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FAQs About Goldfish Disease/Health 58

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FAQs on Goldfish Medicines Antifungals, Antibacterials, Anti-protozoals ( Copper, eSHa, Metronidazole, Formalin, Copper, Malachite Green), Dewormers, Organophosphates, Salts, Mela- et al. non-fixes, Misc. Med.s,

Goldfish Disease by "Types", Causes:
Environmental 1, Environmental 2, Environmental 3, Environmental 4, Environmental 5, Environmental , (Absolutely the Biggest Category)
Floaty Bloaty Goldfish
Nutritional (Second Largest)
Eye Troubles
Lumps/Bumps/Growths (including idiopathic tumors)
Viral and Bacterial, Fungal Infectious
Parasitic: (Ich, Protozoans, Flukes, Worms, Crustacean/ Anchorworms/Lernaeids, ) Fish Lice (Argulus),
Goldfish Swim Bladder Problems
Anomalous (Misc., Injuries, etc.)

Goldfish - Excessive yawning/gulping, skin integrity, water parameters in check     2/28/18
Dear Rob, Neale, Tom, ... All at WWM,
Good day to you.
Like so many other people, I feel I have finally found the place where my questions will be properly addressed by people who actually know what they’re talking about : much appreciation and gratitude for all the helpful work you guys and gals are doing.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
Like so many other people, I’ve been reading and reading and searching tirelessly throughout the freshwater and goldfish articles and Q&A - yet, like some other people, I am left with enough doubt and perplexity regarding the particular situation at point that I decided to write, for I am worried, to put it mildly, about the well-being of my 3 adorable goldfishes.
English is not my mother language so I hope you will forgive the possible grammatical/syntactical/spelling mistakes and I apologize in advance for any occurrence that would subsist.
<Understood! But seems better than mine, to be honest.>
I stumbled into goldfish-world by accident, knowing absolutely nothing about neither aquariums nor goldfishes, nor any kind of fish for that matter. To cut a long story short, I rescued a goldfish, having no idea of what I was doing, only that I could not *not* take it home with me. H., a common orange goldfish of about 5-6 cm, was alone in a little bowl half-filled with water and nothing else, treated as a prop, and on its way to being flushed or kept in miserable conditions. My priority was to procure him/her company, that’s G., a Shubunkin of the same body type, and move them into a larger, rectangular container. I used a storing box I had (25 L) and bought a larger one of 145 L where, despite knowing that in the long term it would be way too small but advised that for juveniles it would do (which, having since learned more, I now disagree with), I also brought in a third little Shubunkin, L. The box is made of polypropylene, there’s 3-4 cm of gravel on the bottom, two pieces of (boiled) olive woods,
<I have not seen olive wood in aquaria before. Is it known to be safe?>
lots of real plants, and two cheap internal filters of 300l/h each (one close to the bottom, on to the surface creating water movement, diagonally opposed and generating a counter clockwise current). Since it’s not a real aquarium there’s no lighting equipment and I’ve been using a desk halogen lamp to procure some light to the plants besides the natural light of the room (they’re all « easy plants » that do not require much light). That was end of September 2017, L. was introduced on October 10, 2017. With everything that’s in there, I estimate the actual net volume of water to be 120 L.
<Which should be fine for one or two Goldfish.>
There’s a lot I wish to say in order for you guys to have all the info needed to get an accurate reading of the current situation, and give me an accurate feedback on what to do. I am prone to write very long messages and I know your time is precious so I’ll do my best to stick to what I consider to be the essential pieces of information. The first one is that, due to my ignorance despite taking crash courses into goldfish husbandry as soon as I came back home with H., they were all subjected to the Nitrite peak that comes with the cycling of an electrically filtered tank. It was a frantic episode when I discovered, using strips, that there were Nitrites in the water. None of the fishes showed any exterior sign of poisoning and they were moved to the previous, smaller box loaded with Anacharis and kept clean, zero Nitrite, while the main « tank » (I’ll dispense of the brackets from here on) finished it’s cycling. They were then moved back into their larger tank, much to my relief, and everything went swell for a couple of months. Still, they had been poisoned and the long-term effects of this are part of what I keep in mind when trying to decipher what’s going on and what to do. I was feeding them flakes and granules that had previously been soaked, then learned about the need for greens and started adding that while still keeping them on a protein-rich diet, thinking that, as juveniles, they required it.
Second piece of information may seem anecdotic but it stays with me as I review all the possible explanations, and combinations thereof, for what’s happening now. I once gave them live bloodworms, some of which managed to burry themselves in the gravel. On December 2, 2017, I moved to a new studio(*) and in the process of moving their tank (keeping more than 100 L of their water and the bacteria in the filters alive) I saw that some of these worms were still alive in the gravel - which I didn’t touch or cleanse, for fear of losing useful bacteria and wanting to reintroduce my little ones in as much the same tank as possible. I kept wondering, though, about those worms and what if some had died, poisoning the water, but my NO2 readings were always zero.
<Always a risk. But once the dead animals have decayed, they shouldn't really affect water quality. A dead worm is really no different to uneaten fish food. Too much is bad, but one or two dead worms -- not a problem.>
The other parameters, then measured with stripes read electronically with an app (most unreliable as it turns out), showed a high GH (>21°d) which, based on the advice of someone I came to trust regarding goldfish, didn’t worry me, a KH of 10° on average, a pH of 7.2-7.4, 25 mg/l of Nitrates when at their maximum (which, again, although on the upper limit side of it, didn’t worry me too much and was the amount present in my tap water), and 25 to 35 mg/l of CO2. No Chlorine, as I have always let the water rest for 48h before water changes.
<None of this sounds bad, apart from the CO2. The problem with CO2 is deciding the "safe" level. CO2 displaces oxygen, so you have to dose with CO2 extremely carefully. I would not be using CO2 in a Goldfish aquarium though. Goldfish eat most plants! In any case, 30 mg/l is the usual level for CO2 in planted tanks with small fish. I would think the level you have is too high for big fish (which need more oxygen). Makes me wonder why it is so high. Not enough aeration? Water from an aquifer that has a lot of dissolved CO2? (Think of Perrier water! -- some mineral water underground picks up CO2 under pressure, not usually enough to be fizzy, but too much for fish. Allow to "de-gas" overnight before using.)>
(* my new studio has some outside space where I managed to bring a 1000 L cubic cistern (generally used for agricultural storage) to build an out-of-ground pond for my little ones (1m high for thermal inertia). The weather is freezing now where I live but as soon as it stops freezing, the cistern will start to be planted appropriately and zooplankton introduced, left to find its balance and then become the new home for my fishes - or so I hope.)
<Sounds good.>
Because since learning a bit more about low-tech I had had the hope of gradually planting the tank enough that I could cut the filters, two things started happening that are the third piece of information (the other ones unfolding in the text) : one, I didn’t siphon as much anymore in order for the mulm to form and the gravel to become enriched for the plants ; two, I started adding more plants and ordered a bunch from a well-established Internet shop with good reputation. The water parameters on the darned app kept telling me everything was fine - no Nitrites, never more than 25 mg/l of Nitrates, GH and KH same as before, pH stable around 7.4. Let me say here that I know strips aren’t as reliable as drops, thing is I was (and became even more) financially pretty short so I went on with the stripes until I recently finally acquired a set of tests for pH, GH, KH, NO2, and NH4/NH3 (still need to buy the NO3 test, which I continue measuring with the stripes or at the LFS).
Because of the good reputation of the plant shop and the feedback I had received from others on the forum I was on, I didn’t disinfect the plants and just washed them carefully, removing any « junk » (foam, metal rings). On December 22, 2017, two days after introducing them, G. showed 3 dots (spots) on it’s tail. They were translucent (bright when light shone through) and yellowish rather than white. They seemed to be originating from within the fin itself. Having read so much about the dreaded Ich, not knowing what else it could be and considering that, *if* it was indeed Ich (which the only answer I received on the forum suggested, pictures provided), immediate action was required, I started treating the same day with eSHa Exit combined with eSHa 2000 (their combination is promoted as being synergistic by the brand), two products that are rather mild and generally acknowledged to be efficient.
<I agree than the two eSHa products work well together.>
Six days later none of the dots had changed one iota. I filtered with carbon to clear the water from the medicine and remained super vigilant on the evolution of those mysterious spots. During the course of the treatment, on day 2, all 3 were unusually quiet, with an occasional little stampede as if something had suddenly frightened them. I was very concerned. L. would sometimes abruptly make 2 or 3 darting movement then stop as abruptly. H. seemed on edge. This behavior gradually subsided. Since the dots were not Ich as far as I could tell, my research and queries among other fish keepers led me to believe it was either Lymphocystis (unlikely as per aspect, development and symptoms) ; some tumor or cyst (discarded since they disappeared on G.) ; epitheliocystis (still an option) ; papillosum cyprini (but the illustrations I saw, the white wax aspect, didn’t match what I could observe and later developments ruled out the option) ; henneguya (same comment) ; or SVC (spring viraemia).
<Viral infections are tricky to diagnose, but luckily, not common. Environmental issues are far more common.>
There was, however, to the best of my understanding, nothing I could do at that point except remain observant and vigilant, which I did, all the while continuing with my weekly 1/4 water changes and feeding routine (3-4 small portions per day, which I now understand is too much, one day of diet per week). By the end of January I noticed there was a new little dot on G.’s dorsal fin and, to my utter horror, a similar little dot had appeared on L.’s dorsal fin. Their behavior was unchanged, no one was scratching, rubbing or flashing (if ‘flashing’ looks like, as defined on thegab.com, « fish is throwing itself against or rubbing against decorations »), and everyone was eating enthusiastically.
There’s still more to tell so, to cut it short : the one on G.’s dorsal developed a fungal aspect (cotton white) that disappeared on its own, the one on L.’s dorsal became double - two tiny little specks making an elongated shape.
<Sounds more like Anchor Worm (Lernaea spp.) than anything else. Very common on Goldfish that have been farmed outdoors. Can leave scars or wounds that become infected.>
The dots on G. progressively disappeared, seeming to melt into his/her fins, and are indistinguishable today. Those on L.’s dorsal are still there and, contrary to G.’s, are definitely white. For the rest, they haven’t moved or multiplied. There never was any visible irritation or lesion anywhere on their body.
Early February, they gradually started yawning and gulping at the surface - L. much less so. They would yawn repeatedly, come gulping air or hovering beneath the surface obviously taking in oxygen, and would occasionally have a sudden brief jerking motion. I should mention that H. had *always* done some gulping, from the very beginning, mostly in the evening. Since the water was well oxygenated and he/she was the only one to do it back then, I had thought that maybe this was an idiosyncrasy of his/her, or possibly a sequela from the Nitrite poisoning. When this behavior intensified for H. begin February, and the yawning started, G. then L. started doing it too (L. almost never gulps but does yawn and shows little sudden movements from time to time).
<I do wonder if the gulping is to do with the high CO2 level, which seems much higher than it should be.>
Obviously (to me at least) something was affecting their gills and/or there was a lack of oxygen in the tank (which had always preoccupied me a bit because of the plants at night, and I would turn the airstone on for the night). Except for the yawning, gulping and/or hovering beneath the surface, and the occasional jerking motions (which ranged from what looks like a sudden spasm, or sudden darting, or shaking of the head, or movement of the head towards the side of their body (H.) as if trying to reach their side doing a U-turn), there were no common, obvious behavioral symptoms pointing to flukes - no scratching/rubbing, no labored breath as in gasping, no swelling of the gills that I could see or them remaining wide open, no isolation, no excessive production of mucus (though I’m not sure what that would look like - just that I didn’t notice anything different on their body, even under increased scrutiny with a flash lamp) .… They were still happily doing their little pea dances, eating, swimming about, and responding to my presence.
I was advised to treat with salt - the whole tank since the three of them were affected. Trouble is, I didn’t dare do it, not only because of all the plants in there and the snails (Melanoides tuberculata) that would be quite difficult to find and pull out, but because A) I still wasn’t sure about the diagnose and B) although natural, the treatment seemed to me far from being trivial, the osmotic shock being as much a stress on the fish as on the supposed parasites.
<I would NOT be using salt.>
Further reading and queries for advice (all my research so far was in French only and no one was able to positively state that the treatment wouldn’t harm my little ones if they did *not* have parasites) persuaded me to hold off with it for the time being. Not that I wasn’t anxious to act and do something, believe me I was beside myself with worry and still am, but I couldn’t bring myself to do the suggested salt treatment although I did buy some to have at hand. What I did instead, on February 7, not necessarily clever but IMHO safer, was administer eSHa 2000 for a short treatment (4 days), since the product is supposed to also treat gill flukes. Nothing changed.
<Yes, a good idea; though neither will treat Anchor Worms or viral infections.>
On February 8 I noticed what seemed to me to be the onset of apathy. A strong word for what I observed - which was akin to : moments of absence, them staying close together in a corner without moving, overall way more quiet than usual albeit responsive and eating - but having read that apathy could set in very gradually and was therefore sometimes missed, I believe it is the appropriate label. I also saw (quite a shock to me) tiny, really thin little worms of about 3-5 mm long - which to the best of my research for identification are said not to be a cause for worry (meanwhile the fishes were still having an occasional shaking movement which I since learned *could* be perfectly normal, baffling as it is to me for their movement do look totally out of synch so to speak, not quite normal but ... what do I know ?!).
The next day I started doing daily 15% water changes with bottled water, the idea being to gradually neutralize the environment, my tap water reading 25 mg/l of Nitrates with the stripes. I turned on the airstone mid-afternoon on top of during the night. Water movement from the upper internal filter had never ceased. On February 10, I installed a heater with the idea of gradually bringing the t° up to 22°C. The onset of apathy had pointed to SVC as possible so warming up the water (which was at 16° and without any heater thus far) could help. H. and G. were having 8-10 yawns per hour (before the t° started to increase) - not every hour all day long, sometimes it was 2-3 per hour. The other hypothesis then was persistent white spots, which I find hard to believe since there was never, to my knowledge, any Ich to begin with - but again, what do I know ?
There are many, many more observations I’m not writing down for sake of - well, maybe not keeping it short at this point but trying to. I hope you'll bear with me. Along with the daily 15% bottled water changes (that I stopped doing on February 16) I had vacuumed all the mulm, degradation meaning use of O2 and I was still worried the fishes were lacking oxygen. I do not believe this anymore. I was also having my water tested at the LFS with drops, knowing the strips were possibly wrong and because I was concerned about ammonia since all the increased air movement had brought the pH up. The measures were : no Nitrites/Nitrates (my strips were showing 18 mg/l of NO3), no NH4, pH of 8 (6.8 on strips), GH of 15 (>21°d on strips) and KH of 11 (10 on strips). February 14 I finally had the great idea to start researching the situation in English - and boy what a difference.
Among the pieces of information I haven’t written so far is the fact that, despite having wondered about the impact of it since the beginning, I had been smoking in the same room as their tank - which is open. I’m not a chain-smoker and the room was well aerated but still. I stopped doing that mid-February. Another fact is that I had washed the windows (actually so that clearer light could come in for the plants, what with my desk lamp) and cannot, for the life of me, remember if I’d have been so stupid as to spray the product inside. Outside I sprayed directly on the (closed) window, and I think that inside I sprayed it on the sponge outside of the room. Yet I have to factor in this possible source of poisoning, while noting that the yawning/gulping had started before already.
February 17 I finally bought water tests in drops (except the NO3, which I should be able to buy this week). Since then I went back to the LFS though, unsure about my readings and particularly concerned about NH4 considering the elevated pH (8-8.5). So far all the parameters are good, meaning no NH4, no NO2/NO3 (no NO3 as per the LFS), pH unchanged, GH/KH increased this Sunday (19°d/12°d, but I do find these two tests tricky to make) probably due to my mixing 50-50 tap water (hard) and bottled water during that last weekly change in the idea of going back to full tap water changes. I haven’t continued raising the t° above 20°. In fact, after reading throughout WWM, I started gradually lowering it back to 18° (it’s at 19° now). Maybe that was a wrong move. I also started giving them much less to eat, though I had been giving them vitamin rich foods to help their system with whatever is going on (Spirulina tablets - plain 100% for human consumption, great success by the way - and I tried a goji berry fully rehydrated and without any seed, great success too but does seem a bit exotic so I didn’t try it again ; along with the usual frozen food (daphnia, white mosquito larvae, krill) and occasional living brine or daphnia).
Before summing things up and asking you my questions (that is if you’re still reading, I do apologize for the novel…), I would like to mention that, after the first distribution of Spirulina (February 16), not only were they full of beans again (the apathy had started to subside with increased t°) but H. was missing 2 scales ; this must have happened when they were « battling » around the tablets. The wound was and remains neat, without a trace of infection. However, I subsequently noticed that H.’s body wasn’t as smooth as it used to be, its flanks seeming somewhat coarse-grained *from the inside*. More concerning to me, I noticed that, on the lower flanks, the scales seemed to somehow have more space between them, with one spot in particular looking as though a scale was missing except it’s not. The best I can describe it is as an indentation. Yesterday and this morning I noticed this on his/her other side too (the one with the 2 missing scales), and also close to his/her head. It’s very subtle and easy to miss, yet having been watching them attentively since the very beginning, it is obvious to me (I shall include a picture). Since the wound of the missing scales was neat and clean, I did not apply any medicine - counting instead on strengthening the immune system with food and keeping the water clean. But something seems up, wrongly so, with the integrity of H.’s skin/scales - which may or may not be related to the symptoms they all share. I tend to think not but really I don't know.
The latest behavioral change to date is with H., who since yesterday is acting somewhat aggressive with G. (the usual bully when food arrives). Less so with L. although H. tries to nibble both of them on their body, which happened before between all of them and which I attribute(d) to the smell they all give off when they’ve eaten something like krill (or bloodworms which I don't give anymore). I understand this new behavior may be due to lack of space, yet considering the overall picture and the unprecedented gesture, I am perplexed. What happens is : when G. comes near the surface (probably to gulp - sad sigh), H. gives him a strong nib to claim the space as if there was food there, and then makes an « angry » shot at whatever would be there on the surface. I don’t mean to anthropomorphize, « angry » and « aggressive » just describe best what H. is doing. In one such instance the angry shot following aggressively chasing G. away from the surface ended up being on the filter and it made such a sound that I understood the strength of his ‘attacking’ motion. G. flees away, sometimes making a splash on the surface upon H.’s move. L. is careful not to be in the way. Could be that the picking order is changing (G. used to be the bossy one), that their tank has become insufferably too small (they’re now about 7 cm « tall », 9 cm with the tail for G. and L., 10 cm for H. - and the outside pond is unfortunately not near ready to receive them), or that, since I’ve been feeding them much less, H. is on edge, feeling hungry.
As of today, the situation is : excessive yawning, excessive gulping and hovering below the surface (sometimes the hovering will last minutes), occasional erratic movements of various kinds. All are eating, none is apathetic. They swim about and come to me when I show up (returning from the kitchenette where I smoke, doing my research on all things related to them). Since yesterday they nibble at each other. Venturi was added on the lower filter a few days ago with fresh air coming into the room, there’s plenty surface movement for gas exchange although no waterfall effect, airstone comes on in the evening for the night. Water parameters are as stated : no NO2/NO3, no NH4, elevated pH due to maximum oxygenation (to the detriment of the plants, which also is of concern to me as per overall equilibrium of the tank), GH/KH in good ranges.
Along with any feedback and impressions you might already have offered in the course of reading this, here are the questions I would really appreciate your perspectives on :
- Could they be infected with gill flukes (or other parasitic illness) and still not show any rubbing/flashing or other symptoms (I’m afraid the answer is yes…) ? If so or even in doubt, would it be best to administer a treatment and which one would you recommend ? (I bought Gdex from eSHa, supposed to be harmless for plants and filter, not known to ill affect snails ; active molecule is Praziquantel which doesn’t seem to have the best reviews here but is the « go-to » on French-speaking websites and forums).
<Praziquantel is a default worm treatment, but not especially good. Flubendazole is better, actually killing worms. Praziquantel causes convulsions in the gut, which hopefully causes the worms to detach. Doesn't work reliably, so a second course may be needed a week or so after the first.>
- If their gills (bright red for what I can see of them) have been burned or otherwise damaged from the initial Nitrite peak and a possible NH4 poisoning (meaning, before I specifically tested for them), from my smoking in the room before I stopped or from my possible carelessness with the window-cleansing product (geez), what else could I do to help them heal aside from good nutrition and good water conditions ? Salt after all ?
<Gills will heal; salt not needed.>
- Do you believe their yawning and gulping is due to lack of O2 despite venturi, surface movement and airstone (not to mention the plants who, granted, aren't in optimal conditions anymore to properly photosynthesize) ?
<Absolutely. High levels of photosynthesis will cause rapid pH changes. Not likely if you have a high KH, but some plants (such as Vallisneria and Egeria) remove KH, so look for changes in pH between morning (before the lights are on) and afternoon (after the lights have been on 6-8 hours).>
- I understand that yawning is a cleaning trick but since they’re doing it so often and also gulping, since water parameters and general conditions, to my understanding, are good (save for the space…), what would you believe is at case here ?
- Would you resume increasing water t° up to 22°C or let it lower to 18°C ?
<Either is fine for Goldfish, and unlikely to be the problem. Of course, 18C water will have more oxygen in it!>
- In your opinion, could the material of the tank (polypropylene) be a, if not the, causal factor, gradually becoming porous and releasing toxins despite allegedly being non-toxic ?
<If food grade plastic, should be 100% safe.>
- What do you make of the gravel, not only as per hidden (decaying ?) worms, but mostly knowing it hasn’t been washed since being installed, only siphoned on its surface ? - Could it (gravel) be releasing toxic gas despite absence of characteristic smell ?
<Unlikely if the water is reasonably well oxygenated. Oxygen neutralises the 'bad' chemicals quickly enough to make them safe.>
- Would you advise against giving them 100% Spirulina tablets and if so, why ? What about goji berries (for Vit. C) ? - What do you make of H.’s skin change in observable structural integrity (though it *is* a challenge to describe it properly) and the coarse-grained aspect of his/her flanks seeming to originate from the inside ? Do you relate it with the other symptoms and if so, how ?
<A varied diet is always good, and I would recommend against nothing but Spirulina as their food. Goldfish will thrive on algae-based pellets that have some fish meal or shrimp meal in them. The sorts of pellets used to feed Hypostomus-type catfish are ideal.>
- Same question regarding his most recent behavior, i.e. not allowing G. to gulp/come to the surface and then making an « angry » sucking motion on the surface ? - Something I haven’t been able to solve despite looking at illustrations of gills/operculum on the Internet : is it normal for the operculum to present a thin "fin-like" border (~1 mm) along their opening ? All 3 have them and I noticed it long before any of the current troubles but I was wondering.
<There is indeed a thinner skin behind the large gill cover scale, so what you see is normal.>
- Finally, when I look at the color chart for pH measure, I find it to be matching the 8.5, whereas at the FLC they write down 8. Isn’t 8.5 too much and how, with such a high KH, could I best bring it down considering the overall situation (I did read on the subject but/and am pretty confused) ?
<pH 8.5 is rather high. Can you mix the tap water with rainwater or RO water? Optimal for Goldfish would be around 10-20 degrees dH, pH 7-8.>
This letter turned out to be way longer than I had intended, I do apologize and hope you won’t discard it for that reason, at least not without letting me know. None of my fishes are looking close to death, thank Goodness, yet there’s obviously a problem and, looking forward to them living a long and happy life in the outside pond I am creating for them, I am anxious to straighten up the situation, which has been consuming my nerves and attention to the point of obsession. Fact is, not only are they in my care for better or worse, hence my need and responsibility to take proper care of them, I also have grown strongly attached to all three and can’t stand the idea of whatever’s up slowly eating at them with me not knowing what to do.
I’ll leave it at that (…) and thank you from the depth of my heart for any and all help, advice, comments and perspectives you may share for the benefit of my little ones and anyone encountering a similar situation. I would answer to the best of my abilities should you require any more specific information (who knows). I keep my fingers crossed for a reply, and attach (in small files) my best picture of H.’s left flank and a picture of the tank to give you a better understanding of the settings.
With much appreciation and gratitude to all of you,
Wishing you all the best,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Goldfish - Excessive yawning/gulping, skin integrity, water parameters in check       3/3/18
Dear Neale and all at WWM,
Thank you very much for the prompt reply. I did further research based on your answers and am writing in the hope that you’ll agree to clarify a few things for me. Also, it would seem from some of your responses that a) I probably wasn’t explicit enough regarding some of the info, and b) some elements I wrote about (and really I hope that you won’t take this the wrong way) could have been glossed over, which would be very understandable since I wrote a lot but still troubles me as per accurate understanding of the situation and hence feedback on it. So, hoping you’ll be willing to clarify a few things, I provide some info and respond in blue to your answers in the text. I also highlight *in bold* some pieces of information for consideration. I’ve reformatted the text somewhat for ease of reading. Thank you, truly.
<Hello Eleonore. For some reason our email client has ignored the "blue font" you used, so everything's all the same colour. Very difficult to read. Can you just send another email, including whatever questions you want to ask, or comments you want to share? That'd be much easier than wading through a very long, threaded email. Thank you, Neale.>
Re: Goldfish - Excessive yawning/gulping, skin integrity, water parameters in check       3/3/18

Hi Neale,
Sure, I’ll do that.
´Till soon, thank you,
<Looking forward to hearing from you! Neale.>

Re: Goldfish - Excessive yawning/gulping, skin integrity, water parameters in check     3/4/18
Dear Neale and All at WWM,
I hope this letter finds you well.
<Yes, thank you.>
As my previous letter couldn’t be read properly by your email client, I’m starting over, focusing on (re)describing the situation at hand since writing, clarifying some elements you responded to, and list all the questions I have in the hope you’ll be able to help me get to the bottom of what’s going on and what best to do. Should you care to go over my previous letter for sake of completeness and continuity, I am attaching it here in PDF (which your email client should confirm is virus-free). As I mentioned to you, some of the answers you made led me to believe that several elements of information (that I am not repeating here) were understandably glossed over.
First : water parameters as per yesterday (March 3) are pH 8-8.5 ; KH 11°d ; GH 15°d ; no NO2/NO3/NH4 ; t° varies between 18°C and 19.5°C (cold air coming in/heat of the lamp).
<Hardness and water chemistry fine; temperature fine for Goldfish; pH a bit high. I would definitely investigate lowering this somehow. Ideally, mixing some of your tap water with rainwater or RO water. I would not use a pH buffer as a way to lower the pH.>
RO is pretty difficult for me where I live (without a car and not being particularly strong) but I will make it happen. In the meantime, I’m mixing tap water and bottled water pH 7.7).
<A definite improvement!>
All *3* of them (common Goldfish, 2 of them Shubunkin) are yawning and gulping air excessively (as in : yawning not just occasionally but throughout the day several times per hour ; same for gulping which will sometimes last more than 10 seconds). As of yesterday, one of them, besides yawning and gulping, will also do loud, strong « popping » sounds at the surface, seeming to throw his/her head slightly out of the water purposefully (like lifting the water with his/her ‘nose’), creating bubbles.
<Could be respiratory stress. This does happen at extremes of pH. Try lowering the pH as described, and see what happens. I would not change a lot of water at once though. Maybe change 25% of the water first, introducing new water with a pH around 7 to 7.5. That would be ideal for Goldfish. Do a series of such changes across the next week to allow the Goldfish to acclimate to the new conditions.>
All 3 of them have occasional jerking movements, erratic swimming, darting, and what looks like spastic movements.
<Again, typical of environmental stress. Whether the pH is the issue, or something else in the water, such as copper, is hard to say. But water changes will flush out the offending chemical, reducing stress.>
I have not seen any of them rubbing against decor but have seen U-turn kind of movements as if trying to get at their own sides, shaking head, making something like an erratic, spastic loop in plain water (not for fun), and the darting. All 3 of them nibble at each other on body, fins, mouth and eyes (this behavior intensified since first writing and is today pretty intensive indeed). All 3 of them are 6 cm long (tail not included and meter in hand), tank is approx. 120 L (not counting decor). I had sent you a picture so you could have a clearer notion. I’m acutely aware this is too small, they are meant to be moved to a 1000 L « pond » asap.
Clarifying some elements you responded to. I do not inject CO2 in the water and never have. I included this measure to be thorough, because it was part of the measures taken by that App I was using to test the water, which proved to be utterly unreliable - cf. Nitrates at 18 or 25 mg/l when they show null with proper test kit. Last couple of reading with this App showed the CO2 levels in the tank at 15 mg/l and gave varying results with the tap water.
Regarding aquifer possibly loaded in CO2 and your advice to let the water « de-gas » during the night : as I had stated, I let my water rest for 48h before WC, which I gather would be plenty of time to de-gas if aquifer was indeed loaded with CO2. Correct ?
Regarding lack of oxygen : although it had initially concerned me as being the problem, I really do not believe anymore this to be the case nor to be what causes the yawning and gulping. The tank is clean, the water regularly changed (currently twice a week), exchange surface is large, one filter has the venturi on, the other is making efficient surface movement, and the airstone works during the evening and night which does not prevent the fish from sometimes gulping in the morning. Moreover, I understand from my research and queries that the elevation of pH is caused by the increased level of air in the water and increased water movement.
<Sort of. Increasing the time water mixes with air drives off dissolved CO2. So in theory, pH should rise because the amount of carbonic acid (i.e., dissolved CO2) goes down. But as far as I know, there's nothing in the air that actively goes into the water, raising the pH.>
At the LFS they believe that, if anything, there is too much O2 in the water now. Sounds strange to me, what do you think ?
<Extremely unlikely. Supersaturation of oxygen in freshwater tanks requires an extremely high rate of water movement and truly ferocious aeration!>
Also, they told to me that when GH/KH/pH are within ranges, that O2 then “per definition” also is (I was asking them why they didn't perform measures for O2 in the water samples). I almost bought an O2 test kit to settle the question but decided to buy the N03 test instead as I had to choose expense-wise. Finally, doesn’t it take quite a lot before there’s a lack of O2 in a clean tank with regular water changes and two internal filters making for about 6 times the volume of water per hour ?
<Indeed. And if oxygen is too low, fish will be lethargic, and obviously hanging at the surface, slowing passing water through their mouth and into the gills.>
Regarding pH measures as per effect of plants (Vallisneria, Egeria) on KH : I haven’t done this before/after measure yet, but the KH is steadily high and, if I’m not mistaken, would have to sink to 3 or 5 in order for the pH to move - please correct me if I misunderstood. Also, would there be high levels of photosynthesis with insufficient lighting equipment ?
<Your are correct.>
Back to the water resting for 48h, the stripes/app being unreliable, the fish being small rather than big (or so I’d surmise, 6 cm body), …
Regarding the worms I had mentioned : I should have made clear that these tiny worms are floating about in the water or moving on the wall of the tank at bottom level. They are not attached on the body of the fish and, to the best of my research, are Detritus Worms. They show no interest in the fishes and it's rather mutual.
<Indeed. Sounds like these are Planarians, and pose no threat.>
Regarding Anchor Worms : I had been looking into this possibility as well when trying to figure out what the mysterious dots were that were not Ich. As I understand it, Anchor Worms are among the rare parasites that one can and *will* see with the naked eye, as they clearly « hang » r at least protrude on the fish’s body. The tiny double dot on L.’s dorsal showed up end of January : if it was Anchor Worm, I believe I would have seen the actual worm already, wouldn’t I ?
<Anchor worms are quite obvious, yes; maybe 2-3 mm long.>
Also, as I had stated, there were never any visible wounds or scars on either of their bodies. So something may have sounded like Anchor Worm to you, but wouldn’t it also quite clearly look like it to me, at least by now ?
If you would maintain that they have Anchor Worms despite me seeing no wounds/scars/worms attached to them and it being well over a month for the tiny double dot, could you please explain to me the rationale for this hypothesis ?
<Visible parasites; flashing; Finrot or fungus on the fins.>
As I'm trying to educate myself on all things GF, understanding things is useful and helpful (although not always possible).
Right. I was aiming at gill worms, and only used eSHa 2000 then, not the combination. Viral infection remains one of the strong hypothesis so far regarding the mysterious dots (see previous letter) and is the reason why I had started increasing the t° (and was asking you about resuming doing it or not). Considering the weekly water changes, clean tank and good parameters (albeit elevated pH), would you say that insufficient space is the environmental issue at cause in the matter you were responding to here (mysterious dots) ? If not, what else ?
<Hard to say.>
You asked about olive wood being safe : trying to find the answer to that, I realized the wood is most probably not olive, but I haven’t yet identified what it is. I know it is a tropical rot-resistant wood (maybe mangrove ?) that used to be in aquariums with fishes. If however the safety of the wood was at cause, wouldn’t the effects of that have been felt and seen long ago already ? (Wood was placed in the tank begin October 2017, and had been boiled before that. It stopped releasing tannin within the first month).
<Aquarium store wood should be safe.>
FYI, regarding possible sources of outside poisoning : Since writing to you, I’ve distinctively remembered that I had switched to another product to clean the windows inside (the kind of environmental friendly cleansing products), which I did indeed spray on the sponge outside the room.
<Sounds harmless! Water changes should dilute any contamination.>
Regarding gravel possibly turning toxic you answered. Thank you, that’s good. And would bring me back to water being reasonably well oxygenated, thus probably *not* the cause for excessive yawning/gulping, which I read you write elsewhere would then signal an underlying problem – which is what I’m trying to figure out and am asking for help with…
Loose ends before listing my remaining questions anew :
- I understand that yawning is a cleaning trick but since they’re doing it so often and also gulping, since water parameters and general conditions, to my understanding, are good (save for the space…), what would you believe is at case here ?
<Unknown. Goldfish normally gulp at the surface if they need air, but respiratory distress may cause similar symptoms, so hard to pin down one definite explanation.>
Besides the questions raised above, here is what I would hope you can help me with :
- I have read (including on WWM) that Goldfish can have occasional odd movements that are perfectly normal - like we would scratch ourselves for instance, at least that is how I understand it. What do « odd » movements that are considered normal look like with GF ?
<E.g., fish occasionally yawn, but if they're doing it all the time, that's odd!>
- What in your opinion, considering everything I wrote so far, are the possible explanations for the jerking / darting / spastic / U-turn / head shaking movements I observe, since it cannot be ammonia/nitrite burns ?
<My best guess would be the wrong pH. But could be something else...>
Also : since starting to write this, there have been several « bong » sounds from one of them hitting the wall of the tank so maybe time has come to add ‘flashing’ to the list (the fish was not plowing into the wall but swimming alongside it). - Could they be infected with flukes or parasites (either internal or external) since at least a month and yet still not show any rubbing/scratching against decor/gravel ?
<Possibly. To be clear: we're best able to help aquarists dealing with common problems that have obvious symptoms.>
- Can these usual clear symptoms (scratching/rubbing) never show and there still be a parasitic infection ?
<Definitely. Many parasites can exist at low levels, not causing 'harm' as such, but enough for occasional scratches or flashing. Think of a dog with a few fleas. Unlikely to die because of them, or even get noticeably sick, but will certainly scratch its ears!>
- You advised Flubendazole : aiming at what specifically ?
<Normally used to treat worms.>
- If you believe there is a parasitic infection, of which sort specifically would you say it’d be ?
<No idea at all, I'm afraid.>
- Absent the obvious scratching/rubbing and there being no other symptoms that what I have described (no clamped fins etc.), the LFS recommended I did half a dose of Gdex (since I had already bought it). Would half a dose improve things if they’re infested with parasites (which I do believe they are but cannot affirm without scrapes) ? Could it do harm if they’re not infested with parasites ?
<Personally, either do the full dose, or don't use it at all. Half-doses always seem a bit pointless to me, especially given what we know about antibiotic resistance.>
- You did not comment at all on the coarse-grained aspect of the flanks on H.’s body (further descriptions included in my first letter). There have since been new developments : another scale lost, wound is neat and not infected ; more concerning was the barely noticeable (the light had to be just right) little whitish « hole » (about 1 mm wide, very thin in depth) that I did notice on his/her head on Wednesday, Feb. 28. So now I was looking at HITH/HLLE, which resonated with the issue of skin integrity on the flanks.
<HLLE is really more cichlids and other advanced fish (i.e., Perciformes) rather than Cyprinids and the like. That said, Hexamita can infect Goldfish, and there is some sort of connection between the Hexamita parasites and the appearance of HLLE and HITH, at least in some instances.>
I crushed a good quality vitamin complex (for humans) and let the granules absorb it in a bit of tank water, fed them, and to the best of my efforts couldn’t see the hole anymore the next day (though again, light had to be just right). Yesterday I again gave them vitamins this way. What I also noticed : on the scale that would be the central scale on his flank, just below the ‘sensory line row of scales’, there is a super tiny « hole » or dot (black) that looks just as if someone had pricked a pin on that scale. I see nothing coming out of it or protruding in any way. What do you make of all this ?
<Do look at some photos of lateral line scales, as they do have small holes in them. The other scales don't normally have holes in them. Do also look at pictures of "black spot disease" in Goldfish. This is caused by a parasite that lives in ponds and doesn't survive its complete life cycle in aquaria. But newly purchased fish may have the black spots if they were bred in ponds. Oh, and also look at ammonia burns. These can add dark spots or patches on scales.>
- Behavior wise : what do you make of the intense nibbling at each other ?
<Not much, really!>
- Also behavior wise : what do you make of H.’s loud « popping » sounds at the surface as described in the beginning of this letter ?
<No idea. But given the variation between Goldfish breeds, it might simply be that H has a mouth or gill cavity that causes more of a pop sound when he/she swallows air.>
- Finally, taking a moment to consider all the elements presented, what do you believe is going on here and how to act upon it ?
<My first step would be to lower the pH.>
There might well be several « different » things going on, but with environmental conditions being rather good except for the space probably becoming too small (them being 6 cm long notwithstanding), what would be behind the excessive yawning, gulping, nibbling, and odd and erratic movements ?
<I don't believe a 120 litre aquarium is too small for fish this size.>
I thank you for your understanding… I'd really like to get to the bottom of all this. Thank you again for the inputs of your first answer, Neale. I hope my returning with additional questions and information won’t be too much of a hassle or, Goodness forbids, irritation. And I really thank you for your attention with this second letter. I hope you’ll agree to treat it and look forward to receiving helpful replies.
All the best to you and All at WWM,
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Goldfish - Excessive yawning/gulping, skin integrity, water parameters in check     3/4/18

PS : Oups, forgot one question...
If I go ahead with Gdex (Praziquantel) or another treatment you recommend,
is it safe to administer while H. still has 3 missing scales ?
Thank you,
<Should be safe, yes. Neale.>

Re: Black Moor Goldfish with white patches. Now Pearlscale concerns      1/31/18
Hello again!
<Hi Melissa>
Thank you for your quick response.
Unfortunately the moor took a turn for the worse two days ago, and I suspect recovery is unlikely (right now she's laying on her side, poor girl). She's been moved to a quarantine tank because one of the other fish was nipping at her sides (and its this bully fish that I'm now concerned about).
<Ahh, I see>
I've been consistently removing 20% of the tank water every two days, and the levels still look good with low levels of nitrate (under 5 ppm) and no ammonia or nitrite.
I'm a bit concerned because the other fish (a
Pearlscale) has a scale that's hanging off, which I imagine will fall off. This particular scale doesn't have a pearl on it, and doesn't look red or inflamed. A week ago this fish and another fish (both are Pearlscales) had very small red marks on one of their scales, the marks healed up within two days on each of them so I suspected it was damage (they are both clumsy swimmers and will bump into pieces of driftwood in the aquarium). I know scale loss can be a sign of infection, or could be tied to chemical burns.
<... Now I'm getting concerned. You haven't added something... like decor here in the last few weeks have you? I might jump ahead to using some chemical filtration (ChemiPure, PolyFilter) to remove potential/real toxins here>
Normally I wouldn't be quite so concerned with this, but with what happened to the black moor, I'm worried there's some issue with my tank that I'm not considering.
Thanks again for any help you can provide!
<The amount of time it might take to go over most possibilities, the lack of diagnostic tools... at times is disconcerting. Bob Fenner>

Re: Black Moor Goldfish with white patches     1/31/18
Hello again Bob,
I'll look into ordering some ChemiPure later today (the selection for aquarium supplies locally is dismal)
The fish only moved into the 55 gallon about three weeks ago (the Pearlscales are both new additions and had been quarantined in a bare-bottom twenty gallon previously, while the black moor and an Oranda were in a 35 gallon). The decor in the tank is just terracotta pots, driftwood, and then plants.
<I'd remove the driftwood for now>
The Pearlscale in question is a very pushy fish who tends to bump into the decor a lot.
I'll also try to get a picture of the loose scale when I get home later today.
As a precaution, I'm also going to start storing water ahead of use- do you think storing for 24 hours be long enough?
<The longer the better; a week or more is ideal... the -amine sanitizer (as opposed to the days of gaseous chlorine) takes about this long to dissipate; and more goes on....>
Thanks again for your help!
<Welcome. BobF>

Re: Black Moor Goldfish with white patches     1/31/18

Sorry for sending an email so quickly after the last, but my sister decided to investigate what our municipality treated the tap water with.
It turns out that nitrite/nitrate are both added (grouped together), plus chlorine and chloramine all of which I suspected were added, and I know prime dechlorinator would detoxify.
<Yes to all>
What concerns me greatly is the addition of lead and zinc to the water.
<Not (likely) added, but present in low concentrations>
I now fear that heavy metal toxicity could be part of what caused the black moor's condition (she was in this area when she first developed fin rot and when the burns/slime-coat issues started).
<Perhaps a contributor; but not likely a great one>
Previously, another one of the three rescued fish (the sick black moor and a still healthy Oranda were the other two) was acting lethargic and then died suddenly while the tank parameters were perfect; at the time I suspected it was her age and the chronic exposure to high nitrates in her previous aquarium, now I'm thinking it could have been tied to the heavy metals in the water.
Would ChemiPure remove heavy metals from the water?
<Yes; as will/would the PolyFilter product>
Or is there something else I should add to remove them?
<Mmm; there are water conditioners, resins/filtrants that will precipitate these, other metals (e.g. SeaChem's Cuprisorb)>
If it isn't possible, I can move the fish back to my mother's home (where lead and zinc are not added to the water) although I would miss having them with me during most of the year I want what's best for them.
Thanks again!
<Welcome. B>

Re: Black Moor Goldfish with white patches     1/31/18

Hi again,
I just ordered some ChemiPure which should arrive on Thursday (I'm obviously excited to try it out)
These are the pictures of the scale that's about to fall off on the Pearlscale (sorry about the quality, the grainy green spots are algae on the glass that I really need to scrub off) he didn't want to stop and pose for a picture .
<Again; due to a physical trauma... the driftwood?>
Upon further inspection, it looks like a translucent covering, I'm not sure if that's normally how scales look when they fall off.
Thanks again Bob (and for dealing with all my messages today!)
<Welcome Mel.>

Re: Black Moor Goldfish with white patches. Pearlscale        2/2/18
So an update on the Pearlscale, I'm a bit concerned because it looks like there are clear (maybe fluid filled) rings/'bags' around his eyes.
<Mmm; there are such rings with fluid; natural>
(Sorry, my pictures don't quite capture it)
My tank parameters are still 0 ammonia and nitrite, and less than 5 ppm nitrate.
My first thought is that this is pop-eye,
<Nah, this isn't exophthalmia>
and that I should quarantine him and begin treatment (the other Pearlscale has now begun to nip at him, but the little guy is pretty good at out-running him).
What would you recommend?
<No treatment period>
Thanks again for all your help!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: .... Pearlscale       2/3/18
Hi Bob,
<Ms. P>
The fluid filled bags, which I think may be actually be fluid in his eye/lens (it's somewhat difficult to tell as he's only a little bit larger than 3 inches) only appeared on Tuesday (they were so small I hadn't noticed at the time and only realized it when I was looking back at pictures) and since then have grown. In particular, the bubble looks a bit
larger on his left eye than on his right and is concentrated underneath his eye.
<I can't make this out in your image>
If this is a natural reaction, do you have any idea about what could have caused it to start so suddenly?
<Unilateral... a physical trauma likely>
Also, do you think it will resolve on its own with clean water?
Thanks again, Bob.
<W. B>

Black Moor Goldfish with white patches     1/27/18
I've been scouring the internet for the last two days to try and figure out what my black moor is afflicted with.
The aquarium levels (taken with an API liquid master test kit this morning) are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and <5 ppm nitrate.
My tank setup is as follows: four goldfish in a 55 gallon, two Fluval 206 canister filters, two air-bars/one sponge filter. The fish are fed Repashy's Soilent green gel food, and shelled peas.
For some background on the black moor in question, she's about 8 years old, but for most of that time she was kept in pretty bad conditions (she had been my mom's fish, but she didn't clean the tank often, and with three
fish in a 35 gallon it was crowded) as a result I believe she has chronic issues getting oxygen (she gasps at the surface, especially whenever prime has been added during a water change).
This fish has been battling Finrot on and off for the last few months (she had a bad outbreak back in November, which calmed down only to resurge in late December with more fin tissue rotting away), but her fins haven't
gotten any worse since then (at the time I started feeding her garlic-soaked food, but have now stopped)
I'm a college student and the fish move back and forth twice a year from my apartment to my parents' home (which is only a 3 hour drive). When I was moving the fish into the 55 gallon in my apartment, I noticed a substantial die-off of algae had occurred in the tank (which I had been trying to achieve by lowering the amount of light in the tank) I always leave the tank running with a sponge filter and air bars when the fish aren't in it.
I didn't think much of it, changed out 75% of the water, set up the canisters, and then added the fish. Three days later I detected ammonia in the tank and promptly dosed the entire tank with prime and Seachem stability. I also started doing 25% water changes every other day.
The last time I detected about 0.25 ppm of Ammonia in the tank was a week ago. (Since then I've only detected low levels of nitrate)
<I see>
What I'm concerned about are the white patches that have formed over her scales mostly on one of her sides, some of them look a bit fuzzy in areas, I've attached two pictures of the patches. I'm very concerned because the
white has spread since yesterday.
Her energy and appetite are very good, she likes to swim around the 'mid-level' of the tank, which is where she has been hanging out. If this white wasn't on her, I wouldn't think that anything was wrong.
The first picture was from last night, and the other two are from this morning to show how much it has spread.
The other three fish are all doing fine and I don't see any white patches on them (they are all mostly orange).
I'm not sure what's causing this (ammonia burns, bacterial or fungal infection, slime-coat, etc.) Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for you help and I hope you have a great day!
<Have encountered this set of conditions and expression many times with fancy goldfishes. I do think this is principally an "ammonia burn" (or related) as you speculate, and not pathogenic; and would continue with your checking water quality, foods use; and not treat the tank with a medication. Bob Fenner>

You think it might be swim bladder disease?      12/27/17
Hello. I have a 765 gallon pond with 10 adult goldfish and 5 tiny fry in it. I am trying to determine if one of my fish has a swim bladder disease problem.
<I'm a skeptic with regard to "swim bladder disease". Let's be clear, it's a symptom, and not a specific disease. It's not like a healthy fish is swimming about one day, gets infected with some type of bacteria, and that bacteria zips its way straight to the swim bladder, puffing it up and causing the fish to die! When most aquarists mention "swim bladder disease" what they mean is "my fish was fine before, but now it's swollen and swimming upside-down" -- a much different thing! Assuming the fish was healthy before, there's two main reasons for fish being both swollen and swimming upside-down. The first is constipation. Let me direct you to some reading here:
This is rare in pond fish because these fish consume green foods and algae naturally, keeping their digestive tracts in good health. The second cause is a systemic bacteria infection, of the sort often called Dropsy.
Crucially, as well as looking bloated, the scales on the fish will tend become raised from body, causing a "pine-cone" appearance when viewed from above. Fish with Dropsy will often also be lethargic and off their food,
whereas fish with constipation will be swimming about normally and eating normally. Systemic bacterial infections are usually caused by some sort of environmental stress, such as poor water quality or chilling, though I suppose it's possible bad luck or bad genes can play a role too. Fancy Goldfish in particular are sensitive to water temperatures much below 15 C/59 F.>
The fish is a white Oranda. It has always stood on its head when feeding.
Here is a photo of the fish doing that. Sorry about the fuzzy quality. Here is another photo of the same fish swimming normally just the other day. She was feeding normally when I was feeding during the fall. But today my
father found her swimming upside down. She righted herself and swam away alright. But I am wondering, if it is swim bladder disease, should I take it out of the pond? Or should I let it continue to live in the pond where it has more room to swim and companions?
<Systemic bacterial infections are best treated indoors in a tank, using some sort of antibiotic. While Goldfish are social, they're fine on their own for a few weeks. This time of year be careful about moving fish between
ponds and tanks -- sudden temperature changes of more than a couple of degrees will be stressful, so you really want to fill the tank with pond water, set it up somewhere cool like a garage, and then put the Goldfish in so that any temperature changes are slight and gradual. As always, remember water quality in the hospital tank needs to be good, and remove carbon from the filter (if you use carbon) while medicating.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: You think it might be swim bladder disease?      12/28/17
Thank you Neal. This is not my first time with swim bladder issues in my fish. I had one with genetic swim bladder disease years ago. She was fine, no dropsy, swam and ate normally. But when she would rest she would always turn upside down and float. She would right herself to eat and swim. But it was definitely not constipation.
<Genetic problems with swim bladders are very common in 'fancy' (i.e., inbred) varieties of fish. We sometimes call these fish "belly sliders" when they're newly hatched because they slide about the bottom of the tank on their bellies, rather than swimming normally like healthy fish fry. Ethical breeders will usually (humanely) destroy such fish, eliminating the faulty genes responsible from the gene pool, so that fewer fish in subsequent have the problem. Of course such fish can make perfectly serviceable pets, as yours seems to have done, but because these fish can't swim, feed, and interact socially in the normal ways, their long term wellbeing isn't assured.>
The disease eventually caused her to stop eating and she passed away. But she was a great and beautiful fancy goldfish while I had her. But I am wondering if my white Oranda might be developing it. It has always kind of stood on its head when feeding actively at the bottom of the pond. Do you think this head-standing is the start of a swim bladder disease problem?
<Possibly. As I say, genetic problems are usually obvious from birth. It's rather uncommon for genetics to explain how a fish can mature across, say, twelve months and go from being a perfectly healthy baby Goldfish into one that cannot swim at all. Of course it's not impossible, especially if some additional factor, such as vitamin deficiency or exposure to Mycobacteria are brought into the equation. Still, because fancy Goldfish have deformed swim bladders and spines, they are especially prone to swimming imbalances, not least of all when constipated (the solid mass of food shifts their centre of mass, so that they no longer balance as they should). That's why, by default, a 'floaty, Bloaty' Goldfish can be assumed to be constipated first, unless other obvious symptoms, such as bleeding sores on the skin and/or fins, imply something other than constipation.>
I can’t feed the afflicted fish right now and have not fed my fish in two weeks because the pond is in winter mode now and I am not supposed to feed them in winter.
<Quite right; hence, bringing Goldfish indoors for any treatment that requires feeding. I will observe that as a general rule fancy Goldfish are not well suited to overwintering outdoors where the water drops much below, say, 15 C/59 F, and I'd argue they're indoor fish unless you happen to live somewhere that winters happen to be mild (southern California, for example). Here in the UK, where ponds do ice over, it's generally considered safe enough leaving the hardy fancy varieties (such as Fantails) outside, but the more delicate varieties (like Pearlscales) are meant to be brought indoors for winter. Exposure to low temperatures causes a number of problems for fancy varieties of Goldfish, including a tendency towards bacterial infections once their immune systems become suppressed. Also, because fancy Goldfish have those deformed digestive tracts, if the gut hasn't been completely cleared out by the time it gets really wintery, there's a greater risk of undigested food 'sitting there' and causing problems when they're compared to their non-fancy cousins.>
So I don’t really think it is likely constipation related. And it’s definitely not dropsy related. Only conclusion I can make is that if it is swim bladder problems it might be genetic like my previous fish with swim bladder problems.
<As I say, possible, but if your Goldfish is 'floaty, Bloaty' completely out of the blue, I'd be thinking more about environment than genes.>
I just need some expert advice as I am not an expert.
<Let's see what Bob F has to say, he's the real fancy Goldfish guy around here!>
Thank you so much for your help.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Trying to treat my fish with the genetic swim bladder problem      1/6/18
I am preparing to treat my white Oranda for a genetic swim bladder problem.
I will be treating it outdoors as I have no room to treat indoors. And I live in a warm desert climate so temperature wise it should be ok. But I will not be feeding it at all because it is outside and it is currently winter.
I was looking at using a method that involves 4 teaspoons of non-iodized salt and 2 teaspoons of Stress Coat.
<...? For how many gallons?>

But it also suggests using aged water. Should I put the recommended amount of Stress Coat in to make the water safe for the fish and the 2 teaspoons of Stress Coat?
<I would, but I'd use a good part (at least half) of the old pond water.
What is this treatment being done in? A tank? Of what size, how kept filtered, aerated, stable?>
And how long should I administer this treatment for? Should I keep it in the treatment tank for a few minutes or will it take longer than that to treat my fish?
<Will likely have to stay in for weeks>
Thank you.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Trying to treat my fish with the genetic swim bladder problem (RMF, am I being unfair here?)<<IMO, no>>      1/6/18

I am preparing to treat my white Oranda for a genetic swim bladder problem.
<Can't recall how we concluded this was genetic, to be honest!>
I will be treating it outdoors as I have no room to treat indoors. And I live in a warm desert climate so temperature wise it should be ok. But I will not be feeding it at all because it is outside and it is currently winter. I was looking at using a method that involves 4 teaspoons of non-iodized salt
<Won't work. This is just sodium chloride. Could the writer of this offer any explanation at all about why it would help? Magnesium sulphate, on the other hand, known as Epsom Salt, can help with constipation and bloating, and to some degree, Dropsy too.>
and 2 teaspoons of Stress Coat.
<Again, no real reason how/why this will work. Stress Coat is great for use when transporting fish, or if they've been damaged in a fight. But it's really just water conditioner plus aloe Vera. About as much use for treating a swim bladder problem as wishful thinking, and the latter is a lot cheaper.>
But it also suggests using aged water.
<Why? Aged water is from the Palaeozoic Era of fishkeeping -- when people thought aquarium water magically became better for fish life as time passed. This made some sort of sense in the 1950s and 60s when people
didn't completely understand water chemistry, and didn't really have practical ways to check it. So doing small, infrequent water changes made sure the fish weren't exposed to big water chemistry changes. But nowadays
we appreciate that old water can be toxic because of the high levels of nitrate, so regular water changes are important to keep the tank (or even a pond) nice and fresh. To be clear, there's no medical reason why dechlorinated tap water with the same water chemistry and temperature as your pond should be any worse than the old water in the pond. In fact, it's likely to be better.>
Should I put the recommended amount of Stress Coat in to make the water safe for the fish and the 2 teaspoons of Stress Coat? And how long should I administer this treatment for? Should I keep it in the treatment tank for a
few minutes or will it take longer than that to treat my fish? Thank you.
<Don't see any point to what you propose, to be honest. So I'd do some more reading first. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Trying to treat my fish with the genetic swim bladder problem      1/6/18

The treatment is being done in a 3 gallon bucket
<... this won't work. PLEASE read WWM re goldfish care. NONE can live for days in such small volumes. B>
if my family who shares my house with me has anything to say about it.
Could I give it a bath there then release it back into the pond? How long would I have to leave it in the bucket for? And Neal recommended Epsom salt instead. How much do I use per gallon of water if I use Epsom salt?

Reply to previous email about fish with genetic swim bladder problem... Bath       1/6/18

I found this online regarding
Epsom salt baths.
To give your fish an Epsom salt bath, pour half of the tank's water into a clean container. Add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt for every 1 gallon of water. Have the fish swim in the solution for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove the fish promptly and return him to his aquarium if he appears stressed or relieves himself.

Would this Epsom salt bath be helpful to a goldfish with genetic swim bladder problems? Thank you.
<MgSO4 will not do anything of value here; no.
Re: Reply to previous email about fish with genetic swim bladder       1/6/18

Thank you Bob.
<W. C.>

Re: Trying to treat my fish with the genetic swim bladder problem       1/6/18

Thank you Neal. How much Epsom salt should I use per gallon of water?
<A tablespoon per 5 gallons is the usual recommended amount. I would recommend doing a big water change afterwards though -- while Epsom salt is safe for a few weeks, you don't really want it sitting in the pond indefinitely. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Trying to treat my fish with the genetic swim bladder problem       1/6/18

Thank you Neal.
<You're welcome. Neale.>

Me again on the Oranda with swim bladder problem      1/6/18

I tried an Epsom salt bath before you replied to me before. It could be just wishful thinking but he is swimming upright a little more than he has been recently. Or so I think... But he is still doing his headstands.
Should I try to continue the Epsom salt baths?
<Definitely worth a shot. If you can extend the baths for a few hours in a large bucket or even a Rubbermaid container holding a couple gallons, that's fine! Repeat daily for a couple weeks and see what happens.>
Some sites suggest that if nothing else helps to euthanize the fish.
<Epsom salt? Not really toxic. A good euthanising method is quick and painless. Epsom salt would have to be used in a massive concentration such that'd it'd kill the fish by osmosis, effectively like putting salt on a slug. Hardly humane.>
I have looked into everything I could hoping it was not a genetic problem but I fear it is. Should I euthanize the fish?
<If the fish is swimming and feeding normally, I would not; I prefer to euthanise fish only when they have no chance of recovery and their quality of life is low (e.g., they can't feed any more).>
Thank you.
<Welcome, Neale.>

When to euthanize goldfish     9/20/17
My blue Oranda Zeus is very sick with
hemorrhagic septicemia. He has petechiae on his throat and belly along with necrotic flesh sloughing about his mouth, head, and lower gill area. I am treating with Kanaplex and salt.
He is not eating and is bottom sitting. I bought clove oil today but every time I put my hand in to scoop him up he perks up and scoots around. I guess my question is this...in your experience, have you ever seen or heard of a fish this ill recovering?
<Yes; I have; in several cases>
Does necrotic flesh ever grow back?
<Yes... for fins, if the basal area is not completely eroded. On the body, emarginated tissue can regenerate completely>
It's even to the point of flowing in and out of his mouth (the dead flesh). I suppose this is happening internally as well. I am suspecting Columnaris.
<? The Kanaplex should treat this>
He is alone in a 30 gallon bare bottom tank that got cloudy a few weeks ago due to over feeding and lax HOB filter maintenance, followed by a hydra outbreak which was treated with "No Planaria". He went downhill from
there. Current water parameters are fine...0 ammonia...0 nitrate...nitrate not tested...pH 7.4....temp 72. Should I try and do more or euthanize?
<I am not a fan of "giving up" at all easily. I would continue with investigation (reading, books and the Net) and treatment here. Bob Fenner>

Pearlscale with dropsy?  9/4/17
To start, my aquarium parameters are 0 nitrate, and 0 nitrite (I'm not sure about ammonia, since I've been dosing with prime I know that can change results/ give false positives) I detected a presence of ammonia a week ago (0.25 ppm) , which alerted me that my cycle had crashed.
<I see>
For reference, this is a 55 gallon I just set up a few weeks ago with four goldfish; however, both canister filters were moved from previous aquariums the fish lived in (which led me to incorrectly believe my cycle would be fine in the upgraded aquarium).
<Should have been... if the canisters didn't "go anaerobic", and water conditions were similar>
Since detecting the ammonia I'm now doing 45% water changes every two days (before that I was doing water changes biweekly).
My Pearlscale has what I assume are ammonia burns (red areas, which later started to turn black); however, in the last two days she has lost two scales and the red areas are spreading. (Pics included show both sides of her) I am the most concerned about her scales beginning to pinecone out (she's had it for a little longer than a week), obviously my main concern at this point is dropsy. She isn't floating or having any trouble swimming, her gills are red, and I haven't detected any 'air bubbles' underneath her scales.
She's eating fine, but I'm not sure that she's pooping as much as she should (she normally has long, dark poops, but hasn't recently).
<What are you feeding? Some greens I hope/trust, and not much protein>
Her behavior is okay, she's resting near the bottom/in plants more, but I'm not sure if it's because she's sick or because one of the other fish (a larger Oranda) seems to get agitated when the tank light is on and nips at her; which causes her to stay hidden more often (This Oranda and Pearlscale got along fine previously to them moving to the new tank)
I was going to leave her in the main tank and continue to do water changes; but would it be better to set up a ten gallon quarantine tank for her?
<Not move>
If so, would you recommend that I begin treating her with antibiotics? Or should I do salt baths?
<I would leave all fish where they are and cut back your water changes to no more than 25% at a time; AND pre-treat and store change water if you can... ahead of use>
Thank you so much for your assistance,
<Time alone should see these fish improving here. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pearlscale with dropsy?       9/5/17
Hello again,
<"Little sweet one">
Thanks so much for your quick reply!
The condition of my pearl scale hasn't really changed, her scales are still sticking out, there are also increasing red areas around her bottom, and she is continuing to lose scales (I suspect more will fall off). (I have included another picture of her below)
I fed her peas, and she did end up pooping (normally I feed Repashy Soilent green fish food daily or every other day, and then feed peas once a week) her behavior is still fairly normal, she swims around the tank and isn't sitting with her fins clamped.
My next concern is my largest Oranda has developed fin rot, I have included two pictures I took yesterday; what concerns me most is that her tail has gotten even worse since I took these pictures (I'll try to get more pictures later today), as there are now red sections along the edge of her fin.
Is it safe to treat the entire tank for fin rot while it's still cycling?
<Not really; and the principal reason for my previous suggestion NOT to treat. The toxicity of such is far greater concern>
I would like to treat the entire tank in this case because my other Oranda and black moor have tears in their fins and white spots along the edges.
(although not nearly as severe as the fish I've pictured, I'm still a bit concerned about them both)
<I would still hold off till the system is thoroughly cycled. There are means of advancing such, mostly via the use of exogenous bacterial culture products; ala "Dr. Tim's One and Only">
What's especially bizarre is I noticed a white fuzz on one of the Anubias nana plants I have in the aquarium (once again I'll try to get a picture later today); it's coming from the stalk and from some of the ends of the roots, it looks like some sort of fungus. Should I remove the plant from the aquarium or is it safe to keep it in?
<I would leave all as is. The fuzz is simple decomposition from excess food. You can remove when doing partial water changes>
Any advice you could provide would be greatly appreciated!
<Mmm; IF I was going to add anything... it might be simple NaCl and/or Epsom Salt. Please read through Neale's piece here re:

Re: Pearlscale with dropsy?      9/8/17
Hi again,
<Hey Melissa>

If I were to treat with salt, would you recommend doing a salt dip or to treat the entire aquarium?
<The whole tank. Dips/baths in whatever salt/s employed would do very little here>

I moved the pearl scale to a ten gallon a few days ago; normally, I wouldn't, but the Oranda was nipping/chasing her so much I was scared that it would continue stressing her. I've included two pictures that show how red her stomach/behind has gotten (the reddest portion is where she is missing a scale that fell off, and the red is around her scales in case it isn't clear in the photos)
cleaning her tank everyday with 70% water changes, and she has an air pump and sponge filter set up with her.
<... is it cycled. Id est, there is NO nitrite or ammonia present? If not...>

She isn't bottom sitting or hiding in this tank, and she eats (I'm only feeding her a few peas every couple of days now). She is a very social, good natured little fish (which hasn't changed since she became sick).
At this point should I be concerned about septicemia? Or would you say the red is ammonia burns/poisoning?
<The latter, perhaps aiding in the former>
Another note, one of her scales fell off but is still attached to her (just by a little bit), it's become 'fuzzy' looking, I figured I would leave it be and let it fall off on its own, but would it be better to cut it off?
The other fish (in the main tank) are doing better, the fin rot on my larger Oranda looks about the same (barring a few tiny red patches that I couldn't quite photograph).
I've been putting Tetra Safe Start in the tank (definitely not my first choice, but the only thing locally available), so far ammonia levels seem lower than they were originally, but I haven't detected any nitrite or nitrate.
<Not cycled, cycling unless nitrate is accumulating... AND this likely will NOT occur due to the too-large too-frequent water changes. SEE our prev. corr. and where I've referred you to re cycling freshwater systems.>
I will continue doing small water changes with the hope that it will cycle.


and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Thanks again for all your help!

Goldfish with red lumpy operculum     7/25/17
I have a 60-65 gallon aquarium with 6 comet goldfish, 1 black moor, and 2 Chinese or Siamese Plecos. I have a hang on side filter system for 85 gallon tank and a submersible pump for circulation. There are variegated
philodendrons rooting in tank. When the tank was first started 2 years ago, my daughter threw some crawdads and snails and mollusks from a creek in with the fish. The snails and mollusks were eaten and the crawdads eventually killed off each other. Saturday's are 10% water change and vacuum days.
<Good. I'd increase this to 20-25%>
Water conditioner is added with new water....sometimes distilled, other times tap.
<Likely no conditioner necessary, and is the distilled nec... Oh, I see this below>
We have hard well water.
<How hard? GH, KH?>
Ph is usually in low to mid 7s. Ammonia is always less than or equal to 0.25 ppm. One in the past I noticed a fish with red streaking of its tail fin that went away untreated.
<Ahh; then I WOULD keep using the conditioner, or store the new change water a week in advance of use>
The black moor was a Wal-Mart guilt buy that brought ich to the tank a year ago. It was treated with malachite green....something that turned water ugly almost opaque green. It cleared up fast. Now. 1 week ago,
the largest goldfish had a lumpy red operculum on right side. Looked like a mass.
<I see this in your pix>
It wasn't there the day before....I remember because family was visiting and looking at fish. Oh--temp of tank is around 70 in summer and cooler in winter. By that evening the lump had spread like a thick red ring with extra slime (??) at periphery of lesion.
<Good description>
I don't have an isolation tank. I added 1 tablespoon aquarium salt to each 5 gallons and put a heater in water....max temp it gets to is 78 degrees Fahrenheit.... pulled out my charcoal and floss filters (2 of each.). The initial site looks better if not pale with darker splotches. I thought it was working but next day the red ring crossed over top of head
and to other side. The margin that advances is very red and highlights the periphery of each scale. I don't know septicemia in fish but it's the closest I can match image to. However, all fish are acting fine eating fine. No flashing, rubbing.
Only the one fish has symptoms.
<Thankfully; perhaps it has a/the weaker immune system>

We had one fat bivalve that was missing it's creature the day before I noticed signs. It was only one and it hid in gravel under big decorative rock forms. Can't swear fish ate it but they eat everything. I bought some quick cure..... for what???? ....my daughter swore she saw ich and was frantic....so treated 3 days.....did 25 percent water change. The fish looks same except the ever advancing red line with snotty margins.
<Mmm; I wouldn't use the Quick Cure here... too toxic, and won't help>
The first picture is day one....I know it's a side view but it really just looked thickened. I thought is it a tumor?
<Yes; this is my assessment as well>
The second picture was the next morning. I tried to swab site and look at it under a scope, but I wasn't sure what I was looking for. I know what dog parasites and Protozoans look like but not fish. I saw little Coccidia like clusters....ovals with a circle inside. I also saw a couple budding yeast like ovals. This may be a wild goose chase though. I read many posts and went through dichotomous keys....never found the answer.
<I suspect this is a tumorous growth, and not a pathogenic condition (Sporozoan, Microsporidean...) as if the latter, most all fishes would be similarly afflicted>
Please help. I need to stop letting the kids put live edible wild caught critters in tank. I need to cut back on number of fish, but don't know where to move fish to....my husband is over more tanks. The water quality hasn't changed really. It fluctuates little. There is small amount of algae on glass but not much. Sonya
<I'll refer you here to our generic "Goldfish growths FAQs":
and the linked files of the same name above.
Not treatable.
Bob Fenner>

Fwd: Goldfish with red lumpy operculum  7/27/17
Thought I'd update.... I did 25% water change and changed filters and charcoal. The fish 24 hours later looks amazing relative to the day before.
<Great news!>
The swarming margin crossed over to other side and all that is left is little red ring. The right side - the original side - is discolored but not inflamed at all that I can tell...pale operculum and a c shaped crescent of black pigment. It truly looked like a mass and it changed so fast day to day. Thanks for your time. I've grown quite fond of my daughter's fish. I'd hate for anything to happen.
I will do bigger percent water changes from now on. Thanks again!
<Incredible improvement... just by fixing the environment. Bob Fenner>

My bubble eyed goldfish popped one of his bubbles, it looks very painful and he is darting around looking agitated.. What can I do to help him      6/17/17
<Doing your best to prevent further damage/trauma by removing all sharp, hard objects that this fish might get snagged on, assuring good water quality (see WWM... moderate alkalinity/hardness and pH...), and good nutrition is
about it. Some folks might suggest the use of salts; see here:
Given these, this goldfish should heal in time. Bob Fenner>

lump on goldfish tail       5/21/17
Sent from my iPad
<Claire.... text? Image? Bob Fenner>

Goldfish With Lump on Tail       5/21/17

Hi there I'm wondering if you can help me
Please see the photo below with my fish with the white lump on his tail.
<I see this>
We have had this fish for approx 3 years and the lump appeared about 6 months ago and has got bigger over time.
The lump does not appear to be affecting him at all as he is still swimming and eating well
Do you have any idea what it could be and if there is any cure
Many thanks for your help
Kind regards
<A growth of some sort... common; genetic, viral?... environmental, likely partly a matter of nutritional issues with goldfishes. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/GFgrowthsFAQs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Fwd: Goldfish With Lump on Tail       5/21/17
Hi again
I don't think it's anything to do with feeding or the water as there are 2 other fish all of which we've had for 5 years and seem to be extremely healthy with no lumps or problems
Could it be a cyst?
<Mmm; yes ("a thin-walled, hollow organ or cavity containing a liquid secretion; a sac, vesicle, or bladder."); but doubtful... peruse where I've referred you. B>

Unknown disease        5/10/17
I've seen my share of diseases and parasites since I've rescued fresh/salt water fish from LFS and people but this one is a tad different.
I have 150 gallon, sump with about 13 varying sizes of goldfish (Moors, ryukins, calico) Last week I lost my 6 year olds and blind Moor that rather unexpectedly but all the other tank mates showed no signs of distressed.
The Moor appeared to have a lump on the forehead/nasal area. I wrote it off as a tumor or an injury thinking he bumped into the glass but now 7 days later I see the same lump but now LUMPS on my Calico...the lumps almost
look like a fluid filled blister aand they are growing. The Calico shows signs of dropsy and I know the prognosis and will most likely put him down but WTH is this? I haven't introduced any new fish in over a year...guesses?
<... either genetic trouble and/or poor environment, and/or bunk nutrition.
You offer no information of use.
Bob Fenner>

"The Scream", GF version

Re: Unknown disease....       5/10/17
I offer no information of use? Just because I didn't include ammonia levels pH and so forth it's automatically genetic or environmental aka I don't keep a clean tank?
<GIGO... vague generalities in response to no data proffered>
Apparently you Bob aren't the expert
<Previously married, flow under pressure.... I stand or sit accused>
just as I am not because you can't identify the alignment.
<... ailment?>
...<Vulgarisms deleted. B>

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