Got plants and fish in the tank now. It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride, but everything is looking fine now.
After driving around Austin looking for goldfish, I found, not surprisingly, no stores had good, healthy stocks of goldfish. I could’ve waited until some tanks were cleared of sick/dying fish. But I took a chance. Got a small black moor (PC fish names amirite?) from a shop close to me. Almost immediately the fish got a spot of fungus on the dorsal fin, so got a salt bath, and the tank got a small dilution of salt as well.
The fish didn’t like the salt water bath, kept their fins clamped and was sitting basically motionless at the bottom of the tank for a couple of hours after going back in - but pulled through, and the fungus disappeared. Also did a 50% water change. I did let the tank water age for a week before introducing the fish.
I used one fish to start the nitrogen cycle. I know some people cycle tanks without fish. But I’ve not had a problem before cycling the tank with a lone fish before introducing more. But I haven’t had trouble getting fish from healthy tanks in the past.
Put in anacharis. The local petco is closing, so it was on sale, so I got three bunches - and it’s been doing great. Lots of new leaves since being put in the tank. And for some reason, this particular fish doesn’t seem interested in eating them. They do show some evidence of being nibbled - but my last goldfish would destroy anacharis in short order. It wouldn’t last a week in the tank.
Went back and got a couple of anubias, they haven’t died, so that’s good. Live plants really help a new aquarium get through the initial nitrogen cycle (which in case you’re not into aquariums, basically, the aquarium has to build up a population of beneficial bacteria that eat the waste products of fish, and until the population builds up - it’s really, really, easy to kill fish as they’ll poison themselves quickly without that bacteria, which is why you start with one fish before putting more in the tank).
I might add more plants... but there’s not really that much that goldfish won’t destroy, that will also live in a simple gravel substrate, or just floating in the tank.
Also, the box filters are working great.
All that brown, seems to just be dirt/dust from the gravel. I did wash it pretty thoroughly - but the filter floss still sucked up a lot of brown after just a couple days of running.
I washed the floss out in a pot of aquarium water when I did a water change - and look at how much crap came out! Floss was basically clean after washing.
A lot of people do not believe this sort of filter works. In my experience, the box filter is better suited to use with fancy goldfish than the powerfilter - the current produced by power filters seems to stress fancy goldfish, who’re not very good swimmers. I’m ok with the downsides of the box filter - yes, it’s ugly, and it sits in the tank, and it’s a pain to remove it and clean it out - but it works really well.
Since I’m putting plants in the tank, I’m forgoing the carbon in the filter, and just filling it with floss and ceramic bio media.
In any event, the water has gone crystal clear, which usually indicates the nitrogen cycle has completed. I’ve got to test it this weekend and see where it is.