Sorry if this is in the wrong content section but as a new user I was limited in my options. Also this is long but because I’m trying to include as much info as possible.
This past July my daughter won 2 small goldfish at a local carnival. It was at night and no pet stores were open, so we put them in Tupperware overnight and went out early the next morning to get a 5 gallon starter aquarium. We didn’t know anything about cycling, and because we were concerned about the fish surviving in the Tupperware, we put them right in the tank using Tetra safestart. They adjusted well and have been happy since. My only maintenance was weekly 20% water changes and monthly filter cartridge changes, and a couple months ago added a live plant. I admittedly slacked on water changes for the past month or so and I noticed their water was getting cloudier and the glass was a bit dirty. This, coupled with them growing significantly, prompted the idea to upgrade them to a larger tank, so I got a 10 gallon kit and did basically the same thing. I put them in a bag and floated it in the tank for 20 min to make sure the temp equalized- by recommendation of the girl at the pet store- and I again used Safestart. I added all new gravel and the fresh filter and cartridge that came with the tank, as well as a new air bubble system (same type as they had before). The only thing I transferred is their 1 decor (without rinsing). I did not include any of their old water.
At first they seemed fine, but within about 10-15 minutes I noticed that they both had long poop hanging out (which I’ve never seen before) and they were hovering at the bottom of the tank. I tried feeding them as it was that time anyway but they wouldn’t eat. It’s been a little over 24 hours and they will swim around a little, but much more slowly and still settle at the bottom most of the time. One will eat a little but not much and the other still won’t eat. These are fish who usually swim around excitedly when I walk towards the tank hoping to be fed.
After much research I fully realize why this is happening and what I did wrong and believe me I am beating myself up for it. I am asking for immediate help to prevent them from dying. My husband siphoned out all the water from their old tank last night, but there was a little left with the gravel. So today I did a 25% water change and added about 1/4 of the old gravel with the included water (which looked very dirty when I poured it in and included old food and dirt bits). Once it settled the water is clear again.
I keep reading conflicting advice in other forums regarding water changes in this situation. Some say do daily 50% changes and some say don’t change water so bacteria can form. What do I do?? And do I continue to try to feed them in the meantime? Help please!