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FAQs on Goldfish Growths 1
(ex: issues of lumps, bumps, tumors and growths)

Related Articles: Goldfish Systems, Goldfish Disease, Goldfish, Goldfish Varieties, Koi/Pond Fish Disease, Livestock Treatment System, Bloaty, Floaty Goldfish, Gas Bubble Disease/Emphysematosis, Pond Parasite Control with DTHP, Hole in the Side Disease/Furunculosis,

Related FAQs: Growths 2, Growths 3, Growths 4, Growths 5Growths 6Growths 7& Goldfish Disease 2, Goldfish Disease 3, Goldfish Disease 4, Goldfish Disease 5, Goldfish Disease 6, Goldfish Disease 7, Goldfish Disease 8, Goldfish Disease 9, Goldfish Disease 10, Goldfish Disease 11, Goldfish Disease 12, Goldfish Disease 13, Goldfish Disease 14, Goldfish Disease 15, Goldfish Disease 16, Goldfish Disease 17, Goldfish Disease 18, Goldfish Disease 19, Goldfish Disease 20, Goldfish Disease 21, Goldfish Disease 22, Goldfish Health 23, Goldfish Disease 24, Goldfish Health 25, Goldfish Disease 26, Goldfish Disease 27, Goldfish Disease 28, Goldfish Disease 29, Goldfish Disease 30, Goldfish Disease 31, Goldfish Disease 33, Goldfish Disease 34, Goldfish Disease 35, Goldfish Health 36, Goldfish Health 37, Goldfish Health 38, Goldfish Disease 39 & Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Nitrogen Cycling, Koi/Pondfish Disease, Goldfish in General, Goldfish Behavior, Goldfish Compatibility, Goldfish Systems, Goldfish Feeding, Bloaty, Floaty Goldfish, Goldfish Breeding/Reproduction,


New Print and eBook on Amazon

Goldfish Success
What it takes to keep goldfish healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Fish tumor on gill- please help 1/2/11
To whom this may concern,
I am deeply worried that my fish is suffering from the huge lump on its gill. Unfortunately, my brother won him at the fair so I do not know of its species. His eating habits seem to be normal and he is swimming around the tank, although it does seem as if the tumor is effecting his balance.
Hopefully the picture that I have attached will help. If you could inform me of the best way of action, whether it is euthanasia or treatment. It is weighing greatly on my conscience.
<This is highly likely an example of idiopathic tumour... Please read here
re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GFgrowthsFAQs.htm
Thank you for
your time,
Jenny Petrie
<Welcome Jenny. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tumour/cyst on stressed goldfish 12/17/10
Hi Bob
<Hello Helen>
Thanks very much for your reply, very much appreciated. Im sorry to reply so late, work, weather (bit rubbish over here at the moment tell Peter hes not missing much and also that the Bowling Green pub as he might have known it has closed!).
<He was just back visiting his mum, and I do think he mentioned this>
I did many hours of research last weekend on goldfish diet and ailments, and am pretty certain that George is suffering from hole-in-the-head disease, caused by poor diet most likely. He doesnt seem to be getting any worse fortunately, but is static, taking in some food but not much interested in anything. Anyway, following on from the research I also got concerned about the level of protein in the flakes.
Unfortunately in my naivety I actually believed the pet store (who ordinarily seemed to have been a good source of information) and what it said on the tin complete system of goldfish food recommended by top aquarists. I now know that they need greens and fish products, so have ordered some ingredients to make my own gel food also, and have got some freeze-dried Tubifex and bloodworms (says disease free on the packaging heres hoping so!).
<I'd leave the last, insect larvae, out>
So theyll eventually have a mix of flakes (much lower protein), greens and gel food, with some dried worms and Tubifex. Hopefully a much better diet for them. I put some par-boiled spinach in the tank a couple of days ago. George swam past it, but the other two had a good chomp on it and seemed to really enjoy. I must follow suit!
Have been doing 20-30% water changes every other day to reduce the nitrite back to zero. It was slightly higher previously (cant remember the reading, but it was still within safe limits) but doubtless wont have helped Georges condition. I wont be getting any more fish in the tank, so will unfortunately have to leave them a bit crowded, but if I do lose George then I certainly wont replace. At 20 gallons per fish, two should be ok.
<Yes indeed>
When I returned home last night, Georges head lump looked to have been sheared in half across the top. I did actually check the tank to see if I could find bits of it, but couldnt, so maybe hed bumped in to something and squashed/burst some of it. It didnt seem to be unduly upsetting him, although it looks very sore as an angry red.
<Not to over-worry here. Such injuries generally heal fine on their own>
Ive read both articles recommended, and looks as though more frequent water changes are indeed the future. Theres so much conflicting advice about how much water to change/frequency of changing. Im going to go for 25% twice a week and see how I get on (200 litre tank). Will increase in frequency if nitrite levels start creeping up (ammonia has always either been zero or as near as Im careful not to over-feed). Does this sound about right?
<Yes... this is about what I do, have done for decades>
Im trying to strike a happy medium between at least 20-25% which suggests perhaps not quite enough. I used to do a 40% each week in the old tank, but this was completely unsuitable for the number of fish and so tended to get dirty much more often filter was never going to be able to handle the waste.
<Nowadays, water quality being what it is... unless one can store, treat, let new water set, it is best to just do the appreciable 20-30% once a week. More filtration is always a plus as well>
It does make me angry that pet suppliers are so ignorant about the animals that they sell. They sell goldfish bowls, and most will advise a far too high a number of fish for the tank size, even when someone does bother to ask. I hold my hands up to starting out as an ignorant fish owner myself. I did a lot of research before I bought their first tank, knew that it needed to be cycled and spent a couple of hours picking the brain of the pet shop owner, who was himself an aquarium owner. But its never enough. Both myself and the swimmy guys have come a long way since that day, with a couple of sad losses, which is why Im so hoping that George does rally as hes my responsibility and to date, Ive failed him. But hey, at least Im still learning so it can only get better!
<Ah yes!>
Am knocking the tank salt on the head I always thought it was something to do with the osmotic effect of salt being leached out of the fishs body and stressing it if there wasnt enough in the water!
<Not necessary, necessarily as you now know>
With best wishes for Christmas.
(a bit ignorant when it comes to keeping fish)
<But less so all the while. Cheers and happy holidays to you and yours as well Helen. BobF>

My goldfish has a large cotton looking growth on his nose. What is it?(RMF, viral?)<<>> 9/29/10
I have a goldfish that is 2 years old. He is in a 12 gallon tank by himself.
<Much too small.>
He is fairly big, measuring about 7 inches long, so he produces a good amount of waste (as most goldfish do).
<Most? All!>
A few months ago I was having a problem keeping his tank clean.
<I bet.>
His ammonia level and Nitrate level would spike and I was having a hard time getting it down.
During that time he developed a bump on his nose that looked like a little pimple but would get pink and bloody if his ammonia levels got too high.
<There's no "too high" with ammonia. It's a binary thing. Zero is safe, anything not zero is dangerous.>
He also had gotten ammonia burn on tail and fins. I was able to get everything under control by buying a larger filer (I bought one that is for 20-30 gallon tanks) and putting in treatments like cycle (biological
aquarium supplement) and Prime (removes chlorine, ammonia, and nitrates)
<Prime is for conditioning tap water. It has NOTHING whatsoever to do with the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate resulting from your fish and the biological filter.>
and a little bit of salt to help his slime coat (and water changes of course).
<Salt is irrelevant here and has nothing to do with the mucous on a fish's skin. My worry is you're cherry-picking factoids from the internet without really understanding the basic facts. A Goldfish like this needs at least 25 gallons, and realistically 30 gallons, to stay healthy. Period. End of discussion.>
I'm happy to say that his tank is now nice and clean and the water all tests great (no ammonia, low nitrate and nitrite etc.) But my problem is that little bump on his nose has grown into a huge growth!
I have tried everything to get rid of it. I have tried treatments of tetracycline, Maracyn and maracyn2, Melafix and Pimafix and nothing has made a difference. I swear it's getting bigger.
<Quite likely so.>
Luckily its not interfering with him being able to eat and he is acting like his normal self but I'm worried about what this thing is. It looks like a cotton ball on his nose. What is this thing?
<Probably viral. The issue with viral infections such as Fish Pox and Lymphocystis is that they're related to the environment. Precisely as you've observed, when stressed by poor environmental conditions, fish
become subject to these wart-like viral infections, and over time such growths become bigger and bigger. There's no cure as such, because the fish will only heal once its immune system is operating at 100% and the source of environmental stress is removed. The details remain obscure, but studies on Lymphocystis in the wild does seem to connect outbreaks with poor water quality and above normal levels of heavy metals. A bacterial infection will usually form a pus-filled sac, usually bloody and sore-looking, and
antibiotics should shift such things fairly quickly. Untreated, bacterial infections tend to kill the host fish very quickly, within days or a couple of weeks. But viral infections of this type are essentially benign if
untreatable. Lymphocystis commonly takes a year to clear up. I don't think this is Lymphocystis as such because that isn't common on Cyprinidae, but there are a whole host of similar viral infections.>
What can I do to get rid of it?
<You can't. Given time the fish may heal on its own. Could take many months though.>
I attached a picture. Any help would be great. Thanks so much.
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.><<An irritated nares, environmental... I agree with your direction here. RMF>>

White lumps on goldfish tail 9/10/10
I have an Oranda goldfish- about four months ago I noticed that he had two small, white lumps between the rays of his tail. Both were in the same spot and both are approximately 1 mm x 1 mm. This in not Ich.
I tried dabbing them with Biobandage, which didn't do much more than stress out the fish. I thought it might be prudent to keep a close watch on the bumps rather than attempting any sort of further treatment. The lumps have stayed consistent in size, but today I noticed another cluster of bumps forming- on the same side of the tail, approximately an inch away from the original ones.
The fish is not at all stressed, but I am concerned that these might be small tumors (?). I originally thought that one of the fine bones in his tail may have broken when the aquarium shop netted him to put him in a bag when I purchased him and that the lumps were deposits at the injured site. Now I am not so sure. The tail is otherwise fine- no signs of fin rot, red streaks or other damage.
Water parameters are great- Ammonia zero, nitrite zero, nitrate 15 and pH 7.8. I vacuum the gravel regularly and do small twice weekly water changes. The fish is alone in a 50 gallon tank and I have not introduced any new plants or decor.
Any idea what this might be? Should I worry? I have tried very hard to get a photo but the fish is not one to pose for the camera
Thank you for your advice:
<Finrot does start with congestion of the blood vessels in fin membranes, and before they turn pink they can be grey or off-white for some time. So that's certainly a risk. Fish Pox does affect Goldfish, but it is distinctive, looking like blobs of candle wax. Fish Pox is a tumour caused by a virus, and comes and goes at its own pace. It can't be treated, though anything that improves water quality and diet will speed up natural recover. It's not fatal. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
re: White lumps on goldfish tail 9/10/10

Thanks Neale:
<You're welcome, Gina.>
I just Googled images of fish pox but am fairly certain this is not what is affecting my fish. I will try to take a photo of the tail for you.
I hope it isn't poor water but this is possible since the fish has just moved to a cycled tank. The bumps have been present since I purchased the fish several months ago.
<I see. May well be viral then, or merely the fish equivalent of warts.>
I was hoping to add a second fish to the tank but I will hold off until I establish whether or not this is a contagious condition.
<Unlikely to be contagious. But I'd still wait 2-3 weeks, see that first doesn't get worse, and only then add another fish.>
Kind regards:
<Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish bump/blister 8/26/10
Hello all at WWM,
<Hi, Sarah! Melinda here tonight.>
Thank you as ever for the fantastic service you provide. I'm just emailing with a quick question about my goldfish today, which I hope you'll kindly help me with. Unfortunately, a long dig through your archives provided masses of info but no consensus, as I suppose is usual when you have a large group of experts with different opinions!
<Well, none of us agree on everything, and I am by no means an expert.
However, I have seen my share of sickly-looking fish. I hope I can help!>
My problem is that my goldfish has suddenly (i.e. during the day yesterday) developed a round, pale bump or blister, located between his eye and his gill.
<Ohhh, okay.>
The bump is slightly paler than the surrounding area, and it looks as if there's a lump under the skin pushing up. There is no visible injury, though there was some reddening close to the area this morning.
<Okay. Sounds like the beginning of an infection. Not necessarily anything to totally freak out about, and I'll discuss that below.>
It's highly unlikely to be parasite-related as I've introduced nothing new to the tank in about a year, and never anything unquarantined.
<Okay, good.>
I believe it's likely to be damage from an injury, e.g. collision, which perhaps has become infected (suggested by some WWM posts) or is simply a bruise (other posts).
<Well, you could begin to go down the list -- possible injury from tank mates? Sharp objects, such as decor? And also, do learn about Columnaris, by using the search feature on WWM: I found some good results using "goldfish Columnaris." There is no reason to jump to this conclusion, unless the red spots begin to develop white lumps on top of them. In this
case, you'd want to treat with Erythromycin, an antibiotic. However, I would wait a little...>
I don't want to medicate unnecessarily,
but neither do I want to leave an infection to run rampant.
<This is the thing, Sarah: infection does not often run rampant in a tank which has excellent water quality (Ammonia, Nitrite of zero, and Nitrate of less than 20), and in which the fish are being kept in proper conditions, as far as chemistry goes. Please do read here, if you haven't found it already: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm.
This article gives specific guidelines for the necessary pH and KH to keep goldfish. Please do adjust your aquarium accordingly using the included (and may I say, amazing!) method. I'm guessing that since you're a well-read WWM'er, your aquarium is up-to-par, but wanted to mention these anyway. If you find anything that's not as it should be, that should be fixed. If you still find your fish is exhibiting these symptoms, I'd medicate in the above-mentioned fashion, with an antibiotic. However, if you water quality/chemistry is optimal, I'd give this a few days. You'd be surprised what shows up on fish, only to disappear a day or two later! If you're doing what you can do for your fish, and their immune systems can
operate optimally, things seem to come and disappear very quickly. Please do let me know if you have any questions about water quality/chemistry.>
So, I'm hoping that from my description it'll sound familiar to one of the crew, and they may be kind enough to advise accordingly.
<Does sound familiar. In my (totally non-scientific -- my major is English!!) opinion, what you have here is a "fish bump," (again, my own term,) and it needs no medication unless you continue to see the problem progress, or if conditions are not optimal for the fish to heal. If you do find, after testing, that water is not of optimal quality/chemistry, do what you need to do to get it that way. If you have any questions, feel free to write back.>
Thank you for your time, and for all the help your site has offered me in the past.
<I hope I was of some help!>
Kind regards,
Re: Goldfish bump/blister (also, a suggestion for WWM -- Bob, could you give input on this?)<<RMF>> 8/26/10

Dear Melinda,
<Hi Sarah!>
Thank you very much for your reply - it's really appreciated, and you were very helpful. Regarding your 'non-scientific' designation of the offending article as a "fish bump" (hey, that's what I call it) I'm not sure how relevant a scientific background is to volunteering for WWM
<<It, the designation, or reality, is not.... There are amongst us, academic scientists, but all here possess useful, applicable knowledge however derived... and as importantly are capable and desirous of helping others>>
- while it no doubt adds something, it seems to be experience and passion for helping sick fish that matters (which, from the replies I've read from you over the past few months, you obviously have in spades). Plus, I'm sure your major in English helps keep everyone's grammar up to WWM standards! ;)
<Ha! Many e-mails we receive do much to further my interest in saving the English language before it's too late. As for my interest in helping folks with their fish, every old fish tank I sell on craigslist comes with plenty of free advice, whether it's desired or not!>
Back to my fish: thank you for your answer. I am indeed a long-term WWM lurker and shameless FAQs addict - however, I'm very happy to have you reiterate the basics. Better to catch everyone, including those who should know, just in case they don't (if you take my slightly convoluted point).
Regarding my current problem, I've changed 30% of the water in the tank, made sure the filter media is reasonably clean and tank stats are at usual levels - no nitrite/ammonia, pH 7.0-7.5, nitrate under 5mg/l.
<Oh, good.>
I think your diagnosis of an infected injury seems reasonable (Columnaris is an old enemy who will get the boot very swiftly if he shows his face, believe me).
<He is an old enemy of mine, as well. I had a tank of Goldfish that seemed to be plagued by Columnaris for a year or so -- as soon as I'd think I'd beaten it, it would show back up.>
I'm definitely in favour of giving it a few days to see how things go; fortunately I have a few days off anyway, so I can keep a close eye on him.
<That's good news. Hopefully, you'll see this go away. If it doesn't go anywhere within a couple of days, or begins to look worse, I'd go ahead and treat him.>
<<I have had good success w/ treating Chondrococcus/Columnaris w/ Neomycin Sulfate... 250 mg./ten gallons...>>
As for cause, his tank mate is unlikely to be responsible (a small Black Moor) and I check any decor for sharp or protruding bits before it gets anywhere near the tank, so I don't think that's it. However, I have recently installed a new filter (with old media, of course) which had quite a strong current at first, so I suspect the poor thing just got tumbled
about a bit before I spotted that he was struggling and turned the current down. So it's just a case of wait and see, with crossed fingers.
<Yes, I think I'd give him a couple of days, but no more than that.>
I do have one query, however. I've never used an antibiotic for my fish before (have had good results with off-the-shelf antifungal meds such as eSHa 2000 when needed), but I understand they're hard to get in the UK.
Would this be a matter of seeing a vet, do you know? Hopefully I won't need this piece of advice, but I'd like to be prepared just in case.
<Check out this page:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwfishmeds.htm. It's a table which lists medications available in the U.S., and their equivalents in the UK. It would be a handy reference just to keep on hand, as well. Do any of the medications for bacterial infection sound familiar?>
Incidentally - thought I'd sneak this in at the end, as I know how Bob and co. are constantly looking for improvement to the site - is there any way that the search function could be made to search WWM by default, rather than Google? If it's a simple matter then that might be worth doing, as I sometimes miss the button and search the whole web by mistake (could just be me, of course). Just thought it was worth mentioning. :)
<It would be a wonderful change. I use the search feature quite a bit myself, and have found some comical results to certain terms which have completely different associations in the non-fishkeeping sense if I forget to hit the "Search WWM" button. I am not sure if it's possible, but will add a note for Bob requesting his input.>
<<The one specific search page: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
does solely search WWM... This page is linked on the left shared border as "Search Feature" on all pages but the root Home. I consider it more valid to offer a/the option to allow folks to select the wider choice>>
Thank you again for your advice, and hope you have a lovely day!
<No problem -- I'm glad I could help. I hope yours goes well also.>
Warm regards,

Abnormal growth on dorsal fin [Bob, does this look viral to you?]<<A growth of some sort; I'd leave it be...>> 8/22/10
This is a follow-up to discussion in April. Attached are 2 photos of growth on fin. I have added more nutrition to diet in form of flakes but growth still there. He still eats a lot of green peas which controls his air bladder problem. Water quality is decent; tested periodically at PetSmart.
He is otherwise healthy. Will it eventually fall off? What would happen if it were cut off? (not that I have the nerve for that...)
<Hello Linnah, this looks to me like something viral. A cyst of some kind. I'm asking Bob for a second opinion here. Viral diseases of fish tend to be untreatable directly, just as they are with humans. Instead they come and go according to background factors such as water quality and heavy metals in the water. Review and act accordingly. If the viral infection isn't serious, it should clear up, though Fish Pox for example, which does affect Goldfish, can take many months, even a year to do. You might try a broad spectrum antibiotic just to see if it's a bacterial infection, though it doesn't really look like one to me. Cutting fins is certainly possible, but really needs to be done by a vet, in part because you can damage the fish
while handling it, but also because there's a risk of secondary infection even if you do cut away the cyst. I have seen vets and zoologists do such "surgery" to treat Lymphocystis on large fish, but I wouldn't ever recommend hobbyists try it. In the meantime, check the tank is big enough, ensure good water quality, use a water conditioner that neutralises copper
and other heavy metals, and hope for the best. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: abnormal growth on dorsal fin [Bob, does this look viral to you?] 8/23/10
Okay, thank you Neale! That gives me some guidelines to work with. Maybe heavy metals in the water, which comes from our well although filtered
<Glad to help. But let's see what Bob has to say today. Cheers, Neale.>

abnormal growth on dorsal fin 4/28/10
You helped my 7-year-old fantail goldfish through a crisis last year; thank you! Now, over the past few months I have noticed what seems to be a growth in the midsection of the dorsal fin. It is whitish, thick, tapering to a point at the outer edge. I can't locate any info on such a condition; doesn't quite fit the descriptions of fin rot or fungus. What do you think it might be?
Thanks, Linnah
<Hello Linnah. Difficult to say without a photo. Fungus is usually distinctive, since it's "furry", like cotton wool. Finrot tends to begin with pinkish blister-like swellings on the fins. Eventually these decay into open wounds, and the fins become raggedy as the fin membrane dies away. One problem Goldfish sometimes get is Fish Pox, a benign viral disease that goes away by itself. The cysts or tumours it produces usually have a glossy appearance rather like candle wax. It's comparable to Lymphocystis in being triggered by some shortcoming in the environment,
typically poor water quality, but potentially things like heavy metal poisoning or inadequate diet. Ensuring optimal conditions and a healthy, vitamin-rich diet should allow the fish to heal itself, given time. Cheers, Neale.>

Fantail with small ulcers 4/23/10
Hi Crew
I have a 1 1/2 inch Fan tail that has been bottom sitting frequently and now is showing two very small red spots where she rests on the glass bottom. She is still eating enthusiastically. This fish has not grown much in 2 years
<I'll say! How big is this tank? If Goldfish are kept in too-small tanks, they can become stunted, and while this may or may not be directly harmful in itself, it does mean that the fish is more likely exposed to conditions detrimental to its health. At two years of age, a Goldfish should be about the size of your hand.>
but has always appeared healthy and does well on Veggies. She has swim bladder problems on pellets. With Spinach and peas, she does well.
She seemed to be having some trouble with her mouth on one side and was doing some yawning, so I dosed the tank with Aqua Prazi and we are on the 3rd day after treatment. One of the small ulcers appears larger tonight.
<Very like bacterial, opportunistic. Would assume Finrot or similar, and treat accordingly.>
I put in an RO
<Reverse osmosis? I assume with some sort of Rift Valley cichlid salt mix
added? Goldfish cannot tolerate soft water.>
and I think the water parameters are good, thanks to Neale's help.... Ph consistent 8.5 KH 9 GH still high but working on it. Nitrates
below 20 and temp at 72.
<Do check tank size as well. The relationship between aquarium size and health is very strong.
For a standard issue Fantail, it's hard to see them being kept humanely in less than 30 gallons.>
How can I treat the ulcers? And can I treat them with Prazi in the water?
I do have Metro Med and Medi Gold but she doesn't do very well on pellets.
I could try soaking the pellets before feeding.
<Any anti-Finrot antibiotic or antibacterial should work. Melafix may help too, but it's a pretty unreliable medication.>
Thank you... I adore this little girl and don't want this to get out of control.
Any suggestions much appreciated.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fantail with small ulcers
<...for Neale, I assume?>
sorry I forgot to mention tank size. She is in a 25 gallon with one other 2" fish.
<A little on the small side.>
My other fish have grown normally, but she never has. ( I have 2 other tanks) The water is not soft.... I have the other problem. I've been working on getting the GH down with RO water. It was unreadable 3 weeks ago and is now down to 18 drops of API. I think other parameters are good.
<I would tend not to worry too much if you have hard water. Or if you must, a 50/50 mix of hard tap water and RO water generally produces something good enough for Goldfish.>
I had some Epsom in the tank because of her occasional swim bladder problems. I assume I cannot treat the ulcer as long as I have Prazi in the water?
<Medications will usually be metabolised by bacteria within 24 hours, but a 25-50% water change will flush out any that remains.>
Do I carbon out the Prazi and treat for bacterial infection .... or wait 3 more days till the Prazi treatment is finished?
<It the Praziquantel only needs to be used for a couple more days, then you may want to finish that course of drugs, do a water change, and then use the Finrot medication.>
She is doing a lot better, more active after the Prazi so I think she probably had flukes.
Thanks Neale.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Further goldfish problems :( 2/25/10
Deeply sorry to bother you again but I can't work out what the problem is... Single goldfish, about 12 or 13 years old in a 100-odd litre filtered tank. Moved abroad last November, have had on-off problems ever since, two
cases of fin rot so I've been changing the water regularly. Thought the tank had finally settled out, maybe not!
<Oh dear.>
Now I'm seeing a dark red sore at the base of the anal fin, far side of the fin from the anus. The fin itself seems okay but he keeps it folded up at the moment. He hasn't had this before.
<Likely some sort of Finrot; assuming that's the case, standard Finrot medication should do the trick. Avoid ones based on tea-tree oil (they're unreliable) and instead use a proper antibiotic or antibacterial. In the UK, I've found eSHa 2000 as being economical and effective. Do remember to remove carbon from the filter (if used) while medicating.>
While the sore is red, there's some white on or in it, but not outlining it, and something pale/white protruding from the red on one side, not long and stringy like I imagine a worm would be but more like when a potato starts to bud.
<Sounds like it's an ulcer.>
I can't tell if it's something growing out or like an infected spot swelling up. Can't see any other symptoms. Behaviour as normal, other fins open and he's swimming and eating as usual. The only change in diet is I recently gave him some lettuce. Otherwise nothing's changed. Do you have any idea what's causing the sore and what I need to do?
<See above.>
My access to treatments here is quite limited and I can't get water test kits to give you any values!
<Finrot is almost always down to water quality, so at minimum you need to have the nitrite and pH tested. Goldfish need hard, basic water, so a pH around 7.5 is good. Soft water isn't at all good for them, and should be hardened before use, for example by using a quarter to half dose of a Rift Valley salt mix (which is easy to make and costs very little).
As for nitrite and ammonia, these should be zero.>
I've done a 20-30% water change about every other day for the last week.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Further goldfish problems :(
Fabulous! Thanks so much. I have an old test kit but I don't really believe what it tells me. Can I have Finrot if the stats are pH7, NO2 0-0.3 (lowest category it can show), KH 2?
<Sure. Indeed, the carbonate hardness (KH) is so low, that you likely have soft water. This is common in some parts of the UK, notably Cornwall, West Wales, much of Scotland. Really anywhere not on limestone or chalk.
Goldfish hate soft water. Harden the water using a Rift Valley salt mix, which as indicated in the last e-mail, is easy to make and costs pennies a month.>
I think it must be past its sell by date... or maybe the softness is the real culprit behind these recurring problems?
<In part, likely yes.>
I'll treat with Ektol for Finrot/ulcers but it kills the filter bacteria- back to square 1. Again!
<Used correctly shouldn't kill filter bacteria. Cheers, Neale.>

Ryukin in trouble, admonition of worth re "salt addn." 12/11/09
Greetings, Guardians Aquatic,
<Hello Violet,>
I have two young fancies (>3") in a 20 gallon tank, well aerated with a HOB filter meant for a tank twice the size to give them a high turnover rate and decent current.
<While acceptable for now, do understand adult Goldfish will make a 20 gallon tank very messy, by which I mean murky water and high in maintenance. If at all possible, upgrade this tank to something 50% larger.>
They have been healthy and spry for many months in a well-loved, previously established tank (0 NO2, 0 NH4, >10 NO3). Temperature in the high 60s, low 70s, fluctuates a little when it gets cold at night, but never drops below 67 or so. 25% water changes twice a month.
The water in So California is hard out of the tap, and I add a homeopathic dose of aquarium salt: 1 tsp/ gal.
<Do understand homeopathy -- when it works at all -- works via the placebo effect. For obvious reasons, that isn't going to work with animals, since they have no idea you're adding salt and it's going to make them feel better. Indeed, the addition of tiny amounts of salt to freshwater aquaria is completely pointless. Try asking someone why salt helps. You'll get lots of arm waving about raising hardness (which it doesn't do) and steadying pH (which it doesn't do either). Maybe something about improving their electrolyte balance (try asking them what electrolytes are) or maybe even something about the slime layer on their skin getting thicker (try asking why that's helpful). What I'm saying is that the whole salt thing is completely misunderstood by a huge section of the hobby, largely those without much of a science education I suspect. Salt detoxifies nitrite and nitrate, so can be useful in the short term to get fish through, for example, the cycling process. Salt can also be used to deal with certain parasites, either added to the tank (as in the case of Ick) or as a strong salt solution dip (as used to weaken skin flukes before manually removing them). Marine salt mix, as opposed to aquarium salt, can be used to raise pH and hardness levels, but only when salt-tolerant fish species are being used, typically livebearers, some killifish, and of course brackish water fish. In all other situations, the routine use of salt is at best a waste of money, or otherwise a potential stress factor. Regular Goldfish actually have quite a high tolerance of brackish water, Fancy Goldfish perhaps less so, but in any event they DO NOT need salt.>
They eat mostly sushi Nori, with peas once a week and "Emerald Entree" frozen food once a week. Sometimes other blanched greens from the fridge or bloodworms once in a blue moon if I cut off too much for my Betta.
My Black Moor is perfectly healthy if his outward signs are trustworthy.
My Ryukin, however, started showing signs of lethargy about a week ago, so I started keeping an eye on her. I noticed that the Moor was interacting with her oddly, doing something I've never seen goldies do before - he'd
nudge under her and then sorta push her upwards, toward the surface, like dolphins do to sick buddies and drowning humans.
<Be careful not to anthropomorphise.>
No nipping, just nudging. Spawning behavior perhaps?
<Yours are probably a bit young to be spawning. Mature males will develop spawning tubercles on their heads, and rather than nudging, they chase.
Vigorously! It's actually pretty uncommon for Goldfish to spawn in aquaria, which underlines the fact psychologically they need much more space than indoor aquarists usually give them. Nudging between fish, especially when just two Goldfish are being kept, is much more likely to be a quasi-aggressive behaviour related to the pecking order. These fish are intensely social animals, and like all schooling fish, they aren't "friends" but a collection of bullies, each jockeying for the position of top dog. When you keep just two, one inevitably becomes the dominant fish and rules the roost. (Notice how I'm using all these other animal-related expressions to remind you how common this type of behaviour is among social animals?)>
Anyway - I put her in an isolation net because she was weak, current blowing her around more than normal, and I didn't want him to bully her.
<Isolation in another aquarium fine; isolation in a breeding trap or net not so fine. I call these traps the "breeding traps of death" because fish placed inside them usually end up dead. Most aquarists completely misunderstand their usage. Contrary to what to illustration on the box shows, you don't put adult fish in breeding traps. You put the fry in them.
When breeding Guppies or whatever, you stock the tank with floating plants where the fry can hide, and each time you see a fry, you net it out and pop it into the trap. That way the net contains just very small fish, and does so for just a few weeks until they're big enough to be set loose again.
Stick an adult fish in a breeding trap and it'll feel confined, it'll receive much less water current than before, and chances are it'll become stressed.>
I also started feeding her Jungle brand anti-bacterial medicated fish food a few days ago, since there was nothing external that I could diagnose, and I figured anything internal would probably be bacterial.
<Not a good way to work. Diagnose first, treat second. If you can't diagnose, then do not treat. Wrongly medicating a fish is more likely to do harm than good, and usually ends up as a waste of money.>
Not much change in three or four days - still in the net, still lethargic, but still eating the pellets ok.
<Let it loose in the big tank or a hospital aquarium if you have one (and you really should).>
Well, today she's developed a reddish and white rash (?) on her face and what looks like a blister of some sort on her forehead. She's normally got a really smoothly sloped forehead typical of the Ryukins. I've attached pictures, but the red blotchiness under the white spots doesn't really translate.
<The white patches are either mucous or dead skin. Can't really tell.
Mucous will be off-white in colour and obviously slimy. When Goldfish are stressed, e.g., exposed to poor water quality, they create extra mucous.
Indeed, all fish do this. But on Goldfish their unnatural colours mean this mucous becomes much more obvious. Black Moors are famous for this, but Ryukins and other varieties with weird heads often show this too. Dead skin
will look like dead skin, so should be easily recognised. If there's red patches associated with dead skin, that's almost always Finrot. The red patches are areas of bleeding and congested blood vessels, and typically associated with bacterial infections. As the bacteria multiply, they clog up small blood vessels, creating first red patches and then open sores.>
The white looks a little like ich, but I've had ich in other fish before and it looks different. I've also never seen ich happen just locally on the face and be accompanied with red splotches or blisters. Some of the white appears to be sloughing off too. Any ideas?
<See above.>
Unfortunately, I'm without a quarantine tank right now because I had to empty it to use with a sick tree frog. (When it rains it pours...I was ill last week too. So was the cat. I'd hate to think all my familiars are so tapped in to me... ;-) I'm hoping whatever meds you recommend wont stress out my Moor too much.
<Actually, the "cure" is checking the water quality and water chemistry.
Almost always, Finrot is triggered by either environmental stress or physical damage. Physical damage tends to be fighting, careless netting, fin-nipping, etc. In terms of environmental stress, check the pH is nice and high (around 7.5) and stable. Hard, basic water is the order of the day here. Make sure you have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. Instead of adding salt to the tank, consider adding a Rift Valley cichlid salt mix to raise the pH and carbonate hardness.
Half the normal dose should be fine. Once you're sure everything in the environment is optimal, medicate as for Finrot. Skip the junk meds like tea-tree oil, and concentrate on a good, reliable brand like Seachem
ParaGuard or Mardel Maracyn.>
He's doing just fine and I hate to treat a healthy fish. It's feasible I could put him in my 55 gallon with two larger fan tail goldies, but they're at a higher temp because they're in with a Bristlenose and some guppies, so I'd have to acclimate him slowly, and I'm not really sure how I'd do that without another tank.
<As per the "drip method" for introducing new fish.>
The wealth of info on this site has benefitted me more than you can possibly imagine over the years, and this is the first time I've had to write in. I hope you can shed some light, Frida is a special girl.
Cheers, Violet
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Ryukin in trouble 12/12/09
Hi Neale,
Thanks so much for the diagnostic help. But just for clarity, you didn't mention anything about the blister, and that's the dominant feature of the visible pathology.
<It's all part and parcel of Finrot.>
It has swollen more today and looks translucent. Sorry the first image is blurry, but it's the best profile shot I could get of the blister. And yes, the white patches are clearly dead skin today - sloughing off to leave a sort of raw- looking texture. The base of her dorsal fin also looks to show the same rawness today, while it was fine yesterday. Fin rot is a fungal infection, yes?
<No. Finrot is bacterial. It's essentially gangrene. A secondary infection of things like Aeromonas and Pseudomonas that under normal circumstances the fish's own immune system would prevent. When the fish's immune system is weakened -- typically by environmental stress -- these bacteria "eat" away at the fish.>
Would the week of sullen lethargy + no visible physical signs + sudden onset of facial blister and skin trouble be typical of just fin rot, or could she have something else going on with her that may have weakened her and paved the way for the fin rot?
I put her in the net for a few reasons - so she wouldn't get blown around by the current against her will anymore, so the Moor couldn't push her around while she healed, and so I could gauge how much of the medicated food she's getting. (I knew they wouldn't be pushing each other around for the same reasons as dolphins do, but that was the best way I could think of describing the motion.) I took her out and she sunk down to the bottom immediately.
<Not a good sign.>
The Moor's a bit of the from- underneath-nudging, seemingly just to get her moving. I am watching them closely and he's done no nipping at all. They are situated ON my desk, so the observation of these little ones is easy.
I've had my other two goldies in the 55 gallon tank for three years, and they've never exhibited any "top dog" behavior, and they have also been situated adjacent to my work space for much of that time so I observed them quite a bit.
<A-ha! I suspect you know the answer to this. The bigger the group, the more "balanced out" the behaviour tends to be. It's also probable that males are more aggressive than females, and without sexing your fish (difficult outside of spawning season) you can't tell if you've got three males together, three females, or some combination.>
(New house recently- they're in the front room now.) They have always been like two peas in a pod, even when they were in a much smaller tank as juveniles. I had a third goldie in with them for the first year, and she was also not aggressive, which is why the Moor's behavior is surprising to me.
<On the whole Goldfish do get along, even in pairs. But aggression does occur. It's a lot like any other gregarious animal, whether people, dogs or horses. Yes, they basically want to be in groups, but at the same time there are tensions, and you can't always predict what's going to happen, only do your best to manage it as best you can.>
The water quality tests pristine, as previously reported, and the pH is at 7.5.
The general hardness and carbonate hardness are always as high as my test kit will go, so they could be anywhere at or above 180 mg/L and 240 mg/L respectively.
<Again, good.>
Based on your suggestions, I'm not sure what I could do differently here, and I've gotten mixed messages about the salt thing for goldies right here on WWM from other FAQs, which is why I settled on the dose I have been giving them. I figured it couldn't hurt, and if it helped them out in any way, well then, money well spent.
<With Goldfish, there may be benefits in the short term at least, but it's also important to understand why you're adding salt. In a badly maintained aquarium with non-zero levels of nitrite, adding a little sodium chloride may well help. Likewise, if water changes are minimal, so nitrate levels are sky high, sodium chloride may help. These are two good reasons salt was often used in the past. Aquarists didn't really understand why it helped, but via trial and error had learned that it did. The parallel would be how until the 1850s everyone drank beer instead of water, even children and pregnant women. It was safer than the water, and even though people knew nothing about bacteria and how they caused disease, those people who drank water instead of beer ended up sick. But even allowing for this, we don't recommend people drink beer all the time today. Whatever benefits it has relative to untreated water, it is less safe, or at least less healthy, than treated, chlorinated tap water.>
It really is pennies per dose, so the cost is almost negligible. Do you suggest that other members of the WWM crew recommend salt for goldies wrongly?
<There's a difference between adding salt for therapeutic reasons, and adding it out of habit. Since Goldfish tolerate brackish water, the harm is minimal, perhaps non-existent. But there's no real advantage to adding salt if the aquarium is clean and well managed. Do distinguish salt from Epsom salt, which is used for quite a different reason. Also Rift Valley salt mixes, though they contain sodium chloride, are used for different reasons as well.>
The only thing that has been any different with this tank recently is the addition of a live plant that turned out to be too tall for the 5 gal Betta tank I intended it for. This was 2-3 months ago. The plant was removed after a brown algae bloom happened (the tank gets quite a lot of natural light during the day, and I inevitably turn the artificial light on when I'm working at my desk). I cleaned the majority of the algae off of the artificial plants and larger rocks and put the live plant in the 55 gallon, which has several others and where everything seems to be happy. Besides that episode, this tank's parameters have been set and stable since before I added these babies 6 months ago. I test about once a week out of habit.
<I doubt the plant is the problem here.>
I have on hand API's Fungus Cure, which lists 3mg Victoria Green and 30mg of Acriflavine per packet, each meant to treat 10 gallons. I have enough for one full prescribed treatment of this tank: 4 packets. I would like to begin treating the tank now, so is this sufficient or should I wait until tomorrow (as the hour is again late, 15-hour conference today) to go to the LFS to hunt down some Maracyn? (I know the LFS carries Maracyn Two, not sure about regular Maracyn.)
<Whatever you use, choose something that either treats Finrot or treats Finrot and Fungus; I don't think an anti-fungal alone is what you want. If you happen to use carbon, which you don't really need (again, old school!) don't forget to remove when adding medication.>
Your advice is most appreciated.
Cheers, Violet
<Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish problem, hlth. - 10/24/09
Can you tell me what is wrong with this fella. He has a big lump growing on his neck
<This appears to be a tumorous growth of some kind... likely bacterial or virally mediated. All one can do presently is offer ideal water quality and nutrition and hope for improvement. Please see WWM for Goldfish re both.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Goldfish problem 10/24/09
Hi Bob ,
Thanks for your reply. I did let the water get bad so may have caused it.
His fins did get dark on the edges but that has cleared up. I was away for a couple of months and the people taking care of them let the water go to hell.
<Ahh, a shame... I change a good deal of water on my goldfish weekly...
along with my "Sunday routine". Cheers, BobF>
Thanks again

Sick fish 10/23/09
I've got a 120 litre tank with 5 fish in, 2 of them are sick and I have had 2 other fish die.
<If all your fish are Goldfish, and they're all as big as this one, environmental conditions are almost certainly to blame. A 120-litre (~30 US gallon) tank is adequate for two, maybe three Goldfish, but not five. This does also assume you're offering good water conditions, primarily through generous filtration and regular water changes. For Goldfish, I'd be aiming for a filter with a turnover at least 6 times the volume of the tank, i.e.,
6 x 120 = 720 litres/hour. Water changes should be 25% per week, at minimum. Goldfish prefer hard, basic water: aim for pH 7.5, hardness 10+ degrees dH.>
I've included 2 photo's of the ill fish. I don't feel that they have dropsy but possibly some sort of parasite or other disease.
<Looks like ulcers of some sort. Would assume simply optimising water quality and/or chemistry, and treating with a suitable Finrot medication such as eSHa 2000, would do the trick. Remember to remove carbon, if used, while adding medications.>
Please can you help at all because I have been looking on the net for a diagnosis. At the moment I have been treating with Anti-Internal Bacteria and salt, whatever it is, is very persistent and contagious.
<Interpet Anti-Internal Bacteria is possibly the most useless product ever made. Never heard of anything being cured by it. As for salt, while this can reduces the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate, and can be used to treat Ick/Whitespot, it isn't a miracle cure, and shouldn't be used unless you have a clear reason to do so.>
Thanks Mr S Glover
<Cheers, Dr. N Monks.>

Red Cap Oranda sickness 10/22/09
My redcap Oranda has a very large bulge on his head above his eye... It is not his head. It looks like it is weighing him down because he stays at the bottom of the tank bent over. He is alive and has been like this for about the last week... This has happened before, but not nearly as big and went away... Please help.
(ps.- he has been alive for at least five years... I know he is very old, but he has been fighting these last few days and I believe he can make it).
<Five years is not even adolescent, let along "very old" so let's not bring age into this issue. Goldfish can live for 30 years! Looking at the fish and looking at the tank, I'd be fairly confident saying this was some sort of environmental issue. Do read here, making note particularly of diet, water chemistry, water quality, filtration, and tank size issues:
As for treatment, fixing the environment will help but it probably won't by itself cure the weird bulge on its head. If the bulge is some sort of bacterial infection, like a pus-filled sac or ulcer (I really can't see from your photos) then an antibiotic might help. If the thing is a tumour though, there's nothing you can do, though a vet might be able to offer some advice. I'd certainly pick up the phone and call your vet anyway.
Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish Bump I recently noticed that my goldfish has a large white bump on its upper back and I'm not sure what it might be. What do you think it is and what should I do? Thanks for you time. Amanda <Hi Amanda, Don here. Could be a lot of things, from a simple bruise to a protozoa infection. Even poor water conditions. Do you change his water? What size tank? Have a filter? For now I would start doing daily partial water changes and add a table spoon of aquarium salt for every two or three gallons on water. If he does not improve try a medicine with Metronidazole. Good luck>

Goldfish Bump I found out that my fish has Ick. Is it curable? <Sure. But first let's make sure that's the problem. In your last email you said he had a "large white bump" on his back. This is not Ick. Ick shows on a fish as tiny, salt-like spots. There may be one or dozens, but they are always tiny. If your tank has been infected with this parasite, the advice I gave before is a great start. Change the water and add salt. I would just that you should siphon the water from the bottom of the tank. Email me back the tank specs I asked for earlier. Include a clear description of what you are seeing on the fish. I want to help, but I need more info concerning these conflicting emails>

Upside down Goldfish Hi, I have had my goldfish (which I think is a Chinese goldfish) for about 3-4 years now. for the past few months it had been floating on its back, but after reading your website questions and answers I now know what that is. It seems pretty healthy though swimming around because its not always on its back. But this past week it got a huge lump on its hind tail. It is round and is pretty much the same color as its fin but it has a hint of grey tint. I'm not really sure exactly what it is, but I didn't think fish could get cancer or tumors but maybe I'm wrong. Could you give me some advice? < Fish do get tumors, but there is not much you can do about them. more likely I would guess that it is a bacterial infection so I would treat it with Nitrofuranace. It may be an internal parasite too so Pepso food would take care of that. If it turns out to be an internal bacterial infection then I would treat it with Metronidazole.-Chuck> Thanks A lot Jenny

Lump on Goldfish My goldfish is about 12 and although seems healthy enough it has had a black lump on his back for a while now and now seems to be protruding more. It is between his head and fin and it is under his scales. He has also turned a silver colour over a long period of time. Any suggestions what this is and how I can help him? <Hi, Don here. There is a parasite that would cause this black lump. And it is more common in fish breed or raised outdoors, as are most goldfish. However it has a complex lifecycle involving a bird as a secondary host. Unless the fish is eaten by a bird, the parasite can not reproduce. So this is unlikely unless he is a pond fish. No cure, but they cause little harm. More likely it is a tumor. No real cure for a tumor either, but many fish can live years with one. As to his color change, it is normal for a goldfish to change color as they mature. But it could also be a sign of poor water quality. Increase the number of water changes and see if it helps. Good luck>

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Goldfish Success
What it takes to keep goldfish healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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