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LilChief
01-15-06, 11:21 AM
My 12 yr old (the one who had all the foot surgery done) had a betta fish for about 10 months but it died in November, so for Christmas my daughter bought him 2 new goldfish...(of course Mom had to buy the new tank etc). Well they seemed fine for awhile, but then one started kindof half swimming, half floating on an angle. I tried to do some research online, and found that it's a fairly common condition for goldfish called swimbladder or something, and I tried all the remedies I could find but I guess it just wasn't anything that could be helped, and the poor little guy died last night.

Does anyone know if there is a way to avoid this happening again, or to the other fish? He wants to replace the one that died but I told him to wait a week or so and make sure the other one is ok, and that there isn't an issue that we need to correct before he adds a new one. The water tests perfect, so that isnt an issue. We switched back to the flakes from the floating pellets, because we read that might make them gulp too much air. The one thats left is looking ok so far, but not very active. He just kindof hangs out near the top of the water most of the time, which was how the other one started out, but at least this one still seems to be swimming around and not staying in one place most of the time.

I know...stupid topic...:P but I am not a fish doctor! I need to figure this out so he can keep a few fish without them dying. I don't want the poor kid to get a complex! ;)

YankyDave
01-15-06, 11:35 AM
My brother always had fish and I can tell you that you may have one live forever and you may have one die in two days even if you do the same things. He had some who got "ick" and died and others who lived through it and lasted years.

RhodeyYankee2638
01-15-06, 11:46 AM
My brother always had fish and I can tell you that you may have one live forever and you may have one die in two days even if you do the same things. He had some who got "ick" and died and others who lived through it and lasted years.

Exactly. I had a goldfish that lived for 3 years once, and I had some that would die 2 days after I bought it.

texasyankee
01-15-06, 12:19 PM
Reminds me of when President Reagan met with Gorbachev in Switzerland - I believe - anyway, he & Nancy stayed at someone's home and a note was left asking Reagan to please feed their child's goldfish. Anyway, sure enough one of them up & died while Reagan was there......I think he sent out for a replacement goldfish - but he wrote a letter to their child letting them know of the death......sorta touching.

corynnmarie
01-15-06, 12:30 PM
so for Christmas my daughter bought him 2 new goldfish...(of course Mom had to buy the new tank etc).

How big is their tank, to begin with? Goldfish get HUGE and live for quite a long time, and there's a good chance they'll outgrow whatever tank they're currently living in. As for the issue at hand...


Well they seemed fine for awhile, but then one started kindof half swimming, half floating on an angle. I tried to do some research online, and found that it's a fairly common condition for goldfish called swimbladder or something, and I tried all the remedies I could find but I guess it just wasn't anything that could be helped, and the poor little guy died last night.

Aww - I'm sorry he died. Swimbladder disease is fairly common in goldfish and it's typically due to an improper diet.


Does anyone know if there is a way to avoid this happening again, or to the other fish?

Your other guy ought to be fine if you correct his diet now.

First of all, goldfish are herbivorous. They can tolerate an omnivorous diet, but it's not recommended. Buy a good quality flake food that contains plant products only - this means you may have to buy your flake from somewhere other than Wal-Mart. ;) You can also buy some frozen brine shrimp if you'd like to add some variety, but feed this in moderation. When you feed daily (once daily is enough), soak the flakes in a bit of water before feeding so that they sink. This means you may have to feed slowly and only feed as much as he can eat before it falls to the bottom at a time, but it will stop him from getting air into his gut. The frozen brine shrimp will sink on their own, FYI.

As a preventative measure and to make sure the fish you have left is in good shape, feed him some thawed, shelled peas. Just buy normal frozen peas for your family or whatever, thaw 3 or 4 in a bit of water, shell and halve them, and feed. This helps to clear any air out of the digestive tract. You can feed peas as regularly as you wish - they like them and they're nutritious.

You can also feed lettuce, spinach, cucumber, cabbage - almost any raw veggie soft enough for them to bite into. Be sure to weight it down so it doesn't float on the surface and remove it after 10 hours or so before it fouls the water.

LilChief
01-15-06, 05:21 PM
How big is their tank, to begin with? Goldfish get HUGE and live for quite a long time, and there's a good chance they'll outgrow whatever tank they're currently living in. It's a 2.5 gallon tank, the idea was for it to be upstairs in the kids bathroom, but instead it ended up downstairs in the family room. I figured we could upgrade the tank of they needed it later on, it was just intended as a starter set up for him.

As for the issue at hand...



Aww - I'm sorry he died. Swimbladder disease is fairly common in goldfish and it's typically due to an improper diet. That was kind of what I was able to deduce from my online research, the fact that it's common, and that diet might be a factor. My question is, why do they sell these "floating pellets" for goldfish if thats not the right diet for them??? We feel awful that they were doing fine on the flakes and we changed to the pellets in an effort to keep the tank cleaner longer. We had no idea they would be a problem.



Your other guy ought to be fine if you correct his diet now.

First of all, goldfish are herbivorous. They can tolerate an omnivorous diet, but it's not recommended. Buy a good quality flake food that contains plant products only - this means you may have to buy your flake from somewhere other than Wal-Mart. ;)
OK, I just checked the label on the flakes, and they seem to be all plant products.
You can also buy some frozen brine shrimp if you'd like to add some variety, but feed this in moderation. When you feed daily (once daily is enough), soak the flakes in a bit of water before feeding so that they sink. I usually put them in near where the carbon filter pours the water out, which pushes them down pretty well and swirls them around for a few moments to allow him to eat them.
This means you may have to feed slowly and only feed as much as he can eat before it falls to the bottom at a time, but it will stop him from getting air into his gut. The frozen brine shrimp will sink on their own, FYI.

As a preventative measure and to make sure the fish you have left is in good shape, feed him some thawed, shelled peas.
Believe it or not, I read about this online and tried it a few times, but neither the sick fish nor the one thats left would touch them. They just sink to the bottom and sit there ignored.Just buy normal frozen peas for your family or whatever, thaw 3 or 4 in a bit of water, shell and halve them, and feed. This helps to clear any air out of the digestive tract. You can feed peas as regularly as you wish - they like them and they're nutritious.

You can also feed lettuce, spinach, cucumber, cabbage - almost any raw veggie soft enough for them to bite into. I did try a bit of lettuce, but it floated and they didnt touch it either.Be sure to weight it down (how do you weigh it down? LOL)so it doesn't float on the surface and remove it after 10 hours or so before it fouls the water.

Thanks for all the tips! Hopefully we can get the remaining fish cleared up in time. Any tips on why he's not , um...making messes as much as he was when we first got him?

Jersey Yankee
01-15-06, 06:21 PM
If the goldfish start any arguments, just buy another tank with a turtle. Pluck the troublemaker from the regular tank into the turtle's tank.

Everyone should be pretty cool from then, especially if you put the two tanks together. They'll get the implication sooner or later. If not, lunch time is anytime. :D

corynnmarie
01-15-06, 07:05 PM
It's a 2.5 gallon tank,

Okay, that is indescribably too small. You need a 30g tank minimum for a single grown goldfish - 50g for two - and excellent filtration. Goldfish, depending on your particular variety, can grow to 12 inches (not including the tail) and live for 20 years. Obviously yours will do fine in a 2.5 gallon for a period of time, but he will shortly outgrow it. A too-small tank leads to stunted growth and early death.

Don't get me wrong, I understand you weren't planning on that kind of commitment going in, but that's the biggest problem with the aquarium trade right now - nobody does their research. Now that you've been made aware, it's only fair to the animal to care for it to the best of your ability.

/soapbox


My question is, why do they sell these "floating pellets" for goldfish if thats not the right diet for them???

Because people buy them - plain and simple. People don't do their research before making a commitment to a pet, and they simply buy what they're marketed. They have no idea it's not appropriate.


We feel awful that they were doing fine on the flakes and we changed to the pellets in an effort to keep the tank cleaner longer. We had no idea they would be a problem.

Any food fed in the proper amounts will not dirty the tank. Only excess food left uneaten will cause a problem. You can minimize your worries about a dirty, unhealthy tank by simply doing regular water changes. (if you don't know how to properly care for a tank concerning the nitrogen cycle and beneficial bacteria, PLEASE say so and I can point you toward some good websites).

If your fish is ignoring the peas, are you sure they're small enough to fit into his little mouth? If so, it's most likely he's only lived on flakes and pellets his entire life and just doesn't realize it's food. Continuing with a varied diet will help this - your fish will "learn" to eat most anything you drop in the tank which makes it easier for you to feed him properly.

As for the lettuce, again, keep trying. You can weigh it down by purchasing a vegetable clip specifically for aquariums. Or, just use fishing line to tie the leaf to something that sinks - any aquarium-safe rock, a suction cup you stick on the glass, a heavy plant.


Any tips on why he's not , um...making messes as much as he was when we first got him?

Depending on how long you've had him, he may still be adjusting to a new environment, and he's surely adjusting to being solo. Fish don't eat if they're uncomfortable.

It's also possible he's impacted, which if he won't eat the peas, there's not much you can do about it. Try feeding soaked instant oatmeal flakes - if he'll eat those, they can help to clear him out a bit.

keg411
01-15-06, 07:46 PM
Well they seemed fine for awhile, but then one started kindof half swimming, half floating on an angle. I tried to do some research online, and found that it's a fairly common condition for goldfish called swimbladder or something, and I tried all the remedies I could find but I guess it just wasn't anything that could be helped, and the poor little guy died last night.

I think I had a fish with this problem. It lost it's tail and then would swim weird like that. I don't know how serious the condition was, because it lived for a couple of years like that. Anyway, we just fed them the flake-y fish food and all of our fish lived for at least 3 years. Of course, we also had a large tank with a filter (that used to keep me awake at night -- they were actually my sister's fish, but my parents put them in my room because I had more space and I HATED them.)

Of course, our fish were weird. When the other two died, the third jumped out of the tank and ended up living. We got a couple more that died within a week -- and then the other fish jumped again and died. So we had both a fish with a disease (that managed to survive it for a long while) and a fish who committed suicide. Weird, stupid fish. They freaked me out for a good portion of my childhood.

Dave Visbeck
01-15-06, 07:59 PM
My 12 yr old (the one who had all the foot surgery done) had a betta fish for about 10 months but it died in November, so for Christmas my daughter bought him 2 new goldfish...(of course Mom had to buy the new tank etc). Well they seemed fine for awhile, but then one started kindof half swimming, half floating on an angle. I tried to do some research online, and found that it's a fairly common condition for goldfish called swimbladder or something, and I tried all the remedies I could find but I guess it just wasn't anything that could be helped, and the poor little guy died last night.

Does anyone know if there is a way to avoid this happening again, or to the other fish? He wants to replace the one that died but I told him to wait a week or so and make sure the other one is ok, and that there isn't an issue that we need to correct before he adds a new one. The water tests perfect, so that isnt an issue. We switched back to the flakes from the floating pellets, because we read that might make them gulp too much air. The one thats left is looking ok so far, but not very active. He just kindof hangs out near the top of the water most of the time, which was how the other one started out, but at least this one still seems to be swimming around and not staying in one place most of the time.

I know...stupid topic...:P but I am not a fish doctor! I need to figure this out so he can keep a few fish without them dying. I don't want the poor kid to get a complex! ;)

Don't get fancy with the goldfish. In the past the ones that lived the longest for us were the feeder ones at the pet store or WalMart - they were like a dime or so each. The fancy ones always died on us.

One feeder one we had grew to be quite big. Big enough that it lived through something weird. True story. We had some of the little catfish guys - about an inch and a half long each ... in the tank to help keep it clean. One day, the now large feeder goldfish inhaled a catfish. Ate it up I guess. The catfish was a goner. We had two catfish in the tank and now one was gone. :(

Almost a month later to the day, the goldfish looked like it was trying to cough. Kept doing it. All of a sudden ... the big goldfish coughed out the catfish. It was alive. It stayed alive long after the goldfish died ... which was about 6 months later. :eek:

Jen19
01-15-06, 08:41 PM
Don't get fancy with the goldfish. In the past the ones that lived the longest for us were the feeder ones at the pet store or WalMart - they were like a dime or so each. The fancy ones always died on us.

One feeder one we had grew to be quite big. Big enough that it lived through something weird. True story. We had some of the little catfish guys - about an inch and a half long each ... in the tank to help keep it clean. One day, the now large feeder goldfish inhaled a catfish. Ate it up I guess. The catfish was a goner. We had two catfish in the tank and now one was gone. :(

Almost a month later to the day, the goldfish looked like it was trying to cough. Kept doing it. All of a sudden ... the big goldfish coughed out the catfish. It was alive. It stayed alive long after the goldfish died ... which was about 6 months later. :eek:

Dave, that's the freakiest fish story I ever heard! :scared: Wow! I had a fish that committed suicide once but that's about it. It's amazing that the catfish survived. How funny!

LilChief
01-16-06, 12:50 AM
Okay, that is indescribably too small. You need a 30g tank minimum for a single grown goldfish - 50g for two - and excellent filtration. Goldfish, depending on your particular variety, can grow to 12 inches (not including the tail) and live for 20 years. Obviously yours will do fine in a 2.5 gallon for a period of time, but he will shortly outgrow it. A too-small tank leads to stunted growth and early death. Ok, it looks like we'll eventually have to get a bigger tank, but hopefully we can at least figure out what we are doing with this tank and make sure we have it right before we proceed. Just out of curiosity, what kinds of fish are these smaller tanks intended for?

Don't get me wrong, I understand you weren't planning on that kind of commitment going in, but that's the biggest problem with the aquarium trade right now - nobody does their research. Now that you've been made aware, it's only fair to the animal to care for it to the best of your ability. Of course...we are trying to learn on the run, thanks for the advice!

/soapbox



Because people buy them - plain and simple. People don't do their research before making a commitment to a pet, and they simply buy what they're marketed. They have no idea it's not appropriate.



Any food fed in the proper amounts will not dirty the tank. Only excess food left uneaten will cause a problem. You can minimize your worries about a dirty, unhealthy tank by simply doing regular water changes. (if you don't know how to properly care for a tank concerning the nitrogen cycle and beneficial bacteria, PLEASE say so and I can point you toward some good websites). We have been trying to do our research online and have gone through several websites in the process, but by all means, please refer us to the ones you recommend, we do want to get this right.

If your fish is ignoring the peas, are you sure they're small enough to fit into his little mouth? I took them out of the shells and broke them up into very small pieces.
If so, it's most likely he's only lived on flakes and pellets his entire life and just doesn't realize it's food. Continuing with a varied diet will help this - your fish will "learn" to eat most anything you drop in the tank which makes it easier for you to feed him properly.

As for the lettuce, again, keep trying. You can weigh it down by purchasing a vegetable clip specifically for aquariums. Or, just use fishing line to tie the leaf to something that sinks - any aquarium-safe rock, a suction cup you stick on the glass, a heavy plant.



Depending on how long you've had him, he may still be adjusting to a new environment, and he's surely adjusting to being solo. Fish don't eat if they're uncomfortable.

It's also possible he's impacted, which if he won't eat the peas, there's not much you can do about it. Try feeding soaked instant oatmeal flakes - if he'll eat those, they can help to clear him out a bit.OK we'll try that in the morning, oatmeal...
Thanks Again!

LilChief
01-16-06, 12:52 AM
I think I had a fish with this problem. It lost it's tail and then would swim weird like that. I don't know how serious the condition was, because it lived for a couple of years like that. Anyway, we just fed them the flake-y fish food and all of our fish lived for at least 3 years. Of course, we also had a large tank with a filter (that used to keep me awake at night -- they were actually my sister's fish, but my parents put them in my room because I had more space and I HATED them.)

Of course, our fish were weird. When the other two died, the third jumped out of the tank and ended up living. We got a couple more that died within a week -- and then the other fish jumped again and died. So we had both a fish with a disease (that managed to survive it for a long while) and a fish who committed suicide. Weird, stupid fish. They freaked me out for a good portion of my childhood.

Oh my! Traumatized by fish...:eek: That's exactly what I'm trying to avoid...we have to figure this out and get it right, for the sake of the fish as well as my son! ;)

LilChief
01-16-06, 12:53 AM
Don't get fancy with the goldfish. In the past the ones that lived the longest for us were the feeder ones at the pet store or WalMart - they were like a dime or so each. The fancy ones always died on us.

One feeder one we had grew to be quite big. Big enough that it lived through something weird. True story. We had some of the little catfish guys - about an inch and a half long each ... in the tank to help keep it clean. One day, the now large feeder goldfish inhaled a catfish. Ate it up I guess. The catfish was a goner. We had two catfish in the tank and now one was gone. :(

Almost a month later to the day, the goldfish looked like it was trying to cough. Kept doing it. All of a sudden ... the big goldfish coughed out the catfish. It was alive. It stayed alive long after the goldfish died ... which was about 6 months later. :eek:

OMG Dave, that is truly BIZZARE! :eek:

corynnmarie
01-16-06, 09:46 AM
The Nitrogen Cycle:

http://www.tropicalfishcentre.co.uk/Cycle.htm
http://www.thetropicaltank.co.uk/bcycling.htm
http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/biologicalcycle/a/nitrogencycle.htm

Water Changes:
http://faq.thekrib.com/begin-changes.html
http://www.liveaquaria.com/general/general.cfm?general_pagesid=329
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaint.htm


Just out of curiosity, what kinds of fish are these smaller tanks intended for?

These are perfect for a single male betta, a trio of white cloud tetras, or a trio of guppies. They're also suitable for many aquatic frogs, freshwater shrimps, or for raising baby fish away from adult fish.

LilChief
01-16-06, 10:08 AM
The Nitrogen Cycle:

http://www.tropicalfishcentre.co.uk/Cycle.htm
http://www.thetropicaltank.co.uk/bcycling.htm
http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/biologicalcycle/a/nitrogencycle.htm

Water Changes:
http://faq.thekrib.com/begin-changes.html
http://www.liveaquaria.com/general/general.cfm?general_pagesid=329
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaint.htm



These are perfect for a single male betta, a trio of white cloud tetras, or a trio of guppies. They're also suitable for many aquatic frogs, freshwater shrimps, or for raising baby fish away from adult fish.

Thanks....sometimes it's hard to get good advice, even at the pet stores...!

mr. baskums
01-16-06, 02:35 PM
My nephew won a goldfish at a fair about 7 years ago and "Goldy" is still alive and growing. My sister in law has Goldy in a huge tank with 2 other goldfish, (Junior and Leonard), which has a filtration system too. Leonard has to be around 4 or 5 years old and Junior is just a youngster.

btw, Goldy is the size of a small perch, about 7 inches long. My brother used to say she was the perfect size for a fish sandwich but I think she's outgrown that by now :lol:

keg411
01-16-06, 05:36 PM
Oh my! Traumatized by fish... That's exactly what I'm trying to avoid...we have to figure this out and get it right, for the sake of the fish as well as my son!

I was traumatized by the fish long before we ever had them. My sister won them at a Carnival and they only got moved into my room because I was getting a TV, so I had a stand in my room. But I have always had weird fear of dead fish that I'm sure your son doesn't have (or he wouldn't have wanted them in the first place).

Jersey Yankee
01-16-06, 08:34 PM
My nephew won a goldfish at a fair about 7 years ago and "Goldy" is still alive and growing. My sister in law has Goldy in a huge tank with 2 other goldfish, (Junior and Leonard), which has a filtration system too. Leonard has to be around 4 or 5 years old and Junior is just a youngster.

btw, Goldy is the size of a small perch, about 7 inches long. My brother used to say she was the perfect size for a fish sandwich but I think she's outgrown that by now :lol:
I still say that a snapping turtle wouldn't need no bread for all of this. Just a little tartar sauce and a swig of lemon. :D

LilChief
01-19-06, 07:55 AM
OK, now I'm really bummed out...the second fish seemed to be doing fine and was ok when I went to bed last night, but when I came down this morning he was stuck under the filter where it draws the water in. I'm not sure if he got stuck there before or after he died, but he's gone too now...:(


CorynMarie, or anyone else who has been so kind to offer advice...
If we want to keep this small tank with the charcoal filter for now, what types of fish would you recommend?
We don't want to do goldfish again now that we know the tank is too small for them, and he doesn't want another betta maily because he always thought it looked lonely and he wants at least 2 fish together. Should we include one of the little catfish to help keep the tank clean?
Also, should I empty and clean this tank out completely, and re-start it? For now I left the filter running...does the set-up vary depending on what type of fish are going in it?
He thinks he's going to want to ask for a bigger tank when his birthday rolls around in August, but for now I want to get this small one right before we take on anything larger.

Your advice is appreciated! Thanks!

Stupid Flanders
01-19-06, 08:31 AM
Chief, that's the problem with goldfish. MOst are so interbred because essentially they're meant to be feeder fish.

In a 2.5 G tank you're not going to have much luck with much more than a betta, or maybe a molly or platty or two.

This is a good resource:
http://www.firsttankguide.net/capacity.php

My suggestion to you is to pick up a 10g tank. They're cheap (relatively) and you can get a cheap heater and filter for it. That's your best bet. Then you can get a mix, like neons, guramis, mollies, etc

Stupid Flanders
01-19-06, 08:32 AM
And for the record, I have had a lot of goldfish because I used to need them as feeder fish for my turtles. It's been my experience that about 1 in 20 is hardy enough to survive a year. I've had a few that lived for many years, but it's a total crapshoot when dealing with one or two.

Jersey Yankee
01-19-06, 08:41 AM
OK, now I'm really bummed out...the second fish seemed to be doing fine and was ok when I went to bed last night, but when I came down this morning he was stuck under the filter where it draws the water in. I'm not sure if he got stuck there before or after he died, but he's gone too now...:(
What the heck do these filters look like where a goldfish could get stuck underneath it? Don't they have some kind of mesh so that nothing gets caught in there?

Also, even though it sounds silly, what exactly does the filter remove? I've never seen a fish do any pee or poop, but whatever food that goes in obviously has to come out somewhere. Is it mostly to oxidize the water? Keep it clean from any other impurities?

Stupid Flanders
01-19-06, 01:08 PM
you've never seen a fish poop? have you ever had fish?

corynnmarie
01-19-06, 05:45 PM
What the heck do these filters look like where a goldfish could get stuck underneath it? Don't they have some kind of mesh so that nothing gets caught in there?

They have a screen to prevent a live from actually getting sucked into the filter uptake, but it won't keep a lifeless fish from being suctioned to the uptake tube. It's common.

{QUOTE]Also, even though it sounds silly, what exactly does the filter remove? I've never seen a fish do any pee or poop, but whatever food that goes in obviously has to come out somewhere. Is it mostly to oxidize the water? Keep it clean from any other impurities?[/QUOTE]

They don't "pee" but if you have fish for long enough, you'll see poop. However, this typically falls to the bottom where it sits until it's stirred into the water column and into the filter uptake, or until it is removed by vacuuming the gravel. Fish also expire wastes from respiration.

The filter serves as a home for beneficial bacteria. Many live in the gravel, but the very largest population live in the filter because it's far better aerated and there's more surface area. These bacteria convert fish waste, ammonia, into nitrite and then into nitrate. Nitrate is harmless to fish unless it is huge quantities, and you remove nitrate by doing water changes. In heavily planted tanks, the plants use the nitrate for the nitrogen source and you can do water changes even less often. Obviously, the filter will remove macroparticals through simple mechanical filtration as well. This is why you occassionally rinse the filter to remove debris. Most filters contain a carbon filter as well, but experienced aquarists tend to remove them. They serve little purpose except to remove medication from water after treating an illness.

corynnmarie
01-19-06, 05:56 PM
CorynnMarie, or anyone else who has been so kind to offer advice...
If we want to keep this small tank with the charcoal filter for now, what types of fish would you recommend? [QUOTE]
I'm sorry to hear he didn't make it. Odds were stacked against him though, what with genetics, a small tank, and cycling.

Like I said before, this tank is ideal for a betta. I assure he won't be lonely. :) If you're not convinced, you can get a couple of otocinclus catfish WELL after the tank is established - I'm talking 6 to 9 months. Those guys are quite sensitive - there's kind of a rule in the hobby that you buy twice what you want of these little guys and expect half to die. They're just fragile until they're established and then you can't kill 'em.

[QUOTE]Also, should I empty and clean this tank out completely, and re-start it?
I would. Because that goldfish could have been carrying any sort of parasite or bacterial infection, I would bleach the tank. Just toss 1/4 cup plain cheap bleach into the tank, let it run with the filter on for a few hours, and then empty. Fill it back up with a double-dose of dechlor, and then rinse rinse rinse and let it dry in the sun. Chlorine naturally evaporates in sunlight.

This will, of course, kill any bacteria you may have extablished by now, including the good ones, and your cycle will start all over again when you get a new fish.


For now I left the filter running...does the set-up vary depending on what type of fish are going in it?
Don't waste the electricity. Without a fish in there to provide the bacteria with ammonia, they'll die anyway. Run the bleach and then don't worry about running it until about 24 hours before you add a new fish.


He thinks he's going to want to ask for a bigger tank when his birthday rolls around in August, but for now I want to get this small one right before we take on anything larger.

Larger tanks are infinitely easier. Think about it - any mistake you make will be diluted by 50 gallons of water instead of 2 and a half. They're far more stable in regards to temperature, pH, ammonia/nitrite/nitrate ppm, salinity, etc etc etc. If this is a hobby you're interested in, I encourage you to purchase the largest tank you can afford and house comfortably. And be prepared to have 7 within a year - it's addicting as hell. I miss it terribly because I sold all my tanks when I started college.