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FAQs on Goldfish Environmental Disease 1
(ex: issues of poor water quality, overcrowding, unfavorable tank/water conditions, temperature, etc.)

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

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

Bowls make goldfish sick and sad.
Give them more room and they'll be glad!
- Sara M.

Key Points/Notes:


  • It is a myth that goldfish will not grow past the capacity of their containers.  If kept in a small container/bowl their growth will be slow and stunted but they will grow (and likely eventually die prematurely due to poor environmental conditions).
  • Dropsy is a condition, not a disease.  Dropsy is a build up of internal pressure that can be caused by any number of different things.  The internal pressure can be caused by gas, swelling, tumors, constipation, etc. (infection is sometimes, but not always, the root cause of these problems).  Whatever the cause, the fish will appear bloated, sometimes to the extent that the scales protrude and the eyes bulge.
  • Goldfish are best kept by themselves or with other goldfish (not with "community fish")
  • Goldfish need colder water (~60 to 70F)
  • Goldfish are very messy (and foul the water quickly).
  • Ideally, you should have at least 10g for every Goldfish.
  • Avoid using spray or aerosol cleaners near the aquarium (these can poison the fish).
  • Water changes should be at least 20% once a week in a well filtered system (up to 90%/week if in a "bowl" or other vessel with no filter).
  • When acclimating fish, do watch/test for differences in the pH of the water from which it is coming and the water into which it is going.
  • In systems that are too small, lack of dissolved oxygen can cause illness.  Adding an airstone can temporarily help the problem, but is not a long-term solution.
  • Goldfish prefer alkaline water.
  • Some crew members suggest using "freshwater" aquarium salt with suffering goldfish (at least one crew member disagrees).
  • pH swings are much more dangerous/harmful than an "imperfect" but stable pH.  pH swings can cause excess slime coat and white patches on the body of the fish.

Some of these points, stated in context and elaborated on below, are highlighted in blue to make them easier to find.

New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Goldfish problems - 4 fish and a shoehorn 7/10/03 - (AKA- my goldfish has a shoeprint on its face) Hi there <Howdy> I have 4 goldfish, approx. 6-7 inches in length each, living in a 10 gallon tank with an underwater filter. <good heavens... that is overstocked!!! Really sad to hear. The tank can barely hold one at this size responsibly> I have tested all my water levels (nitrate ammonia etc) and the water quality seems to be within limits. <Ahhh... no comment> I do not know the sex of any of my goldfish but they are all 7 years old and  were bought when they were approx. 1 inch <interesting> 1 of my fish is bloated but is not showing symptoms of dropsy and has now developed a mouth condition. <water quality (bacterial count, other un-testables) is a challenge here I'm sure> It looks like the skin is shredding from its lips and they are swollen. It also has what looks like a bubble of air or fluid at the tip of 1 of its fins. I would be grateful if u could advise me as to exactly what might be wrong with it and how to treat it. Thank you Dawn <These fish really need a larger aquarium to be held properly if not ethically. The sickness is no surprise considering the living conditions. Yikes... Imagine living in an elevator for 7 years with 3 people... who ate beans all day long... and sang campfire songs... off key. Quality of life issues here have manifested into a real issue of pathology. My advice is to remove the other 3 fishes (sell, trade or upgrade to a larger aquarium) and treat the afflicted one in the 10 gallon tank as if it was a QT vessel. Use a Furazolidone and Nitrofurazone mixed drug. Best regards, Anthony>


Bloating goldfish I recently (four months ago) moved to a new house that has a lovely pond in the backyard, complete with about 30 goldfish and 2 koi. <Size of fishes, system? Shape, depth, types of filtration, circulation information?> We had a problem with the filter and pump and replaced them about a month ago. The fish have all been healthy until about three weeks ago when I noticed that one of the goldfish was quite bloated and subsequently it began swimming upside down. <A bad sign.> It died within about a week. Now two more fish are bloated in the same manner and one is also swimming upside down. Neither were in distress yesterday. I've checked the pH balance and for toxic waste - the nitrates - and both are acceptable. <Good checking.> I've done a search in the web for what could be the cause and it sounds like dropsy to me. <Mmm, well, dropsy is a "condition"... w/ a few possible contributing causes... genetic propensity ("fat" varieties of goldfish get it more easily), often nutritionally related (foods w/ too much protein, fat content), and water quality most commonly cited... Could be the change in gear, seasons triggered the start of something here... Perhaps biological, likely more environmentally related> Do you think it is from my description? Could it be that with the new pump, the water is flowing more quickly and this is causing the problem? Should I be adding some non-iodized salt to the pond? <The salt is a good idea... at least what I would do... Again, please send along the requested information (above)> I'd appreciate any advice you could provide. I'm new to this and just hate to see the fish suffering. Thanks, Esther Christopher <We're very glad to try help. If you have a means of adding aeration (a bubbler of sorts or a pump that adds circulation) I would do this as well for now. Sorry for the delay in response. Bob Fenner>

Re: Bloating goldfish You asked for some additional info. The 2 Koi are each about a foot long. The goldfish vary in size between 4 and 10 inches. The pond is round with a 12 foot diameter and about 3 feet deep in the middle tapering up on all sides.  <Quite crowded... a factor> The pump is 3500 gal. rated resting on an inverted plant container about 1 foot off the bottom. The pump feeds into a 3,500 gal. rated Nursery Pro pressure filter (a series of round sponges in a closed container) which then feeds into a waterfall which is about 20 feet from the pond. <Pressurized filters can be trouble. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pndfiltrovr.htm and the linked files beyond> The pond is replenished by a lined creek from the waterfall pond ( creek is about 20 feet). Any further advice you can offer is much appreciated.  Esther Christopher & Lance Nater <I would give away about half the goldfish... do you have oxygenating grasses (live plants)? What do you feed? Bob Fenner>

Re: Bloating goldfish Yes, we have grass and water lilies in both the waterfall basin and the pond. These plants take up about 30% of the surface areas. <A "good" percentage> Re the pressurized filter, we have been turning the pump off for 8 to 10 hours each evening. We tested for pH and nitrates but not ammonia. <Ohh... dangerous to shut these units down... do check the initial discharge water... I strongly suggest leaving on 24 h/day> Should we run the pump continuously?  <Emphatically yes!> Do we shut it down during the winter (we live in the middle of Vancouver Island where coldest night temp. would be freezing or slightly below)?  <If freezing you should turn off the pump, remove it... if freezing to more than an inch or permanently, remove the livestock (including plants) to elsewhere during the cold season... Please, PLEASE read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdwintmaint.htm> We're feeding a handful of pellet type food daily. Thanks again, Lance and Esther <Please read over the WWM site re temperature relations and feeding. Bob Fenner>


Sucking air at top of tank.. I just recently purchased a black moor from a local store. He is in a three gallon Eclipse tank with one snail. <A three gallon tank will be to small for this fish.  Goldfish are very messy and need lots of water to balance out the amount of waste they produce.> For the past five minutes he has been sucking air of the water surface. <This is a sign that the fish isn't getting enough oxygen.  The water at the surface of the tank is higher in oxygen, because that is where the gas exchange happens.> Do I need to put a bubbler in the tank? I thought the filter system was sufficient. It looks like he is dying... <Adding an Airstone (with air pump) will definitely help increase the gas exchange in the tank, and help raise the O2 levels.  But the problem will become worse as the fish becomes older.  As the fish ages and becomes larger the three gallons will not be able to support the fish.  Sickness can occur and low oxygen conditions will start to show up (like red streaks on the fishes tail).  I usually say that a 10 gallon is needed for young goldfish then as they become older 20-30 gallon tanks should be used.  They might survive for quite a long time in small tanks, but the problem is that you will have to do many more water changes to keep up with the fishes waste production.  This is just a headache, and will really take away from enjoyment of the fish.  The large the tank, the easier it is to care for these fish. Good luck -Magnus.>


What's wrong here? (Goldfish health) I have two goldfish that I am concerned about. They are in a regular ten gallon tank with a few guppies, and a few zebra tetras. <I do want to make mention that I prefer to see goldfish only kept with other goldfish. Goldfish prefer cooler water than most tropical fish will tolerate. They also have different dietary issues.> The two goldfish are staying on the bottom of the tank with their fins close to their body, like motionless. They move slowly around in one certain area, like they are supposed to stay there. Occasionally they will move around normally, but mostly just hang down in the same area. They have been doing this for a few days now, so what is wrong here? <There are so many possibilities. Most likely a water quality issue is off. That could have triggered the onset of a disease. I would first change about 25% of the water daily for three days. If that does not bring about an improvement, look for a medication to treat the symptoms. -Steven Pro>


Fantails Hello <Hi Vanessa> I have four little fan tails in a ten gallon tank that were all swimming around just fine until about a week ago.  One of the fantails I purchased last year with another fish which I just lost.  So I went and purchased three new fish.  They have all been together for about a month.  Lately they all hang out on the bottom in a corner of the tank with their dorsal fins flat against their backs.  If I come by the tank they appear to "wake up" and swim around for a while, then go back to their "napping."  When I feed them in the mornings, they are bright eyed and busy tailed and swimming like mad for me to feed them.  Then I leave for work and I don't know what they do.  When I get home, they are all camped out in the corner. I don't turn a light on for them until evening when the sun goes down.  Is this bad/wrong?  They seem to prefer plain daylight, but now the sun is going down earlier and the house is much darker for a longer portion of the day. <It is doubtful they care much about it. Most fish actually prefer it a bit dim.> I feed them flake goldfish food broken into very small pieces (been feeding this to goldfish for years as I am just an amateur fish owner). The tank has a filter and I change some of the water regularly.  How often should I change the water? <In a ten gallon tank, fairly regularly, 25% every two to three weeks would be nice.>   Is there something wrong with my fish or is this just something they do when winter comes along?  Any advice you have would be appreciated. Vanessa <Clamped fins and listless behavior are bad signs. When this happens we look first at water quality, filtration, heat/cold. I would perform a good water change and vacuum the tank of debris and clean the filter (in old tank water, not tap water) and when you are done, get down to your local fish store and purchase an inexpensive test kit for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and test your tank to determine when your water needs changing.  When your fish are stressed they will clamp their fins, be inactive and look unhappy.  Craig>


Goldfish Hi, I am very new to goldfish. I bought two about two months ago and one is a gold fantail (with bubble eyes) and the other I'm not sure what it's called, it was gold with a white middle (no spots). The latter died last week and I'm not sure why. I think I might have stressed him out when I changed the water because he started getting black patches all over his body. I have been reading the FAQ's section on your site and all the people seem to have filtering tanks. Mine is quite small (not sure of the capacity) about 14x8x8. <Based on your dimensions, your tank is slightly under 4 gallons and about 15 gallons short of my recommendation to house two goldfish. A minimum for me would be 10 gallons per fish, excellent filtration, weekly water changes, and plans for larger quarters in the near future. Goldfish grow to about 10" and are very messy.> It is a simple glass tank with gravel. I was told by the pet shop to change two or three cups of water every few days, and change all the water every 14 days. <I am not comfortable with that water change schedule. I would prefer 50% weekly and be sure to treat the water with an appropriate dechlorinator and aquarium salt.> Since my fish died, the fantail has not been eating at all, and when I changed all the water today, I noticed that one of his eyes are cloudy. The two fish were quite happy food wise. I would feed them once a day about 5 tetra pellets (if I put anymore, they wouldn't eat them!). <Well, you have the feeding down.> I would first like to know why my fish might have died <I best guess is from the water change. Either from chlorine or perhaps an abrupt change in pH or temperature from the 100% change.> and what I can do about my live fish. <Use a good dechlorinator, try to match the temperature as best you can, and don't change more than 50% of the water at a time.> Also, do you know of any websites or articles about fish care (with a plain tank). <There are none that I know of because most people will keep goldfish in well filtered tanks. Your cheapest option is a simple sponge filter or perhaps a hang-on filter that also has some biological capacity (either a BioWheel or sponge).> Another thing, the tank is kept next to the window, which has a central heater under it. Is this ok? <Not really. Take a quick read through these articles: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtips4beginners.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/taptrtmnt.htm Thanks, Zehra, London, UK <Best of luck to you in your future education in this hobby. -Steven Pro>


Bubble eyed goldfish deflate I am new to this whole fish tank stuff. I got a set for x-mas and I got a bubble eyed gold fish. I know nothing about them but noticed one of its eye is deflated! is that normal? <It's not normal per se.  It either happens if the fish has bumped into something and punctured it, or it had poor genetic and the one bubble is smaller than the other one.> or is something wrong with it. <If it looks as though the bubble is torn then you will have to be careful to not let it get infections or have other fish pick at the tear.  I'm not a big fan of the bubble eyes for just that reason.  They need special caution and handling as to not damage their "bubbles". If the bubble is just smaller with no visible damage then it's most likely genetic.  Either it will grow to match the other one in time or it will always have a smaller water sac under one eye.>    I have 5 different fish in the tank with it, do you think he got attacked? <when you say "Different Fish" do you mean different variety of goldfish or different species of fish? Goldfish really shouldn't be mixed with too many different species of fish.  They are quite messy/dirty and need colder water to thrive. It's best when asking for help to give all the info you have, for instance the different fish in the tank so I can gain a better understanding of what the situation is.  If it is other goldfish then they don't normally attack other goldfish, they may pick at other goldfish during breeding season or when the tank provided is to small, and they are competing for food.  I suggest you learn all that you can on these fish, they aren't as simple as many people make them out to be.  WetWebMedia has a good bit of info on the care of goldfish.  Try to read up there and you will hopefully find all the answers without needing to wait for emails. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/goldfish.htm  > please e-mail me back. I am so scared to have him die. Jordan <Hope that helps, and hope the fish does okay. -Magnus>


Re: RED SPOTS Hello, <Hi again> I would like to thank you, I am very grateful for the information you gave to me yesterday. I am amazed with your ability to reply so quickly. wow! While the condition of my Pearlscale has remained exactly the same for over a week now, sadly, my Orandas condition has taken a turn for the worse within the last 24 hours. Yesterday he had a very small spot (1/3 inch) on his chin, this morning his entire face is dotted with hemorrhages. <Time to look for some overt sign of chemical poisoning, otherwise aspects/signs of diminished water quality... and make a good-sized water change (20-25%) quick!> It appears that he also has a fleshy growth or swellage inside his mouth on one side, he has also developed a small amount of cottony white growth on his mouth. I tried to very gently wipe off the cotton but he started bleeding. <As stated, indications of some "greater" or more "root" ill. The bacterial and/or fungal manifestations you note are resultant from some other environmental insult. A/the "cure" is the discovery, reduction/reversal of this influence> I have salted and quarantined both fish and I am treating them with KANACYN. They both still have excellent appetites. <Ahh, good moves. In a different system or one with substantially new water I hope/trust> Any advice you can give would be more than appreciated, please help. Thank you, Nichole Palmer <You are doing about what I would do. Perhaps the addition of a teaspoon per ten gallons system water of Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) would be efficacious as well. Bob Fenner>


Crazy Comet? Hi, I have a six inch gold fish-just a plain old "feeder" who grew very big. <Yeah, they certainly do that, given the chance!> We have had him about 7 years. He lives alone in his tank and for the past four days he has been swimming frantically around, night and day and not eating.  He's in normal swim position, not scraping up against anything and I don't see any marks, fungus, rot etc,- although he's going so fast it's hard to tell. <Definitely test your water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH - sounds like some sort of irritation with the water.  Also, how big of a tank is he in?  If there's room enough, you might consider some pals for him, as these fish are much happier in groups.> What do you think could be wrong with him? <My first thought is that he's reacting to something wrong with the water/water quality.  Any ammonia or nitrite, or chlorine (do you use a dechlorinator?) or other toxin might cause this kind of activity.> Thanks for any help you can give- We don't want to lose Whoopi Goldfish! <Check your water, fix if necessary, definitely do a water change (couldn't hurt); hopefully it's something simple.  Wishing you and Whoopi well,  -Sabrina.>

Crazy Comet?  Take Two Sabrina, Thanks for your prompt reply. <You bet!> I changed  three quarters of the water, added De Chlor and checked him more closely for any marks or clues- nothing has changed- still racing today and not eating. I gave him some lettuce,- nothing, not even a nibble. <Very concerning....  goldfish rarely pass up an opportunity to eat.> We are now going into the fifth day and I'm really worried. Could Clorox clean up I used in the bathtub be in the air and getting into the fishtank? Tank is in the bathroom. That's a stretch, but its all I can think of. <Not much of a stretch, at all; it could be the problem.  I'd do another large water change, test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH to see if anything's out of whack.  Try offering him thawed frozen peas, with the shell removed - I've never seen a goldfish turn its nose up at that - or perhaps try frozen bloodworms, or something else tasty like that.> Top of the tank is covered, so I can't imagine that is what it is. I even changed the filter, it was pretty clean, though. <Definitely test your water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH (or have your LFS test a sample of your water for you); make sure nothing's out of line.  Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the cleaner was the problem; spray or aerosol cleaners used near tanks can often cause problems like this.  Hope everything works out,  -Sabrina.>


Lethargic Lionhead  Hello, I have a Lionhead goldfish approx. 1.5 to 2 yrs. old. I obtained this fish as well as three others in a VERY poorly cared for 10 gallon tank. I now have them in a 55 gallon. I run a whisper 60 filter. One 16 in air stone. a Powerhead for circulation. The tank is a community tank which also houses 10 tetras, an Algae eater, a Cory, 1 black moor, 2 fantail Gold fish, and this one Lionhead.  <Tropical fish and goldfish are usually a poor mix, as the tropicals prefer warmer water (78-82F, or in that neighborhood) and goldfish like it cooler (60-70F-ish).>  We change out the water approx. every three weeks.  <How much water do you change? I would do water changes more often, say, 15-20% weekly or every couple weeks>  I feed on average 2 times a day.  <You might want to cut back on feeding some, perhaps to just once a day, or less, depending upon the other fish, as well>  The tank temp is approx kept at 74-76 degrees. we have had this community up and running for approx 4 months. All has seemed very good until recently (in which the change of water went 1 week longer then normal) I started to notice the Large Lionhead was no longer its very friendly, greeting self. But rather very shy and evasive. It does seem to be eating, though not as much as usual. Mainly it spends most of its time on the bottom floor, usually in the cover of plants or in the corner. I have not noticed ANY unusual appearances than this. I thought possibly the fish was 'blocked up' and feed some small frozen peas and fresh lettuce to promote a movement and didn't get the hunger response I had hoped for. All other fish seem healthy and normal, though I have noticed at around this same time that the one Big Fantail has a slightly cloudy eye.... could the one instance of a week late in water change-out be the factor of possible nitrate toxicity?  <Likely>  now that the change out was completed as usual will the problems be relieved?  <Possibly. Test your water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH, and see if everything checks out okay.>  what would be my next steps?  <If something shows up in the tests, do water changes to fix it; if everything's good, consider adding Epsom salts to the water at a rate of 1 to 2 tablespoon per ten gallons.>  I have also noticed that the Live plants in this tank are not a green as when first planted. they seem to be growing and elongating but are showing a leaf necrosis that is affecting the outer tips and sometimes the centers of the leaf. I am a field crop agronomist and see a lot of deficiencies and their symptoms in terrestrial plants but am quite ignorant to aquatic any suggestions. I have used a 0-0-3 fertilizer with little or no results.....?  <Sounds to me like iron deficiency (the browning). There are a lot of aquarium fertilizers on the market - look for one very high in iron and dose as per instructions. Although the browned parts won't re-grow, you shouldn't see more spots form.>  Thank you for any help you may give me. Sincerely, Harold Giddley  <Hope all goes well with your lionheaded pal. -Sabrina> 


Dying goldfish revisited Hi all.     <Hi again, Todd!> As you stated before to check the water ph and so on, I did so and the water I brought into the pet store from my 300 gallon goldfish tank in my garage, had a PH level of way over 8 they told me.   <Did they test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate?  What were the results of those?  Just so you have some figures to go off of, ammonia and nitrite should be zero (anything above zero is toxic), nitrate should be ideally as close to zero as possible.> They said this was very high. I just phoned back today and asked what the pH level in the water they had at the store is, and they  told me around 7.2  which they told me is a great difference than my over 8 level.    <Yeah, it is a pretty big difference.  That is possibly a contributor to your problems, but I don't think it's enough in and of itself to cause your goldfish to die - goldfish are pretty tough.> Now I don't know why I didn't do the same thing that I did for my guppies when I brought them home and float the fish for 30 minutes then add a cup  of water from the tank they are going into,  but  I didn't do that.   Do you think that me forgetting to add some water from the tank they are going into and let it sit for 30 minutes to adjust them to the new ph level would kill them off, one by one over a period of 3 weeks or more later???   <No, not in and of itself.  I do, however, think that a drastic pH change might possibly weaken the fish and open the door for disease.> Is it that important to add some water from the tank they are going into, and how long is the best to do this???    <Well, yes, but mostly for temperature reasons, etc.  It's pretty difficult, even doing this, to acclimate a fish to a majorly different pH in such a short time.  Fortunately, at least, going up in pH is less difficult for the fish than going down.> Is it possible for these  fish to live for 3 weeks after this so called  SHOCK  and then die. <As above - I really don't think the pH difference is the ultimate cause of death.  If it was enough of a difference to weaken the fish, that'd leave a toehold for disease, which definitely would cause problems.> Some fish died 2 days after and some 3 weeks later.  The only thing I could see that might be abnormal about the dead goldfish is a black area on the bottom by the stomach area.  This might be nothing but other than that the fish  don't look to have any other things different on them when they die.   <Well, it sure doesn't sound normal - and anything abnormal is cause for suspicion.  This could definitely be a sign of stress, perhaps illness.  Before they die, do they exhibit any symptoms?  Clamped fins, heavy breathing?  Anything else?> Again  I ask, by not adding that cup or so of water they are going into in my tank so important to kill them off 3 weeks later.  I just figured any shock like this would kill them in a day or 2.  Is the switch from ph 7.2 to over 8 ph  and drastic change for the goldfish???    <Yes, but again, I don't think that in and of itself is what killed them.  I think there's something else at play.  I'm still inclined to think that it is/was just the nitrogen cycle kicking in, and the fish were harmed by ammonia/nitrite as those values spiked.  Are you still losing fish?  If not, when was the last death?> Thanks again, Todd from Ontario <Sure thing.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>


Elmo goldfish alkalinity? Thank you Gwen, I've been on the phone to my fish shop and have reduced the alkalinity (word?) of my tank which immediately perked my other fish up as he was starting to look a little droopy this morning as well.  Alas, I think it is too late for little Elmo.  Thank you so much for your help anyway. Kristen <Glad to help. But why are you reducing the alkalinity? Goldfish prefer alkaline water. Did you test your water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate yet? -Gwen>


Black Moor Sick? 1/14/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> hi my black moor is suffering from something it is changing color its turning silver I put some tap water cleaner in there, <Do you mean dechlorinator?> is that it?, and the little fish that is in there keeps bumping into it, <bumping into what?> my black moor is also going to the top of the tank and laying on the leaf on my fake plant and like beaching itself and I think it is blind, oh and I have a filter that when it filters out the water it waterfalls back out and creates lots of bubbles do I still need a bubbler? <Extra bubbles never hurt. To keep a goldfish healthy you need to do 80-90% water changes every week.  Add dechlorinator to water matching the same temperature as the tank.  Your fish isn't in a bowl is it?   Are it's eyes cloudy?  Are there other fish in there?  A 2" goldfish needs at least a 10 gallon tank.  You can add some salt (1tbsp/5gal). That may help the fish to feel better.> I NEED CONTACT ASAP MY FISH LOOKS LIKE IT WILL DIE OVER NIGHT-Beth <Good luck with your fish, I hope it's feeling better soon--Pufferpunk>


Floating Fantail And Friends I have 2 fantails and a black moor in a ten gallon tank. <You might want to think about upgrading to a larger tank down the road... My goldfish would make a quick mess of 10 gallon tanks.  It was infinitely easier for me when they were moved to larger tanks.> I was doing a routine water change today when I noticed one of my fantails began swimming upside down.  After reading some of the frequently asked questions, I found a few things to try to right this problem.  I'm feeding him peas and I'm going to try adding Epsom salt to his water. <since your fish is floating at the surface rather than sinking I think that your problem is more in the food that you are giving the fish.  If I had to wager a guess I would say that you are giving him flakes and other food that are floating at the surface.  If so, then the chances are high that the goldfish are sucking in air as they feed and it's throwing their balance way off.  Before adding any sort of salt (which you have to be careful with cause to much salt will kill your goldfish!) start feeding your goldfish sinking foods.  Less likely that they will get air in their system.  And hopefully you don't have to revert to medicines or salting the tank.> But first, I was wondering if I should separate him from my other fish, who, by the way, seem to be perfectly okay.  Or will it be fine for them to have a dose of Epsom too? <like stated above hold on the Epsom salt.  I rarely use that on my goldfish tanks.  But, I would think about separating the goldfish if it stays floating on the surface.  The reason is not for spreading of any sort of bacteria, but that floating goldfish can/will be pestered by other goldfish.  And I've seen many goldfish had all their fins nibbled off by their tankmates as they lay helpless at the surface of the water.> Please respond  as soon as possible.  I'm worried he may not have long. Heather <I don't think you should be worrying that much.  I think that it is simply a change in diet that is needed.  Get rid of the chances of sucking in air when feeding and I think you guy will be fine!  Good luck! -Magnus>


Sick Goldfish - Water Quality? My son won 3 small goldfish in a bowl 7 months ago.  We purchased a 5 gallon tank (I know, I know, not big enough.  Looking into purchasing a bigger one) <Good to hear - messy fish like goldfish do best in large volumes of water, to compensate for their waste production.> and the fish have been pretty healthy.  Last week I noticed that the common goldfish had a type of red sore or almost like a spot of blood just on the top in the corner of his fin.  I changed the water, treated the new water and added fungus eliminator.  The red spot on the skin right under his fin, went away.  Now it's back.  What should I do now?   <First and foremost, check your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels - I suspect something in the water quality is the cause.> Change and treat the water again?  Or maybe what I'm doing is not curing what he has.   <If it is (or is brought on by) a water quality issue, then the water turning south again would definitely be a problem.  Please do test for the above levels.  Also, if you're not already, you might consider adding salt to the tank.  Use that which is marketed as "freshwater" aquarium salt (salt for marine tanks will alter the pH).  The package should have instructions for salting goldfish tanks; roughly 1 tablespoon per ten gallons should be about right.  If the water checks out okay, or if rectifying the water quality and salting the tank does not solve the problem, you might try a good, broad-spectrum antibiotic like Kanamycin.  Aquatronics manufactures this as "Kanacyn", and also makes a good one called "Spectrogram", which is a combination of Kanamycin and Nitrofurazone.  Very mild, very effective.> Thank you for all your help.  Your site is very helpful. <Thank you for the kind words!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>


Fantail Question Hi, I have a question about one of my fantail goldfishes. We recently  put them in a big aquarium since they were getting  too big for the bowel we originally had them in. We have had them for 2 years but since we put them in this new aquarium we have noticed that one of them seems to be losing some scales just above his mouth - its like they are hanging off. The fish seems very happy though and continues to eat like crazy - what should we do and what could it be? Many thanks, Richard <<Dear Richard; Your fish is probably stressed due to the move, and perhaps from the turbulence of having to acclimatize to new water, maybe at a different temperature.. I will assume there is a filter on the tank, which is good. You are cycling, so testing the water for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates for the next few weeks will help keep your fish healthy. Do the water changes if the levels are too high. Ask your LFS for help, or buy your own test kits. They are invaluable. Email me back if you want to buy your own and I will help you learn how to use them. It's easy. Also, you can add a bit of aquarium salt to the tank to help fight off infections, but keeping the water quality high is half the battle. Test your water! The scales should grow back with no problem as long as fungus doesn't set in. -Gwen>>


Carl's sick I am Dylan. I am 11 years old. Carl is a bubble cheek goldfish. He has two problems: He has a white puffy ring forming around one eye. I have put fungus medication in the bowl, but it does not appear to help. The other problem, he is also floating upside down (head down in the tank.) He does not appear to be able to swim horizontally. Can you help Carl? He seems so uncomfortable swimming head down all the time. Thanks - Dylan  < I think the key word here is bowl. Unfortunately your goldfish has been stressed by poor water quality. You have not changed the water often enough and the fish wastes have built up and basically you fish is breaking down. Start by changing the water in the bowl. I would recommend an aquarium instead of a bowl if possible. Don't worry about feeding him for awhile. You need to treat him with a medication called Metronidazole. Get it from your local fish store. Follow the directions on the package and be patient. It may take awhile to cure. When the fish is able to move normally then I would offer a small amount of food to see if it will eat. Once the fish is eating then you have a chance of saving him. -Chuck>


Moor Lethargic Hi! Help - I read thru everything, but didn't see this... I've had a Black Moor that turned completely gold a few years ago. He's about 5 yrs old, around 5 inches from mouth to base of tail fin in a 10gallon tank by himself. Over the last year, every once in a while he'll swim upside down, almost as if "sleeping", but then right himself and go on about his business.  Last week was the start of his problems. I noticed he was laying on his side (right or left), on the bottom. I checked the ammonia - there was a very trivial amount. I use ammo-rocks in the filter (about 1/4 c each filter change). However, the ph was down to about 6.3 - so I gradually boosted it up over the course of the next 24 hours, getting it to about 7.0. It didn't change his behavior. His breathing was slow (but not labored - didn't appear to be struggling to breathe), but his fins look great and body looks great - no white or red spots, split fins, red gills. He's not swollen, or scraped, or missing scales - his eyes are fine, but one's always been a little larger than the other. He looks healthy, but lays near the filter intake or on top of the bubble stone, as if to get an O2 assist. He didn't come up for food, but once he realized it had sank down in front of him, he went nuts and devoured it (like he has every day in the past). When he was done, he went back to lying on the bottom again, where he has stayed all week, only coming up for his food, and an occasional swim. I have a 5inch bubble stone in the bottom, and a large Aqua clear filter (200) for this 10-gal tank. I vacuumed it (it was very clean) and changed 25% of the water 2 days ago, but still no change. His bowel movements are a little strange on occasion - thin, long, clear and then a large movement attached all in a string. What else can I do for him, to make him comfortable or try to heal him? I miss getting the morning tail-splash (water all over the place) and his calls for feeding time. Thanks in advance for any help you may have...Jeanine Gross <<Sorry for not responding sooner. Your fish needs a bigger tank. That's about it in a nutshell. Read some FAQs about tank size versus fish size, and old-tank syndrome. And please test your nitrates. You have no choice but to buy your fish a MUCH bigger tank, before he dies. A five inch fish in a ten gallon tank should be getting water changes every other day until you can get him a bigger tank. Right now he is basically being poisoned by his own waste, in the form of nitrates. -Gwen>>


Goldfish Question - dying Hi,  I have a very large goldfish (he is the only fish in his tank). He started to get fin rot over two weeks ago. When I tested the water, the ammonia levels were extremely high and the pH levels were very low. I quarantined him for three days and treated him with medication and changed the water in his aquarium. All the tests were fine then. From the time he has been sick until yesterday, he has been lying on the bottom on his side and moves his body across the bottom of the tank. I have been treating the tank with Melafix for the last four days. As of yesterday morning, the fish constantly sits upright on the bottom of the tank and is very alert. His fins are a little better, but definitely no worse. However, he has a lot of brown spots on him. I read that this can be seen when a fish is starting to recover from ammonia burns. The problem is he still isn't swimming and most importantly, he hasn't eaten for 10 days. I don't know what else to do for him. Are there any suggestions?  < First I would clean the filter to reduce the ammonia load. If the filter was clean I would vacuum the gravel to remove any sludge build up. Unfortunately the conditions you describe are very stressful on your pet goldfish and he may not fully recover. If he sits on the gravel and seems to be hopping then the swim bladder may have become affected and may not recover regardless of any medication. Try some rock salt at a tablespoon per 5 gallons. Good luck.-Chuck>


Sick goldfish II Hi -- Hopefully you received the e-mail we sent yesterday about the goldfish we just finished treating for what we thought was ich, and we were wondering if one of the fish now has a secondary infection. After more research and symptoms appearing (the sick fish is now spending most of its time on the bottom of the tank, breathing hard, clamped fins; and -- visible only when he's facing away and the light is on -- we can now see white/bluish velvety patches on his body) we think he has Chilodonella.  We ended up tearing down the tank yesterday for a nearly complete water change, we added about a gallon of the old water back in (don't know if the tear-down was a smart thing to do or not since ammonia & Ph are up now -- ammonia, .5 and Ph, 8) but it seemed like we'd been adding so much "stuff" to the water maybe a complete change would help & maybe we'd get rid of  some of the parasites in tank. Anyway, after getting started again, we began treating with Nox Ich (malachite green & sodium chloride) late last night. No improvement noticed yet this morning. Would a malachite/Formalin combo be better?  < The combo you suggested has been by far the most effective for me. I personally use Rid-ich by Kordon. I noticed that it does affect the biological filtration so I always quarantine new fish before I add them to my main tank. It is easier to treat and cheaper too.>  Does the diagnosis sound correct?  < You have so much going on it is hard to be precise. First of all lets get the water right. Start at the beginning by servicing your filter. Keep cleaning it weekly even if it looks like it doesn't need it. Don't add any carbon yet because that will remove all your medication. If your fish is not eating then don't feed them until they are up and about. Ich takes about three days to cure in a tropical tank so may take as long as a week in a cool water tank. Control the ammonia with water changes for now but use a water conditioner that adds a protective slime on the fish too. In a week I would vacuum the gravel to remove any sludge that may have built up in case in did not get down with the near tear down. Some rock salt could be added to the water too. This would also increase the protective slime coat on the fish.>  Should we do anything other than water changes to correct ammonia/Ph? (we did add a 1/4 dosage of a Ph balancer this a.m. -- didn't want it to correct too quickly).  < Just do the water changes for now and monitor the ammonia and don't worry about any pH adjustments for now.> Won't water changes upset concentration of medication?  < Many medications break down very quickly in water. But the rid-ich is very effective and the recommendations on the bottle include a water change.>  If we do changes, should we add some medication to the newly added water to keep concentration up?  < Follow the directions on the bottle until the ich is cured. If there is any secondary infections we will deal with it after the ich is cured and the fish has had a chance to build up some resistance.> So many questions -- aaaaggghhhh! I have searched your site (lots of interesting stuff) and left a posting on the public chat (no response yet). Sorry so long again, but would really appreciate any advice you can offer.  < Check some of the FAQs on the site to see if you understand the nitrate chain. Once you understand it it may make you fish keeping experiences a positive one. -Chuck> Thanks.


Sick Snoopy My comet (Snoopy) was acting sick for a while. He lost his color and wouldn't come out as much. I put two new fantails in with him. He seemed to perk up but they brought ICH with them and the larger fantail is nipping the others. The comet's fins have been torn pretty good and now there is black on them. I have read that fish will nip at sick ones? < Fish will feed on anything edible and other sick fish certainly do qualify.>
I have treated the ICH with QuickCure. What to do about the fins? <After the ich has been cured then add some additional decorations and plants. If the water is clean and the fish are healthy then the fins will grow back. If the nitrates are too high and you haven't done any water changes in a while then they might come down with a bacterial infection and need treating.> Is it a bacterial infection? <Probably not yet. If there was an infection then the fins would look torn and ragged. Service the filter and do a water change and see if they pick up.> Isolation? How to stop the nipping? < This may be needed eventually.-Chuck> Poor Snoopy.  Thanks, Scott 


Black Moor Goldfish Sick Hi there Gwen, Thanks for all the great advice. I did pick up the Spirulina flakes. I was told not to use it everyday. While I was there I picked up another black moor goldfish...a little one. I wanted a puffer, but they advised not to. I thought my 1 year old fish could use some company. Unfortunately, I may have thought wrong. The little fish has been pestering the bigger fish by nipping on his fins and under his belly. This would be the 3rd day since I've had the little fish. Should I take him back to the store?  My 1 year old fish has been doing so well and I hate to see all my efforts go in vain because I thought he needed company. The water is up to standards, I clean once a week, I stopped the treatment the day I got the new fish, I added 2 live plants, and I am trying to do all that I need.  Was buying the new little fishy a bad idea?? Sincerely, Eeon <<Dear Eeon, keeping goldfish together isn't a bad idea, but from time to time you will get one goldfish that picks on another. It's impossible to tell which one will do so, and which won't. If you have a good LFS, they may let you exchange your new lil fishy for another new lil fishy, without charge. Try it and see. Congrats, by the way, on doing such a good job :) -Gwen>>


Black spots on gills Hi Bob,  <Hi, you have Magnus on the line this time for help.>  I have a 25 gallon tank with 7 goldfishes: 2 Moor, 4 Comets, and 1 Common. I have bought the fish for 3 days and observed the common goldfish (with black spot on his gills) doesn't swim around and stays at the same place.  <It might be a bit to small of a tank for that many fish. Also did you buy these fish all at the same time? If so, then chances are that the water parameters are way off. If you didn't give the tank time to cycle, or added fish to fast, then you most likely have high ammonia levels in the tank. These fish produce a lot of waste and when the ammonia gets to high, goldfish can suffer from something called "Ammonia Burn" when the ammonia levels are so high that it actually turns their skin and fins dark. It's seen on the gills first.>  Yesterday the condition got worse and he only lays on the bottom of the tank. I have also notice that a black-reddish spots with an area approx .5cm increased and has spread through both sides of his gills. Today, I checked and discovered one of the comets also has this black spot on his gills. Therefore I would like to know what is the problem and how would I go about treating it??  Thanks for your help!!  <You can treat this problem by doing water changes and helping bring down the ammonia levels to a decent and safe level. This will prolong the cycling period, but at least it will have the ammonia/nitrite levels down for the fish to survive. I suggest you get a water testing kit and test you Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate levels in your tank. This will help you further understand the Cycling process in a tank. Remember these fish are messy, they need lots of filtration, cold water, and large enough tank to fit them all.>  Best regards, Dave  <good luck. -Magnus>


Killer Goldfish? I have searched your site and others on the internet for an answer to my question, but I have been unable to find out what I'm looking for. We had an orange Oranda goldfish (Homer) for about a year, who was healthy as far as we knew. About 2 weeks ago we bought him a friend - a red top Oranda (Marge) Last week, Homer was lying dead at the bottom of the bowl. We told our 2 year old that Homer was sick, and went out and bought an almost-identical Homer II. Tonight, 5 days later, Homer II was found floating at the top of the bowl - dead! I have 2 questions: 1. Did Marge somehow kill the 2 Homers? If so, how? or..... 2. Did the 2 Homers have an extreme case of Swim Bladder, and I flushed them down the toilet thinking they were dead when in fact they were not. I mean, they certainly looked dead, and didn't react when nudged with the net. I need to know whether or not to go and buy Homer 3, or just accept that I have a killer goldfish in my kitchen. Please help! we look forward to hearing from you, Craig, Anne and Erin McAllister <<Hello; While goldfish can be aggressive and annoying to each other, they are not killers. It sounds to me like an ammonia problem. Chances are, your bowl is too small for the amount of ammonia being produced by two goldfish. You can try either 1)buying an ammonia test kit, and testing the water to see how often to change it, or 2)buying a much bigger bowl, and doing the normal water changes you already do now. Well, I would also recommend testing that, too. :) Test kits are easy to use, cheap, and fast. Make sure your ammonia level does not exceed 2.0ppm (follow the instructions in the test kit). If it does, do a water change. You will know exactly what is going on in your fishes water if you test it regularly. -Gwen>>


Goldfish and Water Quality Hi, <Hello.> I own a Oranda/lionhead (can't tell which species exactly) and I've just noticed (since an hour ago) that he appears to have some redder than normal red spots on his bubbly head. These are probably indications of blood, perhaps an outbreak; he also seems to have a lot of red streaks in his fins. <Signs of irritation, usually due to inappropriate water quality - do please test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH, correct with water changes if necessary.> Usually, he is a very happy swimmer, always upbeat and eager to be fed. Even recently, I haven't seen any abnormal behavior changes, until today. During  feeding time, he didn't seem too excited about the food, and kept dawdling around near the middle of the tank. I am terribly worried about what kind of disease/condition he has come up with, as he is a very fond member of our family. <This definitely sounds like he's just having trouble with the water quality....  please test, let us know how it comes out.> Normally, he lives in a 50-gallon tank (estimation) with 8 other goldfish (not Lionheads). To give you a rough estimate of how big the tank is, the dimensions are apprx. : 4 ' long, 1.5' tall (height), 1' width. <Sounds like a standard 55 gallon tank.  Nine goldfish is quite a lot of goldfish in this tank; goldfish are really, really messy eaters (er, they poop a lot).> I change the water usually every other week, as I know that ammonia levels can add up (lost a number of fish due to this). <I can imagine so.  I would recommend weekly water changes, if at all possible, and some very hefty filtration.> I haven't recently checked the pH, ammonia level/other chemical levels for awhile, as I assume that the water changing automatically makes the tank water suitable for the fish. <Not a safe assumption, unfortunately; testing for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH is the only way we are able to get a real feel for what's going on in the tank.  And, when in doubt, water changes *never* hurt.> Back to the lionhead fish issue, I was hoping you could give me a vague diagnosis of several diseases he could possibly have and what types of treatments are available. <Mm, although there are other slight possibilities, I'm fairly confidant that the problem here is simply water quality.  Fortunately, that's an easy thing to fix!> Thank you so much! <Any time.> By the way, I have already started to put him in a "medication/hospital tank" to prevent the spread of disease and to help with treatment. <Likely unnecessary....  I would test your water first (might be a good idea to make that your first step, whenever anything seems amiss), then, if everything checks out perfect (ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate ideally less than 20ppm, likely higher with so many goldfish in the tank), then we should start exploring other avenues.> I've given him a tablespoon of salt for his 1-gallon make-shift tank. <That's a little bit much for a one gallon tank; I wouldn't use more than a teaspoon or two.  Not a big deal, really, though.> Again, I would be most grateful if you could provide any advice or information whatsoever. <So please check your water, and get back to us; I'll be glad to be of further assistance.> Alice <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Goldfish and Water Quality - II - 03/07/2004 Hello Again, <Hello.> My Oranda seems to have recovered from his previous "streaky-finnage" (streaks on his fins) and blood hemorrhaging on his head. I took him out of his 1-gallon hospital tank today, and put him in his original tank (with the other nine fish). He seems to be fairly happy and well-off, with only a few remaining red streaks on the very tip of his dorsal tail.   <Good to hear that.> The pH of my aquarium turned out to be 7, the NH3/NH4 level turned out to be 0, and I didn't check the nitrite/nitrate levels.   <Please do make a habit of testing nitrite, at least - it should be considered as toxic as ammonia.  Nitrate, though not quite as much of an issue should still be monitored, and kept below 20ppm, ideally.> Thanks for your help!  Alice <Any time, glad to be of service!  -Sabrina>


Regarding Fantails I was just wondering is it normal for my Fantails to lay upside down. I find them like that once in a while and when I get close they take off. Thanks Mike <<Dear Mike; It is not normal, but it happens quite a lot with fantails and other fancy goldfish. I highly recommend doing some reading up on goldfish care. Use your search engine to look up "goldfish constipation" and "swim bladder disease" because these are things they are most prone to getting sick with internally. External problems are usually Finrot (due to bad water quality) and bacterial infections. Every goldfish owner should be aware of the symptoms for these problems, so you can see them coming and head them off with the proper care. One thing I will tell you is to TEST your water with ammonia, nitrite and nitrate test kits on a weekly basis, until you are confident that your water quality is consistently excellent. This is THE most important thing when it comes to keeping fish healthy...all fish! :) -Gwen>>

Re: Black Moor and Eye-Fluid I just tested the NitrAtes. I followed the directions exactly and came out with 10ppm. This seems low. What else could it be? Should I just wait a couple days, see if he gets better, and if not, put him in a hospital tank with some salt and MelaFix? <<Hmmm. This could mean that the tank isn't quite cycled. What happens is that the ammonia become nitrite, which then becomes nitrate. Ammonia starts low and increases, then the nitrifying bacteria reproduce until they can consume the amount of ammonia being produced. Then the same thing happens with nitrite. However, if the bacterial colony is being disrupted (like say, by using Melafix, among other things) then the bacteria never get the chance to reproduce enough to control the amounts being produced, and your tests will show small amounts of ammonia and nitrite, as in your case. So...you need to keep testing regularly so the levels of ammonia/nitrite stay at around .25 ppm (by doing water changes). Stop using Melafix for now, until you have zero ammonia, zero nitrites, and your nitrates are all that is left to test for. In the meantime, yes, you can move him to a hospital tank, and leave his tankmate in the main tank. You need to realize that the bacteria will only colonize enough to handle the ammonia being produced by the one fish, so when you re-add the Moor later on, you may want to double- check the ammonia levels to be sure that the bacteria is handling the new bio-load. It sounds more complicated than it is...and most people go thru this without testing at all, and without detriment to their fish, but in your case, it is better to know exactly what is going on in your tank so you can prevent further stress to your pretty black Moor. Hang tight, things will improve. Oh, and test the hospital tank, too. Both salt AND Melafix can adversely affect nitrifying bacteria. Salt will do so at higher levels than I would recommend you use, but it's not easy to measure the salinity at low levels, so just be sure to measure out your salt precisely, and keep track of how much you need to re-add when doing water changes. It can creep up to high levels over time, which is one reason I tell people to only use salt to treat with, temporarily. Some people love to keep their fish in salted water all the time, they don't realize their tanks can approach brackish conditions over time. This WILL affect biological filtration, since the nitrifying bacteria in saltwater and freshwater are not the same. -Gwen>>

Black Moor with Less Black I hope you can help. We recently purchased a 10 gal tank, 3 goldfish and an algae eater. Last month the black moor began developing white bands across its body. Is this ok or is it sick? We're first timers to the fish kingdom and could use some advice. Thanks. <Hi, Don here. He's at least stressed. Have you been doing water changes? If not, please start. About 50% daily for a few days, then at least weekly. Goldfish are big waste producers. A ten is very small for three of them. And if your algae eater is a Pleco, it will hit a foot! You need to read up on "Cycling" and get a freshwater test kit. Any ammonia or nitrite in the water, or high nitrates, will cause the problems you are having. The water changes will help while the fish are small, but the long term solution is a larger tank or different fish>  


Goldfish behaviour 7/4/05 Hi <Hello there> I have a very large garden pond - twenty foot by forty plus foot, four feet plus deep at one side, lots of goldish which do breed and so on.  However they do this every year and I now feel I need to know why. They are mostly just hanging suspended in the water, like they were asleep, although they did consent to eat a little yesterday and in the post dawn period they make little bubbles on the surface which linger most of the day. <Ah, yes> Can anyone tell me what they are doing and why?  No filter or oxygenator alas but I have lived here for more than ten years now and have managed so far okay. Thanks very much Angie Watts <They are experiencing changes in the pond due to the season... in essence being poisoned... changes in pH, mixing of bottom water... You might consider adding aeration, biological filtration... that will make this system overall more homeostatic throughout the year. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pond Goldfish behaviour 7/5/05 Thanks very much for your reply.  I found the credit note from the water company when we had to have the concrete pond relined with a butyl liner as it had cracked (September 2003) and I found I reclaimed for 35metres3 not put back into the sewage system. <A good note... in the States we also can at times realize such a saving from notifying our water/sewage service provider> Add to that the contents of 2 x 45 gallon containers, one large fish tank and a paddling pool (for the marginals) I think that works out a pond approx 7,800 gallons, am I about right?   <Mmm, 35 cubic meters of water is about 9,409 gallons...> About a hundred goldfish (although most of them have bred black).  I have ordered a solar powered oxygenator to help things & use barley straw in old tights (last added about three weeks ago) but I guess 2 and half inches of rain the other day really upset my systems. Although I have to confess I was in there the week before taking out some weed!  At the moment I am just spraying the water a little each day to add oxygen. <All good techniques> The fish seem to be okay but after looking through your web site I am resolved to feed them less often than the several times a day they have got into the habit of begging for. It's a great site - I have learnt so much from looking at it. Cheers Angie Watts <Thank you for your kind words, caring and sharing your experiences. Bob Fenner>


SICK GOLDFISH  Dear crew of WWM am a beginner fishkeeper. I have recently bought two 2 inch Black Moor Goldfish (unknown sex). The other one is perfect, eating well, although the other one has a cut tail and a halve cut mouth (bottom jaw). You know, usually black moor mouths kind of stick out when opened, but my one doesn't. I have had it for 4 days and all it has eaten in all this time is 3 sinking fish pellets. I have already added some natural salt to prevent infection, although the tail has already shown some signs of fungal infection and I am going to get some medicine for it. Please can you tell me a method of feeding the fish with the cut mouth? Please, the fish's life is in your hands.  < Do a 30% water change , vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Check the water chemistry for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be under 25 ppm. You tank has some problem with it that creates the mouth rot problem you are currently experiencing. Once the tank is clean and checks out ok then I would treat it with Nitrofurazone. It the infection is not to far along the n the mouth will regrow. If it has become fungused then it may not grow back to its original shape.> There is another problem with my tank, during the day, plants photosynthesize and produce oxygen although at night, they respire so would they suffocate the fish. I already have a aquatic plant so shall I keep it in or put it in another container. < Fish require oxygen all the time like we do. Plants provide oxygen when placed under light. Under darkness the plants then consume oxygen like the fish. If in the morning you find your fish gasping for air then you need to provide additional aeration in the form of an air stone. The plants are still needed to absorb some of the waste you fish are giving off. I would not bother to remove them.-Chuck>


Chocolate Oranda sickness query hi there <Hello> I have a problem with one of my tanks - a chocolate Oranda in particular -  it has now died but I need to protect the other fish in the tank  so here goes... Background: 60l tank with 1xblack moor (3"), orange/black Oranda  (3")-recent addition, 2x fantail (1-1 1/2"), 1x chocolate Oranda (1 1/2")  (deceased) and 1x what I believe to be an Oranda (has small head formation but  only itchy (1")) Big Oranda was moved into tank 5weeks ago as it was getting bullied in  other tank. About a week after moving the Oranda I noticed two white spots on  the head and one white spot on the chocolate, thinking as the big Oranda was new   - bringing disease - I treat the full tank with white spot treatment, (but have  noticed that the first tank he was in is fine). <Mmmm< After the treatment they both seemed fine with no spots so done 15% water change and put in carbon filter.  Current situation: looked in tank 2 days ago and found chocolate Oranda (what I thought) was stuck behind filter (Rena) so moved him out and shifted filter back.  But I noticed he had on his head white, almost stringy,  strands floating off it. Later on in day (showing my partner) he was behind  filter again, his head looked a bit worse, so we moved him out again  and watched tank - the moor and the big Oranda were bullying him, biting at his  tail and fins.   He was trying to get back behind the filter, so we set up a  quarantine tank for him, moved him in and treat the water with Doc Wellfish's  Melafix. As the day progressed his head became worse with the White stuff moving  back across his head, pretty much 3/4 of the head formation ended up affected  with it looking red but transparent underneath.  it's almost as if the head  formation was being eaten away. <Actually... just a highly vascularized area, mal-affected by the medicine (ich, herbal...) and mucus production resultant from their poisoning... as well as the ill-effects of these chemicals on your biological filter... exacerbated by the crowding in this tank... 15 gallons is too small a volume for these fish> His swim bladder was affected - upside  down, on his head and sideways - but seemed to get better later as he kept  himself upright.  A few hours later he died. <...> Due to the progressive nature of the disease/injury we suspect it might be disease, but as he was stuck and getting bullied it could be injury, but then again he could have been getting eaten as he was on the way out.  We don't know.  In the original tank, all seems fine at the moment but I don't want  to leave it incase 1. it's disease or 2. the new Oranda's arrival is  causing problems. <A type of disease... environmental... once again, you are very likely right re the initial troubles being imported with the new fish... but all has to do with capacity of your system, the loss of nitrifying bacteria by way of the "treatments"... ongoing poor water quality> Any advice you have will be a great help as we are just undecided as to the cause of the chocolate's death.   Much Appreciated Amanda & Phil <Where to start... I would NOT continue to put in the Melafix... WOULD test for ammonia, nitrite, and TREAT for same or execute water changes to keep lower than 1.0 ppm... WOULD add aquarium salt/s... Would NOT worry re the apparent dissolving of the wen/hood of the fish... WOULD read through our goldfish postings: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm You obviously care dearly for your wet pets... and with a bit of further understanding, will be able to rectify the situation here, decide whether you want to up-size their system, give some away... Bob Fenner>


Messing with pH Help! I have a small tank (6 gallons) with two tiny calico goldfish. I checked the pH and it was low, so I put in some powdered stuff they recommended at the pet shop according to the directions. One of the fish died within two days, now the other one has been lying on his side for the last day and appears to be dying. To top it all off, the pH hasn't come up at all into normal range. I feel terrible for my sick goldfish, I need help right away. I want to change the water, but I don't know if this would be worse. By the way, I have another larger orange goldfish who hasn't seemed to be affected by any of this at all, he looks fine. <Do change the water. About 50%. Do this daily for a week or so. Do not worry about your pH reading. It's not an "incorrect" pH that is harmful in most cases. It's the change in pH that kills. Goldfish can adapt to a wide range. A steady pH is the best pH. Also, this is far too small a tank for goldfish. Your problem may not be pH related but poor water quality in general. Test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Keep the first two at zero, nitrates below 20ppm. Either way, water changes are the answer. Don>


Black Moor with White Film We recently purchased a black moor and added him to our 50 gallon tank, that we have had for ten months. We have three other goldfish with it. The next morning I noticed that there was a white film on the moor's head. What is this and what may have caused this reaction? Thank you, Eric <Sounds like a pH swing. A sudden change in pH can cause the white patch you are seeing. Nothing we can do about it now, but he should be fine. Goldfish can adapt to a wide range of pH. Just takes time. A big swing can kill. It sometimes takes as long as three or four days. If he makes it that long, he should be fine. If you are not testing pH always mix in small amounts of tank water to the bag before releasing. How fast or slow depends on the differences in the two pHs. Without a test, it's all a guess. Email us back if it gets worse or spreads to other fish. Don>  


pH Swings Dear Don:  I am at my wits' end with my tank and you were such a huge help to me before I thought I'd try one last time to see what on earth I'm doing wrong.  To refresh, I have a 10-gallon freshwater tank with 1 Oranda, 1 calico goldie and 1 Pleco.  Major new tank syndrome which you advised me to do daily water changes until tank was established.  Things improved until Oranda got white body slime on her so I contacted WWM again - advised to continue water changes, wean from ammonia pillow and medicate in qt tank if necessary, which was not necessary as Oranda improved.  However, she seemed to "shrink" - she was somehow smaller and skinnier overnight.  My whole family noticed it.  But she was eating well and had lots of energy and very friendly.  Ammonia pillow was removed and levels did not change for the worse. Then my filter motor went kaput  Nov. 30.  Had not changed filter yet as I'm still trying to establish tank and was advised not to until levels were better.  Old filter was gunked out with slime and was disposed of; new filter was installed - have done almost daily water tests but started again with daily/every other day water changes as seemed necessary due to increased levels of nitrate and ph.  I have not changed more than 50% at a time and last 2 changes only 25%.  Nitrite level remains at 0.  Have added up to 1 heaping tablespoon of salt each water change depending on amount of new water. My Pleco up and died 12/5.  No signs of problems before, just dead in the tank that morning.  Water test that day: nitrite 0; nitrate 20; alk 120; ph 7.8; ammo .25. Ammonia level has remained at .25 forever - my water is well water - even RO water is .25.  Aging water does not lower level.  Did 50% water change. 12/6 got new Pleco; rocks and plants (plastic) are slimy; water is clear; new Pleco is sucking on everything and his digestive system works QUITE well if you know what I mean.  He's just a tad smaller than my original.  Have not noticed any waste from either Oranda or goldie but goldie is growing like mad and noticeably healthy so I know it's happening even though I don't see it, so really not sure about Oranda either. 12/7 Oranda not eating and not moving right front flipper fin.  I'm thinking she rubbed up against a rock maybe? and hurt herself so she's not hungry?  Is it possible for a fish NOT to be hungry?  No visible signs of problems on fin.  Tested water: nitrate 20-40; nitrite 0; alk 120; ph 7.2; ammo .25.  Did small vacuuming/25% water change. 12/8 Oranda eating flakes and peas; hangs out at top of water in corner of tank and barely swims so not sure of condition of fin; water test nitrate 20-40; nitrite 0; alk 120; ph 7.2; ammo .25.  Did small vacuuming/25% w/c. 12/9 Oranda not eating; refusing peas which she loves; still hanging at top corner of tank, no swimming; water test nitrate 20; nitrite 0; alk 120; ph 7.8; ammo .25.  ph has climbed again but nitrate has lowered. At this point I just don't know what to do.  I'm afraid I'm doing too many water changes but still have not established tank.  Don't know how to get the ammonia out of the water but have been advised not to use bottled water.  How do you establish if you keep changing the water?  How long should all this take?  How do you keep your tank established when you replace filters?  Should there be a bunch of green slime where the water empties out of the filter into the tank?  I don't have that but I've seen it elsewhere.  Any idea why my Oranda is getting smaller instead of bigger even when she eats?  or why she's at the top of the water only? or why she has no energy?  Even when I vacuum the tank there's still a bunch of gunk and debris in the gravel afterwards but unless I do a huge water change I can't get all of it.  How do you do that, or should you?  Am I supposed to be washing this stuff off?  Because if so how do you get established? I am unemployed and can't afford the more expensive aquarium or test equipment.   I feel like everything I'm doing is prohibiting development of fish and tank but when I don't, fish either get sick or die.  After 3 months, shouldn't I be farther along than this?  I'm trying not to get too discouraged, but... Any advice you can give is certainly appreciated.  Thanks very much for your time and your help.   Robin <Hi Robin, Don again. I see two problems. Your pH is jumping all over the place. Not good. One of the signs of pH shock is excess body slime and white patches on skin. Check the pH of your tap water and the tank. If they are off by more than 2 or 3 tenths do smaller water changes more often. If they are very close together increase to 50% to control water quality until your filter is established. For help with that please read here.  http://www.marineland.com/articles/1firstthirty.asp Doing water changes will slow, but not stop, the process. but you need to do them to save the fish in there now. The other problem is replacing the filter. I forget what type you have, but the idea here is to establish that bacteria. Replacing the filter starts the process all over again. If your filter has some sort of "Bio Media" that is what you should NOT clean. The charcoal and floss can be replaced. If this is a sponge filter, either leave it alone or rinse it out slightly with old tank water. Never tap. It usually takes about four to six weeks to cycle. And if you are getting a reading of .25 on every thing you test, the problem is the test. R/O water will read zero. Why your fish seemed to get smaller is a puzzle. Thinner I can understand, but not shorter. Did he loose some tail?>    


Oranda looking lethargic Hello, and thanks for your great web site. <Hi...Jorie here...I often find answers to many of my questions on this site, also...the learning process never stops!> We're pretty new to the goldfish world. We have had an Oranda for almost 2 months now. He's in a 10 gallon tank--size okay? <Should be OK for one or two goldfish; if you ever want more than two, I would suggest upgrading to a 29 gal.> I've been regularly testing water for ammonia (0) pH (runs high, at about 8.0 to 8.2), nitrite (0) and nitrate (currently at 5 ppm, but usually has been 0). <Great measurements, but do a water change to get that nitrate out of the water. Granted, it's the least harmful of the three toxins mentioned, but it is still toxic to fish.> Anyway, fish has been doing fine, but in the past week there are a few things happening that are concerning me. One, we are getting a huge brown algae bloom on the large rocks and ornamental shark statue we have in the tank, also some on glass. I've read some of your FAQs about it and am learning a bit about it. My local fish store has told me that the algae is not harmful to the fish--is this true? The reason I ask is because since I have noticed the algae, I have also noticed our fish going up to the surface more. Can't tell if there's gasping--are there other reasons goldfish go up to the top, or is it always a sign of distress? <Algae in and of itself isn't harmful to fish, but sometimes if there's an excess of algae in a tank, it's due to the owner's not doing water changes.  How often are you changing this tank's water? If you parameters are at zero, I'm imagining you do regular water changes, but just want to double check.  In a tank that size with just the one goldfish, maybe shoot for a 25% water change weekly? If you add another goldie, maybe up that to 50%? (Remember to match the pH and temp. of the old and new water when doing changes).  Algae can also be caused by light...is the tank in direct sunlight? If so, consider moving it (also, the goldfish prefer cooler water, so direct sunlight wouldn't be best for such a tank).  Also, if you are concerned about the fish gasping at the surface (it could just be that he's looking for food...I've got mollies, and it seems that's all they do, all day long:-) ), you should have a chart in your test kit that is able to calculate the oxygen content of the water...you may want to check that out if you get a chance.> Not happening all the time, but more so in the past few days. Also, tonight he has really settled down at the bottom and has been looking very lethargic. he has always gotten a little still in the evening, but it's much more pronounced tonight...looks like something's wrong as opposed to an evening habit).  As I'm reading more FAQs tonight, I'm thinking maybe I should try a dietary approach; perhaps he is bloated. (we feed him Pro Balance Goldfish flakes once a day.) I don't think he's been pooping all that much, unless he does it when I'm not looking. <You should be seeing poop around on the bottom of the tank, unless you've got a super-strong filtration system.  You may have hit the nail on the head with regards to constipation...many people try feeding their constipated goldies frozen, then thawed peas to relieve this problem.  If that doesn't work, Epsom salt is another route you could try.  I suggest the peas first.> I haven't actually seen him poop in a while. <Keep a close eye on this. When you do your water changes, try to siphon water from the bottom of the tank...you will be able to find feces this way, also.> Anyway, I'm just wondering if his behavior could have something to do with the algae bloom (and perhaps some specific advice about what to do about that) or just how I should be thinking about this. <In general, to combat algae, you need to a) feed less (only what the fish can consume in 2-3 minutes...maybe go from once per day to twice per day, but with smaller amounts - less waste this way),  and b) more water changes.  Also, you can try a product called a PolyFilter...I've had some success on my FW planted tank in controlling algae, in conjunction with the water changes and less feeding I mentioned before. Also, check on the sunlight issue.> One other bit of info that may or may not be helpful: Since setting up the tank, I have tested water pretty regularly. I haven't seen any huge spikes in any of the things we test for--all pretty much how I describe it above with maybe a small change here and there. Is this a sign the tank hasn't cycled properly? Any advice on that? <It's great that you are doing water changes frequently and testing your water.  In all honesty, when I cycled my tanks, I never saw huge spikes in any of the readings either, but likely that's because I was doing water changes since I had fish in the tanks.  How long have you had this tank set up?  As long as you are monitoring the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels and they are at zero, you're doing great! Just remember that if/when you add another fish, your bioload will increase and you should continue to check regularly.> We were just about to add a friend for this guy, but obviously I want to make sure this is a healthy system before we bring in another fish. I'm really trying to get it right--we lost our first goldfish earlier this year (a surprise present to my son from my sister-in-law; we were totally unprepared and unknowledgeable, and by the time we started learning, the fish was stressed and sick). So now anytime I see anything that looks suspicious with our current fish, I find myself getting worried. <Kudos to you for doing your homework and learning from your mistakes.  Too many people continue to repeat their mistakes over and over again.  Sounds like your fish is very, very lucky to have you as parents! Just keep an eye on the fish's constipation.  In general, if the fish is swimming and eating, in absence of any physical signs of ailment, everything should be OK.  Great job on being so vigilant, though.> Thanks so much for your time. <You are welcome.  It sounds as though you are doing everything correctly, and you are just nervous as a result of your last fish experience, which is totally understandable.  It's great to take it slow - many people do just the opposite.  As long as you've had steady "zero" readings on your water parameters for 3-4 weeks, I'd say you can introduce a goldfish friend to the tank! Jorie>

Re: Oranda looking lethargic--addendum to question Just sent you the question about the lethargic Oranda. Wanted to add that we do have filtration--an over the top Rio filter. Also, I just recently added aeration to the tank. Thanks, Judy <Excellent, Judy.  Again, sounds as though everything is well thought out and set up.  Try adding some decorations to the tank (hiding spots, plants, etc.) if you don't have any/many, as maybe the fish is just bored?  Also, once you get the constipation issue ironed out, a friend might be just what he needs for stimulation.  Enjoy your fish! Jorie>

Re: Follow-up on Oranda looking lethargic Thanks for your reply, Jorie. It is very helpful to have some perspective on what I'm doing. <Totally understandable...I'm the exactly same way!> I did try giving him a pea, and I have to say, he seemed to love it! (This guy loves food...we feed him when we have breakfast, and when he sees us come into the dining room in the morning, he heads to the surface and looks at us until we feed him. So maybe he has been up at the surface more because he's looking for food.) Also, the pea really perked him up, and he was swimming all over the place, picking up and spitting out rocks looking for more. Which begs the question, how many peas at once? How often? And in what form? Whole, cut up? With the skin on the pea or without? I was very cautious...gave him one, cut in half, which seemed big for him to get down at first, but he did, and then proceeded to look for more. And I noticed him pooping later that evening, so I think this was part of his problem. Are the peas in addition to what I would give in flakes, or replacing part of it? Are other vegetables or foods good, or just stick with peas? <Sounds like you went about this the right way...slowly and cautiously. I'd stick with the half-pea size, maybe let him eat that, then give him one or two more if he's still interested. That could replace an entire "meal".  The general rule of thumb re: fish feeding is to only give what the fish can consume  within 2-3 minutes.  I'd maybe give him this vegetarian meal once or twice per week, in lieu of his standard food.  As long as he's eating it, of course! With regards to other veggies, you could try giving him a blanched small piece of zucchini and see if he's interested...cut it into a small piece about the same size as the half-pea.  I'm not sure how he'll respond, but it certainly won't hurt him, and variety in a fish's diet is a good thing!> Regarding the sunlight issue: the tank's not in direct sunlight per se (not right next to a window, but a few feet from the window and against a wall without windows, but I guess this room gets a fair amount of natural light, and the algae is on surfaces facing the window. I might think about moving it, although that will take some doing. <I understand.  Try the PolyFilter (that's a brand name...many on-line fish supply stores carry it) - that might really help you out.  I find it to be a great product.> And regarding the pH. Is 8.0 to 8.2 okay? That's our consistent reading. I thought it was better to be lower, but that's just where ours seems to be. <Consistency is *far* more important than precision.  As long as that remains constant, I think it's absolutely fine for your goldie.> Thanks again for your help. I really appreciate it, Judy <You are most welcome! Keep up the good work, Jorie>

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