I feel bad posting this with all the troubles people are having in the forum.
I feel a little guilty cause other people's fish are suffering but, I just wanted to share a happy story I guess.
A couple weeks ago I noticed what appeared to be rust colored stuff in my aquarium. It was apparently diatoms. I also had some dying grass in there which may or may not have been affecting water quality. At any rate, Sam was looking a little dusty and the rust or diatoms or whatever really weren't pleasing me either, but he was eating so it was okay. Then I came home one night and he just wasn't doing too well, seemed a little lethargic, floating a lot more so than usual, and he had given up on his bubble nest and it was slowly dissolving :( That said to me he wasn't feeling well.
So I did the following and it worked out well!
Boiled the heck outta the rocks and ornaments and killed off all those diatoms or whatever. I understand they're not really supposed to affect fish, but I just wanted to be sure, cuz whatever it was, it showed up and then Sam got a little sick it seems.
Cleaned off the heater and put in a fake plant just so he'd have something. But as it turns out Sam doesn't care for fake plants :)
Cleaned the tank with water as hot as my hands could withstand, using the same sponge and glassware I always use, which has never seen soap.
Picked up this handy battery operated pump which emptied the tank easily. Before this I was using a pot and I was worried I'd crack the glass:
The operating room:
After boiling for 30mins and cleaning everything I put it all back together.
This product is called 'Shio de genki', which translated means approximately 'Feeling well by salt'.
Luckily found this in a department store nearby with a well-stocked pet-section. The local pet store didn't have any and I was worried Sam would have to spend another day in that filthy water.
Salt plus conditioner added:
The week after that I kept an eye on Sam and his scales and skin became noticeably 'clearer' and less 'hazy' looking, he wasn't darting as much and seemed more content. However he wouldn't make a bubble nest for me, so something was still a-miss.
So the other day I got some plants!
I got some anarchis and some java moss!
The java moss is especially sturdy, but so is the anarchis apparently. The grass I had before didn't root well but this stuff should be okay. The moss is especially easy, it just floats on the surface.
And the very next day he started making this, which is now even bigger:
So, some things I've learned, which may help others:
- I was leaving the light on too long (upwards of 18 hours a day some times) which led to something brownish growing in my tank, possibly diatoms. The diatoms, or indirectly the conditions allowing diatoms to occur.. something.. kinda made Sam a little ill. He had what appeared to be Velvet but I never got a good diagnosis on that.
- Although he was starting to get sick, a good water change and salt really did him well and brought him back to normal. Using medication isn't necessary for overall health or small illnesses. I'm going to reduce the salt next week a bit so as not to build up an environment of salt-resistant bacteria of any kind.
- Real plants really help the fish calm down, feel safe, and in my case encourage nest-building. He has stopped darting completely and in fact I now know that Sam will only build a nest if there are real plants around. They also really help clean up the water in an uncycled tank, I've read. I still intend to do weekly water changes but the water quality shouldn't deteriorate nearly as quick with all these plants because I've read they soak up ammonia and whatnot, so for an uncycled tank this is probably really good water quality (I'm hoping!)
Well anyway I just wanted to post all that.
Thanks to everyone who gave me advice the last couple weeks.