Hi everyone. This is a bit of a follow-up to my
. So our second and final goldfish died today (don't think this one was ammonia poisoning, was fine last night and belly up-dead this morning). I want to take this opportunity to set up the tank properly and do better by the next fishies, because we weren't very prepared for these ones a few months ago, and sort of learned on the fly. I have a few questions. (Lots of detail inside because I don't want to forget anything.)
Info about our set up:
1. We have this tank
, 10 gallon, which I know (now) is only really good for one goldfish.
2. We were using the filter with a carbon insert in the cartridge (not cleaning the cartridge, just changing the carbon filter every month).
3. After the last fish death, I got the ammonia down, but then after a week or so, I couldn't get it to zero. Even with 50% water changes every other day, which is what we did if it got above 0.25 ppm. The other fishie seemed fine, until this morning. I wasn't measuring nitrites/nitrates separately, was using an API all in one kit. pH was always OK and it's my understanding that goldfish can tolerate a pretty wide pH range, with the preference to be around 7-7.5 which is what it was. If the ammonia was just barely detectable we changed 30% water every few days (I know all this water changing probably stressed out the fishie, but it was that or ammonia spikes).
4. We didn't have live plants because the store employee told me that bc goldfish like to eat veges, that was a good way to get them nibbling on them and eating (and excreting) way more than they should.
5. We fed them once every other day. They always ate the food immediately.
1. At the moment, the tank is still sitting there with water in it, because I couldn't face cleaning it out yet. I will before bed. What is the best way to clean out? We are away next week so wouldn't be putting a new fish for a couple of weeks. Should we do a full on clean, bleach the insides, clean the decorations/fake plants and just start again then? Should we just wash out with water? Should we do not much and run the filter while we are away?
2. Do we really need the charcoal filter? I get that we need a bio filter for the good bacteria to grow on, but I'm a little confused about the carbon one. Basically we put it there bc it came with the kit. Other people seem to just use a sponge filter and rinse it every so often?
3. How the hell do we keep ammonia down? We'd had the tank for a few months, so thought it had cycled fine and nothing seems to have precipitated the first spike and fish death. But I'd like to start off right. Am more than happy to monitor constantly to keep the fishie happy, but all of the questions I see online basically end with "big water changes". What if that just doesn't work? We tried to resort to an ammonia reducer a couple of times - which I know isn't a great option - and it didn't seem to work either. We tested our tap water and it came out with a zero reading, so it's not background.
4. How often do you scrub out the inside of the tank with an algae pad? I feel like maybe we weren't doing that enough.
Would be great to hear any other insights as well! thanks, ask mefi.
(I have read all goldfish-related questions on ask mefi, understand cycling the tank, and have been reading many forums about goldfish in the past few weeks. I still don't feel like I've got a handle on these specific things.)