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hapygeko

"dirt" As A Bottom Cover

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Hello! This is my first time posting here, so I'll start with a brief introduction! My name is Brit, and I am a senior living at a residential high school in Illinois (USA), near Chicago. I am responsible for running the greenhouse, and so I have filled it, along with my dorm room, with aquariums! I currently have well over 400 gallons here to tend to, which keeps me busy but quite happy as well :)

I have been having lots of problems with my tank of goldfish over the years, and I can't seem to find any answers to my questions. I have been trying to chip away at what appears to be swim bladder disease. My fish get this off and on, but it seems to effect the moor and the fantail much more than the ranchu. I tried soaking their flakes and pellets, but that never had any impact, so I made a gel food by combining a few recipes I have seen on this forum. I hope to see results of this within the next week or so.

And now I am trying to tackle the biological filtration. All of my water quality readings come out perfectly, but I am thinking there is a bacterial issue in my tank. I am wondering if this is caused by the under gravel filter, since I only have a powerful bubbler on it and not powerheads. Some people swear by UGF, but others shun their use. I can hook up powerheads, or I can just take the UGF out. I have a hanging box filter, too, that is running, so I think I just used the UGF as a method for keeping the air hoses in place, anyways. I have noticed a lot of gunk build-up under the UGF, which I am sure can't be good.

I was wondering if I could then remove the UGF and replace my gravel with silt from the on-campus research pond. I am autoclaving large quantities of the benthos as a substrate for my Sirens intermedia tank, and I should have plenty left over to coat the bottom of my 15 tall goldfish tank. I am autoclaving it to get rid of any living organisms, so that is not a concern. Even though my fish are small, I am worried they will make a mess of a dirt aquarium. They do a lot of rock-digging as it is, so will a dirt bottom just constantly cause a clouded tank and soiled filter? With the Sirens, I have a Magnum HOT 250 with the intake near the surface of the 30 gal., which I hope will prevent the filter from becomming clogged. Could I do this with the goldfish?

I have run balanced aquariums before with dirt bottoms and plants, and never needed a filter for them (just something for aeration and water movement), because there was a complete cycle. Since goldfish are so dirty, though, I don't think this would work. Plus, my ramshorn would probably love for me to fill the tank with yummy plants. maybe sticking with gravel would be a better idea?

What are your opinions? I really want my fish to feel better!

Thanks! I love reading posts on your forum :)

Brit

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From past topics I've seen that many people say that using dirt or sand is not good for the goldfish as they like to dig in it looking for food and it irritates their gill I think.

Edited by goldfishlover10

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I'd stay away from using silt on the bottom of a goldfish tank. They way they love to root through a substrata looking for food the silt would always be stirred up.

The majority of the members on this site will suggest not using an UGF with goldfish because of how much waste they produce. If you want to stay with a natural type of filtration you might try running the UGF as a reverse flow UGF.

I think the first thing you should do to help your goldfish to feel better is... GET A BIGGER TANK. Goldfish need lots of space and three fish in a 15GA tank doesn't provide them with the room they need. Get a 30GA or bigger and do lots of water changes.

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I agree with Bac2it - Nitrates - the final product of your nitrogen cycle can often cause SBD or exasperate the tendencies towards it in many fish. In a smaller tank, particularly when you have built a great cycle to support the fish in the small volume, nitrates often soar waaaaay high. Some fish are simply "designed" such that they have more potential problems than others. The very short bodied, deep chested fish typically show this problem more (their intestines are more compacted is what is thought), or fish that have been subjected to high levels of ammonia or particularly nitrite at one time or another in their lifetimes seem to be more sensitive to nitrates.

I have had fish that are not bothered by nitrates in the 100 ppm level, but I have also had fish that have the tendency to flip or get unstable when the nitrates are above 5ppm.

If you wish to have a well planted tank, there are some substrates that will work well with aquarium plants, yet do not contain too much silt - and they will not cloud the water as will dirt. Many people here keep plants in small "pots" that are either just sitting on a bare bottom, or sunk within a gravel substrate. I have a tank loaded with aquaruim plants that are thriving. Each plant is planted in a container of one size or another. They are then set into the gravel such that the gravel covered over the top of the pot. In general, the smaller goldfish that populate my planted tank do not dig them out. (GOldfish are notorious plant eaters, though! Bigger fish can tear and shred the most beautiful of plants - totally destroying an entire tank in one day or less! <_< )

:)

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Hi Brit and welcome to Koko's! :D

I agree with Bak2it....better filtration (all the gunk you can see under the ugf is not good) and a bigger tank with regular water changes is definetly going to do the most good. And I personally would suggest that you get the more tradtional rectangle shaped tank so they have lots of swimming room and more surface area for oxygen. I had a tall hexagon tank at first and after some time, my fish spent most of their time at the top sucking air(even though I had lots of aeration going in the tank) and that will make the swim bladder alot worse. And I really would stick with the gravel bottom or a barebottomed tank if you like those.

Best of luck with getting them better. If you have any more questions or concerns, there's lots of good helpers here....just ask. :)

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Thanks for your thoughts guys!

I can't have a bigger tank in my room - we have a 20 gallon limit, and I have no place to put a 20 gallon, which is why I have the strange 15 tall. Table-space is limited, so I have to go up rather than out. My goldfish were about the size of a quarter when I got them, and the tank was plenty large for them. They have to wait for a bigger tank - most colleges have a rediculous limit of 20 gallons. But after that, I plan on getting a 40 breeder size for them. I use those for my geckos, and I really like that size and shape. They get a 20 long over the summer - the 15 tall is just for the 9 months that I live in a dorm.

They don't seem cramped at all, and like I said, the water is perfect. I will get a new nitrates test kit if you think that is really the problem - maybe for some reason my test isn't functioning properly? I know my hardness tests are not reading properly - I have tested many different water sources and they always read the same - so those got thrown away. Have you guys ever had your chemical tests go bad? These tests didn't have expiration dates on them anywhere, even though they were made by Tetra. I do a 25% water change every weekend, and sometimes I do two smaller water changes in one week instead of the 25%. There isn't gunk in the gravel - it seems to be hiding down in the UGF.

So, I think I will take out the UGF, and sink the air stones some other way. My dad is one of those aquarists who swears by the UGF, which is why he got it for me for this tank, but my personal use of them is off and on. I think, like you said, they don't work well for dirty goldfish. All the other tanks I have with UGF are tropical.

I am having troubles getting my silt substrate established in my Sirens tank, so I know it definitely will not work in my goldfish tank. Good point about the goldfish eating the plants - I will try some elodea, since it is so cheap. If they (or the snail) eat it all, I guess it will just be a healthy snack! Thanks for the input!

silly messy goldfish - oh well, you have to love them :)

Vacado

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