911 Water Change

911 Water Change

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If your goldfish are showing signs of sickness, performing the 911 water change is the key to bringing them back to good health. Goldfish and Koi are only as healthy as the water they swim in. Treatments are beneficial but futile if the water is polluted with toxins, bad bacteria or low in oxygen. The goldfish in the photo below are gasping at the surface in an attempt to get oxygen, but it won’t work

Most goldfish keepers may believe their fish are begging for food, and with dire consequences

911 water change

You may not have a master test kit, and because knowing your water parameters is all important, lower water temperatures as you perform the 911 water change until a kit can be obtained. Because goldfish and Koi are cold blooded, they become dormant in colder water using less oxygen. Toxins, parasites and bad bacteria are less dangerous in colder water

Chill fish house water in the fridge or freezer one pitcher at a time; pour in slowly and all around; refill and repeat. Lower temps from 54f to 64f and keep them there until you have water treatment that converts ammonia, nitrite and a test kit on hand. Slow feeding at 64f; stop feeding at 54f

Do not chill fish with floating or sinking issues

Reducing water temperature

Colder temperatures slow the digestive system. Slow feeding at 64f; stop feeding at 54f

After you have obtained a test kit and water treatment

Test fish house water for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates

Learn about the nitrogen cycle

  • If ammonia and or nitrite is present, but zero nitrates your fish house is not cycled

Ammonia and nitrites are toxic to our fish. If these toxins are present, you will need to use water treatment that converts either or both to a safe form. Water treatment converts 1 ppm of ammonia and nitrite per single dosage; 2 ppm for a double dose. Do not exceed double dosage. If ammonia and or nitrite levels exceed 2 ppm, exchange enough water to lower to convertible levels

  • If ammonia and or nitrites are present, but nitrates are also present, your fish house is cycled, but a spike has occurred Learn about ammonia

Test daily if ammonia and nitrite are present  Test weekly for nitrates

Learn how to cycle a pond pump without risking the lives of your fish by reading the SEMI live fish free cycle

911 Water Change

If only nitrates are present, your fish house has completed the cycle. Nitrates are tolerated in low amounts; 10 to 20 ppm

Always premix water treatment in freshwater with a water change. Water treatment begins to degrade within 24 hrs after use. Daily water changes will need to be performed if ammonia and nitrites are present in any amount

  • If your fish house is cycled with nitrates present exchange 5% (of tank or pond water) every half hour (nitrates must be reduced gradually) exchange 40% max daily until nitrates are at safe levels of 10 to 20 ppm

If your fish house is enclosed, remove the entire top so the surface of the tank water is exposed to fresh air. If you have or can obtain; point a fan so that it skims across the surface of the tank

Premix water treatment that converts chlorine and chloramines in freshwater using enough water treatment to treat entire tank size. Never add directly to goldfish tank

Water Treatment

Refer to step 5 to learn more about Water treatment

Use cold water from the tap, but run faucet at low flow to reduce risk of SSG in water

Work fresh water over to eliminate supersaturated gases found in tap water. These gases are concentrated amount of oxygen that can suffocate fish. Pour your fresh water a few times; let it hit the fresh water bucket hard. You can test by scooping some fresh water in a clear glass; let it sit. If after 30 minutes minutes pass and no bubbles are clinging to the sides of the glass, you’re good to go   Supersaturated Gases

If you have a gravel vacuum; use it. Remove tank water by cleaning gravel first water change. Use the gravel vacuum with each water change; not to clean the gravel, but to remove tank water from the bottom. If you don’t have a gravel vacuum, push the pitcher or container deep into the tank to bring old water up from the bottom to the top; be vigorous with your actions; move that water to remove gases (created from waste) that have built up in the water. These gases keep oxygen from entering

911 Water change

To sum it up, you’re chilling tank water to reduce temps, performing a proper water change, and Testing water parameters

  • Test the Mineral Value of your water

Our fish must have healthy water to experience good health themselves, and good health starts with healthy water. When you complete the 911 water change, the water will be safer for the fish, but it still may need some work to bring it to its full potential

Test Fish Water

The three main minerals are carbonate, magnesium and calcium. If one or all of these minerals are deficient in your freshwater source, your fish’s long term and short term health is at risk. It’s not enough to buffer to minerals to the comfort zone, raise them to the top of the zone for optimum benefits, sick or not

Preferred pH level is 8. to 8.4 ppm

  • if pH is low, test KH carbonate mineral (gives water the ability to support oxygen and measures alkalinity)

Preferred KH level is 120 to 140 ppm

if KH is healthy water is low in oxygen, buffer using Oop Boost
Read how water is Oxygenated water Step 6

  • Test GH general hardness

Preferred GH level is 300 to 400 ppm

Diagnose Symptoms and Treat


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Author: Brenda Rand