Wednesday, June 6, 2007

How-To Start Your Gravel Vacuum Siphon

Updated with another YouTube link and commentary, on 2009-0829.

There is no reason to suck on the tube to start a gravel siphon.

Here is a YouTube video showing one way to start the siphon going without having to suck on the hose. Here's another YouTube showing a gravel vacuum in action. Here's a YouTube showing the way I start my gravel vacuum, which I describe after this link.... but I don't put the hose around my neck like the lady in this video does. I'm not sure why she's doing that anyhow. LOL

Another way to start the gravel vacuum, as shown in the third link above, which is less disruptive than pumping the vacuum tube up and down like in the first link, is to first set up your bucket.

Put your finger over the drain (small) end of the siphon hose.

Then dip the large end of the siphon (vacuum tube end) into the tank and turn it upside down so it fills up with water.

Then lift it out of the tank and slowly let the water drain down into the siphon tube until it reaches your finger.

Then put your finger on the end again so the tubing stays full of water.

Then while keeping the big end (vacuum tube) open side up, again sink it back into the tank so it fills up again (so no air is in the big end or the tubing).

Turn the big end over to get ready to start vacuuming and put the small end in the bucket and release your finger.

Voila! The siphon effect should be started.

Of course always rinse your hands and arms under hot running tap water to remove as much skin oil, etc. from your hands/arms before putting them in your tank.

If you have a long siphon hose, like some folks use to water their gardens at the same time as doing a PWC, this isn't practical and the simplest thing might just be to suck on the end but you should only have to suck a little to get the water up over the top of your tank and down to floor level in the house. It's best to use clear tubing for this purpose so you can see the water. After that, it should continue the siphoning until it reaches the end of the hose and flows out your back door.

Even if I was going to use the long siphon hose process, I would still use the method I described above, since I've read stories of people being 25' or 50' away from their tank when they started the siphon going with the sucking method and by the time they got back to their tank, one of their prized fish had swum up the siphon tube and got caught on the small opening of the tubing. A recent post in a goldfish forum had this accident happen to their small black moore and both eyes got sucked out and the fish didn't make it.

Of course, all of this is moot for me since I use a Python Water Change & Fill System which is worth its weight in gold as far as I'm concerned. I can do PWC's on all of my tanks in a 1/2 hour without making a mess or carrying a bucket.

Here is a recent question and my reply from a forum:

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Chris
Sent: Wednesday, November 05, 2008 9:33 PM
Subject: [AquaticLife] Lenny, Your Blog

Don't you have a primer on gravel cleaning? I know you've typed that one should only do 50% per pwc. Could you post the link for me? I cannot find it.

My Reply:

My standard recommendation is 25% PWC's so that one is not changing the water chemistry parameters too much, too fast.

If the tank is especially dirty, then a series of 25% PWC's, one every couple of hours, should be done. For properly stocked tanks, a weekly 25% PWC should be sufficient. For overstocked tanks, 2 or 3 PWC's a week might be needed... daily in some cases.

As far as vacuuming the gravel, I do have a blog article on "How-To Start Your Gravel Siphon" but as far as cleaning the gravel, it's just a matter of siphoning a small section at a time until the water being sucked up through the siphon tube is flowing clear, then move to another section. If you can't clean all of the gravel during one 25% PWC, wait an hour or so (or the next day) and do a 2nd and/or 3rd 25% PWC until the gravel is mostly coming up clean.

For folks with bigger tanks or multiple tanks, I strongly suggest a Python Gravel Vacuum And Water Change System or one of the other brands who have copied the Python. I think Lee makes one now and there's another brand I've seen and those two have lower prices than the Python.

Another option is a canister filter system like the Marineland HOT Magnum 350 Pro series that has an integrated gravel vacuum tube system so the canister filter provides the suction to suck up the detritus out of the gravel but then the water is returned to the tank so you would still have to do a separate 25% PWC using a regular siphon or pump... or modify that Magnum system to also have a valve that would send the water to a long drain hose instead of back into the tank... but even then, you would have to refill the tank.

The Python or a copy-cat brand is the simplest overall system since it does the gravel vacuuming, water change and then refill all from the same connection.

Maybe, I'll add this reply and more to my existing blog article on the gravel siphon.

Lenny Vasbinder
Fish Blog - (Links to articles referenced above listed on the right side under Archives - Year, Month and under Labels)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Power Outage! - How Me And My Fish Survived Hurricane Katrina

There are lots of web pages about what to do in the event of a power outage. Here is my story of 15 days of no power and five weeks of no drinkable/usable water and how all of my fish in my three tanks survived the ordeal. I'm writing this nearly two years after the event so forgive any lapses or inconsistencies in the story. I'm trying to be as accurate as possible without Googling all of my previous forum posts about my ordeal.

Preparing For The Big One -

I prepared my home for the coming hurricane, as I have done many times over the years. I stocked up on lots of food and beverages that would be consumable without power. I taped and boarded up windows and battened everything else down as secure as possible. Filled the bathtub with water (to be used for flushing the toilet and washing up each night). Filled every spot in my refrigerator and freezers with bottled water so it would be cold and/or frozen (dual purposes - to save my other frozen/refrigerated foods and for use as drinking water when it finally thawed out). I stocked up on emergency supplies as found on the many web pages with emergency preparedness information. Now I was ready... but what about my three fish tanks?

In preparation for the coming hurricane, I did daily 25% PWC's, vacuumed the gravel super good and did proper filter maintenance so the tank ecology, biology and chemistry would be in the best possible condition. I purchased several bundles of Anacharis (Elodea) plants and had plenty floating in my three tanks. These grow fast even with low light so they suck up nitrates and CO2 and put out lots of O2. I know I should keep battery powered air stones but I didn't have them and when I went looking for them, none were to be found. So I prepared the natural way with plants and good water. (Edit added August 2008 - Now I have UPS battery backups on all of my tanks... at least for the filter systems and a nice big generator and window A/C unit for me and the fish. The UPS systems, same as used for computers, protect the filter systems from electrical spikes/surges and also keep the filters running for an hour or so if there is a short term power outage, you will not lose all of your biological filtration and hopefully not dump all the stagnant water back into your tank if the power is off for more than an hour or two.)

Sunday, August 28, 2005 - The Day Before Katrina -

Eight of my neighbors and I had decided to ride out Hurricane Katrina, out of the 47 condo units in our courtyard with over 100 residents... only nine of us were smart enough and/or crazy enough to stay! ;-) You'll find out why I say "smart enough" a little later.

The weather was bad all day but the winds didn't pick up till after it got dark. Due to the way the power lines run through a bunch of trees on the edge of our property, I knew we would lose power quickly since we lose power all the time whenever the wind blows... but surprisingly, we did not lose power until Monday morning around 5:30 a.m. By that time, Hurricane Katrina was well inland and the winds had shifted to where they were coming out of the northwest.... but they were coming faster and gusting harder than they had in the past 24 hours. As of that time, I had nearly zero damage to my 2nd floor condo... just a few minor roof leaks, mostly from wind driven rain getting under the roof flashing and from where the A/C units wiring and copper tubing coming through the roof... but after the power went out, due to the really hard winds, I could hear glass breaking and large objects hitting the buildings around mine... but my unit was still almost completely saved from major damage.

Here's where the "smart enough" part comes in. By riding out a hurricane, when a small roof leak starts up, you will see a small wet spot form on your ceiling. Simply poke a hole through the wet drywall/plaster and put a bucket under it so it drains. If you don't do this, the ceiling eventually fills up with enough water that the entire thing comes down ruining all of your furniture, etc. I had a total of four areas of my ceiling throughout my unit and had to poke around 10 holes in the ceiling, all together, but I never had any catastrophic ceiling damage from Hurricane Katrina or the rains the followed in the coming days, weeks and months until the roof was finally fixed. Many of my neighbors, who evacuated, came home to find their units a complete wreck and all of their life's possessions ruined, moldy and mildewed.

Monday, August 29, 2005 - Katrina Is Causing Havoc All Around Me

Once the sun came up, I could see pink insulation pieces wrapped around the tree in front of my front window and there were 4' x 8' sheets of plywood and roofing material all over the courtyard... it was the roof from the north building in our courtyard and the wind had basically peeled the back rubber membrane of the flat roof up and folded it over but the plywood roofing panels became air born objects... the large objects that were hitting the buildings around mine. A tree was in the swimming pool. All night long, Sunday night into Monday morning, I could hear what sounded like boulders rolling around on my roof... it was the round A/C compressor units that had been knocked over and were rolling back and forth, some still connected by the copper tubing and wiring, some others completely loose but somehow they did not roll off the flat roof of the building.

The wind subsided dramatically on Monday afternoon but the rains continued all day and the water kept rising until it eventually rose to around 12" inside the 1st floor condos. Later we would find out that our idiotic Parish President, Aaron Broussard, had sent all of the flood pump workers out of town so nobody was around to start up the generators or do maintenance on the pumps to pump the rain water out into Lake Pontchartrain or the Bonne Carre Spillway so it just filled up the low lying areas inside of our levee protection system. We tried to do a recall petition on him to throw the bum out of office but Louisiana politics being what they are, it's very difficult to throw a bum out of office. Heck, the idiotic voters down here even re-elect the Each Parish (same as County) in the Metro New Orleans area is protected by its own Levee Protection System and our levees did their job while the City Of New Orleans, just 5 miles west of me, had catastrophic failures to many areas of their levee system which resulted in Lake Pontchartrain and the Mr. Go (Mississippi River Gulf Outlet) flooding into New Orleans filling them up with up to 10' of water in many areas. Only Uptown (formerly the City Of Carrollton) and the French Quarter (still called the Vieux Carre in tourist items) escaped the major flooding. Of course, these were two areas of the city that were first inhabited a couple hundred years ago. I guess those early settlers knew how to look for high ground when they were settling into new cities in America.

How I Saved My Fish -

EVERY HOUR after the power went out, except when I was sleeping (which was only around 4 hours a night since it was so dang hot and humid), I would pour 10-20 32 oz. cups of tank water through the HOB on my 65G. I would also pour 10-20 32 oz. cups of water through the canister filter. I have a Rena Filstar Canister and there is a black cap that can be unscrewed on the top of the intake/suction line and a small funnel can be screwed in so that water poured into the funnel goes down into the canister and returns like normal. This is used to prime the canister when it first gets set up or if it ever loses it's prime during maintenance/cleaning. On my smaller tanks, with HOB's I would do the same thing with lesser amounts of water volume depending on the size of the tank.

This solved two of the problems that occur with a power outage. This manual "filtration" kept my biological filter media alive and kept my tanks aerated enough, since I keep my HOB's raised up high by putting dowels between the HOB and the tank so the waterfall always creates a splash. I know some people do not like this splash noise but it's a huge help in keeping the water aerated and causes more surface agitation to allow for proper gas exchange. FWIW, I found that HOB's are much easier to pour water through manually, compared to canisters. This manual water filtration process was a nuisance but it kept my tanks well aerated and filtered enough to keep them healthy.

One other thing I forgot so far... I also had my computer UPS (battery back up) that I would charge up every couple of days, when a friend with a car and power inverter would come by (my own car was flooded by the flood waters) and I would run the filters on this battery backup for about 5 minutes each every night before I went to bed. Then I would wake up in a couple of hours and do it again. This allowed me to get a couple of hours of sleep without worrying too much about my fish.

BTW... I did not lose a single fish during the 15 days of no power and five weeks of no drinkable water in any of my three tanks. Part of this was because of my pre-hurricane preparation and my diligence in doing the manual filtration of the water but the biggest reason is because NONE of my tanks were overstocked and they had easy-to-grow live plants in them. I didn't try to beat out Mother Nature using chemicals, I just worked with her on my tanks by setting them up more naturally and stocking them lightly.

At the time, I had a 65G Goldfish tank with three fancy goldfish, around 2"-3" each, two Golden Mystery snails and a recently rescued 4" common pleco (rescued from a severely overstocked 10G tank). I also had a 20G tank with two blue/opaline Gourami's (stunted and only 3" each... also from the 10G rescue tank) and three Albino Buenos Aires Tetras (also from the 10G rescue tank). I had a 10G tank with four Zebra Danio's (also from the 10G rescue tank). I was planning on buying a matching 65G tank and setting up the tropicals in their own large tank but Hurricane Katrina changed all of my fish keeping plans.

The power finally came back on the 15th day after Katrina but the water still wasn't drinkable due to the numbers of cracks in the utility pipes that needed to be repaired. I didn't have enough water pressure up to my 2nd floor condo for nearly three weeks after Katrina. I would take showers down by the pool every day about a week after Katrina when we finally had even a little water pressure. Prior to that, I would stand in my tub (that I had smartly filled up prior to Katrina) and pour 32 oz. cups of nice cold water over my head as my nightly shower. LOL

Five weeks after Katrina, the local water utility announced it was safe to drink the water without boiling it. I was finally able to do a PWC on my tanks.

Unfortunately, about a week after my first PWC, I did lose my two apple snails. At first I thought it might be something in the water but after further research and investigation, I think they starved to death since I was doing very limited feeding of all of my fish during this five week ordeal so maybe they weren't getting enough to eat. I did start feeding everyone better after I did the PWC so I'm not sure why the snails died.. but I know that is one thing that will kill a snail quick.. lack of food.

My plan worked for my fish and tanks and I didn't even have a mini-cycle during the entire ordeal. I now have UPS (battery back-ups) on all of my tanks and I have a power inverter that I can run off of my truck cigarette lighter to recharge them daily (hoping the truck doesn't flood) so I am much better prepared for hurricane season now.

Links in alphabetical order by website name:

And now some links to other sites with "how-to" information dealing with power outages in both hot and cold weather. It seems it is a lot easier to deal with hot weather power outages over cold weather power outages. Remember that some of these links are to for-profit sites so they recommend using their products.... some of which I do not feel are necessary but the information is still valuable. (They push a lot of their products on this page, which probably are not necessary, but some of the information is still good)

I hope this helps!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Find Your Tap / Source Water Baseline

Quite often you are told to test your tank water chemistry (parameters) for things like: 1) ammonia, 2) nitrite, 3) nitrate, 4) pH, 5) temperature, 6) KH and 7) GH... the basic tests that most fish keepers should have.  Something you are not often told is that you should know your tap/source water parameters and what happens to your tap/source water after you fill your tank or do a PWC (partial water change). The pH will usually change a little or a lot. There may be ammonia, nitrite or nitrate in your tap/source water. The KH and GH could change or be non-existent.

To find your tap/source water baseline, you should run your cold water for a minute or two to flush out any stagnant water in your home pipes. Then fill a one gallon bucket or other open top container. You need a large opening to have adequate surface area. After filling the bucket, immediately test it for all of your tests (preferably the seven mentioned above). Record your numbers. Add your dechlor product. Test for ammonia again. Record number.  If you do not have the KH and GH test kits, test for everything you do have... but it's really good to know your KH (Carbonate Hardness) as this helps you know if you have to worry about pH crashes in your tank.  GH (General Hardness) is good to know as some fish do not do as well in really soft or really water.  It's best to know your water baseline and then choose fish that do best in your kind of water so you don't have to worry about your fish's health or get into the water chemistry changing game.

If you have chloramine treated water, when you add your dechlor product, it will break the bond between the chlorine and ammonia so you will get a slight ammonia reading. Normally, it's not more than 0.5ppm (which is easily converted in your biological filtration in an established tank but this level can cause alarm in a new tank depending on the pH and temperature).

Now set the bucket on the side and wait 24 to 48 hours and test the water again and compare the numbers. You could also test it at 24 and 48 hours to get even more information about what happens to your tap/source water once it gets into your tank during PWC's. You can speed up this 48 hour time period by adding an air stone to the bucket to agitate the water constantly. If you don't have an extra air pump and stone, then just stir the water regularly to increase the outgassing of CO2 and any other gases in the water that will outgas once in your aquarium anyhow.

Some tap/source waters have high CO2 levels out of the tap which results in a low pH right out the tap but then as the CO2 outgasses, the pH stabilizes to a higher level. Other tap waters have buffers that raise the pH out of the tap but then these buffers wear out quickly when exposed to light, air and temperature changes and the pH will drop.

Also, if you have tropical fish and regularly add hot water to your cold water to raise the temperature to match the tank temperature, you should know what your hot water parameters are as well. Your hot water heater is basically a distillery that is boiling the water which causes the chemistry to change. Many of the additives to your water will come out of solution and settle in the bottom of your hot water heater. You will notice a faucet on the bottom of your hot water heater. Most people don't do this but you should partially drain your hot water heater once a year to remove this sediment. This sediment will eventually cause your hot water heater to fail. Also, it's not good for your fish. Usually, it's just a matter of hooking up a quality garden hose to the faucet, running it out your back door and then open the faucet to let the sediment and sludge flush out until the water is coming out clear. Read your owners manual or online sources for more information on how to do proper maintenance to your hot water heater.

To learn more about the water quality for your area, in the USA, check here:

I hope this helps.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Dictionary: Acronyms, Abbreviations and Key Words commonly used in fishkeeping

Below is a thread I started in a forum to build a "Fish Acronym Dictionary" but I wanted to have this available on my GoldLenny Blog as well.

I'm just starting this list late on a Tuesday night so I'm only putting a few to start with. Please post your Acronym/Abbreviation/Key Word with a definition and I will add it to this "master" list... with credits to you, of course.

ACF - African Clawed Frog

ADF - African Dwarf Frog

BR - Bolivian Ram (Cichlid)(Thanks to XSV Paintballer)

BW or Brackish Water - A mix between Fresh and Salt (Marine) water usually have a salinty count between 5-18ppm or specific gravity between 1.002 - 1.022

CAE - Chinese Algae Eater. Not a good community fish. Also see SAE.

CFS or CS - Chain Fish Store or Chain Store... like Petco, PetsMart, etc.

CO2 - Carbon Dioxide...released by fish during respiration and also used to fertilize plants. (Thanks to Hailey)

Cycle - Abbreviation for "The Nitrogen Cycle" which you can read about on the Beginner's Tutorial on the "Pinned" Training Page link in my sig.

Detritus - Debris, Fish Poop, Uneaten Food, Dead Plant Matter, etc., in your gravel.

dgh- degrees hardness...common measure of gH and kH (equal to 17.86 mg/l or ppm) (Thanks to Hailey)

DI - Distilled Water (Thanks to Hailey)

FW - freshwater (Thanks to JoeGarcia)

GBR - German Blue Ram (Cichlid)(Thanks to XSV Paintballer)

GH- general hardness (level of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water...this level is what is being referred to when people talk about "hard" or "soft" water) (Thanks to Hailey)

gph - Gallons Per Hour for filtration/circulation purposes (Thanks to JoeGarcia)

H-Tank - Hospital Tank HOB - Hang On Back Filter System (also called a Power Filter)

HOT - Hang On Tank filter (power filter)...means the same as HOB (hang on back), but this abbreviation is used less frequently (Thanks to Hailey) (GoldLenny Note: I haven't really heard this term before so I really think this is what Hailey thinks when she looks in the mirror.. HOT! ;-))

Ich/Ick - Ichthyophthirius or White Spot. Common, but dangerous parasite disease. (Thanks to JoeGarcia with added info from GoldLenny)

JD - Jack Dempsey (Cichlid)(Thanks to X24)

KH- carbonate hardness (buffering capacity...a measure of the water's ability to maintain a stable pH when acids or bases are added) (Thanks to Hailey)

LFS - Local Fish Store. An independent, non-chain store.

MAC - Magnetic Algae Cleaner (Thanks to XSV Paintballer)

mg/l - milligrams/liter (one millionth part of a liter... same as ppm)

N-Bacteria - Nitrifying Bacteria. (I have to pat myself on the back for inventing this term since I got tired of typing "Nitrifying" all the time.) The scientific research is still going through some some major changes as it was originally thought that the Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter were the N-bacteria in freshwater but further genetic research is revealing that it is actually Nitrosomonas, Nitrosopira and Nitrospira that are the actual and best N-Bacteria in freshwater. Nitrobacter seems to have been a big mistake from the beginning which is why so many "bacteria-in-a-bottle" products do not work as advertised, since they were based on bad science. Bio-Spira seems to be the only product (due to a patent) that has the correct N-Bacteria for quick-cycling a tank.

NH3 - ammonia. The first part of "The Nitrogen Cycle" (Thanks to JoeGarcia with added info from GoldLenny)

NO2- - nitrite. The second part of "The Nitrogen Cycle" (Thanks to JoeGarcia for reminding me about NH3)

NO3- - nitrate. The final part of the "The Nitrogen Cycle" (Thanks to JoeGarcia for reminding me about NH3)

O2 - Oxygen (Thanks to Hailey)

pH - Potential of Hydrogen - pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Solutions with a pH less than seven are considered acidic, while those with a pH greater than seven are considered basic (alkaline). pH 7 is considered neutral. (From Wikipedia definition)(GoldLenny)

ppm - parts per million; a measure of how much of a material is present in (usually) water or air. Same as mg/l (Thanks to Joe Garcia with mg/l added by GoldLenny)

PWC - Partial Water Change (Usually a 25% PWC but some people do 33% but it's best not to change too much water at one time unless of a contamination or emergency since the fish actually acclimate to "bad" or dirty water slowly over time and if you change the parameters too fast, it can "shock" the fish.)

Q-Tank - Quarantine Tank.

RO - reverse osmosis. A method of producing "pure water". Used more in SW aquaria than FW.(Thanks to JoeGarcia)

SAE - Siamese Algae Eater. A fairly common algae eater that grows to 4-6 inches. Peaceful. (Thanks to GoldfishCrazy11)

SW - saltwater (Thanks to JoeGarcia)

UGF - Under Gravel Filter (Not used as much in current fish keeping but some modified UGF's are making their way back.)

UV- ultraviolet light (Thanks to JoeGarcia)

If you do not find your "word" on this list, please post a comment about it and I will add it to this dictionary, with credit given to you. You can also try this other site

I hope this helps with some of the frequently used acronyms.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Filter Profile - Marineland Penguin 200 Bio-Wheel

The following article shows the breakdown, cleaning and reassembly of my Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel 200 filter system... one of my many filter systems.

Manufacturer's description:

Noise-Reducing Vented Cover For quieter operation

Two-Piece Filter Hood For flip-top filter cartridge access

Adjustable Mid-Level Intake attaches to the Intake Extension Tube to provide increased water circulation.Extra Media Slots (Penguin 200 and 350) for an additional Rite-Size Filter Cartridge or Penguin Refillable Media Cartridge for enhanced chemical filtration.Plus...
Leak Proof, Easy-Care Design.

One-piece tank and motor assembly means no O-rings to fail.

Single moving part removes easily for cleaning.

No oiling or motor maintenance required.

Automatic Self-Starting Feature Restarts automatically.

No messy siphons or valves.

Worry-Free, Safety Engineering.

UL listed; cUL or CSA listed.

Epoxy-sealed, moisture-proof motor ensures safe operation.
Penguin 100 - 100gph (up to 20G tropical or as additional filter on goldfish tank)

Penguin 150 - 150gph (up to 30G tropical or as additional filter on goldfish tank)

Penguin 200 - 200gph (up to 50G tropical or as additional filter on goldfish tank)

Penguin 350 - 350gph (up to 75G tropical or 35G goldfish tank)

The following photos will also show the filter cartridge modifaction that I made to remove the carbon and also how I add extra polypad filter media for increased filtration between the bi-weekly cleanings. The reservoir on this filter is not very large so it does not have a lot of room for very much media but it could hold a small media bag full of some type of bio-media. I just prefer to use extra polypad media which provides both mechanical and biological filtration.

Here is the filter on the tank with the two covers in place. There is a top slotted-cover over the filter reservoir and a separate front cover over the Bio-Wheel, so as it spins, the spray drips back down into the waterfall and tank.

Here is the filter with the two covers removed.

Since this cleaning was going to take longer because of the photographs, I removed the Bio-Wheel and had it floating in the tank, so that it would not dry out and kill the nitrifying bacteria. Usually, I set it in the removed front cover while I'm cleaning the filter. Anytime the fliter is turned off for any length of time (e.g. during transport or a power outtage), the Bio-Wheel should be floated in the tank to keep it from drying out, keep the nitrifying bacteria alive and to help continue "cycling" the ammonia in your tank.

Here is the filter sitting next to the sink, ready to be cleaned.

I first removed the intake tube and impellor assembly. I run water through the tube to flush out any large debris and occasionally I clean it with a bottle brush and clean the impellor housing as well.

Here is the filter cartridge and the extra polypad filter media. I use bulk polypad filter media comprised of blue (coarse) and white (fine) polypad material and cut the large sheet into the sizes I need for my various filter systems. A package of this polypad media is inexpensive.

This shows a top view of the filter and reservoir. I use the "dirty"
extra polypad to clean off the buildup on the waterfall outlet and any other buildup, before I clean the polypad material. If needed, I clean the Bio-Wheel holders with a toothpick to remove any buildup that might slow down the spinning of the Bio-Wheel.

Here are the filter cartridge and extra polypad filter after cleaning under dechlored tap water from my PUR faucet filter. This keeps some of the N-Bacteria alive. I have two filters for this tank and clean one every other week to minimize disruption of the biological filter. If I only have one filter system on a tank, then I only squeeze/swoosh the filter media in removed tank water so I do not kill off any of the good nitrifying bacteria.

Here is the other side of the filter cartridge and polypad filter media.
The blue and white polypad material is a combination coarse/fine mechanical filter media, which also provides additional surface area for growing good nitrifying bacteria.

This shows how I used a razor knife to slice open the black slotted plastic on the back of the filter cartridge so I could dump out the carbon and re-use the filter cartridge over and over and over. Basically, I cut an "H" along the sides and across the middle but a "U" or inverted "U"
could also be done. I thought the "H" would leave the frame structure intact. I do frequent 25% PWC's (partial water changes) so I do not run carbon in all of my filters. I do keep bulk carbon on hand for when I need it and use filter media bags to hold the carbon. This is still the original filter cartridge that came with the system two years ago.

Here is another picture showing the "surgery" I did to the filter cartridge to remove the old carbon, yet allow me to reuse the filter cartridge.

Here is the filter Cartridge and extra polypad media replaced in the reservoir. Note how I have the extra polypad sticking up about an inch above the filter cartridge. I then fold this over the top of the cartridge so that when the filters start to get dirty and the water fills up more in the reservoir, it will eventually overflow the polypads but still get partially filtered by this extra inch of polypad.

This shows the extra inch folded over the top of the filter cartridge.

Here is the filter sytem cleaned and back on the tank. That white buildup is the calcium/mineral buildup from the evaporated hard tap water that I have. I would normally just use a little white vinegar on a paper towel to easily wipe that off.

BTW... that 1/2 filled 10G tank in the background is an H-tank where I have one of my goldfish right now. He's not feeling well and has a fin-tear/rot issue so I have him in the H-tank with a bubble filter so he doesn't have to deal with the over-filtration in the main tank. I'm treating him with MelaFix/PimaFix cocktail and anti-bacterial food for the past three days. He's doing much better but will stay in the H-tank till he's back to his perky self!

Lenny Vasbinder aka GoldLenny in forums

Monday, April 2, 2007

Filter Profile - Rena Filstar xP1

The following article shows a breakdown, cleaning and reassembly of a Rena Filstar xP1 Canister Filter... one of my many filter systems.

Manufacturer Stats:

xP1 - 250gph (up to 45G tropical or 25G goldfish tank)
xP2 - 300gph (up to 75G tropical or 30G goldfish tank)
xP3 - 350gph (up to 175G tropical or 35G goldfish tank)
xP4 - 450gph (up to 265G tropical or 45G goldfish tank)

» Easy-to-use and extremely powerful with multi-stage filtration and bypass-free circulation, the Rena Filstar continues to raise the bar for the best possible aquarium filtration.

» Guaranteed self-priming system (unique "anti-airlock" system)

» Adaptable to all types of aquariums (spraybar and powerhead included)

» Extremely quiet

» Efficient 3-step filtration guaranteed in a by pass-free construction

The following photos will show a complete breakdown of the filter system and also how I add extra polypad filter media for increased mechanical and biological filtration between the bi-weekly cleanings.

The reservoir on this filter is around one gallon so it does have a lot more room for filter media, compared to an HOB (hang-on-back) style filter. Besides the two large sponge blocks, which come with the xP1, I also prefer to use extra polypad media which provides both mechanical and biological filtration.

This is the smallest Rena Filstar Canister Filter, rated at 250gph, but I think it's the best bargain as far as gph-per-dollar out of many canister filters that I compared including the bigger Rena Filstar models. I've had it for three years (this blog was written in 2007) and it is a work-horse, IMO (and it's 2010 now and still working like a horse!) The only thing I've had to do, besides normal weekly to bi-weekly filter media cleanings and impeller cleaning, was to clean the clear intake/outflow hoses of any algae/detritus build-up. I usually do this about once a year, by using a bottle brush and a piece of string, tied to the handle, to pull it through the hose.

Hint on cleaning the hoses - After removing both hoses from the system and draining them to get most of the water out, use your home vacuum to "suck" the string through the hose, then pull the bottle brush through and the hose is "clean" of any algae build-up. You may have to do this more than once, depending on your build-up.

Here is the filter installed and running. Prior to doing any filter maintenance, you must unplug the filter system. Like many filter systems, there is no on/off switch on this filter system either.

Side view showing clear housing to observe water quality in the filter. It will almost always show "clear" when it's running since the detritus is sucked up against the bottom filter grate. As soon as you unplug the filter, you will see the detritus floating around in the reservoir.

Showing lever to release hose connection panel, in the down or locked position.

Showing lever lifted up to release hose connection panel.

Showing hose connection panel lifted off of canister top.

Canister removed to counter for cleaning. Four snap locks un-snapped.

Canister motor housing removed showing underside with impeller cover.

Canister motor housing removed showing impeller cover removed.

Inside of canister showing filter basket.

After basket removed, showing "dirty" water remaining in canister.

Basket removed, sitting in sink.

Opening the basket to expose various filter media.

This is the "top" of the filter media basket. Water comes up through the bottom of the filter basket so this is the last stage of filtration... a polishing poly pad.... although I am planning one more stage of Purigen.

Second to last stage of filtration... a blue/white coarse/medium poly pad.

Plastic grates go between each layer in the basket. Third to last stage of filtration... a small pore open cell sponge.

First stage of filtration... a large pore open cell sponge.

Basket empty of all filter media and ready to be rinsed off. Note large detritus/debris on the bottom of the large pore open cell sponge.

The two sponges were swooshed and squeeze out several times in a gallon of removed tank water, so most of the N-bacteria stay living in the sponges.

There is more surface area on the insides of one of these sponges and polypads than almost all of the other surface areas of your tank, combined. Open cell sponges provide biological and mechanical filtration. Polypads provide biological and polishing benefits.

The Blue/White poly pad was rinsed off under PUR filtered tap water to clean it good while not killing all of the N-bacteria, since the PUR filter removes chlorine/chloramine from the tap water. The White polishing poly pad was rinsed really good over and over under hot tap water to bring it back to nearly white condition. Poly pads provide biological and mechanical filtration.

The media was put back into the basket in the reverse order with the white polishing polypad on top, as the last stage of bio/mechanical filtration.

The canister reservoir was then emptied and rinsed out. The basket full of cleaned media replaced into the canister reservoir and the reservoir filled up with tank water. The motor housing replaced on top and snapped into place. Then the hose connection panel plugged back in and clamped into place. Then plugged back in to turn it on.

Please note that I am going to start using Purigen, from Seachem. A [b]rechargeable[/b] filter media that is reportedly 500% better than carbon and does not remove trace elements... only DOC's, etc. It does not purport to allow you to go 6 months or forever without PWC's but it does claim to last up to 6 months between recharges. It's a white filter media that turns dark as it gets "dirty" and then is recharged using a bleach solution and soaking in dechlor solution before being reused in our tanks.

My blog "article" on Filter Maintenance & Cleaning details more information.

The above pictures are reduced in size for this article (I like that feature at Webshots... where you can choose from a thumbnail to a full-size image URL for use in linking in forums). They are published FULL-SIZE in my public Webshots photo album, , so anyone is welcome to use copies as they see fit.... subject to $1,000,000.00 royalty payments to me! LOL (I don't have any rich relatives so I have to get rich somehow. :-D)

Lenny Vasbinder

Monday, March 26, 2007

My DIY $20.00 BIG tank stand

That's right... just $20.00 worth of materials and you can have a 30" high tank stand that will easily hold a 48" by 18" tank like my 65G acrylic tank. This stand "design" is capable of holding much more weight. If you plan on adding some type of plywood veneer as the exterior of the stand, the basic frame would be the only thing needed as the plywood would provide the additional frame and squaring support. My exterior plans were going to be "cosmetic" rather than structural, so I built the interior of the stand to be the load bearing structure.

I never did "finish" the exterior of this stand since I was interrupted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I rode it out and me and all of my fish survived! I'm going to try and finish the exterior, doors and canopy this summer (2007).

Sorry that these pictures aren't the greatest quality. I was using a laptop and webcam to snap these pictures since I did not have my "good" digital camera with me at the time.

Here is my parts list:

7 - 96" (8') long 2x4's (actually 1.5"x3.5") = $14.00
1 - 4 lb. box of 2 1/2" deck screws = $ 5.00

You will also need a saw and screwdriver... preferably powered! I used a cordless drill and cordless circular saw.

Cut the seven 2x4's into the following lengths.
5 - 48" (Two of the 2x4's cut in half and 48" cut off the third)
6 - 23" (One and one-half 2x4's with 4-6" left over as scrap)
6 - 30" (Two 2x4's with 5-6" left over scrap from each one)
6 - 15" (One 2x4 with 5-6" left over as scrap)

Assemble as follows in these pictures.

4 - 48" long sections, 4 - 15" short sections and 4 - 30" inside leg sections. The 15" short sections combined with the 2x1.5" of the long sections makes this stand 48" long by 18" deep by 30" high.

The basic start of the frame with more of the pre-cut pieces waiting for assembly

The stand fully assembled. The 6 - 23" sections support the middle of the long sections and the four corners. The other 2 - 15" sections support the middle of the top and bottom. The last 48" section is the diagonal on the back to keep the frame "squared". While assembling, regularly measure the diagonals on both sides and the front/back to make sure the stand is "squared" properly (the diagonal measurements should be the same) before tightening up the screws completely. I put the "L" legs at each inside front corner to give the stand adequate resistance from going out of square in the front. A diagonal would be best but I wanted the front open for the eventual doors.
More pictures showing construction details
The empty tank on the stand.
Filling the tank with the Python
The final set up! Of course, with goldfish, the aquascaping constantly changes with the addition of new plants on a regular basis
Hope this helps. Please feel free to leave comments or questions and I'll answer your questions and add on to this article based on your comments or questions.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bio-Spira online - Where to buy???


It seems that Dr. Tim Hovanec and Marineland have parted ways and the bad news is that Marineland has merged into Tetra which I consider to be a lesser quality company.... but the good news is that Dr. Tim has started his own company at and you can now buy his own version of an improved Bio-Spira-like product called Dr. Tim's One And Only which can also be purchased at most major retailers and online etailers. It doesn't have to be refrigerated and can last for up to six months at room temperatures but does last longer if it is kept refrigerated.


See the late breaking news here...

For years and years, I use to recommend people buy their Bio-Spira from The Fish Store in Tennessee since they had the best prices and lowest shipping costs. I just learned today that they are no longer in business so I went to work finding a new online source for Bio-Spira

After Froogling and Yahoo Shopping searching, I found that is the only online source at this time. They are a reputable website but their prices aren't always the best and when I check their online prices just now, , it looks like it will cost around $40.00 for a 1 oz package and $50.00 for a 3 oz package, including overnight refrigerated shipping. Not cheap but still much better than spending a month or more humanely fishless cycling or putting you and your fish through the arduous process of cycling with fish.

If you come across other online sources of Bio-Spira, please leave me a comment so I can add that resource to this blog and to my favorites folder.

You can also go to the - Order Bio-Spira page and on the left side, there is a place to enter your zip code to find a retailer but I've found that many of the retailers listed do not actually stock Bio-Spira but do carry other Marineland products. If you ask your local retailer, they may be able to order it for you and save you the expensive shipping charges associated with ordering a single pouch for yourself.

Hope this helps and saves a few "newbies" from having to go through the "cycling with fish"process. They can get Bio-Spira one day and get their fish the next day.

GoldLenny - FREE, secure, encrypted and automatic online backup of your documents and files. Check out how simple and secure it can be to use the Mozy backup system. It will back up your most important files, photos and folders... or your entire hard drive, every day/night (you set the schedule) while you aren't using your computer... and did I mention... it's FREE. I have been using this product/service since it was in Beta Testing and have been 100% satisfied with the final product!!!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Hailey's 10 Gallon Tank Stocking List And Suggestions - Updated Several Times By GoldLenny

Last Edited - August 14, 2010

You want to stick to fish that stay under 3 inches and are slow moving or at least not terribly active (that rules out things like tiger barbs...almost all barbs in fact, danios, most rainbows, etc).

Schooling fish appropriate for a 10 gallon:
(remember to keep schooling fish in groups of 6 or more)
neon tetra
black neon tetra
gold neon tetra
green neon tetra
ember tetra
red eye tetra
glowlight tetra
silver tip tetra
pristella tetra
green fire tetra
black phantom tetra
red phantom tetra
cochu's blue tetra
blue emperor tetra (Inpaichthys kerri...not to be confused with the emperor tetra, Nematobrycon palmeri)
emerald eye rasbora
harlequin rasbora
black harlequin rasbora
golden harlequin rasbora
red axelrod rasbora
dwarf rasbora
celestial pear danio (formerly known as galaxy rasbora)
one-lined pencilfish
black winged hatchetfish
marbeled hatchetfish
threadfin (or featherfin) rainbowfish
blue-eye rainbowfish or forktail rainbowfish of the pseudomugil genus (many different kinds...all small schooling fish, but some are semi-aggressive, so research and choose carefully)

Semi-schooling fish:
(these fish prefer 6 or more, but can be kept with just 2+, though more is always better)
cherry barbs (not most other barbs)
emperor tetras (Nematobrycon amphiloxus, not the "blue emperor tetra", Inpaichthys kerri)
kuhli loaches
panda corydora catfish (good scavenger)
pygmy corydora catfish (smaller version of the same)
otocinclus catfish (good algae eater)

Non-schooling fish (so you can have just 1):
dwarf gourami (can also be kept one male and two or more females)
betta spelendens*(see asterisk section below)
betta imbellis*
betta smaragdina*
(never mix the above fish and never keep two males of any in one tank)
(the above three prefer more of their own kind but are alright alone...if you add more than one make sure they are all male or you will have tons of fry being born all the time)

Invertebrates and other non-fish tankmates:
(these would be good with anything that doesn't get big enough to eat them)
amano shrimp (great algae eater)
cherry shrimp (good algae eater)
blue shrimp (good algae eater)
redfronted shrimp (good algae eater)
tiger shrimp (good algae eater)
bumblebee shrimp (okay algae eater)
ghost shrimp (does not eat algae, but can be a help as a scavenger)
apple snail
mystery snail
malaysian trumpet snail (very helpful as a sand sifter to keep anaerobic pockets from developing in sand substrates)
ramshorn snail
[Note: all snails breed rapidly and can overpopulate a tank quickly if over fed. Keep feeding to just what the fish need...the snails will find enough that the fish miss during feedings to live on]
african dwarf frog (not to be confused with the african clawed frog, which will get far too large and aggressive for a 10 gallon tank)

Species tank fish (keep only them, with nothing else):
dwarf puffers (1 male only, 3-4 females)
german blue rams (male/female pair)
sparkling gouramis (one male and 1 or more females)
licorice gouramis (male/female pair)
(the gouramis can be kept in very sedate, peaceful community tanks but do best in species tanks because they are so shy)
neolamprologus (aka. 'lamprologus') brevis (male/female pair)
neolamprologus (aka. 'lamprologus') multifasciatus (1 male, 2 females)
neolamprologus (aka. 'lamprologus') similis (1 male, 2 females)
(the three tanganyikan cichlids above must be provided with plenty of small shells that they can fit in, since they are shell dwellers)

Remember to try to keep schooling fish in groups of 6 or more...this makes it hard to stock a small tank, but if you get only one school of something you can do it, or if you stick to the tiniest schoolers like ember green neon, or neon tetras, and then add some non-schooling fish like a gourami, platy, betta, etc.

*Bettas can be particularly tricky to keep with other fish, so I thought it best to elaborate on the subject of proper tankmates for bettas. Some good tankmates for bettas include corydoras, otocinclus, small, peaceful tetras and rasboras like the ones on this list (some others may not be appropriate), kuhli loaches, pencilfish, snails, african dwarf frogs (only one in a 10 gallon), and occasionally shrimp, if the betta doesn’t eat them. Avoid fish of the same color or shape (especially with long fins), fast swimmers (which I didn't put on the list anyway because they don't do well in 10 gallon tanks), labyrinth fish, or fish which occupy the top of the tank like the betta. This rules out gouramis, guppies, hatchetfish, any species of long finned tetras, and various other fish depending on the color of the betta you choose.

Recently, a group of freshwater fish classified as nano-fish are becoming available to the hobby. Frank's Aquariums sells a good selection of nano-fish -

And here's an article in the works on, called Nanofish List but it's more for stocking what would be considered a Nano Planted Tank (10G or less) and it doesn't really break things down into which fish can go into which tanks but there may be some more information to be gleemed from the entire thread. As I read more into the thread, the "list" in post number two is obsolete and you can find the latest list, updated as of 11/09, at the following link but you may want to read further into the multi-page thread for an even newer list that may come up after April 13, 2010, which is the date I updated this blog article.

Hope this helps with your 10G stocking ideas.

GoldLenny (with a BIG THANKS to Hailey for all of her work compiling the initial phase of this list)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pond Information and DIY Pond Information

Here is a recent post I did to a forum. I need to "clean" it up for this blog but I'm just getting it out here for now. :D

Go to my Blog Post about a DIY pump pre-filter/bio-filter that you can make for around $10.00 (not including the pump and fountain that you will need regardless, to keep your pond aerated).

You will also need a good liner... probably the most important thing since I've read horror stories of ponds leaking.

Also be careful of fountains and water falls as they have led to draining a small pond as well if they start spraying the water out of the pond for some reason... heavy wind day or they get moved for some reason.

I've read about using a plastic water trough for farm animals as a pre-fabbed pond which is more sturdier and deeper so they take advantage of the earths geothermal heating/cooling... or they can be used above ground as well but then you wouldn't get the geothermal assistance. You might be able to find these used for around $50.00 or less at farm auctions. The downside is they don't have the different levels like you could get with a pond liner but they are much cheaper than a good pond liner. I think they have different sizes with a 300G containers that is oval shaped and three feet deep. With a liner, you can make your design however you want but the cost would be more.

Using the dimensions you provided, your pond will be around 187 gallons (using this site ) but will probably be less once you add the liner so if you get long bodied goldfish, you will only be able to have a few. With round bodied, you could have about 6 but YOU CANNOT GET THEM ALL AT ONCE. Just one or two at a time and you will have to cycle the pond and test your water just like a tank but it's not as bad since it's a bigger volume of water and outdoors which allows for rain, more plants, etc.

My Blog pre-filter/bio-filter relies on Anacharis as part of the system so that will help you keep your water crystal clear along with the filter system. I'm sure you will have other water plants too.. like lilies to cover about 1/2 of the pond to help give it shade and protect the fish from bird predators. You'll find out if you have raccoons or other land predators after you build the pond.

Here's one of my previous blog posts to start you off about the DIY pre-filter.

These next two articles are VERY GOOD about keeping a pond and keeping it clean and clear.

This guy left a comment on my Blog and his site is pretty good and he has a free e-Book download on his filter system and pond.

His eBook download link:

This eBook is readable online at and covers everything from building the pond to keeping it running and stresses proper ecology and biology instead of chemical additives for every minor problem.

This is a pretty good site too... Robyn's Pond Site and there is a Yahoo Group thing to sign up for to get her Yahoo Group distributed newsletter but it's not a forum to ask questions, although there may be forums associated with her site... I haven't been there in a while:

There's quite a few Yahoo Groups for ponds but most of them aren't moderated and get tons of spam. This next few are OK but they do not get a lot of activity but at least they're not filled with spam. - A moderately busy group but NO spam. - A slow group but NO spam. - A busy group that is moderated. - A busy group but gets some spam on rare occasions.

This site has some pictures and diagrams and instructions.

As does this one... but this site overall recommends too many chemical fixes but the instructions will probably help.

This is another eBook type site but you have to send them your email info... I use a secondary email addy for these types of sites.. just in case of spam.

Here is a PDF e-book called "101 Pond Tips and Tricks", put out by a pond liner product company but it has some good info and things to think about when building a pond.

Here's a new site I recently found that has a weekly newsletter with a new article each week.
Or there FREE book download in .pdf format - The Pond Keeper's 10 Steps To Successful Koi Keeping -

Here's a page of articles on various topics for pond care.

Here's a page of FAQ's about pondkeeping that is pretty good.

A very good site about Pond Water Chemistry.

Following are some online and regular subscription magazines. Most of these are FREE.

Here's one where you can read or download the current edition which comes out every two months. On the right side, a little down, you'll see the link to "Read the Current Edition" where it will open a .pdf document. It's a big file since it's the entire magazine but you can save a copy on your computer and read it at your leisure and print any pages you like. is an online magazine where you can also read the past issues online. At the bottom, there is a link to "Subscribe" to their mailing list so you will be notified when each issue comes out. has the archives of previous "Pond & Garden" magazines and you can download the multi-part .pdf files. It's best to download the multiple parts into separate folders for each volume. is more for BIG ponds or small lakes and you can subscribe to this one, but there is a free issue you can download to look over to see if you think you will like it. is a free subscription that will be mailed to you. If you are not involved in the "business" end of ponds, then you may have to fudge the info a little to make it look like you are. It's mailed to USA/Canada but if you are out of those areas, they have a .pdf subscription for "Foreign Subscribers".

I used to have a ton more links and other downloadable eBooks but I lost my "Favorites" folder when my hard drive froze up on my laptop and I didn't have the Favorites backed up. You can Google for lots of other pond sites but use caution about the sites that are pushing their chemicals or recommend chemical fixes for everything. Just like with tanks, if you have a proper biology/ecology, your pond will function reasonably well.

Hope this helps.


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Even MORE kudos for!!!

Based on a recent post where I realized that a fish profile had a typo or error on one of the profile, I took a few minutes to send them an email.

Much to my surprise, I heard back from them within the hour. Here is their reply, followed by my email to them. I am always impressed when a HUGE website replies to an email... much less replies so quickly. I'm not sure if this is the actual owner replying or one of his employees but according to the website, the owner of is Rhett Butler and this email was "signed" by him.

I have to say, they just earned even more respect in my book!

Here is the actual email reply -------------------

Thank you Lenny.

I made the correction. Let me know if you ever find any errors or would like to contribute other information to the site.

Best regards,


On 2/20/07, (GoldLenny) wrote:

Mongabay (via email available on their "Contact Us" page)

Re: Profile on Red Bellied Pacu

I am an advanced member and daily contributor to various fish keeping forums. I am always telling people to go to to do their research on their fish or give them the actual fish profile or other information.

While "researching" the subject matter, I believe the referenced Mongabay profile needs to be updated since the Mongabay profile shows this fish only growing to 18" whereas it actually grows to 36" and some say up to 48" (See References below).

I don't like to see errors or typos on Mongabay as I preach to everyone how good your site is.


Lenny V___________ - FREE, secure, encrypted and automatic online backup of your documents and files. Check out how simple and secure it can be to use the Mozy backup system. It will back up your most important files, photos and folders... or your entire hard drive, every day/night (you set the schedule) while you aren't using your computer... and did I mention... it's FREE. I have been using this product/service since it was in Beta Testing and have been 100% satisfied with the final product!!!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Goldfish Care Sheet - Fancy Goldfish

10/26/2008 - Sections added for "Filter Maintenance And Cleaning", "PWC - Partial Water Changes" and "Goldfish Illness Diagnosis".

Using my own experiences with pond and aquarium goldfish... AND due to the numerous "good" websites that, in my opinion, are still advising UNDERSIZED tanks or just "10 gallons per goldfish" (which is far too little IMO and based on scientific and mathematical facts), I decided to do my own "Goldfish Care Sheet".

Other references are listed at the bottom of this article but I wanted to post this link to one of the best "articles" on goldfish care that I've found on the net,, which, on page 2, has, "...Its true that a 40-litre (~10G) aquarium can house two to four small goldfish for a while but they will not reach their full growth potential or be as healthy as they could be. To properly house goldfish, they (all types) need 75 square centimeters of surface area for every 2 centimeters of goldfish" (comparable to 75 square inches of surface area for every 2 inches of goldfish, so an 8" goldfish needs around 300 square inches of surface area... that's 15" x 20" of surface area per goldfish!). "That means 120 to 200 litres of water for every goldfish" (~30G to 50G per goldfish).

Here's another good article all about Fancy Goldfish, that came out recently (Sept. 2008) in PFK - Practical Fishkeeping Magazine - a very good UK based magazine.
(You may have to "Join" the site, which is free, to see this article but it's worth it and you can also subscribe to get the e-Newsletter so you can read other good articles every month for free)

Another reference used for this care sheet is my own older blog article, "New Rules/Guidelines To Replace The Fish-Killing One Inch Rule", which has this info, "...Medium Large Fish (including Fancy Goldfish) - 3 Gallons per adult size inch for fish 6" to 10" as adults. Minimum Tank Size - 48" to 80" long (6X to 8X longer than longest expected adult sized fish in the tank)..." and "...Large Fish (including Oscars, Common Pleco's, Comets and Common Goldfish) - 5 Gallons per adult size inch for fish over 10" as adults. Minimum Tank Size - 80" long and UP depending on expected adult size of fish using the basis of 8X longer than the longest expected adult sized fish in the tank...."

A round-bodied goldfish increases it's body mass by eight times for every time it doubles its length. So a 2" goldfish is equal to eight 1" goldfish. A 4" goldfish is equal to eight 2" goldfish (or 64 1" goldfish). A 6" to 8" round-bodied goldfish is equal to hundreds of 1" goldfish... so how in the world can a goldfish be kept in 10G's of water? Would you keep hundreds of 1" goldfish in a 10G tank? A 6" to 8" round-bodied goldfish is a eating/pooping machine and there is simply no logical way that they should be kept in 10G of water.

Utilizing these three things as my primary references, here is my...

MINIMUM TANK SIZE: 55G, four foot long tank for up to two round-bodied goldfish; 100G, six foot+ long tank for up to two long-bodied goldfish.



I read this formula several years ago and it has always stuck because it makes so much sense...

A round-bodied goldfish grows eight times in body mass for every time it doubles its length. So a 2" goldfish is equal in body mass to eight 1" goldfish. A four inch goldfish is equal in body mass to eight 2" goldfish or 64 one inch goldfish. An 8" goldfish is equal to hundreds of 1" goldfish.

This is why 10G per goldfish is not enough water... IMO. I know a lot of people do it and it's all over the internet but it just can't be done long term as it will cause stress, stunting, poor water quality and many other health issues, ultimately leading to an early death of the goldfish. The numbers simply do not work out. Technically, based solely on body mass and size, a single goldfish shouldn't even be in a 55G tank. They are equal to much more than 55 one inch fish so even the fish-killing "one inch rule" excludes them from fitting in a 55G tank but for starting out, a 55G does provide the proper amount of swimming, water volume and growing room to give them a chance at reaching full adult size. By then, you will love your BIG goldfish so much that you won't mind getting a much larger tank. Another reason for giving them adequate water volume is this "old" saying in the fish keeping hobby.... "Dilution is the solution to pollution", meaning that having your goldfish in a larger volume of water will dilute the ammonia and waste they put out to lower the polution percentage levels between PWC's (partial water changes).

FILTER MAINTENANCE AND CLEANING (<-- Click to get to my article on this topic) For Goldfish, I recommend large filter systems like canister filters or HOB/Power Filters that have large reservoirs for holding a lot of filter media. The small filter cartridges on many HOB's simply do not have enough filter media mass to handle the waste level from goldfish. A good HOB/Power Filter brand is the AquaClear by Hagen brand. They come with a large filter media reservoir, a large sponge block, filter floss pad and BioMax which is a good nitrifying bacteria media. Having the BioMax and the large mass of filter media gives you a chance to partially clean some of the filter media (never clean the BioMax) without causing your tank to go into a mini-cycle like what happens when changing a filter cartridge out completely on other brands. PWC's - PARTIAL WATER CHANGES -

Even if kept in a proper sized tank and not overstocked, weekly 25% PWC's should be done or at least strived for. This will be your first defense in keeping the gravel from being too heavily clogged with detritus and will also remove/dilute any DOC's (dissolved organic compounds) that are in the water column. PWC's will also replace the trace elements and minerals that are constantly being utilized by the fish, nitrifying bacteria, any plants, microscopic life forms in the tank, etc.


There's no need for me to re-type things that have been documented over and over on several good webpages. Here is one of the first places that I would look for Goldfish issues. It's up to date and that site is generally a good source of information except I disagree with their 10G per goldfish recommendation on their care sheet and we have publicly debated that issue but they refuse to update their care sheet.

If that page does not help you with your goldfish issue, check out the other good fish disease diagnosis pages that I have listed on my "Disease & Illness Diagnosis And Treatment" page.

(To be continued, but read over the reference links at the bottom of this page for additional information)


References: (THE BEST "article" on goldfish care that I've found on the internet! Recommends 30G to 50G per goldfish) (Another VERY GOOD article that was just published in Sept. 2008 in Practical Fishkeeping Magazine which recommends a minimum of 36" long, 20G tank for a single fancy goldfish... but also stating that is only for starting out and that a larger tank will be needed as the fish grows.) (VERY GOOD forum thread turned into an article recommending at least 20G for the first goldfish and 10G more for each additional goldfish (to start off with) which is still too little water volume for adult sized goldfish but slowly but surely, care sheets are raising their standards.) (Temporarily NOT a good link. The site is down now but hopefully will be back up one day. It was a VERY GOOD forum post on goldfish care recommends at least 20G for one goldfish and a 55G for 3-4 goldfish) (GOOD, except for 10G recommendation. This care sheet recommends 10G to 30G per goldfish, so not too bad and much of the other information is good) (GOOD, except I disagree with 5 goldfish in a 60G tank... maybe 3 would work with proper tank maintenance for long term success. This care sheet does not differentiate between long-bodied and round-bodied goldfish and long-bodied goldfish need larger tanks due to their size and swimming capabilities.) and (GOOD, except for mixed signals on how much water volume per goldfish. One link talks about 7-10G per goldfish and the other page says 10G per goldfish is no where near enough for long term success.) (GOOD, except for 10G recommendation. This care sheet recommends 10G "at least" which is low, IMO, but the rest of the information is very good) (FAIR... Mixed between very good and not so good info. The first page has an example of a 55G tank... VERY GOOD... but then some of the links from this page goes off into much smaller tanks but usually not less than a 10G) (POOR... Starts off talking about "a bowl or tank" but later says 10G to 20G at full size which is still too little... NOT much "other" good info) (POOR... Starts off with a number of 2 gallons per fish inch... which isn't bad if they would have said "expected adult size" since that would have been 16G to 30G... but it didn't, so it's very misleading) (VERY BAD... starts off talking about "a bowl" and then says "2 gallons per goldfish") (VERY BAD... actually a copy of the care sheet above) (My own article on "NEW Rules/Guidelines To Replace The Fish-Killing 1" Per Gallon Rule")
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World Flag Counter added April 14, 2010 and U.S. State's Flag Counter added April 22, 2010

World Flag Counter added April 14, 2010 so the numbers are artificially low by over 10,000 hits (pageviews) based on Google's Adsense numbers. I'm only showing the top 60 countries but if you want to see the full list, open the FlagCounter in a new tab/window and you can then navigate around to see a Map, List, etc. The "Visitors" number is based on unique visitors so this counter does not re-count the same person who visits again. free counters Free counters!