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FAQs on Goldfish Environmental Disease 3

(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 Goldfish Disease FAQs:  Environmental 1, Environmental 2, Environmental 4Environmental 5, Environmental 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 Disease Goldfish in General, Goldfish Behavior, Goldfish Compatibility, Goldfish Systems, Goldfish FeedingBloaty, Floaty Goldfish, Goldfish Breeding/Reproduction 

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

2 great iPhotos... GF induced troubles, env.    5/23/10
I bought a Bubble Eyed Goldfish on March 19, 2010 and have named him Waldo.
He is in a fishbowl (which I realize is the worst environment for a fish, but it is in my room and I would like to keep him there) and I change the water fully about every 3-5 days, it depends on how I think he¹s doing and how dirty the water is.
<Dismal. I know you're a teenager, and you really want this neat pet in your room. But this fish WILL die. Please, he's an animal, not a toy. Either treat the animal humanely, or take him back to the pet store.>
I treat the cold tap water with Aqua Safe water conditioner and I do a complete water change, not a partial water change.
I noticed when I first got Waldo that he liked to make bubbles at the water¹s surface and I didn¹t think anything of it, because I changed the water so frequently that there should be enough oxygen. But a few weeks ago, he started to swim on his side and looked like he was about to turn over on his belly, so I contacted the pet store that I bought him at (Pisces Pet Emporium) and they told me he probably had Swim Bladder Disease, and to treat it I should feed him some green peas instead of the TetraFin Goldfish Flakes I was feeding him. After about a day or two, he started to float normally again.
Then, just yesterday (May 21, 2010) I looked at Waldo and saw that one bubble seemed smaller than usual, even though that one had always been smaller than the other bubble. Also on the side with the smaller bubble, there was some red ³blood² on his gill. The other bubble had some red ³veining² in the bubble as well, and a little blood under the bubble. I quickly changed the water and for the rest of the day he behaved pretty normally.
<You're killing him. This is some sort of opportunistic bacterial infection/blockage of the peripheral circulatory system, analogous to Finrot.>
Then today (May 22, 2010) I looked again and saw some white stuff forming on the ³blood² patch and a thin white film over Waldo¹s body. The film around his body doesn¹t look cotton-y and it doesn¹t look like white dots either. The white patch on the red blood, located on the gills looks more like cotton but I¹m not totally sure. I¹ve noticed today that he is not behaving like he normally does because he is just sitting at the bottom of the fishbowl (there¹s gravel at the bottom) and he only moves when something startles him. Normally, he will respond to actions that I make and will swim around the bowl. I have attached a couple photos that best show the sore spot. If you need more photos, please don¹t hesitate to ask!
Could you please tell me what conditions or diseases Waldo has and how to treat them?
<Poor environment.>
I would appreciate it greatly if you could tell me how to help Waldo. Thank you for your time.
<Glad to help.>
Amanda (14)
<I hate being mean, and I'm not normally mean to teenagers. Well, maybe now and again. But really, this isn't going to work. Start by reading:
Cheers, Neale.>

Fancy goldfish with red streaks in tail
Good afternoon:
<Very early AM here in Egypt>
I have two problems that are plaguing my poor fish! Please excuse the long letter, but I want to make sure that I provide you with all the information that I can.
The first is that my dragon-eyed goldfish has been developing fine, red streaks in her tail and I have reviewed several of your articles but am still unsure how to proceed.
<... environmental. FIX the world and cure the animal>
She is currently the only occupant in a 36 gallon tank (her tank mate is in a separate tank with a case of dropsy which I believe I have successfully treated- I was very lucky as I caught it early). This leads me to my second problem:
I have had massive troubles trying to get my tank to cycle.
<... part of the problem at least here>
It has been several months now and I have not tested positive for nitrates. I have two fish, so I set up my 20 gallon hospital tank and separated them, hoping that at least one of the tanks would cycle. It has been about 8 weeks now since I set up the second tank and no luck in either tank.
<Not a matter of luck>
I treat my water with Prime and let it sit for 48 hours prior to use. I test the water with an API Master test kit. I do a 25% water change daily on the 36 gallon tank to keep the ammonia levels in check. The smaller tank seems to need less changes for some reason.
Tap water pH is 7.0
My test results for my 20 gallon tank are currently: Ammonia 10 ppm,<No>
nitrite: 0, nitrate: trace ppm, pH: 7.2
My pre-water change test results for my 36 gallon tank are currently:
Ammonia 20 ppm,
<Assuredly not... you're reading a false positive likely from the test kit and Prime product... See WWM re>
nitrite: 0, nitrate: 2 ppm, pH: 7.2
Here are my post-water change test results:
Ammonia 5 ppm, nitrite: 0, nitrate: 2 ppm, pH 7.2
I have a test kit on order for GH and KH as I suspect my water to be soft.
Both tanks currently have 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt per 10 gallons of tank water.
The 20 gallon tank has an Aqueon 30 hanging-type filter. I clean the coarse filter sponge in tank water about once every 10 days or so and change the carbon filter every two weeks. I have tried adding Bio-Spira bacteria (to both tanks) and for about four or five days I start to see nitrate readings and then they decline back to zero. I have a small airstone to amuse the fish and help provide surface agitation. Decorations
include a couple of plastic plants, a glass measuring cup that my fish sleeps in and two silk plants. The substrate is approximately 3/8 inch deep and it some kind of natural looking rock aggregate (fairly fine). The
substrate is not sealed with any kind of resin.
The second tank is a 36 gallon with an Eheim Pro-3 canister filter and a Turbo-twist UV sterilizer. I clean the prefilter every two weeks by rinsing in tank water. I change the fine filter every two to two and a half months (as suggested by the manufacturer). I have not changed any of the bio-filter media (those porous ball-things that are supposed to build up the "good bacteria"). The substrate is approximately 3/8 to 1/2 inch deep and is the same as in the other tank. Decorations include a square glass vase that my fish sleeps, a glass ornament and several plastic plants. I have a 10 inch airstone on the bottom of the tank and a powerhead at the top to help agitate the water surface to accommodate oxygen exchange.
The temperature in both tanks ranges from 72 to 74 degrees.
I usually feed my fish twice a day, sometimes only once. I make my own gel food as my fish are very subject to constipation and tend to bloat when fed flakes (the smallest fish cannot eat flakes at all, even if they are pre-soaked: she bloats immediately). My gel food consists of a large variety of steamed, organic veggies and a bit of protein (peas, lima beans, spinach, broccoli, yams, carrot, a small amount of beet, a small amount of red pepper, a bit of cooked brown rice, steamed shrimp, poached salmon, paprika, 1/2 a mulivitamin and 1/4 of an acidophilus capsule).
I tasted the stuff myself and darned if it isn't tasty. My fish love it.
They also get the occasional zucchini spear or orange slice to nibble on and sometimes a bit of frozen krill or daphnia as a treat. I have taught the fish to eat from a tiny spoon, so very little food waste actually gets
into the water (and I vacuum the gravel to remove food particles and poop).
The reason I'm going on about all this is that I wanted to show that I am very careful not to contaminate the water- I am aware of the dangers of rotting food, HS buildup in deep substrate, toxic effects of neglected filters etc...
It seems that red streaks are often caused by poor water conditions- if I do have poor water I'm not sure exactly... why. I know my tanks are not cycled, hence my frequent water changes (the only way I can keep the ammonia down). I want to move my fish back into the same tank, but not until I solve the problem of the red streaks.
The fish in question is lethargic but eating well. About three months ago she had troubles with an internal parasite or bacteria which manifested itself as very thin, very long, stringy feces. I treated with Met and
Kanaplex and the problem seemed to become resolved. I say *seemed* because I do notice empty casings when I vacuum, but she is prone to constipation hence my preference for fresh veggies.
I quite often find her resting in her glass block, but her dorsal fin is upright and she is not fin clamping. She yawns occasionally (about once every three to four minutes- not sure if this is normal or not). She is usually much more active and has been exhibiting a reduced activity level for about 3 weeks now. She has a small hole in her tail- it has clean edges (not fuzzy) so I am not sure if this is in any way related to the red streaking
She does have tiny, visible red blood vessels in the flesh around her buggy eyes (sorry- not sure of the technical term- not the eyeball itself but the part that holds the eyes in place): also not sure if this is normal but she has had these since I bought her.
I noticed a tiny bit of red in her tail about a month ago but in the past week it seems to have gotten more extensive. She is sherbet orange and black, so I am not certain if they extend to her body but I don't think so. The streaking is by no means severe, but I want to see if there are any steps I can take to correct this problem before it does get worse. I actually wrote to you last week as I noticed cottony spots growing on her head that disappeared with the addition of Epsom salts to the water. Bob thought that it might be related to wen growth but I don't think Dragon-eyes usually grow wens so perhaps it is something to do with my
water after all... I know there is a type of Dragon-eye that can grow a wen but my fish was not very expensive so I don't think she is that rarer variety.
If the red streaking in my fish's tail is due to water quality, I am totally stumped as to what to do. I am meticulous in keeping the filters and tank clean but-not-too-clean (if that makes sense). I never leave food
to rot, I test water parameters weekly... argh!! I don't think that I am going to be able to get the tank to cycle- I have been trying since December 5th.... my conclusion is that there is something in the water
system here that is preventing cycling. I am moving in September and I am hoping most fervently that the water in my new town cooperates!!!
If the red streaking in my fish's tail is due to a bacteria,
<... no>
what would I use to treat? The fish is still constipated (but not nearly as badly as she was a couple months ago). Is it possible that I did not eliminate the internal bacteria/parasite with the treatment and this is
causing the red streaks?
This is a very lovely, very "chatty" and animated fish. I have been training her with great success to swim through hoops, push around a tiny football and recognise simple shapes (all for a food reward). I will do
anything to make sure that she and her tank-mate are healthy- as I mentioned her tank-mate had an early case of Dropsy that I believe I was able to successfully treat (again pointing to water quality but what on
earth am I doing wrong??).
<Lack of stability likely... I'd add some purposeful live plant material...>
Thank you for taking the time to read my post- I hope that I will be able to eliminate whatever mistakes I have been making with your help!
Gina de Almeida
<There is no treatment other than improvement in the environment here. BobF>

Re: Fancy goldfish with red streaks in tail  5/8/10
Thanks for your help, Bob:
<Welcome Gina>
I will start introducing plants as you suggest- I had planned to do so but was waiting for the tank to cycle first.
<Oh dear! The system NEEDS to have cycled WAY ahead of placing the fish!
The "septicemia" in your goldfish is directly a result of the too-great
stress of being poisoned here by the process of establishing cycling...>
I hope you are enjoying your stay in Egypt- my parents recently returned and had a marvelous time!
Gina de Almeida
re: Fancy goldfish with red streaks in tail  5/8/10

Again, thanks for your assistance, Bob!
<Certainly welcome>
I really appreciate that you are taking time to answer my questions from the other side of the globe!
<I wish there was more time...>
With regards to my tank cycling- it's really terrible. I received horrible advice from my local fish store when I purchased the tank and fish back in December... the fish both had Ich and the smallest fish was very chubby (which I have since discovered was an early case of Dropsy). The store said that the Ich would "just go away on its own"
<?!~ I guess we'll "all go away on our own"... in time. I say let's hold off for now though>
and that I could set up the tank and add fish right away- no problem. The tank I purchased was marked as a 20 gallon but in reality was only a 14 gallon so I had to upgrade almost right away as I couldn't manage the ammonia spikes with two goldfish in such a small space. I kept the smaller tank as a hospital tank and bought the 36 gallon.
I absolutely cannot figure out why the tank isn't cycling- I've had the 36 gallon tank set up for at least 3 1/2 months now and prior to adding the fish I set it up and let it sit for three weeks (added some food flakes to try to get it established). The 20 gallon tank has been set up for about 8 or 9 weeks. Neither tank is doing a thing- I get ammonia readings but never nitrate readings.
<Have you read on WWM re?>
I even tried halting my use of Prime and switched to a water conditioner that removed chlorine and chloramine but left the ammonia alone and that did nothing either... so I'm back to Prime. It shouldn't interrupt the cycling process- or can it?
<Won't much, but one of the ingredients can/will give a false-positive result for ammonia with most aquarium test kits for such. Again, this is covered on WWM>
***I finally received my GH KH test kit in the mail today, just after writing the first portion of this letter and here are the results from my tap water:
GH is 0 and KH is 0
<?!!! Assuredly not! Do you have distilled water on tap?>
And from my tank water:
GH is 196.9 and the KH is 0...
<... no>
I believe that the GH in my tank water is only sitting at 196.9 because I have been adding add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts to the water.
<Please read Neale's piece here:
and the linked FAQs file above>
I read a recipe for Malawi salts on WWM site- is this what you would recommend I use to increase the KH (and maintain the GH) to more goldfish friendly levels? The recipe was as follows:
Per 5 US gallons (20 litres) add the following amounts of each ingredient:
* 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
* 1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
* 1 teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements)
<... see Neale's work above>
Could the absent KH be one of the reasons that my fish has red streaks and is lethargic and yawning? Could it also affect tank cycling in some way?
<Double yes>
This is terribly frustrating- I live in a city of 3 million and not one aquarium shop carries GH and KH testing kits- I had to order online. I can't be the only person in this city having troubles with water. I'd hate to see the stats on fish loss! If I hadn't found your website I am sure my poor fish would not still be with me- they are very tolerant of my mistakes..
Many thanks, Bob!!
Gina de Almeida
<Steady on Gina... your epiphany is near. B>

Re: Fancy goldfish with red streaks in tail 5/10/10
Thanks Bob!
I read Neale's article and another titled "A practical approach to freshwater aquarium water chemistry" so I can see why I am having problems.
If I understand correctly, I will probably not be able to adjust my KH to the levels that I really need to keep goldfish happy without having a huge impact on my pH. I actually tried mixing up a batch of Malawi salts but it spiked the pH and I ended up doing a quick series of water changes to get it back down and it is still a touch high today. Oops!
I have been adding 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons of Epsom salt to the water for some time now (to help with fish digestion troubles) so that has been keeping the GH at about 200.
However, is there any way to raise the KH without wrecking havoc with the pH?
<Mmm, there are more "safe" methods... gone over sufficiently on WWM... for folks with very low GH, KH, the addition of "some" simple sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or commercial prep. in new/make-up water is all that I'm inclined to generally recommend>
I am moving in 4 months (this is just a temporary situation where I am living now). I believe that my water at home is hard (the tiles in my shower at home often develop calcium deposits which are no fun to clean but now appear to be a "silver lining" after all). If I can keep my fish healthy until then, I am sure that I will be able to get the tank to cycle there. I plan to trek home about 6 weeks before my move to set up a new tank: with everything I've learned about goldfish I am sure I will be able to choose a more appropriate set-up and have very happy fish.
In the meantime, I am stuck here battling water. I tested the tap water again today, and used two different test kits (an API and a Tetra Master test kit) - to confirm, the water did indeed test 7.0 for pH, 0 for chlorine (so they must use chloramine), 0 for ammonia, 0 for KH and 0 for GH.
<These last two readings are assuredly spurious. DO have your water checked by a fish store...>
I have no idea how they treat the water here but I can't imagine that it would be RO. The system is relatively new (having been upgraded from a severely sub-standard system a few years prior). There's not a website for public information so perhaps I can get in touch with someone at the Vancouver Aquarium. It is possible (though highly unlikely) that the condo I am living in has some sort of RO treatment system: I will ask.
<Expensive, but the potable/tap water here in the Sinai (Egypt) is all RO...>
If I can't get the tank to cycle, I think I'm stuck doing small daily water changes to control ammonia and keep the pH stable..
<Not w/o mineral content...>
it's not a big deal as I have been doing so for 5 1/2 months now. Will it cause harm to my fish to keep them in this water for much longer? If so, what would you suggest?
<The use of Neale's formula... BobF>
Many thanks
Gina de Almeida


Moor moored    5/4/10
Hi, I have a 2 inch Black Moor in a 2 gallon tank (I'm waiting till pay day to get him a bigger tank).
<Good. 2 gallons isn't nearly enough, and even 20 gallons would be too small in the long run. Goldfish should be kept in groups, and two Black Moors would be correctly kept in 30 gallons of water. If you don't have that much space, don't keep Goldfish. There are other, smaller coldwater fish that do better in smaller tanks.>
Over the last couple of days I've noticed gold spots on his tail and they are slowly beginning to cover his body.
<If we're talking about a fine golden sheen, with the spots being very tiny, then this is likely Velvet. Use a commercial anti-Velvet medication of your choice. Remember to remove carbon from the filter while medicating. If the specks are small, irregular brown blotches on the scales, then these are likely ammonia burns from poor water quality. Check water quality, and act accordingly. Goldfish need 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite. Frankly, in a 2 gallon tank this fish will die sooner rather than later.>
I work at a pet store and have witnessed some other Black Moors actually turn gold, but they had gold Goldfish on either side of them.
<Goldfish don't "catch" their skin colour any more than we do! Goldfish can change colour for genetic reasons, in which case black fish gradually turn greenish-gold.>
Mine is all alone and I'm worried my fish (Han Solo) might be sick. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Amanda
Cheers, Neale.>


Cotton spots, GF... normal growth and sys. troubles    4/29/10
Good afternoon:
<AM here now>
I have a lovely dragon-eye goldfish and lately I have noticed some cotton-like spots on her head. These disappear when I add a bit of salt to the water, but the second that I do a water change and omit the salt they appear within a few hours.
<Mmm, yes... nothing to be worried re... this/these are "natural" growths... Part of the process/development of the "Wen"...>
I am doing 25% water/vacuum changes every day as my tank is not cycling (I have had the tank for about 4 months and suspect there is an additive in the water where I am living that is preventing the cycling process). I have tried leaving the water for two days but find the ammonia levels are too high
<You need to address this... more filtration likely, a larger system. ANY ammonia present is deleterious... life shortening, death-threatening. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm
the articles, FAQs files below the Yellow Task Bar>
and the fish is up at the surface gulping air when I do so: I have consequently been controlling the ammonia levels by small water changes.
<Won't "do it">
I have a 36 gallon tank and the water parameters are pH: 7.2, ammonia zero, nitrites zero and nitrates zero. I use an Eheim Pro-3 canister filter
<I use these as well... on my goldfish>
and have a UV filter as well. (Incidentally, I have tried turning of the UV filter for several weeks to let the tank cycle but this has had zero effect. I have used live bacteria
<... shouldn't have to be added in a cycled system... And I want to state, make known to you, that most such commercial products are worthless>
and this has also had zero effect- I begin to build nitrates for about a week and when they reach about 5 ppm they start to decline).
I am concerned about the cottony spots: they are definitely NOT Ich but I can't figure out why my UV filter isn't knocking whatever is causing them out. Could they be a columnaris?
<Not at all likely, no>
I would love to get rid of them as I fear they may also grow in my fishes gills. I don't notice that the fish is flashing excessively but she does do so on occasion. Is there anything safe that I can try?
<Improving water quality. Read here as well:
Bob Fenner>
Kind regards:
Gina de Almeida  


Sick goldfish 4/24/2010
We recently acquired a goldfish that had been living in a tank that was much too small (1.77 gallons)
and extremely dirty. We didn't really have any way to gradually introduce her to the 5 gallon tank
<Also much too small>
setup we have for her. She seemed ok at first when we put her in the new tank, but within 24 hours
she was starting to tip over and float near the top of the tank. Within 48 hours she was upside down most of the time.
<Was this system cycled? How?>
I got some "all in one" treatment from the pet store because it looked like she had maybe some fin rot going on as well as the swim bladder issue. I treated her for 5 days, as the meds instructed.
I also refrained from feeding her for 3 days and then started feeding her peas and put the flakes in the pump stream so they don't float at the top. She's not getting any better at all. She floats upside down 99% of the  time. She struggles to get upright and can only manage it for a few seconds. Most of the time, she looks dead except her eyes are moving. Her tail and dorsal fin are almost half gone. Now I notice that she's turning blank (she was a beautiful golden orange when all this started!) Help! Is there anything I can do??
<See below>
Should I treat with the medication again, even though it didn't seem to help at all the first time? Will aquarium salt help? She looks so sad and distressed just hanging there upside down rotting away! I'm worried we may have caused permanent swim bladder disease for her by putting her straight in a different tank without acclimating her. I wish we'd have just taken the little tank full of pond scum, she seemed happy and healthy in it!
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/goldfish101art.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>


Common goldfish ailment  - 4/19/10
Hi. I apologize ahead if time for my incorrect grammer.
<Grammar... easy enough to use, learn by using a spell- and/or grammar checker>
I have a Common goldfish I rescued about 4 years ago (previous owner guessed it to be around 2 years of age). The tank (20 gallon) was disgusting with 14 fish and yellow water so thick you couldn't see through it. Needless to say despite my good intentions most passed within a few months. However two of the Common goldfish made it through.
I recently upgraded them to a 30 gallon and that's where everything started going wrong. I bought a black moor which infected my tank with lice (sadly he didn't make it). I treated my tank with a parasite medication and picked the lice off my fish. Within a week one if my fish developed dropsy (which sadly did not respond to treatment). My
currently ill goldfish developed septicemia which I treated with triple sulpha. While the septicemia seems to be clearing up he's still not well. He hasn't eaten in about a week, he stays at the bottom of his tank, he keeps his tail tucked in half even when swimming, and his gills are constantly going. All water levels are fine I take it to a
fish store to be checked and my other goldfish (fantail) isn't sick at all. I can't figure out what is wrong with the Common goldfish and would appreciate any ideas you can throw my way. I'm moving in 2 weeks and worried the stress will kill him in his current state.
<Mmm, the Comet, though being the same species (actually cross) needs much more room, and is more susceptible to environmental "stress"... If all you have is the one 30 gallon system, only time and your good care will prove whether this fish will improve. I'd be making frequent partial water changes to dilute metabolic wastes. Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm
Bob Fenner>


Red Spots on our Goldfish 3/19/10
Thank you in advance for your direction... We have a 20 gal. tank with 3 goldfish (1 gold approx. 3 yrs old) and 2 smaller (1white/orange and 1black) and 1 Plecostomus (spelling??)
<This tank is really too small for all of these fish, even if they are small right now. Please read on WWM re: Goldfish care.>
Just today we found red spots all over 2 of the goldfish. What could this be from?
<Please check Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate levels, and provide numbers on those. This sounds like a bacterial infection which probably began with poor water quality, and now needs to be remedied with good water quality,
and if that doesn't clear it up, an antibiotic, such as Maracyn. However, I can't stress the importance of moving these fish into an adequately sized tank for the bioload they represent (something in the range of 55 gallons
-- if that's a common Pleco, he'll grow to twelve to sixteen inches very, very quickly, and some grow larger, and your goldfish can grow to eight or ten inches, easy), ensuring you've got filtration on this tank that's turning the tank's volume over 6-8 times per hour, and that you're testing and ensuring you're doing enough maintenance to keep up with the waste produced. There's tons of info on WWM about goldfish, so I think it would be a good idea to spend some time reading, and to get your water tested. If you have questions about the results, please write back!>
Again, thank you for your help!
<You're welcome.


Help with a senior goldfish... 12" Comet in at 10" world      3/18/10
I'm hoping you folks are able to help - none of the "recommendations" from the stores around here are helping - and my fish's condition is actually getting worse.
<Hi, Ashley. Melinda with you here today.>
I have a "senior" goldfish who is about 10 years old now. About 5 weeks ago, his left eye became very swollen and clouded over. I was told this was Pop-eye and given a powder treatment for the tank. I followed the directions and the swelling got worse, and redder on the underside of the swollen area.
<I would first check water quality. This is a large fish in a little tank, and even without knowing what "bottom feeder" you've got with him, the tank's already overstocked! Do you test your water? Please provide numbers on Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate.>
This prompted a trip to a different store now and the lady there recommended a liquid treatment of Melafix. I tried this and his right eye began to cloud over, with no change in the swelling on the left side.
<I like Melafix for one reason -- some folks freak out completely whenever anything goes wrong with a fish. They see a torn fin, and they go crazy.
Melafix is great for these folks, and these situations, where nothing's really wrong that good water quality and a little time won't fix, and the Melafix doesn't hurt anything. When something's really wrong, which is the situation you're describing, you need real medication, and I wouldn't count on Melafix to do much for this fish.>
So the guy at the third store recommended yet another powder. Again it was an Erythromycin powder and now he's loosing his scales and is not interested in much of anything at all.
<Please, please check water quality. This sounds like a bacterial infection. If you find Ammonia or Nitrite over 0, it means the tank is not cycled properly for some reason, or under filtered (you're looking for a turnover rate from your filter in the range of 6-8 times the tank's volume per hour). If you find Nitrate over 20, then it means you're not doing enough maintenance to keep up with the bioload you've got in the tank. If you're doing regular maintenance and still have high Nitrate, this means that the tank is overstocked. The reason I'm saying all of this is that poor water quality is often the cause of fish illness, and if you don't fix it, this fish will never get better, no matter what you choose to medicate with.>
We've done the water changes and 3 rounds of "treatments", to no avail and Fish is getting worse.
<First, water quality. Then, ensure that when you are treating, you're removing any carbon from the filter. Lastly, I'd suggest a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace if you find that water parameters are as stated above, and have removed carbon, and done a large water change. This combination will hopefully knock out the infection. I think, though, from your description of this system, that water quality may be an issue, and since you're not providing those numbers, I think that's the first thing to check.>
He started off as a little feeder goldfish and he's grown to about 12" long. He shares a 29 gallon tank with a bottom feeder.
<What a tiny world for a twelve-inch-long fish! He needs a 55-gallon tank, minimum, and possibly larger, depending on what type of bottom feeder you've got with him, and that fish's maximum size.>
Is there anything else I might be able to try or is this the old-age catching up with him and nature's taking it's course? I would appreciate any suggestions you folks may have. Thank you.
<Your fish is an older fish, but I would investigate, and fix, if necessary, environmental problems before subjecting this fish (and his tank mate, unless you're moving him to a hospital tank) to any more rounds of treatment. Please write back if you have any more questions, and feel free to peruse WWM and all we have to offer on goldfish care, systems, feeding, tank mates, disease etc.:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/gldfshdisease.htm. Please also look into the water chemistry that goldfish require -- a low to medium hardness, and pH between 6 and 8 -- and run tests on KH and pH to determine if you're providing this for him. If not, please read here on an easy way to achieve these parameters:


Emergency Question. Goldfish hlth.    3/6/10
Greetings Wet Web Media - unfortunately I have an emergency question this morning. You have always been very helpful in the past so I hope you can help me now.
<We'll try.>
I have a 50 gallon tank with 3 gold fish. Two fish have a body length of 3" and the smaller one is 2 1/2". One is a common and the other are two are comets with the long fan tails. There are also 5 full grown trapdoor snails from my pond. They have had 9 babies. The babies are very small. There are no other fish in the tank.
There are also about 13 live plants in the tank. The tank was established last October and everything was perfect until now.
I have an Eheim Professional II filter and an Aqua Clear 70 on this tank.
I was away for more than a week and when I returned the ammonia in the water had risen to .05.
<Likely overfeeding, if someone else was looking after them. Quit feeding for a couple of days, and things should settle back to normal.>
I did an immediate water change of 25%. the ammonia came down to normal, no nitrites and PH was 7.5. Today the water is also 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites. Temp is 65 degrees.
Two days ago, the smallest fish got her long tail caught in the aqua clear filter intake.
<Almost always, fish don't "get caught", they become weak first, and then get sucked into the filter. A healthy fish, even fair small fry, can out-swim most filter currents, assuming the filter isn't insanely overpowered for the size of the tank. If nothing else, small fish tend to stay in areas where the current is weaker. So the question here is why the little fish was weak, rather than why she got sucked into the filter.>
I don't know how long the fish was trapped but when I found her she was on her side and still. I thought she was dead but I then dislodged her. she began to swim very slowly and strangely. Her back fins are very shredded and her top fin has a tear.
<Will heal, all else being favourable.>
I did get her to eat a small amount of frozen shrimp last night and freeze dried blood worms. Normally I rotate their diet between tetra gold fish flakes and veggie flakes. Some frozen shrimp and freeze dried bloodworms as snacks. they are fed once a day or every other day.
I called my two local fish stores and they recommended Melafix.
<Fairly unreliable medication, but assuming there's no actual Finrot or Fungus, it's an acceptable preventative.>
I gave the first dose last night. She began swimming well last night. I stopped the aqua clear filter two days ago and introduced a bubbler. I got a net bag to put on the aqua clear intake which I'll start again later today. Both said it was not necessary to quarantine her.
<Perhaps not.>
This morning she has been on the bottom of the tank. Her fins are limp.
She isn't really moving at all. The other fish are not disturbing her.
She down not seem to have ich or any of the outer parasite diseases I have read in my goldfish books.
<Oh. Well, she may still be stressed from whatever. I'm assuming she's one of the adults not the fry, and adult Goldfish couldn't be isolated in a breeding trap, though fry an inch or less might be.>
My questions are:
1. I read about aquarium salt and put 1 tablespoon in but I stopped because I wasn't sure whether I should dissolve the salt first rather than put in the big crystals. Do you think I should use a tonic dose of salt noted on the box.
<Won't do any harm, but may not do much good either. Do read here:
2. If she remains mostly at the bottom would it be kinder to euthanize the fish rather than have her experience a slow death. If yes, what is the best way to do that. I read in my fish books to put a small amount of water in a baggie and put the fish in and place in the freezer.
<Freezing isn't humane except under very specific size constraints, and even then, some vets maintain it still isn't humane. Read here:
3. do you think I should heat the water a bit with a heater. The water is about 65 degrees with this.
<That's fine for Goldfish.>
Thank you so much for your help with this concern. Deborah
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Emergency Question, GF  -- 3/6/10
Greetings Neale - thanks so much for your response. Unfortunately Marlene died in the tank about an hour ago. We don't know why. She lay on the bottom on her side in the last hours.
<That's too bad.>
She was a wonderful little fish. I bought her after some wonderful advice from your colleagues. The two original fish were fighting a lot when introduced into my summer pond. Your colleague suggested that I introduce a 3rd to diffuse tension and it really worked well. Marlene was the smartest. You were extremely helpful this fall when we corresponded about setting up the tank.
<Oh, well, I'm glad we were able to help.>
Your advice really helped with a successful transition into the house. We had 40" of snow here in Feb and I doubt that they would have survived 2 1/2 ft deep pond.
<Likely not.>
Any way, some more questions. the other two fish seem to be doing very well. How long should I wait before introducing a 3rd fish. Should I quarantine that fish to make sure it's healthy before I place it in the tank? Thanks so much Neale , it is a sad day. Deborah
<I'd wait a couple of weeks, at least, preferably a month, just to make sure everything is okay with the fish you have (and the aquarium generally). Since you have some fry growing on, you may decide to not add any more fish, and simply keep one or two of those in the aquarium, and give away/sell the remainder. Cheers, Neale.>

Thanks Neale -- 3/6/10
Hi Neale - I'm sorry for the confusion. I forgot to tell you in the last message that it was the snails that had the babies - not the fish.
<Oh, I see. In that case, yes, it's a good idea to make sure you have at least two Goldfish in an aquarium or pond. They are sociable, and while they do enjoy human company, Goldfish are happiest when they have someone
to school with. Ideally, choose similar varieties, since the more inbred fancy forms do sometimes get bullied by standard Goldfish. Of all the fancy varieties, Black Moors and plain Fantails are two most likely to get on
with single-tail Standards, Comets, etc.>
In the summer I'll move the baby trapdoor snails to the pond and keep the breeding adults in the tank.
I won't put any more than 3 goldfish in the 50 gallon tank.
<Also excellent.>
Thanks so much for all your advice. Take care
<Glad to help. Have fun! Neale.>


Goldfish with a pebble stuck! 3/5/10
Good morning Crew,
As ever, I'd like to thank you in advance for all the amazing work you do on behalf of our finned friends; it is very much appreciated. I've been reading your site every day for years now and it never fails to impress me how much effort you all put in. Thank you!
My problem today is that my goldfish has a small pebble trapped in his nostril. It doesn't seem to be causing him any distress - he's begging, eating and scavenging normally, and there's no sign of the panicky rushing around that seems to happen when a goldfish is in pain.
So I have a couple of questions, hopefully simply solved; is it going to cause him any problems if the pebble remains in there, and if so, what can I do about it?
<Dig it out... carefully... Perhaps with a wooden toothpick>
(I have had a look through the archives, so many apologies if I missed the answer - I tried every variant on nostril and pebble that I could think of!)
<We've had folks write in occasionally with problems with pebbles caught in goldfish mouths, but never the nares as far as I can recall>
I hope you can help, and thank you very much for your time.
<No anesthetic needed; just carefully hold the fish in a wet cloth in one hand. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Goldfish with a pebble stuck! -- 03/05/10
Hi again Bob,
<Hello Sarah>
Many thanks for the advice; my goldfish is now pebble-free and acting as though nothing happened.
<Ah, good>
Never done that before and I don't think I've ever been so terrified in my life! Your help is really, really appreciated.
All the best,
<And you my friend. BobF>


Spastic fish... GF in new/uncycled toxic world  3/4/10
Hi there
I was given 4 goldfish for my birthday last week. 3 seem perfectly happy.
1 seems a bit spastic. He's still eating fine and there are no markings on him that I can see. But he's swimming around the tank very erratically and keeps going for 1 particular corner of the fish tank and just keep banging straight into it, then bounces back in a sort of fitting motion. Have noticed a few times he has a little spasm when
swimming as well.
Any ideas?
<Almost all problems with Goldfish are caused by poor maintenance. Just as a reminder, let's be clear what Goldfish need. Three or four specimens would need a tank at least 150 litres/40 US gallons in size, and a filter rated at 4-6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. Water chemistry should be hard and basic. If you were suddenly presented with a fish tank and four fish, the chances are the tank isn't cycled, and ammonia and nitrite levels are not zero. These will cause fish to sicken and react in weird ways, precisely as you're describing. I'd bet dollars to donuts that that's the issue here. Not diseased, not genetic abnormal, not neurologically deformed in some way; but being poisoned by its environment.
Cheers, Neale.>

2 of 3 Goldfish died - ball of white slime near filter? Env. dis.,   2/15/10
Hi Monica here
You guys have helped me in the past and I appreciate all that you do... Okay, so I had 3 fancy goldfish in a 10 gal. tank,
<Far, far too small for even one Goldfish, let alone three. Your need at least 30 gallons for these fish.>
they were Mombo (4 -5 inches and fat - Black, Orange, and White (he's been slowing changing colors the last year or so)), Figi (3 inches - Orange), and Cheeky (3 inches - White/translucent) I have had this tank set-up for over two years now... I've been really horrible about doing routine cleanings - but they seemed to be survivors ...
<No, it's not about them being "survivors". Here's the reality. When fish are small, they produce relatively little mess, i.e., ammonia. If you ignore water changes, it isn't so bad because the filter removes the ammonia and turns it into nitrate. That nitrate is relatively little, so the fact it is toxic and reduces pH slightly isn't such a big deal. Plus, the various organic acids that lower pH over time also build up only slowly. So in short, the relative size of the aquarium to the small fish means problems are fairly slightly. As fish grow, they produce more and more waste. A fish that doubles in size actually has eight times its volume, so likely produces 8 times as much waste. In other words, a fish may be only twice as long as it was before, but the pressure it is putting on the filter and aquarium size may be eight times greater. This is why as fish grow, things seem fine until they reach a point where everything goes wrong. What's happened is the fish has "outgrown" the ability of its aquarium to dilute its wastes.>
(I know - I feel like a selfish idiot now) I've been having issues with my two cats trying to drink the tank water.
<Let them. It's harmless. In any event, I can't see how this should alter your plans for weekly water changes. Don't want to change the water every week? Then get a really big aquarium. Three Goldfish in a 55 gallon tank might seem overkill, but it'd be a lot less work to maintain!>
So I put a tote lid on top of the tank to keep them out but they kept trying and eventually knocked the bubble curtain tube loose. I was waiting to do the next cleaning before
reaching in there and reconnecting it. And then before leaving this weekend I noticed it was time to change the filter and do a water change, but I didn't have time. So I rinsed the filter out and then put it back in the tank. But when I plugged it back in the outlet, it didn't turn on again.
Again I was short on time so I left it unplugged for weekend planning on returning and doing the whole thing: cleaning, changing, fixing, etc. when I returned.
<Look, if you don't have time for these animals, you really shouldn't keep them. Pets are a responsibility as well as a pleasure. You've started off bad with a 10 gallon tank, but to then go on and ignore than tank is unforgivable.>
When I got home last night,
<"Nite" isn't a word, by the way.>
Mombo and Cheeky were belly up : ( I'm so sad about this... I really let them down - they depended on me for everything & I pushed their needs behind my own....
<Something like that.>
Meanwhile, Figi is still with us and I want to make sure he will be okay ... I want to do whatever I can to keep him around... I moved him out of the tank and into a 1 gallon fish bowl with 100% fresh clean water.
<Why? Why?>
I added salt to help in case there was any chance of infection... and also added start right to make sure the water was safe. He hasn't eaten any of the food pellets I put in his bowl last night and mostly he's just sitting at the bottom. He also is moving his mouth rapidly like maybe he's choking or can't breath or maybe he's cussing me off for letting his tank mates die...
<No, you're killing him. Look, a 10 gallon tank is a killer, a 1 gallon bowl? You may as well drop the fish into a food blender. Seriously. At least that'd be a quick death. This is just insanely prolonging the whole "poison your fish on their own filth" routine.>
Not sure what this means. I know I need to get him out of the fish bowl as soon as possible because
<"Becuz" isn't a word either.>
he needs space, air and filtering... I'm afraid to just clean out the big tank and put him back in there though... There is a large ball of white slime (same color as Cheeky) next to the filter that wasn't there before the weekend. I'm not sure what this is ... Mombo had turned almost all white and had kind of pinkish fins. Both her and Cheeky's eyes were glazed-over white. Please send me some advise as I'm really worried and not finding I've any info about this white ball of slime on the internet.
<The white on the eyes is Exophthalmia or something similar, and caused by exposure to chronically poor water quality. The white slime could be anything really, likely organic matter and bacteria, but who knows. The main thing is you've done everything wrong, and until and unless you're prepared to give them the conditions these fish, they're going to die.>
I need to know if its better to go buy a brand new tank for Figi or if there is a way to sterilize the old one?
<Yes, you need a new tank, not less than 30 gallons in size.>
Also if he turns out to be okay, should I find him another friend? Is it possible for him to die from being lonely?
<They are gregarious animals, yes, but I wouldn't add another fish for at least 6 weeks after setting up the new tank. You need to cycle the new tank, and that'll be hard enough to do safely with one Goldfish, let alone two. Adding some live biological media from the filter on the existing aquarium into the (much bigger) filter on the new aquarium will help dramatically. If you can't buy a bigger tank, then please, return the Goldfish to the shop, or else euthanise it.
If you're not prepared to provide the right conditions, you really shouldn't be keeping these animals.>
Thank you for reading my letter and please, please send help to me and my Figi. Thanks!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Me Again Re: 2 of 3 Goldfish died  2/15/10
Hi Neale - I know the tank is too small - I'm saving up for 50 Gal. tank.
My sister left me with these fish when she moved out of our apt. and I have been trying to do things right for them now that they're my responsibility.
I've done research on WWM and other sites, I have a book of fish diseases, I have all the water testing supplies, I vary their foods (although I have trouble getting them to eat veggies - baby food seems to be the only way they'll accept it), and I try to do their water changes and filter swap once a month (all but a couple inches of water) - I test the water before and after I do the tank cleaning and the levels have all been good (I use the liquid tests not the paper strips). I really am trying to be a good owner.
<Good to know. We all have to start someplace. You probably shouldn't think about how many fish I've killed along the way...>
I live in a tiny town and its a hour to any place that sells pet supplies.
We're in the middle of a huge snow storm right now - and there's no way I can get to the store until this weather breaks. I really don't want to just kill the little guy off and I won't return him to Wal-Mart. If I clean the 10 gal. tank out with hot water and remove all the rocks and plants, do you think it would be safe to put him in there for a maybe a week until I can get out of here to get supplies.
<Yes, but make sure the biological filter media is handled like a newborn baby! Don't expose media to air for long, and don't switch the filter off for more than 20 minutes at a time.>
Should I use bleach to rinse it out with first, then lots of hot water?
<Hot water alone is fine.>
Also if I can't get the filter to start working again, will the bubble curtain give him enough air, again, just until I can get another filter?
<Won't hurt.>
I only moved him into the bowl until I could figure out if the tank is safe for him since the other others died in there. He's still not eating I know this because there is no "filth" in the bottom of the bowl only uneaten food which I cleaned out last night and added more fresh water. I gave him brine shrimp today because he seems to be having a problem with balance.
(I'm assuming this is just a blockage and the shrimp have fixed that in the past.) He goes to the top of the bowl for air and then almost flips over backwards.
<Do read here:
Also once I can get a new bigger tank, I'm not sure I understand 'cycling'.
Is there another way to add biological media other than taking crude from the old filter?
<No better method. But yes, you can cycle from scratch... the downside it that for the first 4-6 weeks the fish will be exposed to non-zero levels of ammonia and nitrite.>
I don't think that sounds safe since dead fish were in that water.
<The "dead fish" really isn't a big deal. The fish likely died because of poor water quality, and any bacteria that made things worth were opportunistic. Those bacteria are in ALL tanks, and when the fish are healthy, are actually "good bacteria". Like the bacteria in and around our bodies, they only cause problems when the immune system is weakened. In short, keeping the biological filter alive trumps almost any other considerations.>
Please advise. Thank you for your time.
<Happy to help.>
PS I'm really not sure about letting the cats drink from the tank - I mean their are chemicals and bacteria in the water and that can't be good for my cats. I wouldn't think it was good for the fish to have a tongue dipping into their water that cleans its own butt either.
<Indeed. I've probably drunk gallons of fish tank water in my time. Again, with a healthy immune system, the bacteria in the water that could cause ill health -- such as Salmonella -- don't do any harm at all. Indeed, by exposing the immune system to different types of bacteria, it probably helps to beef up my immune response. (As a wise doctor once said, 50% of being healthy is keeping clean, and the other 50% is getting dirty.) So while an MD would probably recommend against humans drinking water from a fish tank, in practice small amounts such as when I'm siphoning out old water doesn't normally cause problems. With cats that drink from rain puddles and garden ponds, it's probably even less of a health concern. But I'm not a vet, and if you want a clear-cut answer, I'd suggest mentioning this topic to your vet and finding out what he or she says. Cheers, Neale.>

Pearlscale Goldfish with possible swim bladder disease -- 2/12/10
I bought a Pearlscale goldfish from a local pet store about a week ago. He is about an inch long, so I think he's fairly young. I have him in a five and a half gallon tank with a small carbon-cartridge filter, gravel, and a few decorations.
<Too small -- if he grows as he should, this will work just long enough for you to purchase a suitable home -- thirty gallons as a minimum for one goldfish, and a larger tank if you ever wish for him to have a buddy.
Please read here on the proper way to house goldfish:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/goldfish101art.htm. If you choose not to provide what he needs, this situation is going to get more unpleasant for you, and positively dire for the fish.>
I was told a small goldfish could cycle a tank himself so I wouldn't need to purchase zebras to cycle with before hand.
<He certainly can cycle the tank himself. He's doing the same thing Danios
would do. Do you understand the nitrogen cycle? The problem is not whether or not the tank is cycling, but the effects on your goldfish as he lives in his own toxic waste products. Please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm. I really prefer the fishless cycling method -- it's much cleaner and much more humane. In any case, if this tank is in the process of cycling, your water changes need to be large and daily if you want this fish to live until the tank is cycled.>
I changed a gallon of his water after two days, more than half his water two days after that, and another gallon two days after that. I use city water treated with a dechlorinator. I don't know the water parameters except the temperature, which is room temperature (about 68 degrees).
<You should buy test kits. Your ammonia levels are likely extremely high.>
Before I even took him out of the pet store bag I noticed him floating strangely (picture attached). He floats completely vertically with his head down and his tail up. However, he moves pretty easily around the whole tank and only floats this way when he is at rest. I fed him about two small goldfish pellets his first day in the tank and tried to feed a thawed frozen pea, but the pieces were too large and he didn't eat most of it.
I haven't fed him anything for three days and today I gave him half a pea, which he ate quickly. However, he does not seem to be improving. In fact, I think he's floating vertically more than he was at first. It's been almost a week and he's only getting worse. Is there anything else I can do? If it is swim bladder disease, how long will it take to get better?
<Please understand that there is no such thing as "swim bladder disease."
It is a name for a group of symptoms caused by things like poor water quality, poor diet, etc. So, think of it as if someone said, "I have knee pain." The pain itself is not a disease. It's caused by something -- they fell on it the day before, or they have issues with the joint, or something.>
I read things on your website about goldfish nutrition, and I don't know what he was getting fed at the store, but they seem like smart fish people, so I would hope they were feeding him right. I would like to avoid keeping live plants in my tank. Is a diet of terrestrial vegetables enough and the occasional food pellet enough to support him?
<Can, but he likely has other problems right now.>
I'm not sure this is a nutritional issue. He doesn't look bloated (but it's hard to tell since he's supposed to be shaped like a golf ball). His scales aren't stretched apart or sticking out funny. He's just floating weird.
<There's a chance that he was damaged in the process of netting him at the store. There's also a chance that he's suffering in a tank which is too small and not cycled. He was likely not receiving the right food at the store, and so if this is a problem with feeding, it's going to take a while for him to regain regular digestion. My best guess, without having seen him pulled from the store's tank, or knowing your water parameters, or knowing what the store fed him, is that this is likely an environmental issue -- the uncycled tank. I would return this fish to the store, properly cycle the tank, and then buy a Betta for it -- really, the only commonly-available fish which can live in an aquarium this small. There are other choices, though... please read here:
Thanks for your help.
<You're welcome. Please check out the links provided above, and explore the linked files on the goldfish pages. There's just oodles about goldfish care archived on WWM, and you'll find that while you're not the first to make these common mistakes, such as tanks that are way too small, and failing to properly cycle an aquarium, the fact remains that what's wrong with your fish is likely due to a lack of care on your part.>
~Hannah Fearing


Strange blotches on Goldfish fins 2/11/10
Good afternoon:
I have two goldfish and have recently noticed some patches of what might possibly be a fungus on their caudal fins. The patches do not appear to be cottony (at least not yet) and they range in size from 1 mm square to 3 mm
square. Each fish has a couple of these spots.
<Ammonia burns.>
The spots have an almost bluish cast- they almost look iridescent in certain light. I noticed the first spot on my smaller fish two days ago and had been monitoring it. Today when I came home I noticed that the spot is, strangely, not in the same spot as it was yesterday (it has moved from the interior of the fin and is now on the edge) and now both fish have such blotches.
<Ammonia burns.>
Some background- my tank is still cycling but I do a minimum 25% water change/vacuum daily (I had problems with supersaturated water but I think I have the problem licked now). The tank is a 36 gallon and the only two
occupants are two small, dragon-eyed goldfish.
<Ammonia burns, from the cycling problem.>
I have a brand new Eheim Professional 3 filter with a UV light hooked up to the return, the tank is lidless and I have added a small powerhead to increase surface agitation to help combat the oversaturation in the water.
I installed the Eheim about a week ago- prior to that I had an Aqueon hanging-type filter.
<Not sure what you mean by "oversaturation".>
The bigger fish has had ongoing problems with some sort of internal parasite so I have had him on a cycle of Jungle anti-parasitic medicated food. Both fish have been getting this treatment as I understand if one fish has a parasite they both probably do. The med cycle was 3 days out of every week for 4 weeks- the last cycle was completed yesterday but the fish is still presenting with thin, clear, stringy feces- it isn't trailing as it was before but the problem is still not resolved. He has been occasionally (and temporarily) swimming sideways so I don't want to continue with a medication that may harm his kidneys.
<No, more important you complete a course of (relevant) medication. His kidneys will be fine. Why do you think their kidneys would be damaged?>
This leads to my first question: I'm not sure what to do to identify and eradicate this intestinal problem.. short of buying a microscope to try to positively identify the parasite, what should try next? Could it possibly bacterial in origin? I do have a 20 gallon tank at the ready that I can use for a treatment tank if needed.
<Fish get sick 99 times out of 100 because of their environment. If your tank is still cycling, your fish are very likely sick because of environmental stress. There really isn't any way to identify internal parasites without a microscope, but dangerous internal parasitic infections are rather rare. Most wild fish carry at least some, and they don't cause
the least problems. It's only in poor conditions that the fish's immune system is overwhelmed and the parasites become life threatening. So, optimise water conditions and diet, and then work through the likely parasitic infections: Protozoans, worms and bacteria, in that order. In other words, I'd be going with an anti-protozoan medication like Metronidazole first, and an anti-worm medication such as Flubendazole second. Dangerous bacterial infections of the gut are pretty rare, and usually only occur when something else has gone terribly wrong.>
The fish normally eat a varied diet of peas, zucchini, spinach, squash, Mysis shrimp and an 8-veggie flake with Spirulina. This may sound slightly odd, but I don't usually feed the fish in the tank as the huge mess from feeding mushed veggies destroys my water quality very fast.<Actually, there's a difference between water quality and water clarity, and I think you're confusing them. Soft vegetable matter can reduce water clarity, but because it contains little protein, it's impact on water quality (i.e., ammonia, nitrite and nitrate) is minimal. By contrast, a new tank with an immature filter can have wonderfully clear water, but terribly water quality because the filter bacteria aren't in sufficient numbers yet to use up the ammonia and nitrite.>
I generally lower a small glass bowl into the water, they swim in and the "fish elevator" takes them away to be fed.. (they don't seem to mind this at all but if anyone has any suggestions as to how I can feed them a healthy diet in situ without having to do three consecutive water changes to get rid of the floating matter I'd really like to hear your story... I think part of the trouble may be that these fish can't see very well at close range).
<In part, removal of solid waste in the aquarium is the job of the filter; if the water gets cloudy, it means you're either massively overfeeding, or else the filter simply isn't up to the job. Do in particular check you have adequate mechanical filter media, i.e., fine sponges or filter wool.>
So there is a bit of background- as you can see I am a real stickler for water quality so am mystified at this sudden bloom of whatever it is.. I just tested my water 10 minutes ago and these are my readings: ammonia- zero; nitrites- zero; nitrate- three; pH 7.2 temperature is 72 degrees.
To help my tank cycle, I turned off my UV filter and added some live bacteria to the water: this was yesterday- after the patches began to appear- so this is not the cause of the "fungus". I have not added any new items of decor. I can't find anything relating bluish-white patches (unless these begin to look cottony in the next few days). Do you have any idea what this might be?
<Ammonia burns.>
My fish are both a bit lethargic today and my larger fish is periodically bottom-sitting and fin clamping. As I mentioned, he was sporadically swimming sideways the other day which I am attributing to his persistent intestinal problem. He is a bit of a lop-sided fish: one of his eyes is quite a bit larger than the other and one side of his body (opposite of the eye) is a bit larger than the other side. He is going to have half a skinned pea for dinner and I am considering the addition of some Epsom salts- would a bit of Epsom salt perhaps help with the mysterious fungus?
Will it kill off any of the live bacteria I added to the tank?
<Would have zero impact.>
I'm not noticing a lot of feces when I clean the tank so he may be a bit constipated from the Jungle medicated food so you think it would be okay to try Epsom salts then I will do so...
<Indeed, this is safe to do.>
I have had a few run-ins with white cottony-looking spots in the past few weeks, which did clear but left some fin damage in their wake. This doesn't quite look like the same stuff as it is quite bluish and looks "flat" but I guess it could be: so far no actual fin damage has been noted.
<Finrot looks like patches of dead white skin, compared with the cotton wool of fungus. Fish Pox occurs quite often among Goldfish, and is viral, and looks like molten wax. Because it's viral, there's no cure, and it goes away by itself given time. But Fish Pox is related to poor water quality, and tends to happen in fish that are stressed.>
Thank you so much for your help. I find it somewhat amusing that I am writing to a complete stranger about the bowel habits of my goldfish, but I am very grateful that you are there to answer!!
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Re: Strange blotches on Goldfishes fins -- 2/12/10
Hi Neale- thank you for the response!
That is the funny thing- I don't think the bluish-white patches are ammonia burns as until yesterday I was using a product by Seachem called Prime which is a water conditioner with an ammonia lock.
<Do understand Prime and other ammonia removers ONLY remove ammonia from tap water; they have a near-zero effect on the CONSTANTLY produced ammonia coming from your fish. If we could just add water conditioner to our fish tanks, we wouldn't need filters!!!>
I treated the entire tank with every water change (as it only locks up the ammonia for 24 hours).
<No, you misunderstand. Water conditioners neutralise the small amounts of ammonia in tap water. They are NOTHING to do with the ammonia produced by your fish. Overdosing water conditioners could, in theory, do harm. So only dose new water when added to the aquarium. DO NOT KEEP ADDING it every day.>
I test the water daily, just before performing a water change and have never had a positive reading for ammonia: if it is a chemical burn I'm wondering if I was adding to much Prime.
<Possibly. Prime is ONLY for adding to each bucket of NEW water.>
I will find out soon as Bob suggested I stop using it to give my tank a chance to cycle. He felt it may have been interfering with the cycling- I set the tank up and ran it without fish for two weeks then transferred the fish (they have been in it for almost a month now).
I was getting nitrate readings of about 10 when I added the fish- but these have slowly gone back to zero so I added another bottle of live bacteria the other day.
<Again, adding bottles of stuff is pointless. The bacteria are in the system already. There's a million times more live bacteria in the sponges after a few weeks than in ANY bottle of stuff you buy from the shop. Sure, they'll sell you bottles of this stuff, but it doesn't do anything.>
Not sure what happened but if the ammonia is being locked by a chemical process then perhaps the ammonia cannot be converted by the bacteria?
<I don't think this is likely.>
The product says that it doesn't interfere with biological filtration but a lot of products promise the moon.
if the spots clear then I was indeed adding too much!
<In short, you need to use as instructed on new buckets of water, but otherwise leave the aquarium alone. If it hasn't cycled yet, it will eventually, and left alone, an aquarium should cycle in 4-8 weeks. In between that time, just minimise food and maximise water changes for best results.>
I added another bottle of live bacteria two days ago and am now using a product that only removes chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals.
Here is another very odd observation- when I have the fish out for feeding I absolutely cannot see the spots under regular incandescent light or what passes for sunlight in my rainy part of the world... It is only when the fish are swimming about in the tank and I have the fluorescent ood lamp on that the spots are visible- as I mentioned they are pale and whitish-blue.<And you're sure this isn't just iridescence? Do observe Shubunkin goldfish
for example; these have iridescent white and blue spots. Cross-breed Goldfish might have them, too.>
Both fish have dark tails so it really stands out. The bulb is an Aqueon rapid-start (came with the hood- not a special bulb) but the light it casts has a violet hue (not to imply that it is an ultra-violet bulb, though.
Just to be sure I held a piece of fluorite under it just to see if it would fluoresce (I'm a geologist by trade)
<As was I, once.>
but it did not). Have you ever heard of this before?
<No. Actinic tubes will sometimes cause fluorescence, but normally in chlorophyll-containing invertebrates, e.g., corals.>
I'm going to go ahead with the Epsom salts to help poor fish with his constipation problem... how long should I keep Epsom in the tank?
<In moderation it's harmless stuff, so as long as you want.>
You also mentioned using Metronidazole- I have tried this (the Jungle food contains Metronidazole, Praziquantel and Levamisole though I'm not sure in what concentration). I've just completed the recommended cycle but it
hasn't helped. I do have a bottle of 100% Metronidazole but Bob mentioned that I should be careful with it as prolonged use can cause problems.. and perhaps I'm not targeting the right bug.
<Would agree with him. I'd strongly recommend doing as little as possible while the tank is cycling; any one of these medications could harm the filter bacteria, or at least slow cycling down. Since most sickness is triggered by environmental (water quality, water chemistry) and dietary issues, it's fairly safe to step back, control those two things, and see what happens.>
The fish is already a bit of a clumsy swimmer I don't want to give him anything that might damage an already wonky swim bladder. I may just have a finicky fish, but from what I have read the long, clear trailing feces almost always indicates an intestinal parasite of some sort so I will look for the Flubendazole.
<In cichlids, yes, pale stringy faeces often imply Hexamita infections. But I am not sure this is true for Goldfish. Goldfish are bulk herbivores, and tend to produce a lot of faeces regardless.>
I'm glad that you said internal bacterial infections are rare because I have antibacterial food pellets but they take two weeks to work- I don't think the fish would be in good shape without some vegetables in his diet!
Thank you!
<Happy to help.>
<Cheers, Neale.> 
re: Strange blotches on Goldfishes fins -- 2/12/10

Thanks for clarifying the issue with the water conditioner. I all of the blogs and articles I have read that the ammonia lock only works on tap water.. that explains quite a lot.
In fact I had been treating the entire tank every day on the advice from another site.
The more I learn (and wow, is it difficult to sort out truth from opinion in many cases) the more I want to apologize to my poor fish..
<They'll get over it. Goldfish can live 30 years, so a couple of mistakes in the first weeks, if it doesn't kill them, will soon be a distant memory.>
Regarding the spots- I don't think they are iridescence as they appeared so suddenly- ammonia burns now make sense (I'm so sad- I've been trying so hard to make this tank into a happy place for my fish... I am amazed by these inquisitive little creatures. In fact, you and Mr. Fenner both wrote very nice responses a while back to a question I had regarding goldfish intelligence).
<Yes, they are far smarter than popular legend suggests. If there is a fish better suited to living alongside humans and providing both colour and fun, I've yet to see it.>
Another geologist- what a coincidence! (though I'm currently back to school on a career change).
<And somehow I left the world of ammonites for tropical fish!>
Thanks again, Neale.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>


gold fish  2/6/10
hi my gold fish tail and skin turn in black
<Ammonia burns.>
and tail disappear.
<Fin rot.>
didn't move normal.
<Sick, dying.>
pls help me.
<You need to help yourself. Start by reading about what Goldfish need. In a nutshell, an aquarium upwards of 30 gallons; hard, basic water (pH 7.5, 10+ degrees dH); and good water quality (0 ammonia and 0 nitrite).
You MUST have a filter, you MUST have more than 30 gallons of water, and you MUST be doing water changes of 25% per week. Goldfish will not live in bowls or unfiltered tanks. Cheers, Neale.>


Indoor goldfish, hlth., env. or nutr.....  2/1/2010
Hi, I have a cold water tank fish that's approx 4 inches in length and about 5 years old. The last four days he has started to spend the majority of his time on his head (vertical) at the bottom of the fish tank and sometimes almost upside down but more vertical. He still manages to swim around but soon as he stops he goes vertical again, he is not eating very well but looks well in his appearance..?
Please could you let me know if there is anything to help him..?
<Could be one of two things. Constipation is one common cause of swimming problems. Feeding just dried foods isn't acceptable. There needs to be some green foods on offer. Read here:
The other common reason Goldfish suffer this way is poor water quality.
Goldfish need to be kept in tanks at least 115 litres (30 gallons) in size; unfortunately far too many people try to do otherwise. Given your Goldfish is very small for its age, I suspect this could be the problem. A 5-year old Goldfish should be around 20 cm (8 inches) long. Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>


Fin rot? Plus gray-ish spots... -- 01/28/09
My roommates and I bought this goldfish out of a feeder fish tank for a quarter when we were in college. It has spent six years in a very small tank, grew about three inches, and was always low-maintenance (no pH testing, no diseases, just tap water, etc...). I bought a plant for its old tank a few years ago, but it looked like it scratched itself, so we removed it. I recently bought it a larger tank, and it has been in the tank for about two weeks. It's showing signs of fin rot, and some of the scales, mostly near its tail are turning grey-ish (it now also has a little bit of darker colour at the ends of its fins). They're not black; they don't look like pictures I've seen of ammonia burns, they aren't raised, it's as if the scales are changing colour. It doesn't look like there are any problems with its slime coat; its gills look the same. I know it takes time for a new tank to stabilize, but I just want to make sure that it's not bacteria or an infection; I'm very attached to the fish! There was a decoration that came with the new tank; I took it out as a precaution. Also, the filter/pump is different from the one in the old tank. The old tank had an under gravel filter, and this one is attached to the side of the tank; when the fish was first in the new tank, it was hanging out under the new filter
- could it be an injury from that?
<Probably not. The most likely issue here is the "newness" of the system...
that it's likely not biologically cycled... along with whatever stress there is from so much new water>
The fish doesn't seem distressed, it is eating and its behaviour is normal.
<Good signs>
Thanks so much for your help; I scoured the posts already on your very informative site, but nothing quite matched what my poor fish looks like!
PS: The pictures are pretty terrible quality-wise, sorry!
<I'd be putting a good deal of the old gravel and possibly the filter in the new system. Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Sick Goldfish, env.    1/21/10
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I have a lethargic goldfish (about 4 years old) that is not eating, but frequently swims wildly from side to side and up and down in the aquarium.
<Do start by reading here.
Much lethargy, poor motor control comes down to constipation; specifically, use/overuse of the wrong types of food.>
He has injured himself by hitting the sides of the aquarium, as evidenced by the red color around the mouth area.
<Red damage could also be Finrot or Columnaris.>
I have also noticed white filament like material coming from his mouth.
Could this be cotton mouth disease?
<Could easily be.>
The aquarium is a basic unit of 6 gallons and I change spring water frequently.
<This is the prime cause of your problems. Six gallons isn't acceptable for Goldfish. It's not even much good for anything beyond, perhaps, a Betta.
Let's be clear here: no book recommends this, so either you ignored the book, or else did no reading and went with what the clerk in the store suggested. Would you buy a new computer that way? Or a new car? Or a house?
Nope. You really must do some reading beforehand. Clerks in pet stores are no more or less reliable than clerks in any other branch of retail, and whether you're buying a pair of pants or getting a mortgage, you'd expect to have some opinions and insight of your own. So, start reading here:
Goldfish should be kept in groups of 2 or more, with 30 gallons the minimum for 2, and then another 10 gallons per additional fish. Tanks under 30 gallons in size aren't viable for Goldfish, and anyone who tells you so is simply trying to make a sale.>
Can you assist me with a diagnosis?
<Death By Small Aquarium Syndrome.>
Thank you,
<Always glad to help. Cheers, Neale.> 

Re: Sick Goldfish  -- 1/21/10
Thanks for your advice - very enlightening!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>  
Re: Sick Goldfish
Another question, please - if the fish continues to fail, what is recommended to humanely euthanize?
<From the sounds of things, there's no reason this Goldfish should die.
Yes, it's being poisoned by its environment, and yes, it may have Finrot or Columnaris. But were you to upgrade its aquarium as required for this species, and to treat for Finrot/Columnaris, it should make a full and speedy recovery. The only reason it would die is because you decided not to do either of these things. Before euthanising, do think about whether others could help out. A friend who already has fish perhaps, or a local fish club (many cities have one). Maybe you can return the fish to the pet store. Only as a last resort should euthanasia be performed.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Goldfish
Thank you - good advice - we will look for alternatives.
<Happy to help. Good luck! Neale.>

Please Help with sick/dying goldfish  1/20/10
Good evening,
I have been researching on your site ever since I got home from work and have not been able to find an answer to my problem. I have 2 small fancy goldfish in a 5 gallon aquarium.
<Too small. This is why the fish are sick/dying. For two Goldfish, you need at least 20 gallons even for babies, and 30 gallons for adults. This is non-negotiable. Bear in mind there are no "small" Goldfish, merely juveniles. They get to at least 15 cm/6 inches in the first year of their life, and Fancy Goldfish will eventually reach about 20 cm/8 inches. That's about the size of a large rat. Take a look at your 5 gallon tank. Could you even fit animals that size in their? No.>
I have a hang on the back filter and an air stone for circulation and I do about a 2 gallon water change about once a week. The tank is in my classroom at school and over the Christmas break I used an automatic flake feeder.
<These cause more problems than they cure. In a big aquarium, there's always the risk these things will add too much food given the absence of the aquarist to keep tabs on water quality; in a small aquarium, adding an automatic food dispenser is basically adding a time bomb. Goldfish are herbivores, and the bulk of their diet should be plant material. A clump of Elodea (Canadian Pondweed) can be added before holidays, and will provide adequate food for them across a couple of weeks. Plants contain little protein, so the risk of water quality problems is minimal.>
I also put in a small 'preset' heater because I was worried about the building getting very cold when closed up for the break. The temp stays around 78. When I got back from break about 1/2 the water had evaporated and my snail had died. I did an immediate water change. I noticed that the orange fish had some fuzzy white stuff on its tail, but that seemed to clear up.
Friday everything seemed fine. This morning after the MLK 3 day weekend, the calico was listless and sitting on the bottom of the tank. His tail is noticeably drooping. He seems to have either lost a lot of scales or they have lost their 'shine'. On very close inspection this afternoon I realized he has a bunch of small holes on the side of his head (I did not see them at first because of his coloring). My first reaction this morning was to do a water change, then I tested the water and it was good except the nitrates were just a bit high. I had some Maracyn left over from a previous incident, so I put some of that in too. He did eat just a little when I fed them this morning, but I am very worried, especially by the 'holes' since I did not find anything like them either on your site or on the 'fish care' chart in the Maracyn box. The children are very worried and I'd like to save him, if I can.
<The "if I can" bit is the nub of the problem. These Goldfish need a proper home. Unfortunately, and I say this as a fellow teacher, what a 5 gallon tank teaches children is WRONG. It tells them that animals can be kept in spaces too small for their needs, and if they get sick and die, that's fine, because we can go buy another animal to stick in there. From my perspective as a biology teacher, that's a bad lesson. We should be teaching children that animals are precious, and that keeping them is a responsibility as well as a pleasure. Moreover, keeping animals properly is expensive, and if you aren't willing to make the financial sacrifice necessary, you shouldn't keep a pet animal. Anyone who told you a 5 gallon tank was acceptable for Goldfish was either lying to you, and else ignorant. That you hadn't done your research first is another issue. In any case, stocking 5 gallon tanks is difficult, and there's almost nothing that does well in them, with the exception perhaps of Bettas and some of the freshwater shrimps.
Furthermore, everything you need to know about Goldfish is here, and as you'll see, almost everything people think they know -- without picking up a book -- is wrong.
Until such time as these Goldfish are moved to sensible quarters, they're doomed. So while I could opine that they likely have Fungus and/or Finrot because of exposure to chronically poor water conditions, the cures available are predicated on the assumption environmental conditions improve. Hence the "if I can" statement involves substantial upgrades to the aquarium as well as the addition of suitable medications. Unfortunately my experience is that all too often people will prefer not to spend the money, and instead rationalise things to a "we'll wait and see what happens first" scenario, which basically ends up as watching the fish die by inches. For me, someone who likes animals, that's incredibly depressing.>
Thank you so much,
<Happy to help. I hope I'm not sounding too hectoring, but e-mails about sick goldfish in bowls are really, really bad ways for me to start the morning. I hope you're able to fix things. Cheers, Neale.>  

Re: Please Help with sick/dying goldfish   1/21/10
Sorry to have ruined your day, after reading your email mine was pretty much ruined, too.
<Believe me, I get to satisfaction from that.>
That and having to spend the day telling each group of children as they came into my room (I'm a speech therapist, not a classroom teacher, so kids come into my room 2 and 3 at a time) that my fish was sick and probably dying and it was my fault for putting them in a tank that was too small, and no, I'm not getting another one if he dies.
<I can see that would make for a difficult day. But do think about alternative livestock you could use. Cherry shrimps, Apple snails, Triops, even carnivorous plants can make entertaining focal points for scientific and natural history discussion. Pond water is great, because it often comes teeming with tiny critters like snails and water fleas. Without fish, all these systems need to do well is sunlight and aeration. Such tanks can last for most of the year with minimal maintenance beyond topping up with water.>
In my defense, my comment about "if I can" meant "if there is anything at all that I can do and it's not too late" NOT "if it's convenient and cheap and if not then oh well, I'll just get another fish".
<Good to know.>
It is NOT "Fine" with me if the fish dies.
<Also good.>
I'm afraid I was operating on years of apparent mis-information including: a fish to water rule of one gallon per inch of fish (2x1.5 inch fish = 3 inches, so 5 gallons should be sufficient); goldfish don't outgrow their environment; if you don't over-feed, have a good filter, and do frequent water tests and changes then the water will be healthy; goldfish don't live that long so 2-3 years is pretty good; and packaged goldfish food is actually for goldfish.
<Yes, all common myths. In your own field of speech therapy, I'm sure you often hear lots of ignorance from people outside the field: lack of language skills implies stupidity; people who don't talk don't have anything to say; there's nothing you can do to fix speech problems; and so on. All received wisdom in the population at large, but also completely wrong.>
Also, the pet store sells 5 gallon tanks (not to mention 3 and 1 gallon ones). I see that my error lies in researching after the fish was sick and not before I even put it in the tank. I won't make that mistake again.
<My work here is done then.>
I have a friend that has offered a larger tank, that I will have to set up at home since my small room at school cannot accommodate it, but unfortunately I don't think this particular fish is going to make the transition.
Hopefully his tank mate will fare better.
<I hope so too.>
I hope you have a better day tomorrow,
<All the better for hearing from you. Cheers, Neale.>


Ich, septicemia AND fin rot? GF, no reading or useful data    1/10/10
hi everyone,
<... howdy>
to start off, I got a fantail (approx 1.5 inches) last Saturday, and today it's sick--I'm really bothered by this.
<Good to see you care. Many, likely most domestically available store goldfish have problems...>
the tank size is 35gallons, so he has more than enough space, and I also use a 60 gallon filter (it's adjustable--I made sure the intake of the tube didn't overwhelm it and the current wouldn't get the best of it)
the thing is, before I got this goldfish, a month ago I had a six inch Oranda that got infected with ich (to which I treated effectively) and right after that, it was sick with hemorrhage septicemia and fin rot. I tried treating it with Maracyn 2, but it died before the treatment ended.
Hence I cleaned out the tank completely and allowed it to recycle for three weeks. I tested out the water parameters and checked the temperature, and made sure it was all okay before I went out last Saturday to purchase a new fantail.
and this is the part I don't understand--yesterday my new fantail was completely okay--swimming, no visible spots, and feeding, not to mention completely energetic!
and then this morning, he's listless (at the bottom of the tank), and shows all signs of ich, septicemia, AND fin rot! perhaps I didn't clean the tank properly? (but applying a hint of bleach
<!? Toxic>
when cleaning out my tank should have ridded it of parasites, not to mention I also cleaned the filter too, but with no bleach)
what worries me the most is that he's also bloated on one side of the body, a sign my previous Oranda had just before it died a few days later.
my new fantail still feeds, but he's also sitting on the bottom of the tank, and when he swims, it's tilted to the side that isn't bloated
I've added Maracyn 2 (to rid the parasites),
<... Minocycline... the active ingredient in this Mardel product, does nothing to treat parasites>
Pimafix, and Melafix
<Both worthless in my estimation>
(both to boost the immune system,
<... are leaf extracts... don't do any of this either>
as I've heard that the immune system of fantails are weaker when they have septicemia). People have suggested to raise the temperature to rid of the ich, but I'm not sure if that will affect any of it's other illnesses.
<Is a proven modality; which you'd understand had you followed our guideline before writing us and searched WWM>
I also have ich treatment, but I'm not sure if it can be mixed with Maracyn 2, so I've decided to wait until the treatment ends
<Read. Am skipping down>
this was a treatment I gave to my previous Oranda, which only resulted, sadly, to death. I'm worried that it will only produce the same result for my new fantail...
do you have any suggestions on to how I should help my fish get better? perhaps more frequent water changes? (I do 25% every week)
or is the feeding off? (I feed him three pellets, twice a day--once at the morning, and once at night)
Thank you very much, and please pardon for this extremely long and drawn out email--I'm still an amateur at goldfish keeping, so these illnesses really make me worried.
<Please start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshdisease.htm
and the linked files above. Likely your root problem here is environmental... "water quality"... Read and write back with pertinent data.
Bob Fenner>


Gas bubble disease. GF env. dis.  1/6/10
Good evening:
<Weds. AM here (PST) now...>
I am a new fishkeeper and have been trying very hard to provide a safe, healthy environment for my two beautiful fancy goldfish. However, like many neophytes, I didn't do enough research prior to purchasing my tank- and the fish store that sold me my equipment and fish was not forthcoming with (or was not willing to impart) any useful information.
As a result, I have had ailing fish- a condition which I am desperate to remedy!!
I just read your article on Emphysematosis and greatly fear that I am guilty of putting my goldfish at risk for this condition. I currently have two fancy goldfish in a 20 gallon tank with a bubble rod that produces a fine bubble wall and a bubble stone (that produces large bubbles). My first concern is the bubble rod- should I pull it out and perhaps replace it with another bubble stone?
<Mmm, maybe. Most such mechanical aerators produce bubbles of sufficient diameter (large enough) to not be a problem>
My second concern involves the amount of water changes I have been doing.
My fish came from the store with a case of Ick (which I fear has now re-established itself).
<Do use raised temperature to cure this; see WWM re... This process will "wipe out" the resident intermediate stages>
When I discovered the spots I used elevated temperature
<How high? Should be in the mid 80's F.>
to treat but switched to Ick Attack after 8 days as I was still finding new specks.
<Mmm, perhaps this isn't Ich...>
During this entire time I performed daily 30% water changes and I am very sorry to say I may have done some damage to the fish with bad tap water in my attempts to remove the Ick.
I was completely unaware of gas bubble disease until two days ago... when my smallest (and most active) fancy rather suddenly became ill- he collapsed on the bottom of the tank with all fins clamped very close and was very still. Frantically, I tested the water only to find my parameters were normal (I must also add that my tank is not yet cycled
<Yikes. This needs to be addressed as paramount. Please read here:
and the linked files above>
so the daily water changes are also part of my routine to control ammonia levels). I had noticed for many days that the fish both frequented the surface to gulp air, but could not figure why. I had a bubble stone and subsequently added a bubble rod in an attempt to aerate the water... Oops.
When the fish first began frequenting the surface, I began to wonder if the chemicals in my test kit (and API Master test kit) had expired, so I purchased another and found the readings to be the same. When I found my small fish looking so very ill, I automatically assumed that, somehow, the water quality had deteriorated.
<Could be the new water... change-outs as well>
I did a water change with tap water and he seemed to perk up a little, but the next day he was on the bottom again- not even hovering but completely collapsed. Not knowing what to do, I rushed to the market and purchased several jugs of reverse-osmosis water (which is what I have in the tank right now).
<Mmm, not useful for goldfish>
The next morning, the little fish had made a miraculous recovery and is now as perky as ever. I realize this is only a stop gap solution (and I am, quite frankly, terrified at the fact that my fish are used to pH of 7.2 and they suddenly found themselves immersed in a pH of 8.2).
<A bit high>
I had suspicions that the fish were somehow not getting enough oxygen..
<Not likely here... the twenty gallon should have sufficient gaseous exchange for two small goldfish>
but now I have discovered that they may be overdosed due to supersaturated gases in my tap water.
<And this too is not likely... with partial change-outs. IF you have a concern, simply "set out" the new water a day or longer in advance of use>
Sigh. To make matters worse, I unknowingly have been running the water cold, thinking that I was doing a good thing by avoiding any metals that may have leached into the hot water tank.
<I would, actually do "mix" the two... to about present tank temperature>
My larger fancy has one eye that protrudes a fair bit beyond the other and he is quite "wobbly" when he swims.
<This/these might be "nothing">
I didn't think that this quirky swimming style might be an early sign of trouble but after reading up on Emphysematosis I am worried and want to make sure I am not causing harm.
<I understand, and appreciate your concern>
I am hoping you can forgive my lack of knowledge in these matters and help me with an immediate fix and a long-term solution. I am currently setting up a new 36 gallon home for the fish and want to make sure I do things right this time!! The new tank is cycling and won't be ready for another couple of weeks at the earliest.
<Do look over the above cited article... and means of speeding up, establishing cycling... Products, old media and/or substrate from your store... live plants of use>
In the meantime, I understand that I need to constantly remove the dissolved gases and that surface agitation is one step toward this:
<? Don't know if I'm following you here... some circulation, aeration is necessary, but probably is already provided via...>
my filter is a Aqueon 30 which hangs on the side so I have turned it up to maximum and reduced the amount of water in my tank to create a bit of a waterfall effect: will this actually help?
<Yes, should be sufficient here>
I read in another forum that I should install a water pump to circulate the water from the bottom of the tank up to the top to create extra surface agitation but I am not sure what size I should purchase- is there a particular brand you recommend?
<Not really necessary, or advised. I run my goldfish tanks on single (Eheim) canister filters... "Pulling the water" from the bottom back corner and discharging via a bar across the surface at top>
Is this the best course of action?
<To just use the outside power filter that you have; perhaps to check, wick off any surface scum (with a clean paper towel or dipping a pitcher) during water changes>
I don't want to create too much current for the poor fish.
When I am doing a water change is there anything I can immediately do to reduce the amount of gas in the tap water before adding it to the tank?
<Leave it setting out as mentioned is best... you could aerate, circulate it as well>
I was thinking tonight of mixing half tap water with half reverse-osmosis filtered water: my flawed logic is that the tap water will cut down the pH of the filtered water and the filtered water will help reduce the high levels of dissolved gases in the tap water.
<Is far better than using the RO by itself>
I read an article that said heating the cold water would release a little, but not enough, of the dissolved gases.
<With only changing part of the water (30%), you really don't have to be worried re "trapped gasses">
Will stirring or pouring the water between two buckets help? If so, how long would I need to perform this action?
<... a few minutes if you must>
I am so sorry, but one more question.. it looks an Ick spore made it through the last treatment. I noticed a couple spots
<This might well not be Ich... I would not treat it further>
two days ago but couldn't tell if they were fuzzy or looked more like Ick but now I see a couple more specks and will need to treat again...
<Too debilitating>
Will heating the tank present any additional worries with supersaturated water?
<... no>
I do have a product called "Ick Attack" on hand and could use that instead- I want to do whatever is best for the fish- they have been through quite a lot already!!
Oh, dear. I have written a tome! Thank you for your patience!
Gina de Almeida
<Patience... take your time here. When/where in doubt, do nothing, but read on WWM... IF you read elsewhere, don't accept statements as being factual w/o understanding the underlying science behind them. Bob Fenner>

Re: Gas bubble disease   1/7/10
Thank you for your quick response. I have indeed read your article on cycling a new tank (properly) and I have been following your advice with my new 36 gallon set up. Unfortunately, my current tank isn't cycled, and I don't trust any of the local fish shops to provide substrate since they were the original source of the Ick.
<Mmm, do they stock "Dr. Tim's One and Only?" Or other bacteria prep.s of use?>
For unknown reasons, it is very difficult to obtain product such as Bio-Spira or Tetra Safe Start in Canada, so I am currently trying to smuggle some across the US border.
Aside from making me a renegade fishkeeper, I am hoping the product will add the bacteria I need to get the whole process moving along.. Tetra Safe Start was one of the products that garnered glowing reviews from other fishkeepers so hopefully it will help!
I have actually held off raising the water temperature for the fish as I am not entirely certain it is Ick. My larger fish had a cottony-looking speck on the very edge of his pectoral fin a few days ago- the next day it was gone and I didn't notice any new spots on either fish. Upon closer inspection, however, I could see that a small chunk of fin was missing where the fuzzy spot had been. I see that there are still a few spots on both fish today, and the larger fish has yet another spot on the edge of his fin. Would it be prudent to add salt to the water at this point?
<Mmm, some>
I'm a big fan of keeping the water clean, so I will watch closely for more definitive signs.
I read your article on under gravel filter systems and am installing one tonight- I can certainly use a little extra filtration and I like the fact that I can add a powerhead to the filter outlet to help agitate the water surface.
I am confused about which type of substrate is best for goldfish and for the u.g. filter. In the 20 gallon tank I replaced my old substrate with 15 mm to 20 mm river stones after finding a fish with a very large pebble stuck in its mouth.. in the new tank that is cycling I have a gravel that is comprised of smaller (approx 2 mm) pieces. I also plan to put an under gravel filter in that tank but don't want to make a mistake with the type of substrate required.
<I like/use SeaChem's Flourite product with my goldfish... roundish pebbles, some carbonate availability...>
Happy New Year to you:
Gina de Almeida
<And to you and yours Gina. BobF> 

re: Gas bubble disease... GF sys., UG use  1/8/10
My apologies for being a pest..
<No worries. Your concerns, questions are the reason we are here>
I know you are a busy man and I very much appreciate your advice on these matters! I have just received two bottles of Tetra Safe Start live bacteria in the post (they did indeed make it across the border) and I am about to begin cycling my currently fish-less 36 gallon tank.
<All right>
As I was looking through your site again, I found more articles detailing that use of undergravel filters- some pro and some con. As I mentioned below, I have purchased an undergravel filter for my new tank. Before I install it, I just want to be sure that I am making the correct decisions so I don't have to haul everything out again later when I belatedly realize my set-up isn't working...
My plan was to set up the 36 gallon tank with a co-filtration system consisting of the undergravel filter (with a small powerhead to help agitate the surface) and a hanging-type filter which came with the aquarium as part of a kit.
The hanging filter is an Aqueon 30 and has a plastic "biological cartridge" (which is basically a plastic plate with a heavily textured surface to increase surface area and allow for bacterial growth) and a some kind of pillow-type cartridge which is described as a "dense floss with activated carbon".
<Am familiar with this line (a remake, re-tooling of Willinger Bro.s/Tetra/Whisper...>
There is no way to remove the carbon from this filter and I know that carbon isn't generally recommended, but is it okay to use this if I change the filter every two weeks?
<Of a certainty, carbon use is fine here>
I also planned to install a Coralife Turbo Twist UV water sterilizer 3X to help keep the bad bugs down..
<Mmm, not really necessary>
Of course, I realize I will still need to vacuum and do partial water changes regularly!
<Yes! I do such weekly (every Sunday)>
I plan to cycle the tank, add a few live goldfish friendly plants then transfer my fish over one at a time with a space of a couple of days between to let the system adjust...
<A work-able plan>
My tank is a bit on the deep side so I will keep the water level a few inches lower than normal "topless" on the tank to help oxygenate the water.
<Should be fine. Fancy goldfish, due to their body and fins shape, don't easily "launch themselves out">
Am I on the right track or am I missing a crucial component?
<You are on a fine path. Some folks dismiss the use of undergravel filters entirely... and in particular, their use with goldfish, live plants... But they can/do work, and for "co-filtering" as you state, will work even better. I just use good-sized canister filters (Eheim brand) on my goldfish systems>
I've read many articles and am trying to follow the advice as best I can.
Many thanks:
Gina de Almeida
<Welcome Gina. BobF> 

Re: Gas bubble disease   1/10/10
Greetings, Mr. Fenner:
I have a quick question concerning my goldfish- I mentioned in the thread below that I had found a small cottony spot on the pectoral fin of my fish.
This spot eventually disappeared, but took a chunk of fin with it! I noticed tonight another small, white, cottony speck on the fishes caudal fin; also, the spot where the initial growth had appeared (and left a subsequent hole) on the pectoral fin now has a little bit of clear, thread-like growth on it. His tank mate did have a cottony spot about 5 days ago but it disappeared and did not cause any damage. Would this likely be a fungus or possibly early stages of Finrot? Would a mild salt-bath be of any use?
<Mmm, can't tell, and no to the salt>
The affected fish also has stringy, white trailing feces- an internal parasite,
I believe. He is fed peas often- but this doesn't help. I think this has been happening for too long (approximately a week or more) to attribute to stress or constipation. I feed the fish a combination of very high-quality goldfish flakes and pellets (which I soak prior to feeding), broccoli, peas, Mysis shrimp, the occasional bloodworm
<I'd skip these>
and zucchini. I'm very confused as to what medication, if any, to give to the fish. I have both Medi-gold antibacterial food and Jungle anti-parasitic food on hand. I have occasionally soaked their food in fresh garlic juice- if this has any antiparasitic properties I could try this again. It is just the one fish that seems to be affected this way.
<Mmm, well, there are some "stock" treatments for both likely possible to likely groups of causative organisms here... Metronidazole/Flagyl and Anthelminthics like Praziquantel... they can be applied simultaneously and both were/are still likely components of the Jungle products you mention (though in dilute concentration)... You can search WWM re if you intend to go this treatment route... BTW, this prophylactic regimen is something I have tried the last four decades to get the trade to embrace... w/o much success>
Could the two conditions be related?
<Oh yes>
I have a little bit of salt in the tank at the moment- 1 tablespoon for every 5 gallons. My water parameters are great (Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 5, pH 7.5) - my small tank is finally starting to cycle! I have been doing daily 25% to 30% vacuuming/water changes to keep ammonia levels down since I set the tank up on December 5th. I had a big problem with supersaturated water but this was recently remedied.
The fish are currently both active (no longer gulping air at the surface) and are eating well.
Curiously, my new 36 gallon tank seems also to have cycled in one day (?!) with the application of the Tetra Safe Start live bacteria...however, I'll wait a while before transferring the fish!
Kind regards:
Gina de Almeida
<And you, BobF>

Re: Gas bubble disease   1/11/10
Good afternoon:
Thank you for clearing the confusion regarding the treatment for internal parasites. I've read so many posts with sick fish and unfortunate outcomes that I am afraid to treat for anything for fear of treating the wrong disease!
<Best to err on the side of conservancy>
It is said that pictures are worth a thousand words, so to avoid verbosity I have managed to take a couple photos of the fins- the first shows the thread-like growth (which may just be a tiny strip of the damaged fin) on the ventral fin, the second shows the damage left by the "cottony" growth on the pectoral fin and the third shows a couple of pinholes that are appearing along the dorsal fin.
If I treat for intestinal parasites will the Metronidazole and Praziquantel likely eliminate this problem at the same time?
<Seeing these images, I would not treat for anything here. The spots, torn finnage are very likely to heal of their own accord with just good care and time going by. B>
Thank you for your time:
Gina de Almeida  

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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