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FAQs on Tanks for Freshwater BiOrb, BiUbe Systems

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Related FAQs:  Freshwater Tanks, Olde Tanks, Freshwater Aquarium Water Quality, Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease


Goldfish full of air - Please help   12/27/11
I started an aquarium a few months ago, a Bio Orb 60 (60 l)
<Mmm, these are really poor systems for most all aquatic life... too little surface area, paucity of water movement and filtration... Please read here
re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BiOrbF.htm
 with two 4-inch goldfish.
Recently, I have added two more goldfish  

 into the aquarium, a week apart. One is about one and a half inches, and really feisty, and the other is about two and a half inches, and a total lamb. They all seem to get on well, and given the size of the tank, I consider the aquarium complete.
<These fish won't live long or well here>
One of the 4-inch goldfish developed a habit of eating bubbles quite early on.
<... these fishes... are physostomous... Have connection twixt their throat and swim bladder... use this in part for aerial respiration. Your fish is gasping... "for air">
After talking to some other fish keepers and checking the net, I concluded that it could be due to the fact that the dry pellets I was originally feeding them floated, and she might be expecting food to exist at the surface, so gulped bubbles in a hopeful manner that she found some food. I have also heard that those pellets are full of air, and also as she had to come to the surface, she was eating them and swallowing air in the process.
So I switched to fish flakes,
<... trouble. Please read here:
 and made an effort to release them under the water surface, so that they would not float back up. But her habits seems too set in now to quit. I'm not sure if you have seen a Bio Orb 60
<I have... some friends (CASCO, SeaClear/Tradewind...) bought the company a few years back. Oh, how I wish they hadn't... These expensive "toy" systems are worse than worthless. NONE of them can/do support aquatic life for anything near reasonable time frames. They are fish killers>
before, but the way they are set up is that the air pump pumps air through the centre of the tank via a tube, and the bubbles float to the surface, and then across to the rim. I have tried discouraging her from eating bubbles, by tapping sharply on the glass
<My friend... DON'T do this... IS extremely damaging>
 when she is doing it, in an attempt to condition her behaviour,  but all its appeared to have done is that it has made her behave as though she is a naughty child caught eating sweets before dinner - she runs away when she sees me near the tank, to where 'she' believes she is out of sight, on the other side of the tank, and carries on eating bubbles. To prevent the bubbles moving across the water like that, I increased the water level so that the bubbles gather around the water-friendly
aquarium light, i.e. they won't end up at the rim where she eats bubbles, but now she still gulps air as though she was still eating bubbles.
A little while ago, I noticed her resting at the top of the tank, with her top fin out of water. I realised that her being partly out of water can't be good, so I kept a closer eye on her behaviour. She needs to struggle a bit to swim to down to the gravel in the tank, and the moment she stops swimming she floats up again. A couple of time she sort of floated on her side - just for a moment, but she did. I checked the net again and also your site forums - thanks for making other people's emails available for reference by the way; a lot of comfort for a worried fish owner!
 - and came to the conclusion that it could be swim bladder disease.
<... no>
 I followed a medical regime, and also changed their diet - fearful that I might have been overfeeding them, I semi-starved her for a few days (I know some people suggest to totally starve them for 3 days, but I didn't have the heart to completely deprive them of food (they have got their 'begging' trick down to almost
wrenching my heart out!)) and fed her a thawed frozen de-shelled pea once a day for 3 days, then fed them flakes in the morning and a couple of peas at night (for all fish) from then on. But her habits have not changed. Its painful to see her struggle so much - I don't think she is in any pain, and she likes her food, but I want to try and improve her lifestyle if I can.
I'm on top of water maintenance - every one to two weeks I change about 25% to a third of the water - using the de-chlorinator as necessary and weekly I use the water cleaner that also balances pH. I also added aquarium salt to the tank a month ago. I don't think overfeeding is the problem - the other 4-inch fish (same size), he is the same breed, and eats more of the food, but has none of the problems she has.
I'm not sure what to do.
<I am. See below>
 I honestly don't think she had a bacterial infection such as swim bladder - I think she is just full of air. Is there something I can give her to help her expel the air, that might solve her problem. I am always checking their bodies for signs of other illnesses, but I haven't seen anything.
Please advise.
Kind Regards
<IF possible, convert the Bi-orb to something else other than an aquarium... a fancy vase or paludarium perhaps. And read here:
re what these fish really need. A system of several times this volume, w/ sufficient surface area, water movement and biological filtration. Yes, you've been duped... this "tank" can't accommodate these goldfish, not even one specimen. Bob Fenner>
Re: Goldfish full of air - Please help -- 12/29/11

Hi Bob,
Thanks for your prompt response!
I agree that they are overpriced - I'm just glad I didn't buy it new!! But thanks for the heads up. I will look into a suitable aquarium.
Unfortunately, as much as I love my fish, I have many financial constraints on me at the moment (don't we all in this economic climate!),
<Ah yes>
 so until I am able to replace the Bi-Orb, could you suggest some temporary measures that I can put into place immediately, given the problems mentioned in my last email, i.e. my fish gasping for air, and being full of air, etc.
<Yes... though it may seem antithetic, do drain this system down 1/4 to 1/3 from the top... having more surface area is of greater use than the total volume... AND do be VERY careful re feeding... just a few pellets twice a day... AND DO change out about 20% of the water per day... and replace w/ simple tap water (cold)... to dilute metabolites>
Also, I read your article about flakes; is my feeding regime okay, or should I change it and how?
<Look to Spectrum brand pellets... is what I feed my fancy goldfish exclusively>
 I feed them  flakes in the morning and a couple of thawed frozen de-shelled peas each at night. Am I under-feeding/overfeeding?
 I have four fish; two 4-inch goldfish, one that is about one and a half inches and one that is about two and a half inches.
Kind Regards
<Keep your eyes on the ads for sales, perhaps a used system of size... CraigsList in your area. Your fish will weaken and die soon w/o being moved to a suitable environment. Bob Fenner>
Re: Goldfish full of air - Please help    12/30/11

Hi Bob,
<Hello Sama>
Thanks very much for your advice, I will follow your suggestions. In addition to lowering the water level, I have put in some oxygenating tablets that I had bought previously, hopefully this will hold till the new tank comes
<Mmm, they're only good for hours really>
 - thanks for the CraigsList reference. Also, I will stick to Spectrum brand food. Thanks so much for your help!
<Certainly welcome>
On a separate note, do you know why only one of the fish is gasping for air, and none of the others, including the one of the same size and breed?
<Can be ascribed to "different fitness level"... fishes have high hematocrits (packed cell volumes)... i.e. lots of hemoglobin; but low dissolved oxygen... about 8 ppm w/ our atmosphere at 21% (210,000 ppm)... Have to work hard to respire... and given some types of insults... e.g. exposure to nitrogenous metabolites, hemolyze... lose oxygen carrying capacity. The one is "weaker" from such.>
Kind Regards
<And you. Bob Fenner>

Ill Black Moor   4/13/11
Hi I have a 6year old black moor in a 60 ltr tank with a small panda more and small Ranchu.
<60 litres/15 gallons is much too small for Goldfish.>
The water quality is good ammonia 0 ph 7 and have recently done a water change
<I hope you're doing weekly water changes. In any case, the environment is precisely why this fish is unwell.>
But he started with a lump on his side a week ago which has made one side of the body swell last night it burst and white cotton wool like substance is coming from it.
<Finrot combined with a fungal infection. In the UK, a good combination treatment is eSHa 2000, but this will of course only help things heal if the environment is ALSO improved, which isn't going to happen in 60 litres.>
He has also started losing colour on the tips of his tail. He has been eating and still alert. But I don't want him to suffer or pass anything on to are smaller fish.
<Oh, it's not so much a "catchy" disease as the environment is slowly killing the fish. Like many stress factors, it can take weeks, months, even years for a poor quality environment to actually cause obvious symptoms.
But I have no doubt at all that this is the problem here simply because three adult Goldfish would need 120 litres/30 gallons, at absolute minimum.>
Can you shine a light on what he has is it treatable or is it kinder to do the right thing.
<Do read:
Your aquarium is killing off your fish, and without improvements, this sick will likely die, as will one or both of the others. Nature doesn't allow humanity to cut corners, and when we try something that can't work, like keeping Goldfish in a 60 litre tank, eventually Nature shows us the folly of our ways.>
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Ill Black Moor    4/13/11
Hi Neale
So basically your saying the tank is two small
<In a nutshell'¦>
it is a bi orb the largest we could get.
<A very poor aquarium in many ways, and not even remotely suitable for Goldfish.>
The other to fish are very young and only small. I don't understand what you are telling me the water quality is good has he just out grown his environment.
<Could easily be. When length doubles, mass goes up eight-fold, so the amount of waste increases eight-fold, and the amount of oxygen needed goes up eight-fold. This is basic rule of biology, the surface area to volume ratio thing you probably learned in O level or GCSE biology at school. So, even if a fish grows what seems not very much, it could easily be doubling, trebling, or more the amount of waste it produces and the amount of space it needs. Spherical tanks make things even worse because they have a very poor surface area to volume ratio -- the bit at the top open to the air is very small. Rectangular tanks, especially shallow, long ones have the ideal surface area to volume ratio, which is why they've remained the standard for over 100 years. The Bi-Orb is an attractive container for water and coloured lights, but as an aquarium, it's insanely overpriced and really not even remotely useful. At best, you could keep a few Cherry Shrimps and White Cloud Mountain Minnows, but that's it.>
Why will the other two if be endangered as I say they only measure at present about 5cm long.
<Yes, as they grow, they'll need more resources, and eventually they'll be stressed as well. Essentially what happens is your aquarium kills off any excess fish that it cannot provide life support for. Do understand that three 5 cm/2 inch Goldfish would need 80-90 litres or so, and realistically, 120 litres for long-term success.>
<You're welcome, Neale.>
Re: Ill Black Moor   4/13/11
<Hello. I am the "gate keeper" as it were/is here on WWM (posting, moving about content). I will forward your further comm. to Neale, but would have you put the term: Bi Orb in the search tool here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
and read the many other accounts of this ill-conceived product line posted on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Hi Neale
You have made me feel a cruel keeper. So Aquarium shops only sell bio orbs for the money as they are the type of tank that are in the forefront of shops theses days as homes are not big enough to house large tanks.
But thanks for the info I least I know what it is now. He is not in a good way so have decided to put him to sleep we have read up on the most humane way of doing this. As for the others they are happy at the moment perhaps in 6 years time they wont be.
Re: Ill Black moor 4/13/11

Hi Neale
You have made me feel a cruel keeper. So Aquarium shops only sell bio orbs for the money as they are the type of tank that are in the forefront of shops theses days as homes are not big enough to house large tanks. But thanks for the info I least I know what it is now. He is not in a good way so have decided to put him to sleep we have read up on the most humane way of doing this. As for the others they are happy at the moment perhaps in 6 years time they won't be.
<Hello Nicola. I understand your frustration. But the simple fact is that Bio Orb tanks just aren't acceptable for Goldfish. It's a shame they're advertised with Goldfish on the box. Yes, you are absolutely correct in saying that Goldfish aren't easy to house in small homes. And yes, if you're limited to 10, 15, or 20 gallons of water, then Goldfish aren't an option, and instead you should be looking at tropical fish, many of which are smaller and easier (and cheaper) to house than Goldfish. While I don't see the point to wasting £100 on a Bio Orb unit, you can certainly get a very decent all-in-one rectangular aquarium for around the same price, perhaps less, containing 10-20 gallons of water, and eminently suitable for small tropical fish such as White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Endler's Guppies, Neons and small species of Corydoras. Do please read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ill Black moor
Ahh, thank you Neale. Did not intend to supplant your responses, but to bolster your position, end the Dailies on that note lest you were "gone for the day". Cheers, B

Leveling tank stand for 9g Bi-Ube, off-center tank placement  8/2/10
Greetings! Thank you for the rich website and detailed information.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I have a handful of questions I hope you can assist with that I couldn't find addressed on your site.
<Fire away.>
I have had a 9g Bi-Ube cylindrical acrylic tank set up for about six months now, complete with a small school of black neon tetras (5) and a couple of emerald Cory cats.
<I hate saying this, but this aquarium is not suitable for these fish. In fact this aquarium is arguably not suitable for fish at all. But Black Neons and Corydoras aren't at all suitable. They may live for a while, but they won't be happy. Corydoras are schooling fish and should be kept in groups of five or more. Both species ultimately get quite big, and the Corydoras should reach about 7 cm or so, and such fish will be far too big for such a small tank.>
The tank and the stand it rests upon are off-level 1/2" back-to-front, likely due to my carpet (tack strip). Because the tank is so small, and of acrylic construction, I've tolerated the level discrepancy perhaps a little too long. This tank has never been level, and it's high time I remedy this issue... I had a 75g AGA bowfront fail for similar reasons before, and while a 9g tank failure would be decidedly less dramatic, I refuse to be responsible for any further livestock losses (sadly 40 plus fry perished with the aforementioned tank failure). So, with the background out of the way, here are my questions:
1) Can I get away with a partial water removal (say 50%) versus a total tear down since the tank is so small? I hate to put my fish (or myself!) through the trauma if I can avoid it.
<Ordinarily, yes, you'd have to near-empty a tank to safely move it. You might get away with lowering the waterline 66% because of the size and construction of this unit, but I can't recommend it, and don't want to get
the blame when the thing starts leaking!>
2) Can I shim just the stand or do I really need to place a plywood substrate? Again my indecision stems from the small tank size. If the latter, the answer to #1 above becomes an obvious "yes!". If plywood is needed, how much larger than the tank stand should it be? Is 2" on all sides adequate?
<Honestly, if this amount of sloping is just 1 cm or so, I wouldn't lose any sleep on this at all, and I'd leave it be. With that said, a tank this size isn't heavy, so shimmying the stand with slips of wood should be fine.>
3) Is it safe to place the tank off-center on the stand? The stand is rated for a 75g AGA tank, so the 9g Bi-Ube is peanuts by contrast, in terms of weight. The tank has a 13" diameter footprint, while the stand is 15" x 33"... Since it's probably relevant, please note that the stand is composite material with three load-bearing supports (sides & center). The front/back at least don't appear to me to be load-bearing (doors on front and half-panel composite for electrical access at the rear).
<It should be okay having the tank off-centre, but in this situation we can't offer anything 100% certain; you really must check with the manufacturer.>
4) Finally, how important is Styrofoam with an acrylic tank? I don't see any obvious gaps between tank and stand, but I haven't performed the "sheet of paper" test I've read so much about.
<Styrofoam sheets tend to be less important with acrylic tanks and indeed modern glass tanks with plastic load-bearing trims around the edges. My 180-litre Juwel aquarium actually came with a sheet of paper stating NOT to
use Styrofoam. I know it isn't helpful, but again, you really should check with the manufacturer. If the instructions say to use a Styrofoam sheet, then use one.>
Thank you in advance for any advice!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Ps - I think I accidentally fired off a blank email to you all prior to this one. My apologies!! I'm on a cell phone, and sometimes generate unexpected results with an errant button-push.
<Didn't see anything!>

Tiny tank and endless problems! Another BiOrb...  7/20/10
Hi, gurus at WWM.....I write as a very humble, freshwater tank beginner!!
<Hello Susie,>
This is my last ditch attempt to save the last of my surviving fish, although I suspect the clue is in the title. I have searched WWM and found some very valid Q&A's - I've studied the responses with interest. I even have an encyclopedia of my own which has been helpful....but as I seem to have a collective, never-ending spiral of fishy disasters, I'm having trouble pulling all the info together, and staying motivated!
<Almost always, this comes down to [a] buying an aquarium that is too small and then [b] adding too many fish too soon.>
I guess I'm a terrible fishkeeper, but I really do care about my fish and I just want them to be well and happy. Would you mind having a look at the story, and pointing me (and my long-suffering fish) in the right direction of a happy freshwater future?!!
<Will try.>
I will endeavour to fill you in on the history......in doing so you will undoubtedly spot some pretty obvious errors, and I have tried to learn from these....but unfortunately I keep finding new ones to make.
I bought a used 30 litre BiOrb from some friends about 9 months ago, but having cycled it and added fish (4 black skirt tetras and 3 guppies - not the best combination, I learnt too late, and lost a guppy almost instantly), didn't really like the tank and replaced it with a 23 litre Fluval Edge (chosen for its aesthetically pleasing small size, rather than its suitability for keeping fish unfortunately).
<Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Volume is important, and going from 30 litres to 23 litres will make a bad problem worse. And yes, while the BiOrb tank is fairly useless as far as surface area to volume ratio goes -- the bit that dictates how fast oxygen gets in -- the Fluval Edge is no better thanks to that weird funnel arrangement at the top. Both are very pretty aquaria that are perfect for holding water but terrible for holding fish. Beginners should make sure they put at least 50 miles between themselves and either of these tanks.>
Its now 8 months on, the Fluval is cycled, and the current set up is a half cm layer of fine gravel (initially I had thick sand, which I replaced with a thick layer of gravel, recently reduced to a thinner layer), three plastic plants, two hideaway ornaments, and a 5 inch "bubble wall" air stone (also recently added).
In the beginning, a second guppy lost a third of his tail to the black skirt tetras, so I re-homed the tetras to someone with a nice big tank, and was left with the two male guppies, one with a big bit of tail missing and one perfectly healthy.
<None of these fish really makes sense in either tank.>
Initially I didn't do any water changes as such (I was under the misapprehension that I would be removing the good bacteria, as I didn't understand the cycling process really), and I assumed that testing for ammonia was something only accomplished experts would bother with - people all around me seemed to be keeping tropical tanks without much effort, pah. But I did take some of my water to an excellent local fish shop, who tested it properly and said the readings were good (and flogged me a proper kit for £35!!), whereupon I purchased and introduced a further three male guppies to the tank. Two weeks later, with good water readings, I went back to the same shop for a further three male guppies.
<Oh dear.>
So in my 23 litres I now had 8 small male guppies. Hmmm....8 x 4 cm = 24 cm in 23 litres - fish shop said this stocking level would be fine, as the Fluval external filter is good, plus with their advice I was going to be doing twice weekly water changes. My subsequent Internet readings suggests that I should have stopped at 5 guppies......and in any case, 6 gallons isn't a great deal of room for guppies I gather??
<Indeed not. Fluval actually recommend 3 litres of water for every 1 cm of the fish's length, and since a male guppy is about 4 cm long, that's 4 x 3 = 12 litres per guppy. In other words, two for your tank. In fact I think their estimate is meaningless, and instead you need to be extremely careful about choosing small, inactive fish that will get by with the very small amount of water. As I say, this isn't something beginners can easily judge. I wrote a piece about this aquarium for another site, and you may want to have a read, here:
In the meantime, the yellow injured guppy sometimes shimmied at the top of the tank looking pale and feeble and not feeding. He rallied with plenty of Melafix and aquarium salt. But a few weeks on, with the yellow guppy quite sprightly, following a 50% water change and major clean of the gravel, one of the more recent additions became lethargic, spending a lot of time laying on the substrate....one morning I checked on them to find him thrashing to and fro across the tank, mostly upside down and crashing into things, with his body grossly misshapen. I had to euthanize him, to my horror.
<Oh dear.>
I went back to the fish shop with my water readings and a worried expression, and they assured me that there was no water issue and that sometimes "these things just happen" - although my big water change and clean may have been to blame. They sold me three freshwater shrimp to help clean the gravel a little, informing me that they scarcely added to the stocking level of the tank???
<Hmm'¦ obviously they add something, they're alive, but they may add somewhat less than a fish of similar size because they're less active. But no shrimp or snail "cleans" anything -- by definition, they're making things worse. Imagine I had a live-in housekeeper. She might straighten up the kitchen for me, but she'd still be using up oxygen, water and food and producing carbon dioxide and sewerage. It's important to understand the difference between tidying up and removing waste.>
One of them vanished inexplicably within a week, that's got to be a record for natural selection.
Next, another of the newer red guppies started to fade away, lethargic and hiding and not feeding. I tried Melafix again, but he just got weaker. Watching him anxiously one evening, I spotted one of the shrimps actively pursuing him around the tank, finally catching hold of his tail and dragging him backwards down onto the gravel!! He lay there exhausted, gasping for breath as the other guppies picked on him and the shrimps tried to feed on him, and decided to put him out of his suffering too.
<Melafix is fairly useless stuff, and without knowing anything about your water quality and chemistry, it's hard to say why these Guppies are dying. Reminder: Guppies need 0 ammonia; 0 nitrite; a temperature around 25 C/77 F or slightly higher; and water chemistry that is hard and basic, 10-25 degrees dH, pH 7.5-8. Fancy Guppies are quickly killed by non-zero ammonia and nitrite, and they will rapidly weaken if kept in soft, acidic water.>
After a few more weeks of no incidents, I noticed that one of the blue guppies looked somewhat "pregnant" and had darker eyes than the others. In fact, all three of the blues were wobbling strangely in the water - sort of waggling their heads from side to side. They also look strangely hump-backed, whilst the red guppy and the original resident sherbet tail are slender and straight. But all of them were feeding okay, so I just kept up my twice weekly water changes and cleaning regime - I vacuum the gravel once a fortnight, clean off any algae from the plants or decorations, and once every 6-8 weeks I rinse the filter media and sponge in tank water - and kept an eye on them.
Nothing much changed over the next few weeks, and a friend asked if I wanted an adult and a baby platy going spare from her tank. I expressed some concern over the health of my tank, but she came and had a look - she's an experienced fishkeeper - and said it all looked perfectly okay to her, and the readings were fine. So the two platys were introduced to the tank (not quarantined first though).
<Platies DO NOT belong in this tank! Take them back! Among other things, they need more space as well as cooler water than fancy Guppies require.>
So I was back to 5 guppies and two platys (one of only 2cm). A week or so later, I noticed that the adult platy was often trailing the dreaded stringy white poo. None of the other fish seem to be affected - even the youngster from the same source - and she has perfectly normal poo in between each episode of the stringy stuff. As its been quite sporadic, I keep putting off buying any anti-parasitic food - I haven't managed to find any on the shelves of the fish shop, although I also plan on searching t'interweb for some.
In the meantime, having done some more encyclopedia and internet reading, I added one live plant (although nitrates within reasonable range). I also noticed that the temperature had stabilised at 20 degrees.....too cold for guppies, it seems. I notched up the temperature, but sadly, error #2053, I didn't do it gradually. I simply turned up the heater, thinking it would solve all my problems, and raised it to 26 degrees over about 36 hrs. Too quick, right?
<Yes. And stressful to Platies.>
After adding the plant, the air stone and increasing the temp to 26, the dark-eyed guppy started looking sickly. He was hanging at the top of the tank and not feeding. After a weekend away, I came home to find him with a clear case of dropsy....his abdomen was very distended, and his scales were sticking out like fur. My reading here indicated that it might be too late for him, but I added Melafix to see if I could get him to last long enough for me to set up a hospital tank and get some Epsom salts, but unfortunately he was dead on the gravel this morning.
Having removed his little blue body, I've done a 20% water change, removed the live plant (it was dropping leaves which were turning black all over the tank), and reduced the temperature to 24 degrees.
Since yesterday - before the blue guppy expired and I did a water change - both the adult and the baby platy have been sitting at the bottom of the tank. Neither are showing any signs of dropsy yet, but the adult female has made some peculiar flashing movements - she swims onto the rocks then flicks her abdomen against them. I have also seen her do a strange spiraling movement twice, crashing into the plants. In between these episodes, she is quite normal. The baby is nestling right down into the gravel and hardly eats a thing - but he has been very shy since he came to my tank, hiding so effectively I sometimes can't even see him. This evening when I fed them, both platys came rushing out, pushed a few flakes of food around without actually eating anything, then slowly sank back to the bottom again while the guppies stuffed their little guppy faces.
<Neither of these species belongs in a tank this small.>
One last thing I've noticed since the deterioration of the dropsy-afflicted guppy, is that the remaining four guppies have become extremely aggressive with one another. The last red one, and the last original sherbet tail I had from the beginning, have been picking fights with the others like teenagers at a party.
<Male Guppies will fight, and if kept in something the size of a bucket, such fights may be serious.>
Current feeding regime - I vary between frozen daphnia, algae wafers, fish "treats" (whatever they are), flake food, dried blood worms and blood worms preserved in jelly. I usually give them a little food once per day, or every other day. I have given them frozen peas, lettuce and spinach, but they weren't that interested! When I first set up the tank, a major UK chain pet store told me to feed guppies twice per day - but upon subsequent advice from a much better fish shop, I cut that down to once per day and have been much more sparing. Funnily enough my apparently rampant algae problem subsided very quickly after that.
<Indeed. Actually, overfeeding isn't a problem for the fish, but for the filter. If you have a mature filter and a big aquarium, "small but frequent" meals is actually much healthier than just once a day.>
Current water readings - Ammonia <0.05, Nitrite <0.01, Nitrate 10, pH 8. That ammonia reading is the lowest my test scale goes (meaning, there doesn't appear to be any such thing as 0??).
These readings have not changed really over the last 4-5 months, although at one early stage my nitrates were closer to 50.
So....apart from the catalogue of obvious errors I have inflicted on these poor creatures, where else am I going wrong? Have I failed to adhere to a fundamental rule somewhere? Are they all destined to shuffle off to fishy heaven, one by one, until I'm left with an empty tank?
<Would be my prediction, yes.>
Shall I re-home the last of this batch to more experienced owners, get two barely noticeable neon tetras and try not to murder them, or simply take up knitting and origami and sell my tank??
<I hate saying this, but both the tanks you bought are, cough, cough, "challenging". In the UK, one of the best value all-in-one tanks is the AquaEL Brillux 60 Aquarium. It gives you 72 litres/20 US gallons to play with, has a plain vanilla rectangular shape ideal for oxygen absorption, includes a traditional filter and heater, and has strong lighting suitable for plants. It costs about the same as the two units you've already bought. I bought mine online for under £85. In terms of simply keeping Guppies and Platies alive, the aquarium you have will never really work successfully. Your tank offers 6 US gallons, and as you can read here, that isn't much:
I'm so sorry this is such a lengthy diatribe of rambling information, just trying to explain the dismal history. Would be eternally grateful for any reassuring advice you can offer.....I have tried posting on various other forums and never get anywhere, everyone just bickers about whether <0.05 ammonia is good bad or indifferent. I met someone last week who had the filthiest tank I have ever seen, and who keeps goldfish in his water butt. And no, that is not a euphemism'¦'¦
Thank you
<I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Tiny tank and endless problems! (Fluval Edge; stocking 23 litres/6 US gal.) 7/20/10

Thank you very much for your help and advice. I shall dispatch fish to a better home, ditch the rubbish tank, and consider a less worrisome hobby!!
<Susie, I'm sorry you have had such a bad time of things. Honestly, fishkeeping is extremely easy and worry-free. I probably spend more time looking after my houseplants than I do my aquaria. But you do need to start off right, and almost without exception, if you buy a small aquarium, things will go bad right from the start. A 70-100 litre aquarium stocked with something simple like six X-ray Tetras and six Peppered Corydoras really couldn't be any more straightforward. Add some plants and you'd have a nice little piece of the Amazon! It really is that simple. But you have to go slowly. Buy the right tank, cycle the empty tank for about 3-4 weeks by adding small pinches of flake food every other day, do 25% water changes weekly, and then at the end of the month add one small group of fish. Done that way, I can guarantee you'd find the hobby cheap, easy, and fun.
Unfortunately, there are many very poor products on the market that are aimed at inexperienced hobbyists. We're happy to listen to you if you've found hardware or fish you'd like to keep, so if you want to bounce ideas off us, go ahead! We aren't selling anything, so we won't push you towards products you don't need or can't use safely. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Tiny tank and endless problems! (Fluval Edge; stocking 23 litres/6 US gal.) 7/20/10
Thank you Neale....actually your response has made me feel much better!
I do feel a bit piqued that these tanks are aimed at beginners - I thought I was being so sensible starting small, I honestly had no idea.
<Indeed. It's quite the reverse in fact. Beginners should aim at tanks between 20 and 55 gallons, or 90 to 210 litres.>
The tank ought to come with a health warning ("ideal first tank", my ar$e).
I will get shot of it, and if I do it on a large internet auction site, I'll add a caveat! I just hope that any beginner currently Googling the Fluval Edge or the BiOrb stumble across this article.
<Let's hope.>
Thanks so much for this concise explanation of how to start and what to start with - in all my hours of internet reading and studying, as a reasonably intelligent and well-read person, no-one has ever made it sound so straightforward before!
<How bizarre. There are some good books for beginners out there; I happen to like "A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium" by Gina Sandford.>
There are thousands and thousands of "beginners" articles, but they vary so widely...I guess its possible to read too much.
<Sort of; most books are pretty reliable, if sometimes dated with regard to cycling tanks, the older books often suggesting you use "hardy" fish. Web sites tend to be all over the place in terms of quality, so you need to take a look at who's righting that web page, and act accordingly. As for shops, they vary. Here in the UK, many of the staff you find in dedicated fish shops are fishkeeping hobbyists, and within reason they're good sources of advice. Some are considered true experts, Emma Turner at Maidenhead Aquatics in Peterborough for example is a loach expert well-known to fishkeepers around the world. But others are less good, and generic pet stores often have staff with little to know interest in fish.>
I have already made some enquiries about a new home for the last of my fish, looks like I've found one luckily. I would like to continue with the hobby, but space is a bit of an issue. Is 50 litres still too small.....there's an Interpet 50 litre tank which would fit my 58cmx58cm space, otherwise I'll have to look for a new cabinet?
<Unfortunately, 50 litres is too little. It's about 13 US gallons/10 Imperial gallons, which isn't much. It's possible, but not easy, to set up a community tank that small. Given the small price differential between a 50 litre tank and one around the 90 litre mark, there's no good reason to get a 50 litre tank. It's not just a question of having twice as many fish in one tank compared to the other. The thing with tanks smaller than 90 litres is you don't have territory and swimming space, you don't have volume to dilute toxins, and you don't have enough volume to slow down temperature changes. Put another way, a 50 litre tank isn't twice as difficult to maintain as a 90 litre one, but four times as difficult. If you start off with 90 litres, and then cycle it for 3 or 4 weeks with pinches of flake and weekly water changes, by the end of that period it should be close enough to being cycled you could add 5 juvenile Peppered or Bronze Corydoras and fully expect them to thrive. Even if the filter wasn't 100% cycled, there'd be enough water there to dilute the ammonia produced by the catfish, so there really wouldn't be much stress on them. That means they won't get sick. A month later you could add a school of 6-8 X-ray Tetras, among the hardiest tetras in the hobby, as well as very pretty. The reason I mention both these species is they're indifferent to water chemistry, so whether you have hard or soft water they'll be fine. So they'd make fine companions for Platies or Guppies, should decide to add them. I'd actually avoid Guppies if you can, but Platies like to same cool 22-24 C temperature than X-ray Tetras and Corydoras enjoy, so again, we've chosen animals that will get along. It's much better to work that way than to choose fish with different requirements, for example Neons and Guppies have totally different requirements, so it's impossible to keep them both in optimal conditions. One species will always be less than happy.>
Thanks so, so much again. I'm sure my four guppies and two platys are eternally grateful!
<Good luck, Neale.>

Fed up Fan Tail ! Bring in another Carassius auratus X C. goeblio w/ industrial dis.   -4/6/10
I have a fantail in a 35L tank.
<35 litres? Much too small for Goldfish.>
She stays mostly at the bottom of the tank in one particular spot .
When I feed her she tries to eat the flakes but with little success and her poo is now clear . She has no marks on her body and nothing around her mouth although it doesn't open very wide , I have also been doing regular ammonia tests and changing half the water weekly . I have looked on your site but cant find anything relating to her symptom , would be very grateful for some advice .
Many thanks Rebecca in the U.K
<Do read here:
Goldfish are social fish that need large tanks. You seem to be providing neither of these essential requirements. The problem with your fish likely comes down to these. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fed up Fan Tail ! The incredibly stupid biz of BiOrb making, selling, and buying   -4/6/10
It seems incredibly stupid that BiOrb , a well known brand of tank, should put in <sic> there instruction booklet what fish to put in what tank and how many.
<Funnily enough, I'm writing an aquarium book at the moment, and I have just written a bit about expensive spherical aquaria with minimal practical value. A quick look at their website showed photographs of 60 litre (16
gal.) spherical tank with 5 goldfish in them -- despite the fact you'd need at least 210 litres (55 gal.) to keep 5 goldfish happy and healthy! Very definitely misleading, and arguably against the Trades Descriptions Act in the UK.>
What fish do you put in a 35L tank?
<Do read here:
35 litres is about 9 US gallons, but because of the tall, cylindrical shape of the 35 litre BiOrb tank, it can't hold as many fish as plain vanilla rectangular aquarium. BiOrb tanks are VERY overpriced for what they are, and practically every experienced aquarists weeps when they see some poor soul carrying one out of the pet shop! If someone gave me one of the things as a gift, I think I'd probably go with a male Betta and a bunch of attractively coloured algae-eating shrimps, such as Cherry Shrimps and Bumblebee Shrimps. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Ammonia (Bi Orb tanks; fatalities; poor water quality; the usual, really...) 6/21/09
Hi Guys
Hope you can help, tried everything I can from various web sites but getting know where .
I've a 30 l /8 US Gal Bi Orb which has been running for about 6 months, set up end of December , added fish slowly as suggested and got up to 6 Tetras and 2 Guppy's by mid March with no problems but was aware was now getting to maximum tank occupancy .
<Do understand that 30 litres, 8 US gallons is much below the minimum recommended size for tropical fish aquaria. Even 10 US gallons would be borderline for things like Neon Tetras. More importantly, Bi Orb tanks are an "odd" design that actually isn't all that good for keeping fish. They look nifty, I admit, but the spherical shape is the worst possible for fish in terms of surface area to volume ratio. The key thing is that there isn't a lot of oxygen getting into the water. So while they're widely sold, I strongly recommend against people buying them.>
For no apparent reason started to get an ammonia reading at the start of April , 0.25 , done partial water change about 10/20% added water conditioner and added cycle , following day all reading back to normal ,
tested water again couple of days later and ammonia starting to appear again , this is still happening now .
<It's probably not a "no apparent reason" issue, but rather something that's gradually developed. Ammonia comes from the fish, and it's removed by the biological filter. If you have ammonia in the water, it means you
either [a] have too many fish; [b] have insufficient filtration; and [c] you're adding too much food, and what the fish don't need is ending up in the filter and rotting. It's also worth mentioning that as time passes a
variety of things happen. The fish grow, for one thing, and a fish twice the length it was will actually be eight times the mass, so as fish grow, they produce much more ammonia than we think. As time passes, silt clogs up the biological filter media, be they sponges or ceramic noodles, and the silt suffocates some of the bacteria. So over time, filters process less ammonia, and to remedy that the media needs to be rinsed off
I've done partial water changes now , vacuuming the gravel media , anything from 10% up to 50% , 2 to 3 times a week but after a couple of days ammonia starts to come back and rises very sharply . At first I was adding Ammo Lock or Ammonia Remover but haven't done this for a month now , just the water conditioner and cycle , at water changes , however even when I add cycle now I don't get a biological bloom .
<Sounds to me as if this tank is overstocked, insufficiently filtered, and perhaps too much food is added.>
All other readings are fine and have never changed .
<What are they?>
The tank currently has only 5 Tetras in it now as 1 of them and the 2 Guppy's have died , they showed no sign of illness and were behaving normally , they didn't go all at once and were taken straight out once found , last one to die was the Tetra about 2 weeks ago .
The current tank conditions are Temp 26 , ph 6.4 , ammonia .25 , nitrate 0 nitrate 0
<Woah! Guppies cannot possibly be kept at pH 6.4! These are fish that need hard, basic water: around pH 7.5 to 8, general hardness 10+ degrees dH. If you live in a soft water area, it's best to keep Guppies in a brackish water system, adding 6-9 grammes of marine salt mix (not aquarium salt or tonic salt) per litre of water. This will not be acceptable for Tetras though.>
Hope you can help
Many Thanks
<Cheers, Neale.>

BiOrb Aquarium - Planted Tank   5/16/09
Hello Bob,
I'm hoping you might be able to assist me by writing an article about creating a stunning freshwater biotope in a BiOrb Life aquarium?
<In what way/s?>
I'm not sure if you know much about the BiOrb range of aquariums (see www.reef-one.com)
<Mmm, am quite familiar... saw the line last year at Interzoo again... in CASCO's booth>
but we have developed an aquarium which makes keeping fish extremely easy for novice fishkeepers. All our aquariums (16 Gallons is the largest) have biological, chemical and mechanical filtration which is pretty unique for this size of aquarium. In a recent review by Practical Fish Keeping magazine they said "The filtration is commonly mistaken for Undergravel - which is isn't" and "Contrary to popular belief, the filter is actually pretty good and works well. In fact the amount of ceramic media supplied would be enough to biologically support a much larger density of fish. As a result it gets full marks for biological filtration".
Our aquariums are designed to look attractive and bring more people into the hobby of fishkeeping (which as you may know the numbers of fish keepers is declining around the world), but we haven't sacrificed good fishkeeping practices to make the aquarium attractive.
One of the elements of the fishkeeping hobby which we have not explored in great detail is planted aquariums. Due to the ceramic media, which provides the huge biological filtration, it does make keeping some live plants more tricky. However as the images attached show it is very possible to create a planted aquarium but I would like an expert like yourself who has a great eye for designing amazing planted aquariums to look at designing one. Is this something you would be interested in doing?
<Thank you for the offer, but no>
As you can see these images are ones which were taken with a simple camera before thinning out the plants etc. However, this does show how nice the planted BiOrb Life looks.
Please let me know if you are interested in working with me on this.
Kind Regards,
<Am out of the country too much of the rest of the year really to do such a project justice... and by and large not a "big fan" of such small volumes with limited surface area, inherent troubles in heating, maintenance. But I wish you and your business well. Bob Fenner>

Baby BiOrb tank - my fish have died, advice for future please. -- 09/07/08
Hello there,
<Good morning,>
I am in desperate need of some advice.
About 5 months ago I bought a baby BiOrb tank.
<Please understand this tank contains just 15 litres (less than 4 US gallons) of water. It is not suitable for fishkeeping, end of story. It's a very expensive, very attractive, bucket. A total con? Well, depends on how you define "throwing your money down a hole" but the image on the front with Goldfish and such is completely misleading. At best, it could house a single Betta, or alternatively a few Cherry Shrimps and funky Nerite snails. But that's it. No other fish of any type whatsoever will be happy or easily maintained in a tank this shape or size. The small volume means that fish wastes can't be diluted effectively, and the tiny surface at the top (because its a sphere, not a box) means very little oxygen diffuses into the water. By any standards, it's useless for fishkeeping.>
We slowly introduced 6 guppies, a loach and 2 platys. When I brought the platys home and put them into the tank to adjust in the bag I noticed there were 9 babies in their which must have been born on the way home. This is the first time I've had fish so I wasn't sure what to do with them. As I had already had a guppy baby survive to 4 months (at that time) and bearing in mind it was after shops closing time I decided to add them all to the tank.
<Long term none of these fish will survive. As they grow, they'll expect more "resources" in terms of oxygen and waste management, so there will come a point where the Baby BiOrb is overloaded, and they'll sicken and die.>
All of the babies survived, 6 of them lived in the filter (which it seemed they could swim in and out of) and three were happy hiding in the rocks at the bottom of the tank. The guppies also had babies and two of these survived by living in the filter.
Two weeks later I noticed that one of the guppies had a fur on her and was waving her head from side to side, then I noticed another had white spots/. After researching on the internet I discovered this was Ick. I immediately went to my pet shop and was recommended the BiOrb
First Aid filter. I carried out the instructions and hoped for the best. Removing the existing filter managed to kill all the platy babies which were living in it (I was distraught about this).
<Right; the "fur" is Fungus, and typically means poor water quality. No great surprise really. The Whitespot/Ick is a parasite likely brought in with the new. Both diseases need prompt treatment with specific medications.>
Gradually day by day all the fish have died including last night the two guppy babies. I am left with only the loach which doesn't seem to have developed Ick. This has been a very upsetting experience and I was wondering what I should do now. How do I find out whether the
loach has Ick (he doesn't appear to have any spots or fur) and how do I go about introducing new fish and ensure that this experience does not repeat?
<You absolutely cannot add any more fish to this system. Please, re-home the Loach. What species is it? I'm guessing a Clown Loach (orange-and-black creature) or a Weather Loach (mottled brown, eel-like thing with long whiskers). Either way, completely unsuitable for this system, and being both gregarious species need big tanks that allow them to be kept in groups.>
I was also wondering what I should do when the babies are born. We have lots of ceramic media in the bowl for them to hide in but if they are living in the filter how do I get them out and what happens when they get too big to swim out and get trapped?
<Rearing the babies is the least of your problems. But do see here for the basics:
I would appreciate any help and advice.
<Take the fish out of the darn thing, and either put shrimps/snails in it or sacrifice it to the Fish Gods. Either way, it's of no use for what you want. The pet store sold you a "bill of goods" as the Americans say... (in other words, you were taken advantage of as someone who didn't known what they were buying). Have a read of this:
And then get back to us if you're still unsure about what to do next and we'll do our best to help. Do also invest in an aquarium book, or at least borrow one from the library. Beginners often start with very small tanks (by which we mean anything less than 90 litres/20 gallons) and these are notoriously difficult to stock with suitable fish. Maintaining good water quality in small tanks is hard work too. So it pays to be upfront about the problems, and make sure you've done your research. Fishkeeping is a very simple hobby if you do things precisely "by the numbers" in terms of fish requirements and water chemistry; but if you try to make things up as you go along, or worse, rely on the advice of the store clerk, you'll almost certainly end up with dead fish.>
Many thanks,
<Most welcome.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Baby BiOrb tank - my fish have died, advice for future please. -- 09/07/08
Hi Neale,
<Hello Lucy,>
Thanks so much for this advice. The loach is a weather loach
<A lovely fish; needs at least a 25-30 gallon tank though -- gets to 20 cm eventually, and does want some buddies. Does great with Goldfish in an unheated tank indoors. Lots of character.>
and I will see if I can find a bigger tank in which to rehome him. I'll do some research and check out the links you recommend first as you suggest.
<Very good.>
I really appreciate your no-nonsense and speedy reply. I certainly do not want to repeat this experience, it has been heartbreaking.
<I understand. We've all been there. What we try to do here is to show how keeping fish can be rewarding, rather than upsetting.>
Many thanks,
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

My poor harlequin is breathing from the surface!? Inherent BiOrb limitations, problems   - 03/26/2006 Dear WWM, <Molly> I am having some trouble with my relatively young tank. It has been up and running for about 3 months now (not including the pre-fish   cycling period). It is a BiUbe. <BiOrb?> I have 6 x harlequin rasboras, 1 x male Betta splendens, 2 x smallish bottom feeders. I have followed all the instructions on setting up a tank religiously and all my readings are always perfect -except for nitrate (NO3)   which always seems quite high -have been doing water changes to bring it down (is coming down slowly). It's in the 50-70 range which my test kit says is bad but not toxic. Is this right? <Not correct. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm and the linked files above> Everyone seems happy and fine although the tank gets dirty VERY quickly. <These units have this trend/trait... unfortunately "kill off" much livestock and hobbyists consequently...> I clean the top of the filter tube and the rock I have when I do water changes but they, and my plants (not live) become grubby   very quickly -a few days tops. It is a green sludge, sometimes brown.   Is this algae? <A mix of this and bacteria mainly> Why is it becoming so dirty so quickly? <Inadequate filtration, circulation... the unit itself> Should I change the filter? Or am I feeding too much (once a day a pinch of flakes which all get eaten up)? <Both changes would likely help> -Perhaps I should also mention that during my pre-fish cycling period I put in some live plants but they kept going brown and dying so I only have plastic now. Any ideas why? <All sorts... posted on WWM> However, this evening I noticed that one of my harlequins seems to be breathing from the surface. He goes up for air for about 10-20   seconds, swims around for a few seconds then goes back for more. No one else is behaving oddly. I am very worried for him. What could it be? <Lack of oxygen, pollution... see WWM re... real trouble once again with this product> My temp is 78-80. Many thanks for your wonderful website, Molly, London. <Please use/read it... and soon. Bob Fenner>

BiOrb screen Do you have any suggestion as to how I can screen the filter intake of the BiOrb. I thought about putting a hole in the middle of a fine net pulling it over the bubble tube and securing it with some media.  Thanks very much for your advice Lesley <This sounds like it would work... I would contact the folks who make the BiOrb for their input as well... It may be they have devised a screen, and they should

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