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FAQs on Goldfish Environmental Disease 9
(ex: issues of poor water quality, overcrowding, unfavorable tank/water conditions, temperature, etc.)

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

Related Goldfish Disease FAQs: Environmental 1, Environmental 2, Environmental 3, Environmental 4, Environmental 5Environmental 6Environmental 7Environmental 8Environmental 10Environmental 11Environmental 12& Goldfish Disease 2, Goldfish Disease 3, Goldfish Disease 4, Goldfish Disease 6, Goldfish Disease 7, Goldfish Disease 8, Goldfish Disease 9, Goldfish Disease 10, Goldfish Disease 11, Goldfish Disease 12, Goldfish Disease 13, Goldfish Disease 14, Goldfish Disease 15, Goldfish Disease 16, Goldfish Disease 17, Goldfish Disease 18, Goldfish Disease 19, Goldfish Disease 20, Goldfish Disease 21, Goldfish Disease 22, Goldfish Health 23, Goldfish Disease 24, Goldfish Health 25, Goldfish Disease 26, Goldfish Disease 27, Goldfish Disease 28, Goldfish Disease 29, Goldfish Disease 30, Goldfish Disease 31, Goldfish Disease 33, Goldfish Disease 34, Goldfish Disease 35, Goldfish Health 36, Goldfish Health 37, Goldfish Health 38, Goldfish Disease 39 & Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Nitrogen Cycling, Koi/Pondfish Disease, Goldfish in General, Goldfish Behavior, Goldfish Compatibility, Goldfish Systems, Goldfish Feeding, Bloaty, Floaty Goldfish, Goldfish Breeding/Reproduction,


New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

My goldfish is acting strange; no rdg.     8/12/14
I realize you must get a ton of e-mails with this header, but I've gone through every forum and cant find what is wrong with my fish.
<Have you searched WWM re?>
I have her in a 20lt tank,
<Five gallons? Too small... environmental...

recently made some water changes and the problems got worse. I use tetra AquaSafe for goldfish for the first time and since then my fish has been acting strange banging its head against the glass, going crazy for a little while, then she seems to calm down. (call her a she because she lays frequent eggs in winter even if she is alone, for some odd reason)
<Likely just ammonia poisoning
She has no white spots, no red things on the fins, I read the water levels and its all perfectly normal, nitrates and nitrites are non existent. In theory the water could not be better. I have two filters a normal one running with charcoal type filter pads and a uv/filter occasionally if the water gets cloudy, I never leave it for more than 4 days since I know good bacteria dies as well. usually the water remains perfect about 1 month or so. My fish has had this problem before from time to time but never as violent as now, and she just turned one year old.
I have been told she might have gotten parasites when I changed the water, and I did add another very tiny goldfish with her recently. I am a little skittish against adding aquarium salt and not sure if that alone will help with the possible parasites or make the problem worse.
I decided to record her for a bit but could not catch her acting weird.
Any advice you can give me is more than welcomed.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind1.htm
scroll down to the goldfish tray... READ re systems, environmental disease.
Bob Fenner>
Thank you so much for your time,
best regards
Re: My goldfish is acting strange     8/13/14

Hello, sorry again for the trouble, Made a small mistake in my last post its not 20lt tank its 20 gallon tank.
<Ahh, better>
I'd never have her in anything so small. And yes I looked through your website but did not find anything that matches. Everything points to ammonia poisoning but levels keep showing me zero, even got a new kit and retested. Again thank you for your time.
<Mmm; please send along a well-resolved image; and do keep reading! BobF>

Why do my goldfish keep dying? Env.; sys.; rdg.     6/14/14
I have a 10l tank
<Ahh... much too small for goldfish... less than a bucket really as Neale might well state... Too hard to keep stable, dilute wastes...>

which held two fantail goldfish. I have a filter, live plant, and feed twice a day with special food for fancy goldfish. My smaller fantail died after about three weeks. No idea why she seemed healthy no signs of
disease. And my other fantail died today, after about a month and one week again no sign of disease. The only change to my tank was the recent edition of a new tank decoration and a new fish to keep my fantail company.
Why won't my fish survive for longer than five weeks? It's a bit of a pain when I spent so much money on a tank and filter etc
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/goldfish101art.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm
Bob Fenner>
Re: Why do my goldfish keep dying?      6/15/14

<<As Bob says, environment is likely the main source of your problems. Your tank is less than one-tenth the capacity recommended for Goldfish. Indeed, there are no fish I'd recommend for keeping in 10 litres of water. Paraphrasing someone on a fish forum I used to visit a lot, "that isn't an aquarium, it's a vase -- stick some flowers in it". Some expert fishkeepers get mileage out of these nano tanks stocking them with plants and shrimps, but casual aquarists will find them useless, a waste of money. Honestly, there's NOTHING you can do to magically make a 10-litre tank a viable aquarium for a Goldfish. Nothing at all. Since your fish are all dead now, accept that as Nature's way of teaching you a hard lesson about ecology and balance. Move on. Save up for a (much) bigger aquarium, maybe opting for tropical species instead of coldwater, some of which can be kept in tanks from 40-50 litres upwards. If you must spend some money, spend it on an aquarium book or magazine. Do you have a Kindle? For as little as £3 you can pick up a copy of Bob's beginners book of Goldfish, here:
Surely money well spent! Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: Why do my goldfish keep dying?      6/15/14

Sorry I just re-read my message. I meant to say 10 gallon tank. Not 10 litres
<I see. Well, a 10 gallon tank is still 3 times too small for Goldfish. Do read here for stocking 10 gallon tanks: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm
So, double check the size of your tank, and if it is 10 gallons not litres, you have a range of small tropical fish that could do well. Cheers, Neale.>

Very Sick goldfish     6/13/14
Hello my goldfish splash is 14 year old, just a common goldfish though he has mainly all turned white now, he lives in a small tank maybe 20-30litres by himself. He is really Ill at the moment, his belly is swollen and he was lying on the bottom he was upright but now he is on his side, he isn't moving much but keeps moving everyone and then, he is more on his side when he swims though and then falls back down to the stones, also one of his eyes is like red I think he cut it so I don't know if he should have stones in any more? We don't have plants in with him either, also we got the water tested at a pet store and it was all okay- just a small amount of ammonia they said. We have used Epsom salts, stress zyme plus and just recently tried Toxivec incase of chlorine, we have also tried hoovering the bottom and making bubbles for oxygen. The pet shop also suggested it could be Endoparasite which is causing his fat belly, We are going to not feed him for 2-3 days incase he is constipated as he isn't eating his food anyway
Please is there anything else we can try to get him up and moving and rid of his swelling, also anything we can do to treat his eye or prevent it worsening?
Thank you in advance
<Greetings Lorna. Thanks for writing, and it sounds like you really care about this "common" Goldfish of yours -- but no such beast, I think; even the commonest Goldfish can make a splendid pet! Anyway, do start reading here:
Inevitably, we're going to tell you the tank's too small and likely the food's all wrong. There's no such thing as harmless ammonia; even a little can cause harm, especially if we're talking days, months and years of
exposure. Reading those articles should highlight some possible problems.
Goldfish can, do live 20-25 years in ponds given the right conditions, and around 20 years in a spacious aquarium, so whole 14 years isn't bad, it isn't a sign you've been doing everything right up till now either. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Very Sick goldfish     6/14/14

Thank you for your quick reply,
We were afraid that if we got a bigger tank it would be too much stress for splash to handle as he is getting old, do you think it would be okay then?
<It would be an improvement. Goldfish, indeed all fish, benefit from bigger tanks with more water -- no matter what they've experienced before. Of course you can't expose them to dramatic changes in water chemistry or temperature. That would be harsh. So if you do set up a bigger aquarium, fill it with water as close as possible to the water chemistry you have in the smaller tank (usually easy if you use tap water) and let it warm up to room temperature before adding your Goldfish (likely freshly drawn tap water will be colder than room temperature).>
And also from reading it would have to be 120-140litres?
<Ideal size for a singleton Goldfish or possibly two.>
Also how can we get rid of the ammonia? Will it just be something off the shelf like tap safe
<No. Tap Safe is for neutralising (doesn't really remove) ammonia in tap water -- as its name suggests! But it doesn't do anything for the ammonia your fish excretes as waste. That's the job of the aquarium filter, usually a biological filter of some sort. Cheers, Neale.>

Lionhead has 2 small black spots on head.    6/1/14
Hello. I got my lionhead a few days ago. I have a 10 gallon tank but he's only about 1 and a half inch long. I'm planning on upgrading to a 55 or bigger gallon tank as soon as I gather enough funds.
<Wise, and the 55 gal. tank is ideal; space enough for 3-4 adult fancy Goldfish.>
I test the water every other day and the ammonia levels have been at 0ppm but today when I got home from work he was swimming around lethargically and had trouble getting his food. Which normally he sucks it all up. I've been feeding him peas. 2 a day once in the morning once at night. And frozen baby brime shrimp. He is bloated and swims a bit funny. Well when I got home today I noticed he had 2 black spots on his head so I immediately checked the water. The ammonia was at 1 ppm!!!
<Ah yes, a common problem.>
So I did an 80 % water change and tested it again. It was at. 0.25 ppm.
<Dilute the ammonia, so you get a much lower value. The fish will still be cranking out ammonia though, and presumably the filter is still a couple weeks away from being even halfway mature enough to use up the ammonia (and nitrite). So for the meantime, feed hardly at all, maybe just a clump of pond weed, and certainly not at all if ammonia is above 0.25 mg/l. Do water changes regularly, ideally daily, 10-25% as is practical. Check your water every 2-3 days, or whenever the fish looks stressed.>
He was doing much better at this point, only dazing out once in awhile. I don't normally wanna put chemicals in my tank but I threw in a jungle ammonia clear fizz tab and the levels are back at 0ppm.
<Pretty much anything you add to the water will be worthless (except to the retailer). Filtration is what you need, and it'll take time to come online.
By reducing the food input, and by diluting through water changes, you will protect your fish from non-zero ammonia levels. After about a month from setting up the tank, it should be working fine, and life will be much easier.>
What could these black spots be from? Is it ammonia burn or a disease?
<Likely the former.>
And also what does it mean when one side is more bloated then the other and his tail has a permanent kink to the side.
<Without seeing a picture hard to say. But constipation is a common problem, as are skeletal deformities.>
Also he seems to float upwards when he's not swimming?
<Do read:
A common problem, easily prevented.>
I hope my little lion man gets better! I love him so much.
<Glad to hear it! Some tips and ideas:
If you've got a Kindle, Bob F's recently published an inexpensive (6 dollars!) book filled with useful information to help you keep your fish healthy, and trust me, keeping your Goldfish healthy will save you much money in the long run. Likely even the cheapest meds and water additives cost more than $6.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Lionhead has 2 small black spots on head.    6/1/14
Thank you so much!
<Most welcome, Neale.>
re: Lionhead has 2 small black spots on head.
Sorry to bother you again. I have some pictures of his black spots he's gotten. It's on the side of his head by his gills. It has gotten a tiny bigger on onside since yesterday. Please let me know if these are a fungus
or a parasite. And also a picture of how he sits on the bottom allot of the time. Seems like he sits in places that will hold him down and keep him from floating upwards. All my water levels are perfect now. And I'm not going to feed him for 24 hours and then after that duration only a bit of vegetable the size of his eye once a day.
<May be ammonia-related; may be simply a genetic abnormality, far from rare in mass produced Goldfish. Focus on the ammonia levels for the time being;
the fish will respond/react to good water quality as you'd expect. Cheers, Neale.>

My lionhead is not getting better. Please help.     6/9/14
Hello, last time I emailed you guys my lionhead was getting black spots and swimming nose down floating to the top. We determined that it was ammonia poisoning but since then I've been testing the water everyday and doing a 50 % water change every night.
<... this is too much percentage... I'd keep to no more than 25-30%...
Something else is amiss... lack of biological filtration likely>

I then noticed he was getting more black spots on his head and large black patches all over his body and fins.

He also got a large white patch on his tail which looks like calico markings. He's only a few months old I think.
-His ph is at 6.8
<A bit low>

-KH(Alkalinity) at 40 (low)
-GH(Hardness) at 25 (very soft)
-Nitrates at 0
-Nitrite at 0
-Ammonia goes to 0.20

<Again. READ here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/NH3TrbFixF.htm

and the linked files above>
when I get home and I change immediately 50 % water.
He's going almost completely black. His tail fin looks like it's frayed I'm pretty sure it wasn't like that before. I have been treating him with salt treatment for 5 days because I noticed 2 white spots on his tail fin which I was sure was Ich. The spots fell off and a day later only one came back.
Now no white spots but he now looks like he has a velvet like appearance over his body. I am not sure if he now has velvet or his slime coat is over producing because of the salt.
<... see Neale's piece re salt use on WWM>
His tail fin looks like it might have fin rot. He's laying in his cave all day now and having real trouble swimming around. Clamped fins and his breathing looks strained. Why would he be turning fully black if I've been doing half water changes everyday and only feeding him a pin size amount of pea once a day. Please help me save my little guy. I can't bear to lose him he's my first goldfish. He's so innocent I feel responsible.
<... again; the issue here is the environment... FIX it and your fish will be fine. Bob Fenner>

re: My lionhead is not getting better. Please help.
What should I do to fix the environment
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind1.htm

Scroll down to Goldfish: Systems. B>
I'm using drinking water from Canadian tire not tap water cause our tap water has sulphur. I've been using the pure water but there's a type with minerals added to the water. I think it would be more alkaline. How do I change his ph without worsening his condition.? Thanks :)

Goldfish and Maracyn-2... Env./cycling      5/29/14
First off- wonderful site! A perfect resource for someone newer to the game like me.
I have a 30-gallon tank with one Ryukin under a year old that I purchased three weeks ago ("Sockeye") and one Oranda approximately seven years old ("Taj Mahal") that I have had for six years. I have an Aquaclear-50 filter. I treat with StressCoat (I think) to remove chlorine and chloramines, and use aquarium salt at 2 tbsp. per ten gallons.
I couldn't have done more wrong over the past few years to my poor Taj Mahal- it was ignorance and lack of education. I kept him alone in a ten gallon tank with infrequent water changes, an unestablished biofilter, inadequate mechanical filtration, and overfed him.
<Yikes.... "classical" errors as you now know>

I didn't know to test my water conditions. I was just AWFUL to this poor little guy, yet he persevered. I feel so ridiculous and ignorant, and trust me, I'm beating myself up plenty over it. I'm doing my best to
educate myself now.
I moved into this tank about a month ago, and again, despite my good intentions, I screwed up by not allowing it to cycle fully before adding Taj and getting Sockeye. I learned that little gem of wisdom just a hair too late to go back, so we're riding it out. Won't happen again- I promise!
However, Taj understandably got stressed by the move to a new tank, and also, a move to a new city with a new water supply. The water conditions right now are those of a cycling tank... the pH is 7.5, the ammonia is lowering- currently at 0.25, the nitrites are very high (5), and the
nitrates are around 20.
<DON'T feed at all...!!! LOOK into and procure a useful bacteria product (Dr. Tim's a fave), and USE it>
Taj became dropsical about six days ago. He's got a bit of redness under his scales and his eyes are protruding, along with the pinecone appearance.
I can't believe this didn't happen years ago! It still looks relatively minor compared to some of the other pictures I've seen online, and he's still aggressively feeding and very alert, so I elected to treat for
whatever might be wrong for the whole tank. Sockeye was also tilting a little in the water, which was a new development, but neither was clamped or lethargic. Four days ago, I performed a roughly forty percent water change and began a cycle of Maracyn-2 based on the suspicion of a bacterial infection.
<... Mmm, at best "secondary"... the trouble here is environmental...
too-large water changes, and even use of Erythromycin (of no use), will likely only set back the establishment of nitrification. In other words: STOP treating>
Under the advice of the local petshop- a local shop that has been in business for a while and seems to have very educated professionals hired- I removed the carbon from my filtration system. I am now on day four of a five day treatment and the nitrites are still high.
<Yes.... look up the term "anti biotic">
My basic question is this: I'm in the middle of an antibiotic treatment and don't want to lower the levels out of therapeutic range by performing water changes or adding carbon; however, the nitrites are very high and I feel as though keeping my fish in a "septic tank" might be doing more harm than the treatment is doing good! Should I stay the course for the next two days and then begin carbon and changes again afterward, or should I change water while treating?
<I'd change 20-25% of water DAILY until NO2 is gone... no more, no less...
WITH pre-treated and STORED new water>

Should I stop treatment altogether?
<See above; yes>
They appear to actually be benefitting from the treatment- Taj is no longer as red under his scales and the pineconing is diminishing gradually, along with his eyes not quite as bulgy, and Sockeye seems to be swimming upright again. They're both still aggressive and alert and feeding voraciously.
Something must be going right!
<Conditioning ala B.F. Skinner>
I just want to pull through this last big mistake with my tank. I'm reading all I can now, believe me, and struggling to catch up my knowledge base. Taj has put up with so much over the last seven years- I want to do well by all of my fish now, and if I can just get over this last hurdle, I think I can improve greatly.
What do you think I should do?
<... above>
I hope the response you send, should you decide to send one, will be private, but if you find you'd like to post it for others to learn from, I'll understand.
Thank you so much for your time!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
RE: Goldfish and Maracyn-2     5/29/14
How long shall I pause feeding?
<Re-read the prev. corr>
I am also unfamiliar with the term "stored water" as it applies here- is this simply water that has had been stored in a separate container for a period of time?
<Yes; search WWM re water changes>
And a bacterial product- is this just bottled bacteria?
<And this too>
I will do my best to locate Dr. Tim's post haste.
<Avail. online if not at a LFS near you>
Also, when I do begin feeding again, what do you recommend in this particular case?
Thank you for your prompt reply, sir-
<Welcome. BobF>

Questionable Water Supply?     4/24/14
Greetings WetWebMedia Crew, I have a peculiar incident to report. I did a water change three days ago, ended being about 60%, which is larger than I normally change. This tank is my Shubunkin goldfish tank and holds 65g and
filtered by wet/dry filter(this tank has always been bullet proof for me).

I hold these goldfish in here to establish breeding pairs or trios then relocate to outer pond.
<Good practice>
There are 4 fish and are about 4 inches in length, I've had for 5 months.
Tank has been running for two years ammonia>0, nitrite>0,nitrate >10 before water change. These were fish healthy with a diet high in vegetables and algae. Now two days after change I noticed, my fish had what looked like fin rot completely covering edge of fins. Two fish dead, two very weak. I performed a immediate water change of 50%, without testing water
parameters. The following day the remaining fish died. The fish actually looked as if they lost weight in the 48hours as well.
Not quite sure what to make of this. Only thing I can think of, is my county water line was being worked on that day, a block or two away and my water supply was interrupted briefly that day. I did attempt to flush my line(by running water for 5mins or so) and water looked and smelt OK. Do you think a water additive being run thru the line killed these fish?
<Could be... I'd contact the water district; ask re; and see if they'll test a bit of your extant mixed water. In future, I'd do what I advise re new water treatment, changes... Store it for a week ahead of time; make only 20-30% changes if poss. Bob Fenner>
Thanks for the great site. Aloha Brandon
<A hu'i hou!> 

Re Bulging Gills on Goldfish   Now/Neale      3/19/14
Obvious to me obviously.
Looking at attached picture (which may I add is not that great), any idea what this could be? Parasite?
It almost looks like a tumor.

Thanks CS
PS: Oh, you can go further.
<Indeed? Anyway, looks a lot like a common reaction to dissolved ammonia in the water or not enough oxygen. Sometimes referred to as "gill curl". Often seen on large fish (such as Red-tail Catfish and Arowanas) kept in too-small quarters, but Goldfish are large fish too, and may react in the same way. There's a (fairly rare) infection called Gill Rot or Branchiomycosis caused by a fungal infection. Again, while medicated as per Fungus, it's likely latent in most tanks but triggered by poor environmental conditions. So, in short, review the aquarium. Check size, filtration, stocking density and water chemistry in particular. Goldfish need space (20 gallons at least for the first one, and another 10 at minimum for each additional Goldfish). They need robust filtration (use a filter rated for a 50-100% larger aquarium than the one you own, so for a 30 gallon tank, choose a filter rated for 50 gallons or so -- this is because manufacturers estimate aquarium size on the basis of keeping small things like Guppies, not big messy Goldfish). Stocking density should be proportionate to filtration and aquarium size as described above, and the result should be zero ammonia and nitrite levels, and nitrate levels as low as practical, certainly below 40-50 mg/l, with water changes every week or two. Robust filtration helps with oxygenation too. So far as water chemistry go, Goldfish prefer hard, alkaline conditions similar to Guppies and Mollies, and the use of "livebearer salts" or "Rift Valley cichlid salt mix" can be useful if you have soft, acidic water. You're aiming for 10-25 degrees dH, pH 7-8. Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>
RE: Bulging Gills on Goldfish     3/19/14

Excellent. Thanks very much! CS
<Welcome, NM!>

Goldfish... not using WWM     3/18/14
Good evening. Thanks for the opportunity to ask a question. .My goldfish has a Red Bulge coming out of its gills and its bright red and it looks little white too. It almost looks like a tumor growing out of it gills.
Any idea what could be?. I can send a picture if that will help diagnose.....thanks....Charles
<Why have you sent the same msg. eight times. Just search the site. B>
RE: Goldfish    3/19/14

Obviously, my phone did that for some reason. I apologize.
<... why would this be obvious?>
Rude response by the way. You should work on your interpersonal skills.
It will help you go further in life.
<Can't go much further. B>

Bulging Gills on Goldfish    Back to RMF      3/19/14
Obvious to me obviously.
Looking at attached picture (which may I add is not that great), any idea what this could be? Parasite?
<Don't think so...>
It almost looks like a tumor.
<I do concur.
Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/GFGrowthF6.htm
and as much of the linked files above in the series as you deem prudent>
Thanks CS
PS: Oh, you can go further.
<Heeee! Charles; I hope you're right. BobF>

Fish Swallowed Gravel   2/1/14
My goldfish ate a pice of gravle! The gravle was smooth, it was 1/8 of an inch wide and 1/4 of an inch long. Not too much larger than large sized goldfish food, very thin and flat. My goldfish is a larger fish, about 3 inches long. Will my goldfish pass the stone, or will she pass on? Is there anything I can do for my fish? Thank you.
<Time will tell on this one, I'm afraid. It's a good idea to keep Goldfish in tanks with either with gravel too big for them to swallow, or failing that, a substrate that's so fine it won't choke them, such as silica sand. 
Swallowing gravel is rare but it does happen. There's nothing much you can do once the incident happens, short of a trip to the vet, because physical removal of the gravel (often caught in the pharyngeal jaws) is delicate work and can easily damage the jaws and fish if done by a non-expert.
Cheers, Neale.>
re: Fish Swallowed Gravle

Thank you Neal.
<Welcome. Neale.>

Please answer my Goldfish question! Hlth., env.        1/24/14
Hello, I have searched all over your site and I can not seem to find anyone who has the same symptoms that my goldfish does.
<Let's see...>
I believe that it is a comet and it is alone in a 10 gallon tank
<... needs more room than this>

with a filter. I have had this goldfish for nearly 10 years and it has been in this tank for probably about 6. I change the water but that is all that I have changed.
    Today I was feeding my fish and as he was swimming around I noticed that his butt was open. It looked white inside, not red as many people are saying. While searching the internet I found that this happens when they are constipated. But everywhere I looked said that the fish would be swimming sideways, which mine is not. I looked for bloating, changes in scales, or anything unnatural; but I did not find anything else. Should I use the pea treatment anyways or could that hurt it?
<Will help>
Could something else be wrong?
<Highly likely simply a matter of age/wear and the ill effects of being in too small, polluted water all these years.
Let's have you read the first few postings posting here:
and the linked files on WWM where you encounter them. Bob Fenner>

Twisted, sinking, spiraling goldfish... The usual      1/22/14
Hi, I was hoping to get some help with my sick goldfish. He's (no idea if it's really a 'he', but anyway) a standard goldfish shape,
<Yes, a "comet" variety>
although is a brownish silver colour rather than gold. The only one like that in the pet shop, so I bought him! I tend to think he is some kind of throwback or hybrid, having this drab colour. He's been in very good health for three years.
<Though greatly stunted: "Bonsaied" from being kept in a small volume, waste product accumulation limiting its/their growth>

There are three more standard goldfish in the tank (of 65litres), two around ten years old and going strong. The other is about three years old with no problems. The fish are all three inches and under.
65 litres is about 17 gallons, which I now gather is rather small for four fish.
<Ah yes; esp. this "variety"/sport>
 I change about half of the water fairly regularly and have a decent filter (Fluval 2 plus). I'm afraid I don't routinely test the water chemicals.
<Am sure Nitrates are "through the roof">

I know the tap water here in Scotland is supposed to be particularly soft, which I had assumed was a good thing but maybe not.
<Simple to read on WWM, elsewhere... goldfishes prefer harder, alkaline waters>

About two weeks ago he started swimming on his right side occasionally, then about a week ago it was most of the time. Since then he's developed a permanent sideways twist in his back, causing him to swim in a spiral. I thought it might be swim bladder, although I gather this is rare in the non-fancy types. In any case I've recently cut down on the flake food and
been feeding them first bloodworm from the petshop and, more recently, chopped-up peas. I also recently picked up some 'Interpet fish health treatment 13- Swim Bladder treatment'. Nasty stuff I think. It's four doses at 4-day intervals, so far only the first has been applied. I'd hate to be giving this medication unnecessarily, as I'm sure it's a shock to the system.
<Yes; and of no use here>
He's still in the tank with the other fish, who aren't bothering him, and he seems just about able to feed but spends a lot of time propped up in the weeds or on his side at the bottom (he's prone to sink rather than float).
A few times I thought he was dead but he's still pretty lively (though uncoordinated) when the food goes in.
If anyone can think of anything else I can do I'd love to know. Is it likely that the fish will recover from this handicapped state? I've seen advice to euthanise a sick fish but I can't countenance that right now. I seem to remember having a bent goldfish for some years when I was a child, which adapted to its injury and (I think) even reproduced.
Many thanks for any advice,
<Your situation is a classical example of the ill-effects of crowding over a long term; exposure to metabolites... their negative feed-back. Am glad you've enjoyed this system for this long. Goldfish can/do live for decades, this variety grows to 40 plus cm.... IF interested in the rationale, what you might still do, please read here:
scroll down to the GF tray... see the articles, FAQs files on systems, env. disease... Bob Fenner>

Re: Twisted, sinking, spiraling goldfish      1/22/14
Many thanks Bob. 'Bonsaied' pretty much describes it. I'm going to see if I can re-home a couple of the fish, keeping just the two old ones.
<Ah, good/better>
I inherited these fish from far worse (unwanted pets in a tiny tank with no filter) living conditions, but it's only now dawning on me just how much space and care they need to properly thrive. I'll consult the forums and sort out my act regarding water quality too. Thanks again,
<Welcome. BobF>

Re: Twisted, sinking, spiraling goldfish    1/27/14
Bob Fenner is a life-saver! Just an update, and another big thank you for the timely response. You've done me a very great service, and I realise it must be frustrating to get asked the same questions you've covered in the general articles and FAQ's (as in my case). I think the following short account will come as no surprise to you.
Once I checked and corrected the Nitrite and Nitrate levels (which were at around 3 and 80 by the reading I took. I got them down quickly using a Poly-Filter) in the tank, my sick goldfish -which by this point had seemed not just at death's door, but frequently looked dead for long periods- made what seems like a full recovery within 24 hours.
I realise the long term health of all my fish will have been affected by the toxicity of the undersized tank, but I will do better for them from now on. Can't thank you enough.
<Ahh; the pleasure... Thank you for your follow up. Life to you David.

goldfish... Real troubles     1/14/14
I am very new at having fish as pets.  Yes we bought our fish at Wal-Mart.  We just have a plain bowl no filter no bubbler. 
<Ahh, won't work... this fish will soon be dead unless you come to understand and provide for its needs...>
We got the cold water fish so we did not need a heater etc.
<Not so>
At our home we have very hard water.  But we have a reverse osmosis purifier so we used that water.
<... GF need mineral content; likely the hard, alkaline water is fine. RO won't do>
 We left it sit a day and put 1/2 a tablet of Start Zyme.  The fish are in one day and the water is cloudy already.  We thought they were feeding too much food to them so we changed the water and in one days time it was cloudy again. There are 3 fish in the bowl.
 They are swimming around and they look very healthy. 
What are we doing wrong?
<Unfortunately, quite a few deadly errors... the volume of the system, no filter, aeration, heater (and thermometer); the system isn't cycled...>
  The "Fish" Expert, (He has about 9 tanks and is starting to raise fish to sell.) at Wal-Mart said we would be ok with these fish in a bowl that was not regulated.

We are open for any help and guide lines.
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm
and as much of the related, linked files at top as you find you need to gain awareness here.
I have a new eBook and print copy out on Kindle (if you're a member you can borrow for free) that is more "all in one" in reviewing the basics of goldfish care. I dearly desire you to be successful; not suffer the ill-feelings of having killed these animals. DO read ASAPractical, stop feeding for now; change all the water out with new daily (that's been treated, stored for use)... Bob Fenner>

sick goldfish    1/5/14
I have plain old goldfish
<A "comet"? Do realize this variety gets very large>
that have been acting strange for about 2 months. I have a problem with lots of scales falling out especially the ones that are on the white fish and it is all the scales around its head. One fish has lost about 20 scales.
<Usually such losses are due to something awry with the environment...>

The face of the white fish is now see through instead of iridescent. The fish are all sitting at the bottom and dart around when you move or pretty much when they move they dart around. The nitrite, ammonia and nitrates are all zero
<... zero Nitrate?>

 and I have had these fish for 5 months. I do regular water changes with melted snow because my water is too toxic for them.
<Mmm, what do you do for potable water... to drink, cook with? I would not use melted snow.>>
 I have given them MelaFix
<A sham product. Of no use>
for 7 days and it did not seem to help the scales or their weird actions of sitting on the bottom and not moving I did the MelaFix about 6 weeks ago. I feed my fish floating pellets and also peas and broccoli. The fish appear to be yawning at the bottom now and really run into the glass when darting around. They are eating but not like they used to. The temp of the water is 74 degrees and for my water changes I do 10-20%. These fish used to always be hungry and now not so much. I use 2 filters a Fluval and a waterfall one that I clean out often. The waterfall one plugs quickly with brown slimy stuff.
<?.... something wrong here>

There is always a coat of scum on the glass that I try to keep clean every 2 weeks with a scrubby thing that cleans the glass of my 30 gallon tank. I hope this is enough info for you I am really trying to keep them alive till spring when they go back outside into the pond. Most of the fish are under 4 inches. Jill
<I would look for another source of water here... There are some "standard operating processes" we could try... using activated carbon, or better PolyFilter in your filter flow path... something in the water/system is poisoning the goldfish.
Bob Fenner>

Goldfish fluffy/cloudy eye problem... Need quantitative data on water quality, foods, feeding...      12/4/13
Good evening,
This is a very long email, and I'm sorry that there is so much information-I just do not want to miss anything out that could be important. I am very worried about my goldfish.
<Have reviewed your writing here; we need useful information to help you... I've referred you to example (GF sys.) ref. on WWM>
I really hope that you can give me some advice because I have been doing my best searching online using Google and also reading through the responses already posted regarding goldfish eye problems, and still do not know what course of action to take for mine.
First of all it is very important to let you know that this problem has certainly arisen due to very poor water conditions while I went away for 10 days and had to leave the goldfish. I had arranged for someone to come around and 'check' on the goldfish, with a written list of what I hoped that they would do, but unfortunately this was not done. When I came back the tank was visibly dirty and the fish were lethargic, slow and pale at the bottom of the tank with cloudy eyes. They were all in excellent condition before I left. I feel awful about this but I want to focus on
what I can do to help them now, rather than making excuses or blaming others.
I'd bought an automatic feeder that fed a very small amount of food, four times a day. So I know that each fish will have at least had some food-even if the biggest one might have eaten a lot of it it certainly could not have eaten all of the food at each feeding, as after a couple of pellets it stops to digest what it has eaten. normally I would feed them more, and
also more varied food. I don't know if a reduction in food like this could have made them more susceptible to disease, but I felt that that amount of food should have been fine.
There are four goldfish. One of them is 100% fine. One of them (the biggest) initially had one very cloudy eye (almost fluffy, which made me think this could be a fungal infection) and one clear. The day after I returned, the eye seemed to have recovered completely, but then one eye clouded again.
My Shubunkin initially showed no (or unnoticeable) clouding, and since he has the darkest eyes it would have been very noticeable. However, this has developed over the four days that I have been back home to being the worst of the four. The 'fluff' is raised and textured from his eyes; the eyes are not swollen and there is no redness surrounding them. it is as though fluff is adhered to his eyes. The Shubunkin also has some redness, a blood vessel or two, in his tail that I think is related to very bad water quality.
<Yes; assuredly>

The fourth fish, the smallest, seemed to have suffered the worst, and it is this one that I am most concerned about. This fish had smallish patches on its body that were slightly lighter in colour (not white, and not fluffy, just different colour, slightly lighter) than the rest of its body. I was horrified and thought they could be ulcers (but since looking at pictures
online, I no longer think this) or patches of fungal infection. I no longer have an idea what these patches could be. This fish had incredibly cloudy eyes when I first returned home, but they have gradually been clearing up a little. The cloudiness of this fishes eyes does not appear 'fluffy', rather they eyes look milky.
A further point; when I very first arrived home, on the first day, the skin of each fish except the Shubunkin looked as though it had a very light very thin fluffy sheen on it- this immediately made me think of a fungal
infection, but this rapidly disappeared after the first day when I did the thorough water change.
None of the fishes actually appear to be distressed at all. They are all eating as usual, swimming as usual, none are limiting themselves to the surface of the tank for oxygen or gasping. Each fish seems to have normal gill movement and be swimming around as usual. One other thing that I have noticed is that the smallest fish seems to have two pink lumps/growths which look to me like circular tumors or warts inside one if its gills. I am 99.999% sure that these were not visible prior to me leaving. I have searched and searched for what this could be, and the only thing that I have found that sounds likely to me is that it is an inflamed thyroid gland. But that is only because everything else I have read about seems to NOT be similar, rather than because what I read about inflamed thyroid sounded completely like what my fish has inside its gill. I spend a huge amount of time watching and 'caring for' my goldfish, and I am ashamed that I put them through this I was away. I honestly did not think the tank would get so bad in that length of time, as there is a powerful filter and it is a large tank and the readings from tests are usually so good (but this must just be because I change the water so often). I will do anything I can to help them to recover, but at the moment I have no idea what would benefit them the most. Fungicide? Bactericidal medication? Anti-parasitic or anti-helminthic medication?
as soon as I got home I did a 50% water change with thorough gravel vacuum.
I also removed half of the plants in the tank as one or two had died or were dying. and I did not want to risk the others of the same type going the same way and adding to the risk of ammonia/nitrite/nitrate build-up.
Two days later I performed another water change, around 40%. It is very difficult to do large water changes since the tank is 240 Litres, so doing a 50% change is the most that I have ever done since I got the tank. I have also added a higher dose of aquarium salt than normal. I usually put a little in the tank when I perform water changes, but not much. around half
the amount recommended on the pack, but since coming back I have used double the amount, knowing that I will be performing very frequent water changes and so this is a relatively short term thing. The reason that I have done this is because I have read that it can kill certain parasites, that it can increase the fish's defense against infection, and that it can
make survival more difficult for bacteria and fungi. I do not know whether this is true or not though. I have also reduced the set temperature of the tank from 23 degrees Celsius to 21 degrees Celsius.
The tank has been up and running for around 2 months. I normally perform 2 or 3 (never less than 2) partial water changes per week. Around 30-40%. I use a gravel vacuum each time. I do not test the water every week, but the six or so times that I have tested it, it has shown the minimum level of ammonia, minimum of nitrite and either the minimum or the
second-from-minimum level of nitrate. I use an API liquid testing kit and perform the tests very carefully, using measuring syringe for water and stopwatch for timing. I am a bit obsessive when it comes to the fish. That is why I am so desperate to do everything and anything I can to help them to recover. I am heartbroken that they may be suffering, thought their
behavior seems normal at the moment, I do not know if they are suffering in a way that I cannot see, or if they are at risk of getting worse if I do
not act, with medication or something.
Thank-you so much for taking the time to read this, it means so much to me.
I care very much about the fish and feel very guilty and just want to make sure they get better and do not get any worse.
Thank-you, from Christina C-S
Re: Goldfish fluffy/cloudy eye problem      12/4/13

<Hello again>
thank-you for your fast reply. Apologies for the missing information. In terms of the system, it is a long (rather than deep) 240 Litre tank. There is an external canister filter which I cannot work out the flow rate/filtration rate for, but it shows (I think) 206 US gallons per hour, and 780 Litres per hour. It is a Fluval 306 external filter. There is also a circulation water pump which has a flow rate of 1600 litres per hour. I was keeping the temperature at 23 but I have since reduced it to 21 decrees c.
<I see>
At the moment, today, the ammonia is certainly 0 ppm, and the nitrite is certainly 0 ppm, but the nitrate is somewhere between 5.0 and 20 ppm.
<This (NO3) should be okay... but it was likely higher before your water changes... the events of the ten days of your absence>
 I tried this twice and it came back the same kind of orange shade, I think that it is close to ten, certainly not red at all therefore nowhere near 40 ppm. it has a straw-like hint which makes me think it is closer to 10 ppm than 20 ppm.
<Mmm, you might want to consider getting/using a better nitrate test kit... This is a good/useful measure of overall water quality in general, metabolite accumulation in particular... and I would keep it under 20 ppm>
You mentioned about food, well while I was away there was approximately half a teaspoon of small Hikari Saki goldfish pellets being fed 4 times a day.
<Mmm, seems like a bunch for these fishes (in your excellent photos they appear well-fed). I would cut the portions down by half, but retain the frequency>
 I have watched the fish carefully and know that with this amount of food, none is left, but all of the fish get to eat until they pause and stop eating. Its a bit less than I would normally give in one feeding, but to balance this out I set the feeder to release food four times a day, when I normally only give them the pellets twice or three times a day, but supplement with lots of peas. While I was away the fish did not get any peas and only had this food. The food analysis says that it is 45% crude protein,
<Yes; and I have exhaustive experience w/ the company, the formulations...
I would look for, use one of their lower protein products here... the lowest you can locate>
7% crude fat 3% crude fibre 10% moisture and 1.8% min phosphorus and maximum 20% ash. it says that it has fish meal, wheat germ meal, soybean meal, flower, some filler type things, fish oil, Spirulina, vegetable oil, rice bran, dried seaweed meal, astaxanthin, garlic, and then lots of vitamin and minerals.
<Ah yes; fine for fancies... in warm water... of high quality>
I'd left the tank lid open a bit as well, just a small amount, so that the feeder could be attached and also because this could allow better oxygen circulation over the top of the water.
Is there anything else that might help?
<Continuing with your water changes, switching, diminishing food/s, time going by really. The marks on the eyes, films on the bodies of your fishes are almost assuredly due to "poor water quality" exposure... and will heal in time on their own in good conditions. Adding treatments will not help; and could very easily cause much more trouble>
I have attached some photographs but they are not very good.
because the fish move so much, I can't seem to focus properly on them with my camera. I have attached them anyway, just in case they are useful.
<Thank you for your conscientious follow-up and good care of your aquatic charges. Bob Fenner>
Re: Goldfish fluffy/cloudy eye problem      12/4/13

<Ah, welcome>
I will look for a lower protein food. I did initially get it so that the black moor wouldn't have to eat floating flakes
<Yes; bad for fancy goldfish of size>
or compete with the flake-eating other fish, but the other three seemed to enjoy the pellets as well, and now they don't show much interest in the flakes. I will look for a more vegetable based one though, and reduce the amount at each feed as well. that will be very easy to do.
I am doing a water change right now, and I thoroughly enjoy doing them so will continue to do 2 or 3 per week, even when I am not worrying about the fish's health.. Thank-you for your advice and recommendation to me not to add any treatment. I will definitely be much more demanding when seeking someone to take care of the fish next time I go away.
<If only a week or even ten days; likely better to not have anyone come by... to rely on minimal automatic feedings, perhaps a few "sprigs" of Anacharis/Elodea/Egeria... for the fish to nibble on in your absence>
Your advice and help and reassurance is hugely appreciated. I hope that you
have a lovely night (or day, It may be daytime where you are!)
Many thanks indeed,
Christina C-S
<Ahh, life to you Christina. BobF>

Oranda has white patch    8/12/13
Hello - I have been reading through your site for a few weeks now and am stumped as to why my chocolate Oranda is showing white patches on his wen (which I am now almost certain is related to ammonia)
<Likely so.>

AFTER I move him from the 50 gal tank that had the high ammonia to the 36 gal with perfect water param.s!
<Bacterial and fungal infections may appear some days after the actual period of exposure to environmental stress, even if the environmental conditions improve.>
I read on another site that it would take me a week to cycle my new aquarium ... I now know that is not true.
<Quite so. Budget 4 weeks minimum, and often 6 weeks for the cycle to finish, and overall more like 2-3 months for a new aquarium to really settle down and be a hospitable place for somewhat delicate fish like the less hardy fancy Goldfish.>
(By the way, is it acceptable to start a cycle by dropping in fish food and allowing it to decompose, thereby producing ammonia?
<Yes. Old school, but works great. You can further speed things up by adding gravel from a mature aquarium, though the risk there is introducing pests (snails for example) and possibly parasites if that aquarium has ongoing healthcare issues.>
I wanted to do this but my boyfriend, who keeps the fish at his house, went to the LFS and they laughed, said it was a dumb idea and to instead put in 3 hardy goldfish to start the cycle ... so he did, and this one got sick.)
<Go laugh at them, and tell them I sent you. Cycling with fish food is a reliable, safe approach; throwing in sacrificial fish is unnecessary and no longer considered a sensible way to cycle an aquarium -- as you've seen, you usually end up with (at minimum) sick fish and often dead fish. You can buy some bacteria "starter cultures" to speed things along, but oftentimes they don't seem to work 100%, and to be honest, I'd sooner save the money and spend 3-4 weeks with the empty aquarium cycling while adding live plants (great time for plants to bed in without being uprooted) and perhaps a few shrimps.>
Anyway, when I went over to his house last week the ammonia was 0.3 ppm using API liquid test kit so I immediately took all 3 fish and put them back in the 36 gal.
<Sensible; while 0.3 ppm shouldn't *kill* your Goldfish, it's certainly stressful, and across a week or so, will make them more disease-prone.>
Only that night did the chocolate Oranda begin to show the white spot.
<Ah, yes, Finrot and Fungus both commonly happen alongside the cycling process.>
At first I thought it was wen growth, but it grew in size until the next day when I left and my BF put him back into the 50 gal against my advice.
However,  he showed immediate signs of improvement and the spot was gone in a day. It turned slightly red (but no bleeding) and then disappeared.
Yesterday (a week later) I came over and he was swimming near the top of the tank. I tested the water and there was no ammonia,  but nitrites were 0.5 ppm!
<Good. Ammonia cycling would seem to be done, so the second phase, nitrites, are now in their cycling process. Daily water changes will really help here, 20-30% a day would be good, but if you can do more, and keep nitrite below 0.2 ppm, that'd be ideal.>
He showed no other signs of nitrite poisoning except hanging out near the surface.
<If you can, increase aeration with an airstone or at least splashing by adjusting the filter outlet.>
I was very upset to learn that my BF had done NO water changes the entire week despite my telling him to do 40-50% each day.
<Yikes! Not exactly earning points as potential father material, is he...?>
I moved the chocolate Oranda back to the 36 gal and he again is showing a white patch, but on the opposite side of his wen! He is swimming and eating normally unlike in the 50 gal. Tested water and it is again perfect.  The other 2 fish in the 36 gal are fine. Can you tell me why this isn't appearing until he moves to the better tank, and more importantly, what I can do to help?
<See above re: water changes, plus medicating as per Finrot (and if you can, Fungus) would be good.>
I have fallen in love with these fish and want to keep them as healthy and comfortable as possible. Thank you so much. -Amanda
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oranda has white patch    8/12/13

Thank you so much for your help ... it was very timely and informative.
Which medication(s) would you recommend for the Finrot/fungus? I live in the U.S. (California).
<Many choices... Seachem ParaGuard, Maracyn and Myxazin to name but a few.
Basically, ask your retailer, but avoid anything based on tea-tree or pepper-tree oil as these tend to be unreliable, at best. Likewise if they try to sell you salt as the only cure you'll need, back off quietly and find another retailer!>
There are now no fish in the 50 gal and I plan to wait at least a week after nitrites read 0 before adding any. Is that a good plan? Or do I need to wait longer?
<A week should be okay. But once you add the fish, don't feed them for the first 3-4 days, and thereafter, very small amounts, and none at all if ammonia is detectable and nitrite at or above 0.5 ppm.>
I am planning on getting some bubble eyes and/or celestials for that tank as I know those breeds should not be kept with better-swimming breeds.
<Quite so; indeed, both these varieties are better kept among their own kind, if that's an option. I'm not a huge fan of them, I have to be honest, and they tend to be disease-prone and difficult to keep in the long term.>
Thanks, Amanda
<Good luck, Neale.>

Oranda illness, iatrogenic      7/27/13
Hello, I've had an Oranda goldfish in a 10 gallon tank
<... too small a volume>
 for about a year and a half now. I've battled illnesses
<... environmental "stress" the major factor here>

 such as fin rot and ick, but I now have found something new. Now he has red splotches on his belly.
<This too... env.>
I was told it was parasitic/bacterial...so I bought an antibiotic, called FURAN-2.
<... won't "cure" the root issue/problem here>

It seems he may have an early case of hemorrhagic septicemia, but I will be gone for a week. So there is nobody to medicate him as I will have my (inexperienced) neighbor feeding him peas. I've just changed the water, put salt in the water and am hoping for the best...I am very attached to my fish (as silly as it is). Is there any other things I can do before I leave to prevent him from dying?
<Yes; move this fish to a larger world. Read here:
scroll down; to the Goldfish tray, Disease, Environmental, read. Bob Fenner>

Black Moor Goldfish At Bottom of Tank; env., rdg.    7/17/13
My black moor goldfish has been acting strange lately.  It is in a five gallon taken and is about four inches in length. I've had the fish for about three years now.  For the past two weeks it would not move from one of the corners at the top of the tank. I started to get concerned and started to look at it better when I realized it seemed to be bleeding on top of one of its fins and the top of the fin then began to turn a little red as well.
<Something/s wrong with the environment>

I did an 80 percent water change
 and added in API quick start to eliminate some of the nitrite and ammonia and I also changed the filter. After doing that I added the first day dosage of Maracyn two and the goldfish seemed to be swimming around more and gaining some activity.  However this morning the fish was at the bottom of the tank and has not moved since. Is there anything I can do to help the goldfish start acting normally?
<... how large a system? Water quality tests? NO3 as an indicator.... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GFenvirondis.htm
to understand what issue/s may be at work here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Black Moor Goldfish At Bottom of Tank   7/18/13

I went to take water out of the tank to have it checked at the pet store this morning and unfortunately my Black moor did not make it through the night. I'm sure it had to do with the water quality and partially the tank not being big enough.
<Yes; for sure>

I was very attached to him and won't be getting a fish for a while but are there any fish you could recommend for a five gallon tank that will not create too much toxic waste.
<Ah yes. Read here:

Thank you,
<Welcome. BobF>

goldfish clamped fins; env. highly likely   7/13/13
Hello. Hope I you can help me. Have read a lot on your site. Great info, better than most. I have one 10 year old Shubunkin goldfish in a 55 gallon tank 48 in long 19 deep and 12" wide.  I have 2 20-50 aqua clear filters and a Rio powerhead 600 pump in middle front of tank. Substrate is just some marbles on bottom.
<Better to have natural gravel of appropriate grade (for many reasons).

Read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GldfshGravF.htm
 Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 0,
<... NO3 zip? Not likely
. I'd be checking your checker... Take a water sample to a LFStore and have them test>
 ph 7.6, gH 10, kH 8, last week kH was 6 and gH 9. Phosphates 0.5 no salt in tank. My fish has been bottom sitting for a week and has clamped fins.
He has had swim bladder problems for quite some time.
<... all environmental...>
I am feeding him Mazuri gel food and fruits and veggies and some frozen formula 2 and brine shrimp and peas.
<Wow! I want to be reincarnated as your fish>
I try to feed 2 times daily. Usually protein in am and veggie at night. I do give him more occasionally. Trying to be very good about only feeding twice daily. He was at the top of the tank before last week
<... your dissolved oxygen may be low, alternatively CO2 also could be high
... I'd "wick off" or decant a good deal (several gallons) of surface water... to remove, discount any film that may be causing such issue>
stuck at top so I put a little Epsom salts in, next morning he was at the bottom been there ever since. I did have about 10 nitrates two weeks ago so I started doing 10 gallon water changes everyday till I got rid of the nitrates.
Is that okay if there is no nitrates?
<As stated above; there are nitrates present. Your test kit is faulty>
Also, I keep lowering the water because of his swim bladder but when I go out I have to re add water because our electric goes out sometimes and I am afraid the aqua filters will burn out when I am gone for the day or evening. I wish I could keep tank lowered all the time for him. I notice when he eats sometimes he gets blood in his caudal fin.
<Again; evidence of environmental trouble.
EVEN if you can't find Nitrate, there are VERY likely other metabolites in this small volume, w/ incomplete filtration (switching the marbles out will help)... that are mal-affecting your Shubunkin.>
Sometimes it goes away, sometimes comes back. He was treated for this about 2 months ago with penicillin for 10 days Got rid of the blood then,
<...temporarily reducing microbial levels in the water>
 but starting off and on coming back. Also gave him a salt bath a few months ago to see if that would help. Besides those meds he has never had any other. Also his right side near anus is swollen and the other side looks caved in. I usually do about 16 gallon water changes twice a week. I hope I have given you enough info. I am worried sick about him. Oh also he is 6 inches long.

Thank you in advance for any help .Linda
<I'd do as I've stated... re removing surface water during water changes, changing out the marbles... And maybe add some GAC/carbon to your filter flow path. Bob Fenner>

Oranda with curved spine(RMF, thoughts?) <<Same as before... env., genetic>>    3/2/13
Hi Crew:  
<Hello again Gina,>
My 10 year old Oranda has slowly developed a curvature to her spine- it is close to the base of her tail and it causes her to preferentially swim in circles in the direction of the curve. It is a gentle curve- not an injury and has been developing over a year. My water is as follows:
Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 10
PH ranges throughout the year from 8.5 to 9.2

<This is very high… likely a factor. Goldfish like hard water to be sure, 10-25 degrees dH is fine, but the pH should be no higher than 8.5, and ideally around 7.5-8.0. Is there any way you can mix your tap water with RO or rainwater, maybe 50/50?>
RedOx is waayyy too high at 356
I feed the fish home made gel food with stabilized vitamin C, Spirulina, carrot, spinach, kale, red pepper, zucchini, shelled peas, garlic, yam, salmon fillet, acidophilus powder, kelp powder. All veg are organic and are steamed in bottled water then blended and then vitamins, gelatin etc..  added.
<In and of itself, organic doesn't mean a good diet, but the range of foods you're offering is very wide, so I think we can rule out dietary shortcomings, a very common reason for developmental abnormalities.>
I have a probe in the water to ground stray voltage. All the traditional causes do not seem to apply. The fish also has floatation issues but only immediately after she eats- she starts to float right away and is back to normal about half an hour later.
<Which points the finger here at changes to the shape of the digestive tract and/or position of the swim bladder brought about by the spinal curvature. As food moves along the digestive tract, centre of mass changes, while centre of buoyancy stays constant, so the orientation of the fish will change.>
I can't find anything that seems a likely cause unless I am not providing adequate nutrition with the home made food or there is a persistent bacterial infection. The fish does have a very mushy belly near the vent- I have tried 10 days worth of Baytril intraperitoneal injections which did nothing but stress me out every time I had to inject the fish (the fish was fine with it all). I use home made food because the fish is so large that I can't find a suitable sized sinking pellet. Any advice or suggestions would be very much appreciated.
<There really isn't any advice here. Spinal deformities are impossible to treat. Indeed, you may not need to treat, assuming the fish is otherwise happy, e.g., can feed adequately and doesn't get picked on by its tankmates. Maintain good water quality, ensure a good diet, and generally keep an eye on this fish for any signs of suffering.>
I religiously maintain the tank with 2 x weekly water changes (about 25% with Prime treated water that has say for a couple days). I have a serious problem with brown algae- not sure why but all 4 of my tanks are rife with it and I have trouble controlling it. I am not sure if this ties in but I thought I would mention it just in case….
<Algae doesn't normally cause health problems for fish, but rampant algae can indicate problems with water quality and/or water chemistry. Review these, and act accordingly. Given how high the pH is in your tanks, I do suspect water chemistry is a factor. Can't comment on the specifics without at least knowing your general hardness (degrees dH) and ideally the carbonate hardness (degrees KH) as well.>
Thank you!
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Oranda with curved spine (RMF, thoughts?)<<>>   3/10/13

<<The usual: genetics likely, perhaps pathogenic disease, nutrition...>>
Thank you Neale- great to hear from you- your advice is always invaluable!
<Thanks for the kind words.>
As a matter of fact I do have an Vertex Aquaristik 100 gallon-per-day RO unit available- it is not operational but after your reply I promptly ordered a new membrane and cartridges and just installed them tonight. 
<I see.>
When I used it before, it was only reducing the pH to about 7.8 at best (I guess that it better than what it is at right now).
<And well within the comfort zone for Goldfish, which do best between pH 7 and 8.>
I had also purchased a pressure tank that was specifically made to hold RO water. I stopped using it as the membrane became damaged and to be honest, I was not sure how to properly use RO in a freshwater tank. I had been mixing it at a 50/50 ratio with tap water (which brought the pH down to about 8).
<Which is fine and usually safe.>
I had some concerns about the aggressiveness of RO water and was not sure why my pH was still so high after filtering.
<Removing some of the dissolved minerals rarely lowers the pH below 7, what it tends to do is lower the pH from 8 or 8.5 down towards pH 7.5. If you remove all the minerals you should get around pH 7, but stably acidifying the water to, say, pH 6.5, is a whole other thing. You need to add an "acid buffer" for that, and unless you're breeding soft water fish, it's not worth the effort. Halving the hardness of VERY hard water is, on the other hand, a very good idea, even if the pH doesn't seem to go all that low.>
I used a 50/50 mix of RO to tap as I wasn't certain if it was safe to use straight RO.
<Never use straight RO water. Always mix with some hard tap water unless you have the knowledge and skills to add appropriate soft water buffering salts (often sold as Amazon buffer or Discus buffer).>
The high pH of the RO filtered water seems to suggest that the water is still quite mineralized but without sending a sample to the lab I don't know if the proper minerals are present.
I currently sit my tank change water in a 205 litre holding tank that is made of food-grade plastic but it is not safe for RO water. I tried to find a 205 litre container that was RO safe but they would be a special construct and very expensive. I believe that remineralizing the water would make it safe to sit in the container, but again, I am not sure if this is even necessary.
<Storing RO water in food-safe containers should not be a problem. Or, as Bob would say, "read, don't write…"
This has been gone into many times, here and elsewhere.>
Regarding remineralization, I have Wondershells and Seachem Replenish that I purchased along with the RO unit for the purpose of remineralizing the water if needed.
<Wondershells are pointless if you [a] already have moderately hard to hard water and [b] are keeping hard water fish. All they are is lumps of calcium carbonate that slowly dissolve, raising the carbonate hardness (KH). If your KH is above, say, 5 degrees KH, this isn't needed.>
I don't know currently the degrees dH of my tap water as my test kit is not working for some reason- I added 50 drops of the reagent and no colour change.
<Seems to be you have no general hardness. Do try again though, or have your retailer test a water sample for you.>
The last time I tested (about a year ago) it was 9 degrees. The KH of my tap water is 6 to 7.
<So, moderate carbonate hardness; fine for Goldfish.>
I have been using Phosguard to try to reduce phosphorus in the water- I suspect my algae problem may be in part to the homemade food as it breaks down in the tank quickly if the fish misses a piece and this is one of the reasons I do twice weekly water changes with gravel vacuuming. I bought a RedOx meter which shows a reading of about 350- my admittedly vague understanding of RedOx and goldfish is that ideal RedOx is in the order of -110. In short, I know my water chemistry is off and I think that I have the components I need to correct it but my know-how is shaky! I am going to flush out the new filters and then I will test the kH and pH of the RO water- if it needs to be remineralized I would be interested to know what products you suggest and if I am on the right track with the RO water.
<Would suggest no products…  just reading. Start here:
…and follow the links.>
PS you gave me advice a couple years ago on a small, weak little black moor and I am pleased to report that he is still very much alive and quite a bit larger now!
<Ah, good to know! Neale.>
Re: Oranda with curved spine (Bob, am I being unfair to Goldies?)    6/30/13

Hi Neale:
Flash forward to the end of June- the Oranda is still upright and is still voraciously hungry but half way through the Baytril treatments she began to pinecone (that was about a month ago). I was surprised that she developed Dropsy in the middle of treatment, especially since the Baytril had worked to stop her from bobbing around upside down at the top of the tank. The vet ordered some Oxytetracycline to try- one intramuscular injection every week for three weeks. It helps for 2 days after the injection (the scales flatten and the swelling reduces noticeably) but then the Ascites returns.
Her gills are still a healthy red colour. Oddly enough her wen has been growing like crazy the last few months- she looks great except for the swelling and the scales.
I am armed with 1/2 dozen bottles of clove oil if she shows signs of being in pain (which I assume will translate into not eating and being inactive) but I am heartbroken at the thought of euthanizing this very much-loved 10 year old fish.
I have the tank temperature at 30 degrees and I reduced the water level, added a second Eheim canister filter and another powerhead. I have 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons of Epsom salt in the tank. I'm not sure if this is in any way relevant but I don't have any aquarium lighting (haven't had for about 8 months since I had a fire scare with a canopy-style light removed them from service in all my tanks): I am saving for better and safer lights.
Right now the fish is not on antibiotics as her last Oxytetracycline injection was a week ago. I have gel food with Kanamycin and Metronidazole in it but have not used it since I am worried about their effect on the kidneys. I have been changing 50% of the tank water twice a week.
Have I really tried everything?
<Yes. I think you are doing all you can. At some point it becomes a cost/benefit calculation, and if the fish remains sickly, and especially if it isn't interested in feeding or socialising, it may well be time to "call it a day".>
I am having a hard time trying to reconcile the fact that I am probably going to lose her in the next month or so and knowing that I have done everything I can will help.
Thank you, Neale:
<Sorry we can't offer any silver bullets here Gina; do think you're doing your best for this fish, especially with regard to help from the vet. Hope things improve though! Regards, Neale.>

Discoloured Goldfish    5/18/13
We are currently keeping our four goldfish in a 100 litre water
<Need more volume than this... See WWM re goldfish needs... and DO measure metabolite accumulation (nitrate) here, as an indication of system viability>
butt <bucket?> because we decided to move them out of the pond while the frogs were spawning. When we removed them, we discovered that two had strange white growths on their heads, and we are currently treating them with anti fungal fish medicine.
<Mmm, please send along a well-resolved image or two... Too likely these marks are natural, and treatment more dangerous than useful>
A third fish appeared to have a blood red discolouration around its gills and flecked over its body.
<... environmental. Poisoned by their own wastes. Very common>
The discolouration is no longer
red, but dark purple and the anti fungal medicine doesn't seem to be having any effect so my guess is that it doesn't have a fungal infection. Do you have any idea what might be wrong with it?
<Yes; as stated... Do you need help using our search tool, indices?>
 Also, if a picture would help I'll send one in.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Pet store... GF      6/1/13
Hello, I wanted to ask what your opinion of my goldfish that I took to the
pet store for there care about 3 weeks ago, this is a private store and
friends of mine, I have to travel now and had to do something for them, for
about 2-3 months one would always sit at top and next morning be okay until
he ate, my water was 0 gH ph 8 ammonia 0.25 kH 180 nitrates 40 nitrites 0
they have hard water with way more gH and no ammonia, nitrates and nitrites
good, they told me when I called today that they have good and bad days,
the one that would float has stopped going to top, now when he swims at
times he will sit sorta curled at bottom, then after a bit take of swimming
they added some maracyn today as this was the worst they have seen other
days he looks great, I told them to try some peas, and hopefully it will
help, can you think of anything else they should check or do, he eats
cobalt flakes in the am and shrimp pellets in the pm every day since he has
been there
Thanks, I had hoped I did the right thing in taking them down and for a
while I felt I did as they were doing good, what do you think
<It sounds like these retailers are good people doing their best to help
you. As we've discussed before, sometimes problems with Goldfish aren't
fixable, especially with the inbred "fancy" varieties. But with good water
quality, a greens-based diet, and perhaps the use of antibiotics, your
Goldfish has the best chance of recovering. Cheers, Neale.>

Hello, the one fish with all the trouble died today,
<Sorry to hear this.>
These are the fish I took to pet store, They have water that is hard and
not from a water softener as mine is, there gH is 180- 200 , they are
taking the one fish left now and putting it in a tank with fresh water, no
salt, no medication, it is still okay but I wondered what you think about
my taking them there as they are very nice people and I have to travel a
lot now, with the change in gH mine being 0 and theirs being 180-200 and
now they are not going to add salt, will this be better for remaining fish,
this is a common goldfish and not fancy,
<It sounds like they can provide these fish a good home.>
I am thinking the other might have been developing dropsy. It was very
swollen when we picked it up to bury in garden.
<Dropsy is a symptom rather than a disease, and very common when fish are
severely stressed. It's a lot like how people die from organ failure after
being sick from some disease for a long time.>
Thank You
<Most welcome, Neale.>
One more fish... Cat lady       6/4/13

Hello, I am the one that mails about the fish I had that sat at top of tank, he then went to pet store and did okay for 3 weeks, then died, The one left has been moved into fresh water with NO salt and smaller tank. It too now is showing swelling and some scales sticking out slightly, could this be due to the salt that was in the other tank they lived in for 3 weeks?
<Possibly, but I think not. Goldfish (like their relatives, the Carp) have a reasonably high tolerance for salt.>
This fish never showed signs of illness as the other did for several months, with constipation and floating. The one left was good until the other day after the floaty one died, now it is showing problems, Is is something due to the fact it has been moved into harder water and added salt, they never had salt in tanks before this?? Just wondering, they are going to add some epsom salt, later if gets any better will feed metro med a bit
<Epsom salt generally relieves rather than causes swelling.>
Is dropsy contagious and can it be brought on by a lot of salt in tank water?
<Dropsy is NOT A DISEASE it is a symptom, like a rash or runny nose. I think we've been through this over and over… Dropsy gets caused by something, and is often a symptom of organ failure following on from some chronic, serious health problem, often environmental stress.>
Thanks again. I don't imagine I will be mailing much more after this thanks for all the years of help
<Most welcome. Good luck in the future! Neale.>
euthanize      6/4/13

I understand dropsy as being a symptom but in any case the scales are sticking out, do you think it might be suffering??
<Hard to say without seeing the fish… if it is swimming and feeding normally, then no, it isn't likely to be suffering. But if floating at the top, unable to feed, then may well be suffering, yes.>
Regardless the cause it is the thing that is happening now, Once the scales raise in an old fish,
<Old goldfish are 15+ years of age… anything less isn't "old"…>
is it likely to get better,
<Yes, Dropsy can be cured… Epsom salt treatment helps, plus fixing the environment, better diet, etc. Do read...
Antibiotics can help too.>
I just don't want it to suffer if they do in fact suffer with this problem Thanks again, Cathy
<Signing off for now, gone 9 PM local time. Cheers, Neale.>

Post septicemia Ryukin     5/14/13
My 2 yr old Ryukin seems to have gotten septicemia post trying an algicide
<... toxic; not worth "it"... As gone over and over on WWM.>
 the pet store recommended. I didn't want to treat him with antibiotics if not necessary so I did 50% water change and put in stress Zyme as well as a new filter pack.
 He seemed to be on the mend losing his red streaks and coming up from the bottom but today I noticed he has lost a patch if scales and has become "twitchy" at times. He is still a little more lethargic then normal and being "antisocial" but is eating and better then a few days ago. He is a single goldfish in a ten gallon tank
<Needs, or will need more room than this. Goldfish are sensitive to metabolite accumulation; and very messy>
with a generic filter which I change at least once a month but do frequent small water changes. I have live plants ( java ferns) and a couple small aquarium pieces. Should I just get the antibiotics???
<Mmm, no; won't help and may hurt>
 I am not noticing any fungus or external parasites.
<?... Bob Fenner>

goldfish      4/28/13
Hi my comet fantail goldfish is 8 years old in a 55 gallon tank.
<Mmm, Comets need more room>
 Water is changed every 4 days. I change 16 gallons and add a conditioner only. Recently, I have been adding 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt per 10 gal.
<Why? See Neale's article on WWM re salt use>
 with every water change. Ph is 8,
<Too high... read WWM re Goldfish care>

nitrate 5 or less and nitrite 0 ammonia 0. I us e api kits. He has had swimbladder problems
<... not... There is no such thing. This is highly likely just one more case of long-term environmental abuse registering as a loss of spatial orientation>
 for a long time. I have recently changed to Mazuri food gel.
<A good product>
Seems to be working good for that problem. Lately, he has been losing scales.
<Might be the former mentioned env... whatever is making the pH this high.
See WWM re pH...>
He has lost 5 in the last 2 weeks. Also he has been quivering now and then almost like shivering quickly then it stops. He just swims when it is time
to eat mostly and just stays at one end of the tank about half way up. I gave him penicillin for 1 day per suggestion form aquarium shop
<Of no use here>
 and changed the water.
<Always a good idea>
I have never given him any meds before. The reason he was treated with the  penicillin was at the time he had very blood red in his caudal fin.
The aquarium shop said not to treat him any more that it is bad for his organs.
<! This is so>
I am at a loss at what to do. He also has swelling on his right side but his left side is more sunken in. Any help would be appreciated. I hope I gave enough info. Thank you so much for any help. He is the only one in the tank.
<Read... re adjusting the pH downward safely, consistently... by mixing water of less alkaline content, the use of simple/safe acids (phosphoric likely), perhaps the addition of floating plants... Bob Fenner>

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