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I'm worried about my fish - please help!
07-01-2015, 09:11 AM,
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niightwind Offline
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I'm worried about my fish - please help!
I hope it is alright to post this here; I'm still learning forum mechanics since I am new, and I don't know a whole lot yet about where specific threads should go, but this looks like the right place. If not, please point me in the right direction!

(These are the first fish I've cared for so if I use any terms incorrectly I apologize for that, too.)

I am very worried about my goldfish. I have three of them in an approximately 60 gallon sized tank. I have owned them for about half a year, and I always change their water regularly and feed them what I've seen recommended online (no more than they can consume in 2 minutes time, 2-3 times daily). At first, everything seemed well with them, but recently I've noticed a lot of problems going on in the tank, and I don't know what to do.

It started when I was changing their water about a month ago, and I saw that one of them looked like it had been in a fight. It had a small tear on its back fin and a few tears on the side fins. I'm not sure what exactly they're called so I'm sorry if that's the wrong word to use. I live with my dad, and I called him up to take a look. He said it appeared that one of the other fish was picking on it. We considered separating this fish from the rest, but we can't afford another tank right now and didn't want to move him into what at most would be a small bowl with no filter. We were clueless, and decided to leave him in the tank for now.

I didn't notice any other changes until just today. Today, the same fish that had been looking worse for wear was at the bottom of the tank, not moving much aside from his gills showing he was still alive (thankfully, I was very scared at first) and his mouth gaping open and closed. I had not seen any more injuries previously, and I check my tank at least a few times a day, but today there were more tears than before with barely any of the back fin left, only a small bit. I observed the other two, and one of them has absolutely no marks on him while the other is beginning to look beaten up as well. Much less badly than the other, but still with a few small tears. Cf2

I don't know what to do, or what has caused this. I am certain that I am feeding them enough, so I don't think they'd be attacking each other for food. Is it common for something like this to happen, and if so, what is causing it? Is it likely that the uninjured goldfish has been bullying the other two? Please help. I'm very worried about them and don't know what to do. Bawling
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07-01-2015, 01:20 PM,
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Thor Offline
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
First, I think you are overfeeding.
I know the fish food bottles usually give the instructions of feeding 2~3 times a day with each meal last for 2 minutes. They certainly hope you can go through the bottle as quick as you can. The truth is, there is no problem at all if you just feed once a day or every other day. A lot of problems are caused by overfeeding.

Second, do you have any sharp objects in the fish tank? Sometimes these objects can tear or injury the fish. Remove them immediately if you have any such objects in your tank.

Third, you don't have to separate these fish permanently even if they have been in fights. Do you have a large bucket? Take some tank water into it, and move the bully fish into the bucket. Let him/her stay there for an hour or two before return him to the fish tank, that will teach him/her! LOL. Seriously, it has been shown as a working tactics against the bully fish.
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07-01-2015, 02:39 PM,
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niightwind Offline
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
Thank you very much for your advice, Thor! I didn't know that about overfeeding; do you think it would be best to cut down the amount I am feeding them now or would that be likely to confuse them and escalate issues somehow? Sorry for all the questions, I'd be pretty heartbroken if something were to happen to my fish due to my incompetence.

Definitely no sharp objects in the tank, as far as I know! I have some tank gravel at the bottom of the tank though, and three small silk flowers. Other then that the only item in the tank is the filter, which is labelled specific for the 60 gallon tank. I worried at first if maybe the filter was too strong but I'm not sure if that is even a likely / plausible issue. I feel very clueless when it comes to fish, I'm afraid.

That's a good idea about the short separation though; I will get a large bucket and give it a try tomorrow (too late tonight, I wouldn't want to leave him in there too long!) to see how it goes. Thank you so much for your advice, I really hope I can get this resolved! Smile
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07-02-2015, 01:25 PM,
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Thor Offline
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
You are welcome. Smile I am gladly to help.

I have never heard of such thing as confuse the fish when change the feeding routine. You need to cut back on feeding immediately. Feeding 2~3 times per day is definitely too much unless you are only feeding enough be finished within seconds. A single meal of no more than what they can finish within one minute is more than enough for the day. Some people only feed once every other day. Fish are cold blood animals. They do not need as much food as we do. More food only mean more stress on their digestive system as well as more ammonia produced for the aquarium which is toxic. I usually aim for 30 seconds unless there are bottom feeders such as corydoras catfish who will chew on sinking pellets and discs.
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07-03-2015, 05:24 AM,
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niightwind Offline
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
Thank you again! I think your advice has worked, or at the very least had a bit of an improvement on the fish. I separated the bully for about two hours, and within the first hour the fish I was most worried about most started swimming around as normal again. He looks much better now, and has stayed that way since putting the bully back into the tank. It has only been a day so I can't say for sure if everything has been solved, but definitely seems to be some improvement. I've started off with cutting back on their food today as well. My fish knowledge is still not exactly up to par (who knew owning fish could be more a difficulty for me than owning dogs and cats?) so I can't say for sure, but I'd like to believe that seeing them all swimming around energetically is better than having one of them moping at the bottom of the tank.

I really hope this means they'll all be alright and live happily now. Big Grin
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07-03-2015, 03:37 PM,
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Thor Offline
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
I am happy to see improvements. Smile

Yes, owning fish is more complex (at first) than most people would have thought. In fact, the average life span of all goldfish sold in the United States is only 3 weeks according to one study (while they can natural life span is up to decades) . It is the result of insufficient knowledge and experience on how to properly taking care of the fish.

It is highly recommended not to jump onto getting any pet (not just fish) before doing some extensive research/reading on the subject. Smile Yep, I had to learn it the hard way too many years ago. Just wish there are more people out there spreading the correct knowledge and experience on pet keeping.

By the way, what filter system are you using?
How often and how much water do you change during regular maintenance?
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07-03-2015, 05:14 PM,
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niightwind Offline
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
I absolutely agree; people really should get more information on the pet they plan to own instead of making a blind decision. Unfortunately, with pet stores putting sales as priority over the care that the animals will receive, often people jump blindly into a decision. Fish especially are made out to be an easy pet to own. It is very sad that a lot of pet stores use this tactic to boost sales. An animal should be bought with intention to care for it, and not on a whim.

The filter system I use is the Tetra 25775 Whisper. I generally take out about 15% percent of the water in the tank more or less when I do water changes, once per week. If you have any suggestions for making this setup better let me know! Smile
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07-04-2015, 01:53 PM,
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Thor Offline
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
Tetra 25775 Whisper is rated at "up to 60 gallon" if I remember right. Usually we choose one step up when it comes to picking a filter for aquarium. You can never have too much filtration. Smile But it is fine for now if you don't have ammonia build up. Goldfish will grow to fairly large in size, especially when they are common goldfish. Their bioload will increase as they grow larger. In any case, it is a good idea to have a water test kit for monitoring ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

I would recommend you to do minimal 30% partial water change during weekly aquarium maintenance. We typically do 30~50%. Your 15% is on the low side. It is to prevent the build up of nitrate and other organic waste.

Always use a water bucket to prepare the water. Let it sit for a day or two to have the same room temperature as the water in the fish tank. So it won't shock the fish with sudden change in temperature.

Yes, a lot of people had the false impression that fish can be picked up and brought home any time you decide to have them. It is why majority of the fish don't live more than a few weeks after people bought them. The aquarium always needs to be set up properly before we can bring fish home.
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07-04-2015, 03:45 PM,
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niightwind Offline
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
I checked the box (saved it just in case) and it does indeed say "up to 60 gallons". I don't have a water test kit right now, but I will definitely go and pick one up tomorrow to make sure all is well in that area. They are common goldfish, and they've definitely already grown a lot since the day I got them, so I won't be surprised to see them continue growing in size at this rate. Thanks again for all your advice!

30-50% - I never heard that advice for water change before. All the research I had done said 10-20%, so I went with the midway point there. I always use a water bucket to prepare their water though, and even though the water conditioner says it works I immediately I leave it for at least several hours (usually 12-24) to be sure.

I have one more question, if I may bother you with it - sorry for so many silly questions here. I'm a bit worried about waste getting caught in the tank gravel. I have a siphon vacuum for cleaning, but it was a very cheap one at around $3.50 from the pet shop, and it doesn't really seem to be removing anything from the gravel. Is this more likely because the tank is relatively clean, or is there a higher power siphon that you would recommend that might do a better job with cleaning? Thanks again! Smile
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07-06-2015, 10:04 PM,
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Thor Offline
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
You don't need a "high power" vacuum. All of them are powered by the water flow when you remove the water from the aquarium. Smile
When I clean the gravel, I have to push the vacuum down to suck at the gravel. The gravel might get sucked up a little (depend on how big they are), but they should fall back down before being completed sucked away. At the same time the fish waste and other debris should be removed.

Unless of course, your vacuum is too tiny. Even if it is small, you should use the vacuum to dig around at the gravel in order to remove the debris.


If you want a bigger vacuum,
Something like this should work just fine.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000633KI0

Actually you might as well just go to a local store to pick up one. I got mine from a local walmart.

You only need to clean the gravel once a week during the weekly partial water change. As long as you do not overfeed, your filter system should handle the ammonia produced from the fish waste just fine.
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07-07-2015, 01:45 PM,
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niightwind Offline
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
Good news, Thor - I went to the pet store yesterday and I got a lot of new things to keep the tank running in order. I did a 50% water change as well, and my fish seem a lot happier. They're swimming around better than they ever were! I did decide to get a higher power siphon, and I tested it out while I was doing the water change and it worked very well. I also got a water test kit for the tank, and I was really happy to see right away that my pH balance, general hardness, and nitrate/nitrite levels were exactly what was recommended for goldfish. I bought a larger filter as well, to be sure that I have one big enough for the 60 gallon tank.

I think my fish are feeling much happier! I haven't noticed any problems in the tank anymore either, so that's a big relief for me. They seem to all be doing well now. Smile I appreciate all of your help, Thor - you might have saved their lives!
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07-07-2015, 02:06 PM,
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Thor Offline
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
I am happy to be able to help a fellow fish keeper. Smile

By the way, did you test ammonia? It is the first thing we need to test. Both ammonia and nitrite should be at absolute 0ppm.
Nitrate can be up to 40ppm or more without a problem.

As for the filter, I hope you have added the new filter without removing the old one. If you did, all the good bacteria are gone once you removed the old filter. It is recommended to let both filters run together for 3 to 4 weeks before removing the old filter if you ever want to remove the old filter. It is also fine to keep the old filter after the 3 to 4 weeks if you wish.
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07-07-2015, 03:19 PM,
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
Yes I did test the ammonia as well! Smile Both ammonia and nitrite levels were at 0. Nitrate was about 20; the instruction booklet said that anything up to 30-40 should be alright. Is a higher level actually recommended, or it the lower the better?

And yes I made for sure leave the other filter in while adding the new one! I did some research on it beforehand to make sure that I did it right and the site I read suggested the same as you. Would you say it is best to keep them both going or to remove the old one eventually? I can easily keep it running if that is better then removing it after the 3-4 weeks.

I have a question about picasimus fish, by the way. The lady at the pet shop told me that they help to keep tanks clean and she'd recommend having one in every fish tank with an already established community of fish. Is this true? If so, do picasimus get on well with goldfish, generally?

If you have anymore suggestions or tips for me, please share them. I'd like to keep my fish living healthy for as long as possible. I'm very grateful for everything you've told me!!
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07-07-2015, 04:14 PM,
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Thor Offline
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
Nitrate is the lower the better. Typically people aim for below 40ppm, but it is ok if it is slightly higher given that the nitrate concentration went up gradually over time instead of a sudden spike. Unlike the toxic ammonia and nitrite, nitrate is harmless but at too high concentration it is said to be able to lower the immune system of the fish which can make them easier to catch diseases and parasites.

If your new filter is rated for tanks way above 60 gallon, then you should be able to run it alone. Although I have said you can never have too much filtration. It is entirely up to you if you wish to run two filters at the same time instead of just one. There are quite some people using multiple filters for the same tank out there. It keeps more stable good bacteria colonies in case you accidentally did some damage to the good bacteria colony in one filter while cleaning it.

No need to get any bottom feeders for "cleaning".
First, they are tropical fish. They do not belong in the same tank as goldfish.
Second, all these so called "cleaning" fish do not really clean anything at all. They might chew on the algae here and there, but they will actually feed on the sinking fish food at the bottom. A lot of people mistake them for eating other fish's waste. Nope, they don't. By having them in your tank, you will need to add a sinking food and it will add to the bioload in the tank. More ammonia if I simplify the result for you. Smile The job of cleaning the algae on the side of the glass should be yours anyway. Do not depend on the fish to do the "cleaning".
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07-24-2015, 03:54 PM,
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
All was seeming well in the tank since my last message, but unfortunately, I'm beginning to worry again. The bully fish is at it again, and this time worse than before. I'm not sure if I should just try the separation method again or if there is something more I should do. I've heard about putting a divider in the tank but I don't want to restrict their room and cause them too much stress. I'm kind of at my wits end with this guy. It is only the weakest fish that he is going after now, and I've been watching closely and noticed him bumping up again that fish and it looks like he's taking a bite out of him, too. I definitely don't think that's normal... at least, I hope it isn't! The weaker fish has completely lost his beautiful tail fin and has only a little stump that wiggles around when he swims. Its always the fins that the bully fish goes after. I've tried doing some googling to see if I could find a solution, but the only consistent response I could find was that a fight for dominance can happen if the aquarium is too small. I've done a ton of research and everything I've found points to a 60 gallon tank being big enough for 3 normal goldfish.

If you've got any info that might help out, Thor, I'd really appreciate it.
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08-24-2015, 03:03 AM,
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RE: I'm worried about my fish - please help!
Sorry it took me so long to notice your latest post.

I would try the separation method again if I were you. Maybe for longer time if it continues. If the problem persist, you might want to either remove the bully fish for good, or give the weaker fish a separate home. It is your choice.

Fish bullying is indeed one of the most common problems occur in the aquariums. Not all fish will react the same way to how we deal with the problem.
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