FAQs on Goldfish Environmental
(ex: issues of poor water quality, overcrowding,
unfavorable tank/water conditions, temperature,
Related Articles: Goldfish
Systems, Goldfish Disease, Goldfish, Goldfish
Fish Disease, Livestock
Treatment System, Bloaty, Floaty Goldfish,
Disease/Emphysematosis, Pond Parasite Control
with DTHP, Hole in
the Side Disease/Furunculosis,
Related Goldfish Disease FAQs:
Environmental 1, Environmental 2, Environmental 3, Environmental 5, Environmental
7, Environmental 8, Environmental
9, Environmental 10, Environmental
11, Environmental 12, & Goldfish
Disease 2, Goldfish Disease
3, Goldfish Disease 4,
Goldfish Disease 5, Goldfish Disease
6, Goldfish Disease 7, Goldfish Disease 8, Goldfish Disease 9, Goldfish Disease
10, Goldfish Disease
11, Goldfish Disease 12, Goldfish Disease 13, Goldfish Disease 14, Goldfish Disease 15, Goldfish Disease 16,
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,
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
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What it takes to keep goldfish healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Re: Attn Neale... GF... hlth... env.
I'm a bit perplexed about something, maybe you can help. I have 29
gallon tank 2 filters . One for 50 gal and 0ne for 30 gallon tank. I
lost my main fish Sparticus while back. I have another Cleo that was
him mate and he is still in the tank and doing pretty well. My readings
are good 0 ammonia ph 7.2 I'm adding new fish and they don't
seem to make it. The last died and this one looked good when I put him
in but now getting top fin tears at the edges And some fray on tail.
Its a black moor. small. They are both small
fish. Why is the new one always affected and the other doing fine?
<Very difficult to say, but the most common reason for this sort of
thing is how fish adapt to their environment. The older fish has
adapted to the conditions in your aquarium. This can happen even if the
conditions in your aquarium aren't 100% perfect. In particular,
fish adapted to pH and hardness levels different to those they might
have experienced at the aquarium shop. When you buy a new fish, you
expose it to different water chemistry and water quality to what it was
used to. So the new fish gets
stressed, and eventually sickens. It's absolutely crucial to review
not just pH and ammonia, but also general hardness and nitrite levels.
Make sure these are in the comfort zone for Goldfish, i.e., 10+ degrees
dH general hardness, and nitrite level = 0. You can tell me everything
is fine, but if you keep losing fish, then something isn't fine,
and it's up to you to establish what.>
I add a bit of stress coat every day. Not sure what to do. I'm
hearing a lot of gulping from Cleo at the surface. Not sure if he's
looking for food or air. They are swimming around great and eating
fine. Concerned about the small tears on the Moor. I feed 2 round
Hikari Oranda Gold mini pellet each twice a day. Temp in tank reads
What else can I do?
Re: Attn Neale
I'm not sure how to check general hardness and nitrate. Can I get a
kit at the store for that to test?
Not familiar with this.
I have Chemi pure elite in the filters which should help nitrates.
<Wouldn't waste my time thinking this way. Nitrate is removed by
Maybe I can call the petstore and see what it used to ???? What do I
ask them ?
<Ensure your water chemistry is steady, and as stated several times
already, within the comfort zone for Goldfish -- pH 7-8; 10+ degrees dH
general hardness; 0 ammonia; 0 nitrite; 0-50 mg/l nitrate. Do that, and
you should be fine. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Attn Neale........
Hi Neale. I'm also trying something new with water. Instead of
taking from tap. I'm leaving it sit out in extra tank so chlorine
can evaporate. I will be doing water change with that water. I heard
this was good.
<Can be, but isn't enough by itself. Make sure to add a good
water condition to each batch of water to remove chlorine, Chloramine,
ammonia and copper. Cheers, Neale.>
I have also been cleaning the tank with a sponge during the water
change. I move around the rocks and pass the sponge over the bottom of
tank floor and sides of inside when I see any type of haze building
IS this good?
<No idea. Do read:
Thanks Neale 11/24/10
Hi Neale. Okay I will read up and ask more questions at store. Thanks
for the information.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Sick Lionhead Goldfish
Hi I have a Lionhead fish that is about 7 years old. He has never been
unwell. However over the last few months he has developed a very
swollen abdomen, and has gradually eaten less. He now just sits at the
bottom of the tank only moving a little. He shares the tanks (a large
<... unsuitable... Way too small a volume for even a single
goldfish. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GldfshTksF.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BiOrbF.htm
with a common goldfish which is perfectly healthy.
<Mmm, no... foreshortened, stressful lives>
The fish has a very swollen abdomen and a half cm white lump to the
side if his head.
If you could give me any information this would be most
<Read. Bob Fenner>
I have an eight year old comet goldfish who is exhibiting symptoms that
I think indicate parasites.
<Doubtful. Although fish can carry parasites, they rarely come out
of the blue. Fish that have been healthy for years and then suddenly
get sick are FAR more likely to be harmed by something else, typically
environment or poor diet.>
He is in a 15 gallon tank.
<Much too small. This is why your Goldfish is sick.>
I have been testing the water regularly over the past couple of weeks
(which is when he started showing signs of illness) and they have
always been good (ammonia 0, nitrite 0).
<Perhaps, but lack of oxygen is likely, and that will stress the
fish. In any case, in a 15 gallon tank it's very unlikely an adult
Goldfish will really experience perfect water quality 24/7, so I'm
dubious about how informative your water quality results are.>
A couple of weeks ago, he seemed to be getting blood streaks in his
fins and scales.
He also kept his dorsal down quite a bit, and his tail and fins started
to look a bit torn or ragged. He wasn't exactly flashing, but he
was darting around or shaking his head every now and then (which I
think was mainly responsible for his ragged fins) I treated with
Maracyn-two and things seemed to get a little better. However, a couple
of days later, the symptoms persisted.
<Yes, entirely predictable.>
I did a couple of water exchanges over a couple of days to clean the
water up. Tested it again and the water quality was good. I then tried
to treat with Furan-2, hoping it was a broad spectrum medicine that
would target what was wrong.
<Wishful thinking I'm afraid. While antibiotics can cure Finrot,
they will only do so permanently if the environment is better. The
bacteria themselves are latent in all aquaria, and ordinarily do no
harm and perhaps some good breaking down organic matter. But if the
fish is weakened for some reason, the bacteria understandably take
advantage of that, and that's where Finrot comes into the
Again, things seemed to get better. His fins perked up and the blood
left his fins and scales and his tail seemed to be healing. A couple of
days ago, I came home in the evening time and found he looked a lot
worse. His fins were clamped again, there was more blood at the base of
his fins, his feces are pale, he seems to be losing weight, he was
definitely flashing, and he seemed to have whitish patches on his tail.
Not white dots, like with ich, but more cloudy in appearance. It's
also not 'fuzzy' or stringy. Am I right to assume this is
parasites? At this point I feel like I wasted a lot of time trying to
treat for bacterial infections, when it was parasites all along.
<No. It's the environment that's wrong. The irony is that
the money spent on medications would be better spent on a proper
aquarium. Long term far better value. Goldfish need, at minimum, 30
gallons. If you don't have space for that, then don't keep
Goldfish. That's the deal on the table. Lots of fish options for
10-15 gallon tanks. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/goldfish101art.htm
Unfortunately now, it seems quite advanced. I wasn't sure what
anti-parasite medication to use (there seem to be a lot and they all
target different parasites). I thought to try Maracide, since I have
had a lot of luck with the Mardel products. Also, I know it's safe
to use other Mardel products, like Maracyn-two with it, which I thought
would help to fight off any secondary infections. It is now day two of
the Maracyn treatment and I don't see any improvement. If anything
his fins seem more clamped and he seems to be getting tired after
darting around the tank so much. At this point, my questions are: Is he
infected with parasites? Is Maracide a good choice to try and treat
him? Should I be seeing an improvement on the second day after the
first treatment? Is there another anti-parasite medication you'd
recommend? And lastly, is it beneficial to try and use aquarium salt to
try and treat the parasites at the same time as using an anti-parasite
medication? If so, how much salt over what time period should I use? I
care very much for this fish and I feel I am running out of time and
options. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your
<Your fish is almost certainly not infected with parasites so get
that idea out of your head. The problem is almost certainly
environmental. Until you provide a suitable aquarium, Finrot
medications won't be able to fix things. While you may have dodged
the bullet for the last eight years, you can't do that forever, and
the basic science is that Goldfish need more than 15 gallons. Hope this
clarifies things enough you can fix things. Cheers,
sick goldfish... env.
My boyfriend and I were given a fish tank about two, maybe three, weeks
ago, and we purchased two comet goldfish.
<Curious choice of gift.>
Our tank holds 25L (we live in Australia and I'm not too sure how
much water that is in gallons),
<It's a bit over 6 US gallons.>
and we've been feeding them Aqua One Goldfish Flakes once
<Okay, you do need to do some reading. Goldfish can't be kept in
a tank this small. Start here to learn about Goldfish:
Then *read here to learn about stocking 5-gallon tanks, which is what
you're essentially working with, the extra gallon-and-a-half will
make no real difference:
For the first week or so the fish seemed perfectly happy, and seemed to
be adapting well. We were even able to hand feed them :) But recently
they've gotten pretty sick.. After doing some research on your site
I have a feeling this could be due to poor water quality
<You are quite right.
Through the first week ammonia levels and nitrite levels can be fairly
low, and their impact on fish health minimal. But as time passes things
get worse and worse, and in a tank that hasn't been cycled, fish
start getting sick or dying across the next few weeks.>
When we purchased the goldfish from a store specialising in fish they
didn't give us very much information on caring for goldfish and I
realise now that its not as simple as we thought.
<Indeed not. They're among the most difficult fish to keep,
which is why their mortality rate is so high in captivity. At a guess,
nine out of ten of them don't see their first birthday.>
We haven't tested our water but I plan on buying a test kit
tomorrow so that I can try and figure out what exactly went wrong.
<Be sure to get a pH test and a nitrite test, as these are two
About one week ago I came home and both fish were sitting in the bottom
left hand corner of the tank, at first I thought they were probably
just sleeping but that night they still hadn't really moved at all
and I realised something was obviously wrong.
They were like that for a couple of days, and when we fed them they
would eat a flake and then spit it back out, like they couldn't
<Loss of appetite; a common symptom.>
That's when I realised something was really wrong, they usually
love to eat! They also had their fins "clamped" and we
noticed tiny white spots on both of their tails, but from what I've
read about Ich it didn't seem like that was the case.
<Could be Whitespot/Ick, or could be the early stages of Finrot.
We transferred them into a pot filled with tank water while we cleaned
the whole tank (including the pebbles & fake plants) and put new
water in for them. We treated the water first of course!
<What about filtration? Generally, cleaning the tank makes no
difference. Fish don't get sick because of algae or silt at the
bottom of the tank. The deadly stuff is invisible: ammonia and nitrite,
and without adequate filtration -- and proper filter maintenance --
you'll not be able to stop your fish getting sick.>
Once they were back in the tank with clean water they seemed to be
happier and the white spots were no longer visible, but after a few
hours they were back on the bottom of the tank again.
<As expected; with new water, the ammonia and nitrite levels
dropped, so the fish felt better.>
We didn't feed them anything the next day because they weren't
able to swallow their food the day before. Yesterday morning one of the
fish was sitting on the bottom but he was leaning to the side a bit,
and I noticed that he had red underneath and on his sides, mostly
around his gills and face. He also has what looks like white slimy
stuff all over the top of him & on his head. Around his eyes are
red (almost bruised looking) and they look puffy & swollen. Both
fish are sick but he seems a lot worse.
<Do review the freshwater disease troubleshooting article linked
Today we did a 20% water change, and as soon as I started to pour the
clean water in he swam around for a little bit. That's when I
noticed that the ends of both fish's tails looks like they've
been eaten away,
I read an article on your site similar to what's been happening
with our fish, so I bought some frozen peas this afternoon hoping that
would make them feel a little better until I'm able to test the
water tomorrow and try and find out what the problem is. I was also
considering adding Epsom salt which I also read on your site as well as
a few others,
<Epsom salt helps with constipation. Has nothing to do with your
but I can't get that until tomorrow either. When the pea had
defrosted I took the shell off and cut it into smaller pieces for them,
but when we put the pieces in the water the fish didn't take much
of an interest in them at all.
The other goldfish, who seems to be in slightly better shape than the
one I described previously, ate one piece but then spat it out
immediately like they did with the flakes a few days ago. Her mouth was
open for a couple of seconds and she looked as if she was choking, then
she swam around for a bit and went back to the bottom with the other
fish. I apologize for the length of my email, we haven't had our
fish for very long but we've become very fond of them and I really
want to do everything in my power to help them overcome whatever's
making them ill. I plan on doing another 20% water change tomorrow as
that seemed to help. I hope you guys are able to tell me what's
wrong with them, and help us do whatever we can to get them back to
being happy healthy fish! Zoe
<Zoe, your fish are doomed without a much larger aquarium and better
attention to water quality. For two Comets, which are among the larger
Goldfish, potentially 25-30 cm long, we're talking about a
180-litre tank, minimum, and preferably 250 litres. Fancy Goldfish,
like Moors and Fantails, stay smaller and swim more slowly, so
they're okay in tanks from about 150 litres upwards. Bear in mind
Goldfish grow very fast, and will easily reach 15 cm within the first
year, so while you can keep them in, say, a 100-litre system for a few
months to a year, there's no point investing much money in a system
that small if you won't be able to afford a bigger tank a year from
now. Your fish WILL die in this 25-litre system, and all the
medications in the world won't do anything more than postpone their
execution. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: sick goldfish 10/18/10
We're definitely looking to purchase a bigger tank,
and I will be testing the water as soon as possible to try &
determine exactly why the fish got sick.
They still have no interest in food, but after another 20% water change
this morning they seem much happier.
<Appetite will come back when the fish feel better. Don't worry
about their feeding for now. Once you provide good environmental
conditions, they will get hungry again.>
Both fish have been swimming around a little today, but Princess (the
fish that seemed to be doing a little better than the other one) is
covered in white stuff today as well. She had a little bit along her
back today but now it's all over her face (especially all around
her mouth), the top of her & some on her tail too.
I know in the last email you said the white stuff may have been Ick
<No, I didn't say that; quite the reverse if I recall.>
but it looks more like wet cotton or slimy cauliflower than tiny grains
of salt which is how I have seen Ick described in some articles
I've read on your site.
<As stated in my last e-mail, you need to go through that
"do-it-yourself" disease troubleshooting chart and find out
what the problem is. I'd bet all the money in my pocket that
it's Finrot, Fungus, or very possibly both.>
Do you have any idea what this might be and do you have any suggestions
on what we can do to make them better?
<Both Finrot and Fungus are caused by poor environmental conditions.
Fix the environment so that they are exposed to zero ammonia and zero
nitrite, and medicate as per these infections. Without fixing the
environment medicating will have little, if any, long-term
I plan on doing another water change tomorrow as the water is slightly
cloudy again already,
the fish seem to be peeling, not scales bur little bits of the white
stuff that they're covered in :s Also any ideas on how we can get
them to eat?
<Least of your problems. Goldfish can, do go months without food. So
this isn't a problem. They are going to die because their
environment is lethal and that has allowed their bodies to become
riddled with opportunistic bacteria, not because they're starving.
Focus on what matters, not trivia.>
Thank you for taking the time to read and reply, we really want to fix
the problem asap.
<Glad to help. Read the links I gave you last time. Everything you
need to know/fix is there. It's actually very simple. 25 litres of
water = dead Goldfish. 150 litres + fungus/Finrot medication = these
Goldfish should recover. Cheers, Neale.>
Attn Neale. Petecchial GF - 10/10/10
Don't know if you remember me but I wrote to you in July
about my fish Sparticus.
<Indeed, I remember.>
He died today after being well for quite a long time.
<Oh, too bad. Sorry to hear this.>
He had a redness appear back which I have taken a photo of. I
happened very quickly. He had a 30 gallon tank and the reading
were no ammonia ph 7.2 He was curled over on his side when I
found him. Not straight flat on his side but head and tail to
rocks and stomach higher.
This was on his under belly. What is it?
<The red is likely inflammation, but whether caused by
something in the water, or abrasion with sharp gravel/sand, or a
bacterial infection it's hard to say. I would take some time
out to review living conditions in the aquarium, and if so moved,
improve them. Do remember if you plan on adding new fish,
you'll need to keep the bacteria alive. A pinch of flake
every day or two should do the trick.>
Thank you for your help
<Sorry I can't offer anything more concrete. Cheers,
|Re: Attn Neale -
Thank you Neal.
What's a pinch of flake.
<A small pinch, a few flakes.>
There was another fish in there and he's okay.
<Oh, if there's a fish in the tank right now, then he'll
be making all the ammonia required. No need for extra flake beyond
what the fish in there is eating.>
Should I wait a week or so to add new ones in ?
<Give it 4-6 weeks before adding anything else. It takes at
least that long for some diseases to become obvious. The longer you
wait, the safer things will be for the new fish. Cheers,
Black Moor problems, env.
I have 2 black moors. One I got at Wal-Mart and he's doing
great...absolutely no problems. I got a 2nd one a month later from
PetSmart and she was floating on her side and having trouble getting to
bottom of the 16 gal. bowfront tank. I read some of your responses for
the "floaties" and I started giving my fish the peeled peas
and sinking fish food. She was doing fine for a while and now she's
just sitting on the bottom and is hardly eating. I have a 10" long
airstone in the tank. I also have 2 orange fantails that are medium
size and 3 really small calico fantail juveniles. The black moor
(Cricket) was so full of energy and
personality and now she just sits. She also has was looks like a bite
mark on her head behind her goggly-eye.
<Hello Janel. This is a simple one to answer. Your aquarium is much
too small for Goldfish. The lethargy is a sign of stress, and the bite
mark probably early-stage Finrot. Two juveniles up to 8 cm/3 inches
would need 20 gallons -- and you have seven in 16 gallons! For this
many Goldfish, even as yearlings, you'd need 30-40 gallons, and as
adults -- i.e., what they'll need once 12-18 months old -- would be
nearer the 75 gallon mark. It doesn't really matter what you do in
terms of food, I'm sure that water quality and oxygen concentration
are inadequate. Start by reading here:
Research what you need for Goldfish, and then consider some sensible,
humane stocking options for a 16 gallon tank. A school of White Cloud
Mountain Minnows, perhaps with a small gang of Peppered Corydoras might
be just the thing if you can heat the tank to around 20-22 C/68-72 F.
goldfish! Hlth... env., sigh...
I would like to know if goldfish keep their top fin on top of their
body down if they are shy or scared?
<Not really, no.>
if neither than please tell me the real answer!
<Fish fins are controlled by bones -- the fin rays -- and muscles
underneath them. When fish don't hold their fins out normally,
e.g., if they looked fine yesterday but look odd today, then
stressing them. The weaker the fish, the less able it is to hold its
fins out properly. "Deportment", for want of a better word,
is a good clue as to the overall health and happiness of a fish, in
much the same way that a limp or weakness indicates when a human being
is sick or injured.>
u could be a bug help!
<A bug help?>
I have 3 goldfish but now I actually have 2 because on died last
<Oh dear. I'm going to take a gamble that you added a bunch of
fish to a brand new aquarium without cycling it first. Maturing a new
aquarium takes about 3-6 weeks. After that time you can safely add some
fish. Goldfish also need a very large aquarium, and contrary to what
people often think, they can't live in bowls or small tanks.
We're talking 20 gallons or so for a couple of juveniles up to
about 3 inches/8 cm, and 30 gallons or more for Goldfish larger than
that. In smaller aquaria than 20 gallons their mortality rate is
I'm sad but I only got her on this Saturday and didn't seem
like she was eating well and stayed more towards the bottom! I have
another and he is very energetic and swims around and is also a pig and
tries to steel food but I'm afraid if I put them in he is going to
eat them all them blow his belly and die and the others not eat at all
<Fish don't die from overeating. That's a myth. In bowls and
very small tanks (anything under 20 gallons) the fish are poisoned by
the ammonia they excrete. If you overfeed such fish in small bowls, the
rotting uneaten food simply makes things even worse. In a mature tank
upwards of 20 gallons, you can feed a small pinch of food once or twice
a day without any risk at all.>
so what I have been doing is actually watching them eat! tiger is the
energetic one and the one that eta a lot! but the other one is Gary and
always has his top fin don't and is usually at the bottom away from
the energetic ) and daisy is the one that passes last night! well Gary
( top fin down) always used to hang around with daisy and now she
isn't there with him and will that effect him? or the other
goldfish?! well please and thank you answer my questions and please
answer them soon!
<Do read the links below; my intuition here is you killed this fish
by lack of planning, and that the remaining fish may not be living for
I don't mean to be harsh, merely honest.
... lg. GF is 5 gal.s
Hello, I recently rescued a large gold fish from someone that was not
properly caring for him. He is said to be a couple of years old. His
tank was very dirty. He was floating at the top but still breathing. I
have put him in a 5 gallon fish tank with a filter system, he is the
only fish in there, and put him in clean (bottled not tap) water. Is
there anything else I can do for this poor guy? He's still just
floating at the top like he's dead but trying to
breathe'¦ Thanks so much for your help! ~Melinda
<Hello Melinda. The short answer is that 5 gallons won't be
enough for him. On top of that, and I know this sounds ironic, but
moving a fish from one set of conditions to another, even if the new
conditions are much better, can stress the fish severely, causing it to
go into shock. Better to do small, regular water changes -- say 25%
every week -- than bigger water changes all of sudden. Thirdly, bottled
water is not necessarily a good choice, and certainly not economical.
Non-softened tap water with some water conditioner added is generally
best. In the meantime, I suggest you read here:
Goldfish are -- despite their mythology -- quite expensive and
difficult to keep, and the fact many people keep them in bowls and
5-gallon tanks masks the reality that something like 99% of the
Goldfish kept that way die within a few months. A couple of
"tiddlers" up to, say, 4 inches might be kept in a 20 gallon
tank, but 2-3 adults will be 8-10 inches in length once they're
more than about three years old, and such fish need, at minimum, 30
gallons. If that's not an option for you, an animal shelter may be
able to help. In the United States one risk when taking Goldfish to a
pet store is that low-quality Goldfish get sold as feeder fish. Here in
the UK this barbaric and unwise habit has died out, and the better
aquarium shops, including the Maidenhead Aquatics chain, will take in
and rehome any fish you can't keep. So if you're in England,
that may be an option. Cheers, Neale.>
My fish seems to have dropsy...
I've had a fish die of dropsy
<Mmm, a symptom... like "pop-eye", HLLE... not the result
of a specific pathogen, genetics, environmental abuse...
"Dropsical conditions" have a few etiologies/causes>
a few months ago, and the condition of my current fish is
It is a 3 inch long Red Cap Oranda living in a 10
<... Much too small a volume. This is likely the largest origin of
trouble here... Had you read...>
We have no heater in the tank, and we occasionally do forget to change
the water (I suspect this may be an issue).
I just did a 100% water change today
<... not a good idea>
after about a week. I added 4 tsp. of API Aquarium Salt,
<Of no use...>
but it doesn't seem to have had a very significant impact on the
fish. It seems to have swollen eyes (the area beneath the eyes are a
little bit puffy), and the scales on one side seem to be protruding a
bit. This just started today. However, she was also sitting right on
the bottom, tail up, and the area right behind the gills are puffy.
I've tried to diagnose this, but I can't tell if it is a body
slime issue or if it is indeed dropsy. Both have the sign of abnormal
osmotic function. I am considering using the Fungus Cure from API to
try to treat it, but I'm also not sure if Victoria Green B and
will have dangerous side effects on fish that do not need them.
I hope you can help.
<I hope you can read. http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind1.htm
The third to last tray down.
My fish may have dropsy.. .
Adding to what I already sent you in my previous email, I did check out
the malnutrition area of the site, and I'm now trying to figure out
whether this may
be the cause of my fish's dropsy-like appearance.
<Mmm, what are you feeding? And, do the fish's scales protrude
from the sides?>
If malnutrition is indeed the culprit, could you suggest some stores
where I can buy Epsom salt
<Most any good-sized grocery store>
to add to the tank in addition to the vegetables I give them? And is it
okay if I only feed green peas to my fish or do I have to feed leafy
greens such as spinach?
<Both are fine Anna. BobF>
Re: My fish may have dropsy... 9/8/10
Other than the tank conditions, my fish was eating the flake food you
find at pet stores (which has a much too high protein content now that
I read the diet page).
I also gave it a few deshelled, defrosted green peas several times each
month to aid in digestion.
The scales on one side are noticeably lifted slightly. It's not
quite like the full-blown protrusion seen in dropsy, but the previous
fish (who was overfed, probably the culprit) had similar symptoms prior
If malnutrition is the case and veggies and water changes will reverse
the damage, then is Epsom still necessary as written on the
<The magnesium sulfate can help discernibly. BobF>
Hi re bloated goldfish
Hi , I recently bought my daughter two gold fish,
<Without wanting to be a killjoy, Goldfish are not good pets for
Among other things they need a large aquarium -- at least 30
gallons/150 litres -- and those cute plastic My Little Pony aquaria
sold to appeal to children are DEATH TRAPS as far as Goldfish are
after two weeks, one of them has started to swell around the abdomen,
It seems happy, its not constipated and eats normally just doesn't
look right, any suggestions very welcomed .
<Abdominal bloating can be caused by a number of things, including
constipation and dropsy, this latter usually associated with the scales
sticking out like a pine cone when the fish is viewed from above. I
want to be surprised and find out you're keeping these fish in a
tank at least 30 gallons in size with a big strong filter.
Unfortunately experience tells me that most parents who buy their
children pet Goldfish do so without having read a single book
beforehand, and they end up sticking a couple of "small"
(i.e., juvenile) Goldfish into a 5-10 gallon plastic aquarium or God
help us a bowl. Do read here:
That article will tell you what you need AT MINIMUM to keep Goldfish
humanely. Sure, people keep Goldfish in bowls. But most of them die.
All that teaches children is that animals are there to be used as we
humans want, without any thought at all to that animal's welfare.
Once you've read that article, read this one about dropsy:
After that, please e-mail me back, and tell me more about the aquarium
you have. For example, did you mature the filter for a few weeks before
adding the Goldfish? What's the water chemistry and water quality?
These are key bits of information I need to provide you with the help
you need. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hi re bloated goldfish
Hi thanks this has been very useful , The tank is only about 6
<Far too small'¦ this is why the fish is sick, either
directly or indirectly. Do read the articles to which I directed you
and has under gravel filter and pump ,
<Undergravel filters can be okay for Goldfish, but they need to be
quite large, and very well maintained. Wouldn't be my first choice
to be honest.>
I don't know what levels the water are at as I don't have any
equipment to test it but shall go to pet store , They have a diet of
vegetarian flakes some pellets and I have a couple of plants in there
which they seem to love eating ,
<Good! They love fresh greens, and they're good for
It looks like the fancy fish has dropsy and I will go and get meds for
it , seems happy enough eating well .
<There is no medicine for Dropsy; while some antibiotics can help,
you need to fix the environment for them to have ANY chance of working.
If you stick with 6 gallons, I can almost guarantee you'll kill
these fish. If your shop says otherwise, the clerk is taking advantage
of your ignorance. A 6-gallon tank with a heater and filter would be
fine for a couple of Dwarf African Frogs and some Cherry Shrimps, a
much more interesting and easy to maintain community for your family to
Thanks again for your help
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hi re bloated goldfish
Hi thanks again, the under gravel has a bubble tube coming it from
<Likely inadequate if the water is getting murky.>
with a filter cartridge on top
changing water 50% a week to keep it clean and add chlorine removal
liquid, but water does get murky quite quickly .
<Indeed. The tank is too small. You're keeping an elephant in a
rabbit hutch. Do read the articles I sent you. You have two choices.
Replace the Goldfish with livestock suitable for 6 gallons, or upgrade
the tank to a 30 gallon tank. Goldfish in 6 gallons end up dead,
usually. Even the ones that live are miserable.>
Re: Hi re bloated goldfish 9/3/10
Ok point taken thanks Ill get it sorted thanks very much
<Glad to help. Do read here for some ideas for stocking 5/6 gallon
I have read your website but I'm still not 100% sure exactly
what's wrong with my fish.
He's on his own in quite a large tank, I have been using intrepid
filter that came with the tank. The fish has been in his tank now for
over 12 months (he's approximately 4 years old) , I recently (over
a month ago) added 2 apple snails as I was told by the pet shop that
these would also help the tank stay clean.
The fish has turned red (it almost looks like blood under his scales)
and he is lying at the bottom of the tank and appears to be off his
food. I have had a look at him and he had a white spot on his head but
that has disappeared now so I don't think it is white spot. I have
done a partial water change and rinsed out the filters (I have two in
at the moment as I thought one of them was breaking down-the intrepid
one and a Fluval one) he has improved slightly but he's still very
red and still lying out at the bottom the tank.
I'm going to the pet shop this evening do you have any advice what
I can get for the tank to cure my fish?
Any advice would be much appreciated.
<Hello Sue. The red at least is Finrot if confined to the fins and
small patches on the skin, or Septicaemia if widespread across the
body. The latter follows on from the former if untreated, and Finrot
itself is caused by chronically poor water conditions. Septicaemia is
essentially untreatable without antibiotics, which in the UK will need
to be bought from a vet, not a pet store. The "anti internal
bacteria" products sold in pet shops in the UK are useless and a
waste of your money. Call your vet, explain the situation and the
likely infection of Aeromonas and Pseudomonas, and have them write a
prescription. Yes, the medication will cost a bit more than the stuff
from the pet shop, but at least it'll work. I can GUARANTEE that
anything your pet shop sells for Septicaemia won't work at all. But
I can't tell you why your fish is sick from what you've told
me. Goldfish need quite a large tank, at least 100 litres and
realistically a bit more than that, just for one. If you've stuck
the fish in a small aquarium with a poky filter, then Finrot or
Septicaemia are extremely likely. Do make sure you understand the needs
of Goldfish. Despite being cheap, they are NOT cheap to keep, and many,
perhaps most are killed through lack of understanding of what they
Without treatment, this fish will probably need to be euthanised, as
Septicaemia at least doesn't get better by itself, as I'm sure
you already know.
Re: Fantail help 8/26/10
Thank you very much for your quick response. I'll phone the vets
this afternoon and get the antibiotic.
<Doubtless they will ask for the symptoms. Be sure the tell them
where the bloody patches are appearing. Stress that you understand
Finrot and Septicaemia are different things, but suspect the latter.
The vet may recommend euthanasia, depending on how far the infection
has spread. Clove Oil works well for this.>
The tank I have is quite a big one,
<But how big is that? To someone starting out, 10 gallons/40 litres
can seem huge. But it's not. Let's say you have a 120 litre
aquarium, the minimum practical size for Goldfish. That would measure
about 80-100 cm from left to right, 30-40 cm from front to back, and
about 40-50 cm from top to bottom.>
I was told when I bought it I could have at least 2-3 fantails in
<Indeed. But retailers will sometimes say any old thing. After all,
they make money selling stuff, and sometimes, just sometimes,
they're not altogether frank about how much space Goldfish need. A
four-year-old Goldfish should be about 15 cm long, about the size of a
side plate. A big adult will be nearer 20 cm, plus the big droopy fins,
so nearer the size of
a dinner plate. These are BIG fish, much bigger than most tropical
fish, which is why tropical fish are actually EASIER for beginners than
the problem occurred after I put the snails in so I wasn't sure if
they were carrying a disease or not when I put them in.
<Likely irrelevant. Sure, if the snails die because you add a
copper-based medication to the water that would be bad for water
quality. But overfeeding would do the same thing. Generally though,
snails shouldn't be added to Goldfish tanks simply because they
don't necessarily have the same requirements.>
the tank always appeared clear and the new filters seemed to be working
fine so I never thought it might be a water problem, I'll check the
tank this evening.
<You are most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
My Goldfish Butch, sys., hlth.
Greeting to you all. First off please excuse any grammar issues I may
<Our reputation precedes us! Honestly, Lynn, it's not about
being grammar fiends or frustrated English teachers, but merely about
clarity, both for and our readers, as well as for search engines that
catalogue the pages on this web site. We don't need the Great
American Novel, just something clear and easy to read.>
I've had my common goldfish for 19 years now.
<A good age for a Goldfish, which should like around 20 years or so
in captivity, potentially over 30.>
He's in a 10 gallon tank and has been most of his life.
<All the more remarkable! Honestly, this tank is at least half the
size it should be, and I'd argue one-third the size.>
He's been some what lethargic for about 3 years now.
<Ah yes, a combination of large size, lack of swimming space, lack
of oxygen, and perhaps decreasing "vitality" as the fish
enters middle age.>
He sits in the corner out of the way of the bubble wall. He's had
bend in his tail for many many years and some times there is blood
streaks in the long tail.
<That's Finrot, or more accurately, the
blood-filled congestions caused by bacteria attacking the fin tissue.
So far, it sounds like the fish's immune system has contained the
infection, which is likely what happens in many cases. But you're
skating on thin ice here, and sooner or later the fin tissue will start
to rot as blood stops being able to flow freely through the
His tail and all of his fins are very long and flowing.
<Good. But as your accountant would say about an investment,
"past performance is no guarantee of future results". In
other words, just because you've dodged the bullet so far,
doesn't mean you'll be so lucky tomorrow.>
Until recently I have always cleaned the tank about once every two
month and treated the water with just a chlorine blocker.
<Well, you've really done what people did 50 years ago, and most
of the time their fish died. Some survived of course, and yours is a
testament to that. But do understand you're doing everything wrong.
That your fish has survived is a reflection on the hardiness of the
species we call Carassius auratus, and as much as you may love this
pet, you've really not done anything much to help him or her. I
know that's blunt, but it is the truth.
Goldfish need a 30 gallon tank, a filter, and a 25% water change every
week to two. Let me assure you that you're the lucky one. I can
guarantee that for every 100 goldfish kept the way you've kept
yours, 99 of them will be dead within the first year. It's kind of
like when you hear about the guy in Siberia who lives to a hundred
smoking Russian cigarettes and drinking vodka at every meal. Sure, that
happens, but any doctor will tell you most of the people who do that
wind up dead long before their hundredth birthday!>
There is no plant life just two to three inches of gravel and a long
<I see. Again, live plants are important for Goldfish as food, if
I came home from vacation last week to find him on his side with a
cloudy slightly popped out right eye and a lot of streaking in his
<Ah, and so it begins.>
I just assumed that the tail bend was from old age and the blood
streaking as stress from that long tail.
<Not really, no.>
I have since learned otherwise. I have lowered the level to about 7
gallons added salt and treated the water with Maracyn-oxy(it's been
5 days now).
I have taken him off flake and am just feeding him 4 to 8 peas a
Some days he seems to up right himself better than other days. I tested
the water and everything looks good but the ammonia level is a little
high right now so I plan to get some ammo lock as well.
<Do understand Ammo Lock is for treating ammonia in tap water. Let
me repeat that: IN TAP WATER. It is NOTHING to do with the ammonia
produced by the fish as it metabolises. The analogy would be like me
washing a frying pan once, and then declaring that it never needs be
cleaned again. The ammonia your fish produces needs to be processed by
a biological filter.>
What else can I do?
<Many, many things. Start by reading:
His eye is still a little bit popped and it happens to be on the side
he seems to fall to when he cannot right himself.
<Both common symptoms in bad conditions; see here:
Okay, let's fillet this right down. You dodged the bullets right up
until the last few weeks; your poor fish is now peppered with bullets!
He needs a whole new and better environment, or he WILL die.>
The tail is completely blood free but very bent and he usually rests
nose down with that long tail kinked over to the point where he looks
like an upside down U. Should I get medicine to add to the food?
<Least of your problems.>
I first thought he had dropsy but have since ruled that out. What is
difficult for me is getting the fish store folks to get over the fact
he's 19 years old and just help me add another 10 years to his
life. Please help and thanks in advance for any and all advice.
<You could do that with at least 20 gallons, and ideally 30 gallons,
plus a proper biological filter offering a turnover rate of at least 4
and ideally 6 times the volume of the tank per hour.>
Proud owner of Butch Fisher
<Good luck! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: My Goldfish Butch 7/30/2010
Thank you Neale. It was the first thing I asked for at the fish store,
a bigger tank but they talked me out of it.
<!!! The only explanation I can think of is they make more money
selling fish than selling hardware, so the faster the fish dies, the
sooner they make a new sale. But honestly, that's insanity. Yes,
you'd want to move the mature filter from one tank to another, and
yes, you'd want to minimise water chemistry differences between the
old tank and the new tank. But otherwise, moving from a small tank to a
bigger one is always better.>
I will get him a completely new environment this weekend.
<Very good news. As I say, take care not shock the fish by exposing
him to dramatically different temperature and water chemistry. The fact
the tank is psychologically bigger isn't a problem; in the wild
fish move around all
the time and don't keel over from surprise!>
And really from the bottom of my ignorant fish having heart I thank you
for your bluntness. It's exactly what I needed. Lynne in
<Real good. Glad I didn't offend -- sometimes by British
brusqueness doesn't cross the Atlantic particularly well! Good
Re: My Goldfish
Butch.....update #2 8/11/10
Greetings to WetWeb (Neale):
<Greetings back at you.>
Ok at this point while my tank has yet to fully cycle I have been
successful at keeping the nitrite and ammo at around .25 or lower with
30% water changes almost daily.
<I'm concerned here. Diluting ammonia through daily 25% water
changes isn't really a hobby, it's a job! It's also going
to dilute any medications you're using. We've been at this a
couple of weeks now, so I'd be tempted to lay off the water changes
for a couple of days to see what happens. If the ammonia stays below
0.25 mg/l, I'd stick with the usual 25% weekly water changes.
I'd perhaps add a little salt to the water, a teaspoon per gallon,
just to slightly detoxify any nitrite. Goldfish tolerate salt well, so
this won't harm them.>
My issue at this point is his/her heavy breathing while camped out in
the corner at the bottom. Can it's spinal deformity alone keep the
fish from breathing properly?
<Can't see how.>
I treated the old tank for 5 days with Maracyn-Oxy and salt weeks ago
and am now (in the new tank) on day 3 of another round of Maracyn. My
feeling at this point is that maybe he/she has an internal parasite or
infection (maybe flukes) that may warrant a stronger antibiotic such as
<Perhaps. It's very difficult to say.>
I have two questions for you about that drug. Do I proceed with the
Metro and if I should can I use the 500 mg pills I already have in my
home. Of course these pills are mine but aren't they the same thing
one would get from a vet?
<I've not used Metronidazole, and it's normally used only
with a vet's prescription here in the UK. So I'd not recommend
using tablets "lying around" the house. But with that said, I
know people have done this; see here for doses:
Butch is eating well and when he/she does swim it's with great
vigor. The eyes are still cloudy but he really does seems to staring at
me with those "help me just a little more I'm almost
better" eyes. If I am correct that I can use my pills do you have
any idea of the right ratio of milligram to tank water?
Looking forward to the day when my tank is NOT a triage unit. Thanks,
Lynne in Seattle.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: My Goldfish Butch.....update #2 8/11/10
Last night I didn't not change the water. The ammo is finally at
zero but the nitrite is still there hovering below .25.
<Nitrite levels lag behind ammonia.>
The fish seemed less labored in it's breathing but was also eating
There is salt in the tank at the appropriate levels. I made sure to at
least put the daily Maracyn med in after the water change. Of course
after I asked about the Metro med I found that dose info. I'm just
stuck between acting and being patient. Thank you. Lynne
<Little footsteps but in the right direction. Cheers, Neale.>
RIP BUTCH FISHER 8/16/2010
Greetings (Neale). Well I'm sorry to say it but Butch died this
weekend. I found him Sunday, dead and oddly more upright than ever
floating in his own cloud.
He stopped eating 5 days ago and I knew it was coming. I cleaned the
tank along with a 50% water change. Am I way off base when I say that
the fishes death sped up the cycling process?
<Can't imagine it makes a big difference either way. But if you
remove a big fish from an overstocked aquarium, and leave behind just
some small fish, things generally improve. On the other hand, an empty
aquarium needs a source of ammonia, even if that's just a pinch of
flake added every day and allowed to decay inside the filter.>
Because my numbers are better than ever about 4 hours after the
Since I added Metronidazole, the last dose being Friday, should I add a
charcoal filter into the system to clean it out or leave it as is?
<Either is fine. In theory, organic compounds tend to be metabolised
by bacteria within a day or so, and therefore there's little need
in most cases for adding carbon. On the other hand, some medications
may take longer to break down than others, and certain fish are more
sensitive than others, in which case using carbon can provide some
benefits. I wouldn't bother though.>
The one thing I am not finding in any of my 4 fish books is post mortem
tank maintenance. It's sad/odd not seeing the fish after 19+ years
but have since discovered I have snails. Fast moving very small snails
that must have hitched a ride on the Elodea.
How soon can I restock with a couple of new goldfish?
<The bacteria do need a new source of ammonia within a day or two,
or their populations will die back to levels appropriate to a bunch of
snails rather than a goldfish. So adding one or two juvenile Goldfish
within the next couple of days makes sense. On the other hand, you may
elect to finish off cycling the tank using a fish-less method, and only
add those fish once ammonia and nitrite levels consistently remain at
zero. I'd recommend the latter.>
I feel a bit guilty for asking and am quite sure I have violated some
after death protocol. :) Best Regards, Lynne in Seattle
<Good luck with the next fish! Cheers, Neale.>
Bottom sitting goldfish, water
parameters normal (Bob, any ideas?)<<None addnl., though these
fish are being "dwarfed" by current circumstances. B>>
I've searched your site for "bottom sitting" and found
plenty of articles, but (and I'm sure everyone says this)
couldn't find one that had my same circumstances. So, here it
I have a 3 yr old Shubunkin goldfish, about 4 inches long not counting
the tail, in a tank that's been set up for about a year. It's a
27gal with a 150 gph filter and strong air stone. I tried putting in a
300 gph filter last year, but the current was too strong and my fish
was getting knocked against decorations, so I switched back.
<Fine. You're already offering a turnover rate about 6 times the
volume of the tank which should be okay for a small Goldfish.>
For years, I used carbon in the filter media, but took it out a couple
months ago after reading it wasn't recommended.
<Indeed. All carbon does is remove dissolved organic compounds such
as tannins that turn the water yellow. That was useful back when people
did 10% water changes once a month, as these compounds were not only
unsightly but also lowered the pH. But if you're doing regular
water changes around 25% every week or two, you shouldn't have much
organic material in the water at all, so the carbon doesn't do
anything useful. And unless you're changing the carbon once every
two or three weeks, it stops working anyway, and just becomes
biological media filled with bacteria. You may as well use a proper
biological media that's cheaper and easier to maintain!>
For several months now, I've noticed my fishy sitting in the same
spot on the bottom of the tank at night after all the lights have been
turned out, like he is sleeping. But he would always perk up if I came
in the room/turned on the light/fed him/etc. But, now he goes through
episodes where he "sleeps" during the day, too, and will not
even get up to eat for many minutes when I come over.
<May be a variety of things, including boredom, constipation, lack
of oxygen in the water.>
Plus, the other day he was swimming funny, letting the current push him
around and barely using his fins. I really thought he was dying. But
other times, he seems perfectly normal, picking at gravel, swimming,
etc. It is very inconsistent and definitely alarming.
<I would imagine.>
More background info: I regularly test my water with API drops and
ammonia, nitrite are always zero. Nitrate = 5-7. pH is high at 8.4, but
I live in Florida with very hard water. At least the pH is very
<And fine for Goldfish, which like hard, basic water
Temp is stable also at 76 F.
<This is very high for Goldfish, and may be lowering the oxygen
content in the water.>
I change 25-30% of the water every other week since he is the only fish
in there and ammonia is always zero. I use aged water treated with
Prime and cycled through a UV filter. I only feed once per day, a small
amount and vary between bloodworms, pre-soaked Wardley Advanced
Nutrition Flakes, pre-soaked Spirulina/algae discs, and peas. I'll
admit that I got lazy for several weeks and fed only the bloodworms,
but I've switched now to peas for the last several days to
"clean out" his system, but no change in behavior.
<OK. Well, I imagine if constipation was the problem it'd be
cleared out by now.>
It would be good to point out now that I have a second goldfish, a 2.5
inch comet, in a separate tank. He is treated and fed *identically* to
the Shubunkin and is happy as a lark. I got him about a year ago and
he's been growing nicely ever since. I have never seen him
I know this is a long post, but I'm at a loss as to what is wrong
with my Shubunkin. I thought about flukes, but he doesn't seem to
have rapid gill movement, although I'm not sure what
"normal" vs. rapid really is.
<Can be difficult to judge, and does depend somewhat on temperature,
fish ventilating their gills more as temperature goes up. It's
usually easier to judge "rapid" breathing or
"laboured" breathing when you have a bunch of the same
species, and one of them is odd. In any case, Goldfish will tend to
gasp at the surface if the water contains too little oxygen, but with
that said they'll also hang in midwater looking glum.>
He does yawn sometimes or at least moves his mouth a lot, but he
doesn't gasp at the surface. I don't see anything abnormally
wrong with him except some old Finrot damage that never grew back. No
sores, visible parasites, spots, etc. Could this behavior be a symptom
of a lack of oxygen?
<That would be one thing easy enough to test. Try adjusting the
filter so it produces lots of turbulence at the surface, either by
adjusting the out-flow pipe or lowering the water level so there's
more of a "waterfall" from the filter. Alternatively, try
replacing 50% of the water with fresh, dechlorinated water that's
been aerated for an hour or so. Either way, if the fish perks up for a
while, then oxygen may be an issue. Also try floating a litre-sized
block of ice in the tank. If the cooling effect perks the fish up,
again, oxygen or overheating could be issues. One last thing. Try
keeping the other Goldfish in the same tank as this one, or at least
putting them both in whichever tank is biggest. If they both swim about
happily, then boredom might be the issue.>
The bottom sitting happens mostly at night and in the morning.
Thank you for your help!
Re: Bottom sitting goldfish, water
parameters normal 7/22/10
Thank you for the advice.
I've been putting off getting a bigger tank due to the expense, but
I think now would be a good time to get a bigger one and combine both
fish into one, like you suggested. (The Shubunkin is in a tall
hex-tank, not ideal for goldfish.)
<Yikes! Yes, these are of marginal usefulness at best, and I
don't recommend people buy them.>
I'll use my existing filter media to avoid cycling issues. I'll
also try to design the new tank with better oxygenation "just in
<Long and low works well! Fish tend not to care about depth so long
as their backs are wet, but surface area is a big deal for all sorts of
reasons. So if you have the option, a "long" rectangular tank
is usually better than any other design.>
In the meantime, I will try the ice and agitation suggestions you
mentioned to see if there is any difference in behavior. (Fingers
crossed!) IF I don't see an improvement within a couple days of
trying these, do you think
treating him for flukes would be a good idea in case I am just not
recognizing the symptoms?
<External flukes should be obvious, little black things stuck the
Gill flukes are trickier, but you can use salt safely with Goldfish as
both dip and bath; see here:
It's not easy to diagnose gill flukes though. Heavy breathing,
gasping are common symptoms, but these can be caused by other things
too, and I'm sure more than ninety-nine percent of the time that
aquarium or pond fish are
lethargic, flashing or gasping there are other factors at work.>
One thing I forgot to mention is that he swims around the large air
stone a lot and every once in a while kind of rubs on it, but it's
hard to tell if he's just playing. He doesn't do that to any
other decorations, as far as I can tell. His sleeping spot is also
right next to the air stone.
<Again, it may be that the higher oxygen content is pleasant. Fish
migrate between patches of water even within ponds, and do so to
experience warmer or cooler water, or for more oxygen, or whatever. A
curious fact is that
some fish will swim into warmer patches when they're sick, so they
can run a fever of sorts, and thereby speed up their immune reaction.
Irrelevant here, but an indication that fish will try and
"treat" themselves up to a point.>
Again, thank you for your valued assistance. Your team helped me
through a problem about a year ago that really taught me a lesson in
not jumping to a diagnosis and randomly medicating before looking at
<Oh yes indeed. >
I'm sure my little Shubunkin is still around today because of this
<I'm glad we've been able to help before.>
<Good luck, Neale.>
Question about my goldfish
I've had my Shubunkin Goldfish for about 2 years now, and have
never had any major problems. I just upgraded his tank from a 10g to a
60g hex tank.
<Mmm, plus points for the larger volume, not so much for the shape
of this system... more "flat, box-like" shapes are better by
far for goldfish. More swimming room, surface area for gaseous
I cycled the new tank for a month before I put him in, and have been
adding BioZyme as instructed.
<Mmm, I hope this product works for you>
Decor-wise, there are several small flowerpots turned to their sides, a
large hollow ornament, and several fake plants. I have a few live
plants that I put in there as well (Anubias, I believe). I'm using
the TopFin 60 filter, I have an airstone, and a fluorescent light. The
other tank inhabitants are 2 Amano shrimp, and 1 Bristlenose Pleco
(which I bought about a week after adding the shrimp and goldfish).
Current tank stats are:
Ammonia: 0 Temp: 70 Ph: 7.1 . We do have mildly hard tap water here.
I've been using Prime as my dechlorinator/slime coat/etc treatment.
I also add aquarium salt when I do water changes.
<I would not likely do this. Please read here:
and the linked (above) FAQs file>
I generally feed my goldfish a combination of bloodworms, flake food,
peas and pellets (though, he doesn't seem to like those much :)) He
also tends to nibble on the algae disks I drop in for the shrimp and
It's been two weeks since I added my goldfish and shrimp (about 1
week for the Pleco). Lately, my goldfish has been acting very
strangely. He's eating just fine, and looks fairly healthy, but
he's swimming like he's gone mad!
He'll sit in one place for a bit, then dart off around the tank,
sometimes running into the sides. He's tried to jump out of the
tank several times, and I think this has caused some swelling on the
top of his head (from hitting the hood?). Whenever I get near the tank,
he runs and hides, instead of eagerly coming to the top waiting for
food. Usually, he's fine- picking around the bottom for food,
playing in the bubbles from the airstone, But every now and then he has
these episodes. He won't hold still long enough for me to check him
for any spots or anything, and I have no idea what could be wrong. This
is NOT normal for him at all. He's always been very calm.
The Pleco doesn't seem to be showing any signs of being sick or
anything, and I've seen the shrimp maybe twice since I transferred
Any suggestions or guidance would be much appreciated.
Thanks so much
<Mmm, well, "it" might be that your Shubunkin is simply
exuberant in being in a larger world... or the reflection, shape of the
system may be confusing... I would hold off on the salt, try to
approach the tank slowly, leave some light on near the tank (outside)
during nights... and try to be patient. Bob Fenner>
Lionhead 'Moldy Fungus' 6/30/10
Our Lionhead is approx 4 years old, he is brown and approx 3
Today we noticed that on his 'cap' or 'hood' on
his head he has patches of what look like mold or a fungus.
<Yes, very common when water conditions are poor. Essentially
this is a mixture of mucous and quite possibly some bacteria and
fungi as well. All fish secrete an extra thick layer of mucous
when they are stressed. The idea is that the mucous becomes an
extra barrier between themselves and whatever is toxic in the
water. Because these fish are dark, the mucous is more obvious
than it is on most other types of Goldfish. So when you see these
patches, it is an early-warning sign that something is very wrong
with your aquarium.>
I cannot find any advice as to what this might be on the internet
- do you have any ideas of cause and treatment for this?
<In itself it isn't a disease but a symptom. Check the
environment. At minimum, check nitrite level and the pH. If the
nitrite is something above zero, and the pH is below 7.0, then
either of those could be the problem.
How long it will be before things turn from stressful to lethal
depends upon how big your aquarium is. As with any other
healthcare issue there's a genetic component too, some fish
responding to poor environment more quickly than others, so
simply because one shows the symptoms but the others don't
doesn't mean everything is fine.>
He lives with 1 other Lionhead of the same age (an orange one).
The tank is 15 gallon/57 litres
<Far too small for adult Goldfish; this aquarium needs to be
at least twice this size. In short, the tank is too small to
provide acceptable conditions. As fish grow they produce more and
more waste per day, so even if they were fine last week, last
month or last year, a point is eventually reached where a small
tank can no longer cope. A tipping point. I suspect that point
was long ago, but Goldfish being fairly hardy fish didn't
exhibit symptoms until recently. It's a sad fact the while
Goldfish should live 20+ years, the vast majority don't
precisely because people buy them
without doing the least research, and keep them in all sorts of
inappropriate containers, such as your 15 gallon tank.>
They have a filter pump and are cleaned every 7 days.
<What do you mean by "cleaned"? The filter media
should be rinsed in a bucket of aquarium water once a month. If
the filter clogs up in less time than that, it's obviously
too small for the fish. Let's remember than Goldfish need
MASSIVE filtration since they're big, dirty fish that produce
lots of solid waste (faeces, uneaten food) as well as ammonia.
Turnover should be something around 6 times the volume of the
tank in turnover per hour, so for a 30 gallon aquarium that means
a 6 x 30 = 180 gallons/hour.>
I have added some photos, they are not the best quality as I
didn't want to use my flash but you can see the
'mold' patches on the head. (Some of the pics look like 2
fish but that is the reflection!)
Thanks for any help
Lack of research on your part, and the resulting poor
environmental conditions are almost certainly do blame here.
Without prompt attention these fish will do what usually happens
when Goldfish are dumped into inappropriate aquaria -- they will
die. Cheers, Neale.>
|Please ignore my previous message
as I woke up this morning and the fish had died.
<Sorry to hear that. But now you know that your aquarium is not
only too small but actively killing off its contents. This is what
happens. It's called "carrying capacity" and once
exceeded, Nature couldn't care less about your budget or the
size of your home, she'll remorselessly kill off everything in
the too-small aquarium until there's the right amount of
livestock in that aquarium. You can draw your own parallels with
regard to humanity and planet Earth! Cheers, Neale.>
Thank you 7/1/10
For your detailed reply,
<Happy to help.>
I think that I looked at the wrong conversion site when telling you
about the tank as it is really large for 2 fish (60cm x 30cm x
<This is 54 litres; much too small for Goldfish. Honestly. You
really do need at least 115 litres for Goldfish.>
I would never keep fish in a too small tank.
<Ah, but you are...>
When I said cleaned once a week I meant the tank water is totally
<Yikes! No, don't do this! Change 25% per week.>
and the pump and filter system cleaned.
<Again, don't do this. Clean the filter monthly by rinsing
the media gentle in bucket of aquarium water so the silt is washed
free. Over-cleaning the filter will remove the bacteria you need
for biological filtration. Don't waste time with Zeolite and
carbon; what you need is good biological filtration.>
I will take your advice about checking nitrates
<Nitrite, not nitrate. Different things. Nitrite is lethal,
nitrate not so much.>
and Ph right away.
<Do please read about fishkeeping generally. You're making
some elementary mistakes here, hence the death of your pet fish.
Feel free to write back for additional help. Cheers,
Ammonia query (Goldie Children Care)
I've written previously and spoke to Neale about my Calico
Ryukin, Pepper (aka- Peppie No Pew). He has what seems to be a
swim bladder issue.
<Do read here:
Since then Pep have not improved or gotten worse. He's always
been a strong swimmer despite his "balance"- or lack
there of. He eats like he's never seen food and occasionally
nibble on my finger when I'm cleaning his tank.
That was the update...
I've since found another question to ask.... (I read your
site during the slow hours at work and now have read everything
that pertains to goldfish and can't figure out a good
solution for my specific situation) Here's my next question-
You'll have to pardon me if the answer is straight forward
and I have not figured it out. I'm new to the hobby. :)
I have 3 fancy goldfish in a 20gal. tall planted tank. They are
still small (roughly 2"-3 1/2") so I figure I have a
little time to plan for my 40gal. long tank.
I am buying parts at a time due to budgeting.
<This is the most expensive way to do things, but I understand
things aren't always as easy as we'd like.>
I have an Red Cap Oranda (Candy Cane- mainly just
"Cane"), an bright orange Oranda and/or fantail
(she's still young I can't tell if she's a cross as
of yet) Mandarin (Mandy), and of course Pepper. The twenty gallon
currently has large smooth gravel, moth balls, driftwood and
rocks (from a local lake here in Florida) and a fake cavernous
ceramic tree trunk I added to give them something to swim and
explore (less boring).
I have two older Aqueon 20 gal. filters for the tank. I also have
a BioWheel Penguin 200 ready for the 40gal. and in addition
bought a Fluval U2 just in case. (the smaller filters are on the
20gal instead of the BioWheel and Fluval because I recently
upgraded from 10gal. to 20gal. and am keeping them running in the
20gal. for safe measure.)
<Often these manufacturers say a filter is for a 20 gallon
tank, but don't tell you that assumes the tank is
understocked with small fish. I would always recommend buying the
filter "one size up" in the range you're looking
I feed them anything from peas, rice, dried bloodworms, Bok Choy,
Omega One goldfish formula, Aqueon goldfish pellets, Hikari algae
wafers, dried brine shrimp, blanched -whatever green in
fridge-,seaweed, frozen omnivore's fish food concoction-
every time I find something I think is healthy and give the trio
a variety for their diet I buy it.
<All sounds great.>
I feed them once a day around 8 or 9 in the morning. The lighting
system is said to be a light for plants (it came with the 20gal.
Aqueon aquarium kit) I've held off on buying a better bulb
since I will be upgrading soon anyways.
The water in the aquarium is very clear and the fish look perky
and clean, shiny scales, swims and eats strongly, fins raised,
very inquisitive, and the water has no smell. Their poop is short
and kelp green at times, but what concerns me is- sometimes they
are also kind of thin and stringy although there are no sign of
parasites. I change 25-30% of the water twice a week and vacuum
each time. I use treated tap water with a high PH (8.0 if I
recall correctly). I would change their water with tap water
(which I store in 1 gallon drinking water containers) then refill
the containers add Aqua+ treatment (1 ml/gal) and leave it out in
the sun untill the next water change (every 2-3days).
<Why out in the sunshine?>
I rinse out the filters and let it sun dry and put an already
dried filter in from the previous water change (I switch them for
about 6 weeks then throw them out and get new ones) I also add
liquid plant food for the plants (Kent freshwater brand
<Likely unnecessary if the plants are growing slowly/not at
all. Some of those plants don't look like aquatic plants
anyway. Google "Dracaena" for example -- a commonly
sold non-aquatic that dies in, and thus pollutes, many
I have in the other filter a couple of bags of ammonia absorbers
that I switch off and throw out every month ....am I forgetting
any details that might help.....hm.....OH! the temperature is a
constant 76 degrees F and they are away from a window (I know it
should be cooler however here in Florida......yeah....)
<Not a problem for Goldfish.>
Sorry for being "long winded" I'm trying not to
miss any details. Anyway, I am doing all that I can/know in the
20gal. tank at the moment to keep the ammonia level down but it
is always at least .25mm no matter what I do.
<Does tap water measure ammonia 0.25 mg/l before it's
added to the tank? If it does, then you likely have either
ammonia or chloramine in your tap water. No big deal. Use water
conditioner that removes both of these, and
ignore the any ammonia readings 0.25 mg/l or less. Only if the
ammonia goes above that of dechlorinated tap water do you need to
worry. So if the tap water has zero ammonia, but the water in the
aquarium is 0.25 mg/l, then
yes, you have a problem. Overfeeding, under-filtering, bad filter
maintenance, or too many fish. Perhaps some combination.>
I test with the liquid API Master Freshwater test kit. The color
chart is difficult to read since the color always indicates the
water is between .25mm and 0 (light green and yellow) I have to
really strain my eyes to read, but assume it's a .25mm
reading just to be safe. Nitrate reads .2mm and Nitrite is 0.
<That nitrite is zero is a good sign.>
the ammonia is the only thing I'm constantly battling with.
Like I said the fish "look" healthy and are active,
however I want to be safe. I don't want any long term damage
to their gills. The tank is cycled. I am wondering if this is a
classic clutter case. I don't over feed (they are fasted once
a week and feeding(s) are once a day)...or at least I try not to.
I will try to attach a picture of the tank so you can see the
aquarium. I'm looking for anything less than obvious that
I'm missing here. should I do more water changes?
<25-50% weekly should be ample.>
Would it mess up their bio-filter?
<In itself, no, you can do more water changes if you want. But
I don't think justified in this instance.>
Should I wait and see if the bio-filter and can break down the
ammonia more considering it is a newer tank?
<Possibly, but see above.>
(the fish wasn't in when it was cycling and I added a good
amount of old media from the 10gal. tank) I want to keep away
from using too much chemicals....so can I add something different
from the ammonia absorbers I'm using? (gravel looking chips
of a sand color is a mesh bag) May be take out one Aqueon filter
and put in either the Fluval or the BioWheel? (the turnover rate
is a bit high for the 20gal. though...) Is the PH a bit high?
<It is fine.>
Oh and I was wondering if there's anyway I can add a cooler
that doesn't involve huge industrial sized machines
that's bigger than the tank? :)))
<Make sure the tank isn't in direct sunlight. Also, you
can open the hood and place a fan to blow air across the top.
That will increase evaporation, cooling the water. Or, you can
freeze some water in a Tupperware, and when
solid, float the Tupperware in the tank. That'll cool the
water down. Don't go crazy with this though or you'll
chill the fish! A one-litre Tupperware should be ample for a 20
Thank You so very much for looking over my e-mail. As always best
regards to everyone and thank you for a good solid info.
HAPPY DAD'S DAY!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: ammonia query (Goldie Children Care)
Thank you Neale! The ammonia reading at .25 is from the aquarium
<If the ammonia reading of your tap water after adding water
conditioner is zero, but the ammonia reading of your aquarium is
not zero, then you have a problem.>
Are the moth balls ok for the aquarium?
<Moss balls you mean? Yes, they're fine.>
I had a suspicious feeling about one of the plants after reading
your "out of my tank" article however I wasn't
sure. Is the stringy poop something of concern if the are
<If the fish are fine, I wouldn't worry unduly.>
Thank you do much Ashton
for the reply!
Re: ammonia query (Goldie Children Care), bier
Hello again Neale.
Thank you again for you prompt response.
I tested my water yesterday after switching out their filters and
came across some peculiar findings...The water in the aquarium is
in adequate conditions (Nitrate 0.2, Nitrite 0, and ammonia
However you called my attention to testing my tap water and thus
The ammonia level in my tap read to be 2.0 ppm. Is this
<Far from it, but do remember, aquarium ammonia test kits can,
and often do, give misleading results. You may indeed have
ammonia in your tap water.
But you might not. Chloramine will register as
"ammonia" on an ammonia test kit. So too will
chloramine that's been safely neutralised by water
conditioner. So, the thing to do is to use a water conditioner
that neutralises ammonia AND chloramine. You can then ignore the
tap water reading! So long as the aquarium level is zero and the
nitrite level is zero, you're fine! This is one reason I
recommend aquarists use nitrite test kits rather than ammonia
test kits -- much less scope for misunderstanding, and except for
the first week or two in an aquarium's life, in the filter
isn't working properly, you should get both ammonia and
nitrite levels that aren't zero, so they're both fair
It grossed me out quite a bit. To answer you previous questions
about the water being left outside in the sun, I heard somewhere
that by leaving the water outside it will help remove chlorine
and the like.
<Not as such. Letting water stand will allow chlorine to
"evaporate" but not ammonia or chloramine or copper, so
generally doing this pointless.
Much better to use a good general-purpose water
Also sorry for the "ashton" thing it was a spell check
with me and my phone.
Thank You again!
(sorry if I'm abusing my privileges here with the
<There's a tip jar on the front page. Feel free to buy me
a beer! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: ammonia query (Goldie Children Care)
Well what part of the green planet are you on and what type of
<I'm in the English countryside at the moment, but on the
internet, it's all good! So feel free to use whatever's
local to you.>
What is the cost of a twelve pack of your favorite refreshment?
I'll get right on it asap. The least I can do.
<We're happy to help. The beer's just a bonus!>
<Likewise, cheers and thanks, Neale.>
pH crash and unhappy fish
I live in Vancouver and have been trying to get my tanks to cycle for
months now. The city water is basically RO (pH is 7.0 and KH and GH are
I thought I had it figured out when I realized that nitrifying bacteria
need KH to help them develop.... so I used Victoria/Malawi salts to
bring the KH up to 100 and Epsom to bring the GH up to 150.
However, because my tanks aren't cycled the higher pH was causing
my goldfish to be more sensitive to any ammonia present in the tank
(despite very frequent water changes there is some ammonia present-
before I do a water exchange).
<Ah yes, a conundrum indeed. The bottom line though is that poor
water quality kills fish quickly, so regular water changes are
essential until the filter is mature. Tweaking the water chemistry
won't really fix things.>
I decided to reduce the amount of Malawi salts that I was adding when I
found my two smallest fish on the bottom of the tank, fins clamped (and
one with what looked like bleeding gills).
I am afraid that I may have reduced the pH too rapidly- my two smaller
fish (in their 36 gallon tank) are happy now and are fine.
<Changes to water chemistry should always be done slowly,
incrementally, even if for the "better".>
My large Oranda (in a separate 50 gallon tank) is acting very
strangely- darting around the tank very quickly and nervously when I
approach. The water was at a pH of 7.6 and I reduced it to 7.2 over two
days. Looking at letters from other people on your site his behaviour
is in keeping with too great of a pH change.
<May be a reaction to low pH (acidosis) or sensitivity to ammonia,
both of which can make fish nervous.>
What is the best course of action- should I leave the pH as is and let
him adjust or should I raise it up a bit (slowly- say over a day) to
<I would certainly make sure to use about one-half the dose of Rift
Valley salt mix in this aquarium, and if that means doing a series of
25% water changes daily to raise the pH and hardness, so be it. I'd
also add maybe a
teaspoon per gallon of the marine salt mix on top of what's already
being added. Goldfish tolerate salt well and salt has a mild effect
that reduces the toxicity of nitrite, so does help fish survive the
Regardless, I'd be planning on 25% water changes every 2-3 days for
the next four to six weeks until the filter is mature. If the filter
has been running for more than six weeks and still isn't mature,
then you have some other problem. Check the filter is adequate and
configured properly, that it's large enough for the fish, that the
media are being cleaned the right way, that you aren't overfeeding,
and so on.>
Will he calm down once he has adjusted or have I damaged his CNS?
<He will likely calm down once situation returns to normal.>
He is eating and his fins are up- he is not bottom sitting- but I am
afraid he will harm himself (or jump out of the tank) if he is
startled. I have his light out and am not going near the tank so I
don't stress him further.
He is normally quite friendly and likes to splash me or nibble my hand
when I'm cleaning his tank: I feel terrible to have caused him
Thank you for your help- and I like the new forum!!
<Glad to hear it.>
Gina de Almeida
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: pH crash and unhappy fish
Indeed, I have been trying to cycle my 36 gallon tank since
I also have a 55 gallon tank that I recently set up as a friend had a
huge Oranda in an uncycled 10 gallon tank and could no longer care for
her fish. My 36 ga. has two small telescope Ryukins in it and I can
easily keep the ammonia levels down for them with small, frequent water
<If this tank has been running for several months, then you
shouldn't record any ammonia at all. At least, not from the fish.
Do check there isn't ammonia or chloramine in your tap water, since
these will give you false positive readings. Treat your tap water for
chloramine and ammonia.>
The 55 gallon tank, however, is proving to be a huge challenge as the
large fish produces a larger amount of ammonia: once-daily water
changes aren't close to enough.
I am having to do two changes which really eats up a vast amount of my
day (I am in med school and have oodles classes followed by oodles of
homework so it's getting to be a lot of work).
I am positive that my filtration is adequate- I have an Eheim Pro 3
filter on both tanks- a 2071 on the 36 gallon and a 2073 on the 55
gallon (both are rated for tanks over 100 gallons).
<Yes, both should be adequate. Make sure you are using the right
media. Ceramic noodles or sponges are the best. Don't waste filter
space with Zeolite or carbon. Rinse media every 1-2 months in buckets
of aquarium water.>
On the 55 gallon I also have a hanging waterfall filter which is rated
for a 70 gallon tank. I squeeze out the prefilters in tank water about
once a month. Both tanks have UV sterilizers. Both tanks have bubblers
and powerheads to agitate the water surface.
<All sounds fine.>
I could possibly be overfeeding the Oranda- he is so much larger than
my other fish that I am not sure how much he should eat.
<Very little. Here's my recommendation: feed him just Elodea
(cheap pondweed) all but once a week, and on Sunday give him a few
low-protein flakes or pellets, such as Koi pellets or wheat germ
pellets. That's all.
See what happens after a month of that.>
While my other fish love homemade gel food, he does not. He hates all
vegetables: the only fresh food he will eat is kiwi fruit. He won't
touch flakes or algae strips so he mostly gets sinking pellets and
frozen Spirulina brine shrimp. He spits everything else I have tried to
feed him out and it makes a huge mess.
<Yes, they're messy fish. But if he's hungry, he WILL eat
pondweed. Otherwise, don't feed him. Remember, in the wild Goldfish
can go without food for months while hibernating. We feed them far more
in captivity than they need.>
I do vacuum up any rejected food to avoid spoilage but this may not be
helping the ammonia levels.
I am getting desperate to cycle a tank- ANY tank. The water here is
just like using bottled water and I don't know how to correct the
situation. I am moving in two and a half months and I tested the water
there: it is goldfish-friendly but I don't want to be moving the
fish into an uncycled tank there as the pH is 7.8.
<Goldfish like high pH levels -- the ideal is between 7.5 and
I have set up my old 20 gallon tank as a trial tank to see if I can get
it to cycle- I filled it with discard water from a tank cleaning and
cranked up the KH to 180 to encourage the nitrifying bacteria to grow
(I read a couple of really interesting articles that said that the
nitrifying bacteria need a KH of at least 100 to establish- is this
certainly don't like a pH of 7.0 and a KH of zero!!)
I add powdered fish flakes every couple of days. So far I'm not
seeing any nitrates but I don't think the ammonia has spiked yet.
Correct me if I am wrong but in a fishless cycling I read that I should
start seeing nitrates after an ammonia spike of about three.
<Well, you should see ammonia spike at some level after about a week
or so, but the precise amount varies. The diagrams you see in aquarium
books are very generalized, so don't hold too much faith in the
numbers you see on
the X and Y axes!>
I have a reading of one, currently. I have heard that you can use a
pure ammonia cleaning product to cycle a fishless tank but such a
product is not available where I live.
<And unnecessary anyway; you have ample ammonia in this system for
the bacteria. Indeed, I'm pretty certain you have the nitrifying
bacteria already. The question is why they're unable to cope with
what your fish is producing.>
My plan is to cycle the 20 gallon here in Vancouver then use the
substrate and filter from this tank to set up a new tank at my new
location (about 6 weeks before the actual move). That way I can move
the fish into a (hopefully) cycled tank... I'm growing short of
time and I am worried. Is there something glaringly obvious that I am
not doing that I should be (or vice versa)?
<Likely overfeeding in this case, though "false positives"
may be an issue too.>
I don't over clean the tanks, I use Prime to condition the water
but don't use any other products except for the salts and now a bit
of marine salts as you have suggested.
<Yes, a little salt helps take the edge off nitrite, though I'm
not sure about ammonia.>
I can play with the fishless tank if there is anything that you can
suggest I try to get it to cycle I'd be immensely grateful!!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: pH crash and unhappy fish 6/25/10
Just a quick update as it is very late here and I have gotten up to
check the poor Oranda. He is very stressed and is sitting on the bottom
of the tank (dorsal fin is upright).
He is calm until I try to approach him, then he starts to swim about
rapidly and begins to pooch out his mouth and "gasp": not at
the surface, like he is gasping for air, but at mid-tank level.
<Possibly, or else begging for food.>
He calms down when left alone so I staying away. He did not eat tonight
and did not beg like he normally does. He lost a scale yesterday (and
one about three weeks ago)- I know this is related to the water
problems I have been having but I actually can't find much
information on your site about scale loss.
<Isn't really a problem. Fish lose scales all the time, and grow
them back. Unless a fish loses lots of scales at once, or there are
signs of secondary infection, this is not alarming at all.>
It doesn't seem to be that common so I am really getting
He was acting normally a few days ago.
Regarding the tank cycling- I am sure the occupied tanks are not
the local water is treated with chloramine, so I use Prime to
There is no ammonia in the system at all- the water that comes out of
the tap is just like RO (and may indeed be RO). They use the chloramine
in the final stage of processing, to prevent contamination from
bacteria in the pipes but it is otherwise pure.
<Hmm... "pure" means different things to different
After writing the letter below, I tested my 20 gallon fishless tank and
was really pleased to see that I have a reading of 10 for nitrates. I
would move the Oranda but it is far too much of a parameter change from
the tank he is in right now (and he is too stressed to be approached).
His KH and pH are currently 39 and 7.5 respectively and the cycling
tank is 143.2 and 8.0. I believe the KH of zero in the local water has
been preventing my tank from cycling, which I must say is totally
supported by the fact that my 20 gallon seems to have cycled once I
raised the pH and KH with the Victoria/Malawi salts.
<I assume that the 39 and 143.2 are mg/l calcium carbonate? Putting
aside questions of accuracy to fractions of a milligram per litre --
impossible with generic test kits -- it's often easiest to convert
mg/l in degrees KH (divide by 17.9). Anything below about 4 or 5
degrees KH is likely to experience unstable pH levels, and anything
above will be firmly basic in pH and won't experience much
variation at all.>
Here is my dilemma and what has caused this entire mess: I was trying
to slowly raise the pH and KH in the occupied tanks so that they could
Since a rise in pH means that the fish are less tolerant to ammonia,
they were all showing stress- the two smallest fish were very ill (one
had bleeding gills) and the large Oranda began to swim very rapidly and
nervously about the tank.
<I see your problem. In practise, I'd be more concerned about
water quality than water chemistry, since the former is usually more
Because they were now so sensitive to smaller amounts of ammonia, I
needed to do frequent water changes... but since I am using Malawi
salts to raise the pH/KH is was really difficult to ensure that the
water I was adding to the tanks with every water change had the same
levels and I definitely did not want to fluctuate the pH and KH every
time I changed water. Argh!!!
So I began to reduce the amount of Malawi salts that I was adding to
the water. I actually did this quite slowly, over a couple of days and
the two small fish recovered immediately. I went from a pH and KH of
7.8/109 to a ph/KH of 7.5/53.7 over two days and today the test read
7.5/39. The Oranda just seems to be getting worse, however.
<Do understand that trying to feed fish when you have non-zero
ammonia levels is self-defeating and unnecessary. Fish are not
endotherms; they do not require a constant supply of meals to maintain
homeostasis. If you switch off the heater (if you use one) and let the
tank cool down, their food requirements will be reduced still further.
Goldfish can easily go by for a few weeks without food, and that will
mean the filter can process the lower quantity of ammonia even if not
He was eating (albeit reluctantly) two days ago but showed no interest
in a snack earlier in the evening. I will stop feeding him from now on
and will introduce Elodea- it is his lack of interest in food that is
really frightening me!! My little telescope who had the bleeding gills
still raced to the top of the tank at feeding time, and this Oranda is
definitely the "gourmand" of the group.
<As I say, don't feed beyond adding some floating plants like
The less I have to mess with the water, the better, I figure.
<True, but changing the water chemistry will NOT have a very great
impact on biological filtration, and in fact the more basic and
alkaline the water, the faster filter bacteria multiply. Nitrifying
bacteria dislike soft and acidic water conditions.>
I can keep the water parameters stable if I don't have to try to
buffer up the water and try to maintain the correct levels. I think
that the Oranda should be able to tolerate a pH of 7 and a KH of zero
for a couple more months until I return home (the tap water there tests
at pH 7.8, KH 150 and GH 100). I know this means that the tanks
won't cycle and I will have to do frequent water changes but my
messing with the water chemistry has been such a disaster that I
don't want to continue.
<I understand your worries, but I think you're wrong here.
I'm confused about your tap water readings listed here. For what
it's worth, a general hardness of 100 mg/l and carbonate hardness
of 150 mg/l should be fine for Goldfish. But earlier on you said the
carbonate hardness was 0...?>
I thoroughly enjoyed your article (I'm sorry, it's 3:30 am and
I can't recall the title) in which you suggested that one should
consider the parameters of the local water BEFORE purchasing fish. I
wish I had read this before, as Vancouver water is NOT compatible with
<If the water has a general hardness of 100 mg/l and carbonate
hardness of 150 mg/l, that's pretty middling and should suit a wide
range of fish.>
The fish store where I purchased my telescopes actually told me that it
was perfectly fine to purchase a tank and fish at the same time and
told me to just pop them right into the tap water.
<Indeed, perhaps true.>
I just want healthy fish. I hope my poor Oranda will recover. I am
sorry for this very long letter but I am terrified for the fish- I
should never have tried to mess with the water chemistry with a fish in
<It is important you know what sort of water you have to begin with,
but hardening water, if needs be, is cheap, easy, and shouldn't
cause any problems at all. Softening water is a whole other kettle of
Re: pH crash and unhappy fish
Very sorry to bother you again but the Oranda is STILL not eating or
showing any interest in food (this really alarms me more than anything
as he normally begs every time I walk past the tank).
<As stated several times already, don't feed him while water
quality isn't good.>
He is hiding in his measuring cup, dorsal fin is still upright. On the
bright side, since I reduced the pH/KH he is no longer darting
frantically about though he is still very lethargic.
<Don't change the pH or hardness to elicit "better"
behaviour; get the pH and hardness where they NEED to be, and the fish
will adapt. Your aim is to provide the right conditions.>
Other than that and having lost a couple scales, nothing else looks
unusual (I should mention that when I got him he already had a couple
scales missing- it looks like he has perhaps lost 5 or 6 scales in
total and they are all from one side- I read that fish can lose scales
if they have fish TB but I don't think this is the problem- I'm
sure it is my water troubles causing all of this).
<Not Fish TB; do read about Mycobacteria infections at WWM before
getting bogged down in this morass of misdiagnoses.>
I have very slowly brought the water chemistry back toward what is
coming out of the tap as my attempts to change the chemistry are what
triggered the troubles. Tap water tests are ammonia zero, nitrites
zero, nitrates zero, pH 7.0, KH zero, GH zero.
<The ammonia, nitrite and nitrate values are fine. The pH, carbonate
hardness and general hardness are too low. Dangerously so.>
The Oranda tank is showing ammonia 25, nitrites zero, nitrates zero, pH
7.4/7.5, KH 35.8 (2 degrees), GH 107.4 (6 degrees)
<So obviously the ammonia is getting in via food and protein
metabolism, not tap water. The carbonate hardness is still too low. Do
read the article you've been directed to, UNDERSTAND what
you're trying to achieve, and set
about creating those conditions. As stated multiple times, given the
tap water you have, about a half-dose of the Rift Valley salt mix
should create good water chemistry values.>
I am not sure if the ammonia is correct- if I am getting false
positives because I'm adding a bit of salt,
<Adding Epsom salt, baking soda and marine salt mix will NOT
how can I get a true reading?
<You ARE getting a true reading. If the tap water has zero ammonia,
but the aquarium has a non-zero value of ammonia, the ONLY source of
ammonia is the fish.>
I've been looking at meters (I just bought a pH meter but it is not
quite set up yet- the above readings are from my API master test
Is there a meter that measures ammonia accurately?
<I think you're measuring your ammonia levels just fine.>
Just to be safe I will do a small change this morning to get ammonia to
zero- I'm trying very hard to keep it at zero (especially since I
read on WWM that high ammonia and poor water quality are linked to
HITH) but it does creep up between changes.
<Hole in the Head isn't an issue with Goldfish. Finrot, on the
other hand, is.>
I wanted to ask your advice on this: I have two ideas and am not sure
which is best. I am moving in two months and the tap water back home is
perfect for GF so I just need to keep them happy and healthy for two
I have a the 20 gallon tank which is beginning to cycle. The 20 is way
to small for this big fish, but here is my plan number one:
I was thinking I could purchase another 50 gallon tank and set it up
here in Vancouver, get the chemistry right for nitrifying bacteria and
then seed the tank with media from the cycling tank THEN transfer the
<Overkill. Just lay off feeding this fish, provide the right water
chemistry by adding necessary Rift Valley salt mix, and wait for the
cycling process to complete.>
I suspect it won't take more than a couple of weeks at best to
cycle the larger tank as I put several filter sponges and a couple bags
of ceramic media in the water before I started to experiment with the
water chemistry- there should be some bacterial colonies established
there by now (as well as in the filter). I know if I just transfer this
seeded media over to the big tank it will just die off because of my
low KH... but if I can get a large tank ready for the fish I can slowly
raise his current KH and pH to closely match the cycled tank then move
him over. The cons of this plan for me is that I will have to make sure
that the water I use for my water changes is perfectly matched to the
pH/KH of the cycled tank so that I don't disrupt the bacterial
colonies. Then again, I shouldn't have to deal with daily water
My second plan was to just keep the fish in water that most closely
resembles the tap conditions while I am here as this is easiest for me
and avoids accidental fluctuations in pH and KH from my meddling with
the water chemistry. I would purchase said 50 gallon tank, drive home,
set up the tank and seed it with media from the cycled tank so that
when I move in approximately two months, I will be moving the Oranda
into the 50 gallon cycled tank and the 2 smaller fish could move
temporarily into the cycled 20 gallon tank until the 50 gallon in which
the Oranda currently resides is cycled for them. I want the fish to be
in a stable environment- I know this means frequent water changes (the
smaller fish have been living happily in these water parameters since
December and I know it is better to have the fish in less-than ideal
parameters that it is to have frequent fluctuations).
Either way I had planned to purchase a second 50 gallon tank as the 36
gallon where my young telescopes reside is too deep for them and I
wanted to get them something more appropriate.
Thank you so much for taking time to read my letter (which has turned
into a veritable tome)...
Gina de Almeida
<Making this much to much work. Do understand what the problems
Firstly, you need the right water chemistry for Goldfish. Do that by
adding the right amount of Rift Valley salt mix. Secondly, reduce food
input while the tank is cycling. If you're tank is more than a
month old and you're still detecting ammonia, and you know tap
water is ammonia-free, then somehow you're overwhelming the ability
of your filter to remove ammonia produced by the fish. That being the
case, minimise feeding for now, and see what happens. Cheers,
11-year-old Goldfish, Laying on Bottom of Tank, env...
Rhonda, my 11-year-old Goldfish, has been lying on her belly on
the bottom of her tank for the last 3 days, with very limited
swimming or movement.
Her top fin seems droopy. She makes an effort to swim when I come
over to her tank, and is trying to eat, but it seems like she is
spitting the food out or not able to swallow it. I feed her
floating pellets, which she's been eating for the last 8
years. She is in a 10-gallon tank with a Whisper filtration
system and live plants.
<10 gallons is too little.>
I do not usually change the tank water -
<You must! 25% weekly.>
I have actually never tested the water before today - everything
tested normal except for the Nitrite level, which was at 200ppm
(very unsafe). I am making a partial water changes to reduce this
<200 ppm nitrite (with an "I") is deadly, so I doubt
you have this. But you may have a 200 ppm nitrate (with an
"a") level, and that is certainly highly toxic if not
Would you suspect that this Nitrate level could be the culprit
for her behavior?
She does not seem to be tipsy,
so I don't know if this is a swim bladder problem or
<"What". You're keeping this fish very, VERY
BADLY, and that's finally killing her. She's not that old
-- Goldfish live 30+ years -- and the fact she's survived 11
years is more about how tough these fish are than your
fishkeeping skills (which are, to be honest, minimal).>
Occasionally she has rested on the bottom of the tank for short
amounts of time in the past, but she has never done this for such
a long amount of time.
Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you
for volunteering your time for our aquatic friends - this website
is a goldmine of information! I am grateful for any information
you might be able to provide.
<It's kind of you to say such things, but I'm
concerned you've so far not managed to find the gold in our
mine. Do please start reading here:
11-year-old Goldfish, Laying on Bottom of Tank,
ScottT's go 6/2/10
< Hi Sarah>
Rhonda, my 11-year-old Goldfish, has been lying on her belly on
the bottom of her tank for the last 3 days, with very limited
swimming or movement. Her top fin seems droopy.
<I've had this happen before also. Not to worry, I think
it is fixable.>
She makes an effort to swim when I come over to her tank, and is
trying to eat, but it seems like she is spitting the food out or
not able to swallow it. I feed her floating pellets, which
she's been eating for the last 8 years. She is in a 10-gallon
tank with a Whisper filtration system and live plants. I do not
usually change the tank water - I have actually never tested the
water before today - everything tested normal except for the
Nitrite level, which was at 200ppm (very unsafe). I am making a
partial water changes to reduce this level.
<Great idea with the water changes. Change a few gallons a day
until the nitrites go away. Maybe add a chemical product to
detoxify the nitrites quickly today too. It wouldn't be bad
to make a once a week water change routine.>
Would you suspect that this Nitrate <nitrite?> level could
be the culprit for her behavior? She does not seem to be tipsy,
so I don't know if this is a swim bladder problem or what.
Occasionally she has rested on the bottom of the tank for short
amounts of time in the past, but she has never done this for such
a long amount of time.
<In my experience this is completely water quality related. I
had an overstocked tank in which half of the fish exhibited that
Once I installed a plant filter and increased my water changes,
they all started floating again. A droopy dorsal fin is a sign
that the fish isn't too happy. High nitrites, pH might be
low, and a number of things that are hard to test for. If you do
even a 10% change weekly, Rhonda will be much happier.>
Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you
for volunteering your time for our aquatic friends - this website
is a goldmine of information! I am grateful for any information
you might be able to provide.
<Hope this was helpful, Scott T.>
Re: 11-year-old Goldfish, Laying on Bottom of Tank
Hi Scott and Neale!
Thank you both so much for your expert advice, and lightning-fast
I did intend to write "nitrates", as you noted - I
apologize for my confusion. I have made about a 15% water change
thus far and Rhonda appears so much happier already - she's
swimming and eating like normal, with a little more zest than
She is still resting on the bottom of the tank, but only
occasionally - the improvement in her behavior is
I forgot to mention that I normally add Aquasafe and Stress Coat
water conditioners when I do change the water - I have been using
these products for about 8 years. Do you feel these are good
<Dechlorinator is certainly essential with every water change.
Stress Coat falls into the "meh" category to be honest;
it's useful when shipping/handling fish, but otherwise
redundant. Neither produce removes the need for an adequate
aquarium and regular water changes.>
I did read up on the Goldfish 101 information page, and will
definitely be testing and changing her water regularly from now
on. I had (very incorrectly) assumed that oxygen was the only
significant concern, and that having a filter and live plants
would take care of it all.
<Not the case at all. Yes, you can create an ecosystem where
the plants balance the fish, but for that to work you need 100s
of gallons, a couple of inches of small minnows, and intense
sunlight. Seriously. Any attempt to balance fish and plants in a
home aquarium just won't work. It's been done in labs,
and the ratio of animal to plant life required is extremely
different to what you've got in your mind.>
I am including a couple of just-taken pictures of Rhonda.
<She looks cute. Probably needs company though; Goldfish are
gregarious animals and quite "intelligent" by fish
Do you think she does need a larger tank?
She is about 4.5 in. / 11 cm., head-to-tail.
<For an 11-year-old fish she's really very small, and poor
conditions are likely to blame. In any case, Goldfish
shouldn't be in anything less than 30 gallons/110 litres for
two adults. Can they survive in small tanks?
Sure, some of them do, but the mortality rate is high. The sad
fact is the most Goldfish end up dead within a few months, and
small aquaria are very largely to blame.>
Thank you very much!
|Grossly stunted, or more euphemistically,
"Extremely Bonsai'd"... RMF
Goldfish, tiny unfiltered tank, the
usual story... 5/28/2010
I have a comet goldfish that is about 2.5 inches long.
<Will get much bigger than that, if kept properly. Comets are really
pond fish, and even in an aquarium should top 6 inches/15 cm within a
couple of years, and potentially reach 8 inches/20 cm or more.>
I have him alone in a 10 gallon tank with no filter
<Not good enough; this is precisely why he's sick.>
but I do change 50% of his water 1-3 times a week and test it for
nitrates and ammonia regularly.
<And? What are the results from these tests? Remember, anything
above 0 nitrite and 0 ammonia will stress him. Nitrate is largely
He is about 1.5 years old and started having problems when we upgraded
to a bigger tank for him and his buddies about 2 months ago.
<The problems weren't caused by the bigger tank, that's for
It all started with Pop Eye, I learned I was over feeding
<Overfeeding doesn't cause the damage, that's a myth.
Overfeeding swamps the filter with nitrogen, and water quality
plummets. In a reasonably large, adequately filtered aquarium
overfeeding is unlikely to cause problems because the filter should be
able to handle a little extra food.
But if someone keeps a fish in a tank that's too small and
doesn't have a filter, then even with normal rations there'll
be ammonia in the water, and if you overfeed, that ammonia level
quickly reaches dangerous levels.>
and secluded him to this 10 gallon tank around his 2nd week of having
it. I treated with Maracyn 2 and he seemed to get better,
<Temporary, at best. Environmental problems aren't cured with
drugs any more than fat people lose weight by switching to Diet
he went back in the community tank. He got Pop Eye again so I
sequestered him again and treated him then he seemed better so back in
the tank he went.
Then a week later I noticed his fins were all clamped together.
<Spotting the pattern yet...?>
Treated him for a week with Maracyn, seemed better, all but the top fin
were totally open, back in the tank he goes. Two weeks later I see this
weird round white circle on his side and he looks like he is getting
slimy stuff on his side.
Now I decided to just keep him in the 10 gallon tank for a few months
until he is totally healthy so I can stop setting up and taking apart a
tank. I treat him with Maracyn, he gets better and his top fin opens up
beautifully at the exact same time as his back fin develops tail
<It's environmental; fish his living conditions, then treat the
symptoms, and he'll stay healthy.>
At this point I really don't want to spend any more money
so I let it go for 2 days then I just cave and start treating him with
Maracyn again. So now his tail is very short , about .75 inch and the
end has grown dark brown, I've been treating him for 3 days,
tonight he gets
his 4th dose.
I'm leaving to go out of town for a week in 4 days and I really
don't know what else I can do to get him healthy.
<Read what these fish need, and then keep them properly. You
can't keep Goldfish in small, unfiltered bowls and tanks. Never
could. Just because you see them in bowls on TV doesn't mean that
works, any more than Superman can fly just because he does in the
movies. Goldfish are animals and animals have requirements.>
I do use aquarium salt, 1tbs per 5 gal
and I do 5 gal water changes so I don't mess up the levels.
<The levels were messed up a long time ago! Try and understand what
you're doing, rather than flailing about. Remember the nitrogen
cycle? You presumably learned about in school, in biology class.
Certainly taught to everyone here in England. Anyway, nitrogenous
wastes come out of the fish, and have to be processed. If they're
not, the ammonia sits in the water, causing all sorts of harm. Think
about how you manage that ammonia -- FILTRATION!>
I also feed him a little once a day but will tell the person taking
care of him to only feed him every other day to keep waste down. Aside
from doing a water change right before I leave is there anything else I
can do? Is the tips of his tail getting darker a good or bad thing?
<Likely ammonia burns, and definitely not good.>
Is there hope or am I fighting a loosing battle?
<If it is a losing battle, it is so because you chose not to keep
this fish properly. Remember how Hitler lost the Second World War
because he decided to invade Russia? Lack of understanding and planning
cost him dearly.
That's where we are here. Any aquarium book would have told you
Goldfish need large tanks and they need filters.>
Re: Goldfish, tiny unfiltered tank, the usual story...
When I test his water the levels all come back at 0.
<What levels? The pH should be between 7 and 8, not zero.>
The main fish tank (20 gal with 5 other goldfish)
has filter and the water tests fine, I have taken it to pet shops and
tested it myself.
<Might well be fine while they're small, but honestly, I
can't believe it's "fine" if these are big fish. Been
at this game for far too many years...>
I'm just hesitant to pick up a filter for the 10 gallon tank he is
because it should be temporary.
<A bad plan.>
Ideally he will go back into the main tank. I was told that I could
avoid getting a filter as long as I do partial water changes every
couple of days.
<Well, perhaps, for a while. But clearly he's ill, so this
obviously isn't working, is it? What more can I say...>
I have actually taken samples of his water into pet shops and been told
that the ammonia and nitrite are at 0. At this point is it better to
put him in the main tank with the filter or keep him separate and do
the regular partial water changes?
<It's the lesser of two evils, yes.>
Also is 10 gallons really to small of a hospital tank for a 2.5 inch
<Yes. Because people do this is precisely why most Goldfish die
within a year of purchase. I don't have stock in companies that
make aquaria! I'm telling you the truth, as opposed to what you
want to hear.>
The idea is to eventually move them all to a 125 gallon tank by the end
of the year.
<Now that's more like it! But even a 55 gallon tank would be
fine for 4-5 fancy goldfish.>
Just a side note, these are my boyfriends fish and he had no idea what
they needed or how big they would get when he got them a year ago.
<Hence the need to read a book before doing anything else.>
It wasn't till he moved in and I talked him into upgrading the tank
because they looked crowded and the subsequent health problems occurred
that I read up on it and realized what he had gotten us into!
<My pleasure. Cheers, Neale.>
Re Question. Revisiting talked out
issues re Goldfish in too small, poor env. world 5/24/10
What is the best way to treat possible fin rot,
<Depends on cause... Read here:
and the linked files above>
it don't look exactly like the photos I have seen, it is a comet
goldfish with long tail but has splitting and some blood in the
<... this fish has env. issues... too much treatments...>
I guess it is, acts fine and eats and swims well, My water test are
good , ph a little high at 8.5-9
<... Way too high>
thanks It is 20 gallon tank
<Way too small>
with two others and I keep the water changes at 1 1/2 gallons every
other day and at times go 2 days and then change 2 gallons, I have been
doing this for about a month to try to clear one with Popeye, and make
stays safe, good filtration and air, also wondered if I can place
another airstone in if it would help keep kill off anaerobic bacteria
and if it can add more oxygen due to bioload??
<... no, nonsense>
Will adding another airstone increase already high ph or change water
parameters in anyway?
<... We've gone over and over re these induced issues. Read,
follow archived and stated advice. Bob Fenner>
what did you mean by this line in answers "<this fish has env.
issues... too much treatments...>"
<Let me state this more plainly... You're killing this fish,
these goldfishes by having them in too small a volume, too high pH
water and exposure to too many "med.s". Is this clear? Try
reading WWM re goldfish...
Re: Question... Can't find info. on WWM re... Goldfish!!?
Yea thanks a lot, I am always told to keep reading and that is all I
do, I cant find the sites your telling me to look up
<Cathy... Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind1.htm
scroll down to the Goldfish tray... B>
Re: Question... nonsense
been reading , no help,
it is not saying anywhere what I have been asking you about, only the
mails I have sent already and have them in my storage to go over and
over on computer, I will call someone to see if they can help me, I
have been a nervous wreck with all this, why all of a sudden after 10
years in tank and same water etc, would this be a problem now?
New Print and
eBook on Amazon
What it takes to keep goldfish healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner