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Hey guys, I just got a new 55 gallon tank at Petco during their $1 per gallon sale (holla!), and I have a couple of questions. Currently I have two itty-bitty common (possibly comet) goldfish. Once I get this tank set up it's going to be their forever home. I was wondering, if someday down the line I wanted to get a third goldfish (such as a Sarassa), would this overstock my tank? Also, if I did one of those crazy diy 3D backgrounds, would that completely cut all chances of safely stocking a third fish? I want to do what's best for them! Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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You can put 3 goldfish in the tank.  Just be sure that you have excellent filtration and increase the water changes above the recommended minimum.

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I have a 55 gallon and actually plan to overstock with 4 fish. I will have 800 GPH filtration (and will increase to 1100 GPH if necessary), two sponge filters, live plants and will start with two 60% WC per week or 1 80% change and monitor and see how I do. Two of the fish are currently 20 grams or less with one that doesn't seem to be growing anymore and the other two are around 70 grams a piece. If I struggle with the water parameters, one fish will be moved to a 20 gallon to stay. Sharon gives good advice, good luck and can't wait to see.

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How exciting!  Congratulations on getting the new tank.  I trust anything Shakaho says so I have nothing to add to your stocking question.  I just wanted to congratulate you on getting the new tank, and I can't wait for you to post pictures of it!

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Awesome possums! Thank you guys so much! As of right now the tank is sitting safely in my gardening shed until my friend and I can build a stand ( he's done it before, you can judo-kick his and it doesn't even quiver lol). And as for the 3D background, as soon as I got excited about it, I realized that I have neither the time nor the patience for something like that hahaha. I'm always starting projects and never finishing them, and I don't want to do that here.

As for filtration, I was thinking an Aqueon Quietflow 55/75 on each end of the tank. Not the back, but on each side wall pointing towards each other. That way I figure the water would flow along the length of the tank, rather than just whippity-whap back and forth in the corner haha. Also, I'm going to put sponge pre-filters on the intakes. Oh! And this will most assuredly be a real planted tank :)

Sound kosher to y'all?

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Sure sounds good to me! What did you have planned for lighting? With my hoods, the filters can only go on the backs of the tanks.

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I want to remind people that increasing filtration turnover beyond the 10X  tank volume per hour does not substitute for additional water volume.  Filtration only increases the fish carrying capacity of the tank if the filter volume significantly increases the volume of water in the tank/filter system.  For example: a 10 gallon sump,  a 5 gallon pond filter, a 15 gallon aquaponics grow bed.

 

From the point of view of water quality, increased water changes do substitute for larger tank volume.  Whether you lower the concentration of pollutants by diluting them in a larger tank or by doing additional water changes, you accomplish the same thing.  The fish lose out on the swimming space of a larger tank, but swimming space  depends on the area of the "footprint" of the tank rather than the volume.

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I honestly have no earthly idea what I'm going to do about lighting. Right now in my 10 gallon I've got it crammed full of low-light plants like anubias. The room I'll be setting the 55 gallon in has a relatively decent amount of natural light, more so than the room they're in now. I really have zero desire to go hyper-aquarist on the plants with fertilizer & co2 & a bazillion watts of light, but I am hoping to get them some sort of dedicated lighting.

It honestly all depends on how much the circuits in that room can handle. It's an old room with very little dedicated power, that already has a t.v., Xbox, Roku, lamp, & space heater going. Yikes! Filtration comes first though. If I have to unplug my entertainment & run power from another part of the house for it instead, so be it!

I also need to think ahead and be aware that come Winter they'll need their own heater. That room gets MURDEROUSLY cold! I should know, I sleep there lol!

Anyways, I'm going to talk to my father about what the house can handle in terms of wattage, and work from there. I've heard that your basic fluorescent shop light with a special daylight bulb would be a good, and cheap way of lighting. Though, that being said, LEDs are supposed to take less power, but are supposedly less desirable for plant growth, and are pricier. Any advice on that would be appreciated.

On the issue of water quality: If the standard is 20 gallons per fish with a weekly 50% water change, and I put 3 fish in a 55 gallon, should I increase the water change to 60%? Or higher? Or perhaps 40% twice weekly?

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I have a pretty basic Marineland single bright, blue & white LED light on my 75 gal, & my low/med. light plants are growing like gangbusters. I think the trick is, I tend to leave my lights on for long periods (like, around 12 hours..) because I stay up late & like to see the fish - this causes algae problems in my 10 gal. with the florescent tubes plant light, but seems to work well with the LED light. Amazon has them for pretty good prices (much cheaper than stores).

 

For water changes, I'd go by the results of your water test kit - what frequency/amount keeps your nitrates low enough? For me, I have 4 fish in a 75 gal, & I do once a week, 80-90% water changes (I drop the water to their dorsals), which keeps my nitrates down to around 20 by water change day.

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My 55 gallon tank never shows any issues at all on WC day. I saw TRACE .25 ppm of Nitrites when I first switched over but nothing since. There arent even any visible nitrates each week. Two tiny fish just aren't making an impact with the plants and filtration and everything else involved. I could do changes further apart if I really wanted to. Its all about the parameters. With the two bigger fish, I'm sure I will begin to see effects, which I will monitor and change the water as needed or even remove a fish if I have to.

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I honestly have no earthly idea what I'm going to do about lighting. Right now in my 10 gallon I've got it crammed full of low-light plants like anubias. The room I'll be setting the 55 gallon in has a relatively decent amount of natural light, more so than the room they're in now. I really have zero desire to go hyper-aquarist on the plants with fertilizer & co2 & a bazillion watts of light, but I am hoping to get them some sort of dedicated lighting. If the plants now grow in ambient light,  you shouldn't need more light in a a brighter room.  However I strongly suggest that you get an electrician to put in a GFCI outlet near the aquarium.  As you know, water and electricity make a dangerous mix.  If you can't do that, you can get a GICF adapter.

I also need to think ahead and be aware that come Winter they'll need their own heater. That room gets MURDEROUSLY cold! I should know, I sleep there lol!  How cold does it get?  Goldfish thrive at a much wider temperature than humans.  We now have a lot of experiments showing that fish do better with a natural cycle of cool at night and warmer during the day, and most of the studies used goldfish. Heating uses a lot of electricity.

On the issue of water quality: If the standard is 20 gallons per fish with a weekly 50% water change, and I put 3 fish in a 55 gallon, should I increase the water change to 60%? Or higher? Or perhaps 40% twice weekly?  I recommend 70% weekly.  Approximately equivalent changes -- in terms of average amount of pollutants in the tank -- would be 40% twice a week,  30% three times a week, 25% every other day,  or 15% daily.   While the average concentration of a "pollutant" in the tank comes out very similar with these change schedules, the consistency of that concentration differs a lot.  The larger and less frequent the water change, the dirtier the water before the change and the cleaner the water after the change.  We don't recommend changing less often than weekly because the difference in water before and after the change can get stressful to the fish.  At the opposite extreme, if you change water daily, the pollutant concentration rises gradually to a "steady state" concentration, at which the amount of a pollutant (say nitrate) produced in a day exactly matches the amount removed in the water change.  I prefer this condition, as do goldfish.

 

You don't get something for nothing, so you pay for the fishy comfort level of the smaller, more frequent changes with greater water use.  One 70% change uses 39 gallons of fresh water, while 7 15% changes use 58 gallons of fresh water.  Now that is true UNLESS you use a python for the large changes since you will be running clean water down the drain to use the python.  

 

In a cycled tank, you can't use parameters to determine when you need a water change.  By definition, a cycled tank has zero ammonia and nitrite.  A nitrate concentration above 20 ppm before your water change does indicate the need to increase the frequency/amount of your water changes.  However, low nitrate does not indicate that you have high water quality.  If you seek out an established dirty, overstocked, underfiltered backyard pond and test the nitrate level, it will probably read less than 5 ppm.  

 

Pick a water change schedule that meets our minimum recommendation, keeps your pH consistent and your nitrate low, and stick to that schedule.  Your fish will adapt to the predictable water chemistry.  Changing water "as needed" will eventually result in stressed and damaged fish.

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One trivial note on saving water using a python -- When pulling water out of my tank, I take the sink attachment off and run the hose out my back door into my yard.  My house is higher than my yard so it siphons naturally, waters my grass, and saves me from wasting water by hooking it up to my sink.  I've timed it too -- my tank drains almost 2x faster siphoning naturally out to my yard than it does to hook it up to my sink to pull the water (I have low water pressure in my house).

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Regardless of water parameters, I still do a minimum 50% change on the tank. The adage of "if it ain't broke..." truly applies here. Even though I had only two tiny fish in a 55 gallon and never see issues on change day, I still did 50% per week. Its good to get into a routine. Except for Slate who had an AWFUL tumor that I doubt ANYBODY could have prevented, my fish have all done very well so far so I'm trying to keep doing what is working. No such thing as too large of a change, so do as many as you need! Keep in mind also that crystal CLEAR water doesn't mean CLEAN water.

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This past Winter something mechanical to do with our heat blew, and we had to get a repairman to come in and fix it. I have no idea what it was, but for the three nights or so we had to wait, that room got down to the thirties! Fahrenheit, mind you. That was pretty miserable! So just if something like that should happen again I'll get them their own heater, but if the temperature stays warm enough that I can sleep down there with blankets I'll let them be.

As for the GFCI adapter, that certainly looks doable! I'll make sure to pick one up before the tank gets fully set up & plugged in.

I'm saving all of this information for someday if I possibly get another goldfish. Right now, I *just* got Asimov feeling better, and need to figure out how to reintroduce him to Kritlaq in the 10 gallon -_-" Don't worry! They're each only roughly the size of my pinky, and I'm already taking steps towards getting them settled in the 55! But I've got this thread bookmarked, and I will definitely be returning to it for reference! Thank you all so much!

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My Python also works perfectly just draining out the back door into my yard - I only hook it up to the sink to refill the tank.

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I actually currently have a 55g with 2 adult comets and 1 adult common in it (the fish are 8", 7" and 6" sl). I was originally only planning to stock with two, but ended up adopting a beautiful sarasa from the same shelter I got the second fish. They've been in the 55 together for about a week now and the tank parameters are stable, although I've been feeding less and changing the water more often (I used to do 80% once a week and I've been doing 80% every three to four days). I'm hoping eventually to do 80% once a week, but we'll see. I have a canister filter that does 525gph and an HOB that does 200gph.

 

Also, about the python, for some reason I've always had trouble starting it with the sink, so I actually cut the siphon end of the tube and purchased a siphon with a starter bulb http://www.amazon.com/Python-Pro-Clean-Aquarium-Gravel-Squeeze/dp/B00BDPFYEI/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1459896233&sr=8-3-fkmr0&keywords=python+bulb+and+siphon. When I drain the tank I just fit the cut end of the tube into the bulb and squeeze the bulb to start the flow. It fits a little loose so I drape the attached part over a bucket just in case and am careful not to disturb it, but it has made draining the tank so incredibly fast and easy with no extra water waste.

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Okay what is this "Python" thing people keep talking about? Some sort of siphoning device?

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Yes, it's a siphon hose & vacuum that attaches to your sink.  Everyone calls every sink attaching hose a Python, but Python is actually a brand name (Kind of like how we all call lip balm "Chapstick" and tissues "Kleenex" although these are really brand names).  Another good brand is the Aqueon.  

 

Watch youtube video's about them -- it's the best way to see one in action.  Once you have a large tank, you'll quickly see how much easier it will make your life.  If you decide to do 50% water changes on your tank weekly, that would be about 25 gallons of water.  If you use a 5 gallon bucket (water is 8 pounds per gallon, so 40 pounds), that means 5 trips to empty dirty water and then 5 more trips to add clean water... and you'll probably spill a little along the way, haha.

 

If you find that the pythons to be expensive, you can buy the parts and make one for much cheaper, and it's quite simple:

 

1. Sink attachment (my lfs has the grey aqueon brand and I like it.  It comes with several sizes of sink adapters.  The python brand doesn't come with any adapters so unless it's a perfect fit, you'll have to buy an adapter at your local hardware store - http://www.amazon.com/Aqueon-06092-Water-Control-Assembly/dp/B002DVTG4K/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1459906938&sr=8-2&keywords=aqueon+water+changer )

2. long hose (there's an aquarium and pond store near that sells hoses by the foot)

3. the vacuum head (you probably already have one of these, and can attach it to the longer hose)

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The Python will make your life easier!

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