7 years ago now, I brought home my Oranda Goldfish.
After finally convincing my parents that I was responsible enough to have a pet fish, my dad and I made our way to Pets at Home, where we purchased all the necessary equipment and proceeded to pick out a fish. Before we could take a fish home- an employee asked us a few questions: how long we’d had the tank set up for, whether it had a filter, and whether we knew about de-chlorination…etc. To my disappointment we were told that we couldn’t take a fish home yet as we were told that the tank has to be set up for at least 3 days before fish can be introduced. I thought 3 days was a long time but If you know the ins and outs of cycling, you will know that it takes at least a month for the right amount of good bacteria (in relation to how much waste is produced in the aquarium) to colonise the filter media. We were also recommended a product which claims to kick start the cycle. This is the product description from the Pets at Home website: Fluval Biological Enhancer is a responsive biological aquarium supplement that immediately inoculates aquarium water with a powerful team of beneficial bacteria, providing a safe biological habitat for your fish.
This is why I believe these products are useless:
One of the most fundamental thing about cycling is: there needs to be a source of ammonia for the bacteria to feed on in the first place! You can’t just plop some good bacteria (that most likely aren’t even alive as I simply do not think they have access to oxygen or food in their bottle!) into some water and expect them to just live off of nothing.
Another important thing you should know is: the amount of bacteria matches to the amount of waste produced by the animal(s) in the tank. You can’t cycle your tank for 1 fish and then add more because there will only be enough bacteria to process waste for 1 fish.
The fact that pet stores don’t tell you any of this, just highlights how corrupt the pet fish industry is. They spread false information in order to further their profits. If companies told people, how to properly take care of fish, more fish would live out their full lifespans, and as a result customers would come in to replace their deceased less frequently but of course, where’s the profit in that?!
So, because of this epidemic of misinformation that screws aspiring fish keepers over, for the first 5 years of my fish’s life, the water quality in his tank was bAd, to say the least. Despite this, my poor fish stayed strong and resisted developing health problems until around 2 years ago (other than the cauliflower like growths on his pectoral fins which I believed to be nothing, but as they got bigger and more noticeable so I searched the internet I concluded that it could be lymphocystis).
Moving on- as I said, the real issues started 2 years ago. His wen grew very big so big that he could no longer see or lift himself off the floor of the tank. At one point, I believed there was a bacterial infection in the wen so I mistakenly treated the tank with shop bought antibiotics (another “great” product from pets at home). Antibiotics aren’t effective when it comes to treating fish. Like for absolutely all living things- good bacteria is VITAL for the body to function properly. We are made up of bacteria, after all. Good bacteria reside not only in the filter media, but inside the fish and on the surface of it’s body. As soon as you put antibiotics into the tank water, not only do the bad bacteria get eliminated, but also the helpful bacteria. The issue is- in comparison, it takes long time for good bacteria to form… So, when you stop using the treatment there will be no good bacteria to destroy the bad and the bad bacteria can take over in a matter of hours.
Within a period of time goldfish developed a tumour under one of his eyes.
I decided to go to a veterinary surgeon to get his wen trimmed and the tumour removed. The operation was successful, but both the wen the tumour grew back very quickly.
Around 2 months later he developed a swollen abdomen, I concluded it was Dropsy (organ failure).
After scouring the internet for solutions and joining various fish forums (no one on these forums could give me a straight or definitive answer), there were a lot of grey areas. I was at a loss; until I found Brenda. Now, this was a turning point for me knowledge wise! She had a detailed answer to basically every question that I had been asking. Something the people on the fish forums just couldn’t do… I was so happy everything finally made sense, but unfortunately, it was already too late for poor goldfish, who was already in very bad shape. But, I believe, if it weren’t for Brenda’s advice and her natural remedies, he wouldn’t have survived for as long as he did (he survived for 3 months after the bloating began).
She taught me a lot but a few of the things I learned from her were: how antibiotics do more harm than good, how any pet store chemicals, meant for fish, are detrimental to their long term health, chemicals, such as dechlorinator- overdosing over a long period of time can result in organ failure.
BTW everything you need to know is on this website so go start with the 10 steps to goldfish keeping.
If you don’t have chloramines in your tap water you can use Oop boost instead of dechlorinator.
I took Brenda’s advice and instead of treating my fish with antibiotics I used her Organic Goldfish remedies. The ones I used were: the dandy remedy (helps bloating and detoxifies blood), the garlic remedy (garlic is a natural antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic) and Oop boost (oxygenates and dechlorinates water) as I said i believe her remedies helped a lot but the size of his wen combined with the tumour which grew to 4x its original size after surgery and his possible organ failure put too much strain on his body.
So, in conclusion, don’t make the same mistakes I did. Research how to cycle a fish tank and do not put fish in until it is cycled! Keep use of chemicals to a minimum and don’t use antibiotics.
Another important thing I should have mentioned: fancy fish breeds are handicapped due to selective breeding. Selective breeding causes a myriad of health problems, and, as a result, individual fish suffer. Don’t support this cruelty, or if you’re set on getting a fancy, then at least research about the ethical standpoint of the organisation from which you are buying the fish.