Aquarium Update – Driftwood and Live Plants

My aquarium has undergone some major changes in the past couple of months. I’ve been constantly tweaking it to make better looking, functioning, and self-sustaining. I’ve been maintaining it quite heavily since I know the changes I make stresses out my ecosystem. I’m constantly checking the water quality, doing small water changes when necessary, and also observing my goldfishes behavior to make sure there aren’t any signs of stress.

I know a ton of people are thinking and some are also telling me to leave my tank alone. “Let nature do it’s thing,” they tell me, but as a new hobbyist, I can’t be helped! I’m learning so much that it’s hard not to give my aquarium all this attention! I’m pretty proud that my tank is quite natural as well. The only thing I add to the water is aquarium salt and water conditioner. My filtration system is made up of sponges and ceramic bio media – that’s it. I do have a few plastic aquarium decorations in my tank, but I plan to eventually replace those with something natural – rocks, driftwood, live plants, etc.

Here are the transition of my tank… I didn’t take photos every step of the way because I was always “in transition”, but these are the gist of it.






One of the first thing I did was remove the tree trunk on the right side of my tank. My goldfishes LOVED playing around it, but it has many sharp and jagged edges that hurt them. It had to go!

I also had to take out a ton of the gravel. Zoro is MUCH slower than the other two so if I didn’t put enough food into the tank to let a few of them drop to the bottom, he’d never get any. With the gravel being so large, food would easily fall through the cracks and be unreachable to my. So it, too, had to go.

A piece of driftwood was added to my tank last week and the other was added last night. I attached a piece of Anubis to the piece on the left and Java Ferns to the piece in the middle. I’m planning to add a few more plants. Maybe another Anubias to replace the plastic plant on the right and hopefully some that will float freely in the tank. Not sure what I’m going to add yet, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to grow some lilies. I’m not sure if this is possible since I have a tank cover and overhead lights, but I definitely want some plants sitting on top of the water.

I’m gonna have to take a better picture of my tank when I get home. Probably a photo with faster shutter speeds so the bubble wall doesn’t look so crazy ;P

Just wanted to do a quick lunch update! I hope everyone’s holidays are going well!

Bye 🙂

Relentless Ammonia!

For awhile now, my water tests have been coming out consistent so I haven’t been testing it frequently. I did a 20% water change a little over a week ago and the following Monday, started my goldfishes on a new diet ( When I tested the water on Wednesday, I got ammonia readings of 1.0 ppm. This is strange because my tank is cycled and the only thing I should be seeing is a rise in nitrates. I immediately attributed the ammonia reading to the new diet. Blood worms and brine shrimps get pretty messy so I’m not surprised that it would pollute my water.

I immediately did a 10% water change. The next day, I tested the water and got the same results so I did another 10% water change. On Friday, the ammonia was still reading 1.0 ppm. So, I did a 30% water change. Saturday I fast my fishes so I’m hoping that would help with any ammonia issues. I was wrong! Sunday I got the same reading so I did another 10% water change and today when I tested it, it looked a little higher than 1.0 ppm. So… I did a 20% water change. I’ve been doing small water changes every day and nothing is bringing the Ammonia levels down!

I started to feel defeated and was worried about what would happen to Zoro, Nana, and Freddy when Chae and I leave for our ski trip. I won’t be here to do water changes! I’m grateful that my brother agreed to feed them while we’re gone, but asking him to also do a water change is a bit much! I had imagined the horrifying call I’d get from my brother when he discovers them belly up, “I’m sorry Kim, they’ve gone to Fishy Heaven.” 😦

API Products

I’m not sure what prompted this, but I decided to do a water test on my tap water. More specifically, my tap water that has been conditioned with API Stress Coat+ and a tablespoon of Aquarium Salt (in 5 gallons of water). I also did a water test on the water from our RO filter.


The results SHOCKED me. The test tube on the left is my conditioned tap water and the test tube on the right is water from our RO filter. Our tap water contains ammonia. At least I know that our RO filter removes ammonia. So, mystery solved! The reason why I wasn’t able to get the ammonia readings to go down was because I was putting ammonia back into my tank! I’m still a little mortified as I’m writing this post.

When we first set up our fish tank, I tested our tap water and only trace amounts of ammonia showed up. The results were very similar to the RO water. Our RO filtered water comes out of a small spout and it takes a really long time to fill up a 5 gallon bucket. It also gets extremely hot after about 5 minutes (or less). Since the readings were coming out similar to tap water, I decided to use tap water. Tap water comes out of the faucet much faster and the water stays cool the entire time.

If you look at the photo below, the spout to the right is our RO filtered water. Just to give you an idea as to where it’s located and what it looks like 🙂


It looks like I’ll be doing a fairly large water change tomorrow. I have one 5 gallon bucket filled with RO water that I hope cools by the time I do the water change. I’ll have to pick up some distilled water from the store tomorrow. I hope I can improve the water quality before leaving for the ski trip.

New Diet for the Goldfishes

I read that variety in a goldfish’s diet will help them grow big, happy, and healthy. I’ve been feeding my goldfishes mostly Omega One Small Sinking Pellets. I would soak them in tank water for about 10-15 minutes (to soften them) before giving it to my goldfishes. Once a week I would feed them frozen blood worms. Not too much variety! I decided to take this article’s ( advice and incorporate more variety into their diet.

Their new diet looks something like this:

Morning: Omega One sinking pellets
Evening: frozen blood worms

Morning: Omega One sinking pellets
Evening: baby spinach

Morning: Omega One sinking pellets
Evening: frozen brine shrimp

Morning: Omega One sinking pellets
Evening: baby spinach

Morning: Omega One sinking pellets
Evening: frozen blood worms

Goldfish Fasting; no feeding goldfishes!

Morning: de-shelled peas
Evening: de-shelled peas

Every week day morning I feed my fishes Omega One sinking pellets. This is mostly because it is fast and easy and very little preparation is needed. In the evenings, I feed them frozen blood worms or frozen brine shrimp in the evening on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, I give them baby spinach. On Saturdays, I fast my goldfishes; they aren’t fed. On Sunday, I feed them de-shelled peas (once in the morning and once in the evening). The peas are suppose to clean out their digestive system and also help prevent swim bladder issues that are common in most goldfishes.


My first attempt to feed them baby spinach did not go very well. I took a medium sized leaf that had a nice long stem and put it in a microwave safe bowl. I covered it with water and microwaved it for a minute. I put the long stem under a heavy pond stone in the aquarium to hold it in place. At first, Zoro, Nana, and Freddy just kept on nibbling on my hand and ignored the spinach. They didn’t know the spinach was food! When they finally did, they couldn’t take a bite out of it. They would nibble on the spinach leaf and get nothing! I later realized that it wasn’t cooked long enough and so it wasn’t soft enough for them to eat. Once we heated up the spinach longer, they were able to gobble it up!! It was really fun watching them eat it 🙂

I should have taken photos or a video, but I didn’t. I was more concerned that they didn’t get “hurt” while eating the spinach. There was an incident where the baby spinach leaf got tugged out from under the pond stone and Nana had the entire stem in her mouth! She was swimming around with a spinach leaf coming out of her mouth. It looked a little like she was waving a green flag around. Anyways, she couldn’t eat the stem because it was too hard. It took me awhile to catch her and pull the spinach out of her mouth. I really wished I took a photo because it was RIDICULOUSLY cute, but… I was scared she was going to hurt herself so there wasn’t time for photos.

Sorry for the lack of photos. This post was not the post I had intended to write tonight so I wasn’t prepared for it!

The post I had intended to write is here: Relentless Ammonia!

Zoro, Freddy, and Nana

I’m not really in the mood to blog tonight, but since it’s been over a week since my last post, I felt it was necessary to at least make an attempt.

I wanted to blog about my 30th birthday party I had over the weekend, but I don’t feel like it anymore. Then I thought, lets update on my aquarium! I changed my mind as soon as I pressed the “Add New Post” link.

I honestly just want to talk about my fishes.

Zoro is doing good and I swear he’s grown since we got him two and a half weeks ago. He has a white belly that I find extremely adorable! I was able to get some better photos of him that I would like to share. 🙂

zoro-1 zoro-2
zoro-3 zoro-4

Freddy has battle wounds on him. When we first brought our fishes home, Nana started being aggressive towards the others and chased them around the tank. When I checked up on them one morning, I noticed Freddy was pretty beat up. At first, I thought Nana has “bitten” him, but I think it’s more likely that he got hurt on one of the aquarium decorations. I’m pretty sure the culprit is the log on the right side of our tank, so I decided to remove it from their habitat. Poor guy =/ He’s going to have some pretty bad scarring.

freddy-1 freddy-2

Nana is no longer aggressive towards my other fishes like she was when I first got her. I guess she was trying to establish her leadership/dominance. Go figure, the “girl” in the group ;P We don’t really know if she’s a girl or not, hence the quotes around “girl”. Anyways, she has a white mark on her face and I’m not sure why. At first, I thought “ich”. Ich is a disease that is common with freshwater fish and can get fatal if not treated properly. Ich is a parasite that attaches to your fish. Causes them to “itch”. They’ll rub up on stuff because they’re itchy! However, it’s only on her face and it’s just that one spot. I’ve been monitoring her and she doesn’t have spots anywhere else so it’s not likely that she has ich. I THINK she might have “inverted” the inner tissue of her lip when she ate a sinking pellet that hasn’t softened enough =/ I’m not sure if this is the reason but it’s the only thing I can come up with. Anyone have any ideas they might like to share?

nana-1 nana-2
nana-1a nana-2a

I guess that’s all I wanted to share for tonight. This has been a pretty decent entry considering how I didn’t even want to start it, if you ask me ;P

Night all!

Aquarium, Part 6 – New Fishies and Feeding

So… I did something bad. I went ahead and got fishes before our tank completely cycled. I didn’t know how much longer it was going to take for the tank to cycle since the ammonia levels were NOT rising and I knew that ammonia needed to be present in the tank to kick start the cycling. Goldfishes produce a TON of ammonia and they’re pretty hardy fish, so I figured, if I kept a CLOSE eye on the water quality, my fishes should still be safe, healthy, and happy! Just in case though, I got ourselves a bottle of API Quick Start which is suppose to limit ammonia and nitrite in the water without actually removing it. Ammonia and nitrite needs to be in the water so that the beneficial bacteria will have something to feed on.


We went to PetsMart to get our fish. This isn’t our first choice but City Pets didn’t have any goldfishes that I wanted. None of them had the look or “personality” I was looking for. I wanted to get fish from Fish Gallery but they’re prices were way higher than all the other fish shops. I’m talking $10-15 difference! At PetsMart, we found two Ryukins and a Black Moor that we really liked. For the first 40 minutes, we set their bag into the tank so they’d slowly adjust to our tank’s temperature. Next, we were suppose to put some of our tank water into the bag so they’d get use to the new water, but we couldn’t figure out how to do that without the bag collapsing so we skipped this step. I used a SOLO cup to scoop each fish out individually and drained out as much of the bag water as possible before putting them into our tank. I didn’t want any of the bag water in the tank. Why? I don’t know, my friend told me not to get the bag water into the tank so I listened, haha!


Meet our new addition to the family! Nana is the white and orange ryukin, Freddy is our all orange ryukin, and Zoro is our all black… black moor 🙂 Aren’t they adorable?!




I kept the tank light off so that they wouldn’t feel too stressed. For the first 48 hours, all they did was hide from us. They hung out behind the plants in the corners and inside the tree trunk and tree root. I didn’t feed them for the first 48 hours since they probably won’t eat (due to fright) and I didn’t want extra waste in the water. At the 55 hour mark, I decided it was time to feed them. They were still hiding from me and hanging out in the corners, so I dropped the small sinking food pellets in the corner they were at. As soon as the food pellet got close to them, they started getting really excited! Swimming hectically and sucking in the water quickly hoping to catch the food. It was very exciting for us to watch because this is the most action we’ve seen them do since we’ve gotten them. I actually had my arm half way into the tank and dropping them from the midway mark so that they would know where the food was. Unfortunately, some food pellets didn’t get picked up as it floated down so it got lost in the gravel. Since we used large stones for the bottom of the tank, the small pellets would go through the cracks and the fishes couldn’t get to them. This is a BIG problem. Food waste will cause the ammonia levels to rise.

I decided I was going to feed them out of a bowl until I figure out how I’m going to fix my large gravel issue. They had a hard time trying to figure out how to get to the food. They knew food was around because they kept frantically sucking area where the food was. The problem was, they kept on running into the side of the bowl to try and get to the food.




Eventually, Freddy figured out how to get to the food and ate a large portion of what was in the bowl. He went away to munch on what he had in his mouth, which seemed like a mouthful. Almost as soon as Freddy left, Zoro figured it out and grabbed one small pellet. It seems that he can only eat one pellet at a time.



Nana, was really good at getting food when I dropped it into the tank. She was the fastest and always got to the pellets before the other two. This time, she was the slowest and never actually figured out how to get to the food. Look at her in the past photo. She’s looking at me all sad! haha She’d come so close by getting into the bowl where the food was, but she always had her back to it. It was kind of sad to watch, actually, but pretty funny. I ended up dropping a few more small pellets into the tank for her and she was able to get to them before they hit the gravel.

So far, I’ve learned that Nana is fast, but not the smartest. Freddy seems pretty chill and can quickly figure things out, and Zoro is happy go lucky and is always moving around. He’s actually the first one to be most comfortable with me. When I come to the tank, he’s usually the first one to run up and greet me. When I put my hand in the tank, he’s usually swimming around me and doesn’t get scared like the others. Needless to say, he’s my favorite lol

Ok, that’s all for tonight. I’ve been pretty busy so I’ve skipped my Wednesday post the last two weeks, but I’ll try and get a Wednesday post up this week since I have more to report! Night!