Welcome to Northwest Firearms
Join our community, sign up for free today!
Sign Up

Way Off Topic - Goldfish and Low PH

etrain16

Messages
16,416
Reactions
61,010
Alright folks, way off topic post here, but I have a question for you fish keepers out there. We have a 6-7 year old goldfish (if you're surprised by that age, then you're right there with me). Anyway, this is the fish that will not die. We got him from a friend that moved out of state and couldn't take him with them. I honestly expected him to last 6 months or so and be gone like every other goldfish I've ever known. Well, he hung on and over the years went from a little fish bowl to a 10 gallon tank with a filter.

I never wanted this fish to begin with, but I was overridden by the wife and daughter. Somehow, cleaning his tank has fallen on me. I don't know how to care for fish, so I don't clean the tank likely as often as we should. I do use some water amendments to help keep it clean and supposedly keep him healthy. Up to this point, water changes/tank cleaning has always been uneventful, until this last weekend.

On Sunday I did a pretty intense water change, probably 70% of the tank. I've done that before, but usually try to keep changes to less than 50% based on what I've been told. So I did the change, made sure the water temp of the new water and his tank matched within 1 degree, transferred him to a temp bowl with new treated water while I cleaned his tank, then finished the cleaning, replaced the filter and put him back.

Previously he responded to a clean tank with a lot of swimming around and checking out his cleaner home. This time, he didn't do that. In fact, he settled to the bottom of the tank and pretty much didn't move. Yesterday I called our local pet shop and asked what they might think was wrong. They asked me to bring a water sample and a photo/video of the fish breathing. While they tested the water, I let them view the video of him - they said his scales appeared to be flared out a bit and he was definitely laboring to breath. The water test came back that our pH was 6.0, acidic.

I bought a pH test/correction kit and went home. I tested our tap water - 7.5, right where he needs it to be. I tested his tank myself and got 6.0. So, I moved him into a temp tank with fresh treated water with the proper pH and started adding the drops to raise the pH of the tank. I did one full treatment and waited, then tested again. Still showed 6.0. So, did a 2nd full treatment, waited and tested again, still showing 6.0. Later did a 3rd full treatment and finally got about 6.4. Finally some progress. Did one more partial treatment and bumped to about 7.4, right where it needs to be.

It would appear my tank went very acidic during the cleaning. Likely well below 6.0 since it took so much correction - I don't know how low because the kit only tests to 6.0 The fish started to become more lively again in the temp tank in a proper pH environment. Later today, if the pH has held over night, I'll move him back to his regular tank.

So, here is my question for the fish experts - what in the world could have caused a normally healthy, apparently pH correct tank to suddenly become so acidic with a simple water change - using water that's about 7.5? Nothing else in the tank has changed - no new items, no new rocks, no new plants (currently no plants in the tank), same food, same additives we've always used. The pet store was a bit stumped as am I. Assuming he pulls through on this, I'll be sure to test his pH from now on to make sure it doesn't go acid again. I'm also going to add a little baking soda to the tank at their suggestion to help keep the pH from dropping again.

Any thoughts?

IMG_8317.JPG
 

Alexx1401

Messages
7,994
Reactions
18,704
Alright folks, way off topic post here, but I have a question for you fish keepers out there. We have a 6-7 year old goldfish (if you're surprised by that age, then you're right there with me). Anyway, this is the fish that will not die. We got him from a friend that moved out of state and couldn't take him with them. I honestly expected him to last 6 months or so and be gone like every other goldfish I've ever known. Well, he hung on and over the years went from a little fish bowl to a 10 gallon tank with a filter.

I never wanted this fish to begin with, but I was overridden by the wife and daughter. Somehow, cleaning his tank has fallen on me. I don't know how to care for fish, so I don't clean the tank likely as often as we should. I do use some water amendments to help keep it clean and supposedly keep him healthy. Up to this point, water changes/tank cleaning has always been uneventful, until this last weekend.

On Sunday I did a pretty intense water change, probably 70% of the tank. I've done that before, but usually try to keep changes to less than 50% based on what I've been told. So I did the change, made sure the water temp of the new water and his tank matched within 1 degree, transferred him to a temp bowl with new treated water while I cleaned his tank, then finished the cleaning, replaced the filter and put him back.

Previously he responded to a clean tank with a lot of swimming around and checking out his cleaner home. This time, he didn't do that. In fact, he settled to the bottom of the tank and pretty much didn't move. Yesterday I called our local pet shop and asked what they might think was wrong. They asked me to bring a water sample and a photo/video of the fish breathing. While they tested the water, I let them view the video of him - they said his scales appeared to be flared out a bit and he was definitely laboring to breath. The water test came back that our pH was 6.0, acidic.

I bought a pH test/correction kit and went home. I tested our tap water - 7.5, right where he needs it to be. I tested his tank myself and got 6.0. So, I moved him into a temp tank with fresh treated water with the proper pH and started adding the drops to raise the pH of the tank. I did one full treatment and waited, then tested again. Still showed 6.0. So, did a 2nd full treatment, waited and tested again, still showing 6.0. Later did a 3rd full treatment and finally got about 6.4. Finally some progress. Did one more partial treatment and bumped to about 7.4, right where it needs to be.

It would appear my tank went very acidic during the cleaning. Likely well below 6.0 since it took so much correction - I don't know how low because the kit only tests to 6.0 The fish started to become more lively again in the temp tank in a proper pH environment. Later today, if the pH has held over night, I'll move him back to his regular tank.

So, here is my question for the fish experts - what in the world could have caused a normally healthy, apparently pH correct tank to suddenly become so acidic with a simple water change - using water that's about 7.5? Nothing else in the tank has changed - no new items, no new rocks, no new plants (currently no plants in the tank), same food, same additives we've always used. The pet store was a bit stumped as am I. Assuming he pulls through on this, I'll be sure to test his pH from now on to make sure it doesn't go acid again. I'm also going to add a little baking soda to the tank at their suggestion to help keep the pH from dropping again.

Any thoughts?

View attachment 351377
I would suspect the cleaning. What did you use? If no chemicals then the rags or scrubber? May well have had something left of it. If the tap water tests fine then it has to be something introduced in the cleaning.
As for the age of the fish Wife has had a Koi pond for about 20 years. The fist live a VERY long time. She will normally give them away when they get too big that they start eating anything new added. goldfish are just a species of Carp. The can live a long time.
 
OP
etrain16

etrain16

Messages
16,416
Reactions
61,010
I would suspect the cleaning. What did you use? If no chemicals then the rags or scrubber? May well have had something left of it. If the tap water tests fine then it has to be something introduced in the cleaning.
As for the age of the fish Wife has had a Koi pond for about 20 years. The fist live a VERY long time. She will normally give them away when they get too big that they start eating anything new added. goldfish are just a species of Carp. The can live a long time.
As far as the cleaning goes, I have dedicated buckets for the new water, a dedicated brush for scrubbing the tank and the filter assembly, a dedicated suction hose for cleaning and draining the water and the same additives we have used for years.

The only things that might be of note are that the water got a bit cloudier/dirtier than they normally do between cleanings. Also there is a white substance that builds up on the filter assembly over time that has built up again. I don't know what that is - normally I just wash the whole filter assembly in hot tap water and use the brush to clean it. What I did do this time is spray a little diluted bleach water on the filter assembly to try and help clean off that white residue since I can never seem to get rid of it completely. I don't normally use bleach to clean anything for his tank but did try it this time. That said, I rinsed the whole thing very thoroughly with plain water afterward. And, it would be odd if that could be a cause since bleach runs alkaline, not acidic.

I can't think of anything else that changed. Other than the water/filter change, it's all been status quo.

Very odd to be sure, but at least I know what to watch out for in the future.
 

Dyjital

Messages
9,086
Reactions
17,265
So you treat everything to remove chloramines and all that jazz right?

Municipal water or well? Maybe I missed that.
 

Joe13

Messages
12,434
Reactions
38,330
The white stuff is calcium buildup.

You can get dedicated calcium cleaners (I think a common one is called CLP).

A buildup in the filter can change your ph.

Add a bottom feeder fish and you can go longer without water changes.

Sounds like you already know about not doing large water changes.

As for the bleach, I wouldn't use that again. Baking soda and vinager is a better option and easier to completely clean off.

If you can, take your new water and let it sit in an open bucket for 24 hours before you add it to the tank and that should help as well.

(I didn't really answer your ph question but there are so many variables it's hard to diagnose).

Sounds like your doing pretty well for someone who supposedly doesn't know how to care for a fish;).
 

jbett98

Messages
10,225
Reactions
18,431
You're not the Lone Ranger. My daughter brought home two goldfish from her 6th grade schools annual carnival.
She's now 28 yrs old and lives in Texas. She didn't take the fish with her.
My wife used to be meticulous in the tank cleaning. Gently removed the fish into a temporary holding tank, scrub everything meticulously, carefully replace the fish back into the tank.
After 16 yrs of this, she just down to slopping out 2/3rds of the water, leaving the fish at the bottom to fend for themselves then cleaning the two filters and just pouring back in lukewarm tap water.
These fish will not die. The biggest one is mostly blind and the smaller one will push the bigger one around the tank away from the food when fed, so he's adopted a practice of hanging upside down and collecting a meal from the gravel.
 

Dyjital

Messages
9,086
Reactions
17,265
Messages
2,554
Reactions
12,205
My daughter won a goldfish at a local fare when she was 8, and that fish kept jumping out of it's tank!
I lost track of the number of times I came home to find it laying motionless, gasping on the counter:s0158:. I would toss it back into the water, and it revived and survived!

After about 10 years of this I came home to an empty tank. No fish on the counter, floor, under appliances or furniture (we were thorough).
I eventually drained the tank and looked at the contents carefully. We had no other pets so I'm sure it wasn't eaten. A mystery, never solved!:confused:

My theory is that after all those years of practicing, it had finally learned to breath air and decided to hit the road to freedom! I like to think of it somewhere, drinking at some waterfront bar.:s0059:

My daughter (now working on her Masters at Texas State) recently told me she got a goldfish....
...We sent her a leash, told her she might need it!
 
OP
etrain16

etrain16

Messages
16,416
Reactions
61,010
Always be careful with filters. That's where your good bacteria live. Cleaning those out will skyrocket the nitrate and nitrite levels. If you use a filter, adding extra media in the filter area is a good thing. "Filter floss", basically pillow stuffing.

Natural crushed coral is a good thing as well to add in a bag behind a filter.

Had fun with this tank:
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/101877435023723568569/album/AF1QipO-xDiGkYFgVOcNx2cwbfO-TUqRdcpIx-mSe4Mn
Something I didn't know until the pet store told me yesterday - in addition to the replaceable media/filter pack that I change from time to time, there are 2 stacks of small ceramic 'stones' that sit just after the filter. I had no idea what these were for, so I was scrubbing them under fresh water at each tank cleaning because they would get dirty. Little did I know I was washing away the good bacteria, forcing the tank to start over again.

Now, we do use an additive that contains the same bacteria that live in the ceramic discs - they told me rather than adding it directly to the water as the directions state, to add it over the filter and the discs and it will help kick-start the good bio cycle again. Also, never, ever wash the ceramic stones - just shake them in the tank water to dislodge any stuck particles, then just leave it alone. I honestly had no idea that's what those were for and here I was killing that bacteria off each time I cleaned the tank.

A lot more to owning one damn fish than I ever imagined. We now have hundreds of dollars into a $1 fish that I never wanted in the first place.

He can't even do tricks :rolleyes:
 

Joe13

Messages
12,434
Reactions
38,330
Slightly off topic but maybe funny to some...

I had a friend that years ago a had maybe $2500+ into a saltwater tank with coral and fish. It was really beautiful.

We were much younger and he was a party'er for sure. Had a rager one night and some drunk idiot poured a botttle of tequila in the tank so the fish could party too. Killed the entire tank...

He cleaned it out and sold the hardware but man was he pissed the morning after when he realized what had happened to his prized tank.



I've done big freshwater and saltwater tanks for years and eventually got to the point where I just got tired of maintaining them. So I quit and just enjoy others lol.
 
OP
etrain16

etrain16

Messages
16,416
Reactions
61,010
Slightly off topic but maybe funny to some...

I had a friend that years ago a had maybe $2500+ into a saltwater tank with coral and fish. It was really beautiful.

We were much younger and he was a party'er for sure. Had a rager one night and some drunk idiot poured a botttle of tequila in the tank so the fish could party too. Killed the entire tank...

He cleaned it out and sold the hardware but man was he pissed the morning after when he realized what had happened to his prized tank.



I've done big freshwater and saltwater tanks for years and eventually got to the point where I just got tired of maintaining them. So I quit and just enjoy others lol.
I would love to quit maintaining a tank, but this fish won't die, and I'm bound by the concept of peace with the women in my home to keep this little swimming fish stick alive. o_O
 

v0lcom13sn0w

Messages
8,953
Reactions
34,240
Slightly off topic but maybe funny to some...

I had a friend that years ago a had maybe $2500+ into a saltwater tank with coral and fish. It was really beautiful.

We were much younger and he was a party'er for sure. Had a rager one night and some drunk idiot poured a botttle of tequila in the tank so the fish could party too. Killed the entire tank...

He cleaned it out and sold the hardware but man was he pissed the morning after when he realized what had happened to his prized tank.



I've done big freshwater and saltwater tanks for years and eventually got to the point where I just got tired of maintaining them. So I quit and just enjoy others lol.
:s0114::s0114:

uh yeah we killed my buddys iguana one night... not on purpose. pretty sure we gave him a heart attack with how loud the party was
 
Messages
7,223
Reactions
9,372
Huh we had a half whiskey barrel with a plastic liner thing in it under one of our downspouts. Last year the wife started buying $.29 goldfish and throwing them 4-5 at a time in the tank. Most died within a few days then she had 4 of 6 make it a week. and so on Now its almost 9 months later they were out in the barrel all winter including having the roof redone (no tear off but all Moss removed) the gutters cleaned after the roofing and to date the wife has seen 3 at a time. They tend to hide in holes in the cement blocks in the bottom of the barrel she sets a pot with some water plants in it.

A few years back we had one live almost 3 years in the barrel we think a Blanking Neighbor cat got it.
 
OP
etrain16

etrain16

Messages
16,416
Reactions
61,010
Well, he's back in his pH corrected tank tonight and is a completely different fish - lively, ready to eat, seems to be acting as if nothing happened. Still a mystery as to what caused the pH level to crash when it's never happened before, but at least we know what to watch for now.
 
Messages
114
Reactions
240
my guess on your ph change, seasonally water changes, I used to raise and breed discus, considered the most difficult of freshwater fish to keep and even more difficult to breed , I've seen water measure at the tap at 7.5, then let it sit in a container 24 hours and recheck ph to find it at 6 or less, its called oxidation, similar to rust but not the same, it can be a bubblegum. i suspect the hardness is fairly high of your tap water, anything over 200ppm is hard. that hardness reacts with oxygen.

NEVER change more then 35% of the tank at a time , for discus never more then 25%. always precondition the replacement water for 24 hrs , i.e let stand in a bucket with heater set same as tank temp and if possible a hang on the side filter to circulate it with carcoal filtration, a few hours before doing said change correct the waters ph to what is near the tanks ph, if tank is already low or high from where it should be its ok to correct the new water .5 ph in the direction of change wanted in the tank. say tank is 6.5 but should be 7.5 , your new water should be 7 no higher, hardest on fish is ph changes , next is water hardness changes , then temp. always make changes slowly , rule on fish to be safe is no more then .5 ph change per 24hrs,
you didnt say how long it had been since it was changed, the longer between changes and not monitoring tank ph the lower in ph tanks usually become especially if you have soft water , 50 to 100 ppm hardness is soft, there is not much disolved minerals in soft water and as those minerals are used up the waters ph can crash and hard in a matter of a few days.

so , 25 to 35% percent water changes with water preconditioned for 24 hrs, same tank temp, within .5 ph of tank, you will never do harm. and yes keep those good bacteria alive, more frequent water changes of 25% say every 2 wks is much better then once a month 50% change. and that 70% once every now and then is deadly .

luckily gold fish , aka carp family are pretty tough, a more sensitive species of fish would of died .

questions for op, 1) how long between since last water change
did you measure tanks ph BEFORE you changed water?

im suspecting no change for a few months , relatively low hardness of tap water , and the tanks ph crashed over time, ive seen them clear down at 4.5 from a crash. and then after changing water with high ph , fish went into ph shock from the rise in ph rather then your tap water dropped ph that much, but its still possible your tapwater did suffer a oxidation ph drop still. just trying to give my experiences here to help .
 
Last edited:
OP
etrain16

etrain16

Messages
16,416
Reactions
61,010
my guess on your ph change, seasonally water changes, I used to raise and breed discus, considered the most difficult of freshwater fish to keep and even more difficult to breed , I've seen water measure at the tap at 7.5, then let it sit in a container 24 hours and recheck ph to find it at 6 or less, its called oxidation, similar to rust but not the same, it can be a bubblegum. i suspect the hardness is fairly high of your tap water, anything over 200ppm is hard. that hardness reacts with oxygen.

NEVER change more then 35% of the tank at a time , for discus never more then 25%. always precondition the replacement water for 24 hrs , i.e let stand in a bucket with heater set same as tank temp and if possible a hang on the side filter to circulate it with carcoal filtration, a few hours before doing said change correct the waters ph to what is near the tanks ph, if tank is already low or high from where it should be its ok to correct the new water .5 ph in the direction of change wanted in the tank. say tank is 6.5 but should be 7.5 , your new water should be 7 no higher, hardest on fish is ph changes , next is water hardness changes , then temp. always make changes slowly , rule on fish to be safe is no more then .5 ph change per 24hrs,
you didnt say how long it had been since it was changed, the longer between changes and not monitoring tank ph the lower in ph tanks usually become especially if you have soft water , 50 to 100 ppm hardness is soft, there is not much disolved minerals in soft water and as those minerals are used up the waters ph can crash and hard in a matter of a few days.

so , 25 to 35% percent water changes with water preconditioned for 24 hrs, same tank temp, within .5 ph of tank, you will never do harm. and yes keep those good bacteria alive, more frequent water changes of 25% say every 2 wks is much better then once a month 50% change. and that 70% once every now and then is deadly .

luckily gold fish , aka carp family are pretty tough, a more sensitive species of fish would of died .

questions for op, 1) how long between since last water change
did you measure tanks ph BEFORE you changed water?

im suspecting no change for a few months , relatively low hardness of tap water , and the tanks ph crashed over time, ive seen them clear down at 4.5 from a crash. and then after changing water with high ph , fish went into ph shock from the rise in ph rather then your tap water dropped ph that much, but its still possible your tapwater did suffer a oxidation ph drop still. just trying to give my experiences here to help .
Good info, thank you.

As to your question - last water change was almost 4 weeks ago - longer than we usually go. And no, I did not measure pH because it was never a process we checked before. Until yesterday, I didn't own a pH test hit - now I do. Since this appears to be the first time we've had a pH issue, or really a water issue of any kind, it wasn't something we thought about before.
 
Messages
114
Reactions
240
ya keepong a gold fish should be fairly ez, what i used to do was ALOT of work and came with many bad and good experiences, its how we learn i guess lol
 

NEW CLASSIFIED ADS

LATEST REVIEWS

  • Mary's Pistols
    5.00 star(s)
    Fantastic small business with equally excellent folks running the place. I was given fair value for a trade in and was able to order something I...
    • Red98422
  • Gooseneck Road
    4.00 star(s)
    Very popular service road with some unmarked logging roads that branch off of the main. Relatively cleaned up from what we saw. I just wish that...
    • Benzdriver81
  • Liberty Safes of Oregon
    5.00 star(s)
    I have now purchased 2 Safe’s and constantly recommend people go here. You get better quality than the other liberty safes made for places like...
    • Motojohonda
  • Supporting Vendor Lucky Sporting Goods
    5.00 star(s)
    Just dropped by today to pick up a rifle … this is what a gun store should be! None of the crotchety bluster and BS that so many other gun stores...
    • DLS
  • Supporting Vendor J&B Firearm Sales
    5.00 star(s)
    I'll put in a good word for J&B Firearms Sales in Beaverton, on Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy (across the street from KFC and BiMart). I've always had...
    • RVNvet

Staff online