Goldfish looking sickly

//Goldfish looking sickly

Goldfish looking sickly

What are your water parameters GH, KH, pH, temperature, ammonia, nitrite and nitrates?
Test kit on order.

Describe your set up (size, height, filters and pumps, substrate, decorations)
20 gallon, 18″ tall, HOB filter, not sure what substrate is, two plastic plants, clay flower pot for the fish to hide in.

How many inches of goldfish do you have collectively?
6″ combined from nose to tail.

Is your fish house enclosed?
Did have a lid, but now removed.

What and how often do you feed?
I feed twice a day.

Describe maintenance routine.
I remove and replace 20% of the fish water once a week.

Have you used medications or salt recently?
I use MelaFix every time I change water.

Do you understand the nitrogen cycle?
I just read the 10 Steps, and realize I didn’t know what it meant. I wonder if this why my fish haven’t lived very long. I’ve never tested nitrates, but I ordered a test kit.

Describe behavior and or symptoms.
A couple of my fish spend a lot of time at the surface, and one spends most of her time on the bottom.

How long have you had your fish and or fish house set up?
I’ve had the aquarium set up for three years, but lost all of my fish over a year ago, and have replaced them.

I read the 10 steps to goldfish keeping, and was astounded at the stuff I didn’t know. I opened the top of my aquarium up so it is now getting air at the surface. I bought a pH test kit, and it says either 7.2 or 7.4 ppm. Is that okay? I ordered a test kit online for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. I will test these when it arrives and post again. I’ve also bought a 150 pond pump online.

Thanks for any advice you can offer, Jenny


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  1. catlady May 7, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    Thank you Venus. I’m happy to know my water isn’t half bad, but yes. I want it to be excellent. I’m not ready to buffer quite yet. That sounds a little scary. I just ordered the water boost remedy. Thank you so much, and everyone else too

    • Cricket May 8, 2019 at 10:56 pm

      Hi Catlady, don’t be afraid to buffer. I’ve been doing it for years and it benefits your fish by making your water more able to support oxygen. It won’t hurt them. Buffer on!

  2. Venus Goldfish Master May 7, 2019 at 5:09 pm


    Your readings aren’t half bad really. Nitrates are a little high, so perform 5% water changes until levels are closer to 20 ppm, and try keeping them there. I exchange water three times a week in the summer. The warmer the water, the more oxygen fish use, which makes nitrates more dangerous

    GH is a little low, and this is okay really, but as a tonic, you could buffer. The comfort zone for general hardness is 200 to 400 ppm. Use pure Epsom salts by dissolving in a cup of warm water, and then add to freshwater before a water change. Add one tablespoon at a time, testing after the fact

    Slow as you go

    pH looks good, but could be higher. Considering you have the pond pump installed, which clears the water of Co2, we know this parameter is as good as it gets, unless you raise KH. If you raise carbonate mineral to 120 ppm, you can expect a higher pH reading. KH gives water the ability to support oxygen

    You would use soda to raise KH. Dissolve in cup of warm water, and then add to freshwater before a water change. Add one teaspoon at a time, testing after the fact

    If this makes you nervous, our Water Boost is just right for you. It slightly raises GH, KH and O2 as well

    Is it necessary to buffer parameters? No. Not really. I think your fish would get by okay, but around here, we don’t settle for okay. Buffering these levels improve the immunity of the water and the fish. You could buffer all of the time, keeping parameters well within the comfort zone, or buffer occasionally as a tonic

    Good job Jenny

  3. catlady May 7, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    So happy my new pump came today. The sponge was really easy to carve on, but you wouldn’t believe the mess I made. The pump is in the aquarium and running. At first the fish freaked out. They darted around the water, and then they hid in their flower pot. Now they’re investigating it. One accidentally swam over the water stream, and it was hilarious. The water is moving like crazy. I really love the sound of it. The fish seem happier

    Ammonia and nitrite is zero. Nitrate is 40 to 60. GH is 150. KH is 70 to 90. pH is 7.6

    I’m trying to compare these readings to the chapter about parameters, and thinking they’re not so good huh? Please let me know what to do to make them better, and thank you so very very much. I’m delighted and so are the fish

  4. Venus Goldfish Master May 3, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks for your support Jenny

  5. catlady May 3, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    I bought the 10 steps to goldfish keeping book. It’s hard to read on my phone, and I’m at that stage of having to know. I just hope I can remember it all

  6. Venus May 3, 2019 at 5:15 am

    Good job Catlady

  7. catlady May 3, 2019 at 5:14 am

    PH in tap water is 7.8 ppm. I did the pitcher thing and removed the lid, but the light is attached to the lid. Will this cause a problem? PH in fish water is now at 7.8 ppm, so I’m really excited. Thank you so much Venus. I’ll let you know results of tests when they arrive, which should be Saturday or tomorrow

  8. Venus May 2, 2019 at 5:38 am

    It sounds to me like you’re turning things around. Adding a pond pump to the fish house is a good move. Your pH is on the low side, but until I see KH reading, I can’t say why, although, in most cases it’s low oxygen levels causing low pH. If you would test pH of tap water so we can compare the two, that would be most helpful

    Post test results here as soon as you get them

    I can see you’ve been reading and following the 10 Steps is the key. Getting that water oxygenated is all important. Most sick fish are suffering from poor water quality, which is such a waste

    Have gotten to Step 10? Feeding? Feed less food more often, and feed a variety. This helps avoid digestion issues that plague our goldfish

    Substrate is the product you use on the bottom of your fish house. Most of here use natural pea gravel instead of the usual pet shop gravel, but you’ll read all about it in the 10 Steps if you haven’t already

    I believe the one fish is spending time at the surface due to poor oxygen levels in the water. Push a pitcher deep into the tank water filling it. Bring it up, pour it back in. Repeat 10 times. Test pH after the fact, and see if it’s a little higher. If it is, this means that oxygen levels are low in the water due to poor water movement. Testing tap water is also a good way to see if this is the case

    I’m so glad you posted. You’re on your way

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