebbles which I know he won’t get in his mouth, however having no substrate the water is so cloudy and the decorations are turning brown, I’m doing water changes every other day and this is making no difference. I’m testing the water every other day and there is no ammonia, nitrates or nitrites and all seems well. Please can someone advise me on how to go about looking after my lovely fish in a bare bottom clear tank. Many thanks in advance. Louise
 

fishydaddy

The water cloudiness is probably due to the tank being a newer tank/having removed all of the substrate and not it being barebottom. It sounds like you're experiencing a bacterial bloom which will go away once the tank stabilizes. You may have accidentally impacted your bacterial colony by removing all of the substrate and by doing such frequent water changes right after. I would actually leave it for a few days and see if you have any spike in nitrate. The 0 nitrate is worrying unless you have a super heavily planted tank. It could be due to the frequent water changes though, which is why I would go without a water change for a little bit longer to see if any buildup. Honestly, adding bottled bacteria probably won't hurt as it may outcompete the bacteria that is clouding up your water and help reestablish whatever nitrifying bacteria was lost when you removed the gravel.
Also, I would recommend using sand with goldfish if you want substrate in the future. They love sifting through it for missed morsels of food, and it looks nicer than poop sitting on bare glass.
 

Loulou1

The water cloudiness is probably due to the tank being a newer tank/having removed all of the substrate and not it being barebottom. It sounds like you're experiencing a bacterial bloom which will go away once the tank stabilizes. You may have accidentally impacted your bacterial colony by removing all of the substrate and by doing such frequent water changes right after. I would actually leave it for a few days and see if you have any spike in nitrate. The 0 nitrate is worrying unless you have a super heavily planted tank. It could be due to the frequent water changes though, which is why I would go without a water change for a little bit longer to see if any buildup. Honestly, adding bottled bacteria probably won't hurt as it may outcompete the bacteria that is clouding up your water and help reestablish whatever nitrifying bacteria was lost when you removed the gravel.
Also, I would recommend using sand with goldfish if you want substrate in the future. They love sifting through it for missed morsels of food, and it looks nicer than poop sitting on bare glass.
Thank you for your response this is very helpful, sorry I did not know anything about keeping fish until I got this little guy. I have asked peoples advice in so many stores and get told different information. I was under the impression that 0 nitrate is how an aquarium should be and if I use sand as a substrate will he not eat it and block his intestines as he eats anything this is why I’m scared to put any substrate down.
 

fishydaddy

Of course! Happy to help! Getting into fishkeeping is hard because there's so much conflicting information and a lot of pet shops aren't very helpful or knowledgeable.
In terms of water parameters, you should have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and some nitrate. 40ppm is pushing it but goldfish produce tons of waste so I wouldn't be surprised if it got that high if you let the tank go a few weeks without a water change, I would aim for 20ppm and below. In some cases, plants will use up nitrates faster than they're being produced which will give you a 0 nitrate reading, but this is only in heavily planted aquariums.
In your case I do believe it's probably because the tank isn't cycled and you're doing frequent enough water changes that you're getting 0.0.0 readings. I would go ahead and get some liquid bacteria supplement- this will help establish your cycle and reduce the bacterial bloom that's clouding your water.

As for the sand issue, it's possible for certain sands to do this, but finer grain sands are safe for goldfish. Sand is the most common substrate for goldfish to be kept on, aside from large rocks or barebottom tanks. In the wild they are usually exposed to a mixture of sand, rock, and mud, and will sift through it in search of food. They don't usually swallow the sand, they spit it back out through their gills and swallow whatever food particles they have separated from the sand. I'm sure they occasionally swallow a little, but I personally have never had an issue with keeping them on sand and many people who keep goldfish professionally also keep them on sand. It's up to you though! You can use whatever substrate you prefer, I would just stay away from gravel of course.
 

jtjgg

i don't use subtrate, just a few handfuls of medium river rocks. i have about 14x turnover rate on filtration. 2 Seachem Tidal 110 (2x500gph) and a 29g sump (400gph) in a 75g tank

i do weekly 75% water changes, whether or not the nitrate lvl is low (10ppm) or slightly high (20ppm)


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Loulou1

Of course! Happy to help! Getting into fishkeeping is hard because there's so much conflicting information and a lot of pet shops aren't very helpful or knowledgeable.
In terms of water parameters, you should have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and some nitrate. 40ppm is pushing it but goldfish produce tons of waste so I wouldn't be surprised if it got that high if you let the tank go a few weeks without a water change, I would aim for 20ppm and below. In some cases, plants will use up nitrates faster than they're being produced which will give you a 0 nitrate reading, but this is only in heavily planted aquariums.
In your case I do believe it's probably because the tank isn't cycled and you're doing frequent enough water changes that you're getting 0.0.0 readings. I would go ahead and get some liquid bacteria supplement- this will help establish your cycle and reduce the bacterial bloom that's clouding your water.

As for the sand issue, it's possible for certain sands to do this, but finer grain sands are safe for goldfish. Sand is the most common substrate for goldfish to be kept on, aside from large rocks or barebottom tanks. In the wild they are usually exposed to a mixture of sand, rock, and mud, and will sift through it in search of food. They don't usually swallow the sand, they spit it back out through their gills and swallow whatever food particles they have separated from the sand. I'm sure they occasionally swallow a little, but I personally have never had an issue with keeping them on sand and many people who keep goldfish professionally also keep them on sand. It's up to you though! You can use whatever substrate you prefer, I would just stay away from gravel of course.
Thank you again and sorry for my ignorance but will sand not stick together and be messy or is it different to sand on the beach ? I’m also not sure if I’m feeding him too much I have attached photos of what I give him and also photos of the tank with a substrate and without. Your advice means a lot.
B15C6ACA-97F4-49DF-AA8B-408F1F014CE3.jpeg
2003CE02-443A-42B7-8A1B-633237E34FFA.jpeg
63C08519-8723-4ADB-A9F5-F207C9AA358B.jpeg
7C2C278C-20BD-4F68-94F0-51BC73954A3B.jpeg
90370293-473C-4DB2-9109-EB8B7629A768.jpeg
 

jtjgg

we generally stay away from floating foods to help prevent swim bladder disease. i prefer Omega One Goldfish small sinking pellets and Veggie small sinking pellets.

the tank is about 15g, a bit small for a comet goldfish, but doable if you're doing atleast 50% weekly water changes. i would definitely remove the large rock decoration for a bit more room for him to swim and also to not tear his tail fin.

the green water mean there is too much nutrients/waste in the water. are you using the API Freshwater Master test kit to test the water parameters? continue to do water changes every other day until the tank has stabilized. as said earlier, the tank is a bit small, and small tanks are less stable.
 

A201

The fish stores in my area use small grain rounded river gravel in most of their display tanks, including Goldfish tanks.
Although sand substrate can be awsome looking, it can also be problematic, especially for new fishkeepers.
IMO. a 3" deep bed of small grain gravel should pose little choking hazard for a goldfish.
 

fishydaddy

Thank you again and sorry for my ignorance but will sand not stick together and be messy or is it different to sand on the beach ? I’m also not sure if I’m feeding him too much I have attached photos of what I give him and also photos of the tank with a substrate and without. Your advice means a lot.
B15C6ACA-97F4-49DF-AA8B-408F1F014CE3.jpeg
2003CE02-443A-42B7-8A1B-633237E34FFA.jpeg
63C08519-8723-4ADB-A9F5-F207C9AA358B.jpeg
7C2C278C-20BD-4F68-94F0-51BC73954A3B.jpeg
90370293-473C-4DB2-9109-EB8B7629A768.jpeg
The sand should not stick together underwater, but in deeper sand beds you can get pockets of anaerobic bacteria which create gross black areas and hydrogen sulfide gas. I would do a thin layer of sand, maybe 1" deep, and stir it a little when doing water changes.

In terms of food, as mentioned by jtjgg, some floating foods can cause issues with their digestive system and swim bladder. I recommend feeding a sinking pellet like those bug bites and fresh veggies. I liked to feed mine blanched leafy greens and peas.
 

Loulou1

Of course! Happy to help! Getting into fishkeeping is hard because there's so much conflicting information and a lot of pet shops aren't very helpful or knowledgeable.
In terms of water parameters, you should have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and some nitrate. 40ppm is pushing it but goldfish produce tons of waste so I wouldn't be surprised if it got that high if you let the tank go a few weeks without a water change, I would aim for 20ppm and below. In some cases, plants will use up nitrates faster than they're being produced which will give you a 0 nitrate reading, but this is only in heavily planted aquariums.
In your case I do believe it's probably because the tank isn't cycled and you're doing frequent enough water changes that you're getting 0.0.0 readings. I would go ahead and get some liquid bacteria supplement- this will help establish your cycle and reduce the bacterial bloom that's clouding your water.

As for the sand issue, it's possible for certain sands to do this, but finer grain sands are safe for goldfish. Sand is the most common substrate for goldfish to be kept on, aside from large rocks or barebottom tanks. In the wild they are usually exposed to a mixture of sand, rock, and mud, and will sift through it in search of food. They don't usually swallow the sand, they spit it back out through their gills and swallow whatever food particles they have separated from the sand. I'm sure they occasionally swallow a little, but I personally have never had an issue with keeping them on sand and many people who keep goldfish professionally also keep them on sand. It's up to you though! You can use whatever substrate you prefer, I would just stay away from gravel of course.
Sorry I know I’m asking a lot of questions but I just need to know how to keep him happy and healthy
we generally stay away from floating foods to help prevent swim bladder disease. i prefer Omega One Goldfish small sinking pellets and Veggie small sinking pellets.

the tank is about 15g, a bit small for a comet goldfish, but doable if you're doing atleast 50% weekly water changes. i would definitely remove the large rock decoration for a bit more room for him to swim and also to not tear his tail fin.

the green water mean there is too much nutrients/waste in the water. are you using the API Freshwater Master test kit to test the water parameters? continue to do water changes every other day until the tank has stabilized. as said earlier, the tank is a bit small, and small tanks are less stable.
we generally stay away from floating foods to help prevent swim bladder disease. i prefer Omega One Goldfish small sinking pellets and Veggie small sinking pellets.

the tank is about 15g, a bit small for a comet goldfish, but doable if you're doing atleast 50% weekly water changes. i would definitely remove the large rock decoration for a bit more room for him to swim and also to not tear his tail fin.

the green water mean there is too much nutrients/waste in the water. are you using the API Freshwater Master test kit to test the water parameters? continue to do water changes every other day until the tank has stabilized. as said earlier, the tank is a bit small, and small tanks are less stable.
Thank you for your reply, I will definitely change to sinking food I just didn’t like to when the stones were in as it encouraged him to put them in his mouth, I have ordered a bigger tank and have decided to put sand in, I am checking the parameters almost every day and they are fine, my husband says I’m obsessed, maybe I am but I just think he’s great he has his own character which I didn’t think fish would have. One last thing for now of the sinking pellets and veggie pellets how much am I actually supposed to feed him? I sometimes give him a couple of shelled peas aswell so he doesn’t get constipated. Thank you
The sand should not stick together underwater, but in deeper sand beds you can get pockets of anaerobic bacteria which create gross black areas and hydrogen sulfide gas. I would do a thin layer of sand, maybe 1" deep, and stir it a little when doing water changes.

In terms of food, as mentioned by jtjgg, some floating foods can cause issues with their digestive system and swim bladder. I recommend feeding a sinking pellet like those bug bites and fresh veggies. I liked to feed mine blanched leafy greens and peas.
Thank you so much for the help from you both, I feel I have learned more from your messages than when I have been asking staff in pet shops, it’s good to know any questions I have I can ask on here. Thanks again
 

jtjgg

i give mine about 1/2 teaspoon in the morning and in the evening per comet goldfish.

if you're giving fresh veggies, you can feed slightly less pellets.
 

Loulou1

Sorry I know I’m asking a lot of questions but I just need to know how to keep him happy and healthy


Thank you for your reply, I will definitely change to sinking food I just didn’t like to when the stones were in as it encouraged him to put them in his mouth, I have ordered a bigger tank and have decided to put sand in, I am checking the parameters almost every day and they are fine, my husband says I’m obsessed, maybe I am but I just think he’s great he has his own character which I didn’t think fish would have. One last thing for now of the sinking pellets and veggie pellets how much am I actually supposed to feed him? I sometimes give him a couple of shelled peas aswell so he doesn’t get constipated. Thank you

Thank you so much for the help from you both, I feel I have learned more from your messages than when I have been asking staff in pet shops, it’s good to know any questions I have I can ask on here. Thanks again
The sand should not stick together underwater, but in deeper sand beds you can get pockets of anaerobic bacteria which create gross black areas and hydrogen sulfide gas. I would do a thin layer of sand, maybe 1" deep, and stir it a little when doing water changes.

In terms of food, as mentioned by jtjgg, some floating foods can cause issues with their digestive system and swim bladder. I recommend feeding a sinking pellet like those bug bites and fresh veggies. I liked to feed mine blanched leafy greens and peas.
Hi I’m a bit scared now of putting sand down incase of hydrogen sulfide gas as I was going to use black sand but I won’t be able to see if there are any issues and white sand will turn brown very quickly won’t it.
 

fishydaddy

Hi I’m a bit scared now of putting sand down incase of hydrogen sulfide gas as I was going to use black sand but I won’t be able to see if there are any issues and white sand will turn brown very quickly won’t it.
You won't see any hydrogen sulfide if the sand is an inch or less deep, I would just stir it when you're siphoning the bottom. I use sand in many of my tanks and have never had an issue, even with hydrogen sulfide pockets occasionally forming in my deeper sand beds (3inches+). White sand can get diatoms growing on it but I just stir it and the bottom layer covers the top, killing off the diatoms. In an established tank you won't have as much of an issue with brown algae, it usually gets bad in unestablished tanks.
 

Loulou1

You won't see any hydrogen sulfide if the sand is an inch or less deep, I would just stir it when you're siphoning the bottom. I use sand in many of my tanks and have never had an issue, even with hydrogen sulfide pockets occasionally forming in my deeper sand beds (3inches+). White sand can get diatoms growing on it but I just stir it and the bottom layer covers the top, killing off the diatoms. In an established tank you won't have as much of an issue with brown algae, it usually gets bad in unestablished tanks.
It’s ever since I’ve taken the stones out of the tank I just placed a few white stones in the bottom and since no substrate everything is brown and I’m scared it’s going to kill him. I’m definitely going to put sand down in his new tank do I have to wash the sand first and do I have to have everything running for a certain time before I put him in it. When I got the tank he is in now I just put him straight in when everything was in and he was fine but I’m told things like I need to run the new tank for weeks with everything in before putting him in is this really necessary?
You won't see any hydrogen sulfide if the sand is an inch or less deep, I would just stir it when you're siphoning the bottom. I use sand in many of my tanks and have never had an issue, even with hydrogen sulfide pockets occasionally forming in my deeper sand beds (3inches+). White sand can get diatoms growing on it but I just stir it and the bottom layer covers the top, killing off the diatoms. In an established tank you won't have as much of an issue with brown algae, it usually gets bad in unestablished tanks.
Is there any reason why he has just gone wild since having peas for tea ? He’s just searching everywhere for more food
 

jtjgg

if you're buying aquarium sand, you should be able to add it directly into the tank.

if its sand from a hardware store, then you should probably pour it into a bucket and fill with water and see if there's any debris or oily substance that floats to the top. just use an inch of sand and you won't be getting any sulfur pockets, b/c goldfish are going to be rooting and digging in it constantly looking for food.
 

Loulou1

if you're buying aquarium sand, you should be able to add it directly into the tank.

if its sand from a hardware store, then you should probably pour it into a bucket and fill with water and see if there's any debris or oily substance that floats to the top. just use an inch of sand and you won't be getting any sulfur pockets, b/c goldfish are going to be rooting and digging in it constantly looking for food.
Thank you
 

fishydaddy

It’s ever since I’ve taken the stones out of the tank I just placed a few white stones in the bottom and since no substrate everything is brown and I’m scared it’s going to kill him. I’m definitely going to put sand down in his new tank do I have to wash the sand first and do I have to have everything running for a certain time before I put him in it. When I got the tank he is in now I just put him straight in when everything was in and he was fine but I’m told things like I need to run the new tank for weeks with everything in before putting him in is this really necessary?

Is there any reason why he has just gone wild since having peas for tea ? He’s just searching everywhere for more food
Sorry for the late reply--

The brown stuff is likely brown algae which is completely harmless and very common in new/uncycled tanks.

As for the sand, I would wash it. It's usually pretty dusty unless it's the kind that comes in liquid (live sand). You can put it directly into the tank after that, you don't need to keep the tank running before adding him unless it's a completely new tank.

Also he probably loved the peas and is looking for scraps he missed :)
 

Loulou1

Sorry for the late reply--

The brown stuff is likely brown algae which is completely harmless and very common in new/uncycled tanks.

As for the sand, I would wash it. It's usually pretty dusty unless it's the kind that comes in liquid (live sand). You can put it directly into the tank after that, you don't need to keep the tank running before adding him unless it's a completely new tank.

Also he probably loved the peas and is looking for scraps he missed :)
Sorry for the late reply--

The brown stuff is likely brown algae which is completely harmless and very common in new/uncycled tanks.

As for the sand, I would wash it. It's usually pretty dusty unless it's the kind that comes in liquid (live sand). You can put it directly into the tank after that, you don't need to keep the tank running before adding him unless it's a completely new tank.

Also he probably loved the peas and is looking for scraps he missed :)
No need to apologise, I appreciate I’m asking a lot of questions, sorry and I’m so grateful for everyone’s replies. It is a completely new tank I’m getting so the sand and filter are going to be new can you please tell me what I need to do to the tank before I put him in as like I said with the last tank, I just cleaned it, put everything new in it and put my fish straight in. I also still cannot get rid of the green water, I carried out a 50% water change on Sunday and it still hasn’t been clear and it’s green again I can hardly see my fish
 

fishydaddy

No need to apologise, I appreciate I’m asking a lot of questions, sorry and I’m so grateful for everyone’s replies. It is a completely new tank I’m getting so the sand and filter are going to be new can you please tell me what I need to do to the tank before I put him in as like I said with the last tank, I just cleaned it, put everything new in it and put my fish straight in. I also still cannot get rid of the green water, I carried out a 50% water change on Sunday and it still hasn’t been clear and it’s green again I can hardly see my fish
I see! So I'm sure you've heard about cycling on here by now-you're going to want to cycle this new aquarium before adding him, or by doing what is called a fish-in cycle. If his current tank isn't cycled, it doesn't make much sense to keep him in there while you cycle his new tank. In that case I would read THIS article about fish-in cycling someone on here posted. For cycling questions in general, there is tons of information out there and many videos and articles that will explain it much better than I can, but feel free to reach out if you don't understand something or have any questions.

In the future, if you have random green water events, some people like to use UV sterilizers. This clears it up real quick, but keep in mind that the green water is usually caused by excess nutrients and/or light, so you'll want to look into the cause of it alongside using UV to remove it or it can come back once you take the UV sterilizer offline.
 

Loulou1

I see! So I'm sure you've heard about cycling on here by now-you're going to want to cycle this new aquarium before adding him, or by doing what is called a fish-in cycle. If his current tank isn't cycled, it doesn't make much sense to keep him in there while you cycle his new tank. In that case I would read THIS article about fish-in cycling someone on here posted. For cycling questions in general, there is tons of information out there and many videos and articles that will explain it much better than I can, but feel free to reach out if you don't understand something or have any questions.

In the future, if you have random green water events, some people like to use UV sterilizers. This clears it up real quick, but keep in mind that the green water is usually caused by excess nutrients and/or light, so you'll want to look into the cause of it alongside using UV to remove it or it can come back once you take the UV sterilizer offline.
Thank you so much
 

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