FAQs on Goldfish Environmental Disease
(ex: issues of poor
water quality, overcrowding, unfavorable tank/water conditions,
Related Articles: Goldfish
Systems, Goldfish Disease, Goldfish, Goldfish Varieties,
Koi/Pond Fish Disease,
System, Bloaty, Floaty
Goldfish, Gas Bubble
Disease/Emphysematosis, Pond Parasite Control with
DTHP, Hole in the
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& Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Nitrogen
Cycling, Koi/Pondfish Disease,
Goldfish in General,
Goldfish Behavior, Goldfish
Systems, Goldfish Feeding,
Bloaty, Floaty Goldfish,
New Print and
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What it takes to keep goldfish healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Question, GF, env. issues over and over and over
Please respond to this as soon as possible, I am trying to still help my
comet fantail typed goldfish to stop sitting at top of tank and flip to
side at times, he swims jerky, I fed him for the past two days omega one
frozen freshwater formula and today about an hour after he ate he swam
funny, so I gave him a skinned pea about 2 hrs after his meal, will this
help or hurt that soon after eating the omega one?
I cleaned some water, and it had Epsom salt in it but now I don't know
how long Epsom salt can be left in tank, Will leaving it in there all
the time cause any problems, I do water changes and have to add more
when he starts to float which is about every day at some point at times
it gets bad as it is today, Should I add Epsom salt again and what will
this do to my water parameters?
<Remember the chemistry you did at school? How the concentration of
something was the quantity of dissolved particles per given volume of
liquid? Assuming you take out 10 litres of water with a concentration of
6 grams Epsom salt per litre, and replace it with 10 litres of new water
that has 6 grams Epsom salt per litre added, then the concentration will
remain the same. If you replace with 10 litres plain water with no Epsom
salt, then the concentration will go down. Keep doing plain water
changes, and the Epsom salt concentration will tend towards zero. Easy.>
I read where if fish gets really bad it can be given a grain of Epsom
salt in a pea, is this true?
One says yes its good and one area says it can be dangerous for
<Force-feeding solid lumps of chemicals to animals is not a good idea
unless you happen to be a vet and know what you're doing.>
Can aquarium salt and Epsom salt be used together?
<Yes. But do remember they treat quite different things, and neither are
<Do read "Floaty, Bloaty Goldfish" elsewhere on this site. I do
feel we've been around and around with this Goldfish of yours, and do
strongly suspect an environmental aspect to your persistent, recurring
issues (though bad genes can't be ruled out, of course). Review
aquarium size, filtration, water chemistry etc. Cheers, Neale (who's
signing off from tomorrow for a couple weeks to go on honeymoon, and
won't be checking into WWM much, if at all).>
Re: Question 3/29/13
Congratulations and have a great Honeymoon!
<Thank you, Neale.>
Hi Crew! Desperate for some expert advice... Poor env.
viral issue, mis-treated, no reading/use of WWM
Hi There! I am reaching out for advice from some real experts
after trying everything the people at the pet store recommended didn't
<Mmm, your goldfish... viral issue. Nothing is going to work directly,
I have two comet goldfish, both about 4 years old. Tiger is about
six inches not including his tail, Two-face is about 5 inches. They
lived in a five gallon aquarium
<A real input/issue here>
(I know, way too small!) their whole lives until four months ago when
I upgraded to a 20 gallon tank.
<Still too small for comets... This American hybrid needs to be housed
The new tank has gravel, an external 30 gallon filter, a bubble wall, some
plastic plants, and fake rock accessories (see attached picture). When I
set up the new tank, I used as much water from the old tank as I could,
and even mixed the gravel from the old tank with the new gravel in the
new tank. I added the water treatment like I do every water
change. You'd think they'd love being upgraded to a roomier tank,
but that was actually when the trouble started!
Two-face began to lose scales, mysteriously only on one side of his body
(the almost all black side). Just a few at a time, and they would
always grow back. He lost a whole patch of scales at once that
made me really nervous, but they all grew back quickly enough.
<... all environmental. Have you read on WWM re? Let's not waste y/our
time w/ the rest of this. Read here:
and the linked files above.>
But my big problem is Tiger. Tiger has been having some weird
health issues and no one seems to be able to help!
<... not weird... environmentally induced... Viral in nature...>
It all started shortly after the tank upgrade. He started to grow a
strange, whitish-yellow cauliflower-looking bump on his left side.
I had never seen anything like it! I asked the people at the pet
store and they said it might be fungus, so I treated with FUNGUS CURE.
That didn't help! The spot continued to grow and a black spot
suddenly appeared in the middle of it (Tiger is all orange and white and
has never had a black scale anywhere!) After the anti-fungal
treatment failed and the growth continued to worsen, I did some research
and figured that the growth might be a secondary effect from a bacterial
infection, so I treated with TETRACYCLINE and FUNGUS CURE at the
same time. That was not successful, either.
<Of no use whatsoever>
Tiger's growth continued to get worse (the black spot got bigger as
well) and he has sprouted more strange bumps! The next bumps
appeared on the opposite (right) side of his body. They look very
different from the first bump. These are the same color
(whitish-yellow), but they are smooth and round, not fluffy like the
first bump. One seems to be growing out from under a scale, like a
hemorrhage. On that same side he has a strange patch were he has
one bump and a bunch of raised scales where he looks like a pine cone.
He also grew a big bump on his head which looks like a blemish.
He looks like he's growing another blemish-like bump on the left side of
his head very close to his gill, which worries me.
Another concern is that Tiger has become bloated and swollen on his left
side. It looks like a hump right behind his gill. I worry
that this bloating will affect his ability to breathe! It looks
like something is growing inside him and will make him burst.
Besides that, Tiger's fins are perfect, he has no bleeding and no
visible parasites. Twice when I took a good look at him I noticed
stringy white things hanging from his body, but they never lasted for
long, and he has none on his body now.
I took pictures (attached) and asked at a different pet store, and they
diagnosed Tiger's problem as ulcers and recommended MELAFIX. I
have been treating with MelaFix for almost two weeks and I have seen no
I also have to admit to making a big mistake: a few days ago when I did
the last water change (after one week of treating with MelaFix) I
changed 25% of the water and added more MelaFix, salt, and algae
<All worthless to toxic. Please, just search re these on WWM>
(I have some stringy algae growing on the plants, I presume because of
the warmer temperature). I realize I shouldn't have mixed so many
things! The water got a little cloudy after that. I have
continued to treat with MelaFix daily.
About a week ago, I saw Two-face was missing a section of his tail fin
about two inches long, one centimeter wide, and one centimeter past
where his body turns into his tail (no part of his actual body was
damaged). I found the piece in the corner of the tank behind some
plants. I figured he got stuck and broke it off. It is
already growing back nicely, with no sign of fungus or infection.
Before Tiger's condition got really concerning, I did monthly 50% water
changes with my gravel vacuum and water treatment. Since this
started, I have done a 25% change at least once a month, or as
recommended according to the medicine I was giving them at the time
(usually 25% every week or few days). While treating the tank, I
remove the carbon packet from the filter. Otherwise, I change the
filter every month. Both fish have been eating well. I feed
mostly sinking pellets and, occasionally, flakes. I have fed them
brine shrimp twice in the last month and they both gobbled them up
voraciously! They are swimming around just fine, no floating or
lurking at the bottom. Poop seems to be normal, although at times
I see weirdly thick poop sitting on the bottom. I have seen
Two-face pooping and his is normal, so I'm guessing it was Tiger's weird
I don't know the exact water temperature, but it's on the warmer side
because I heard medicine works better in warmer temperatures. Here
is the rest of the water quality information I have: Ammonia
between 0-0.5, Nitrate 40,
<... too high. Read....>
Nitrite 0, pH 7, KH 40, GH 180.
I attached some pictures for you to look at. I'll continue
to add MelaFix until this week of treatment is over, then I'll
do a 25% water change. I won't do anything else until I hear back
from you! Thank you for your help!
Fancy goldfish setup and health questions. Uncycled sys., Cu
Hello WWM crew!
First, I want to say thank you for such a wonderful site. This place is
a gold mine of information.
I have a few goldfish questions for you. I've kept tropical fish for
about 3 years, but moved recently and had to break down my tank and
rehome the fish. After getting settled in the new place, I found myself
longing for fish again, so I shuffled around some furniture and could
*just* squeeze in a new fish tank. :) I wanted to try my hand at fancy
<Ah, folks generally start w/ goldfish... and after long experimentation
w/ other aquatics, come back to them>
It's a 29 gallon tank and has been up and running for two weeks
<Is this system thoroughly cycled?>
with 1 small lionhead in residence, about 1.5" long. Temperature is
between 67-72F; I'm not using a heater so it fluctuates with the room.
Filtration is provided by two Aquaclear 30 filters, rated at 150gph
each, turned down to about half flow to avoid too much water turbulence.
Media includes foam pads, some Polyfill (pillow stuffing) to remove
finer particulates, and (on the recommendation of my LFS, I've never
used these before) one filter has Zeolite and the other has activated
carbon. (Are these actually useful/necessary?)
<Not really; no. But the carbon is useful as biological filter media
(mostly) in time>
The substrate is sand.
pH is holding steady at 7.4, but the KH is at 4. I know goldfish like
harder water and that low KH can lead to pH crashes when the buffering
capacity gets used up, so I'm worried. Should I be adding a buffer of
some kind? If so, what's best to use? Crushed coral, powdered buffers,
<The substrate change is best; most reliable, but a bit of commercial
buffer or simple baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) will/can do>
This is actually the first time I've cycled from scratch - all my other
tanks had established filters from other sources. I've gotten filter
squeezings from the LFS and I've used up a bottle of Nite-Out, but I'm
still only getting ammonia readings,
no nitrite or nitrate whatsoever, even after two weeks. Is this
<Yes; quite. And no livestock should be present>
I'm doing water changes every couple days to keep the ammonia less than
0.50ppm (it's at 0.25ppm right now), but with all the bacterial seeding
I had thought I'd be most of the way through the cycle by now. Instead
it seems like it hasn't even started.
<I'd "step up" your efforts at cycling. Read here:
and the linked files...>
The lionhead (Higgs) looked healthy at the LFS (I'd been eyeing him for
a couple weeks), but he was apparently carrying Ich because he broke out
in white spots after he'd been home a few days. I've been treating with
<Toxic as well; and a delimiter (killer) of bacteria, nitrifying and
not... This med. is forestalling the establishment of biofiltration>
for the last week and will continue for at least another 2 weeks to make
sure I get it all. Now, though, he's getting something that looks like
fungus on his head and tail. (See attached pictures - white pimple-like
growth on the top of his head and fuzzy stuff on the edge of his tail.)
I'm assuming it's related to water quality. Should I be
that or will it go away on its own once the tank is fully cycled?
<Most likely the latter. I'd cease treating, feed VERY sparingly, look
into/get Dr. Tim's, SeaChem, other real bacterial product>
One more question... I've been hearing conflicting things about tank
sizes for goldfish. Some say 20 gallons per fish, some say 10.
<At least twenty-thirty for one... See WWM re GF systems>
I'd like to get Higgs a buddy (Boson, because that's the kind of geek I
am), but I don't have room for a larger tank. Would two Lionheads be
comfortable in a 29gal?
<Not indefinitely no>
I don't want to overcrowd them, but they're social creatures and I don't
want Higgs to be lonely.
<Mmm, not really "that" social. More autistic to put in human terms>
I think I have adequate filtration to keep up with the mess and I'm no
stranger to regular water changes, but if just keeping Higgs by himself
is best, then of course I'll do that.
Thanks so much for your time and advice!
<... you need to fix the environment here, NOW. This is the only path to
health. Bob Fenner>
Bent Comet, env. dis. 2/4/13
I have a three year old comet goldfish in great distress. He seems to
either have a broken or bent tail.
<... a developmental issue... the cause?>
It started two days ago, he was swimming sideways and moving like a
snake. He is now stuck to the bottom of the tank unable to swim, and I
have no idea how to help him.
<Nothing to be done at this point>
He has a small white bump half the size of a pea right before tail meets
fin. But other than that, no lesions or strange markings. It doesn't
seem to be whirling disease, from what I have read on your site.
Tank facts: 30 gallon tank, currently holding five varying
breeds of goldfish, two golden wonders, an upside-down catfish,
and a neon. About two weeks ago I did have a fungal infection in my tank
that killed off four of my original goldfish, but left the now bent
comet and a fancy as the only survivors. The fungus only effected the
goldfish though, and was treated with PIMAFIX.
<Worthless. See WWM re these phony API "fixes">
Three new goldfish were introduced to the tank three days ago.
Everything turns up normal on my water treatment tests. I have also
removed all live plants. Thank you for your time and advice!
P.S I have a hard time loading internet sites as vast as yours (old
computer.) It would be greatly appreciated if you could send me your
reply via email, or a link to the page on your website? Thank you very
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
One white spot on goldfish, no big deal. Uncycled sys: big
I am a new goldfish owner and have made some mistakes, but am trying to
get it right. My sons got two young fantailed goldfish for
Christmas. I hadn't done any research and put them in a ten gallon
<Need more room than this>
I then did a crazy amount of reading, mostly this site, and realized they
would need a much bigger home and would need a lot of TLC to get through
<... the system needs to be pre-cycled>
relatively unharmed. I purchased a 30 gallon and moved them over
I do water changes at least once a day, sometimes twice, to keep ammonia
and nitrite levels as close to zero as possible. My question is,
one goldfish has a tiny white spot on his fin. I assumed it was
<Mmm, no; not one spot>
I treated the water with API's Ich cure
<Toxic; I'd discontinue>
and followed the instructions. He still has one white speck on his
<No big deal. Will go on its own in time>
the one he had from the beginning, and it has been there for weeks now!
It has not spread at all, and both fish appear to be very happy. I
have been waiting to see if any more spots appear, but they haven't.
Should I just keep waiting, or try a different treatment? Thank
<No treatment necessary/advised. Just good care. Read here re cycling:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: rescued 3 large goldfish from 10 gallon cage
<... 12 megs of pix? We can only accept hundreds of Kbytes... as detailed on
how to write us>
Thanks for the response! Hard to believe that was months ago already.
We obtained a used 65 ga tank only to find it was leaking. We have now roped
daddy into our fish hobby and he's got the tank taken apart and we are
rebuilding it. In the meanwhile, we obtained a 25-29 ga bow front tank on
the cheap that doesn't leak and immediately moved the three goldfish into
it. We also found a very good local fish store owner who dispenses quality
information freely and purchased a proper water test kit and a recommended
high quality food (not flake) that is mixed into a gel and given in small
(That's here in eastern Washington state). Testing was done before moving
the fish to the large tank yesterday, Ammonia was 0, nitrite was 0, nitrate
is 10 ppm. The fish will be moved to the 65 gallon within two weeks,
providing the repair is successful, where they can hopefully experience a
little more quality fish life for a long time.
Now, the 25+ ga larger tank and better lighting is finally allowing us to
observe and really examine their skin, scales.
My question now is concerning two clear looking bumps on the Oranda. There
is one on the cheek and when I look closely it looks like another one just
on the edge of the gill flap on that same side. I am attaching a photo. To
be a little more clear, they are not small white bumps that I see in photos
of Ich nor am I seeing large clear bumps on either of the other two fish.
The dragon eye (we named him Minion) has 5-6 tiny white pimple looking spots
clustered together on the smooth area behind and below his eye (photo also
attached) and slightly bigger solid white bumps on this main tail fin vein
(sorry lack of proper terminology here...the stiff part of the fin) ... both
appear to me the match the description of sexing him as a male during mating
time. I am not seeing small white bumps like the Ich photos on him nor the
The Oranda is my greatest concern, as it was missing more than half its
scales when we rescued and has had "swim-bladder-disease-appearing" swimming
issues that have been consistent, but not worsened, in the 8 weeks since we
took them on. It is a hardy eater and as active as the other two, but flops
over on the left side when having to navigate a turn quickly and will
occasionally have trouble righting itself if head is down too far while
bottom grazing. Observing it today, it appears 'she' has to do a lot of back
stroking with fins to stay in position (I don't see the other two doing this
all the time). Swimming forward she looks more like wiggling at time, but
there is no floating upside down or severe changes in how she swims. I do
not know if these clear bumps are new or been there the whole time. I can
send a 2-3 minute video of her swimming, if that would help.
My immediate concern is diagnosing the bumps. Do I salt to be on the safe
<I wouldn't. Won't help>
And can you give me your definitive answer on how long can they tolerate it
before they need to be returned to 100% fresh when treating them with salt?
I've read/heard 2 days up to 2 weeks.
<See WWM re salt use>
What are your thoughts with the photos as a help?
<Some developmental issue/s w/ water quality and nutrition, possibly
genetic... not treatable per se w/ medications. Only long term good care can
We are rather attached to the critters now and want to get them as healthy
as possible given their rough start.
Thank you again so much for your time.
P.s. Having a camera that will do 8 frames per second is a requirement for
fish photography! ;0)
|Re: rescued 3 large goldfish from 10 gallon cage
My apologies on the photo size, I appreciate the response.
<Certainly welcome RB. Just glad am not on the liveaboard in the P.I. now...
impossible to download period. Cheers, BobF>
Oranda Goldfish Problems 1/10/13
My goldfish is in a 16 gallon tank, along with a small
plecostomus, a small feeder goldfish, a fantail, and a small catfish.
<Far, far too many fish for this size aquarium. Goldfish need
something like 30 gallons as adults, and keeping youngsters in smaller
tanks than, say, 20 gallons is a false economy because of how quickly
they grow when healthy. The Plec will reach something like 30 cm/12
inches within the first year, and 45 cm/18 inches within two years, so
they're very much fish for 55+ gallon systems. I assume the "small
catfish" is Corydoras paleatus, the Peppered Catfish. It's the only
Corydoras that makes sense in a Goldfish system, but they're schooling
fish (so keep at least 3 and preferably 5+ specimens) and while they are
hardy they do need good water quality in the long term.>
They were all bought from the same store about 3 weeks ago. I have a
filtration system that came with the tank, a heater, and the water stays
between 74-76 degrees F at all times. I have a few fake plants, along
with a few decor items that the other fish will go in between.
Regardless, my Oranda has been eating well, and continuously wants more.
<Normal. Do bear in mind these are the fish equivalent of sheep. They're
herbivores adapted to feeding on greenery and organic detritus pretty
much all day long. So they have big appetites. Feed them with some fresh
greens alongside their pellets/flakes and you'll find you can satisfy
their appetites without polluting the water too much.>
I feed my fish in the morning around 6, and in the evening around 9. The
Oranda was extremely active, and would continuously swim around the
Lately it has been near the top of my tank, unmoving for the past few
<Ah now, this is a sign that not all is well. Goldfish should be
constantly active, either chasing one another about or else snuffling
about at the bottom. When they become lethargic it's a good sign that
they are unhappy.
The environment may well be a factor.>
If I tap on the glass, it comes over to see me, and is fine, but then
goes right back to that one spot. His eating habits haven't changed, but
I noticed a few days ago that there appears to be some sort of growth
right below his right pectoral fin. It's white, like his coloring there,
but it looks like a bulge, and I'm fairly certain it wasn't there a week
ago. Any suggestions as to what it could be? I don't believe it's Ick,
but am unsure from there. Should I move the fish to a new tank?
<Does sound like Finrot, a common bacterial infection that happens in
new tanks. First of all, grab a nitrite test kit. Note that I said
"nitrite" not "nitrate" -- they sound similar but are different
chemicals. If your nitrite level isn't zero, then your filter isn't
fully matured and/or the tank is overstocked. Review, and act
accordingly. For so long as nitrite stays above zero, don't feed your
fish anything other than live pondweed.
Do regular water changes, ideally 25% every 2-3 days, but not while
medicating. Medicate against Finrot, using something like Maracyn rather
than a "tea-tree oil" type medication like Melafix which tend to work
better as preventatives than actual cures. Also read here:
Erratic Oranda (Bob, you're more of an expert on this than
me; any comments?)<<>> 12/9/12
Hi, thank you for running such a great site, it's very informational!
<Thank you for the kind words.>
I basically just took over my moms sad tank, and naturally, her favorite
fish, which is a red capped Oranda, is now probably dying! :(
The Oranda has lived in the tank with an orange gourami
for at least 6 months to a year in a 29 gallon tank.
<Somewhat unreliable combination, but if it worked for you, then so far
so good. But the "orange" Gourami (I assume you mean Trichogaster
trichopterus) is a tropical fish rather than a coldwater one, so needs
warmer water. It also happens to be more sensitive to water quality
problems and considerably more aggressive than the average Goldfish; at
least, male specimens can be -- females are typically rather benign
68-72 degrees, filter (I don't know what kind) but they've been fine for
a long time. Me, being the wonderful daughter I am, decided to put in 2
new store bought decorations
<<These decor items, phony corals, are too sharp to have w/ clumsy fancy
(I rinsed them before putting them in), along with a new orange
parrot cichlid and a small Koi which is probably a type of Showa.
<Ah now, this wasn't wise. Parrot Cichlids are entirely too big for a
29-gallon tank, and a Koi, well, seriously, these are pond fish, and
rarely do well in aquaria smaller than 200 gallons.><<And the Cichlid is
too aggressive for its tankmates; and the Koi will get too big>>
The pet store guy said my pH was a bit high so I put a new plant in as
<Not sure I see the connection here. As you hopefully know, pH is a
measurement of acidity or alkalinity; adding plants doesn't make any
difference to that! (Well, it's actually a bit more complicated than
that in ecological terms, and plants do affect the pH of the body of
water they're in, but that's a world away from "add a plant to fix the
pH". In any event, unless the pH was over 8.5, your Goldfish will be
fine. Goldfish are best between pH 7 and 8, Gouramis are okay between 6
and 8, Koi similar to the Goldfish, and so too the Parrot Cichlid. So
bottom line, if your pH was between 7 and 8 you'll be fine.>
The cichlid as you already know, was bullying all the other fish, like
head-butting them when they swam by, and actually the Oranda ended up
losing a couple scales so I took the cichlid back to the pet
store the next day.
I kept the cichlid food (pellets) to feed to the gourami to enhance its
orange color (since we've bought it, the bright blue from his face has
faded and is now just mostly grey) but the gourami wasn't eating it, the
Oranda and the Koi were mostly eating it.
<Which is okay up to a point, but both Goldfish and Koi are herbivores,
and too much tropical fish food isn't good for them. Colouration does
vary with diet, but trivially so compared to the health of the fish.
Diet can affect the colour of a fish over weeks and months, but if a
fish has suddenly changed colour, then it's health is the issue, not
I broke up 3 pellets into the tank for about 3 or 4 days and put it in
along with flakes. I noticed the koi's behavior change first, as instead
of swimming happily, it was just resting at the bottom of the tank, but
I thought he was just feeling more relaxed and settling in so I didn't
think anything of it. Now, its been about a week since all the changes
and last night I noticed the Oranda was swimming very erratically and
flashing (rubbing against the rocks on the bottom) and it has like
reddish veins going through its tail and some red or orange spots on its
body and today, the fins look more shredded and the fins look mostly
<Incipient Finrot; grab a reliable antibacterial or antibiotic
medication and use (by reliable, I mean nothing like Melafix or other
"homeopathic" or "all-natural" remedies).>
(Hard to take a pic, but it was pure white before) I noticed the Koi and
the Oranda would spazz out when they'd hit the corner of the tank too,
like they were blind and didn't know the corner was there?
<Severe stress; test water quality and act accordingly.>
Today, they were both just staying at the bottom and not really
swimming, so I went to the pet store to have my water checked. He said
the levels on the strip seem perfect (after lots of research, I need to
make sure the ammonia was checked also) and I noticed the tank that I
bought the Koi from went from full of fish to having like 4 fish in it,
so I asked the dude and low n behold, there was an Ich breakout that
they're treating in that tank.
Sooo, I have treated my tank with the Mardel antibiotics, and now it's a
waiting game. The fish went from chillin' on the bottom, to now nose up
at the top, and a bit more active, so that seems good. I noticed the
Oranda sometimes looks like it stops breathing and it starts to drift
down backwards but then it comes-to and starts swimming back up again.
So my actual question finally comes: is the red streaking in the Oranda
from the color enhancing cichlid food, or can dropsy or ecchymosis
disease be dormant and come on from stress?
<It's a result of stress and physical damage.>
If they fight through this sickness, will the veins and red spots go
away? Will his fins grow back to normal?
<In time, yes.>
Up until now, my mom has left the tank light on 24/7 and for the past
week I have been turning it off at night, so that's another change the
Oranda has been dealing with too?
<A change for the better.>
Is the Koi bullying the Oranda without my knowledge?!
<Could be, as both species are social, and therefore have a hierarchy.
In ponds Goldfish and Koi cohabit just fine, but one specimen of each in
a 29-gallon tank is a recipe for disaster. Let me be frank here, I am
dead against keeping Koi indoors. It is very rare casual aquarists have
any success doing this. They are huge, powerful fish with gigantic
appetites and strong personalities. They need, deserve a pond.>
The Oranda is the biggest in the tank now and the gourami seems just
fine through all of this. So many variables, I don't know >_<
<I think the variables are clear enough. You have a coldwater fish, a
tropical fish, and a pond fish, all in the same (small) tank -- that
things went pear-shaped is not completely unexpected. I dare say that in
a big aquarium this combination might work, but in 29 gallons… no.>
The cichlid color enhancing food says it's for carnivores... did I make
them go insane?!
<Hmm… no. All the "carnivore" aspect means is that the food is rich in
protein from animal sources (typically shrimp and fish meal) rather than
from plant sources (like Spirulina algae or vegetable proteins).>
(During the process of writing this, the Koi died :( I will be using a
quarantine tank for new fish from now on... how long do they stay in
there? A week?)
<Stop. Do not buy ANY MORE FISH for at least 6 weeks. No quibbling on
this! And long term, your plan is to either go tropical or go coldwater.
Keeping the tank at 24 C/75 F would be tolerable for both Gourami and
Goldfish, but the best thing would be to swap out the Gourami for a
second Goldfish of similar type and size (ideally a female, but they're
hard to sex outside of the mating season). If this doesn't appeal, stick
with what you have for now This Goldfish and Gourami were happy enough
together -- why push your luck?>
Thank you for your time & guidance, -Mae.
<Most welcome. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Sick Goldfish – 11/20/12
Hi, I'm writing to you because my little 3/4" Oranda (Poe)
is very, very lethargic and is just kind of floating around or staying
in one spot. He doesn't look very bloated, and he is upright. I
got him about two weeks ago after my Telescope Eye died. The
Telescope Eye did the same thing before he died, but at the very end he
was curled in half. I had him for one year along with another
Oranda (Chloe-about 1 1/2" not including fins) who is doing super fine.
(Chloe does have orange veins in his fins that I read some people are
concerned about, but they have always been there and I always just
thought they were normal.)
<Orange... not red? Could be "normal">
The Telescope Eye also became completely white and blind after I had him
for 6 months.
<Something amiss here... environmentally, or just genetic?>
I had to hand feed him. I gave them sinking pellets, but when I got
the new fish two weeks ago I switched to a combination of Your Fish
Stuff (YFS) Super Soft Spirulina pellets, and YFS Goldfish Frenzy
<I feed my fancy goldfish exclusively Spectrum pelleted>
I'm worried that Poe has eaten too much for his little size because he was
super fast at getting the food, even though I tried to put just a little
in for Chloe. Today was the first day he didn't try to swim over
to get some food. I thought about putting in some API Aquarium
Salt, is this a good idea?
<Not really; no. Read here:
the linked files above>
I also have a small Bristlenose Pleco in there. I was going
to give him peas, but we accidentally purchased a frozen kind that has
salt added. ( Maybe this is a good thing?) I don't know if I could
even get him to eat it. I also have some Melafix
which I tried to use with my Telescope Eye to no avail.
Here is some info on my tank: Ammonia = 0 Nitrates= 0
<Really? How is NO3 rendered thus?>
Nitrites= 0PH= 8.2Water is hard Size 20 Gallons (might have to upgrade
when the fish grow) Change 25% of the water and vacuum once a week
<Good protocol. I do the same>
Have a bubbler and a whisper filter for 30 - 45 gallons Temperature is
usually between 68 and 74 degrees It does sometimes fluctuate
between the day and night about 3 degrees
Thank you so very much for your advice! Deanna
<Again, something is wrong here... likely a toxicity... from? A piece of
decor? Aerosols in the room? Do you use carbon at all? Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Goldfish 11/20/12
Thank you so much for your response. Unfortunately the little fish
There is nothing around the fish tank like aerosol sprays. It is in the
main room of our house near the kitchen. The filter has activated
carbon inserts that get changed a little less than once a month.
My Test kit has NO3 as 0 ppm at the lowest level, which is what my tank
always tests at.
<Strange that a goldfish system wouldn't register some. Do us both a
favor and take a water sample to the fish store for their checking next
When I change the water today I am going to take out 50% and change my
plastic plants to silk because once in a while their fins would get torn
on them. The torn parts always heal, so I didn't think it
was from fin rot.
No other signs of infection, just clean tears that heal.
Everything in there was made for aquariums.
So now the question is my young girls, and I'm sure the Oranda who is
now lonely, want to get another fish. I read somewhere that sooner was
better than later since the bio-filter is used to working for three
fish. I just don't want another fish to die.
Oh, and one more thing I forgot to ask you about. After
eating my Oranda frequently starts piping at the surface, sometimes for
up to two hours.
<Mmm... indicative of low dissolved oxygen and/or high/er CO2... I'd
"dip a pitcher" along the top of the tank or drape a colorless paper
towel along the top to wick off any sort of oil that might be
forming an impenetrable layer there... otherwise cut back on the
feeding, look into Spectrum brand as a staple instead>
He also will sometimes swim very erratically. I was worried at
first that it could be because of gill flukes, but he doesn't do it
24/7, and he seems fine in every other way. I don't see any puss,
and his gills are pink. I read that this could be because crumbs
of food might get stuck in the gills. Is this true?
<Not really, no. Cypriniiform fishes have a good deal of cartilage in
their branchiostegals (gill supports)... that account for their ability
to stay alive out of water for long duration...>
Should I change my food yet again?
How long is fish food good for?
They give you so much food, but there is no expiration date on any of
the packages. Not even on the pellets I received when I first got
Anyway, thank you again for this great service you provide. It
really is so helpful and I greatly appreciate it.
<Glad to assist your efforts, understanding. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Goldfish 11/20/12
I will get my water tested at the store and try the new food. I
will also try the skimming a little water off the top.
<Tres bien. B>
rescued 3 large goldfish from 10 gallon cage
Thank you so much for your massive and informative web site. I sincerely
appreciate it. My 8 year old and I are about 4 months into the fish
hobby with a 10 gallon tank and have tiny fish legs under us a little
now (she was a swordfish for Halloween!).
With an empty space below our 10 gallon tank on the stand, we decided to
add one more 10 ga to add some variety to our fish keeping. When we
arrived to pick up a free tank locally, we learned it came with 3
goldfish. I should say, it came with three LARGE goldfish. There is a 2
yr old fantail with telescoping eyes of at least 6 inches (eyes look a
little cloudy to me and noticed an occasional rubbing motion on bottom
of tank [observed it twice in 24 hours]), an 2 yr Oranda of about 5
inches (has only a few scales and frequently does funny swimming
maneuvers. Started Malfix
<A good name for this phony product, Melafix... see/search WWM re... as
it at best a placebo; at worst a toxic, nitrification tea/leaf extract>
and fasting today on whole tank. Will start peas tomorrow or maybe next
day), and a 1 yr old straight tail of about 4 inches (seems healthy and
looks good), all very sadly having been raised in this one tank together
this whole time!
<Mmm, well... you realize these fish can't live in a ten gallon
We quickly realized we are now in the middle of a rescue operation for
these fish. The FAQ area has varying answers for our situation regarding
tank size. I understand a 30 ga is minimum for one goldfish (with proper
filtration and good water) but one response said ‘ideally a 30 ga can
house 3 fancy goldfish with no problems’ and the very next answer
indicated to add a second goldfish a 40-55 would be necessary. I can
acquire either a 30, 55, or 65 today. I was planning on the 65 so we can
keep all three fish (my 8 year old is in love and willing to sell off
her mollies an small tank, ha ha)
<Mmm, the "bigger the better" size-wise>
So here we are! Can I move all the fish with their current tank (did a
75% change when we got them 2 days ago) water/gravel and filter to a 65
immediately and add just enough new water for swimming to get them some
space to keep from completely crashing the water and to begin working on
their health issues?
<Moving all should be fine... not result in a cessation of biological
OR do I they have time to live in the 10 ga for a couple more weeks while
I cycle a bigger one?
<Mmm, I'd move all>
Thank you so much for any help you can provide. If don’t hear
back, I will begin cycling the 65 ga tank and, assuming their health
does not obviously deteriorate in the next couple of weeks, keep
changing the water, light on the feeding, medicate, and try to do a
complete cycle of the new tank before adding them.
Homeschooling mom of two,
<Thank you for your thoughtful, complete relating. Bob Fenner>
These go with the email from ***@yahoo.com with the subject
Goldfish with gill curl. 11/11/12
Sorry I didn't include them this is the only way I can.
<Don't see the original message. In any case, Gill Curl is almost always
caused by a poor environment, classically a large fish in a too-small
aquarium without enough oxygen. There's no real cure (indeed, with
expensive fish the owners may even resort to surgery). But improving the
environment will prevent worsening and may roll back the curl a bit. Oh,
and it can be fatal if not treated (i.e., the environment isn't fixed).
|Goldfish with gill curling
I don't mean to bother you guys you probably gets loads of questions but
even calling aquatic vets haven't helped me. My favorite goldfish, al Capone
(Ryukin), has gill curl. I only really noticed it a few days ago.
I've been battling the mishap in my tank recently with the spike in nitrates
in my tap water(40ppms). I'm now doing eater changes with water from my
friends house. I have to use SeaChem prime due to the chlorine but other
than that all parameters are good. I have three Ryukins in this tank.
Its a 37gal show tank with one large bubble bar spanning the bottom back of
the tank, the filter that came with the tank, an added 5gal filter and a
submersible 40gal filter. I'm doing the best I can and didn't know much
about goldfish then I got these guys. I had them in a 5gal for about a month
before they got Ich and I realized my mistake. Any advice would be greatly
appreciated. It isn't safe to snip the gill membrane is it? Sedate her with
clove oil and
afterwards use melafix to prevent infection?
<Have answered this question yesterday when your photo came through. Gill
Curl is invariably caused by environmental issues. Review, and act
accordingly. There's no cure, but if prevented from getting any worse, isn't
fatal (though the existing environmental stresses may be). Cheers, Neale.>
Goldfish with fungus, proceeding to blackened scales -
I have one goldfish which lives alone in a fifteen litre tank. He is one
year old and has been used to a complete water change every seven days
since we first got him.
<At a year of age, a goldfish should be too big to fit in a 15 liter
His growth is stunted; he really needs a much bigger space. His health
will be compromised in this small volume.>
Several weeks ago (I am ashamed to say) we neglected to change his water
for around two weeks.
<Evidence of the tank being vastly too small for a goldfish.... These
animals require - require! - more like 50 liters per animal, at an
absolute barest minimum. They are large, messy (produce a lot of waste),
and really can't live in good health without appropriate volumes of
water. Your fish needs a MUCH larger home. It would be far better for
him to be in something closer to 100 liters, especially by a year of
By this time he had a pinky white slime covering his sides, face and
<Likely from diminished water quality, which, in the small tank, was
really just a matter of time.>
I immediately changed his water, cleaned his tank and asked at my local
aquarium for advice.
<I sincerely hope their first piece of advice was a bigger tank....>
On their instruction I brought a water sample to them, which they told
me was fine.
<Next time, please have them give you the actual readings. "Fine" is
really quite meaningless. Your fish's water must have ZERO Ammonia, ZERO
Nitrite, and no more than 20ppm Nitrate. The slime you saw was almost
definitely from poor water quality.>
I began treating what they told me was a fungal infection
<Based upon what? There is no indication of a fungal infection, here....
Fungal infections in fish are actually quite rare....>
with 'Love Fish Anti Bacteria and Fungus' treatment. Several weeks have
passed and his condition has improved massively but not entirely.
<I suspect that your water changes have more to do with this than the
He now has only slight pinky white discolouration down his sides.
However, today I notices a black mark on his side, towards the back,
where three scales dropped away weeks ago and am worried about ammonia
burn. Could this be an effect of treating him with medication too long
or a different problem entirely?
<Quite possible. From your description, the slimy look, and now some
pinky-white discoloration, as well as black mark(s), I'm inclined to
think "carp pox". Do look this up. It often looks like slime/film, or
could even be described as "waxy" formations on the fish. It is viral,
incurable, and usually won't cause the fish any real "harm". It might be
brought about or exacerbated by poor water quality (which could be why
you started seeing it after missing a couple of water changes), and can,
sometimes, fade away with good water quality. It will often come and go,
I'm a little unsure of how to proceed with him.
<If you are still medicating, I would absolutely discontinue this.
Prolonged exposure to medication - and you mentioned "several weeks,
which would qualify - can cause damage to a fish's liver and kidney....>
I am going to go shopping for a larger tank with a quality filter to
help him get better
<Oh, VERY good news.>
but really want to do everything I can to improve his quality of life.
<Believe me, there is no better action you can take than to expand his
world. Please do read the articles on WWM regarding goldfish.... Here's
a starting point for you:
I hope that's enough information to help with my query. Many thanks in
advance for your time!
<And I do hope you've found some helpful information here, Nathan!
Thanks for writing in. I do wish your goldfish a complete recovery. I'm
sure he'll love the larger tank you're shopping for. Best wishes to you
and your goldfish pal, -Sabrina>
Re: Very Sick Goldfish 10/17/12
Below is an e-mail thread between me and the only fish vet I could get in
touch with in my general area. All of my problems with Gary the goldfish are
spelled out here. In summary, the vet urges continued vigilance with water
quality/conditions, but thinks Gary might have sepsis and doesn't really
leave me with an option for that. Would you please review the below
information and offer me your opinion? I am getting rather desperate and I
feel terrible for poor Gary, as I have grown quite attached to him and hate
to see him in this condition. I have attached four pictures, taken today
(10/16/12); note that the water color is off due to the medication in the
water. Please read on for details.
<I'll leave the thread below untouched and answer here. In addition to what
is recommended, you might consider using zeolite to absorb ammonia. It's not
a good permanent solution, nor will it replace water changes, but it will
help for temporary situations like this. The pictures do look similar to
other bacterial infections I've seen. There is a good WWM page on this
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/mycobactera.htm By the
way, the 20 gallon tank might be a bit small for this guy long-term.>
Thank you so much for your time,
E-mail #1, from me, sent 10/16/12:
I "inherited" a large goldfish (approximately 7" body, possibly veiltail?)
from friends who were moving across the country. He is very social, active,
acrobatic, and rather personable, as far as fish go, and possessed these
characteristics for the first four weeks I had him. I
was originally supposed to foster him until the family that had volunteered
to take him came back from vacation. However, the days and weeks passed, and
I still have the fish. His name is Gary, and he's six years old. Note - I do
not have much experience with fish.
Gary's previous family wasn't very diligent about fish care... they stuck
him in a tank, fed him, and changed his water and filter on occasion, but he
seemed to do just fine. When I got him, his tank was full of algae, so
about three weeks ago I decided to buy some algae eaters to help out.
After putting them in the tank, I did a bit of research and discovered that
they were actually Chinese algae eaters, which don't necessarily eat algae
and might attack the fish. So I took those two guys back to PetSmart and
decided to just give the tank a good cleaning. I vacuumed the gravel and did
an almost full water change.
That's when the problems started. A few days after that, Gary started
resting at the bottom of the tank and being very lethargic. Then he started
getting red blotches on his belly and his fins. When he did swim, he seemed
to be having seizures or convulsions or something before he sank down to the
bottom again. Then he started spitting out his food and then stopped even
attempting to eat. I started doing a lot of online research and suspected
that it might be ammonia and/or nitrite
poisoning. I started doing daily water changes (30-50%) and I added salt to
his aquarium. He didn't seem to be getting better. I also noticed that he
was developing teeny white spots on his eyes (not cloudy eye,
but distinct, very small dots).
I then bought some water testing strips, and all of the levels (ammonia,
nitrite, nitrate, pH) were fine. I've been testing every day for about a
week or so and they levels have remained good. But Gary seemed to be getting
worse. Then I was wondering if he got some sort of
parasite/bacterial infection from the Chinese algae eaters...
I went to a dedicated fish/aquarium store and described the problem and
showed pictures. The man who was helping me also thought that since the
water quality was good, that it could be parasites and/or bacteria. He gave
me a medication which he described as an anti-parasitic and gram-positive
antibiotic containing 3.6 mg Malachite Green and 60 mg Nitrofurazone per
packet (API Super Ick Cure). I used two packets as directed for his 20
gallon tank, and he's had two doses spaced 48 hours apart, as directed.
He is still very sick. The white spots on his eyes seem to be clearing up,
but he is developing more red blotches all over his body. He is also
breathing extremely rapidly and seems to be almost trembling all the time.
And in the past couple of days, he has started listing to the side a bit. I
didn't feed him for four days while he was being medicated...I decided to
try last night and he didn't react at all to the food. He will perk his back
fin up all the way when he sees me now, but that's the only "positive"
I called the aquarium store again this morning and the guy suggested that I
try a gram-negative antibiotic like tetracycline. Then he was out of ideas.
I haven't gotten the tetracycline yet, because I wanted to get advice from
an actual veterinarian. But fish vets are quite hard to find. I live in
****, so it would be very difficult to
get Gary out to where you are, and I think the stress might do him in.
If you are willing, would you please be able to help me out based on this
e-mail and the pictures I have attached? I am heartbroken over this little
guy and I hate that he is suffering like this...I am actually crying just
writing this e-mail!
E-mail #2, reply from vet, sent 10/16/12:
I am sorry to hear that Gary is not doing well. I do have a couple of
· What size tank and type of
filtration is on it?
· When you have been doing
the water changes, what type of water conditioner / chlorine remover have
you been using, if any?
· Have you had the water
checked with a test kit other than the strips, i.e. at the aquarium store?
· When you added salt, what
type of salt and how much?
· Did the “white” spots
develop on any other part of its body, other than the eyes?
· How long have the red
blotchy spots been developing on the sides and have they been spreading?
E-mail #3, reply from me, sent 10/16/12:
- It's a 20 gallon tank with a hang-on-the-back Penguin 100 Bio-Wheel filter
that uses Size A activated carbon filters. It's the same tank and filtration
system that he's had for several years, if not his entire life. For the past
four days, I have removed the carbon filter cartridge as directed on the
- When changing the water, I've been using API Tap Water Conditioner, which
says it instantly removes chlorine and chloramines and detoxifies heavy
metals. Again, it was part of the Gary inheritance package - it's the stuff
his previous family had been using for a while.
- I have not had the water checked other than with the strips. I asked at
the aquarium store how accurate they were and he said they were pretty
accurate but not as good as the liquid kits.
- When I added salt, it was non-iodized, no additive kosher salt,
pre-dissolved in water. I added one teaspoon per gallon (20 tsp total, in
increments), then after doing more research online, I added 15 more
teaspoons. I will say that after the first salt addition, he seemed to perk
up a bit, but then got worse as described.
That was last week, and no salt has been added since Friday night.
- There do appear to be extremely tiny white spots on his fins, but they are
so small they can barely be seen. They may have always been there and I just
never noticed because he used to move around so much. They don't look like
the pictures of Ich that I've seen, but what do I know?
They are still there, although like I said, the spots on the eyes are
- I first noticed the red about two weeks ago on his belly and his "chin" a
few days after I did the full water change, but it seemed to diminish after
I started doing
partial water changes. I was also wondering if it was irritation from
sitting on the gravel. Then I noticed it in his fin veins. But as far as it
being on the actual body, I noticed it near his left gill Thursday night.
Since then, it has disappeared from that particular spot but is now all over
his sides as evident in the pictures. I would say in the past two days, he
has developed a lot of the redness on the sides.
This medication he's been on directed me not to change the water for four
days (I am supposed to change 25% tonight), so I'm wondering if this is
making him worse. Although I did a check just now, and here are the latest
test strip readings:
Ammonia: Somewhere between 0 and .5 ppm
NitrAte: Somewhere between 20 and 40 ppm (it was at 0 when I was changing
NitrIte: Somewhere between 0 and .5 ppm (had been at 0)
Is it possible that this is a combination of many things? His previous
family never once tested the water, so could it be that he was accustomed to
living in bad water conditions and I made it worse by trying to fix them?
But then the white spots on the eyes and the redness make me think that it's
not just the water... I don't know.
E-mail #4, reply from vet, sent 10/16/12:
I think you have the right thought process as Gary acclimating to poor
living conditions / water quality. Over time they will adjust to elevated
NH3 / nitrite / nitrate levels if the develop slowly. Also over time the pH
of the water slowly acidify. But this causes stress on the body lowering the
immune system. With the change to your house and the addition of the new
fish Gary was most likely in a weakened state and any new bacteria or
parasites are able to take over.
So, I don’t think you caused this but Gary was set up.
Having any elevated ammonia and nitrite is a problem. As soon as you can
replace the carbon in the filter do so. Continue the 25% water changes every
other day and replace the salt . Make sure only to add enough salt for the
water you remove each time. Salt helps with reducing osmotic stress form
disease, parasites and reduces the toxicity of the ammonia. When you clean
the filter in the future don’t over clean it as this will remove ALL of the
good bacteria and can cause the ammonia spikes until the bacterial multiply
The red lesions on the sides and fins are an indication of sepsis.
Antibiotics may be needed but I don’t know if tetracycline is the right
drug. Also, using the antibiotics in the water can affect the filter
bacteria and therefore make controlling the water quality harder.
That is where I would start. Let me know how it goes and if you have any
Re: Very Sick Goldfish 10/16/12
Thank you so much for your quick reply and suggestions. I read the
article you sent and did some related searches. From what I gathered, it
seems like it might be best not to medicate and just to maintain good
water in the hopes that it will allow him to fight it off on his
own. And if it is a mycobacteriosis-type disease, there's not much that
can be done anyway. Is that accurate? Is that what you would do?
<If the fish seems to be recovering then keep doing what you have been
doing, but be ready to medicate if necessary.>
Some of Gary's redness seemed to diminish last night and this morning. I
do think it might be some sort of opportunistic bacterial infection, but
I'm not sure if it's sepsis/mycobacteriosis...if it was, would the
redness come and go, or would
it just stay red and get worse? Because some blotches have appeared and
disappeared during the time he's been sick.
<If the fish's immune system is fighting the infection off, then the red
spots will diminish, so this is a very good sign.>
At any rate, he actually did eat a little this morning--definitely not
with the same enthusiasm as when he was healthy, but I was still
impressed that he even showed the slightest interest.
Although when he ate, it seemed like it was pretty hard for him. He was
making very rapid mouth movements and trembling/spasming/jerking. He
also seemed like he wanted to get excited when he saw the food, but had
a really hard time getting off the bottom. I do think he's making
progress, or at least more than I've seen for the past nearly three
weeks. He holds his fin up for longer when he sees me, and he started
swimming a bit last night and a bit more this morning, but for the most
part he still sits on the bottom of the tank with his fin clamped.
<Takes time to recover.>
This morning when he was swimming, I saw him come up and gulp air twice.
I know this means he's feeling that he's not getting enough oxygen, so
I'm worried about that now as well. I was trying to see if anything was
stuck in his throat, but I couldn't tell.
<Do you have any air running in the tank? If not, recommended to
increase dissolved oxygen content.>
Do you think it's possible that maybe he swallowed a piece of gravel and
can't get it out? Would he be having all of these symptoms if that was
<I suppose it's possible but I don't think it would explain the gasping
at the surface.>
He hasn't been pooping, but I assumed that was because he wasn't eating.
When he first started feeling bad, he was still eating and pooping, so I
didn't think it was constipation or a blockage.
<Try feeding pea after removing the shell. It makes a good laxative.>
If he did swallow a piece of gravel, is there anything that can be done
about it if it can't be seen? And would he have lasted this long if that
was the case?
<Probably would need to knock the fish out with clove oil and use
In his weakened state, it might kill the fish. And, that's starting to
get very close to doing a veterinarian's job. Anyway, I think a piece of
gravel is unlikely from what you described.>
I did do a 25% water change with salt and added the carbon filter back
<If you think constipation is an issue, you might use Epsom salt instead
of sodium chloride. Keep the water clean, that's very important here.>
As I said, he does seem like he has made a little progress...I might
just be wanting that too bad, so I'll try not to get my hopes up and
will continue to monitor him and his water.
<As Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part.>
I really appreciate your assistance.
Re: Very Sick Goldfish 10/16/12 10/24/12
Just wanted to give you an update... after nearly three excruciating
weeks during which Gary seemed to be getting worse by
the day (hence my desperate e-mails to you toward the end), the little guy
made a miraculous recovery, practically overnight! He's like a whole new
fish! Redness is gone, fins are up, appetite is definitely back! I don't
really know exactly how or why it happened, but I'm so glad he pulled
<That is terrific news. Congratulations.>
I really appreciate your time, advice, and guidance in this matter...you
were very helpful.
<You are very welcome.>
Thanks again for everything!
Many Questions Following the Unexpected Death of One of My
First, I'd like to say your site has been a Godsend to me. I sincerely
doubt my fish would have lived this long had I not been fortunate enough
to stumble across this site while I was gathering information.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I've searched your site all day for some insight regarding my question
but so far I've found nothing. I'm writing to see if one of you good
people can help me figure out why my "baby," a 2 1/2 year old, 4.5"
common goldfish, suddenly died yesterday without warning. Here are the
basics: I inherited Jonah (the dearly departed and much beloved
goldfish) and her two tank mates from my sister and her kids a little
more than two years ago. Jonah shared a 40-gallon tank with two equally
beloved common goldfish of approximately the same age and size (about
4.75"-6"). I'm aware that the tank is a little small by some people's
standards but please keep in mind that it's much larger than the
original 2.5 gallon tank the idiot at a certain large chain pet store
convinced my sister would be "more than big enough" to contain the
original 4 goldfish said tank was supposed to house.
<Agreed. In any case, 40 gallons should be sufficient to keep up to four
Goldfish perfectly well. Admittedly, the "fancy" varieties don't get so
big and tend to do better in tanks than the "standard" sort (which
really should be considered as pond fish).>
Needless to say, the fourth fish died two weeks afterwards from what I
am now certain was ammonia poisoning (as nitrites and nitrates were both
zero at this time). It took the tank weeks to cycle, and even then I had
a devil of a time keeping it that way. I researched fish care for two
months before settling on the 40 gallon (not realizing until shortly
afterwards that the sites I'd visited were referring to tanks of this
size for "fancy" goldfish and not commons like mine) and haven't had
this problem since. As a matter of fact, the parameters of the water
immediately after removing Jonah's body from the tank were Ammonia: 0,
Nitrites: 0, Nitrates: 10 PPM (according to the API vial tests I took).
The temp in the tank was 78 degrees.
<A bit warm, to be honest. Room temperature works fine for these
naturally warm-temperate to subtropical fish.>
The tank has two hang on the back filters- an Emperor 400 for tanks up
to 90 gallons and a Penguin 200 Bio-Wheel for tanks up to 50 gallons. In
addition to this, it has two 18" bubble curtains running end to end
along the back wall. At 3:45 AM yesterday morning all my fish appeared
to be perfectly healthy (or so I thought). As of that time they could be
seen actively engaging in any one of their three favorite pastimes:
eating, foraging for food or sleeping. They also enjoyed long,
leisure swims through their bubble curtain. Their standard diet consists
of homemade gel food (their favorites include organic spinach, shrimp
and fresh garlic or peas and carrots- both of which are fortified with
liquid Vita-Chem vitamins) in addition to the occasional shelled sweet
peas, baked sweet potatoes, Nori seaweed sheets, orange slices, and
anything else they like to eat. I feed them once a day because they
snack on aquatic plants throughout the day (Elodea and Amazon Swords are
their favorites). I clean the tank once a week (or more if indicated
which is very rare, as the tank has been fully cycled for months), with
a deep vacuum of the gravel until the water in the vacuum tube is free
of anything but water and gravel. I rinse the filter cartridges in tank
water whenever they appear to be clogged. I refrain from bothering the
actual canisters unless they're clogged in order to preserve the
biological filter. I check the water parameters (ammonia, nitrites and
nitrates) once immediately before and again about two hours after
cleaning the tank each week. Every morning shortly after waking, I take
a peek in the tank to be sure nothing is amiss. After the cursory pulse
check I look for any obvious signs of parasites, infections or injuries.
I also check for any behavioral changes and clamped fins. The fish may
be a little "groggy" depending on how soon I check on them after the
lights pop on but no one thus far has ever showed any signs of lethargy.
Such was the case yesterday morning when I left my house for work.
<All sounds good so far.>
When I returned from work yesterday evening I immediately dropped a cube
of gel food into the tank (my normal routine). I knew something was
amiss when only two of my favorite piglets materialized. It was upon
searching for the missing fish that I came across Jonah's somewhat pale,
lifeless body which was trapped between a toy log she'd (at least I'm
assuming it was a "she") loved to play in and one of the filter intake
tubes in an unnaturally vertical position. I've no idea whether she was
trapped before or after her death, but when I moved the hollow log she
floated to the surface of the tank.
<Usually it's the filter sucks the dead (or at least moribund) body of
the fish, rather than the filter sucking up a healthy fish and causing
Upon removing her from the tank I immediately checked to see what may
have caused her demise. Aside from the fact that she was not moving and
was slightly bloated from the early stages of decomposition, absolutely
nothing appeared to be amiss. There were no obvious signs of injury or
illness (i.e. bleeding or blood streaks, fungus, parasites, ulcers,
etc.) I gave her a gentle squeeze to see if she may have inadvertently
swallowed gravel but I felt nothing unusual. As mentioned above, the
water parameters were also well within normal range so I don't think
she'd been dead too long.
Still, I buried her in my backyard and performed a partial water change
just in case.
In addition to being devastated by the sudden loss I'm also really
concerned because I don't know if it's safe to leave her tank mates in
<Do suspect this is "one of those things". But review the other causes
of sudden death. Is the heater working properly (i.e., fish weren't
Have any chemicals been used in the house that might have gotten into
the water via circulation or air bubbles (e.g., paint fumes, bug
sprays)? Is the food being used fresh and/or within its use-by date?
Have any children visited recently who might have dropped something
potentially toxic into the tank?>
So far I've been watching them like a hawk and they're behaving normally
but maybe I should add an antibiotic just in case (if you think that's
appropriate.) I've spoiled these fish from Day 1 and love them beyond
reason (if that's at all possible). I'd really like to understand where
I went wrong so I can prevent it from happening again. Any feedback will
be greatly appreciated.
<Doing a series of water changes is a good idea to flush out any
possible toxins; e.g., 50% now, 50% a few hours later, and another 50%
Look at the filter and check it's working properly and rinse off any
Throw out any carbon (if used) because carbon adsorbs toxins and it's
theoretically possible it could release them again under certain
conditions. If you can, install some fresh carbon or better still a
high-end chemical medium (such as Polyfilter) that removes a wider range
of toxins than carbon. Again, dispose of this after it's useful life,
which, like carbon, is around a couple of weeks, certainly less than a
Don't feed the fish at all for a day or two, at least until you're sure
things are normal in the tank. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Many Questions Following the Unexpected Death of One of My Goldfish
Thanks for the speedy reply.
Here are my responses to the points you mentioned:
There is no heater in the tank. The water was a little warm
because I live in the high desert. We've been experiencing
triple digits recently so I figured a "cool" 78 degrees, while on the
high end for coldwater fish, was an acceptable alternative for
what the rest of us were experiencing. I have central heating and
air but I try to keep the temperature set so that it won't cause
huge fluctuations that could stress the fish. Just in case you're
wondering, the tank is not in the direct pathway of any drafts. As for
toxins that may have gotten into the water, I'm the only person
who handles the tank and I'm very careful with what I do around the
tank. Visitors know how protective I am of my pets so they know to watch
them from a distance. I even watch what I cook for fear that any smoke
or steam may bind to the oxygen in their tank and make it difficult for
them to breathe. Their tank isn't in the kitchen but I do have to
be mindful of this since my house is rather small. Since all the
food I give them is freshly made by me I check it very closely
before dropping it in the tank. If it looks or smells even
slightly off it is never introduced to the tank.
<All sounds very careful and conscientious.>
I've cleaned the tank twice since the initial cleaning just in
case toxins were lurking in the water. I forgot to mention in my
previous email that I changed the filter cartridges the night the fish
died. I'll definitely purchase the Polyfilter though (thanks for
the tip). I've also been keeping an eye on the water
parameters and they're still well within normal range (Ammonia: 0,
Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: 10). Thankfully, the remaining fish are still
showing no signs of illness. I'm crossing my fingers that
remains to be the case.
<Let's hope the fish gods are feeling benevolent!>
Thanks again for all your help. You guys are the BEST fish site on the
<And thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Swollen Nostril on Goldfish 7/20/12
I have searched the web, including WWM, and have not found anything
quite pertinent to my goldfish's malady. The fish's name is Wanda
and she is a common type won by my daughter at a fair four years ago.
<A comet... gets quite large; can live a couple decades w/ good care>
She is about six inches long and until three days ago seemingly quite
healthy. She shares a 75 gallon tank with one other goldfish, a
rhino Pleco and few smaller fish. I have a 400 GPH HOT filter with
dual BioWheels plus two 350 GPH canister filters running all the time,
one with a micron filter, the other carbon. I do a one-third water
change every week or two.
<I'd do regularly every week... In fact, this IS what I do>
The tank is partially planted, consuming nitrates, and some Nerite snails
and freshwater clams keep the gravel pretty clean. I use water
from the softener at pH 8.3, KH 8+ and GH, of course, zero due to the
Water temp 78 F.
So back to Wanda ... three days ago I noticed that one of her (I
actually do not know her gender, but my kids gave her a girl's name, so
we refer to her as if she were a her) nostrils was slightly swollen with
some black discoloration inside. Within a day this condition
worsened so that it is now quite a pronounced swelling. The
nostril is gaping on both sides of what appears to be a septum.
She also has a scale or two loose on one side, uncertain of the
<Mmm, do you suspect the Rhino Plec may be riding Wanda? I'd keep my
eyes open (esp. at night) for such abuse>
Last night I carefully applied Mecuriclear to the nostril as a
prophylaxis for secondary bacterial infection. No way to tell if
that did any good.
<Yes; not likely "catching" here in cause>
This afternoon I moved her into a ten gallon quarantine tank with 5 tsp
aquarium salt and one dose each of Fungus Guard and General Cure, hoping
to wipe out any bacterial, fungal or parasitic pathogens. She was
acting fine, swimming and eating normally ... at least until I
incarcerated her in that little 10 gallon tank ... she is not happy now!
Bouncing off the walls.
<I'd replace, return this fish to the 75... needs the space; diluted
wastes that only more volume can provide>
Any ideas? Suggestions? Wanna see a photo?
<T'were it me, mine, I'd keep all in the 75, increase water changes,
assure nitrates are being kept under 20 ppm as a measure... and be
patient. Bob Fenner>
Re: Swollen Nostril on Goldfish 7/21/12
Thanks, David, for the response!
<Still Bob here>
Attached are photos of the inflamed nostril taken Friday afternoon, 24
hours into quarantine. The swelling seems reduced about 25% and
the redness also.
<These excellent photos show this to be highly likely a physical
trauma... an injury>
Yesterday I moved into a 40 gallon breeder similarly medicated.
She immediately calmed down and is swimming like a goldfish again.
With a 40g to herself, I figure she's got a bigger share of litter in
her box than in the 75g with two other big fish.
I just measured nitrates in the 75g, with no water changes since moving
her out, at 40 ppm. Ammonia and nitrites both zero.
<The NO3 needs to be kept under 20 ppm... Please read here re:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
HELP, Comet GF... beh.
I have been in contact with you folks for two years about a comet
goldfish I have with large white bulging eye, this fish has never acted
like this and is sitting on bottom of tank, is it constipation??
<... can't tell>
It is scaring me a lot! It is usually my fistiest <?> fish, has never
done this, I checked water, changed a bit for now and added Epsom salt,
should I add aquarium salt too? What do I do, I just fed it a cooked
<Don't panic... just regular care; time going by. B>
Re: HELP 7/5/12
It seems a bit better , I fed the peas and water change and Epsom salt,
How long can the salt be left in the tank?
Can I keep feeding it peas everyday??
Re: HELP 7/5/12
Thanks again , I did want to ask another question, about 3 months ago I
was giving them antibiotic food called Medigold, (I think) Then was told
to try Jump start when they finished the meds, It has probiotics in it??
<... search w/ this string: Medigold fish food ingredients>
I have had the bag for 3 months and used it once, it made them poo a lot
so I stopped, Should I use this and would it still be good(not
spoiled)?? They have this very thin stringy poop, what could that be
<See WWM re. B>
I wont bother again today!! Hope you have a good evening,
Re: HELP 7/5/12
HI again, I am worried about this fish, can you tell me a bit more on
what you may think could be wrong?? Am I doing everything I should??
<What? Read here:
Yesterday I was asking about a comet goldfish I have with bulging eye, I
have emailed you a lot about him and other things, I try to go to
another site to ask and they are so very mean!! They think I am a
chemist!! I have been feeding this one I mentioned yesterday peas for
two days , it seems to be somewhat better, I changed water, added stress
coat and they
told me to add salt, I have told everyone I use a water softener and
have for 12 yrs on these fish, I don't have another source,
<The outside spigots are surely not softened>
they have lived in this for all this time and do fine, However last
night this man told me to add salt, I asked a simple question, would my
using a softener tank for my water and THEN add aquarium salt, will it
make my water more soft, You don't even want to know how rude he was and
never answered my question. He don't even know if peas are good for
talks about RedOx??? And other things when all I want is basic answers,
to help my fish to the best of MY ability.
Yesterday I added the Epsom salt and fed peas, seemed to help, then I
changed out some more water and added stress coat, but didn't add the
salt he told me to.
He said fish act like this , it is common, I DON'T think it is common
for a fish to sit on bottom of tank. He is swimming now, What are your
thoughts on this, the water chemistry is good, except it does always
read GH at 0
<Not good... Please read:
comet goldfish 7/8/12
I have noticed something on this goldfish I keep asking you about why it
might be laying on gravel, it has a bit of a swelling near the anal
area, what does this mean, the others have a nice shape going after the
fin right before anal area, but this one has a swelling that starts
about there and goes to end of tail??
I fed peas and Epsom salt in tank, I noticed that is has a very slight
swelling in where I would think it is its stomach down to tail on its
left side? What part of the fish is this, is it the stomach ? It looks
like a very slight swelling along about its middle to tail on one side?
It is not like a lump. Any ideas? If a fish swallows a stone , do they
die , just asking , I don't know if that is what happened but wondering
about this area of swelling?? It is hungry now, going to feed today.
Moves about more through the day then at night, I feed in the morning
then at night it lays at bottom of tank.
Upon a closer look yet I found that in the fish I described in last
message and several others, that this swelling, Not a lump, is on the
area of the fin near anal area?? on his right side, not on both
sides, swimming around today and ate some Spirulina flakes. still looks
like he will soon lay in corner later!
<Hello Cathy. If the fish swims normally when feeding but rests on the
bottom when it isn't swimming, then the problem may not be too serious,
so I'd just observe. Fancy Goldfish are inbred and their swim bladder
and spines severely deformed; benign tumours are also not uncommon among
Fancy Goldfish. Often they find it difficult to swim if even slightly
constipated and constipation can cause solid lumps to be apparent in the
abdomen. If the fish does spend too much time sat on the bottom it can
abrade their skin and scales, and that in turn promotes Finrot and
fungus. Using smooth gravel or smooth silica sand (= pool filter sand)
should avoid this problem. But for now, review the environment, review
their diet, and act accordingly. Keep up with the peas and the Epsom
salt. Swallowing gravel/sand is not normally a problem.
As Bob would say, "read, don't write". What you're describing is not
uncommon, and with a little effort, you should be able to find plenty of
extra information by following the links on the articles mentioned
Do also read Bob's piece on fish health; it's relevant. Most fish health
issues are made, not a result of bad luck, and if you can understand
that and work around it, you're all set.
Re: comet goldfish 7/8/12
I knew from the beginning when reading this it was Neale, your so kind,
One thing though with all this info is your reply still the same
if this is NOT a fancy goldfish, it is a Comet goldfish??
Thanks so much
<Less common for standard Goldfish, but everything stated still holds
So for now, observe, read, provide optimal conditions, and maintain the
right diet and Epsom salt addition. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: comet goldfish 7/9/12
Hi Neale, My goldfish with the big eye and slight swelling had to be put
down today, I got up this morning and it was swimming in spirals, I put
it in a few drops of clove oil, I would have tried more for it if it
wasn't blind, I would have kept trying with the peas and Epsom salt but
it had a hard enough time when he wasn't whirling, I noticed his tail
might have looked bent because he was trying to stay upright, I hated
this so much, I thank you for all your help!
<Welcome. But doesn't sound like I did much to help!>
Now if I can keep the ones I have left healthy enough! Thank you again
<Hmm… do read about their needs and ensure good environmental
<<Comets can NOT live long or well at large size in aquariums of less
than hundreds of gallons... and NOT in water of 0 GH. This has been gone
over and over. B>>
Oh I wanted to ask, do you think this fish with having this eye problem
for 3 yrs would have had anything other then constipation that might be
contagious to the other two in tank??
<Unlikely. Swollen/Pop Eyes tend to be opportunistic infections; in
other words, the fish is harmed or damaged somehow around the eye, and
bacteria get into the eye and multiply, and as they multiply and body
fluids build up, the eye pops up. If the damage is slight and the fish
is in otherwise good health, the swelling can go down. Antibiotics,
Epsom salt, and good water quality all help. But really, the way to look
at Pop Eye is that it's a symptom that can be prevented by ensuring [a]
good water quality and [b] the eye isn't damaged.>
They are fine but just want to be sure. This fish that died only had the
symptoms of bladder problem or constipation, can worms be a problem if
they have never had any live food or any ornaments introduced in tank
for 12 yrs?? Nothing but the water and food
<Look over the size of the tank, filtration, water quality/chemistry,
temperature, diet. Poisoning can happen, so do think about paint fumes,
insecticides, etc., and though these tend to be immediate killers if
present, I suppose long-term very low levels might be stress factors.
Goldfish can, do live 20+ years under good conditions. Cheers, Neale.>
New Print and
eBook on Amazon
What it takes to keep goldfish healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner