Goldfish Planted Tank 120g Upgrade (pic heavy) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 06:51 AM Thread Starter
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Goldfish Planted Tank 120g Upgrade (pic heavy)

So, Iv'e been a long time visitor to this forum but haven't ever quite worked up the nerve to post anything. I absolutely love looking through the tank journals on here and with some drastic changes happening to two of my tanks I just couldn't resist finally putting up something.

I hope no one is turned off because this is for goldfish. I really think they are amazing fish and a goldfish planted tank is something I strive to get right one day. So no better time than now to give it a real go!

My story starts like many. Got my first goldfish at age 7. Kept 2 fancies in a bowl and watched them grow... and grow... and grow. Realized somewhere along the line that I would need a tank and as fate would have it, my neighbor moved out one day leaving her 30g tank behind. I kept my 2 fish in there until my luck finally ran out and I lost my 2 goldfish that were about 8 years old, to fin-rot, which I had no idea about at the time.

I had a brief stint at keeping a tropical tank but was totally overwhelmed at the time and it failed miserably. You know, the usual beginner stuff: 5 of each fish, pea gravel, no research and of course... a freaking common pleco, all handed to me by the smiling LFS person.

I continued to keep goldfish that lived for the next 4 years until I moved country. A few months after the move, in a state of deep depression and cultural shock, I bought myself a beautiful 54 gal corner tank that has been running for about 5 years now. I originally purchased 4 fancies from Petsmart and 2 survived long term. And to my utter horror looking back, I was talked into getting another freaking common pleco (why are these sold???)

So, being the pushover that I am, what started as a trip to Petco to buy a bristlenose pleco ended up with me bringing home Moochie, my now 3 1/2 yr old, 13" pooping machine. So, picture if you will, a 13" pleco and two 5" five yr old goldfish in a 54g... Oh I knew better, and am ashamed that I couldn't get my act together faster to rehome everyone. Life got messy, money got messy, water changes got messy. One day, in a feirce moment of guilt I did the worst thing I could have done. I overcleaned the tank, caused an ammonia and nitrite spike and lost my 5 year old Ryukin who was absolutely stunning. He must have been almost 9" including tail.

It was the last straw.

I guess this is where this really begins. And I apologize to anyone not interested in my backstory

I looked around on craigslist and finally found a pretty decent deal for a 120g tank. Its the 48L x 24W type. Would have loved the 6' one but MAN is that a long tank to fit. For $550 I got:

Reef-ready Tank with built in overflow
Stand and Hood
Sump (little dodgy - I'll show pic later)
48" coralife light with 2 x 23W T5 bulbs.
A broken moonlight
Some weird UG filters
A good number of bioballs and filter floss
Sump return pump
Some random sized peices of glass to cover aquarium under the hood
and a surprising 3 buckets of black pea-sized gravel.

There was probably more but I can't really remember.

So I am actually already 4-5 weeks into this setup but have only found time to sit down now to start the journal.

Here is the tank in its very desperate state right before I re-homed my pleco :'( I really loved watching him. What an awesome fish. Just wish they didn't get so big!

And here is my pleco Moochie trying to pretend he is a log

Oh wow, the water looks really bad in this photo

I should have grabbed a pic before. Those were taken after I had hauled out like 30 Anubias plants. Those things grew like some infestation. Who knew my crazy high light with no co2 would grow such nice BBA and Anubias

So here is the tank and its equipment. Sorry for the bad photos and the reflections of my entire existence in the tank glass

Funny, doesn't this sump look JUST like a ... CAT LITTER BOX?!?!?!
So I go over to the guy's house to look at this tank that conveniently didnt supply a photo of the much talked about sump... Anyway, my face was priceless. But what do I know? (first time learning about sumps) It's fine, the thing actually works pretty darn well and I'm all for some DIY ingenuity

Of course there was the hitch in the deal like you would expect. The only thing is that the sump cannot be easily removed from under the tank. You have to take off one of the entire doors and its hinge peice to fit the sump tank under... oh well. With the new and improved cat-litter design I have a handy lid and reaching in to grab filter media isn't too bad. I might have to give the sump a make-over in the foreseeable future though.

Here is the overflow section. I was very nervous in getting into this sump business. But I knew that my HOB days needed to come to an end before it led to an early retirement to this hobby....
On that note, I purchased my first external cannister filter, a fluval 306? 406? Oh well, it's amazing and I am pretty sure my remaining goldfish, Frederick, appreciates the filtration upgrade untill he can be moved to the 125g.

The pump return outlet with hole for breaking the siphon on pump turn off. Speaking of which, SO glad I tested that out as our circuit tripped like 3 days after I had this up and running. It works like a charm.

This was me trying to silicon the pipes back in as the seller had removed them when I picked up the tank. Did a panic sump-research-101 at work that day to try get my brain cells educated enough to get this thing put back together!!! Thank goodness for my recent work cube move to the quiet corner by the IT supervisors can't see what I have up on my other screen anymore. Don't worry, I do my work...kinda lol.

Aaaah yes, the beautiful sound of running water, the gurgle down the in-line, the power of the pump, the torrent of overflowing water ONTO MY FLOOR!!!!
Never will I forget the first day I tried to start this sump. Yes, I knew it was going to be tricky but wow. After about 3 hours of frustration, I just could not get the system to run without overflowing the display tank. And the guy had obviously been running it before with the same equipment. The problem was that the return pump was emptying the sump faster than water was falling down from the display tank. After much dispair and more research, I made a trip to home depot and purchased a ball valve. Popped it into my return line and adjusted the water flow until the sump equalized. I honestly never believed it would ever work. But work it did

Previous owner had a pretty neat electrical setup inside the cabinet. I really appreciated it and he even has a nice light inside there too. Helps so much when working under there.

I placed in the gravel. I was thinking of trying black for a very long time and so took it as some sign from the heavens when the seller happily handed me 4 Home Depot buckets worth of black gravel. It made a nice layer and I quite enjoyed the look.

Now on to the scape

I usually sketch these things out, being the artist that I am, but with some time on my hands I decided to just try it out in the tank and see what I could come up with. I took a gamble and purchased some sand blasted wood off of a site that deals with decoration. I wrote to the lady there and asked about chemical treatments on the wood etc, seems like it is all safe. Although I have my doubts about their grapevine wood. I didn't take a photo but because it was all clean and sandblasted I figured I would just chuck in the water and see what happened. and Out came the wood, and it is now soaking in a 40g tub in my yard until the freak white fungus and tannin leaching are under control. But here is a picture of what I think I am going to do with the wood.

I debated for ages about whether or not I wanted to do the center design or if I should do a more sloped composition from the right. Sometimes I wish I wasn't an artist because like usual I cant see my 'work' objectively and it will annoy me to no end if the composition is off. It was a little tricky with the two different wood types, but I like how this design gives quite a bit of swimming room for the goldfish. I will probably end up flipping the twisted grape-vine wood around to be more tree-like and less stump-like. Although I am a bit worried that the wood could be a bit sharp for my fish, Ill have to see. I plan on keeping Veiltails...

So after the wood slime/ tannin incident, I went ahead and filled up the tank to start my fishless cycle

Now, this is by far the biggest tank I have ever owned and am not sure what to expect with a lot of things. But I did the best I could and used what has worked for me in the past. That bag is gravel from my established tank. Pretty small amount though, not sure how much good its doing...I also grabbed one of my 55g canister filter sponges and stuffed it into the compartment with my filter floss in the sump. Ill need to take a pic but I hope I have set up the sump filter media correctly. I first tried just the bio balls in the ca litter box (lol) loose, but then remembered someone saying that putting it into a bag is a good idea for removal if I ever need to rinse or whatever. There is a 3" deep tray above that which holds as much filter floss as I could fit, and a bag of purigen sitting directly below where water enters the sump.

Meijer delicates laundry bag ftw!
Yes I did need this for actual laundry and no I don't regret using it for my awesome fishtank instead

So while waiting for my tank to cycle (omg the agony) I hauled THIS out of my 55g:

and this...

and this...

and this...

How many freaking rhizomes can one anubias make anyway?! Pity about the algae, I have quite the forest coming along here. I plan on using some filter floss to clean the leaves later on. Man that stuff works wonders. Someone's smart idea.

So just to try figure out exactly what I had to work with I cut some of the rhizomes off at their branches and ended up with this:

Stuck my foot in there for size lol.
Please excuse the sock, winter is on its way!!!!

So I just chucked them in the tank for now. Figured they'd be fine until I find some wood to tie them to while I wait for my Fungus wood....

The white things are panty-hose with fishfood in them. Works pretty well.
Sorry about the reflected screens. Its my brother no doubt watching something useless on youtube haha.

Most of the plants have floated to the far right corner. Nice to get a visual on where and how much current I have. I am concerned that I need a bit more circulation in this size of a tank but am not too sure of the best way to go about it and I also can't have too much current for the waddling fancies.

After a week or so in the tank the plants seemed to appreciate something as I saw some nice new root shoots developing.

Also a new leaf or two. aaaaaannnnndddd NO BBA!!!... so far.

Sorry again for the bad pics

I did change out the silly coral bulb in the light fixture for two 10K t5 bulbs. I'm still a little iffy on the whole lighting thing but am aiming to have a low light no co2 tank heavily planted with java fern, anubias and java moss. Gotta love them bolstering, bumbling goldfish!!

So that was rather long-winded, but that's where the tank is up to today.

The tank's cycle does have me a bit confused right now though. I have been testing every other day and as of this morning my readings were:

Ammonia 2.5
Nitrite 0.1
Nitrate 5

Ammonia came down from 5 to 2.5 over a 3 week period. I add fish food to keep levels up. Not sure if I need more though?

With my Nitrite, I had 0 for ages then just barely got some color to read as 0.1 finally, but no nitrite spike has followed since. It's been 1 week. And Nitrates is something I have never tested for before. I expected to see 0 because my nitrites hadn't spiked but I may be misunderstanding how they work in the cycle.

The last development as of tonight is that I decided that although I am really liking the black gravel look I really would rather have sand in the tank. I have never tried goldfish with sand and I hope it will work out. I just find it looks better and is nicer to clean. I went with pool filter sand after much research, still nervous about the decision. The sand is a light tan color. I hope it looks nice. Seems the wood has darkened a great deal when wet so it should contrast enough off the sand hopefully.

Plans for tomorrow are to wash the sand and hopefully get it in the tank. Figured there is no better time then now. Hope it doesn't mess up the cycle

Sorry for the length of this first post, I really should have started it ages ago :P
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 07:44 AM
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Well, I read all that.
Congrats on your first (and long overdue) post
The best part was seeing the kitty litter box, and that wood reminds me of Groot.
Hopefully the set up goes well for you.

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 08:58 AM
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With sand you will find your goldies picking up mouthfuls sucking and ejecting the sand. Best of luck on the setup.

If you have a choice, you have a problem, till you elect your choice. No choice, no problem, only consequences, learn to live with them.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-17-2015, 09:56 AM
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Great start and write-up so far! Looking forward to more progress!
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-24-2015, 03:29 AM Thread Starter
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Alright, so I managed to do some more work on the tank.

Quite a bit of a visual change, a little different to what I originally pictured but I think I like it.

So first off was my decision to change the gravel to pool filter sand. This was because I realized I wanted to have 3 dojo loaches in the tank with my goldies and I think sand just looks neater, is easier to clean and makes the whole tank seem more natural.

I've never kept goldies with sand so I hope everything works out!!

Moving that gravel from the tank was a real chore O.O I wish I had thought it through a little more before plonking it in. Probably because the gravel came with the tank I just figured "what the heck" and started cycling...Anyways, all I can say is I am sooooo glad that there were no fish in there. It was quite the massacre

Here is the tank mid-clean. water already gross.

Oh and I discovered something awesome just after I started. I didn't really have anything good to scoop the gravel out with. Started this using a used butter container...and the tank glass is about two feet tall. I'm 5'9 and even on a chair things were getting interesting. Then I suddenly spied a large fishnet sitting among a bunch of junk. I had a light bulb moment. and TADA!!

That net made the most amazing scoop for my gravel! No excess water being dumped into the bucket. and you can just run the net rim along the bottom when gravel starts getting scarce, push it towards the tank wall and wiggle it up and down a bit. The gravel floats up off the bottom a few inches and falls right into the net. I managed to get every bit of gravel out without removing the last of the water, yay

Here is the sand I used. got it at Ace Hardware for $12 for 50lbs. It took a bit of hunting. Apparently with winter fast approching people don't need pool sand...who knew

And man were those bags heavy to lug around. I got four of them and got a good chunk of skin missing from my knuckle now after trying to lift them out of the cart. Oh well. Whats a few battle wounds? This hobby is not for the feint of heart haha.

So it was midweek, too cold and dark to go outside to use the garden hose to rinse the sand but I knew this was the only time I was going to get. This tank is in the basement and about 12ft from a large basement sink

I still did a hack job and just hoped for the best. I gave up after 3 bags and cringed at the beautiful murk that shortly followed.

Definitely not the look I was going for but knew it would improve after a day or two.

It was even clearer than I expected. I hope it was because the sump is an epic means of filtration, but the sand also seemed nice and heavy. I was very happy with the look.

Knowing how much my goldfish like to re-landscape, I figured a little more sand would probably be good. So I attacked the last bag and simultaneously braved the fungus wood that has been stewing outside for weeks now.

It smelled a lot better and was sinking perfectly. I'm expecting a little bit of that slime to come back but hope it is not much and doesn't last long. Usually some living creatures and plants clear those things up for me. The whole ecosystem usually just needs to find a balance.

The wood also darkened MUCH more than I was anticipating and after seeing it in the tank with the pool sand I am really glad I made the switch.

It was already looking clearer only an hour later

After realizing how much water the python water changer was wasting to create a siphon and drain water from such a large tank. I did some looking around and discovered people using fountain pumps to drain tank water. I thought the idea was brilliant and grabbed this during lunch at work from Harbor Freight Tools. They were having a sale and I got it for $14.50. It pumps 264 gph. Did a decent job and came with suction cups and hose fittings. My python hose popped right on. I deemed it a SUCCESS!

Although I could have maybe gotten a stronger one. Oh well.

Since I couldn't see what I was doing in the murky water, I had to just guess at where the wood went and just approximated my original design. I will still need to properly attach the plants when I have the wood in place. I'm having a bit of a hard time deciding the best way to do this. I usually use zip-ties, but the wood is really thick this time around. Fishing line is a hassle. I might just end up using thread. Its a hassle too but might be my best bet. I am thinking of forming loose clumps with the anubias so they have room to grow a bit, although I expect growth to be much slower in this tank.

I was also at petco and couldn't resist some java fern

Haven't had much luck with it in the past but wanted to give it another go.

I'm dosing dry ferts with this tank. Took the amounts for a high tech tank and just dosed once a week. Not too sure on this though.

And lastly, I took some shoddy phone pics of my current goldfish Fredrick, who has no idea that he is about to get some new buddies and an apartment upgrade!

I've noticed that his tail cleared up beautifully in the weeks that followed the re-homing of the common pleco So I am glad he seems to be all the better for it.

As of this morning the tank seems to be cycled. Readings are:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 10

I am about to purchase the 4 other goldies of this tank and put them in before Fredrick so its essentially a quarantine situation until it all looks good.

I think I am purchasing from raingarden goldfish. Just trying to justify the purchase price to myself! I really don't feel like petsmart duds again. Hate having fish live for two years then get swim bladder problems. I can't really seem to find another place to buy from that could be cheaper. It doesn't help that I want veiltails either.

Looks like the next week will be a big one. Grabbing the dojo's if possible, setting them up in quarantine tank then ordering goldies while not looking at bank account for awhile :P
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-24-2015, 04:00 AM
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Everything looks awesome! You have excellent driftwood, and your goldfish boy is gorgeous.
Have you considered bristlenose plecos, twig catfish, or some variety of small-but-fancy pleco?
Are you planning any fish other than the goldfish and dojos? There are a few possibilities, more if you live somewhere that allows the keeping of native fish. Shiners might be an option. They come in many varieties, but they're mostly shiny little minnows who are legal to keep in many places, can be collected for free (only catch babies- adults don't deal well with stress), and would look great swimming up and down that tank in a lively little school. They're kinda like coldwater danios with less nipping.

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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-24-2015, 01:12 PM
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Very entertaining read and I wish the best for your tank!
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-27-2015, 04:11 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks ipkiss! Fredrick was the ugly one of 4 I got from petsmart 5 1/2 years ago, but even though he isn't the prettiest thing he is definitely the toughest. His tail is starting to grow nice and long and I love him Hope he gets on well with his new buddies >.< Actually I think 'he' might be a 'she'...oh well. The new fish coming are 3 males and 1 female. So someone is bound to start chasing and I guess I'll find out who's who haha

I did briefly consider other species for the tank. I am nervous of adding another pleco after having to re-home my other one, although I do realize that getting the right type would be much smarter. But my common pleco was also starting to suck the slime coat off my fish so that just escalated the issue. I would worry that ANY type of pleco could pick up similar behavior in the future. I just can't afford that happening.

I was actually looking into hoplo catfish. But they seem super zippy and it would probably not work with the goldies. Never heard of shiners?? not too sure what those are exactly, would have to have a look.

I'm not too concerned with finding anything else though, goldfish get big and I am actually a little concerned that 5 in this setup is too many. My largest goldfish was an 11 year old 9" fantail, so I need to make sure they all have enough room to comfortably grow.

As for an update. I did some work on the driftwood scape tonight. Water cleared up well with only slight tannin leaching. Did a large water change while trying to place the driftwood like I had it originally. It was crazy hard doing it in half water etc. I'm not sure I like what I did. Seems to be sitting a little high on the sand. Also managed to get most of the anubias tied down but unfortunately the placement is a bit random. Ill post pics tomorrow.

Fish are officially ordered. Im getting nervous now. Never spent so much on goldfish before, its insane :O They arrive in 3 days, so I plan on fixing the scape by then.

Water parameters still seem good. Nitrite rose a little from 0 to 0.1, I'm hoping its the addition of the driftwood and its decay. Ammonia was fine though. I'm praying that slime on the driftwood isn't harmful to goldfish. New arrivals will be going straight into the 120g tank :O
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-30-2015, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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So I just got home from work and my fish had arrived!! That has got to be one of the most nerve-wracking package openings I have ever done O.O

So everyone looked good. 3 of the fish were much smaller than I was expecting but very very beautiful. I suppose they did cost me a fortune so at least they lived up to expectations

I re-scaped the driftwood one more time before the fish arrived. I like it better than I had it a little while ago but still might spread out a piece or two. I wanted to make sure the fish had enough front swimming room. The plants also need to grow in. I might move the anubias more to the lower portion of the drift wood and clump them together to make a dense growing patch.

New fountain pump working well for water changes. But I actually grabbed one double the size today to use during the first 4 weeks with the goldies. Small pump taking just a little too long.

Anubias still popping up some fresh leaves. I'll probably hack the nasty ones off in a week or two.

New leaves seem to be growing from where I cut old ones off which is nice. Wasn't too sure about what the plant would do because I have never cut down my anubias before

So Ill show some pictures of the new goldies just for fun

Here is them acclimating in the bags

And about 45 min later I put them in.

Gotta love goldfish. 2 of them weren't even in there for 30 seconds and started scrounging for food :/

The ryukin didnt look too good and was bottom sitting but perked up after about 10 minutes.

The beautiful little black and white fantail looked rather shocked and then I moved forward to take a pic and he practically teleported behind the driftwood. He only reappeared about 15min later lol.

So here is what I got. Sorry again for pics, taking photos of fish on a phone is hard :S

Here is the female Ryukin. Possibly my favorite breed. I recently lost my 5 yr old one so wanted at least one in the tank. She actually looks almost exactly like him. I didn't mean to do that though...

Here is a male Ribbontail. Started straight for that fungus stuff on the wood...

Then this is the best pic I could get of the veiltail male. Surpring for how slow and flowy he swims. He was seriously exploring the tank.

And then the little Fantail Male. I really hope he doesn't turn into a bully because he seems like he could be really fast. I think he is just stunning. I wasn't planning on adding any more fantails to the setup but my inner artist just could't let his coloration slide. I sure hope they all keep their color pigments.

Oh and they seem to be loving the sand. Guess they knew exactly what to do haha.

So that's it for now. I will probably be grabbing some additional plants in the coming weeks to start fulling it out. Would like a tall plant for the back. Fedrick will be added on week 3 or 4. Hope he doesn't bully them either :S

Still thinking about the dojos. I think they could be fun. but I don't want to crowd it. They might have a blast in that driftwood though.

Thanks for reading!
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-23-2015, 10:18 PM
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Hi! Any update on your goldfish? They are absolutely my favorite, and I'd love to hear how the tank is progressing.
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-24-2015, 12:52 AM
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Wow that's an awesome tank, and you have such cool looking goldies!

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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-24-2015, 05:59 AM
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Your tank looks great. I started with goldfish and they are truly underrated. The only problem with them is the bioload and size of tank needed. Both of which you've dealt with. Keep us updated.

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Standard 55 gallon club... We need one of those.
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-24-2015, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by MysticalBeast5623 View Post
ive heard that goldfish like to eat plants, is that true?
yes, it is... they are working as lawn mowers... will destroy everything except of maybe some very big anubias, swords and probably java fern - so OP made great choice )))
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-26-2015, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Moonshayde View Post
Here is a male Ribbontail. Started straight for that fungus stuff on the wood...

I've not kept goldfish (though my husband hinted about trying them sometime soon), is it odd herbivore for them to eat the driftwood fungus? Seems like it'd be a nice bonus.

Due to photobuckets new bs cost for use of images on forums I have deleted all photobucket accounts. I apologize if you enjoyed or found my photos helpful.
Starting to update these threads

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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-27-2015, 04:05 AM
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Hi Aqua Aurora,

I always enjoy your tank posts, especially your 10 gallon.

I kept goldfish for around a decade, and in my experience they sample everything in the tank to see if it's edible; they're quite omnivorous. This behavior was affectionately referred to as "sharking" in my family. I'd encourage you to try goldfish if you're willing to maintain a large tank for them and fight the constant nitrate war, as they are eating and waste producing machines. They are a lot of fun, not easily spooked, and make for a unique display tank. But also a lot of maintenance in the way of water changes, at least in my experience. Java ferns and Java moss, hornwort as a floater (about the only place I use it, as the goldies don't seem to eat it), and fast growing "sacrificial" stems like anacharis are what I've used successfully in goldfish tanks. I've had crypts and swords survive but not thrive, as the goldfish would grub around in the substrate and eat plant roots, even though they didn't consume leaves.
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