Urgent—Shubunkins haven't moved for weeks—today, two have died.

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On Nov. 3, I relocated my two shubunkins to a new, larger 40 gal. plastic water trough. Cleaned it thoroughly first; conditioned the water; and let it sit overnight before reintroducing them to it. Using the same filter I had in the previous pond. At the same time, I introduced 3 new shubunkins and a goldfish from a reliable pond and fish purveyor. Yes, I know—I did not quarantine them. They had been in the travel bag too long and I needed to get them out of there.

Since that time, the fish have all remained nearly motionless nearly all the time, hunkering down at the bottom of the trough. I live in Los Angeles, so it's now like we've had a sudden extreme temperature drop to explain this change. Then, today at two different times, I found two of the newer fish dead. I am now urgently concerned. There hadn't been any signs of illness from these fish, but I am no expert at this.

Last week I had called the place where I'd bought the fish and described how they weren't moving—he mentioned some stress-relieving product that I now can't recall the name of.

Desperate to know what to do now.
 

Meyer Jordan

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Where to start.
-You have increased the fish population by 200% expecting the original filter to maintain water quality. What type and size of biofilter is this?
-The new fish were kept in the shipping bag too long. How long?
-The new fish were not quarantined Why?
-Six fish (that will most assuredly multiply) in 40 gallons. A little crowded, especially for a new pond.
-No signs of illness. Lethargic behavior (sitting at the bottom for Four weeks) is a well recognized symptom of water quality issues.
Goldfish are notoriously tough and durable fish but they are not indestructible. After Four weeks of apparent chronic stress, they are beginning to succumb.
Pond treatments are of no use at this point and are likely to exacerbate the situation. This is one of the rare times that I would recommend it, but a large water change using a dechorinator would be the first step in attempting to save the remainder of the fish.
 
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I used a dechlorinator, as always, to condition all of the water the day before I moved the fish into the new trough. The pump is a JBJ aquarium Power-Head-SP-1300, 240 gal. per hour, with an Aquaclear quickfilter. I clean the filter in a bucket of pond water, and replace when clogged. I was assured by the shubunkin purveyor that the 40 gal. trough was more than big enough. The fish were in the bag overnight—my bad; I moved them into the pond immediately because they were obviously low on oxygen. I even found one of the original mosquito fish dead early the same day—and they can do fine even in tap water.

So, I know I made at least a couple of stupid mistakes, and I'm hoping to save the remaining fish from dying.
 

Meyer Jordan

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`The filter that you describe is a mechanical filter, which is fine, but what are you using for biofiltration?
Have you tested the Ammonia and/or Nitrite levels in this pond?
 
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20 gallons for the first goldfish and 10 gallons for each additional goldfish... otherwise problems happen.... even then they need regular water changes unless you have a way to get rid of the ammonia.

A sudden increase of 300% in fish load in this small 40 gallons (which is good for 3 goldfish only) probably spiked the ammonia. Meyers is right... you need water changes and don't add more fish. Your new pond doesn't have the algae biofilm to help the filter.
 
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I have no way to test the ammonia or nitrate levels. I never needed to do that in the previous 18 gal. container that housed the first two shubunkins for a couple of years. What do I need to get to do this?

What should I look for in biofiltration for an outdoor 40 gal. Trough?
 
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At this point id just 90-100% water changes every 5 days for two weeks and you should be ok by then for the filter to catch up.
 
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I would also suggest using Prime. You can use it for water changes and to make the ammonia and nitrite in a safe form for the fish. You need to re-dose every 24-48 hours if using it to protect fish from ammonia or nitrite. Otherwise you only use it to treat water when doing a water change.

http://www.seachem.com/prime.php
 
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Thank you so much to everyone for all of your responses and suggestions so far. I've just completed a near-total water change, and I used Tetra AquaSafe Plus as a conditioner/dechlorinator, as I've done for a few years. Now keeping an eye on the shubbies and awaiting any signs of change and improvement. Will be purchasing a testing kit today, too.

By the way, in my region of Los Angeles we have fairly hard water. And my first two shubbies were healthy and happy in the previous 18.5 gal. container for about 2–3 years. I only did two complete water changes that I remember, in order to scrub and clean the pot. Otherwise, I just used the AquaSafe for any water added to maintain pond level. And I only introduced the pump and filter a short time ago.
 

Meyer Jordan

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Thank you so much to everyone for all of your responses and suggestions so far. I've just completed a near-total water change, and I used Tetra AquaSafe Plus as a conditioner/dechlorinator, as I've done for a few years. Now keeping an eye on the shubbies and awaiting any signs of change and improvement. Will be purchasing a testing kit today, too.

By the way, in my region of Los Angeles we have fairly hard water. And my first two shubbies were healthy and happy in the previous 18.5 gal. container for about 2–3 years. I only did two complete water changes that I remember, in order to scrub and clean the pot. Otherwise, I just used the AquaSafe for any water added to maintain pond level. And I only introduced the pump and filter a short time ago.

Most ornamental fish prefer Hard Water.
 
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Sorry about your fish but the more crowded your container the more likely you will have problems. This is true for every pond. I noticed you mentioned scrubbing the container. The green stuff on the sides of the pond is loaded with beneficial bacteria that reduce fish wastes to less harmful elements. Also I'm wondering if there is some sort of water feature creating oxygenated water.
 
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Sorry about your fish....
Thank you, Keith—yes, it has been a process of learning the hard way; I only found out AFTER I'd last scrubbed out the container, then discovered this group, that I shouldn't have done this. :-(

I have an AquaClear quickfilter attached to a powerhead pump; I attached the aerator tube to the pump and it does bubble, until the filter gets clogged and I need to clean/replace it. I assume that isn't truly aerating the pond? But, again, in their previous container I didn't even have a pump for most of their time in it—only introduced that pump & filter earlier this year. I was using pond plants to oxygenate the water. Maybe it was all just dumb luck that they had thrived in that small pond for a few years?
 
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Thank you, Keith—yes, it has been a process of learning the hard way; I only found out AFTER I'd last scrubbed out the container, then discovered this group, that I shouldn't have done this. :-(

I have an AquaClear quickfilter attached to a powerhead pump; I attached the aerator tube to the pump and it does bubble, until the filter gets clogged and I need to clean/replace it. I assume that isn't truly aerating the pond? But, again, in their previous container I didn't even have a pump for most of their time in it—only introduced that pump & filter earlier this year. I was using pond plants to oxygenate the water. Maybe it was all just dumb luck that they had thrived in that small pond for a few years?
Almost everyone on GPF has made lots of mistakes when just starting out. I learned a lot when I joined this forum too. Most experienced ponders will tell you that you can never have too much moving water in a pond. A common sign of low dissolved oxygen are lethargic fish. I recommend that you use a second pump or an aerator to get more O2 in the water.
 

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